Life is a Mystery

18 June . 3 Comments

This is what democracy looks like?

I am still processing yesterday’s Saint Paul and DFL convention, and I must say the intervening day hasn’t made it feel any better. We say that the party process helps us to select the best candidates, those who most reflect our DFL values, those with the best chance of winning office. I’ve heard people argue against the primary process because it allows the unwashed masses to dilute the party. Personally, I value primary challenges because they strengthen our candidates. Still, I understand the value of party endorsement, and conventions are a relatively participatory way to produce an endorsement.

What really bothered me yesterday was that the convention appeared to be designed to make sure that no endorsement for the mayoral candidate resulted. In particular, the rules committee proposed a set of rules that would have made an endorsement very difficult. The convention body selected an alternative set of rules, more likely to result in an endorsement, offered by a minority report from the rules committee. But then that alternative set of rules was further amended so that the convention ended up with a hard stop time of 7pm.

As anyone who’s been around this kind of process for a while realizes, a hard stop is simply an encouragement for those who want no action to spend their time postponing matters. The adoption of the 7pm stop time virtually ensured that the convention would end up deadlocked and without an endorsement. And that is what happened.

The only point of holding a convention is to endorse a candidate. Designing a convention’s rules to avoid endorsement is designing a convention to waste everybody’s time. The first four hours of yesterday’s convention was spent arguing about the rules. In all the convention spent 10 hours of people’s time on a beautiful Saturday doomed to fail in it’s purpose. That was a disservice to everyone. Yes, I realize we did endorse three school board candidates in a single ballot. But the big race was the mayor’s race, and our failure to endorse in that race is an indictment of the convention process.

The Saint Paul DFL was not courageous enough to allow even its own small democratic process to play out in its convention. I believe that the adoption of ranked choice voting, along with appropriate technology to count those ranked choice ballots quickly, is a better alternative for democracy today than primaries. But even with ranked choice voting, an endorsement is a valuable asset for a candidate. We should be ashamed of ourselves in the Saint Paul DFL, that we could not design a convention that was able to produce an endorsement. I am particularly ashamed that we wasted so much of so many people’s time, and left them with such a bad taste of what our democracy looks like.

28 April . Comments Off on My Mind’s Eye

My Mind’s Eye

I am blown away by this: people can actually picture things in their heads. Up till last week I have always assumed that picturing something in your head was a metaphor of sorts, another way of saying “remembering.” After all, I have never done it. I’ve never pictured anything in my head. Last week I learned there was a name for this: aphantasia. I learned this from the New York Times, “Picture this? Some just can’t.” (I have since seen it in a few other places.)

Since I thought my condition was simply the human condition, I never remarked on it. But after reading the NYT story last week I asked Alex, “Can you actually picture things in your head? Like are they in color?” He closed his eyes and said, “Yes.” A few days later I asked Mary to close her eyes and picture Himmelblau House on Kelleys Island. She shut her eyes and began describing the grass, the water, the porch. I asked her if she could actually see the colors of those things, if it was like being there, she said that it was.

When I close my eyes and try to see Himmelblau House I see an afterimage of the screen in front of me where I’ve been typing. I see abstract dunkelbunt colors. I can remember and describe Kelleys, I can even, perhaps with some effort, construct a schematic of sorts in my head. A kind of model of Himmelblau House rebuilt from experience. But I do not see it. In fact, I always thought this reconstruction process is what “picture in your mind” meant. “Picture yourself on a beach” in a meditation sends me off reconstructing a beach scene that never really includes colors or breeze, but means in some intellectual way “beach.” I do not see pictures in my head at all.

I don’t see places I love in my head. I don’t see the people I love in my head. If Mary is away on a trip I cannot pull an image of her to my mind, though I can easily recognize her image in a photograph and know her when she returns. I am hard-pressed to describe anyone to you because I don’t see them when I describe them. I wonder if this is related to how difficult it has always been for me to remember people in general? Or anything, for that matter. My memory has always been spotty.

The odd thing is that I consider myself a visual thinker! I love drawing and designing things. I have a good sense of color and space. I can imagine things that are not there and construct them. I just cannot ever see them in my head before, during, or after I’ve made them. I can only see them when I look at them.

I accept this as who I am. I had no idea it set me apart and I consider it a gift that has allowed me to grow in ways that are uniquely Eric. I’m not asking for any pity or concern. In fact, the opposite. I am presenting this as an example of the wonder of the universe. An example of how unique each of us is and how varied the human condition can be. We can’t assume others see the world as we do. For me, I slide this in with my tinnitus, a part of me that I accept and work with, not against.

But, wow, I am completely blown away and still feel like someone is pulling my leg. You really see things with your eyes closed? Wow.

Journal - 48

29 November . Comments Off on A reflection for the First Sunday of Advent

A reflection for the First Sunday of Advent

Today I had the privilege of offering the reflection at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet’s Advent Evening Prayer. I am part of the Friends of St. Joseph and St. Brigid Family Faith Formation who were participating in the service in various ways. I thought I’d share my reflection here as well.

Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16 

The days are coming, says the Lord,
when I will fulfill the promise
I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
In those days, in that time,
I will raise up for David a just shoot;
he shall do what is right and just in the land.
In those days Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;
this is what they shall call her:
“The Lord our justice.”


Welcome to the pregnant pause of the church. This is the start of our new year, the promise of our Lord our justice to come. This is the darkness to which we welcome a single candle. Welcome to the darkness.

We feel pretty certain that next week we will light two candles and that the week after that we will light three. We are quite certain that on December 25th we will celebrate Christmas. We generally remove the darkness from Advent, we lose it in the brightness of lights and celebration that started at Lunds a few weeks ago and was prodded along this weekend with spectacular sales and deals.

We overlook the darkness. The uncertainty of the first trimester. Black Friday indeed.

Please, spend a few minutes with me this afternoon considering that darkness because I believe that without darkness there cannot be light. What would our night sky look like if it were all light? In fact, we hardly have to imagine the answer to that since we have nearly washed the darkness from our sky with the lights of our city. The less darkness in our sky, the fewer stars we see, the less we wonder at the glory of God and our universe. Without darkness there cannot be light.

Today’s readings certainly dwell on the darkness. Even Jeremiah’s prophesy echoes the darkness of his time. “The day is coming when the Lord will fulfill the promises made to the house of Israel and Judah.” That day is not yet present, Jeremiah speaks from darkness. “I will raise up for David a just shoot, Judah shall be safe, Jerusalem shall dwell secure.” But clearly those times lie in Jeremiah’s future. Before those days come, Jerusalem will fall. His was a time of darkness.

How safe and secure are Judah and Jerusalem today? How safe and secure do Paris and Belgium feel today, or Beirut, Bamako, or Bangladesh? How safe do our neighbors on the streets of North Minneapolis feel, how secure are our homeless neighbors as the winter cold finally arrives? As in the time of Jeremiah, this is a time of darkness.

Frankly, I am not convinced that this world will ever be anything but a world of darkness, and I am not even sure that our mission is to erase that darkness. Darkness is the night sky, the universe, the context. Our mission, I believe, is to not let fear of the dark drive us. Our mission is to be light in the darkness. We are to be the candle.

It is hard to be a candle in the dark. Especially the first candle in this first trimester of doubt and uncertainty. Will our pregnancy continue, or will it miscarry as has happened so often before? Can we be hopeful enough to carry this burden, or will we despair? Can we allow ourselves to fall in love again, or will the fear of the pain that love brings isolate us? Can we be a light in the dark? And if we are, will another light join us next week? And another the week after?

Stripped of our certainty, this waiting, this Advent, is a scary thing.

Dorothy Day wrote of fear in the Catholic Worker (January 1967):

“We are warm and fed and secure,” she wrote, “We are the nation the most powerful, the most armed, and we are supplying arms and money to the rest of the world where we are not ourselves fighting. . . . Woe to the rich! We are the rich. The works of mercy are the opposite of the works of war, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, nursing the sick, visiting the prisoner. But we are destroying crops, setting fire to entire villages and to the people in them. We are not performing the works of mercy but the works of war.”

What a dark and achingly familiar world she describes. But then she prays: “Deliver us, O Lord, from the fear of our enemies, which makes cowards of us all.” She goes on: “Love casts out fear, but we have to get over the fear in order to get close enough to love them. There is plenty to do, for each one of us, working on our own hearts, changing our own attitudes, in our own neighborhoods.”

Dorothy’s world is our world.

As I said, I am not certain this darkness will ever abate. In fact, I will stand naked before you, I frequently doubt the existence of a benevolent God. At those times, in that despair, in that darkness, I try to love God and neighbor without distinction because I know my neighbor exists, and maybe if I love her, I can love God.

I try to remember that we are the body of Christ. Together we can be a loving order of radical disciples. In those times I think of the Lord as the community, as all of us bound together.

And then I revisit the lesson, with that perspective in mind.

The days are coming,
says the community,
when we will fulfill the promise
and raise up a just shoot;
In those days Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;
this is what they shall call her:
“The community of justice.”

Can we be a candle in the dark?

11 October . Comments Off on Building a New Majority

Building a New Majority

I have been imagining what a New Majority in the US House of Representatives might be like ever since Speaker Boehner announced his retirement. What if a non-partisan majority emerged? Tonight I woke from my dreams and wrote the following letter to my representative in the House. If you believe this could work and make our country stronger, I urge you to send a sililar letter to your representative.

Betty, thank you for signing the export petition for the Export Import Bank on Friday. It is not so much the issue I care about as the principal of working together and bringing legislation to the House floor for a vote. Congratulations on the small break in the tyranny of the minority that has ruled the House for so many years. I am writing in hopes that you, my representative in Congress, can help build this small kernel of progress into a movement and a New Majority.

My dream is that a new coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats will come together around the principals of moving legislation to the floor (with committee consideration, but minimal committee blocking) and voting as a whole body (with zero party discipline). I wonder if such a majority could be built, elect a (Republican) speaker and a (Democratic) majority leader who would assign mixed (but majority R) chairs (with opposite party vice-chairs) for committees and with whipping aimed to move legislation rather than enforce party discipline. The notion would be to return majority rule, true democracy, to the House.

I know this would be unprecedented in US history, and a nearly impossible scenario. But I believe it is time to make some history and start bringing our country back from the partisan brink we stand on. I say this as a partisan, long time DFL organizer and officer of my local (SD64) DFL party. I believe you could help heal this dangerous divide. Now is the time for radical cooperation among those who simply believe the House should be a functioning and relevant body rather than a pit of partisan bile. Please, help make it so.

You will have my support and gratitude. Please help build a New Majority in the house.

Move beyond our party for all of us.


Let’s see if we can make history!


5 July . Comments Off on Adventures with a keyboard

Adventures with a keyboard

Nate is getting ready to head off to college and divesting himself of some bits that he no longer needs. One of those is a Cooler Master QuickFire TK keyboard that he has since replaced with something snazzier. I’ve been borrowing it for a while and have now decided to adopt it as my primary desktop keyboard. It reminds me a lot of another keyboard I used to use!

Quickfire TK and Original Mac

Yes, indeed, that old Mac keyboard is the only thing I have left from my original 1984 Macintosh. The sound and feel of it are almost exactly the same as the sound and feel of the Cherry MX Blue keys on the QuickFire TK. It turns out I love that feel, but I hate the graphics of the TK. The typography is horrible and the backlighting is to severe for my taste.

Luckily, the Cherry keycaps are quite common and many outfits make replacements. Unfortunately none of those feel quite right to me. I have found one company that will print custom graphics on the keyboard for me. So I started to think about what I like and miss in the keyboards I use. For one thing, I’ve always been frustrated that keyboards (at least in the US) come with words on some of the action keys like “shift” and “return” instead of the symbols. This is particularly aggravating on keys like “option” which are indicated on menu shortcuts with the ⌥ symbol, and I always forget which key that is. I also really like Apple’s new San Francisco font and would like to have that on my keycaps.

So here is my plan:

Quickfire tk 2

When I dug out the old Mac keyboard in the picture above I realized I’d instinctively drawn a lot of inspiration from it. I loved it’s offset upper-left letter placement and I like its use of small symbols (the ⌘ command key). I had even returned to some gray keys (though I keep the main letters white so that there is a chance some of the blue LED lighting will glow through to make the legends somewhat visible).

Using a Windows keyboard on a Mac

One of the challenges of this plan is that the TK is a Windows keyboard. I need to swap certain keys (option and command) to get proper Mac placement, and I need to fix certain things (numlock) so they function at all. I don’t want to use the System Preferences to swap keys, because I want these choices to be limited to the TK, not to impact Apple keyboards, for example.

The perfect tool for this turns out to be a wonderful open source project called Karabiner which allows me to control all sorts of specifics about what signals get to a Mac from a keyboard. I’ve installed Karabiner with private.xml file for settings I need to make the TK feel more Mac-like. These settings take care of the numlock fix and command-key swap when the TK keyboard is in use. There are still some minor quirks with F6, F12, F13, F14, and F15, but those are pretty minor.


WASD Keyboards prints keycaps to order, but does not have a keyboard with quite this arrangement of keys. I was able to get almost all the keys I needed from them, though, using this layout. You will note that I had to radically change the color scheme. It turns out that neither white nor gray keys transmit much light from the LEDs. The best transmission (at least of the blue LEDs on the QuickFire TK keyboard) were blue and green keys. Orange also transmitted some light. Also, they do not may R1 1×1.5 keys at all (row one, 1 by 1.5 aspect ratio), so I bought the R1 1×1.5 version of the Portal keys to be my control keys.

Here is the result, both unlit and lit up.



Note the placement of the lights under some of the longer modifier keys means that the symbols on these keys are not lit up at all. That’s unfortunate, but I can live with it.

9 April . Comments Off on Open Government Data and the case of Wiener Linien

Open Government Data and the case of Wiener Linien

Those who know me know I have a special place in my heart for Vienna. For many years I visited my Grandmother there. I attended first grade at Volksschule Mannagettagasse in Grinzing. I brought my own children to Vienna many times to visit their Great-Grandmother. I love Vienna, and I especially love Wiener Linien, Vienna’s magnificent public transit system. So I was shocked to learn, as I prepared for another visit, that Wiener Linien is virtually invisible on today’s mobile devices. Digging into the problem revealed a fundamental misunderstanding, as I see it, in the meaning of “open data.” Wiener Linien has claimed to provide “open data” but in fact provides data that nearly nobody can properly use.

I want to use this post to record what I’ve learned and make a plea that Wiener Linien step up and actually provide the data the world really needs. As you see, my conclusion is that Wiener Linien should provide GTFS data. Why this is not being done is a long story, bear with me.

Politics and Transit

In 2007 and 2009 I visited Austria and I have distinct memories of using Google Maps to plan trips around Vienna. I found it vastly helpful to use Google Maps since the Wiener Linien website was less than simple at the time. That there was a time Wiener Linien was visible on Google Maps can also be seen on the Google Maps forum. In early 2010 people started to complain there that Vienna’s public transportation had disappeared from Google. A whole Google Transit Österreich group emerged on Facebook to try to find out what broke and how to fix it. It became a news story in Austria.

It seems that in 2010 Wiener Linien and ÖBB (the Austrian railway) decided to no longer share data with Google in the format that Google was able to use. They decided to work toward some more egalitarian open data feed that would serve all providers of transit information, not just Google.

At the time, the only standardized form of data for sharing transit timetables and routes was called the “Google Transit Feed Specification (GTFS).” When Google started incorporating transit routing into Google Maps in 2005, no other provider was trying to fill this niche. Google worked with the TriMet transit agency in Portland, which had developed the precursor to GTFS. Other agencies, including Vienna, eventually joined in. But some became shy of working so directly with one provider. Vienna became very shy, and pulled its data altogether in 2010.

Meanwhile, GTFS became the “General Transit Feed Specification” partly due to recognition on Google’s part that even they would be better off if other providers could use this data. While the GTFS specification is still hosted by Google, it is now used by many providers of transit data, not just by Google. And the response of public transit systems has been staggering. Hundreds of systems are now providing GTFS data, as documented at the GTFS Data Exchange.

In 2012 the lack was being noticed. Die Presse wrote about 500 cities having transit data averrable in Google Maps, but not Vienna. In Vienna, the ÖBB finally relented in 2013 and restored the GTFS feed for transit application providers. Yet this move also received criticism within Austria, one blogger lamenting the fact that ÖBB was only providing this information to Google and not as open data, and a spokesman for the Green Party complaining that this information was being made available exclusively to a mega-corporation and not openly.

This highlights the political line being drawn. There are those in Austria who feel that providing data in the format Google prefers, a format that has been adopted widely around the world, would be a political capitulation to a mega-corporation. Clearly, the Wiener Linien data is not being withheld for technical reasons, but for political reasons.

Technology and Transit

In fact, since 2010 Wiener Linien has done a remarkable job of inventing its own API to realtime and routing data. They have made a whole open data portal available with a terrific API and neat JSON responses. This is everything a web or mobile developer could want. Or is it?

I have signed up for access to this open data API and done some preliminary investigation. I was interested in seeing if I could use the Wiener Linien open data to produce the equivalent of a GTFS feed. I found the API clear and well designed, but I also found it utterly unique. It is like no other transit API, requiring a learning curve to figure out and wholly dependent on staff at Wiener Linien who could change the API or responses at any time.

I also learned that the API did not make schedule data available. While some schedule data is implicit in the routing service the API provides, the schedules themselves are not made available. This was confirmed for me in a tweet from Stefan Kriz, “Open-Data-Beauftragter” for Wiener Linien: “@efceleste @wienerlinien Fahrpläne bieten die WL nur via Routingschnittstelle an. Als Rohdaten gibt es diese nicht im open Data Portal.” In other words, while Wiener Linien makes transit schedules available to the public as PDF’s, they refuse to make this data available in the open data portal.

This means that it is impossible for me to create the equivalent of a GTFS feed. It certainly explains why despite Wiener Linien providing what it calls “open data,” Vienna stays invisible on transit applications of the web and mobile world.

There are a very few, Vienna-specific, mobile applications that provide some realtime information based on the API’s that Wiener Linien has provided. But the clear indication that Vienna’s data is unique and does not mix well with others is the fact that these apps all serve only Vienna. Vienna is not part of the world, it stands alone.

Mixing Politics and Technology

All this has made it much clearer to me that open data is about more than the data. Yes, Wiener Linien has made some data available openly. But this data is not in the format that most developers around the world have learned to use: GTFS. Because some in Austria still perceive GTFS as a “Google” format, they have missed that it is in fact now the most open and accessible format for developers of transit applications across the world. It is openly defined, and it serves hundreds of cities around the world. Paris, Munich, Prague all provide GTFS data.

While it is possible to provide GTFS data exclusively to Google, this is by no means required or desirable. GTFS data can be provided openly to the whole world, for all developers to use. In fact, this is the definition of open data: a shared format widely used around the world. Vienna is currently not providing this.

Furthermore, Wiener Linien is actively withholding the most fundamental data about its network that could be provided: schedules. Clearly Wiener Linien understands that this is fundemental public information, after all, it posts this to its own website in PDF form and includes these schedules on virtually every bus and tram stop throughout the city. Failing to provide an open data feed of this schedule information is an incredible disservice to Vienna.

If the Green Party and others who believe in open data in Austria truly mean what they say, then they should insist that Wiener Linien provide open schedule data immediately. If they understand the role of technology and care about their citizens and visiting tourists, then they should insist that this data be provided in GTFS format for all, not just for Google. These GTFS files could be posted on the existing open data portal for everyone in the world to use.

Until then, Vienna’s magnificent public transit system will remain invisible to the world.


23 April . Comments Off on Twenty Five Years

Twenty Five Years

I made the best decision of my life on a snowy April morning in 1987. Mary and I had been living with one another for several years and she had suggested a few times that we might make a commitment to do so for the rest of our lives. I was reluctant. I was afraid of becoming my father, of being unable to live out such a commitment without an alternate life and harbors of secrecy. I was afraid that saying I’d do anything for the rest of my life was a bit insane when I was only 24 years old.

We were living in Ohio at the time, and I woke up one April morning to find the world covered in white. An April snowstorm had transformed spring to winter overnight. The bright light of spring on the carpet of snow, the thick sticky white on the branches of the trees, struck me dumb with wonder. What a crazy spring. What a topsy turvy world. As I looked at the transformation outside I realized I could transform inside. I decided if God could be so impulsive as to drop snow on us in April, I could be crazy enough to say yes to Mary. We decided that morning to get married a year later, in April, whatever the weather.

We had a beautiful day, of course, no snow, many friends, and a wedding we structured so that our vows could be shared by many friends who were not (yet) allowed to be married. Saying yes to Mary and this path was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Mary and I have been blessed with two wonderful children and a wonderful journey together. Whatever the future holds, I am grateful to be on this road with Mary. It has not always been smooth sailing and I’ve railed at God (easier to believe in God when I’m angry) plenty of times for the awful and oppressive. But I’ve never been alone, because I find God in my nearest neighbor every day. As our rings say, “journey is reward.” Just being next to one another through thick and thin has been such a great reward.

So today, our twenty fifth anniversary, is a magical morning not for any of the grand plans we’ve made (it looks like we will simply be home together) but for the gift of a snowy April morning outside. This very gift 26 years ago helped me say “yes” to the partner of my life. I give thanks for another April snow, and for the reminder that life is full of the unexpected, transformations are possible, and even beneath the cold white blanket likes the promise of spring. I give thanks for Mary in my life. I love you, Mary!


30 November . Comments Off on Nobody over 30 ever had a good idea

Nobody over 30 ever had a good idea

Monica Ertel spent 16 years at Apple. I met her when she ran the Apple Library Users Group in the 1990’s. I love this anecdote from a 1996 interview:

Steve Jobs–he was president then, and he had an open door policy and anybody could go and talk to him. Down the line I hired some people and this woman was about 32 years old I guess, and she went to talk to him. And you could just go in his office. And he made some remark about how nobody over 30 ever had a good idea. And he was like all of 24 years old. And she was just inflamed by this! So she came back to me and said we have to do some research. We have to put together a list of people over the age of 80 who had great ideas, so we found in the Book of Lists people over 80 who had revolutionary ideas and we sent it to him and we never heard from him again. But, I’ll never forget that because he was 31 when he started Next. And I never forgot it and I thought–I wonder if he remembers his arrogant youth when he said that no one over 30 ever had a good idea. You know, Next hasn’t been all that successful, so maybe he was right! Maybe it’s come around.

Monica left Apple in 1998 when Steve returned. Apple’s corporate library was one of the things that fell under his ax as he slimmed Apple into a fighting trim. Some might say he had a few good ideas left in him after 30!

28 November . Comments Off on What is $2000 worth?

What is $2000 worth?

I just got an email from the White House asking me to tell the President and Congress why it is important to keep taxes from going up on the middle class. They would like me to explain what $2000 is worth to our family. Here is how I responded:

$2000 is a month living in our home. It is the new computer for our high school student. It is a couple months of food on our table.

We are not even halfway to the $250,000 cutoff the President is considering for raising taxes, but we believe in our government and its ability to bring us together to do things we cannot do alone. As members of the middle class, we are willing to give up this $2000 right now if it goes toward health care for all, services for the poor, maintenance of vital infrastructure, and education for all our children. We are ready to pay the price of living in a vigorous society that builds a bright future.

So, please, take our $2000 and build a stronger America for all of us. We would rather start paying now, than saddle our children and grandchildren with a decayed America that has forgotten the price of freedom.

I welcome tax increases. I see our tax-sheltered society as a shameful abdication of responsibility to future generations. I hope we come to our senses and start building a stronger society together again, because I fear the one we are building as individuals is getting more ragged and divided every day.

Look at the image the White House presents as representing this cause. A family becomes shoppers. A house alone and isolated. Pavement and suburban grass. This is the ideal we are striving for? I think this vision is part of the problem, it separates us from each other, it encourages us to carry as much as we can into our mortgaged houses. Will we wake up?

A caring society is worth much more to me than $2000. Let’s build one! Tell the White House what you want to do with your $2000.


15 November . Comments Off on Fix the Filibuster

Fix the Filibuster

Two years ago I created the 51 is a majority campaign. It didn’t catch on and neither did filibuster reform in the US Senate. This time around I hope the Democrats in control of the Senate will realize that they have to fix the filibuster.

For the past few years the requirement to get any work done in the Senate has been 60 votes. This is so common that 60 votes is the new normal. But the Senate was designed to work as a body that, for the most part, respects majority rule. The filibuster is a tool for the minority to raise serious concerns, but was never intended to be invoked on nearly every piece of legislation that comes through the body.

We must reform the filibuster, and I want my Senators out front on this one. There is a proposal being put forward by Senators Merkley, Udall, Gillibrand, Harkin, and Warren to make sure the filibuster is a “talking filibuster,” one that requires Senators to actually stand up and say what they believe if they want to block the action of the majority. Why are Senators I respect, like Amy Klobuchar, Al Franken, Michael Bennet, and Sherrod Brown not out front on this. We must have filibuster reform to get anything done in the next two years.

Please, write your Senators and sign the petition to reform the filibuster. Here’s what I said to my Senators (write Amy and Al yourself if you are in Minnesota):

Dear Al and Amy,

I hope and expect you will support filibuster reform. Make the filibuster a “talking filibuster” that requires a Senator blocking a vote by arguing that more debate is needed to do so by taking the floor and making a case to the American people.

Abuse of they filibuster has crippled the US Senate for long enough. A talking filibuster will protect the minority with enough power to block truly controversial legislation, but it will ensure that the filibuster is reserved for only important cases.

Please, be swift and clear in your support of filibuster reform. Fix the Senate!


UPDATE (19 Nov 2012): Amy Klobuchar has signed onto the effort! Thanks, Amy. Now are are just waiting for Al.

Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 /