Monday, October 31, 2011

When Vikings wear tutus

(c) 2011 Avidor
Then it may be time to consider whether the Minnesota Vikings football team is a cultural treasure. Well, probably not. As Wy Spano said on Almanac on Friday night, if the Vikings are a Minnesota cultural legacy, then the Cleveland Indians are a Native American cultural legacy. Perfect.

As blogger sidekick Aaron relates, there is nothing in the legislative history of the Legacy Amendment as proposed, or as considered by the citizens who voted for it, that a stadium for a for-profit enterprise like the Vikings was a prospect:
The Minnesota Legislature required the development of a report on the "25-Year Vision, Framework, Guiding Principles and Ten-Year Goals for the Minnesota Legacy Amendment Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund" which was delivered to the Legislature in 2010. This report was developed through six statewide listening sessions where citizens contributed their ideas about what the program should do, what it should prioritize, and what effects it should have. The finished report mentions nothing about a stadium, but does note that "ACHF funding is intended for non-profit organizations for work that is open to the public and conducted for the benefit of Minnesotans. It is not intended to fund for-profit enterprises."

The notes from the six statewide listening sessions make it clear that participants specifically opposed using Legacy funds to fund a stadium. For example, participants said they want to see that "Arts are valued and supported as highly as sports," and thought that "Sports/athletic facilities/activities" were activities that should not be funded.
The really extra-annoying thing is the kind of projects these Philistines would cheerfully replace: the history of Chinese-Americans in Minnesota,
Alexander Ramsey House revitalization, Ojibwe language revitalization, a Duluth Art Institute grant, and that's from just the first few pages of grants on the website.
(c) 2011 Avidor
You will look in vain for anything close to Vikings in tutus. And it's not like the Wilfarians are looking for just a little to put them over the top, either. Ed Kohler tells us that the Vikings are trying to shake us down for 2/3 of the cost of a billion dollar stadium, the most sought in history by an NFL team.

Which would make us the biggest chumps in the history of the NFL.

Note: Avidor did these cartoons for us, but they are his copyright. Used with permission.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Why occupy Wall Street? II

The original post was just the embed of a video about the raison d'être for the Occupy Wall Street movement. One of the things mentioned in the video is the Glass-Steagall Act, and that its repeal (after being enacted as one of the principal reforms coming out of the Depression) in 1999 was really, really stupid.

Matt Taibbi gives us an absolutely current example of why it was really, really stupid. It seems that the Superfund site, the holding company for Bank of America, is moving some of its toxic sludge inherited from Merrill Lynch into the FDIC insured part of its business, the "bank" itself:
The government’s patronage of the bank was never clearer than in recent weeks, when B of A quietly decided to move trillions of dollars (trillions, not billions) in risky Merrill Lynch derivatives contracts off Merrill’s books and onto the books of the parent/retail arm, Bank of America.

This decision was done at the behest of counterparties to those transactions, who wanted those contracts placed under the aegis of Bank of America, whose deposits are insured by the FDIC. The move was made, according to reports, so that Bank of America could avoid posting $3.3 billion in collateral to satisfy the company’s creditors. In other words, Bank of America just got You the Taxpayer to co-sign as much as $53 trillion worth of dicey derivative contracts.
Fifty-three trillion dollars? The current U.S. debt is under fifteen trillion dollars.

You see, Glass-Steagall separated commercial banking from investment banking, insuring the deposits of the former to assure depositors and reduce runs on banks. And it worked like a charm. But now, every banker who comes up with some half-witted scheme can try to figure out a way to make losses insured by the FDIC.

Privatize the gains but socialize the losses.

I really wish that weightless bit of fluff at CNN had asked this guy why people were protesting at the Occupy Wall Street rallies around the country.

Because you see, Pecora was the chief counsel to the Senate Banking Committee which was instrumental in the passage of the Glass-Steagall Act.

The only thing missing is the Cheshire cat at the end

I know! Let's arrest Melissa! II

As many of you know, activist Melissa Hill was arrested for trespassing while standing in a public area of the Government Center Plaza several days ago. My post about that was based on reading about the incident in City Pages.

Now, Grace Kelly at Minnesota Progressive Project has a post with some follow up, including some remarks by Hill.

The basis for Hill's arrest was the edict (called a "no trespass notice") by a security officer at the Government Center Plaza some days earlier requiring that Hill should go away and not come back for a year. Her offense that precipitated that order? Chalking a wall. Except that she was never charged, much less convicted.

Even if she had been charged and convicted in a court, telling someone that she is deprived of her civil rights of petition and assembly on government property for a petty misdemeanor would never survive a constitutional challenge.

When it's ordered by an underling of Sheriff Stanek, it's entirely outrageous. The "trespass notice" was patently illegal and unconstitutional, and the arrest based on it was also illegal.

The whole affair is authoritarian bullshit, like the Sheriff of Nottingham telling Robin Hood to stay out of town.

I put in a call to the sheriff's mouthpiece to try to get some justification for the "trespass notice" and the arrest, but that call has never been returned.

Update: Be sure to read the comments to this post. (I'm a little hard on the Stoo; he asks good questions, but I think he's wrong.)

Better poll results for Bachmann (in an odd place)

Photo Credit: Flickr User Mat McDermott
I was getting worried about Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign. The resignation of her New Hampshire staffers, lackluster fundraising numbers, and falling poll results seemed to portend a fading campaign. But there are new numbers out that should hearten Bachmann's supporters!

Real Clear Politics shows Bachmann's average in nationwide polls at a paltry 3.8%. But among Occupy Wall Street protestors she pulls 4%. Of course, I'm not implying that Bachmann is popular among the Occupiers. She's fallen so far that bizarre results like these are possible.

The Fordham poll of Occupiers is enlightening reading. Consider a couple of toplines:

Obama's not popular, despite the fact that 60% voted for him in 2012. Over 60% plan to not vote or vote for "Other" in 2012.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president? 
Disapprove…………………………………………………. 73

Who did you vote for in November 2008? 
Barack Obama……………………………………………....60
John McCain………………………………………………....2 Other………………………………………………………...11
Did not vote…………………………………………………27

Thinking ahead to the election in November 2012, who do you plan to vote for president?
Barack Obama………………………………………………….36
The Republican nominee………………………………………...3
I do not plan to vote…………………………………………….25 Other……………………………………………………………36

Nearly 3/4 of the Occupiers are Greens/Socialists/Other/Nonpartisan, and 1/4 are Democrats. But they are liberals. 

Generally speaking, which of the following political parties do you identify with most closely?
Democratic…………………………………………………25 Republican…………………………………………………..2
Tea Party…………………………………………………….0
Socialist Party……………………………………………...11
Green Party………………………………………………...11 Other……………………………………………………….12
I do not identify with any party……………………………39

When it comes to politics, do you usually think of yourself as:
Extremely liberal………………………………………………….39 Liberal…………………………………………………………….33
Slightly liberal…………………………………………………......8
Moderate/middle of the road……………………………………..15
Slightly conservative………………………………………………2 Conservative……………………………………………………….3
Extremely conservative……………………………………………1

The Occupiers are highly educated (52% have a Bachelor's degree or higher) but are not highly employed.

Highest educational level completed
Some grade school…………………………………………………..1
8th grade……………………………………………………………..3
High school diploma/GED…………………………………………27
2-year college………………………………………………………16
4-year college………………………………………………………30 

What is your employment status?
Employed full-time……………………………………………..30 Unemployed…………………………………………………….28 
Employed part-time…………………………………………….18

The Fordham poll was conducted over four days and had around 300 respondents. While it's an imperfect sample, the core message here should ring loud and clear. Occupy Wall Street is not a Democratic front group, and anyone who thinks that they're here to help Obama win reelection in 2012 is deluding themselves.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Friday, October 28, 2011

Men discussing the well being of women

These guys also star in A Handmaid's Tale

David Barton (of Wallbuilders) and Kenneth Copeland (of the Give Me All Your Money Ministries) get serious about honoring women.

Thanks to Tild for the tweet.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quote of the day

From John Rogers, repeated by Sean Lally:
There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

And every time you see Paul Ryan whining about "makers" and "takers," remember that he makes his staff read Atlas Shrugged.

Science is inherently anti-authoritarian

That's a quote from Shawn Lawrence Otto, talking about his new book Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America. Otto's remark is a pithy distillation of why science is under such assault. Here's a graf from Lori Sturdevent's op-ed at the link:
Author Otto points out that science is inherently anti-authoritarian. The new knowledge it generates shakes up the status quo and disrupts defenders of old ideas. It always has. Today's rejection of climate change science by many Republican elected officials is in keeping with the behavior of authority figures through the centuries.
Boy, oh boy, who does that remind you of? For me, it's Katherine "timeless" Kersten, who has written so often about the "timeless values" of the -- especially Catholic -- church that it would be fruitless to try to recount them.

But Katie is not alone; Joel Adkins, writing on behalf of the Catholic bishops (he's their chief lobbyist), echoed the same refrain in his op-ed in support of the marriage discrimination referendum.

And they're not exactly aberrations. As I've observed before, every time there is the smallest bit of social or scientific progress, there is always some cleric (or the mouthpiece for one) somewhere pulling hard on the other end of rope. Their record is, as far as I can tell, unblemished.

But the Galileo moment always finally arrives. You remember Galileo, the guy who was almost burned at the stake by the Italian Inquisition and spent the rest of his life under house arrest because -- that devilish heretic -- he said that the earth revolved around the sun? It wasn't until 1992 that the Pope said, aw, shucks, just kidding!

The Catholics and the evangelicals will someday come around and recognize the science of sexual orientation, concluding finally that the writers of Leviticus and the Apostle Paul were primitives -- and I mean that in the very nicest pre-science sense of that term.

In the meantime though, it is up to those of us who have figured it out to champion the cause of our gay and lesbian friends and family members.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Drinking Liberally: the Occupy Minnesota edition

Drinking Liberally will be occurring in two places simultaneously this week. Both will be tomorrow evening, October 27th, starting around six o'clock.

To show our support and affinity for the cause, Drinking Liberally will be at Occupy Minnesota in downtown Minneapolis at the Hennepin County Government Center Plaza. Look for the Drinking Liberally banner. If you're going to be at Occupy Minnesota tomorrow evening and are curious about Drinking Liberally, or you're a downtowner and a DL regular, please stop by. The plan is to congregate on the plaza for a while and then head over to Dan Kelly's bar for a beer and some political conversation.

We will also be at our regular location, the 331 Club in northeast Minneapolis, from six to nine or so. We hope to see you at one of the venues.

Will we be drawing the same cartoon here?

Pat Bagley editorial cartoon, Salt Lake Tribune, October 26, 2011

Insert "U.S. Forest Service," "Call Chip Cravaack," and draw in some lakes. Actually, let's not do that.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What cultural heritage means

One particularly nasty part of the stadium debate has been Republican intimations that Legacy Amendment arts and cultural heritage funding could be used to pay for the damn thing. For example,
"You certainly can't argue that the Minnesota Vikings and these sports teams in the state of Minnesota aren't a part of the state's heritage and certainly part of the state's legacy," [Rep. Kurt] Daudt said.
Apparently Rep. Daudt thinks that if you can throw "heritage," "legacy," and "Vikings" in the same sentence, people will forget what they actually voted for - funding for the outdoors, arts and historical preservation.

You remember that, right? A majority, no, an overwhelming majority (58% - 41%) of Minnesota voters voted for the Legacy Amendment. A Vikings stadium in Ramsey County is so unpopular that everyone admits it could never pass as a referendum. If voters thought the Legacy Amendment would be used to fund a Vikings stadium, it never would have passed in the first place.

The Legacy Amendment has a number of defined funds, and the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund is the target of Kurt Daudt and, judging by his tweets, Michael Brodkorb. This fund is for “…arts, arts education and arts access and to preserve Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage.” Of course, nobody mentioned a Vikings stadium as a way to protect "Minnesota's heritage." But it's not just the omission that's damning, there's no shortage of evidence that it was not to be used for that purpose.

The Minnesota Legislature required the development of a report on the "25-Year Vision, Framework, Guiding Principles and Ten-Year Goals for the Minnesota Legacy Amendment Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund" which was delivered to the Legislature in 2010. This report was developed through six statewide listening sessions where citizens contributed their ideas about what the program should do, what it should prioritize, and what effects it should have. The finished report mentions nothing about a stadium, but does note that "ACHF funding is intended for non-profit organizations for work that is open to the public and conducted for the benefit of Minnesotans. It is not intended to fund for-profit enterprises."

The notes from the six statewide listening sessions make it clear that participants specifically opposed using Legacy funds to fund a stadium. For example, participants said they want to see that "Arts are valued and supported as highly as sports," and thought that "Sports/athletic facilities/activities" were activities that should not be funded.

The notion that Legacy Amendment voters somehow thought they were actually voting for a state donation to Zygi Wilf's retirement fund is truly ridiculous. It's not a real proposal anyway, just another chance for Republicans to endlessly re-litigate the 2008 election. Oh yeah, and to try to delay the recognition of their desire to build a stadium but not to pay for it.

But the bottom line is this. If building a $1.2 billion Vikings stadium counts as "preserving Minnesota's cultural heritage," we should be ashamed of ourselves.

ADDED: If you feel the same way, join 2600 other Minnesotans (as of Wednesday morning) and send a letter to your legislator. It's easy, just go here.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Why occupy Wall Street?

Here's a video with some great quotes by Elizabeth Warren, Byron Dorgan, Carl Levin, Susan Collins, Alan Grayson, and others, and a mea culpa by Alan Greenspan.


If you've hung around here much, you've heard about Glass-Steagall before.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bill Hillsman at DL: the video

Here's Craig Stellemacher's video of Bill Hillsman's talk at Drinking Liberally. It's over an hour long, but it's all entertaining and informative.

I urge you to watch the whole thing, but my favorite, wickedly funny ad is the one that Bill did for Ned Lamont in his successful bid to beat Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary in Connecticut. If you cue the video up to about 30:00, you can see it. Those of us in Minnesota never saw this on television, of course. There are television spots from around the country, including Texas, Massachusetts,and Illinois, in the video.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Court decision raises stakes in mineral lease standoff

Lavender Pit, Bisbee, AZ - Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The controversy over the sale of 77 state mineral leases underlying private property in northeastern Minnesota has put a spotlight on Minnesota's byzantine mining laws which favor the holder of mineral rights over the surface property owner. But a 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Minard Run Oil Company vs. U.S. Forest Service (Minard Run II) has created an even more ominous situation. The court's decision in Minard Run II gives holders of mineral the ability to force the U.S. Forest Service to allow prospecting and mining on privately held mineral rights. This could affect on PolyMet's mine proposal, proposals to prospect for minerals in the Superior National Forest, and could potentially  open vast swaths of the forest to mining.

Many Minnesotans were surprised to learn that private property owners have very little recourse when the state sells a lease to prospect and develop a mine on their property. Minnesota law heavily favors the owners of mineral rights, deemed the "dominant estate" in Minnesota law. Between the heavy bias in Minnesota laws and the direction the federal courts are taking, it will take action by policy makers to prevent widespread copper-nickel mining around, and perhaps even in, the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

The Alleghany National Forest in Pennsylvania was created in 1923, and is in the oil and gas producing area known as the Marcellus Shale. Over 9,000 oil and gas wells are operating in the forest, and 93% of the land area in the forest has mineral rights that are owned by private parties. Much of this area is comprised of "reserved mineral rights" which were created when a landowner sold the surface rights to property but reserved the mineral rights for themselves. This was a common practice in the acquisition of National Forest land, since it allowed the U.S. Government to buy more land with less money. The mining regulations which were in place at the time of the reservation applied to Forest Service decisions made about permitting mineral development. This meant that 1911 era regulations applied to many of the applications to place oil and gas wells on Forest Service land in the Alleghany. These 1911 regulations require only that the applicant inform the Forest Service 60 days in advance, attempt to minimize the surface impact, and remove buildings when drilling or mining is complete.

In 2009, the Forest Service changed its policy, and decided a completed Environmental Impact Statement  (EIS) was required before it would approve additional oil and gas wells. Minard Run Oil Company sued, arguing the new policy deprived them of access to their mineral rights. A district court agreed, and the 3rd Circuit upheld this decision. The takeaway, according to law firm K and L Gates, is that "the mineral owner retains the right to use as much surface land as reasonably necessary to extract minerals, and the mineral owner need not obtain consent or approval before entering land to mine for minerals." If courts here used the same logic it would have wide-ranging effects for mineral exploration and development in the Superior National Forest.

First, large areas of the Superior National Forest are comprised of similar lands, where the surface rights are held by the U.S. Government or private landowners, but the mineral rights are held by someone else. The current conflict over the state mineral lease sale is just a small example of the conflicts created by severed mineral rights. Public notices for mineral prospecting permit (this one, for example) make specific reference to the 1911 rules when they apply. Since much of the land in the forest was acquired between 1909 and 1936, these rules apply for a significant portion of the forest. If the logic in Minard Run II applied here, mining companies could sue, claiming additional conditions violate their inherent right to access privately held mineral rights.

Second, the largest existing mining issue in front of the Forest Service is the PolyMet Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which includes a complicated land swap. PolyMet leases privately held mineral rights on the mine site, but the Forest Service owns the surface rights. If the logic of Minard Run II applied to PolyMet, then there would be no need for a land swap, since PolyMet could assert their inherent right to access their mineral rights. It's highly unlikely that PolyMet would now change their position on a land swap, since they've received a $4 million loan from the Iron Range Resources board to pay for it. However, it could impact future negotiations with mining companies about the need for surface land swaps.

Third, and perhaps most disturbing, is the presence of a vast area of privately held mineral rights underlying the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness itself. A 1984 report by the General Accounting Office identified the presence of privately held mineral rights in the BWCAW as a significant issue. There are over 600,000 acres of privately held mineral rights underlying federally owned surface land in the BWCAW. A 1967 report estimated the cost of acquiring these mineral interests at over $100 million. This map shows the extent of these privately held mineral rights - all of the orange area on the map is BWCAW land with private mineral rights.

Image Credit: Save Our Sky Blue Waters

The BWCAW Act of 1978 provides additional protections regarding mining than are enjoyed by other wilderness areas. But even these protections may be tested by the logic in the Minard Run II decision.

Since Minard Run II is not binding precedent in Minnesota (which is in the 8th Circuit), it is not already in force here. But it should serve as a warning that federal courts are limiting the ability of the Forest Service to regulate mining on land on which it owns the surface rights.

Reliance on regulators applying existing laws may prove to be ineffective at curbing the environmental damage that widespread copper-nickel mining could do to the Quetico-Superior ecosystem. Mark Dayton's call for the Legislature to revisit Minnesota's laws regarding mineral leases is timely, but given the makeup of the Legislature changes that enhance environmental protection seem like a remote prospect.  Only heavy pressure from an engaged citizenry can force politicians to do the right thing.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Shorter Kersten

If you take away our white sheets, it's our civil rights that will be denied!

Update by Spot:

Guess who's now claiming to be a victim, too? Pat Buchanan.

New member enters Faux Victim Hall of Fame

The Minister of Troubling Signs feted at induction ceremony

Taking her rightful place along side Anders Behring Breivik, Goldman Sachs, and everybody who ever sang the Horst Wessel song, Katherine Kersten takes a seat in the pantheon of faux victims for her column in the Strib bemoaning the ill treatment of people who favor the ill treatment of gays.

Kersten uses the word "aggression" to describe the opposition and push back to the initiative that she and the rancid bunch of Republicans in the legislature brought up in the first place. She has a lot of damn nerve claiming that it's the opponents to the gay marriage amendment who are the aggressors.

But let's look at some of the aggression. In one of the column's great gems, Kersten writes:
As a result [of a Minnesota Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board decision], Minnesotans who believe that gay people have a right to live as they wish, but who oppose redefining marriage, may find their civil rights, livelihoods or safety threatened if they dare to oppose what's becoming politically correct orthodoxy.
Aw, come on, Katherine, you'd gut gay people like trout, if you could. You, and John Nienstedt, and Bradlee Dean, and Maggie Gallagher, and Tom Pritchard, and Joel Adkins, and the whole rotten, poisonous bunch of you. Don't compound the sin by claiming that you're prepared to just leave gay people alone.

Kersten wants us to pity the poor people who want to discriminate against gays. I mean, gay people have never been discriminated against right? In truth, an unmarried gay couple is discriminated against in about 1,500 way in the law when compared to married partners.

Gay people have never been discriminated against in their livelihoods for being gay, right? Truly, it is to laugh. Kersten has apparently never heard of "don't ask, don't tell, " and the fact that Michele Bachmann and many others would reinstate it they could; well, until they could ban gays from the military altogether.

As far as safety goes, Katherine, when one of the people on your side get crucified on a barbed wire fence in freezing weather, come on back, and we'll talk. Or, perhaps, after a straight kid in Anoka is ostracized and taunted to death for bullying a gay teen. You obviously have no idea what you are talking about, Katherine.

Conservatives like Kersten are always preaching about how choices have consequences. The "choices" of being black, or Latino, or gay, or a woman seem to have consequences, all right. It seems only fair that something you have some control over, your attitudes, might have consequences as well.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Northwest Airlines: another broken promise

As the state struggled with the question of subsidizing a corporation to prevent them from leaving for greener pastures, another sordid chapter in subsidy politics came to a close Friday. Mesaba Airlines announced that it was abandoning its Eagan headquarters and moving 193 jobs to Memphis. This comes on the heels of job cuts caused by the closing of MSP-based training facilities announced in June.

Photo Credit: Flickr user Cliff1066
This represents another chunk of the jobs that were supposed to be created and preserved by massive subsidies to Northwest Airlines. The largest of these subsidies was a massive $761 million loan and grant for the construction of a aircraft maintenance base in Duluth and a reservations center in Chisholm. The reservations center is still operating in Chisholm, but the Duluth base never really got off the ground. The City of Duluth owns it and has struggled to find a tenant

Delta plans to repay the remaining $175 million in bonds that were the state's only remaining negotiating leverage.

If only, if only someone had given Northwest Airlines a bigger subsidy, then I'm sure we could have saved all these jobs. When will we learn that you can't trust the job creation promises of corporate welfare recipients?

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Friday, October 21, 2011

35-W bridge collapse engineering firm hired to protect BWCA

The multinational corporations seeking to develop copper mines in northeastern Minnesota are smart. They've hired a corps of locally connected lobbyists and frontmen, the same folks who charm the city slickers in St. Paul with glass jars of taconite pellets and stories about the glory days of the Iron Range. There are two companies furthest along in the process, PolyMet and Twin Metals, that are full of local flavor and have local headquarters. Twin Metals recently built a shiny new building in Ely.

But the money backing these mines is anything but local. PolyMet is backed by Swiss commodities firm Glencore, and Twin Metals is a joint venture with Chilean mining company Antofagasta. If Minnesota permits the construction of copper mines, the big money backing these ventures will run the show. Based on the company they keep, Minnesotans have good reasons to be worried.
Credit: Flickr user thenip73
Twin Metals has retained URS Corporation as their "lead environmental consultant" to spearhead Twin Metals's environmental review and permitting. Minnesotans should remember URS. They were the engineering firm retained by the State of Minnesota to inspect the 35-W bridge that collapsed, killing 13 people. To settle lawsuits, URS paid $52 million in damages to the victims of the bridge collapse and $5 million to the state. URS overlooked underdesigned and overstressed gusset plates that led to the bridge's failure. They'll be in charge of environmental review for a mine that, if built, will be just miles the Boundary Waters.

Tony Hayward, ex-CEO of British Petroleum, oversaw the biggest oil spill in American history. He's gotten his life back, and is the executive expert in charge of environment and safety for Glencore. Glencore is the largest investor in PolyMet, and already owns or holds options to purchase over 20% of the company.

These proposed mines risk polluting the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior with sulfuric acid runoff. Do you trust URS and Tony Hayward to do the job?

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What happened to corporate stadium contributions?

While the debate swirls at the Capitol, the sources of funding for a proposed Vikings stadium revolve around three sources, the state government, a local government, and the team. When you compare the present proposals to past examples, one funding source is missing - corporate contributions.

Photo Credit: Bobak Ha'Eri, Wikimedia Commons.
The Metrodome cost approximately $123 million to build (in 1980-1982), including costs to acquire land, improve the site infrastructure, and move a Hennepin County juvenile detention facility. Of that total cost, corporations contributed over $15.5 million, and General Mills put up another $1.5 million to purchase tickets to prevent local media blackouts. The list of corporations that put up money looks like a who's who of the local business community at the time: the Star Tribune, Dayton Hudson, General Mills, Pillsbury, Honeywell, Graco, Control Data, Medtronic, Land O' Lakes, M.A. Mortenson, Faegre and Benson, Piper Jaffrey Hopwood, Mackay Envelope, TCF, Munsingwear, and on and on.

All told, corporations other than the Twins and Vikings contributed over 13% of the total cost of the Metrodome. Local financial companies (First Bank Minneapolis, First Bank St. Paul, The St. Paul Companies, and Northwestern National Bank) purchased all of the $55 million in bonds that were issued to finance the stadium. But you haven't heard a whisper of the corporate community kicking in on the cost of building a Vikings stadium. 

Financing for the new Gophers stadium included an even higher level of corporate contributions. Much  of the cost of building that stadium was raised privately, most from corporate contributions. The biggest chunk of this came from a $35 million agreement to sell the naming rights to TCF, but also included $10 million from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, $2.5 million from Dairy Queen, $2.5 million from Best Buy, and $2 million from Target. These contributions came with sponsorship and advertising opportunities that offer value for these corporations. 

One argument you hear all the time in the stadium debate is that major league sports allow the Twin Cities to attract and retain corporate headquarters. The financing package that built the Metrodome showed that the business community was willing to put skin in the game to ensure the Vikings stayed in Minnesota. This time, Governor Dayton is asking for their help to lobby the Legislature to approve the state share of a Vikings stadium. 

This difference says a lot about the cultural change in politics, business, and professional sports over the last 30 years.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Bill Hillsman at Drinking Liberally tonight

Creative genius and political pitchman Bill Hillsman will be our guest tonight, Thursday, October 20th. Bill was, of course, instrumental in the election of Paul Wellstone and Jesse Ventura here in Minnesota.

Bill is the CEO of North Woods Advertising in Minneapolis and is the author of Run the Other Way. He'll probably have a few copies of the book to sell and inscribe for you tonight.

Bill's also promised to bring along some of his most memorable political TV and radio spots. Maybe he'll even tell us a little about what he's up to these days.

Drinking Liberally starts getting together at six PM at the 331 Club in northeast Minneapolis. The program will Bill will begin at seven.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What happens when you put the clerics in charge of family


The marriage discrimination initiative is about, at its core, what is a family? If you ask John Nienstedt (archbishop in the Twin Cities), or the pseudo-clerics like Bradlee Dean, Tom Pritchard, Katherine Kersten, or Maggie Gallagher, they will tell you that it's a mommy and a daddy and kids.

We need to think long and hard about putting these moral ciphers in charge of the defintion; these are the same kind of people who produced this:
Up to 300,000 Spanish babies were stolen from their parents and sold for adoption over a period of five decades, a new investigation reveals.

The children were trafficked by a secret network of doctors, nurses, priests and nuns in a widespread practice that began during General Franco’s dictatorship and continued until the early Nineties.

Hundreds of families who had babies taken from Spanish hospitals are now battling for an official government investigation into the scandal. 
Several mothers say they were told their first-born children had died during or soon after they gave birth.
My God, who would do such a thing, and why?
But the women, often young and unmarried, were told they could not see the body of the infant or attend their burial.

In reality, the babies were sold to childless couples whose devout beliefs and financial security meant that they were seen as more appropriate parents. [emphasis added]
 It was a neat little machine, run by the Catholic church, that accounted for an estimated 15% of all adoptions in Spain between 1960 and 1989. The charade was nothing if not thorough:
Many mothers who gave birth [at the San Ramon clinic] claim that when they asked to see their child after being told it had died, they were shown a baby’s corpse that appeared to be freezing cold.
The BBC programme shows photographs taken in the Eighties of a dead baby kept in a freezer, allegedly to show grieving mothers.
And there is this:
In some cases, babies’ graves have been exhumed, revealing bones that belong to adults or animals. Some of the graves contained nothing at all.
But, John and Bradlee and Tom and Katherine and Maggie might say, look on the bright side; at least the kids had a mommy and daddy! I mean, that's the important thing, right?

GOP: Extinction Mode

Shaker dance
Does anyone remember the Shakers? You know, that cult of furniture makers that believed in, among other things, celibacy? That was a rather short-sighted tenet of faith, because the Shakers have dwindled from about about 5,000 in the middle of the nineteenth century to about a dozen today. It is amazing that they have lasted this long; either there are some really old Shakers, or there was some misbehaving in the pews over the years.

When one listens to the debates among the Republican candidates for the nomination for president, though, it reminds you of the Shakers, doesn't it? On almost any issue you want to name, these people advocate the extinction strategy.

Health care? Let the uninsured die! The crowd seemed the most enthusiastic about that; Ron Paul was at least willing to drop the sick off at churches and hope for the best.

Wild applause for Needles Perry and his record for putting 'em down, even the occasional innocent one.

Grandma doesn't need Social Security; get her a job in a sweat shop. As Lee Camp would say, they're warm; old people like warm places.

Immigration? Shoot 'em as they come across; buy some more Predator drones, or build a double wall (that's what the East Germans did; it is much easier to pick 'em off in between the two strands). The candidates seem entirely oblivious to the fact that Latinos are the fastest growing -- legal -- minority group in the country, and they don't especially like it when people try to figure out new and exciting ways to make their Latino brothers and sisters into targets, whether they are entering the country legally or not.

It does seem a little, well, bloodthirsty. It used to be that only laughable pot-bellied vigilante knuckle draggers in lawn chairs hoping to take target practice on Mexicans harbored ideas like this. But times change!

Let's not even start in on the gays.

On issue after issue, given a choice, the Republican candidates will crawl all over each other to claim the most economy, soul, and people-killing option available.

It's the Shaker strategy, all right.

Photo from the first link above.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Please don't call us racists

No, Maggie, the proper term is "bigot"

On Friday afternoon, I attended a program at the St. Thomas Law School pitched as a debate on the proposed marriage discrimination amendment that will be on the ballot next year. Andy Birkey was there, and he wrote an article and posted audio clips of the debate.

The two contestants were Professor Dale Carpenter, a civil rights and sexual orientation law expert from the University of Minnesota Law School and Maggie Gallagher, one of, if not the, most visible -- and obviously venerated by the mostly-Catholic audience -- Catholic operatives in the marriage discrimination movement.

At the beginning of the hour, Gallagher asked who in the audience favored gay marriage. I, and a couple of people around me, shot our hands up. There was a Catholic priest sitting next to me; he could cast a magnificent stink eye.

But I digress.

In addition to laying out her case for marriage discrimination, which we'll get to in a moment, Gallagher said that the anti-discrimination forces treated the pro-discrimination forces like they were racists. Professor Carpenter said no, not like racists. Which is true; the Catholic church is not making gays and lesbians pick cotton or anything like that.

What the Professor didn't go on to say -- although I might have -- is that the pro-discrimination forces are bigots. That's an ugly word all right, but Gallagher uses an even more inflammatory one -- racist -- in an effort to repel people from a closer examination of the real game that is afoot in the "debate" over gay marriage.

Which brings us Gallagher's "case." Before continuing, please read Andy Birkey's story, if you haven't already.

Ok; done? As Andy reported, the centerpiece of Gallagher's argument is that marriage is in trouble, and that children do better with a mommy and a daddy. That marriage as an institution has seen better days can hardly be doubted. But as Professor Carpenter pointed out, making marriage available to a small minority of additional people: encouraging bonds of fidelity, mutual support, and providing an economically stronger and more stable platform for the raising of children, won't harm existing marriage in the slightest.

This is the mother and mother of all red herrings. So to speak.

And Gallagher is prevaricating -- to put it charitably -- when she says only a mommy and a daddy will do. She admits that there are many children raised in families without a mommy and a daddy --  she apparently raised one herself -- but claims there are lots of studies showing the axiomatic superiority of the mommy-daddy duo.

Except that they are junk. They are part of the undignified campaign of innuendo being conducted by elements of the Catholic church -- including the Catholic bishops in Minnesota -- to turn religious and cultural prejudice into "science," which is, of course, rich.

The proponents of Proposition 8 in California -- who were heavily funded by the Catholic and Mormon churches -- made the same argument when the law was challenged. These arguments and studies were considered by Federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, who overturned Proposition 8 last year. Here is just one of Judge Walker's findings.

You should go to the link and read all of the references in the trial transcript that support this finding.

In conclusion, my friends, if you make things up to justify your desire to discriminate on solely religious or cultural grounds, well, that's bigotry.

Update: And come to think of it, who called Maggie Gallagher a racist? I'd love to see a link; I doubt one exists.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I thought I smelled ennui

This is why the BBC is so reliable

There's another thirty-eight seconds of Lee Camp at Drinking Liberally Minneapolis - St. Paul on September 29th. And please remember, Bill Hillsman will be our guest this week, Thursday, October 20, 2011.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I know! Let's arrest Melissa!

But Sheriff, she's nowhere near the tents!

"Details," replies Sheriff Stanek.

One person was arrested yesterday in connection with the tent erection at Occupy Minnesota:
​Occupy MN protesters began setting up tents and shelters on the grassy knoll of the Government Plaza this afternoon, with full knowledge that they are defying the orders of the Hennepin County Sheriff.

However, cops approached Melissa Hill as she stood on the sidewalk just outside the park, far away from the tents. Occupiers noticed and crowded around in what quickly became a circus-like atmosphere.
I beg your pardon?

I guess the people sitting down peacefully around the tents were waaaay too tough a nut to crack, because law enforcement arrested Melissa instead. Perhaps she was hurling hurtful, sarcastic remarks. She has a history of that, you know:
Hill is a well-known local activist and chalker (who recently had her bike taken by downtown ambassadors). She is also, interestingly, the creator of "Kitten for Sheriff," a Facebook campaign trying to unseat Sheriff Rich Stanek by electing an adorable kitten in his place.
The charge? Trespassing and refusal to depart.

It's Sheriff Stanek's world, and we just live in it. But only if he wants us to.

On the radio tonight

I'll be on the Late Debate radio show tonight with Jeff Rosenberg from MNPublius from 10 PM - Midnight. Tune in to hear Jeff and I face off against David Strom and and Laura Gatz. You can listen over the air in the north metro at 95.9 FM or can listen via the intertubes.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

OccupyMN Day Eight: Transparency

Two words and phrases leapt out at me at Day 8 of the OccupyMN protests:

"Enough!" and
"The 99% are transparent. The 1% aren't transparent."

Enjoy the slideshow (edited by Jen Tuder.) (Warning: background music is NSFW, at least the first three seconds of it.)

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Running from their own words

Some of you know by now that a couple of YouTube accounts associated with the Dump Bachmann blog have been taken down because of copyright infringement claims by Bradley Dean Smith and Jake MacAulay (their real names; their aliases are Bradlee Dean and Jake McMillian).

These are the guys, of course, who ran a successful scheme for several years to scam the taxpayers by shoving their pseudo-judeo-christian anti-gay crap down the throats of unsuspecting kids in public school assemblies for a fee.

If these guys are Christians, Silvio Berlusconi is a shoo-in for beatification.

But all good thing must come to an end, and Bradlee and Jakee have had to find new markets for their special bilious brand of patent medicine and new ways to support their tax-free lifestyle as "ministers" in the You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International "ministry."

One of the things YCRBYCHI does is what we might call "preachers with card tables." Post-adolescents, inexplicably in Smith and MacAulay's thrall -- and claimed by YCRBYCHI to all be "ordained ministers;" a stunning claim in view of the fact that some of them don't appear old enough to drive themselves and their card table to whatever gas station has agreed to suffer their presence for a day -- hector people for money claiming it's for "suicide prevention" or whatever else the pimply padre thinks the mark might fall for.

Sort of like an extra-annoying Hare Krishna cult.

But I digress. What is more relevant for today's discussion is the is the wholly-owned subsidiary of YCRBYCHI, the Sons of Liberty radio show. It will come as little surprise to you to know that the Sons are Bradlee and Jakee; I mean, who else would they be?

The authors of the Dump Bachmann blog are interested in the Sons for the same reason they are interested in Michele Bachmann: raging homophobia.

The Sons have racked up a rich and wacky oeuvre of podcasts on their crackpot ideas about the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bible, and what should be done with -- or to -- gays and lesbians. Even the Patriot had to take a break from them for a while.

Which brings us -- finally -- to the point of the post. The "videos" that the Sons complained about were, for the most part, just audio clips of the Sons' own words, already available free elsewhere, perhaps with a photo or two of the Sons with local politicians like Tim Pawlenty or Tom Emmer just to add a little visual interest.

By complaining, the Sons are running from their own words, and trying to hide from them, too, even though they themselves say you cannot hide. For once our punk prophets are right.

These are people who pray and bray in public all the time. They want to make news; what they say is newsworthy, subject to comment and criticism, and certainly fertile ground for parody. These are the widest grounds that exist for the fair use of another's words; the fair use doctrine in copyright law obviously covers and protects the activity of bringing the wretched words of Bradlee and Jakee to an enlightened audience.

Regrettably, YouTube is complicit with Bradlee and Jakee and won't trouble itself to look at the obvious case of fair use presented here. It is much easier to tout all the videos of the cute little kittens or jiggling breasts and collect a little money for each set of eyeballs that happens by. You can apparently get very rich by doing that, but it doesn't say much for your civic values.

Fie on you, YouTube.

Update: it's hard to keep a good man (Ken Avidor) down:

Permit to Occupy

I saw a link to this in a tweet this AM:
Our permit to occupy public squares and parks is in The First Amendment, which affirms “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

When people across the Middle East occupied public squares, leaders in Washington mostly cheered those protesters and warned Middle Eastern governments not to use force to clear them. Those other societies don’t have a First Amendment. Yet Washington affirmed the universal right to assembly and protest.

We do have a First Amendment. The force being used to clear nonviolent protesters from public squares in our country is unacceptable. It must stop.
It's a petition; you should consider signing it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupy Minnesota: David Lillehaug

Here's another brief interview from the first day of the Occupy Minnesota protests, October 7th. This one is with David Lillehaug, a Minneapolis lawyer and former U.S. Attorney for Minnesota.

Join us at five this afternoon on KTNF

This afternoon, during the five o'clock hour, Two Putt Tommy and I will be on the radio on KTNF, AM 950.

Topics for discussion are likely to include Occupy Minnesota, the recently filed whistle blower lawsuit against Well Fargo for gouging veterans (the lawyers representing the whistle blower are expected to call in), the reluctance of marriage discrimination proponents to engage in face-to-face debate, and the recent move by YouTube to censor the Dump Michele Bachmann authors for their careful collection of Things that Bradlee Dean said.

It ought to be a lot of fun. Listen and call in.

In praise of ancient bigots - reprise

This was first posted on January 15, 2007 in response to a column by Katherine Kersten. I ran across it this morning and thought it still had some currency.

Today, Little Miss Sunshine (Katie, not Olive) introduces us to Wendell and Roberta Brown of Roseville. The Browns have lived a life of doing good deeds, including assisting an immigrant who matured into a Republican:
Take Obi Sium, from Eritrea in Africa. "Obi came here on a bus about 25 years ago," recalls Roberta. "He didn't know a soul. At the bus station, he looked in the Yellow Pages and found our church -- North Heights Lutheran. He called and said he needed someone to pick him up and host him until a job interview he had scheduled. He just felt the need for more support than he could get in a hotel room alone." 
The Browns took Sium in. Eventually, he became a professional hydrologist, and last year he ran for Congress in the Fourth District against incumbent [Democrat] Betty McCollum. [italics are Spot's]
Wow! You couldn't ask any more than that from a brown person! Oh, one other thing. The Browns are the driving force behind the Minnesota Family Council:
The couple moved to the Twin Cities in 1964, after farming for 14 years. Wendell eventually became a Farmers Insurance agent and Roberta a homemaker and mother of three. The last thing on their minds was political activism. 
But in 1982, they believed they saw the culture around them crumbling. Convinced of the need to inject "Judeo-Christian values" into politics, they joined the Rev. Morris Vaagenes of North Heights Lutheran Church in Roseville to found the Berean League, later renamed the Minnesota Family Council. It grew to be a national model for such organizations, and today has a staff of 10 and an annual budget of about $1 million.
Why, Wendell, at 85, still has the energy to be the chairman of the Council's "education" arm! Well, they're not really all that interested in education, you see. Wendell and Roberta just want to see that those gays don't get married! The Council is behind Minnesota for Marriage. Sounds pretty ecumenical, doesn't it, boys and girls? But only marriage for the right kind of people.

Here's what Minnesota for Marriage says about itself:
Minnesota For Marriage is a nonpartisan grassroots group of Minnesotans working to pass a State Constitutional Amendment bill defining marriage as "the union of one man and one woman, with no other relationship being recognized as marriage or its legal equivalent".

Minnesota For Marriage is not a homosexual hate group -- we subscribe to the belief that all individuals are entitled to the respect and acceptance they deserve as members of our society. However, this does not mean that we need to agree with those who would seek to redefine the institution of marriage.

Our message is simple -- the people of Minnesota should be allowed to vote on matters of constitutional importance. We need to elect state legislators who understand this basic premise of our democracy.
Okay, Wendell, let's vote on whether to put your pal Obi back in chains! Perhaps we ought to vote on a new eugenics code! The possibilities are almost endless.

Wendell is a perfect example of the dim bulbs in every generation that have to pass from the scene in order to take advantage of advances in science, philosophy, and ethics.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Living in Lesser Minnesota

Minnesota Supreme Court (update: Chief, sorry) Justice Lori Gildea made some regrettable remarks recently in Brainerd about being happy to be out among the real Minnesotans in real Minnesota:
"I'm so happy to be in real Minnesota," Gildea said.
Outside of the Twin Cities, she explained.

Which is interesting, of course, because as Jeff Rosenberg's helpful chart shows, a majority of Minnesotans live here in Lesser Minnesota:
Some of Jeff's commenters left comments along the lines of don't be silly; you're being divisive.

Which is also interesting.

Here are the first three Canons of Judicial Conduct in Minnesota:
1. A Judge Shall Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary. 
2. A Judge Shall Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All of the Judge's Activities. 
3. A Judge Shall Perform the Duties of the Office Impartially and Diligently.
By at least seeming to profess allegiance to one geographic (and by implication, racial and economic, too) group of Minnesotans, the Chief Justice makes those of us living here in Lesser Minnesota wonder about her independence and impartiality on matters involving rural and urban division: local government aid, school finance, health and human services funding, and redistricting are all issues that come to mind: issues that have been, and are likely to be again, before Court.

There is a reason why Canon 2 addresses itself to "the appearance of impropriety." Justice Gildea's remarks are an example of that reason. For example, it would be understandable if a plaintiff in Brayton v. Pawlenty would have worried about getting a fair shake after remarks like these.

Oh, wait . . .

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Seven GOP lies about the economy

This video has been circulating around the 'net. You may have seen it in other places already. But it features Robert Reich and it's pretty succinct.

Joel Adkins debate call: day six

Last Thursday, I offered to arrange -- or even participate -- in a debate with Joel Adkins about the proposed marriage discrimination amendment that will be on the ballot in November 2012. The day before, Adkins, the chief lobbyist for the Catholic church, penned an overheated op-ed in the Strib about how Catholic leaders (read: bishops and the archbishop) wouldn't be "silenced" on the issue.

Far from prescribing silence, I'm urging you to come out and talk, Joel. You can talk about religion, psychology, sociology, church history, politics, equal protection, or all of them.

But if you won't put your views to the test of a legitimate discussion about them, stop whining.

So far, nothing from Adkins.

Update: There is going to be a debate on the marriage discrimination amendment at St. Thomas on Thursday, October 13th! Here's a bit about the participants:
Maggie Gallagher, President of The Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and Dale Carpenter, University of Minnesota Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law will present their views on the Same Sex Marriage Amendment at the Murphy Institute's inaugural debate on public policy issues for the 2012 elections.
It's free, but you have to register at the link.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Drinking Liberally: upcoming attractions

We have some great programs scheduled for the Minneapolis - St. Paul chapter of Drinking Liberally, programs you won't want to miss.

This week, on Thursday, October 16th 13th (what was I thinking?), we will talk about the first week of the Occupy Minnesota protests. There will be several people there who have been there on one or more days of the protests. Bring your pictures of erudite or funny signs you've seen at the "People's Square." My personal favorite is: Where is our Ferdinand Pecora? What's yours?

On October 20th, our guest will be Bill Hillsman, described by many as the best political pitchman in America. He was instrumental in the upset wins of Paul Wellstone and Jesse Ventura. Bill is the CEO of North Woods Advertising and the author of Run the other Way. Bill's remarks will begin around seven o'clock that evening; he'll talk about the art of the political message.

And on November 10th, Javier Morillo-Alicea, the president of SEIU local 26 and a well-known local political activist, will be DL's guest. That program will also begin at seven.

Drinking Liberally Minneapolis - St. Paul meets every Thursday evening, from six o'clock onward, at the 331 Club in northeast Minneapolis.

Update: And if you're in New York, be sure to check out the new Occupy Wall Street chapter of Drinking Liberally; it meets on Wednesdays near -- of course -- Wall Street.

But where are the light sabers?

When I saw Rachel Stassen Berger's snapshot of Tim Pawlenty's portrait last night, it seemed eerily familiar. And not in an oh, it's the former governor kind of a way. Here's the snapshot:
After a bit, I figured out that Governor Gutshot reminded me of these guys from the Values Voter Summit. After conferring with Avidor, it turns out I was right.
Who are these caped men, you ask? They are the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property. Apparently, they are a precision marching, bagpipe, drum and cross twirling society.
Even though Gutshot might be a little too, um, Prod for them, he does seem to fit right in, doesn't he?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tea Party or Occupy Minnesota?

Word arrived in these remote precincts last evening that Mitch Berg had cast his trademarked pall on the proceedings at Occupy Minnesota sometime on Sunday.

Anticipating the inevitable jeering -- yet ponderous -- post about the visit, I decided to make a little video comparing Mitch's baby, the Tea Party, and Occupy Minnesota. Here it is. Watch carefully; there are a couple you might miss.

This one is for you, Mitch.

You can read Mitch's post, if you are so inclined, anticipated when the video was made, but now sprung on an unsuspecting public, here.

Update: I saw several tweets about Paul Krugman writing on the significance of the OWS protests. Here is a graf from his op-ed:
What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.
Be sure to listen to the second interview on the video carefully.

Further update: Eric Black has more about the protest signs at Occupy Minnesota.

And yet another update: (I am getting into Glenn Greenwald territory; I know that.)  Say what you will about the dress of the Occupy Minnesota crowd, but I didn't see anybody who looked like this:

Sashes and brooches, oh my!

The photo is from slide show at TPM of the Value Voters Summit.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Katie takes a victory lap!

It's far better than writing about something new!

The hed for the column tells all you need to know about whether Katherine Kersten is going to give this one a rest: TiZA is gone, but lawsuit and questions remain.

Katherine writes today -- as she has so often in the past -- about a public charter school that was too Muslim; in truth, it looks like it was. (You might want to read the column, because it is probably the only time you'll ever read Katie praising ACLU - Minnesota.)

The subhed is almost as good: How is it that so few were willing to challenge a public school with an overtly religious curriculum?

Of course, Katie is quick to remind us that she is one of the "few," and how she was nearly martyred for her courage in speaking out.

The thing that is funny about Katie donning the breastplate of the Establishment Clause is that she would throw it out in a heartbeat for a public charter school that was found to be too "Christian," or for sectarian school vouchers (Free Exercise!); you'd be amazed at how fast she would turn on ACLU - Minnesota then.

But I don't think that Katie has to worry about that. If you go over a list of some of just the names of public charter schools, it is pretty apparent that the ACLU - Minnesota is way too feckless to take on a Christian charter.

Occupy Minnesota: Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer

Here's Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer talking about something the Occupy Minnesota crowd can do when the rally is over; it's a pretty good idea, too.

The site that Jack referred to is Here's a chart at the site:

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Occupy Minnesota: Keith Ellison

Here's the first of three or four short clips from the Occupy Minnesota Rally at the Hennepin County Government Center on Friday, October 7, 2011.

Send Mike Parry to Congress!

Really? I mean, really? You would really send a poisonous windbag to Congress who would let Mississippi ignore the civil rights laws of the United States because "it's their state?"

OccupyMN Day One Photos

If you weren't able to be there yesterday, here are some photos of the first day of OccupyMN. Spot was there too with the videocamera and interviewed lots of interesting folks. Watch for more video coming soon, but here's something to whet your appetite.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Friday, October 07, 2011

The tragedy of sexual addiction in the evangelical community

Horniness is next to Godliness

That, at least, is the finding of Ted Roberts, who has conducted in depth, um, research on the subject, which is reported in the Minnesota Christian Examiner. Here's a little about what Ted has been up to:
For the last three years, he has been leading Pure Desire full time. Roberts and his wife, Diane, are coming back to Woodland Hills [an evangelical church in St. Paul] in October to facilitate a two-day seminar called PDMI-University.
That gave you a start, didn't it? Ted's mission (almost wrote missionary!) position, though, is to root out sexual addiction wherever it may be found. Based on his research, he's got a lot of rooting to do. According to Ted:
“I do clinical counseling with church leaders and found that 58 percent of pastors are sexually addicted,” Roberts continued. “Teenagers just 17 years of age are the primary users of pornography, and their first exposure on the Internet is at 10 years of age. Statistics show that 75 percent of high school seniors have had intercourse. To address this, we have worked closely with a teen group and developed material that they relate to and that they found helpful. It is called ‘Top Gun.’”
That teenage boys "use" pornography as opposed to just "look" at will come as shattering news to most evangelicals, I suppose.

You can also bet that preachers are going start getting some hard-eyed stares from their evangelical congregants. If you have a church with two pastors, according to Ted, chances are . . . .

Anyway, hat's off to Ted for his important work. Godspeed, Ted.

Update: Fixed the name reference.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Joel Adkins, come on out!

Joel's Galileo moment

For a debate on the marriage discrimination amendment referendum. Adkins is good at bombast in the newspaper, all right, but I doubt he can defend his side in a genuine debate; he says he's all about the public square. Let's see if he really is.

I'll bet there are any number of cable television public affairs producers in the Twin Cities who would give Adkins and a theologian who opposes marriage discrimination an entire hour. Heck, I'd even do it. Frankly, it's not that hard.

You can only maintain Biblical fiction for so long, and then even the clerics have to recognize, well, the truth.

So, what do you say, Joel? Give it a shot?

Going the Star Chamber one better

MNO called my attention to a post by law professor Jonathan Turley on the assassination -- let's call it what it is -- of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. Apparently, the hit list is made by a committee of unnamed "senior officials." The successful hit on al-Awlaki was, of course, greeted by cheers and clapping by the public, about which Turley says this:
The fear is that this is how the rule of law dies — to the cheers and thunderous applause of citizens.
It made me think of the old English institution, the Star Chamber, the camera stellata. You should go to the link and see a list of the luminaries who thought the camera stellata was a swell idea. Here's a little more about it:
The jurisdiction of the Star Chamber was as vague as its constitution. Hudson says it is impossible to define it without offending the supporters of the prerogative by a limitation of its powers, or the lawyers by attributing to it an excessive latitude. In practice its jurisdiction was almost unlimited. It took notice of riots, murder, forgery, felony, perjury, fraud, libel and slander, duels and acts tending to treason, as well as of some civil matters, such as disputes about land between great men and corporations, disputes between English and foreign merchants, and testamentary cases; in fact, as Hudson says, "all offences may be here examined and punished if the King will." Its procedure was not according to the Common Law. It dispensed with the encumbrance of a jury; it could proceed on rumour alone; it could apply torture; it could inflict any penalty but death. It was thus admirably calculated to be the support of order against anarchy, or of despotism against individual and national liberty.
But we've gone the camera stellata one better; our's can inflict the penalty of death. Neat!

Update: Here's how you get a seat in the Star Chamber.

What's one more ugly scar?

As Karl Bremer writes in Ripple in Stillwater, maybe this:
Once Klobuchar and Bachmann get their way [on the proposed new freeway bridge across the St. Croix River], river advocates everywhere should be on their guard. Despite the authors’ claims to have written a tightly drafted bill that will trash only the St. Croix River, the next time developers on any protected river want to change the rules of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, they’ll merely have to point to the Klobuchar-Bachmann Boondoggle Bridge exemption and say “I want mine now.”
Bremer reports that Klobuchar defends the bridge because of the King power plant is in the vicinity, anyway, so what's one more scar? Karl notes the irony in the fact that the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was adopted in part to keep more festering cankers like the King plant off of, well, wild and scenic rivers.

Klobuchar is said to have decided to support the bridge in part to "inoculate" herself against claims of being a tree and fish hugger if Bachmann decided to run against her. If that's true, it surely reinforces her reputation for timidity and her title as the Queen of Small Ball.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Just as Catholic as I wanna be

Every so often, the Strib will print a piece by a Catholic mouthpiece about how the gubmint doesn't allow people to be as Catholic as they wanna be, or conversely, that it doesn't want to make people Catholic enough. Sometimes, as in the case of the two linked op-ed pieces here, they will be published almost simultaneously.

In the first link, John Garvey, the president of Catholic University of America, whines about federal mandates for women's health care to be included in health insurance plans:
In a section of the Affordable Care Act that didn't get much public attention during the debates last year, Congress asked HHS to prescribe a list of "preventive services for women" that health-care plans across the country would have to provide to subscribers at no additional cost.

The regulations that HHS unveiled in August will require Catholic University, if it wanted to continue to make insurance available to its students, to offer coverage of sterilization procedures and prescription contraceptives, including pills that act after fertilization to induce abortions.
I won't tarry to quibble with Garvey about whether the morning after pill induces abortions -- it doesn't -- but Garvey's protest that the Catholic church isn't trying to impose its morality on others is just -- I'm trying to think of a nice term -- hogwash. Forcing women to carry an unwanted pregnancy is about as big as they come in the imposition department.

Perhaps President Garvey will move out of the rectory or whatever presidential palace he inhabits and turn it into an orphanage. Then he might have a little more moral standing to make his argument. In fact, President Garvey, get a hold of me after you do that, and we'll talk.

And you do have to laugh a little because Garvey apparently has so little faith in his church's moral teaching that he is afraid that students would take advantage of the offered services.

By comparison, Joel Adkins' bombast about the Catholic church's desire to control the definition of marriage is refreshingly direct. Adkins is the executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Catholic church in Minnesota. In other words, he's the Catholic church's chief lobbyist.

In a piece that sounds remarkably like Katherine Kersten (she's the wind bag beneath his wings!), Adkins argues for "traditional marriage" using words like timeless, false secularism, moral witness, and defense of truth. Adkins says his side is "true," but you will look in vain in the piece for why it is true.

And we won't be silenced, says Adkins. People are saying mean things about us. But do you have any idea how hard it is to get a Catholic clergyman to come out and debate this with you? I've tried (on any grounds, including religious doctrine); so have a lot of other people. Adkins bellows about the Catholic church's place in the public square, but all it seems to be able to do is lob vaporous letters over the fence.

Come out and debate, Joel Adkins, with someone like Episcopal priest Neil Elliot, the author of another -- and altogether better -- op-ed in the Strib addressing the same subject, but taking the other side. Until you -- or John Nienstedt -- are willing to do that, don't come crying about the public square.

When you come right down to it, the Catholic church's position rests on two things. The Books of Moses, which have all kinds of zany abominations and directives that churches have been picking and choosing since the church began, and the Apostle Paul, who was a great evangelist, but kind of a cranky misanthrope. Go read the second chapter of Titus, just by way of a simple example, if you don't believe me.

Finally though, like Garvey, Adkins falls back on the argument that the Catholic church isn't trying to tell other people what to do:
This is not a debate the church has chosen, nor is it an intramural conversation about church doctrine. The church is not telling anyone who they can and cannot love. After all, we are commanded to love everybody.
As I said: hogwawsh.