Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rachel Maddow, I'm begging you

Don't let your lawyers move to dismiss Bradlee and Jake's two-man circle jerk until they've explored the grifter empire known as You Can Run But You Cannot Hide and they have taken Bradlee and Jake's deposition.

Oh sure, it's a bush league complaint, entirely without merit and dismissable on its face, but please, don't pass up the chance to reveal these charlatans for who they are.

Bradlee and Jake go further 'round the bend

Persons in the more remote precincts may be unaware that Bradley Dean Smith and the You Can Run But You Cannot Hide patent medicine show and affiliated filling station grifters sued NBC, MSNBC, Rachel Maddow, The Minnesota Independent, and MinnIndy's reporter Andy Birkey for defamation to the tune of [hysterical laughter; sorry] $50 million.

Of all of the colossally stupid things Smith may have ever done, this one is going to prove to be right at the top.

The suit is about, as most readers know, the re-publication (by MSNBC and MinnIndy) of remarks that Smith made on the radio about the morality of Muslims because at least they have the good sense to execute gays (I'm paraphrasing here). In spite of what Smith says now, it is no stretch of the imagination to believe that he made the comment because he thought it was a Really Good Idea. The radio archives are replete with remarks by Smith and his radio sidekick, Jake, over a long period of time making it abundantly clear that Smith's protestations of innocence now are bunkum.

Smith is really seeking to have Maddow and Birkey take back Bradlee's own words, but they're like toothpaste: when they're out of the tube, they're out. He could apologize now, say he was wrong, and beg forgiveness of the God he pretends to worship, but that's not Bradlee's style.

The suit cannot be won. Smith has a better shot at being hit by a meteor. As a shameless, pandering media hound, Smith is obviously a public person; in addition to proving material untrue statements were made about him (which he can't; see the paragraphs above), it has to be proved that the defendants bore actual malice toward him. In other words, the defendants had to know the statements were false and intended to harm Smith and his "ministry."

In one of the more endearing passages in the complaint, Smith pleads malice "on information and belief."

You cannot allege the fact central to your case - malice - on information and belief. On information and belief, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and therefore I ask the Congress for a Declaration of War.

It is also reported somewhere - I cannot remember where - that, according to Smith, MSNBC's slogan "Lean Forward" is also evidence of the network's liberal homosexualist anti-Judeo-Christian agenda.

Boys and girls, allegations like these are why the word "flimsy" was invented.

To win a defamation suit, you also have to prove that your reputation was harmed. How was Smith harmed? Tom Pritchard won't call him any more? If anybody's reputation was harmed, it was Michele Bachmann's for the score or more times she's mentioned in the complaint.

On top of all of this, the lawsuit does not belong in District of Columbia where it was filed. The complaint identifies Maddow, NBC and MSNBC as New Yorkers. MinnIndy and Andy Birkey are Minnesotans; so are the plaintiffs. None of the parties is domiciled or resides in D.C.

It is claimed that the defendants "do business in the District of Columbia," but the only reason I can see for filing the case there is that Smith's lawyer, Larry Klayman, is licensed to practice in D.C. It's pretty unusual to venue a case for the convenience of the plaintiff's lawyer.

This suit is laughable on so many grounds. I personally hope, though, that it survives long enough for discovery about YCRBUCH's operation to take place and for Bradley and Jake's depositions to be taken. You really have to wonder what kind of investigation Klayman took before filing this stinker.

Ken Avidor at Dump Michele Bachmann has a post about Bradlee and Jake's efforts to raise money for their legal defense. Which is curious, of course, because they are the plaintiffs, not the defendants. That's where I got the link to the complaint.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The dim prophet of doom

David Strom wrote an op-ed piece in the Strib this morning. Strom suffers from a disabling case of Ryan's Hysteria, the definition of which will, sometime in the future, read:
A mental affliction distinguished by the fixed and unwavering belief that the sky is actually falling. Named after an early 21st century Republican Congressman from Wisconsin in the former United States who held office shortly before Congress refused to pay its bills and the economy collapsed. There is no known treatment or cure for Ryan's Hysteria.
Strom is a former college instructor (in political science, not economics), former executive director of the Minnesota Taxpayers League, former executive director of the Minnesota Free Market Institute, former Patriot radio host and occasional front man for a couple of his advertisers, precious metal and currency swap scam artists now in or on their way to the can, and most recently, he's been saved from a life on the streets by the Republican Caucus in the Minnesota House.

I heard Strom described recently as a "desperate huckster," and I certainly don't disagree with that.

The first time I ever heard spittle-flecked rantings like Strom's about how we were under a mountain of debt, that it was going to kill the country, we were on the road to financial perdition, and that we needed to get rid of welfare and Social Security, was when I was about twelve (half a century ago). It was relayed to me, in all seriousness, by a friend of mine, a child in an extended family of Bircher-types.

So you see, Ryan's Hysteria predates, well, Ryan. It was nonsense then, and it is nonsense now. We don't have a debt crisis; we have (as a tweet I read said), a hostage crisis. Strom, in fact, complains that he and his misguided brethren are described in those terms: terrorists, hostage takers, or suicide bombers.

Why, according to Strom, they're the ones who see the light. Just like all the other messianic zealots and fools of history: David Koresh, Jim Jones, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Bud Grant (I always like to throw that one in there because of his leadership on the Indian fishing treaty litigation; that one ended so well), and well, the list is near endless.

One of Strom's rhetorical tricks is to project deficits out for fifty years. All of the debt prophets love to do this. But you should look at Strom's argument this way: it's like observing a car crossing the border into Minnesota on I-35 and predicting confidently that its final destination is Thunder Bay, Ontario.

If a publically-held company made fifty-year financial projections to investors, its CEO and CFO would be sharing cells next to Strom's precious metal and currency swap huckster buddies.

It is curious that the debt hysteria always surfaces during Democratic administrations, when in fact, more debt is run up at a faster rate when Republicans are the president. Bill Clinton was the president the last time we had a budget surplus, and you'll remember it was Alan Greenspan who said we needed to cut taxes to keep from paying off the national debt too soon. The nineties were a lot more prosperous time in America than the aughts and the era of the Bush tax cuts, too.

What needs to happen now is to prevent the Zippo raid on the United States by Strom and his zealot pals. The village does not need to be burned to be saved. In any near or medium term, it isn't even in need of saving.

Just letting Uncle Alan and George Bush's tax cuts expire would go a long way toward fixing the problem. That and cutting a military that spends as much as the whole rest of the world combined.


Some words from one of my correspondents:
I borrowed these numbers from David Cay Johnson's site: In 2000, individual tax receipts averaged $4500 per person. In 2010 they were at $2900. That's a 39% decrease (to say nothing of an overall decrease in corporate taxes, which fell 27%) during a period where we suffered a major terrorist attack, fought 2 wars, added on an unfunded Medicare extension (Part D), suffered a horrific natural disaster (Katrina), bought a non-Keynesian stimulus package (mostly tax cuts and individual/state aid) and bailed out Wall Street. [ ] We're running head first into global warming and default and [ ] one of the main political parties doesn't believe in anything going on in the real world.

Friday, July 29, 2011

This will be sobering news to the boys and girls in Edina

You might want to check in with Eric Paulsen about this:
Moody's rating agency began notifying 177 local entities across the U.S. on Thursday that their AAA ratings could be in jeopardy if the U.S. government bond rating is lowered. The bond rating for local governments impacts the cost of borrowing for projects like schools, roads, affordable housing and other infrastructure.

All told, the potential downgrades in districts across the country could affect $69 billion in outstanding local debt. Other AAA rated local governments in Minnesota that have been notified include:

Dakota County, Edina School District, Maple Grove, Minnetonka Schools, St. Louis Park, Washington County, Wayzata city and school district.
Although the Hot Dish Politics post doesn't mention the City of Edina itself, it too, would likely be affected. You know all that street replacement going on in Edina (well, and elsewhere, too) right now? It's all going to be bonded and charged back to the "benefitted" homeowners through special assessments.

The higher the bonding cost, the higher the assessments. Pretty simple.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Echo comment system is down

The comment system is not working, at least for some readers. Occasionally, if you click the comment button early enough, it will take you to the old Blogger comment system, but don't be fooled, no one will see those. Let me investigate.

By 2-1 margin, Minnesotans blame GOP for shutdown

MinnPost's first poll fills a void in the local media, finally asking the question "who do you blame for the shutdown?" 42% of those polled blame the Republican-led Legislature, 21% blame DFL Governor Mark Dayton. Even worse for Minnesota Republicans? Independent voters were even more likely to blame them.
But the key swing group of self-identified independents was also much more likely to blame Republicans than to blame Dayton. Among independents, 46 percent "blamed" the Republicans, 18 percent blamed Dayton and 25 percent both.
And this leads to the bottom line: because of the shutdown, those polled are less likely to vote for Republicans in 2012.
The MinnPost poll asked Minnesotans whether the shutdown will make them more likely to vote for Republicans or for Democrats in 2012, or whether the shutdown will not affect their vote either way. The results:

More likely to vote for the Repubs: 17 percent

More likely to vote for the Dems: 30 percent.

Won't affect my vote: 42 percent.

No opinion: 11 percent.
By the way, I mentioned this is MinnPost's first poll. They're seeking donations to help defray the expense and to allow them to do more polling in the future. I think it's valuable to have more media organizations gauging public opinion, so I plan to make a donation. I hope you'll consider doing the same.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bradlee Dean takes Manhattan!

Unsatisfied with simply hijacking the end of the Minnesota legislative session, the Right Reverend Bradlee Dean has set his sights on a national audience. Wednesday, Dean will hold a Manhattan press conference to announce he's suing Rachel Maddow, MSNBC and others for defamation.

Tim Pawlenty's campaign clumsily tried to discredit Michele Bachmann with the Daily Caller migraine story, and failed. Now comes Bradlee Dean, who might well succeed, even though he's trying to help Bachmann:
In an interview earlier this year, MSNBC's president Phil Griffin admitted that the network, to boost its ratings, caters to the so-called "progressive left". This explains the malicious attacks on Bradlee Dean and his ministry, which are being used to harm the presidential campaign of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who is a conservative Christian.

In the past, Dean and his ministry have been complemented by presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (who prayed for the ministry) for their work in promoting values for the nation's youth. The left wing media's effort to defame Dean is an obvious way to try to harm Bachmann's presidential prospects, who they fear and despise. Other left wing media outlets have followed MSNBC and Maddow in their slanderous efforts. This suit may just be the first in a series of cases meant to protect the fine reputation of Dean and his ministry.
Oh, goody, there might be more? Please, pretty please!

Actually, given who Dean's retained as counsel, there probably will be a string of lawsuits.
The lawsuit is filed by attorney Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, in DC Superior Court and seeks in excess of $50 million in damages. However, money is not the issue. "This case is filed as a matter of principle," stated Klayman. "We need more Bradlee Deans in the world and hateful left wing television commentators must be made to respect not only his mission but the law," he added.
Klayman's famous for suing the Clinton administration repeatedly over every scandal from Vince Foster to Monica Lewinsky. Since then, Klayman's suffered through an ugly legal battle with Judicial Watch (which he founded), and come in last in the Republican primary in a run for Senate in Florida. Dean may be his ticket back into the big time. It's certainly more high profile than digging into the cost of Michelle Obama's parties at the White House.

The best part of this is that Bradlee Dean, in his quest for media attention, might finally get people to understand the close embrace of his ministry by Bachmann and other Minnesota Republicans. As he defends his "fine reputation," let's hope he gets the attention he seeks.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Drone strike bears the hallmark of al-Qaeda

Charles Davis reports:
A missile from what witnesses described as an unmanned aerial vehicle left dozens of people dead and countless more injured in Pakistan's volatile tribal region this morning, a deadly strike that experts say shows all the classic signs of Islamic terrorism.

Carried out just before dawn, Pakistani officials say the attack killed at least 55 people, including dozens of women and children. According to experts, the obvious ruthlessness and casual disregard for innocent life are clear signs al-Qaeda – or maybe some other Muslims – were behind the strike.

“Killing people is a tried and true tactic of Islamists,” said One Important Expert who picked up the telephone. Indeed, the expert notes al-Qaeda first burst onto the scene with the novel idea of taking the lives of others with the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 – the first recorded intentional killings since the time of Jesus Christ, renowned savior and author of the Declaration of Independence.
Well, that's obviously a sendup of the jumping to conclusions that many right-wing pundits did after the massacre in Norway. It's a different way of looking at the drone strikes, too.

A thump of the tail to Jonathan Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution.

Monday, July 25, 2011

David Hann and Wimpy's Hamburger Economics

For a hamburger today, I will gladly pay you on Tuesday

We all know Wimpy's pitch from the Popeye cartoons. (Thanks to Kevin Staunton for the original imagery.)

Let's say Wimpy gets his hamburger and does, in fact, pay for it on Tuesday. Then he turns around and asks for another one on the same terms. The burger shop is always financing Wimpy one hamburger.

And so it is with Sen. David One Hamburger Behind Hann's logic about school aid shifts.

One Hamburger Behind said in a recent interview on public radio that once you get past the initial shift, the accounting shifts don't mean much, because like the hamburger shop, the schools districts are getting paid for money allocated to them in the past before they are asked to defer current money.

This is all laid out in the Minnesota Public Radio PoliGraph (tm) article at the link. The article labels the claim accurate, but with a caveat. The term of art for "accurate with a caveat" is weasel-y. Why is it weasel-y?

That first hamburger.

Just like Wimpy, the state may be cash flowing its obligation, but it still owes the schools districts for the first hamburger. Or the last hamburger, take you pick, but it is always one hamburger behind.

Wimpy's Hamburger Economics have been the hallmark of budgeting in Minnesota for multiple biennia now. It is really borrowing money to finance current operations. But it's kind of off the books - think Enron - and therefore doesn't have to be counted in figuring out whether we have a state budget that balances.

But it isn't off the books to the school districts who were promised the money would be made up at the time the state took the first hamburger. They have had to cut budgets, cut teachers, cut programs, and borrow money.

Not to mention raise local property taxes. Local school board levy referenda (or referendums, if you prefer) are likely to be popping out this fall.

The tobacco bonds, incidentally, are functionally the same thing: funding current operations out of future revenue streams.

Drawing from here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In other shooting news

A four-year-old boy was shot in the temple - and perhaps it is unnecessary to relate, died - while fishing with his father. A friend of the family described it as a "freak accident."

The father and son duo were fishing on a pier when a neighbor decided, in a drunken haze, to shoot out a light on the pier. The shot went a little wide! Unknown to this writer is whether the boy was on the shooter's curtilage.

I think the family friend got it almost right: it was a gun freak accident. Law enforcement authorities, having no sense of humor whatsoever, are calling it reckless homicide.

In the same article, there's a report of another Indiana four year old who "accidentally shot himself at a suburban Chicago liquor store."

I'm not making that up.

This brings to four the number of Indiana children's deaths from gun violence in the last three-and-a-half weeks.

According to the Brady Campaign, over 30,000 people a year die from gun violence in the United States, and twice that number survive a gun shot.

I mention all of this because the Second Amendment types are already beginning to wail that guns would have been the answer to the right-wing terrorism in Norway. Even after yesterday, however, the rate of death from gun violence is still much lower in Norway than say, Texas. Far lower.

Some security one the island would have been a good idea, but the idea of a bunch of teenagers packing as the solution to this event is ludicrous.

Jason Lewis: dirty hippie

Even the blind squirrel finds the occasional nut

In the Strib today, Jason Lewis says it is time to reconsider the war on drugs, or Prohibition II. Lewis brings in a few conservative luminaries to support his point, naturally, and he cannot resist a swipe at ATF and the Justice Department. But he does make a couple of good non-ideological points:

The drug habits and demand for drugs by U.S. citizens are killing Mexico, not just Mexicans, but Mexico itself:
Imagine a nightmare in which terrorists brutally murder 40,000 people in just five years. Now imagine that their base of operations is not across the globe, but directly adjacent to the United States. No doubt, hearing of such a thing, many of my conservative colleagues would be demanding a massive mobilization against the latest evils of Islamofacism.

But the real-life killers I have in mind, who revel in decapitating their victims (Al Capone's got nothing on these guys), aren't Muslim fanatics. They're narco-terrorists exploiting Mexico's failed war on drugs.

Most of the latest carnage appears to have been spearheaded by the Los Zetos gang, a group of former Mexican military men who simultaneously commit heinous acts of violence while building roads, schools and clinics for the impoverished. Sound familiar? It should -- because whether you're talking about the Taliban or Mexican drug cartels, both employ similar tactics that result when governments grant them de facto monopoly status in the distribution of illicit drugs. And the sad irony is that the exorbitant black-market profits used to finance their operations are a result of prohibition itself.
Some commentators will tell you that the 40,000 figure that Lewis quotes is conservative.

The war on drugs is killing us, too:
Nearly 80 years after the end of alcohol prohibition, the Global Commission on Drug Policy declared the war on drugs a failure with "devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world." Most of the deleterious effects reside in urban America, where young people find it much more lucrative to deal than to learn a trade. For all of the problems associated with alcohol, and there are many, you simply don't see gangs shooting one another (and innocent bystanders) over a six-pack of Bud.
I would quarrel with Lewis about the ease of learning a trade or getting a job afterwards, especially for kids in the inner-city, but I take his point. The incarceration rates for young black males is just unacceptable. As intolerance of ex-offenders only grows in the United States, the number of people who have received economic deaths sentences also grows. This is something we really cannot afford.

And holy mackerel, the war on drugs is expensive:
The United States alone has spent $1 trillion on narcotics enforcement over the last 40 years, and Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimates the total budgetary impact to state and federal governments at around $88 billion per year, including lost tax revenue.
Lewis' policy prescription falls short, though. He says we should turn to the states as laboratories of reform of the drug laws.

Let's say we did that and Minnesota decided by itself to declare an end to the war on drugs, marijuana especially [as legislation by Ron Paul and Barney Frank would apparently permit]. We could look forward to only 39,500 people being killed in drug violence in Mexico in the next five years?

Current drug policy is nationally crafted and is the work of both national parties. As long as transportation and distribution of drugs remains a federal crime, the efforts of individual states will mean very little to Mexico. We might, however, be able to affect incarceration rates and the long terms effects of a marijuana bust in Minnesota; that would be a good thing.

Friday, July 22, 2011

After swinging by the pawn shop

With their pawn shop bidness behind them, Amy, Kurt, Junior the Deputy, and Matt took their Buddy Can You Spare a Billion, or Even Two or Three? tour on the road, stopping at schools in every hamlet in the state to nick anything that wasn't cemented in place:
As expected, the hydrogen bomb at the center of [the K12 bill] is the nonpolicy decision to balance the budget by allowing the state to withhold 40 percent of education funding for a year after it’s due, and nothing even approximating a roadmap for paying it back.

And the devastation the shift will cause is where most of the educators canvassed on Wednesday would like the public’s attention to stay, given that the cumulative deficit it has caused is about an eye-popping $3 billion. That’s some $3,000 per pupil, or more than half the annual general fund appropriation.
Beth Hawkins at MinnPost has a great article explaining the education bill, from which this quote is taken, at the link.

There is no estimate at the time this is written of the T-shirt revenue expected from the tour.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lining up at the pawn shop

Amy, Kurt, Junior the Deputy, and Matt are all standing there in line. They each have a stack of papers that have Tobacco Bond printed on the top. What they are proposing to do is trade these bonds for a loan of $700 million dollars.

These tobacco bonds represent a promise to repay that loan: IOU's printed up really nice. The thing that's uncertain is what the pawn broker is going to want in interest. The higher the interest, of course, the less net money is raised by the bonds.

So, Amy, Kurt, Junior the Deputy, and Matt are understandably nervous. Because, you see, these bonds aren't exactly AAA. Well, nothing in Minnesota is AAA these days, but the tobacco bonds border on flim-flam artistry: they aren't exactly investment grade.

The tobacco bonds aren't the general obligations of the State of Minnesota; they are backed only by a revenue stream to the state made payable under the tobacco settlement that was made way back when Skip Humphrey was the Attorney General. It was supposed to be kind of an annuity to help defray the health care costs to the state associated with smoking by its citizens and for anti-smoking education efforts.

These payments are not in a guaranteed amount, and they are only the promise of the tobacco companies. Companies never borrow money nearly as cheaply as governments do, and when you factor in the fact that the amounts payable are uncertain, you can be sure that the pawnbroker is going to demand a pretty high interest rate.

Experience elsewhere teaches us that the risks of tobacco bonds are subject to a lot more vagaries than general obligation bonds, and the prices they fetch reflect that. Here are a few grafs from the linked 2003 article:
In addition to New York City, there are a number of counties across New York State that will begin losing access to millions of dollars in annual revenues starting next spring because of the structure of their tobacco bond deals.

The counties include Nassau, Westchester, Monroe, Erie, Niagara, Ulster, Rockland, and Rensselaer. In addition, a number of other counties participated in two pooled New York county tobacco deals.

As a result of the unexpected budget hit, which was triggered by the hard and fast fall in tobacco company credit quality, some of those counties could follow New York City’s lead and begin reviewing a restructuring of their tobacco debt.

The impact on the underlying credit of the issuers “depends on the structure” of their tobacco bond deals, said Robyn Kapiloff, an analyst at Moody’s Investors Service. “It varies [from issuer to issuer] whether it will be a short-term event or a long-term event.”

In all, New York City, the New York counties, Iowa, and the District of Columbia, have sold nearly $4 billion in tobacco bonds that are structured with so-called trapping mechanisms. The mechanisms were built into early tobacco bond deals to provide additional security to bondholders, requiring the issuer to fund additional reserves if tobacco company credit quality fell below investment grade.
One of two things is likely to happen in the pawn broker's office.

If Amy, Kurt, Junior the Deputy, and Matt offer a straight tobacco payment stream deal, they won't get beans for the bonds. (The interest rate will be very high.)

If they offer bonds with a "trapping mechanism" as described above, there is a risk - a substantial one - that funds will have to come out of future state budgets to keep the tobacco bond holders happy.

And never mind, as Rep. Ryan Winkler points out, we're just borrowing money to fund general fund matters; we're not getting a bridge or a building or even just a shiny new car.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Comforting the Comfortable

And Afflicting the Afflicted

Way to go Republicans! As Mike Meyers notes in an op-ed in today's Strib, at least the well to do among us are spared the tragedy of domestic claret.

In gratitude, every person saved from this humiliation should celebrate and hire a second pool boy or gardner. It's the least they can do.

Monday, July 18, 2011

But who will twist the arms?

One of the jobs of the assistant majority leaders at the Legislature is to twist arms in the caucus to enforce the leadership's positions. Who are they in the Senate? David Hann, Doug Magnus, Dave Senjem, and Dave Thompson.

You do see the problem here, don't you?
"I don't know what the outcome will be," said Assistant Senate Majority Leader David Thompson, R-Lakeville. "I have some concerns, certainly, but I am not sure what I am going to do yet."
I have made some fun of the Senate - especially - leadership but the followership ain't so hot either.

There could easily be more defectors in the list of assistants. David Hann is one name that comes readily to mind.

Rhetorical self-demolishment

Gary Gross, writing at Let Freedom Ring, says (well, he heard somebody say) it's Mark Dayton's Commissioners who are cocking up the budget deal. But in the very next breath, he says this:
Gross goes on to give a laundry list of policy changes -- including several that he admits are controversial -- but clearly, it's the Commissioners who are the problem in his fevered imagination.

Rarely, in the field of rhetorical endeavor, has anyone so quickly demolished his own argument.

Our hats are off to Gary.

And just parenthetically, the King's "budget prioritization" idea is little more -- probably no more -- than saying let's do what Republicans want, and we'll assign things like HHS a lower priority, and if we run a little short of money, we'll let few poor people die in the streets.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Leading the children onto the ice!

If I made up this quote, it would be slander:
House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, acknowledged recently the blow to school budgets. "It will lead them out on to the ice, but they won't fall through."
C'mon kids! Follow me! It'll be fun! Don't worry about all the cracking noises!

This is the guy, by the way, who actually seems to have his caucus in order.

Kurt's right hand guy, Matt Dean, explains why Kurt is so effing satisfied:
"The most important thing is that we are not going to have tax increases," said House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood.
Is it really necessary to mention that Matt Dean is a nihilist moron?

The linked article reports:
In two budget cycles, the state will have rung up $2.1 billion in IOUs to its public school districts. As a result, schools scraping to keep students competitive must try to borrow money just to manage their own cash flow.
Of course, this won't bother you if you've don't have a child or grandchild in public schools, aren't an employer hoping to hire educated Minnesotan in the future, or aren't a homeowner hoping to avoid having to deal with a property tax levy for operating funds for your local schools, or, well, you get the idea.

Does leading Minnesota's schools "out onto the ice" seem like a prudent plan for the future, just so we can have "no tax increases?"

I thought there was a deal

Of course, there was. But because Amy, Junior, and Mikey cannot count to thirty-four, the reports were premature. A lot of people (including me) have judged Republican leadership as amateurs all along. These people cannot deliver pizza.

Katherine Kersten wrote again today

That's all I have to say.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Revenge of the Steaming Shitburger!

Sources say that the Republican caucus in the Senate may have as little as, well, not nearly enough votes to pass the budget compromise. I posted about Mike Parry's tantrum earlier, and MCCL is now in on the act, so you know that can't be good.

C'mon, Amy, Junior, and Mikey! Pull on your oars. You're the ones who served up the Steaming Shitburger of Revenue.

Now, in a moment of supreme irony, it looks like they're going to have to eat it, too!

Wasting Mike's time

That's a really good one, Mike!

From today's Strib:
While controversial social policy items such as abortion were taken off the table, Republicans maintained Friday that other reforms should stay in the mix. "The policy dictates where the money goes," said House Speaker Kurt Zellers. "You can't just take out all the policy and then hand somebody a chunk of money."

Those policy differences threatened to derail some negotiation Friday. Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, who chairs the state government committee, stormed out of a meeting with Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner James Schowalter on his bill after Schowalter told him the "policy and reforms" were off the table. Among the changes were consolidation of some state agencies and activities.

"I just took my tablet, put it in my folder," Parry said. "And Commissioner Schowalter looked at me and said, 'Senator, please don't leave.' And I said, 'Commissioner, I'm not here to waste my time.'"
The idea that you could waste legislative cipher Mike Parry's time strikes a lot of us as pretty funny. Mike's just a windy grandstander, as I learned early in his career at the Capitol. From the baggers rally in April 2010:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Who won?

Thursday, the great Minnesota Shutdown went from intractable to settled with dizzying speed. Mark Dayton's morning presentation at the Humphrey Institute became an announcement of his acceptance of a June 30th offer from Republican leaders. The $1.4 billion dollar package of shifts and tobacco revenue bonds, coupled with demands for removal of policy changes contained in the GOP budget bill, agreement not to seek a 15% across the board cut of state employees, and a $500 million bonding bill became the framework for a compromise. By 5:15 PM, a deal was struck.

It was oddly anticlimactic to watch Speaker Zellers and Majority Leader Koch announcing that they had an agreement with Governor Dayton. Dayton's offer was effectively one the GOP couldn't refuse, even if they wanted to. It was a definitive end to an impasse that transformed Minnesota into a synecdoche for national budget woes. Twenty-two thousand laid off state employees, shuttered state parks, and a downgrade to the state's credit rating were all part of the mounting toll. In one stroke, Dayton ended that.

A lot of folks on the left have been and will be critical of this decision. Instant reaction from a number of DFL legislators was strongly negative, though minority leader Paul Thissen reportedly said that he'd support it. The smart money is that very few DFL votes will be cast for the budget compromise. Many left-leaning pundits took Dayton to task for caving to the GOP. Indeed, by the evening that was the GOP's talking point, with Michael Brodkorb posting a sheet of headlines that Dayton had conceded or lost.

While it chafes for Dayton supporters to watch, this bravado is mostly for the Republican base. Check out the sources for the headlines in Brodkorb's piece; National Review, Powerline, True North, Drudge, and the lead quote from Rush Limbaugh. This is not a piece for the general public, it's for the right wing base. Or consider this piece from House Republicans claiming that they've held state spending to $34 billion. That might come as a surprise to House Speaker Kurt Zellers, considering he "said the agreement will spend more than the $34 billion Republicans wanted to spend." Remember, Dayton won his budget. The revenue comes in the only form the GOP would permit, borrowing and shifting. As Dayton said - he'll own the budget, but not the revenue.

There are a lot of members of the GOP caucus that have made a lot of noise about cutting state spending. This compromise will be hard to swallow, especially as the pet policy provisions of GOP members are excised. Rep. Garofolo will howl about the removal of private school vouchers and curtailment of teacher's organizing rights. Sen. Hann will lecture disapprovingly as his plan to voucherize MinnesotaCare disappears. Rep. Banaian will cluck, as he did on MPR this morning, about the loss of his budgeting provisions. Rep. Runbeck's vendetta against Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth is shelved. And Rep. Downey's corporate consultant crusade against state employees will have to wait until later. Stopping a tax increase will seem like cold comfort for Republican true believers.

This assumes, of course, that "no policy provisions" means what it says. The details of an agreement will be painstaking on some of the larger bills, and it's worth watching what makes it into a final version. But it represents a big win for Mark Dayton on many fronts.

Dayton is taking the long game on the budget. The resolution insulates folks from the full brunt of cuts to health care and increased property taxes from local government aid cuts. The $500 million or so in bonding projects will stimulate the construction industry and the economy, and it seems that a $1 billion Vikings stadium will likely follow. This will put literally thousands of folks back to work. For a governor in the mold of Rudy Perpich, this is exactly what he wanted.

It's true that both sides shared in the blame for the shutdown, but Dayton's well-positioned to get credit for decisively ending it. Republicans will be saddled in 2012 with a broken promise to their base and an intransigent reputation with moderates. DFL legislators will get to campaign against the budget as irresponsible borrowing and shifting. In all, the political advantage is decidedly in favor of the DFL and Mark Dayton.

They'd better take advantage in 2012. It will take three or four budget cycles to dig Minnesota out the hole created over the last decade.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Grover's nut collection

You have to wonder if he keeps them in a jar on his desk.

If you want to help Geoff, Kurt, and Matt find their nuts back, and become Minnesota legislators, you should contact them (at the Legislature's home page) and help them out!


It's Teach Michele Bachmann English Usage Day at the Cucking Stool. Who can spot the misuse of a word in the lede in a story about Michele and the debt ceiling:

WASHINGTON - Taking the vanguard of a Republican revolt against President Obama and their own GOP leaders, Rep. Michele Bachmann and two other Tea Party members said Wednesday there is no need to raise the federal debt limit in order to continue paying Social Security benefits.

"This is a misnomer that the president and the Treasury secretary have been trying to pass off on the American people," said Bachmann, R- Minn., a presidential candidate who is leading the polls in her native Iowa.

Of course, I gave it away in the title. Misnomer means:

1: the misnaming of a person in a legal instrument

2: a: a use of a wrong or inappropriate name
b: a wrong name or inappropriate designation

Unless Bachmann was saying, "The President said 'debt ceiling' when he meant 'Social Security'," which is not likely, she used this word incorrectly, as she often does. From the same Mirrriam-Webster entry:

“International Airport” is something of a misnomer, since almost all the arriving and departing flights are local.

See? Must better choices of words would include error, falsity, misconception, or maybe misbelief.

That would leave Bachmann's comment factually incorrect, but grammatically more satisfying.

In any event, her statement is duplicitous, since she and the Tea Party want to dismantle Social Security. Providing assurances about Social Security while maneuvering to kill it is guileful.

In other words, calling Michele Bachmann a truthful person would be a misnomer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The St. Paul hospitality industry: a teachable moment

One of the interesting stories about the shut down comes from the eateries and watering holes in St. Paul that are so severely affected. There have been several articles in the Twin Cities' dailies about them: hard to hang on, having to let employees go, rent still has to be paid, property taxes still have to be paid, etc.

It occurred to me that the plight of the hospitality industry in the Capitol City is a perfect example of some things in the current economic debate.

First, demand for products or services is what cause businesses to hire people. It matters not at all how rich or poor a coffee shop owner is, if she has no customers, she won't need employees to serve them. To hire the employees first and then expect the business to come is what is called supply side economics.

Second, the tax that kills small business, especially in downturns, is the property tax. You have to pay the property tax if you are a building owner, or you pay it as part of your rent for the coffee shop, or whatever. You have to pay this tax whether a single customer walks through the door or not.

Parenthetically, the same is true of residential property owners; the property tax is no respecter of fluctuations in your income.

To have customers, you need to have not only people, you need people with money to spend. And enough confidence to spend it. Contrary to what Republicans will tell you, plunging the economy into the shitter is not the way to create people with money and the confidence to spend it.

What tax don't you have to pay if you aren't making money? The income tax, of course.

The hospitality industry in St. Paul is not carping about the income tax. Nor the sales tax, for that matter, because it doesn't have to be paid on sales not made.

Most of the jobs created by small business are not created by hot shot entrepreneurs racing around the country looking for the lowest tax rate. They are created by people like the St. Paul hospitality industry, who are hurt far more by the increased property taxes that will result from cutting off local government aid to St. Paul than a small income tax increase on incomes over a million dollars, or even $300,000.

The "job creator" argument is pure sophistry.

Now, we can't rely on the income tax alone, because as is obvious from the discussion, it goes down when people's incomes go down. The property tax for all its warts is pretty reliable (unless property values assessments decline severely). And the property tax is rather unavoidable, too. A similar argument can be made for the sales tax. People have to eat. Okay, not a good example, at least in Minnesota. But they have to buy clothing. Kidding. But the sales tax is more stable than the income tax, and it's pretty collectible, too.

But the case of the St. Paul hospitality industry during the shut down does illustrate quite nicely the Republican game that's afoot on income taxes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Quote of the day

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (apparently channeling his inner Mike Parry) in remarks made on the Senate floor:
"After years of discussions and months of negotiations, I have little question that as long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is probably unattainable."
Let that one sink in.

Update: More pro-democracy bons mots from McConnell:
The time has come for a balanced budget amendment that forces Washington to balance its books. If these debt negotiations have convinced us of anything, it’s that we can’t leave it to politicians in Washington to make the difficult decisions that they need to get our fiscal house in order. The balanced budget amendment will do that for them. Now is the moment. No more games. No more gimmicks. The Constitution must be amended to keep the government in check. We’ve tried persuasion. We’ve tried negotiations. We’re tried elections. Nothing has worked.
Again, let that sink in: Elections haven't worked.

Republican legislative leadership in the State of Grover

In yesterday's post on the Pledge of Allegiance to Grover Norquist, commenter Alec provided a list of members of the Minnesota Legislature who have superseded their oath of office as legislators with an oath to a genuine svengali. Thirty-seven members of the Minnesota Legislature have promised Grover that no matter what happens, no matter what calamity strikes, no matter what damage might occur to the citizens, commerce, or cities of the state, they will not raise taxes. They've turned part of their brains off: the thinking part, leaving only the lizard stub at the switch.

But even that is not the worst part. Three out of four of the top leaders in the Republican-controlled Legislature signed the pledge. Kurt Zellers, the Speaker, and Matt Dean, the Majority Leader, signed on in the House. In the Senate, Junior the Deputy, Geoff Michel signed. The only one MIA is Amy Koch; unaccountably missing, since she has been the biggest foghorn for no tax increase all session.

In a recent presser, the Deputy said that tax cuts were in Republicans' DNA. Nah, they're just especially vulnerable to the power of suggestion. Grover: look into my eyes. Deputy: yes Master.

The leadership controls committee assignments and the agenda for their respective bodies. How do you like the fact that, by and large, the Republican leadership is more concerned about what Grover thinks than what you think?

I think you should let them know. Just go to the legislature's website, look 'em up, and give 'em a shout!

Photo from here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I pledge allegiance

Jack Ohman cartoon
I pledge allegiance to the Grover,
And to the greed for which he stands,
Serving rich people as my God,
With Liberty and Justice for Them.

For all the Grovers in the Minnesota Legislature, who pledged their allegiance to Grover Norquist instead of the State of Minnesota and its citizens, who we all thought they had pledged to serve.

You can see a list of the Minnesota pledge signers in the comments, thanks to Alec.

Cartoon by by Jack Ohman, Tribune Media Services, via the Strib.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

From the book of Titus to you

A great deal has been said about Bob Vander Plaats' pledge signed last week by presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. The part of the pledge implying that African American children may have been better off under slavery because two parents were present has received widespread attention.

But one section of the pledge jumped right out at me. As the aging product of an Irish Catholic culture who were said to "breed like rabbits and multiply like vermin," I remember when the news of yet another child on the way brought not just happiness, but worry dread to the mothers in my neighborhood. Another bundle of joy, but at the same time another one to feed, clothe, and care for. The church wouldn't have it ant other way. So when I read this part of the pledge, I was creeped out:
“Recognition that robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security.”

Yep, "robust childbearing and reproduction." Trying to bolster the underlying assumptions in this part of the pledge, Vander Plaats provides a footnote that makes reference to several "sources." There's Mark Steyn's America Alone, a 2006 polemic about how Muslims are outbreeding Europeans, Ben Wattenberg's Fewer, about which Publisher's Weekly said "starts off as a persuasive statistical analysis [that] dwindles into demagoguery," and Julian (everything-will-last-forever) Simon's thirty-year-old The Ultimate Resource.

Both Spotty and MrMNO have read Steyn's racial views into the pledge, that what Vander Plaats means by "robust childbearing and reproduction" is a dog whistle to those who worry that the United States is destined to become a minority majority country. For those who fear growing influence and power in citizens not of European descent, the pledge represents a call-out to their fears.

But to Robin Marty and I, the pledge is more of a shout out to the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements. As Robin points out, those more familiar with the movement saw it right away and pegged this as endorsing coercive childbearing cloaked in economic strength. Make no mistake: control over women who desperately love their children is easily accomplished by forcing them to bear more. The document signed by Bachmann - one probably that will soon be signed by Pawlenty - is a coded message for barefoot and pregnant.

The pledge represents just one more step in an assault on women's rights undertaken by the Bachmanns of the world and the men who control them. It started ostensibly as criticism of abortion rights many years ago that has now become a full-out attack on the legitimacy of birth control.

Vander Plaats is best known for his campaign last year to remove judges from the Iowa Supreme Court, an undertaking one former aid has called obsessive and a threat to the Iowa judiciary. But beyond that, Vander Plaats evidences a deep seated antipathy to women who don't fall into line with his world view. In a post that has since been removed from his website, he praised certain marriages:
Studies have shown that divorce rates between Thai girls, Filipina girls and foreign men are lower than other marriages.
We will leave to you, dear reader, to figure out what is meant by that assertion from a Christian patriarch.

All of this leads to one inescapable conclusion: Bob Vander Plaats is a cesspool of misogyny the depth of which we have yet to plumb.

Note: The illustration is from another place and time where the strategic value of robust childbearing and reproduction was particularly valued.

Sadly, poor Michele is misunderstood again!

Before we get to that, however, I note that the Stib's Sunday tag team of Heartburn & Gas (tm) features Gas this morning. Suffering from a form of political Tourette Syndrome, Jason Lewis periodically leaves his usual state of catatonia to shout "Wealth Redistribution!" before slipping back out of it entirely. Sadly, he's seen specialists around the world, but no one has been able to help.

Personally, I think he just missed the day at nursery school where the kids learned about sharing toys and cookies, so he's been forced to go around with his arse painfully clenched ever since, depriving his brain of blood and oxygen. A good Freudian therapist -- such as Sigmund Spot -- might be able to take him back to his painful childhood and help. We'll see.

Lewis thinks that educating children and taking care of sick people is "redistribution of wealth." As if he earned it all by himself. Really, no more needs to be said about this poisonous blowhard, at least today.

Now, where were we? Oh yes, poor misunderstood Michele. It seems like just yesterday -- or was it Friday, or maybe even Thursday? -- that the Corn Queen proudly stepped forward to ink the deal pledging fealty to the FAMiLY LEADER in an effort to suck up to every bat-shit crazy tea bag conservative who has ever heard of Bob Vander Plaats. (Roughly, "Vander Plaats" means "from the place," although the place is not, and probably cannot, be identified or even found.)

Bachmann signed Vander Plaats' loyalty oath, which contained the usual list of bagger baloney, but this one was special. Really special. This stunner was part of it:
Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.
Yes, slavery was such a socially stabilizing institution.

Having been laughed at, scorned, and mocked for three days, Michele says that she was misunderstood entirely. Why, she didn't mean that when she signed the pledge that she agreed with all of it. Heaven forfend! The part about slave babies being better off was in the preamble, kind of like the Preamble to the Constitution.
A Bachmann spokeswoman said earlier Saturday that reports the congresswoman had signed a vow that contained the slavery language was wrong, noting it was not in the "vow" portion.

"She signed the 'candidate vow,' " campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart said, and distanced Bachmann from the preamble language, saying, "In no uncertain terms, Congresswoman Bachmann believes that slavery was horrible and economic enslavement is also horrible."

It wasn't clear whether Bachmann had read the "slavery" language in the preamble, but Stewart later added Bachmann "stands behind the candidate vow - which makes absolutely no reference to slavery."
But even Plaatz plotzed:
A social conservative Iowa group has retracted language regarding slavery from the opening of a presidential candidates' pledge, amid a growing controversy over the document that Michele Bachmann had signed and Rick Santorum committed to.

The original "marriage vow" from the Family Leader, unveiled last week, included a line at the opening of its preamble, which suggested that black children born into slavery were better off in terms of family life than African-American kids born today.
The Politico article quotes Vander Plaats's organization:
“After careful deliberation and wise insight and input from valued colleagues we deeply respect, we agree that the statement referencing children born into slavery can be misconstrued, and such misconstruction can detract from the core message of the Marriage Vow: that ALL of us must work to strengthen and support families and marriages between one woman and one man," the group's officials said in a statement. "We sincerely apologize for any negative feelings this has caused, and have removed the language from the vow.”
Samples of the "wise insight" undoubted included:
Are you people completely crazy?

What are you trying to do? Our Wikipedia revisionists can't keep up with Michele Bachmann as it is!

Who did you test the message of this pledge on? The KKK?
Hang in there, Timmy; you may have a shot yet.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

No need to equivocate here, Kevin

Most of you are aware of the pledge that our gal Michele gleefully signed that, inter alia, said this:
Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.
It elicited the kind of wonder, astonishment and disgust that a signature move from Michele Bachmann can provoke.

But rather than risk a hasty denunciation, chief Bachmann follower at the Strib, Kevin Diaz, weighed in with measured tones:
But to Bachmann’s detractors, the language on slavery represents a further misreading of history. Apart from the intimation of better conditions in the old antebellum South, the vow seems to overlook a brutal historical record of African-American slave families being broken up for sale. [emphasis added]
Jesus, Kevin, grow a pair.

It sucks to be John Boehner

That's the title of a Rick Ungar post on his blog at Ungar recounts the times he mocked and criticized Boehner (a considerable list), but then says this:
Still, you have to admit that it sucks to be John Boehner.

Imagine if you had to make decisions regarding the successful operation of your own home and your three year old, five year old and two year old each had a full vote in the decisions that are ultimately taken.
That's a preamble, of course, to an observation of what it must be like to be the Speaker of the Tea Party House of Representatives:
Welcome to John Boehner’s world – a world where he is the leader of a cadre of children who have yet to mature to the point where they warrant election to the post of school hall monitor let alone the halls of Congress.
And Ungar says this about the back-stabbing weasel, Eric Cantor:
If these immature Members of Congress were not enough of a problem for an old school deal maker like Boehner, the Speaker has to contend with a scheming GOP Majority Leader in Eric Cantor who waits behind every door with a dagger aimed squarely at his boss’s heart.
Which made me think of the above graphic that Tild did some time ago for me.

Friday, July 08, 2011

But only because Michele moved to Minnesota

Here's the lede from a post at Truth Wins Out:

I mentioned in a post yesterday that Bob Vander Plaats, Iowa’s Most Unhinged Wingnut [emphasis added], and his organization the FAMiLY LEADER [sic] had drafted a pledge for GOP candidates to sign, which affirms their anti-gay bigotry and hatred. Michele Bachmann was, of course, the first to sign it. [emphasis also added] But as usual, there’s more to the story, and anti-gay bigots never just traffic in one kind of hatred. Baratunde Thurston reports that indeed the very first bullet point in this pledge absolutely glorifies slavery. Here it is:

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.

Bob Vander Plaats is a Republican gadfly from Sioux City.

That's just a stunner, isn't it?

When they were slaves, couples could not get legally married. They were PROPERTY, remember? As were their children. The families could be split up and sold off at the whim of the slave owner.

Mere words are inadequate to describe what a base, poisonous, demagogic harridan Michele Bachmann is.

Frank and Friends

That's Frank "God is my cover" Vennes and Michele "Mine, too!" Bachmann, Tim "Governor Gutshot" Pawlenty, Norm "That's funny, he was here a minute ago!" Coleman, and Ron Eibensteiner, who passed through here without leaving enough of an impression to give him a nickname. Eibensteiner, for those of you who cannot remember him at all, was the chair of the MNGOP years ago, so he's Tony Sutton's political grandpa, or great grandpa; it's hard to keep track.

This group of people -- with the exception of Frank, who knew better -- thought Frank deserved a pardon from his conviction for money laundering, firearms and drug offenses. So, Michele, Timmy, Norm and Ron proceeded to try to get him one, making their entreaties to then President Bush's conspiratorial pal, Karl Rove.

The fact that Frank spread a bunch of money around to assist the political fortunes of the aforesaid, well, four, had absolutely nothing to do with it! Nothing!

None of them questioned why a convicted felon would contribute so lavishly to politicians, especially a Congresswoman who didn't represent him. Nor, apparently, did anybody wonder why Frank seemed to have so damn much money throw around.

Now we have a pretty good idea about the answers to those questions.

One of the people who has been checking up on Frank for some time is Karl Bremer, who has started a new -- and excellent -- series on the whole l'affaire Vennes. Another is Ken Avidor, who has regaled me at Drinking Liberally with Frank Vennes anecdotes for a long time.

This unfolding story involves not merely one, but two, candidates for President of the United States. You ought to follow it.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Wrong Sutton, guys!

Tony Sutton has been hired by the RPM to do his grunt work at a fat 100K per year.

This is the same Tony Sutton who screwed up the RPM books so bad they still aren't straightened out. Tony had to be rescued from that job by then State Auditor Pat Anderson who made Tony her feather bed deputy at the State Auditor's office (the RPM is good at feather bedding, see Michael Brodkorb, Chas Anderson, Davey Strom, Margaret Martin, et al.)

The is the same Tony Sutton who still can't pay the bills for the photocopies he ordered in the pointless and fruitless Emmer recount.

Pretty clearly, the Sutton that the RPM meant to hire (and should have) was this guy.

Willie Sutton. He might have actually helped with the money problems.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Republican suicide bombers

Killing for ideology

From an editorial in the New York Times:
As painful as the closure may become, the governor is right not to yield to the extremist ideology the Republicans are pursuing in St. Paul, Washington and across the country. President Obama has done so twice and faces an emboldened opposition willing to create chaos in the credit markets rather than agree to modest revenue increases from the richest people. On Tuesday, he urged everyone to leave ultimatums at the door in this week’s talks, but the Republican Party has shown no willingness to do so.
The editorial concludes:
In Minnesota, there is now a chance to draw a line and say, no further.
The problem, of course, is that it is difficult to negotiate with a suicide bomber.

Kurt & Amy's steaming shitburger of revenue!

This one begs for more attention.

At the same time he's saying that he doesn't want to burden our children and grandchildren with debt, the only proposal for additional revenue from the MNGOP is, you guessed it, more debt, in the form of "tobacco bonds" (remember that one of the reasons for the tobacco fund was to take care of health care cost of smoking?) and another shift of $700 million in K-12 school aid funds. We already did that last biennium to the tune of nearly two billion dollars.

Both ideas are just borrowing from the future.

Then, after serving up this steaming shitburger, Kurt and Amy have the gall to say, Since we've come so far, we want every social disfigurement initiative we've thought up for the last twenty years. Do we have a deal, guv?

You couldn't make up these grifters and patent medicine salesmen if you tried.


This afternoon (July 6th) at 4:30, Downeyville will be erected on the Capitol lawn. The event is sponsored by AFSCME and MAPE:

The laid-off [by the state] workers will set up an unemployed town called “Downeyville,” named after the state representative from Edina who would wipe out the jobs of 5,000 state employees and eliminate the collective bargaining rights of all state employees and public school teachers in Minnesota.

But that’s just the beginning: If Republican leaders get their way, their cuts-only budget will also eliminate 30,000 public- and private-sector jobs – permanently.

The photo is of one of the many Hoovervilles in the United States during the Depression.

On the agenda July 5th

Yesterday, Special Master Kathleen Blatz had this item on the calendar:

What do you suppose the auto dealers want?

Obviously, it is to get the automobile titling system going again so dealers can sell and people can buy cars.

Monday, July 04, 2011

And the sons of Pullman porters

Thanks to Two Putt Tommy for reminding me about Steve Goodman's great song about a trip across America by train.

Have a great Fourth of July, everybody. I started mine by riding in a parade.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Maybe he's the best man

Kurt Zellers - who has always struck me as an aging frat boy stuffed uncomfortably in a suit, and on his way to Blutto Blutarsky's wedding - said this recently:
"We will not saddle our children and grandchildren with mounds of debts, with promises for funding levels that will not be there in the future," said House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove. "This is debt that they can't afford. It's debt that we can't afford right now."
Perhaps it's just his carelessness of speech. If you read a little deeper into the same article, you will see this was one of the proposals of the MNGOP:
The GOP proposed delaying another $700 million in payments owed to schools, which would add to the more than $1 billion the state already owes K-12 schools.
Republicans also offered to issue "tobacco bonds" of an unspecified amount to cover any remaining budget gap. Sources said Dayton considered the offer, but he criticized it as unwise borrowing late Thursday.
So I ask, who is engaging in Wimpy's hamburger politics? (Thank you, Kevin Staunton.) Who is the one who is proposing to pay for what we get now?

And who is saddling our children with debt? It isn't the governor.

Rachel's got it Bass Ackward!

According to Rachel Stassen-Berger, this is the moment for Governor Dayton to decide.

Yup, the Lege has nothing to do with it. Never mind the unethical Republican blackmail of bringing its social disfigurement agenda into negotiations at the eleventh hour.

My heavens, Rachel, do you share an office with Katie, the patron saint of prevaricators and dissemblers?

While it is true that the governor is the only adult in the room, it's a libel to lay the problem at his feet.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

St. Katie, the patron saint of prevaricators and dissemblers

Words from the Clumsy Propagandist

Katherine Kersten must have gotten her work in early, because her column for tomorrow's paper is already up on the Strib website. It won't surprise you to know that, according to Katie, the shutdown is all Mark Dayton's fault, in fact, it is part of a sinister plot:

In recent weeks, DFL minority leaders Paul Thissen and Tom Bakk have been glued to Dayton's side throughout budget negotiations. Why? If Dayton -- with the help of DFL legislators -- could parlay a shutdown into a DFL legislative takeover in 2012, the political payoff for the party would be huge.

Dayton won't face reelection until 2014, and the public's memory of the current fiscal train wreck will be long gone by then.

Well, just like Amy and Junior, who have been glued to Michael Brodkorb's side! At least all the DFLers are elected officials.

While there's no profit in analyzing the entire dog's breakfast, there are a few detours from reality I do want to mention. Here's the first one:

In 2010, he squeaked into office by a mere 9,000 votes, in a political climate that swept fiscally conservative Republicans into power across the nation and in the Minnesota Legislature.

Katie engages in pure revisionism here. Each and every candidate for state-wide office (the governor and the constitutional offices: Secretary of State, etc.) was won by a DFLer. Spread across the state, the House turned over by a margin much smaller than Dayton's margin over Emmer. (I had a link for that; I'll find it back.)

And just as seven of eight dentists chew Dentyne gum, Katie says this:

On June 20, a KSTP/USA Survey poll found that 87 percent want state spending to decrease or to stay the same, and only 8 percent want it to increase. Of the 60 percent who want it decreased, two-thirds say cuts to services are "acceptable."

But the newspaper that tolerates Katie's scribbling found this in its own poll:

Sixty-three percent of respondents said they favor a blend of higher taxes and service reductions to tackle the state's $5 billion projected deficit. Just 27 percent said they want state leaders to balance the budget solely through cuts.

Katie says that the Republicans proposed a six percent budget increase for the biennium. Not true according to Politifact.

And there's this one, so transparent it doesn't even need a link for refutation:

The Legislature sent its bills to Dayton six weeks before the session ended, but he frittered away the time for negotiation. He vetoed all nine bills at the end of the session, so legislators had no chance to rework them to address his concerns.

If the governor had gotten budget bills six weeks before the end of the session, and neglected to veto them until the session ended, they would be law today. What happened, in fact, was that the poorly-led legislature dumped budget bills on the Governor's desk in the closing days - or minutes - of the session.

Finally, Katie complains that Governor Dayton didn't sign at least some of the bills, the less controversial ones. But Mark Dayton is cannier than that. In a negotiation, you don't give your opponents the things they want and then try to negotiate for what you want. That's a recipe for losing your shirt.

UPDATE: Here's a better link on the 6% claim.

Amy Koch's personality defects

Just the title is a shocker, isn't it? But it's the kind of thing that righties say or intimate about Mark Dayton all the time: he's an alcoholic; keep his bed warm at Hazelden, etc., and tweeting about him being mentally ill.

But how oriented as to time as place is a person who says this, knowing she is going to drop the Republican social disfigurement agenda on the governor's desk as a list of demands later in the day:

"We felt very, very optimistic yesterday morning that we were there, that we had a deal," Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said Friday.

The governor is quoted in the same article as saying the policy issues "drove us apart." Gee, no kidding.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Tony Cornish must be pissed!

When the Republican leadership came up with its list of social engineering demands last night, it didn't even include Shoot First on the laundry list.

The photo of Tony in the Hall of Dead Things (his House office) is from WCCO.

Nice state ya got there, bub

Pity if anything happened to it.

Apparently this is what compromise looks like to the Minnesota GOP: We let the economy of the State of Minnesota function. You, on the other hand, agree to ban scientific research we think might involve cloning, enact illegal restrictions on the constitutionally protected rights of women, make it harder for people to vote, gut teachers unions and prevailing wage requirements, enact tort reform, give up transportation bonding, and agree to a redistricting plan that assures our part wins most elections. Plus a bunch of other stuff that will reshape what we all know Minnesota to be.

Keep in mind that this “offer” was made less than 48 hours ago, not in the early days of the legislative session.