Saturday, December 31, 2011

Michele Bachmann: I am not a scientist! (reprise)

These are remarks Bachmann made about her scientific credentials some years ago. Constrast this with her recent opinion that the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation.

The videos of Michele Bachmann quotes (see them all!) were made by The Drinking Liberally Players from the Minneapolis - St. Paul chapter.

Michele Bachmann on foreign policy (reprise)

Quotations of candidate Michele Bachmann about foreign policy:

From the Wit and Wisdom of Michele Bachmann series done by Drinking Liberally in Minneapolis - St. Paul.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Wit & Wisdom of Michele Bachmann (reprise) II

Here's part two of The Wit and Wisdom of Michele Bachmann, back again just in time for the Iowa caucuses:

But where's David Duke?

From Facebook group Occupy Friendship:

Ron Paul with former American Nazi Party member and current
KKK Grand Wizard and webmaster, Don Black.

Wit & Wisdom of Michele Bachmann (reprise) I

Since the Iowa caucuses are nearly upon us, I thought it would be a good time to rerun the Wit and Wisdom of Michele Bachmann videos we made at Drinking Liberally this fall. Here's the first one; look for the rest in coming days. If there's time, I may even cut a new one for caucus day.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

No ethics charges yet in Koch affair

Don Davis reports that new Senate majority leader Senjem thinks that the Koch affair is over:
So far, no senator has filed paperwork charging Koch with an ethical violation. On Minnesota Public Radio Wednesday, Senjem said that he does not expect an ethics complaint to be filed. “What happened has happened,” the new majority leader said. “It is over as far as I’m concerned. It is time to move on.”
Move on! Nothing to see here!

Of course, this is wishful thinking on the part of Senjem. Even a GOP member of the Senate Ethics Subcommittee admits that a violation probably occurred.
On Monday, a member of the Senate's subcommittee on ethical conduct said if the allegations about Koch having an improper relationship with a subordinate are true, "it's definitely something that could come before the ethics committee." Bill Ingebrigtsen, a Republican from Alexandria, added that if the reports are true, then Koch should not just step down as leader but should "absolutely" resign her seat. "Amy's a really good friend of mine" and she's done a "superb job," Ingebrigtsen said, but "I would encourage her to do that." Ingebrigtsen is one of four members of the ethics subcommittee, which has two Republicans and two Democrats. The other Republican, Senate President Michelle Fischbach, who chairs the subcommittee, declined through a spokesman Monday to say whether she thinks the Koch situation would be appropriate for ethics review [. . . ] Asked if Koch's situation - assuming the allegations are correct - merits ethics review, Ingebrigtsen said, "I'd be a liar if I said it doesn't." [emphasis added]
The relevant rules are the Permanent Rules of the Senate, and this very broad section:
56.3 Improper conduct includes conduct that violates a rule or administrative policy of the Senate, that violates accepted norms of Senate behavior, that betrays the public trust, or that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor or disrepute.
There's plenty of dishonor and disrepute to go around in this episode. Sen. Geoff Michel's dissembling and the subsequent correction of his timeline by former Senate Chief of Staff Cullen Sheehan also deserve scrutiny by the subcommittee. Even if Sen. Koch resigns her seat, the actions of the others in Senate Republican leadership posts betrayed the public trust.

The best course of action for the Senate, the State of Minnesota, and probably the Republican party would be for Republicans to police their own members' ethical conduct. If Sen. Ingebrigtsen believes this episode merits ethics review, he should pursue it. I'd have a great deal of respect for Sen. Koch if she filed an ethics complaint against herself. It's hypocritical for the party of family values and the sanctity of marriage to close ranks around one of its own. But I don't expect it will go down that way. Unfortunately, it will be up to a Senate DFL'er to file the complaint(s).

It's crucial that ethics proceedings not simply be an exercise in seeking political advantage. Sen. Koch has lost her leadership position and much more as a consequence of her actions, and censure by the Senate would be an appropriate institutional response. The reason ethics proceedings are necessary is because of the stonewalling and dissembling of others who seek to avoid answering for their handling of staff complaints.

As much as he wishes to, new Majority Leader Senjem cannot simply "move on" because his caucus had a closed door meeting. It will take sunshine and transparency to do that.

So, readers - do you think an ethics complaint will be filed? When? Who will file it?

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

And he touched the hem of her robe

Also, Jesus said, "Pick Senjem"

A Republican senator reports that Amy Koch's presence was felt in the room at Tuesday's senate caucus. And she was "glimpsed" occasionally through an open door.

The Apostle Limmer said, "She spake not of her [political] death," but of Republican life.

With everybody living and moving and having their being in there, it must have gotten pretty crowded.

At least some members of the caucus are realizing that what I have (charitably) called "serial ineptitude" in its dealing with the former Majority Leader has damaged operation of the caucus and damaged its credibility in the Republican party and the public, especially with women.

Now, guys like Limmer and the unnamed senator who "felt her presence" are trying to market her spiritual essence to the people that the caucus has disaffected.

See how many times in the coming days, and especially during the session, you catch a whiff of Eau de Amy behind the ear of a Republican senator.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Paul frontrunner in Iowa, Bachmann left behind

Public Policy Polling released their most recent Iowa caucus poll last night, and Ron Paul leads 24-20. Based on the results PPP declared:
Iowa looks like a 2 person race between Paul and Romney as the campaign enters its final week. If Paul can really change the electorate by turning out all these young people and independents who don't usually vote in Republican caucuses, he'll win. If turnout ends up looking a little bit more traditional, Romney will probably prevail. And given all the strange twists and turns to this point don't be surprised to see yet another surprise in the final week...and based on the innards of this poll the person best positioned to provide that surprise in the closing stretch is Santorum.
Despite showing little change in the overall positions of the field, poking around the many pages of crosstabs leads to some very interesting insights about the strengths and weakness of each of the candidates.

It's end times for Bachmann (Photo: The Uptake)
Santorum actually has the highest positives of the GOP field at +27 (56/29). It's time for a "Santorum surge," since he's the only credible non-Romney candidate who has not been a frontrunner at some point (Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and Gingrich have all surged and then fallen.) As PPP notes, he's probably the best positioned to finish 3rd, since he is the leading second choice in the field. In particular, if Bachmann and Perry fade Santorum is likely to benefit the most. Bob Vander Plaats stabbed her in the back last week, asking her to step aside. And 77% of those who have a favorable opinion of Bachmann also have a favorable opinion of Santorum.

Bachmann leads among self-identified "tea party" voters, but since they only make up 26% of the sample, that's only good enough for 4th. Ron Paul's voters are younger, and he leads among non-Fox watchers, who make up nearly half of the sample. Gingrich has faded sharply, with strong negatives. Perry doesn't do well among respondents who paid a lot of attention to the debates, while Gingrich does best among folks who did.

If Bachmann finishes in fourth or lower in Iowa, no amount of Bachmentum will save her campaign. She'll withdraw before New Hampshire, where she's run a pathetic, gaffe-prone campaign. Out of money, with her allies asking her to quit, Bachmann's goose is cooked.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

If it wasn't Michael Brodkorb

A serious question for Cal Ludeman

Original source unknown
Cal, if Michael Brodkorb is not the staffer with whom Sen. Amy Koch had an "inappropriate relationship," does mean that the staffer is still employed by the Senate? And s/he will be there when Sen. Koch returns for the session?


Ludeman told reporters that Brodkorb was fired because the senate leadership (the then leadership, by the way) merely "lacked the will" to keep him on. Nothing personal. And not for an affair with Amy Koch. Heaven forfend.

Do you see the problem here?

Remember, though, that the leadership that was so "lacking in will" set Brodkorb up and dispatched Ludeman to virtually assassinate him in a public restaurant. (Shades of Michael Corleone getting spaghetti sauce all over the police commissioner.) And then made him come back and clean out his desk that night under the cover of darkness.

Senate leadership was feckless, all right, but it hardly lacked devotion to the cause of disposing of Michael Brodkorb.

All of you, boys and girls, may take a moment now for a rude laugh.

Because it is obvious to the most casual observer -- even if not to Cal Ludeman -- that the situation won't be awkward -- for this reason, anyway -- because the staffer is gone; he left the day after Amy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Aloha Deputy!

Requiem for a Lightweight

Update: I had an attribute incorrectly set for the publication of the video, since it was finished before the post went up, and I didn't want it to be available before the post that went with it. I've fixed it now; if some of you tried to view the video but couldn't (some of you apparently could), I apologize. It works now.

In a private ceremony at a secret time and place (revealed on the morning of the meeting to be a windowless, padded-wall conference room in a suburban hotel), the Deputy, Geoff Michel, was stripped of his epaulets and brass buttons by the Minnesota senate's Republican caucus. (Dave Senjem, God bless him, proved that some people will, in fact, eat anything, by agreeing to be the Majority Leader.)

As a principal architect of the serial ineptitude of handling of the removal of Amy Koch from her position as the majority leader (or her removal at all), the entirely unrelated -- so they say -- simultaneous firing of Michael Brodkorb, and the comical cockup in the messaging about the whole, um, affair, there wasn't much question that he'd walk the plank. (I'm  mixing metaphors; I know; don't write in. I'm just inspired by Michael Brodkorb.)

For those of us who know Michel the best, none of this was much of a surprise.

From his abrupt about face on conceal and carry way back in the first year of his first term (and now claiming that he's always been against it when he campaigned for it before that first election and after seeing how seriously he had misjudged the citizens of Edina on the issue), his pledge signing and fealty to David Strom and the Taxpayers League and his refusal to support even a modest increase in the gasoline tax while the state's roads and bridges crumbled, his willingness to be the ever-faithful retainer of Governor Gutshot, supporting the latter's "kick the can down the road" approach to state fiance, his offer of a bill to eliminate the corporate income tax and one to eliminate consumer protection class action suits in Minnesota, his claim that the state could authorize some kind of domestic partnership for gays after the Bachmann amendment as originally proposed was passed (it couldn't have; Bachmann's language prohibited gay marriage or "marriage equivalents"), to his description last session how Bloomington was getting ready for a loss of Local Government Aid when Bloomington has not received any LGA for years -- and the list goes on, but you get the picture -- this fiasco has Michel written all over it.

So with this video let's all bid a fond adieu to the fumbling leadership of our pal the Deputy.

Newt's staff says Merry Christmas!

I'm sorry

Waiting around for the puff of white smoke will do funny things to you.

Thanks to Slate for the link.

Survivor Roseville!

At the Radisson Hotel in Roseville
As previously announced, the Senate Republican Caucus will conduct an election to select a Majority Leader today, Tuesday, December 27. 
Members of the Senate Republican Caucus will hold a press conference at the meeting location shortly after the conclusion of the leadership election.
[If anybody can stay up that late.]

That's the proud announcement from apparatchik in the senate's Republican caucus press office.

Meanwhile, one contestant, pictured here, was able to escape from the encampment briefly.

Survivor production photo
Here's the message he passed to a local reporter:

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Congressional Space Cadet

It's not who you think

NY Sun
Here are the opening grafs from an article in (the id of Newt) today:
On Dec. 14, with Newt Gingrich still leading in most polls of Iowa but a softness in his numbers beginning to show, the former House Speaker made the unorthodox choice to take time off campaigning to deliver a seminar on brain science in the liberal university town of Iowa City.
. . . 
The best guide to understanding the reasons Gingrich took time off the campaign trail to teach a brain-science seminar — and also, in the words of Mitt Romney, to understanding his “zany” side — is Gingrich’s first book, “Window of Opportunity.”
First, note there is nothing that historian Gingrich won't lecture other people about.

Window of Opportunity is a book at Gingrich wrote in 1984 when he was the chair of the Congressional Space Caucus. The book includes such gems as these:
This much flashier space vehicle would theoretically be capable of research and development missions, hypersonic flight, and even rescue missions to the Moon — but it must be piggy-backed into orbit on the shuttle, and it will be piloted by a single man in an open cockpit, protected only by an anti-micrometeorite suit supplied by the lowest bidder.
And this:
The third-generation shuttle of the year 2020 should offer yet another magnitude drop [in the price of flying cargo to space] about $10 a kilogram. At that point, a typical couple might take a honeymoon trip into space for around $15,000.
Thank you, Dr. Science.

Truly, with the Congressional Space Cadet and Ron "Gold Bug" Paul, you can appreciate how hard it is for Michele Bachmann to reach the same crazed Iowa audience.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Now available for birthday parties, too

Seasoned political operator needs a fresh start

Michael Brodkorb is returning to his roots as part of his Phoenix Project. The slogan for his new business is Have Suit, Will Travel.

This is another great cartoon from Avidor, who is planning a graphic novel about the life and times of Michael Brodkorb. Look for it in the New Year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Okay, now this is the absolute truth, I swear

Cross my heart and hope to die

As reported Friday, December 23rd on the MPR website:
Cal Ludeman, secretary of the Senate, told MPR News earlier this week that the Senate Republican leadership team's reasons for recommending Brodkorb be fired did not have to do with an inappropriate relationship with Koch.
Leadership, according to Ludeman, simply didn't have the "will" to keep Brodkorb on after Amy Koch resigned as Majority Leader. Leadership? Remember, we're talking about these people:

MPR Photo
These are the guys who told us last Friday that they had just learned about Amy Koch and her inappropriate relationship and had tripped over each other -- like a scene from the Keystone Kops -- to get to the press conference to tell the public all about it.

And then, this week, Geoff Michel (pictured above, apparently with gas) admitted that the goings on had been known for months and that he had, well, lied about that at the Friday presser.

Now, this same bunch -- credibility in complete tatters -- wants you to believe that the resignation of Amy Koch and the near simultaneous firing of Michael Brodkorb was a silly, serendipitous coincidence.

There must be something in the air at the Capitol on Fridays. Fish sticks in the cafeteria maybe.

Michael, get thee into rehab!

Strib photo
In a front page above-the-fold story in the Strib today, Michael Brodkorb vows to come back:
"I've had offers from campaigns and PR firms about work" he wrote. "But my goal right now is my family and health [my emphasis], but like the mythical Phoenix, I will rise up again, but it won't be from any ashes."
You can't be the Phoenix, Michael, without the ashes. The ashes are the whole point.

Without the ashes, you're just a big ugly bird who sat around for a while and then flew off.

Although your metaphors (and similes, too!) need work -- maybe finishing that degree will help -- you do have the beginning thread of a good redemption narrative: your health. You can make that so much better and more effective if you check yourself into rehab somewhere -- preferably someplace prestigious -- for an addiction.

There is one kind of addiction that might be especially plausible.

A stint in rehab can shave six months to a year off of a good redemption story.

You might even be able to find a place that offers writing workshops: get the wood out of those metaphors.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kremlinology in Minnesota II

The MNGOP faithful puzzle over changes in the party calendar for the new year

Last Friday, in a press conference, Sens. Geoff Michel, David Hann, David Senjem, and Chris Gerlach convened to denounce their recently deposed leader, Amy Koch.

But in a startlingly swift turn of events, the denouncers are becoming the denouncees. Party apparatchiks like Sara Janacek and Cyndy Brucato are in open rebellion.

The only question now is whether these counter-revolutionary forces will spread and purge the Gang of Four.

The image is from Avidor; if you use it, please give a link here and attribution to him.

The inserted image is from the MPR photograph used here.

DO NOT play poker with these men!

They are liars, and would undoubtedly cheat, too

Minnesota Public Radio

You've been warned.

Bob Collins at MPR asks the classic question, "What did they know, and when did they know it?"

The answers are: more than we thought and earlier than we thought.

Isn't that just the way it always is with coverups?

Contrary to statements of the long faces pictured at last Friday's presser, they hadn't "just learned" about the hanky-panky, they'd known about it for months. Here's the Deputy, the Interim Maximum Leader, the Wonder Weasel, explaining himself:
Michel acknowledged that Sheehan's comments contradict the comments he and three other senators made to reporters on Friday. At that time, Michel said the allegations about Koch's behavior were first reported to them a few weeks ago. Michel said he wasn't honest about the timeline in an attempt to protect Sheehan and other staffers.

"I felt at that time that if I said two months or whatever that exact number is, that that would have very obviously pointed out who the whistleblower was and I did not want to do that and I felt it was my duty not to disclose that identity," Michel said.
But Collins carefully threads Michel on to the shish kebab:
If that were true, the proper answer is "no comment," something the senators had no trouble saying in response to a number of other questions that were asked at that news conference. Instead, Michel intended to mislead the reporters [my emphasis] -- he refers to it as being "intentionally vague" -- and, by extension, the people of Minnesota. Ironically, he cited "ethical responsibilities" in announcing the Koch affair in the first place.

"We want to be as open as we can be with you," Sen. Geoff Michel told WCCO's Pat Kessler, a few minutes before misleading the assembled questioners.
We want to be as open with you as we can. Now, that's funny.

It is as clear as it can be that Michel wanted to leave the impression that he and the other senators assembled had just learned about L'affaire Brokdorb and were out of breath from rushing to the press conference to get the news out.

Tommy has more on our Nixonian friend and his "let me just say this about that."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fornication and criminal adultery!

If you're a single guy, or a single woman, and you have sex with each other, what is that?

Criminal fornication; it's a misdemeanor.

What if the guy is married (to somebody else) and the woman is single? Same result under the statue, Minn. Stat. sec. 609.34.

Okay, what if the man and the women are each married, but not to each other? Well, that's entirely different! That's criminal adultery, and each can be imprisoned for up to a year and fined up to $3,000, or both (kind of misdemeanor-like).

Under the criminal adultery statute, Minn. Stat. sec. 609.36, it doesn't actually matter whether the man is married or not, just as in the case for simple fornication.

To summarize, if you are an unmarried woman and have sex with any man, married or not, it's fornication. If you are a married woman, and you have sex with any man, married to somebody else or not, that's criminal adultery.

However, in the case of criminal adultery, the man can defend on the grounds that he didn't know that the woman was married. The state of the woman's knowledge is irrelevant, because, after all, she was married.

Presumably, however, even if the man thought the woman was unmarried, and he skated on criminal adultery, he would still be guilty of fornication. Right?

Franz Kafka, the nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

An interesting wrinkle on these two statutes is that only the wronged spouse can swear out a complaint for criminal adultery, kind of like it was theft of property. Fornication -- being a crime against female virginity -- is not so limited; any busy body with knowledge of fornication can bring it to the attention of law enforcement.

But I've saved the very best part for last. Consentual homosexual acts may still violate the sodomy law in Minnesota, but the sodomy law is unenforceable under the United States Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas.

If a cohabiting man and woman -- who presumably racked up multiple counts of fornication or adultery -- were charged, could they defend on the grounds that they were denied equal protection compared to a gay couple?

You know what we need? We need a test case. Any idea where we can get one?

One of the best parts of the entire low-comedy L'affaire Brodkorb is that DFL Senator Ellen Anderson wanted to get rid of criminal fornication and adultery a few years ago. But Tom Pritchard and the Minnesota Family Council was agin' it.

Update: If gays could marry, it would open up a new vista of finger-pointing outrage for MFC. It may wish to think about the expanded jurisdiction possibilities.

Aside from the savings and loan incident,

Mr. Greenwood has led an admirable life

Yes, and aside from the body parts in his refrigerator, Jeffrey Dahmer was a fastidious housekeeper!

But those are the words of then-senator Norm Coleman in support of a pardon for Harold "Hal" Greenwood.

Attention has been paid recently to the request by Michele Bachmann and others to get a presidential pardon for convicted money launder and coke and gun runner, Frank Vennes. Michele's support of Frank was withdrawn before the pardon could be denied and after Vennes was implicated in the Petters ponzi scheme.

At least Coleman's pitch on behalf of Greenwood had the virtue of being on behalf of a constituent. But there is a remarkable similarity in the story arcs in the two cases, at least as told to the U.S. pardon attorney. As their respective champions relate, both Greenwood and Vennes found "faith," were doing good works, especially on behalf of "at risk" kids, and were completely rehabilitated; they just needed that ol' blot on their escutcheon removed in order to kick their generosity up a notch.

Here's how ProPublica, which has done a pretty extensive investigation of the pardon business recently, describes the "savings and loan incident"
Nearly a decade earlier, Greenwood had been convicted of conspiracy, misapplication of funds, filing false reports to regulators, and racketeering. He was sentenced in 1992 to a 46-month prison term after the failure of Midwest Federal Savings and Loan, a collapse that cost taxpayers $1.2 billion.
Goodness, we're just lucky it wasn't serious! That's 1.2 billion in 90s dollars, by the way.

The "decade earlier" that ProPublica refers to is before Jim Oberstar wrote to the pardon attorney on behalf of Greenwood in 2000. Arne Carlson supported Greenwood, too. (The application for the pardon was ultimately denied.)

That's how it works. In addition to Bachmann, Walter Mondale, Coleman, Tim Pawlenty, and GOP chieftan Ron Ebensteiner all made a pitch for Vennes.

According to the ProPublica investigation, support of a congressional figure -- and a governor or two doesn't hurt! -- is just about a sine qua non for the grant of a pardon. That support hardly guaranties a pardon, but you're very unlikely to get one without it.

The way you get the attention of a politician, regrettably, is with campaign contributions, and the more the better.

Thanks to blogger sidekick Aaron for calling this story to my attention.

Friend and fellow blogger Karl Bremer

Karl posted a brief comment on Ripple in Stillwater yesterday, writing that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This is terrible news to a lot of us, including the authors here. We all wish Karl the very best and look forward with hope to good news about the progress of his treatment.

Michele Bachmann has as much right to confuse and frighten Iowans as anybody!

And she doesn't need that bilious boob Bob Vander Plaats to say otherwise

From CNN:
Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - Prominent Iowa faith leader Bob Vander Plaats asked Michele Bachmann to dramatically alter her White House plans, according to the Bachmann campaign, including the possibility of dropping her presidential bid altogether. 
"[Bob] Vander Plaats called us on Saturday and asked us to consider the possibility of merging with another candidate," Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart told CNN. "He did not say whether we should be president or vice presidential candidate.  
"And obviously, we didn't even consider that," Stewart added. "We said, 'Why would we do that?' "
Why indeed, Alice?

Well, for one thing, Michele is a woman, and Febrile Bob is a Dutch Reformed preacher, which means that Febrile Bob thinks he has authority over Michele. He even thinks Jesus told him that he did. We have to say in Febrile Bob's defense that when you believe that you are -- how shall I put this? -- infected with the mind of God, everyone else, including mere candidates for president of the United States, seem so mortal.

And Michele has led Febrile Bob on a little too, by not only being a fool for Christ, but a fool for Febrile Bob, as well. Remember Febrile Bob's little pledge that included the preamble about slavery not being so bad, and that Michele was the first candidate to belly up to the, um, bar to sign it?

You knew that was going to come back to bite somebody: making Febrile Bob think he was the king maker. And a matchmaker, too. (Febrile Bob to a sidekick preacher: Watch this; I can make 'em do anything!)

But in the end, Michele and Alice are way too modern for Febrile Bob. You go, girls.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mining Lobbyist Appointed to Citizen Oversight Committee

On Monday, Iron Mining Association President and registered lobbyist Craig Pagel from Duluth was appointed as a citizen representative to the Fisheries Oversight Committee by DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. The Fisheries Oversight Committee is a citizen board charged with overseeing the Fish and Game fund that contains proceeds from license fees and lottery proceeds and making policy recommendations to the Legislature. While this seems like an innocuous appointment to a minor board, it raises several troubling questions.

First, the appointment of an industry lobbyist to a citizen's oversight committee is problematic on principle.

Whether Pagel is an avid outdoorsman, the fact remains that the purpose of this committee is to provide citizen oversight, not representation for industries that might be affected by DNR actions. As the DNR states in an August 2011 overview, "These appointments are for individuals, not formal representatives of particular organizations." The Legislature recognizes that lobbyists shouldn't be considered "citizens" on other citizen oversight boards. For example, the Sunset Advisory Committee prohibits lobbyists from being citizen members, and the Legislative-Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources requires members to recuse themselves from decisions that might create a conflict of interest.

Second, a conflict of interest is inevitable. The citizen's committee that Pagel's been appointed to has been critical of the mining industry, and this appointment allows him to influence its stance on policies relating to mining.

The previous incarnation of the Fisheries Oversight Committee has taken a strong stance against the PolyMet mine and raised concerns about sulfate pollution and acid mine drainage. In October, the annual report of the oversight committee included the following recommendation from the Trout and Salmon Stamp Subcommittee:
Given the high concentration of trout waters in the area, we remain very concerned about possible effects of AMD [acid mine drainage], increased sulfate levels in water (which in turn may increase methylation of mercury and mercury contamination in fish), toxic heavy metals, and other pollutants on the valuable aquatic resources here. We previously urged the MNDNR to apply the greatest possible oversight and expertise in reviewing the Polymet EIS and project permits. 
Indeed, in 2009, the Trout and Salmon Stamp Committee raised the same concerns, and  recommended that financial assurance regulations should be strengthened to ensure adequate funding for mine cleanup in case of bankruptcy. One of the insights from the hearings on legislation to strengthen the damage deposit regulations on copper mines was how little iron mines are required to set aside for cleanup in case of bankruptcy. This was the lesson Minnesota learned and then quickly forgot when Reserve Mining went bankrupt in 1986 with only $2 million set aside for cleanup costs. Minnesota taxpayers are still on the hook for cleanup.

The Iron Mining Association has a strong interest in reducing the standards for sulfate pollution. In fact, Pagel himself lobbied for changes to the sulfate standards last session. While PolyMet and other sulfide mining projects have an interest in reducing these standards, so do iron mines who've struggled to meet sulfate discharge standards.

It is inappropriate for Pagel to serve on the Fisheries Oversight Committee. There's no way for Pagel to separate his role as a lobbyist for the mining industry and his role as a citizen giving input on DNR policies that affect the mining industry. He should not have been appointed.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Republican Legislative Escort Service

Shown here after helping Michael Brodkorb clean out his Senate office

The drawer cleaning and frog march out of the Capitol really occurred after dark. Michael Brodkorb got the news of his, um, separation from service in a meeting in a Mendota Heights restaurant on Friday. Late that night, he was permitted to clear out his personal things under the watchful eyes of Capitol security.

The Strib article at the link is the best account so far of what it describes as perhaps the most tumultuous 72 hours in state senate history. And the news just keeps coming, too.

The graphic was drawn by the courtroom artist, political cartoonist, and blogger (among many other talents) Ken Avidor. If you want to use this cartoon, please give a link here and attribution to Ken.

The scandal at the Capitol must really be deep

When the back benchers start dreaming of leadership positions.

Kremlinology in Minnesota

MPR photo

Thanks to sidekick Aaron for the link to the photo.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Help Bradlee Dean go Platinum!

And pick up that last minute gift for the winger in your family, too!

And for the ones who can read, you might consider:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Republican Light Comic Opera Company Presents

The opera buffa L'amante (The Paramour)

Strib photo
In this opening scene, the faithless soprano Ginerva sings of her love for the tenor il Vacario -- the Deputy -- Fredo, who receives the message warmly. In the final stanza of the aria, Il mio amore per te, however, Ginerva reveals that her love is really for the bass, the dark stranger in the back of the hall, Luca Brasi.

Upon hearing this news, il Vacario departs, vowing dark revenge. As he exits, he sings music reminiscent of one of Handel’s most gorgeous arias, Scherza infida.

Later in the opera, il Vacario returns with vassals loyal to him, denoucing Ginerva in the chorus Lei è nient'altro che una troia.

Posterized MPR photograph
The production features heartfelt performances all around. Bravo.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Al Haig, meet the Deputy

Most readers here will remember when President Reagan was shot and wounded outside a hotel in Washington. Some will also remember this:
His most famous sound bite came the day Reagan was shot. Haig entered the White House briefing room and announced: "I am in control here." He never recovered from the imagery of a military man seeming to commandeer the government as his commander-in-chief was close to death. 
Al has nothing on the Deputy. Amy's body was still warm when this was issued:
Susan Closmore
New Media Specialist
Senate Republican Caucus 
See below for a message from Sen. Geoff Michel.
With the resignation of Sen. Koch as our leader, I want to update you on the process for selecting a new leader.

Our caucus bylaws provide for a process for succession after the Caucus Leader resigns. Section 2.7 provides that “In the case of the resignation of the Leader, the remaining Leadership Team shall select one of the Assistant Leaders to act in the Leader’s place temporarily until a succeeding Leader is elected.”

Additionally, Section 2.8 provides “In the case of a vacancy in the position of Leader, a Caucus Meeting must be held within two weeks of the sending of the letter of resignation for the purposes of electing a succeeding Leader.”

In accordance with these bylaws, our Leadership Team met this evening and selected me to serve as Interim Leader.

We will be calling for a caucus election to elect a new leader. That election must take place by December 29. Please note that section 3.3 of our bylaws does not allow for voting by phone or proxy voting. It states “All Caucus members desiring to vote must be present to vote. No proxy voting will be allowed at any Caucus Meeting.”

We understand this is a busy time for everyone, and will try to accommodate your schedules as much as possible. Please notify Maureen Watson if you are unable to attend any of the dates after Christmas and before the 29th of December.

Geoff Michel
Not "Gee, Amy, thanks for your service," or even "Sadly, now we have to begin the process of replacing our caucus leader."

Nope, just an overweening "I'm in charge!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bookseller? Yes. Religious educator? No way.

Although maybe in a funny way, she is

In one of the purest and most pious expressions of why the Catholic church should never, ever be in charge of civil law, Katherine Thomas writes in the Strib that the Catholic church not only should not -- it cannot -- ordain female priests. It is, after all, a received truth, and Thomas wants to know and believe what is true.

Thomas expresses a fealty to "timeless" religious authority that might remind some of you of another Katherine sometimes referred to in passing on this blog.

We might charge this off to a charming loopiness, if it wasn't for the fact that the Catholic church wants to make the rules that apply to a lot of us who aren't Catholic; for example, in the areas of abortion, stem cell research, and gay marriage.

Returning once again to one of my favorite examples, it was undoubtedly a received truth centuries ago that the sun revolved around the earth. It was so received, in fact, that Galileo damned near got himself burned at the stake for saying otherwise in the seventeenth century. That was the fate of one of Galileo's pals:
On February 17, 1600, the Catholic Church made a most emphatic and brutal statement. Giordano Bruno, a Dominican friar, turned philosopher, was burned at the stake in Rome. In keeping with the punishment he suffered the heretic's fork, a cruel Y-shaped object, the branched end of which passed into his jaw while the lower end was positioned behind his breastbone to force his mouth shut. Bruno had been found guilty of heresy and the fork meant that he could not longer "spread the word". His crime? Well, he was a sort of "hippie" and among his rather "way out" views for the time, he believed and maintained the Copernican model of the universe - that is the Earth not the Sun was at the center of the universe - and also that the universe was infinite - with the possibility of multiple inhabited worlds. Both views were heresy in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church. 
It was too late for Galileo, of course, but even received truths change, and even if some people are a little slow on the uptake. It only took the Catholic church about 350 years to say, Well, let's let bygones be bygones; Galileo was right!

It is of -- frankly -- little moment what the Catholic hierarchy wants to browbeat its adherents into believing; it is, after all, a voluntary club. But when it wants to take its misogynistic, homophobic, anti-science show on the road; well, that's another matter entirely.

And now, this bulletin from the Department of Utter Predictability

The sheriff
I can report -- with considerable satisfaction -- that Sheriff Rick Stanek & Co., as well as Hennepin County (being responsible for the behavior of the miscreants) have been sued by Melissa Hill for their unconstitutional behavior in ordering her to stay away from the Hennepin County Government Center and Occupy Minnesota and then arresting her for defying the order.

City Pages reports the filing of the suit at the link, and it provides this link to the complaint, filed in federal district court in Minnesota. I wrote about these incidents at the time:
I know! Let's arrest Melissa! 
I know! Let's arrest Melissa! II
I had some conversations with readers of the blog -- in the comments, and some sidebars, too -- who were tut tutting about Hill the chalker and potty mouth.

But you see, the great thing about civil rights are they belong to everybody -- not just people you like -- and you can't lose them just because the Sheriff of Nottingham, or the Sheriff of Hennepin, says so.

Melissa Hill is suing the county, the sheriff, and his deputies for the deprivation of her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983, a statute first adopted by the Congress in 1871. And this one will cost the defendants some money.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A stroll down memory lane with the Deputy

Geoff Michel -- aka the Deputy -- had a vapor lock in the Strib over commercial-industrial property taxes levied by the state. The state has levied commercial-industrial taxes state-wide since the dawn of civilization; it is time to get rid of the anachronism! Right? Well, not exactly.

The existence of the state-wide levy of commercial-industrial property taxes is almost exactly co-extensive with the Deputy's tenure in the Minnesota Senate.

A coincidence, you say? Hardly.

Perhaps some of you will recall that we had several years of budget surpluses in the late 90s (when Bill Clinton was the president, by the way), and we rebated the surpluses to taxpayers. In the final year of the Ventura administration, we made income tax reductions to the permanent income tax code in Minnesota. If memory serves, and I believe it does, even though the Senate was in DFL hands, John Marty was the only DFL senator to vote against the permanent income tax reductions.

We elected Tim Pawlenty in 2002 -- and the fresh-faced Geoff Michel, too, who campaigned on allowing conceal and carry for handguns, whether he admits it now or not -- and the worm, of course, turned. The economy was heading south, and Governor Gutshot and the other Grover Norquist vassals, like the Deputy, had pledged that they "wouldn't raise taxes." So they couldn't very well agree to raise the income taxes back to where they were. I mean, Grover would be pissed. Not to mention Davey Strom.

And thus began the decade that explains where we are now. (These permanent income tax reductions cost the state's treasury billions of dollars, and if timely reversed probably would have erased the cumulative deficit we've run up.)

What to do? Well, inter alia, kick the can down the road on public school finance, steal millions from the Health Care Access Fund, and engage in every other check-kiting scheme that Gutshot and the Deputy (who wasn't the Deputy at the time, but merely a willing apparatchik) could think of. Including leaving in place a 2001 deal that imposed a new state property tax on commercial and industrial property, and seasonal recreational property, again with the complicity of the DFL senate chamber.

We've had ten years of trying to push off state-wide obligation on to the counties and the municipalities, and this property tax is Exhibit A. Trying to cut off LGA for the core cities when they contribute the most commercial industrial property taxes to the state is another exhibit. It is shameful and shameless, a simple poaching on a local revenue source for state obligations.

It is churlish for the Deputy, in the closing days of 2011, to piss and moan about a tax that has existed only since he took office and which helped him and rest of Gutshot's vassals avoid the discussion about income taxes for ten years.

Compared to the corporate income tax, the state-wide commercial industrial property tax is stupid and regressive: more harmful to small business than large. On the other hand, the Deputy -- bright light that he is -- also advocated the elimination of the corporate income tax.

Michel's the name; eliminate's the game: just an irresponsible lickspittle for corporate interests.

Tea stains are hard to get out

This about sums it up, doesn't it? It's from Spiegel, via Scott Horton:
“Africa is a country. The Taliban rule in Libya. Muslims are terrorists. Immigrants are mostly criminals, Occupy Wall Street protesters are always dirty. And women who claim to have been sexually molested should kindly keep quiet.” 
Welcome to the wonderful world of the Republican Party. Or rather: to the distorted world of its presidential campaign. For months it has coiled through the country like a traveling circus, from debate to debate, from scandal to scandal, contesting the mightiest office in the world — and nothing is ever too unfathomable for them… These eight presidential wannabes are happy enough not only to demolish their own reputations but also that of their party, the once worthy party of Abraham Lincoln. They are also ruining the reputation of the United States. 
They lie, deceive, scuffle and speak every manner of idiocy. And they expose a political, economic, geographic and historical ignorance compared to which George W. Bush sounds like a scholar. [And that, my friends, is damnation of W with faint praise.] Even the party’s boosters are horrified by the spectacle… 
Platitudes in lieu of programs: in serious times that demand the smartest, these clowns offer blather that is an insult to the intelligence of all Americans. But as with all freak shows, it would be impossible without a stage, the U.S. media, which has been neutered by the demands of political correctness, and a welcoming audience, a party base that seems to have been lobotomized overnight. Notwithstanding the subterranean depths of the primary process, the press and broadcasters proclaim one clown after the next to be the new frontrunner, in predictable news cycles of forty-five days.
Spiegel credits Fox News and the Tea Party for the GOP's descent into madness. That sounds about right to me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

After conferring with counsel

To make extra-damn sure it isn't legally enforceable!
Serial adulterer (on left) - Getty Images
Newton Gingrich signed Crazy Bob Vander Plaats' pledge. According to Slate:
In a letter explaining his support for the pledge, circulated by the Iowa Family Leader, Gingrich wrote, “I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others.” Politico has the full letter here.
Newton is every lawyer's dream witness on cross examination.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tonight on the Late Debate

Tune in tonight (10 PM to Midnight) to hear Aaron Klemz and Jeff Rosenberg (MnPublius) take on right-wingers Derek Brigham, Heather Linville, and Jamie Delton. Topics include last night's Republican primary debate, the Minnesota budget surplus, and more!

You can listen live on the radio (95.9 FM in the north metro) or streaming here.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Nothing scares Jason Lewis more

And the sky is falling, too!

Strib Opinion Exchange 12-11-2011
Nothing -- absolutely nothing -- scares Jason Lewis more than the specter of economic and social justice. Anybody under the level of corporate v.p. or second-rate talk show host is clearly unworthy of making a living. And yet, there they are, just like that little shit Oliver Twist wanting "some more."

If we're not careful, those teachers and child care workers will crush us!

Lewis won't be happy until everyone lives in peonage to the Koch brothers. One has to wonder, though, how Lewis will fit in to the full-Koch schema. Probably not exactly where he thinks he will. Maybe just under Northern® "bath tissue."

Well, they are in allied industries.

The column is standard Chicken Little Lewis, but he reserves some extra pants wetting over the impending recall of Scott Walker in Wisconsin and the voter nullification of the public collective bargaining law in Ohio in November.

The practice of democracy is a scary thing all right, Jason. We understand your fright entirely.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Author event at Drinking Liberally on December 15th

The Minneapolis - St. Paul chapter of Drinking Liberally will close out its guest programming for the year next Thursday, December 15, 2011 with an appearance by the authors of the recently published book, The Madness of Michele Bachmann: a Broad-Minded Survey of a Small-Minded Candidate (Wiley & Sons, New York).

Eva Young, Karl Bremer, and Ken Avidor, who also author the blog Dump Michele Bachmann, will be on hand to do a reading from their book.

Our guest have also promised a rundown on the connection between between Bachmann and convicted smuggler and money launderer Frank Vennes (who is presently under indictment for his role in the Petters ponzi scheme), and Bobby Thompson, the military charity fraudster currently on the lam. Our guests are, it is no exaggeration to say, the national experts on the subject.

The program will begin at 7 PM on the 15th at the 331 Club in northeast Minneapolis.

Drinking Liberally is a national organization of political and social clubs around the country. The chapter in Minneapolis meets on Thursday nights at the 331 Club from 6 to 9 PM. If there is a guest, the program itself usually begins at 7 PM.

Here's a podcast of an interview that Eva, Karl and Ken did with Nancy Nelson on AM 950 on Friday, December 9th.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Diet advice from Annette Meeks

From the author of the Ten Cans of Coke® a Day is All You Need Diet, Atlanta native and nutrition expert Annette Meeks writes:
Anyone who has ever tried to shed excess pounds can tell you one hard and fast rule of weight loss. It's all about how many calories you consume, not where they come from.
Words to live by, indeed. And this why, according to Meeks, it is just plain nonsensical to put a sales tax on sugared soft drinks. It isn't fat supression; it's fat oppression!

Unless you're the gubmint, says Meeks; it will just ease its belt out a notch if we put a tax on hard working 'Mericuns and their fructose of choice.

Because that's what it's all about, isn't it? Making sure all of us have our shot at type II diabetes.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Javier Morillo-Alicea talks about organizing child care workers

During his remarks at Drinking Liberally last week (December 1st), Javier was asked about SEIU's (he the president of Local 26) efforts to organize child care workers. Here's part of his response.

The vote to organize is presently in limbo, due to a court ruling.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Regrettably, you're wasting your breath, Bishop Chilstrom

In a poignant and obviously heart-felt op-ed in the Strib, the retired Bishop Herbert Chilstrom of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America makes a plea to the Catholic bishops in Minnesota to reverse their position on gay marriage and the upcoming marriage discrimination amendment.

Doing so would mean bucking the Vatican and, inter alia, its principal hitman, Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland. And that ain't gonna happen. Not in our lifetimes, anyway.

Bishop Chilstrom makes the observation that people used to use the Bible to justify discrimination against black people. Not to mention just about every other form of prejudice and discrimination known to humankind.

Get to know some gays and lesbians, says Bishop Chilstrom. If only it was that easy. But the Galileo moment will arrive for the Catholic church, certainly in the next generation -- assuming that the Catholic church desires to continue to exist. To know that, all you have to do it talk to young people.

Yes, kids today, as Kathrine Kersten might say.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Drinking Liberally Holiday Party this week!

Graphic by Tild
Thursday night, six to nine, at the 331 Club to be exact. We'll play some classic holiday music. Santa is expected to make an entrance around seven thirty, and believe me, you won't want to miss that.

This is our annual Toys for Tots drive, too, so bring a new, unwrapped toy or gift for a youngster or teen. Santa tells me that he'll be collecting cash, too!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Complete, grandstanding horse s**t

Describing Amy's hearing charitably

Strib photo
Kevin Diaz has a post on Hot Dish Politics about a hearing that Amy Klobuchar intends to conduct on televising U.S. Supreme Court hearings:
Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar, a member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, will hold a hearing Tuesday on televising proceedings before the U.S. Supreme Court, which currently doesn’t even allow note-taking in view of the Justices. 
Klobuchar calls it an effort to increase transparency and access for the public, which now often gets a very time-limited view of Supreme Court hearings.
The ever cautious Diaz says:
Given the separation of powers provisions in the U.S. Constitution, it's unclear what Congress could do even if Klobuchar's push were to gain traction on Capitol Hill.
The power of Congress to conduct hearings is supposed to be in furtherance of its legislative authority, to help it write intelligent legislation. There have been many abuses of that power, of course, think Joe McCarthy.

But this doesn't even rise to the level of abuse of authority.

Congress has no authority - none, zero, zip, zilch, nada - in deciding whether Supreme Court hearings are televised.

The queen of small ball wiffs again.

In a moment of candor

Michael Brodkorb speaks

No, I'm not talking about his remarks about Tom Emmer. Well, not entirely. Here's what caught my eye:
Brodkorb said that after Emmer was endorsed by the Republicans in the spring of 2010, he did little to rework his campaign for the general election and became so toxic that GOP phone bankers couldn't mention his name as they made their calls. 
"That campaign had ample opportunity to readjust," he said. "At the end of the day [beginning of the day?] we can endorse all the candidates we want. But at the end of the day, it's about winning elections...Mr. Emmer was probably the one candidate on the Republican side that couldn't win."
Let's deconstruct that, just a little. What Brodkorb is saying is that after appealing to people like this, Tom Emmer had trouble appealing to moderates in the RPM (what remain of them, anyway). Imagine our surprise.

Or even animals like this:

But wait! There's one more:

That's Mike Parry on the right at a Tea Party rally. Perhaps some of you will find it odd that Brodkorb is now putting in time on behalf of Parry's quixotic campaign to unseat Tim Walz.

The true moment of candor in all of this is, though, that Brodkorb believes that Emmer just didn't do enough to bamboozle moderate voters.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Javier Morillo-Alicea: the "Week of Action"

Javier Morillo-Alicea was our guest at Drinking Liberally at the 331 Club on December 1, 2011; he is the president of SEIU chapter 26 and a well-known activist in the Twin Cities. In this clip, he talks about the October "Week of Action" involving SEIU, ISAIAH, Take Action Minnesota, and Occupy Minnesota.

The Minneapolis school district is considering the payroll agent change that Javier describes.

Javier's remarks to the group ranged over several topics; there will be more video clips in coming days.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Unmarried Women: a Hermanic calumny

The Cain campaign used a stock photo - really classy

Unmarried women, Herman is sorry to say,
May now go about in the middle of the day.
If it's not quite enough that we've loosed them to walk,
It's an outrage for sure they're permitted to talk.

From under the rocks these Jezebels slither,
Tempting our Herm with a look of come hither.
And who could blame Herm when met with such shrews
To think he could arrange for a couple of, um, encounters.

Today Christian men are hunted like hares,
Pursued by the weak, wicked woman who bares
Not her troubles with a virtuous mien,
But seeks out good men to inflict with her pain.

But the answer is not to keep it all zipped,
That would leave Herm feeling cranky and hipped!
So let's slander Unmarried Women instead,
And hope Herm's book earns him plentiful bread.

Friday, December 02, 2011

And the Angel Mikey foretold it

Tony Sutton resigned as the RPM chair today:
The [resignation] comes a day before a party central committee meeting, where GOP activists plan on scrutinizing the party’s budget and its unmanaged debt. Activists have also recently eyed Sutton’s $100,000 yearly salary, which he recently voluntarily cut to [only] $90,000.
But the handwriting has been on the wall over the urinals for a while now. When Michael Brodkorb left as deputy chair of the RPM to volunteer on the Mike Parry campaign, it was obvious that Sutton's days were numbered.

The Angel Mikey surely wanted to put some real estate between him and Tony.

Unmarried Women

A poem in progress

Unmarried women, Herman is sorry to say,
May now go about in the middle of the day.
If it's not quite enough that we loose them to walk,
It's an outrage for sure they're permitted to talk.