All posts by Kris Amundson

From the former English teacher

Thanks to for clearing this up

fic‧tion  [fik-shuhn]


1. the class of literature comprising works of imaginative narration, esp. in prose form.
2. works of this class, as novels or short stories: detective fiction.
3. something feigned, invented, or imagined; a made-up story: We’ve all heard the fiction of her being in delicate health.
4. the act of feigning, inventing, or imagining.
5. an imaginary thing or event, postulated for the purposes of argument or explanation.
6. Law. an allegation that a fact exists that is known not to exist, made by authority of law to bring a case within the operation of a rule of law.

[Origin: 1375–1425; late ME < L fictiōn- (s. of fictiō) a shaping, hence a feigning, fiction, equiv. to fict(us) molded (ptp. of fingere) + -iōn- -ion]

From the Land of 10,000 Lakes

I am not much of a political prognosticator. (I figured Walter Mondale would win because all my friends were voting for him.)

But I’ve just come back from Minnesota. I am seeing Democratic activity in places where it has never been.

Minnesota’s 6th District, which stretches from the Minneapolis exurbs to St. Cloud, has been reliably Republican for years. After Mark Kennedy decided to run for the Senate, the Republicans nominated State Senator Michele Bachmann, a true social conservative.

The Democrats nominated Patty Wetterling, a child safety advocate whose son was abducted by a masked stranger and never found. Ordinarily, this conservative district (Bush won it in 2004 with 57 percent of the vote) would be considered to be a safe Republican seat. But a combination of Bachmann missteps (she recently announced that it was her husband who wanted her to run for the seat–she filed so she could be a “submissive” wife) and a general desire for a change have put it in play.

The 1st District race also shows that it is a bad year to be on the ballot with an R after your name. The district, largely agricultural, stretches from Wisconsin to South Dakota. Democrat Tim Penny, probably the most conservative Democrat in the House at the time, represented the district until his retirement in 1995 when he was replaced by Republican Gil Gutknecht. Until recently, he was thought to have an easy re-election.

But now both races have become competitive. Congressional Quarterly ranks the 6th district as “No Clear Favorite,” and the 1st as “Leans Republican.” The Senate race between DFLer Amy Klobuchar and former Congressman Mark Kennedy is all but over, with Klobuchar in a commanding lead, and the race called “Democratic Favored” by CQ.

Remembering my Mondale experience, I will leave the predictions for others. But for those of you who will be looking for indications on the night of Nov. 7, I offer this tip: if one of these Congressional races goes Democratic, there’s a blue wave coming. If they both go Democratic, that wave will be a tsunami.

Using MasterCard to Pay Visa

I opened the Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning and saw my picture.

This does not happen often. Northern Virginia Democrats are not usually a favorite of the RTD.

But yesterday, as House Democrats were asking questions about the financing mechanism for the House Republican’s smoke-and-mirrors transportation funding plan, we took out our credit cards and waved them in the air.

It was part of our effort to point out that the Republicans’ highly touted $2.4 billion bonding bill gets its money by double counting money, borrowing, and raiding the general fund.

So now, our conservative friends are accusing us of opposing the use of bonds.

Let me say this in small, simple words: House Democrats are not against bonding.

However, we do want to emphasize that bonding is a financing mechanism, not a revenue source. The funds that the bill is proposing to designate for repayment of the 2006 bonds are ALREADY designated to repay the Gilmore-era FRANS.  I am certainly no financial genius, but I know you can’t spend money twice. If we now designate the insurance proceeds to repay 2006 debt, then the funds to repay the Gilmore bonds will have to come from somewhere else. Just because you haven’t reached the credit limit on your credit card doesn’t mean you have more money.

It ain’t the years

“It ain’t the years, honey, it’s the mileage.”
Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark

I’m feeling a bit like Indiana Jones as we head back to Richmond next week. Since our official “adjournment” in March, we have met on the following dates:

March 27 and 30

April 3, 10, 11, 12, 19, 26, and 27

May 3, 10, 12, 18, 23, 25, 30

June 6, 13, 16, 20, 28

July 24

August 8, 28

In addition, there have been the usual trips for committee meetings and other Richmond-type events.
I’m happy to keep going until we find some common ground on transportation. But, as I have said before, I am not interested in having the General Assembly become a permanent governing body.

Keep your fingers crossed.

For those who don’t sit on the sidelines

Tomorrow morning, hundreds of people will meet in parking lots all across Northern Virginia. They’ll pick up a clip board and some literature. Then they’ll hit the streets for several hours of knocking on doors and talking face-to-face with voters.

Here in Mount Vernon, super volunteers like Laura Sonnenmark, Scott Surovell, and Doug Reimel will organize the canvass. They’ll hand out the maps, the literature, and the voter lists. Then they’ll grab their own clip board and start walking.

Those of us with a Certificate of Election on our walls do the work because it’s part of our job. Yet weekend after weekend, we are joined by dedicated volunteers who lace up their sneakers and walk with us.

What brings them out? It’s not the Krispy Kreme donuts or the coffee. And it’s not because door knocking is so much fun. As a candidate, I have knocked on tens of thousands of doors, and I can assure you that door knocking is hard work. People yell at you. They slam their door in your face. And their dogs …

No, the volunteers do it because they believe in the process. They know that democracy is not a spectator sport—and they’re not going to sit on the sidelines.

The Republican voter turnout operation gets a lot of well-deserved praise. Their “secret?” A neighbor at your door is always more persuasive than anyone from outside the district.

It’s a lesson Democrats temporarily forgot. But, thanks to people like Laura, Scott, and Doug, we’re back to basics again.

So here’s to the volunteers—on both sides of the aisle—who make democracy work. Thanks.

Ah, the joys of home ownership

I am not, technically speaking, handy when it comes to home repairs. I can change lightbulbs. I can hang pictures. Move much beyond that and I am hopeless.

Which was why the chirping smoke alarm drove me so crazy.

On an infrequent and irregular basis, the smoke alarm in my upstairs hallway would chirp. I did what I could. I climbed the ladder, took out the old battery, took it to the store and bought a replacement. Then I climbed back up the ladder and installed it.

That night, the chirping came back.

Finally, I decided that perhaps smoke alarms could go bad. So I called an electrician and scheduled a house call.

Now, anyone who has ever actually secured the services of an electrician knows that they don’t come cheap. So, in one of those “While he’s here, he might as well” modes, I paid a visit to my local Lowe’s. Several hundred dollars later, I walked out with a variety of new lighting fixtures and switches. After all, I figured, it would be a shame to waste the electrician’s trip.

He arrived at the appointed hour and worked quickly. Still, the bill was about what you’d expect if you’ve had an electrician make a house call lately. But I was happy. I had dimmer switches, a new light fixture in my dining room. And best of all, the damn chirping had stopped.

Last night, I was awakened by an annoying noise. It appears to be the smoke alarm in the guest bedroom …

In Memoriam

Many Americans are mourning because of the lives lost on that terrible day five years ago. Here in my district, we lost neighbors … fathers and mothers … husbands and wives … coaches … and friends.
This is a sad day. Please take time to honor those we lost.
Spc. Craig Amundson

Captain Robert E. Dolan

Cmdr. William H. Donovan

Steven D. Jacoby

Terence M. Lynch

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Gary Smith

Sandra C. Taylor

In addition, take a moment to thank the fire fighters, police officers, and other first responders — the people who ran into the Pentagon and the Twin Towers just when everyone else was running out. Every day, we owe them a debt of gratitude.

Back from the Big Apple

Spent several days in New York City, getting Sara (more or less) settled as she starts law school at NYU. It was one of those bittersweet moments parents have to get used to. I’m thrilled, of course, that she is so bright, so committed to making the world better, so willing to begin such a great adventure. And I’m wishing she could do those things … well, from closer to home.

Of course, as my mother reminds me, I moved halfway across the country at just about the same age.

She’s living in an apartment that is huge by New York standards, but pretty cramped for space. Still, it’s in a safe neighborhood, and there are two Starbucks within a block.

When I told her that meant I could visit frequently, she paled visibly.

So we got curtains on the windows and shelf paper on the shelves. Shoes are out of boxes and sweaters are put away for cooler days.

I only cried a little on the train home.