Monday, May 21, 2012

All things, even good things, must come to an end

All blogs are grass*

The Cucking Stool is going quiet, as of today.

The Cucking Stool has had a long run, longer than many Minnesota blogs. We've been lucky enough to collect a couple of awards along the way, including the recent one in the side bar from CBS Local - WCCO. Some people, anyway, will be sorry to see the Stool go.

But don't despair, boys and girls, or you either, grasshopper, because Aaron and I, and perhaps MinnObserver and Rob, and maybe even Sigmund Spot as well, are moving to a new website: LeftMN.

The new site has an absurdly short and easy to remember url: That, by the way, is the same top-level domain as the Minnesota Senate and House. Pretty neat, eh?

LeftMN, which we call a "website than leans left" is a lot more than a blog. In addition to stories that you might see on a blog, it will have easy access to audio produced by LeftMN's authors, including Not Almanac, and video interviews from the Capitol, Drinking Liberally, and elsewhere, a section on elections and polling specifically (authored largely by Tony Petrangelo, another blogger who is founding the website with Aaron and me and the great website designer, Jesse Ross), and a community page that will feature news about Drinking Liberally and information about events by progressive politicians in Minnesota.

It has a lot more graphic elements and will be much easier to navigate (although the search box hasn't been implemented yet). It got added when I wasn't paying attention.

So go have a look, and update your links!

The Cucking Stool is not really going away; it will remain as an archive, but it won't be updated. As some point, probably in a couple of weeks, we'll close comments on the blog. Here's your last chance to get your licks in.

Echo has also informed us that it is discontinuing its blog comment service in October, 2012. At that time, the comments will all disappear. If you have one that you want to immortalize, you need to copy it soon.

A very important update: I was negligent in not mentioning the role that Ken Avidor has had at the Stool for nearly its entire existence. He's not listed as an author, but he's provided many wonderful cartoons to illustrate and amply posts and the ideas in them, and he's supplied some of those ideas, too. This was a much better blog because of Ken's time and talent. I am happy to say, the collaboration will continue at LeftMN.


* All flesh is grass is a quotation from Isiah 40:6.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Meet 13 of 13

Michele Bachmann survives in a post-Borg world

The metamorphosis is complete. The MNGOP has been assimilated by the Borg — the Paulbots — and Michele Bachmann is left to become 13 of 13 or perish.

So, of course, she's 13 of 13.
Supporters of Texas Congressman Ron Paul have picked up all but five of the elected Minnesota delegate slots to the national Republican convention.

In a stark rejection of presumed nominee Mitt Romney, Republicans at their state convention picked 12 Paul supporters for 13 spots. Earlier, Paul backers claimed 20 of 24 delegates selected at local conventions.

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, whose name appeared on a Romney slate Saturday, did not initially get enough votes to join the Republicans going to Tampa. She only avoided a run-off election when a Paul supporter ceded to her.
Here's John Gilmore, who's not a shabbos goy but plays one on Twitter, and is a Republican actvist, on how Bachmann squeaking in happened:
The "conservative unity" slate put together at the last minute was a joke before the flyers were even printed. The always tone deaf Michele Bachmann let herself be put on it for reasons unknown to MC. She lost on the first round of balloting but the always brilliant tactician Stebbins had the 13th place Ron Paul winner move aside for her. [MC thinks she had orders from the Mother Ship] Had Bachmann any dignity, she would have declined after placing approximately 150 votes back. She doesn't and she didn't. Tampa, if possible, just got more garish.
Earlier, the convention picked Kurt Bills, the man who wants, like the Khmer Rouge, to return to the year zero, as a senate candidate.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Being the Deputy

Can be hazardous to your health

Lege bio photo
Since the election in 2010, there have been two Deputy Majority Leaders in the Minnesota Senate.

First, Geoff Michel, who was stripped of his epaulets and brass buttons over L'affaire Brodkorb, and who ultimately decided not to run again.

Now, the person designated to fill Michel's big floppy shoes, Julianne Ortman, was denied the MNGOP endorsement in SD47. According to the Brick City blog, Ortman and challenger Bruce Schwichtenberg locked in a titanic, high-minded, and ultimately fruitless struggle over the endorsement:
The [Chaska] Herald reports indicate that the Ortman and Schwichtenberg campaigns were hitting each other hard with their literature.  Schwichtenberg accused Ortman of supporting expanded sales taxes and cap-and-trade as well as being a supporter of former Carver County GOP Chair Paul Zunker, who was convicted of criminal sexual conduct in March.  Ortman raised some issues in Schwichtenberg’s past, including a bankruptcy, tax issues, and a lengthy legal battle with Carver County over a septic system.
In a Hot Dis Politics post, it is reported that some of Ortman's colleagues think she is "too moderate." Perhaps unsurprisingly, that includes Sean Nienow.

After battling to the endorsement draw, Schwichtenberg did not initially commit to running in a primary. His supporters, upon getting wind of this, said, "Oh, no, Bruce, you're running in a primary. Trust us; you're running."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

And in other news

Another newsmaker moment with Tim Pawlenty

AP photo (2011) - MPR
It is reported that Timmy took himself out the veep stakes:
Looks like the shortlist just got shorter. The Minnesota Star Tribune reports, via Taegan Goddard‘s Political Wire, that former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has taken himself out of the running for Vice President on presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s ticket, ending the dream of electing our first Ectoplasmic-American VP.
Timmy said, I've been left at the altar before: been there; done that; don't want to go through the humiliation again.

He's learned — the hard way — that busting your hump for a presidential candidate means nothing. If it meant nothing with McCain, it surely will mean nothing with Willard.

In addition to Rachel Stassen-Berger, who wrote the story at the link above, Lori Sturdevant also traveled to the Humphrey Institute to hear what Pawlenty had to say. Not much, apparently.

This was really a one cab fare story.

Although not in the story, Pawlenty apparently has a new set of Joe Mauer sideburns. Joe's hitting .174 so far in May (through the middle of the month) which is obviously aspirational for Pawlenty.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Jesus Christ: CEO

Jesus, give me some money
The Blind Leading the Blind -
If that doesn't remind you of this, you aren't paying attention.

Northland CBMC advertising.
In a description of this event, CMBC Northland says:
Jesus had a great deal to say about the marketplace.  After all, the marketplace is where He found his disciples, performed countless miracles, and encouraged the masses.
Yes, remember Jesus closing the deal with a couple of disciples?

"Jesus at the Closing Table" as named by Two Putt Tommy 
That's the Sea of Galilee you see in the background; it's gotten rather developed, hasn't it?

The miracle of warrants into cash is also legend.

And who can forget the amazing presentation Jesus made while standing on the roof of the Mount Mini-Mall™ convenience store? I know I can't.

For the shockingly small sum of $4,900, you can by 40 full-day tickets to this event for your colleagues and to give away to the next generation of Christian business leaders. In exchange, you'll get 1) Name and logo on all email blast communications from CBMC (to 1,500 corporate execs and SMB owners), 2) Very Prominent display on two large signage [sic] at the event strategically positioned in the Grand Commons, 3) Name and logo on registration website, and as an additional bonus, 4) Public and verbal "thanks" during announcements at event [sic].

For the less faithful among you, there are smaller sponsorship packages available.

The organizers urge you not to miss this priceless networking opportunity; they expect 2,500 attendees and remind you that "American evangelicals represent the fourth highest GDP in the world." (But, evangelicals, I'll bet the Catholic church has you beat. Something to strive for, eh!)

Really, though, who knew that the Kingdom of God was so filthy rich? I guess the Basketball Jesus™ turned his hoops scholarship into a great investment banker gig.

In spite of the boys and girls holding hands in the poster above, don't be misled about the CBMC, which stands for Christian Business Men's Committee. (It's a good thing they weren't the Christian Businessmen's Committee, or they would have had no end of troubles with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.)  The strategic direction of the CBMC is:
Changing lives of businessmen one life at a time by [inter alia] [seeking] to train all men in our movement to have basic skills for following our mission and vision.
So, no ladies need apply. Although they'd take your $4,900. Clearly.

But the larger point — as Katherine Kersten would undoubtedly say — is the unmistakable implication by the organizers that you can use your Christian credentials to make some money. You have to wonder whether the next generation of the likes of Tom Petters, Trevor Cook and Frank Vennes will get their start right here.

Thanks to Ken Avidor for a heads up about this conference and an art history lesson, too.

The painting is by the 16th Century Flemish painter, Pieter Brugegel. "Jesus at the Closing Table" used to hang in Mary Kiffmeyer's bank, until the bank failed, of course.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Not Almanac 5/14/12

Mark Dayton wins the legislative session!

This week we discuss the conclusion of the legislative session, including the Vikings stadium, retirements and a twitter spat between John Kriesel and everyone’s favorite Christian conservative banker, Mary Kiffmeyer.

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Update: Word arrives that Governor Dayton vetoed the tax bill discussed in the episode.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

They come to bury Kurt, not to praise him

The minor prophets have spoken

Kurt Zellers is a stinkin' kid, a stinkin' eighth-grader, a stinkin' clown. And besides that, they don't like him very much.

He's none of these things guys; he's the Prince of Maple Grove.

It would be difficult -- impossible, I think -- to write a better parody of right wing radio than these guys. They're geniuses. In their own way, of course.

It is amazing that Bradlee and Jake can even raise in me an urge to defend Zellers. Well, a small one.

Thanks to Ken Avidor for pulling this specific dreck out of the general dreck of Bradlee and Jakes's in-the-ether babblings.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Comparing R.T. to the bill as passed

He was a close as anybody

Rybak said he wanted to tie improvements to Target Center to the new stadium approval for the Vikings; that happened. You can hear the mayor in this video explain the implications of that for Minneapolis taxpayers; he appeared at Drinking Liberally in January.

This part of the agreement and the bill has received little attention recently in media discussion about this week's endgame.

The Minneapolis City Council must approve the plan within 30 days.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

All in the game, yuck

Like everything else important at the State Capitol, the final version of the Vikings stadium bill was decided behind closed doors, outside of the view of the public. This should come as no surprise. At least they let people in the building this time. Last summer, they had the whole Capitol complex on lockdown. I guess we should count our blessings.

This time there's a trail of Twitter breadcrumbs to document the lengths to which our elected officials go to avoid public access to the actual negotiations that will shape a billion dollar giveaway. Wednesday morning, there was a stakeout on the 4th floor of the State Office Building next to the Capitol. Reporter James Nord from MinnPost tweeted that he'd seen members of the conference committee appointed to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the Vikings stadium bill going into room 400. Mayor Rybak and members of his staff were also spotted. So, assuming that the conference committee was meeting, Nord tried to go into the room to listen to the proceedings. "Sorry, this is private," came the reply. "There's no quorum, so this isn't a meeting of the conference committee." Later, Nord would tweet that it appeared that the conference committee of six members was split into two groups in "different rooms" on either side of a door. Ta-da! No quorum!
Better yet, Republican Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem later said that the secrecy was necessary to protect the privacy of the Vikings. These are the same Republicans who think that people who receive nutrition assistance should be forced to pee in a cup to get a couple of hundred dollars in food for their family.
The Minnesota Open Meetings statute says that all conference committees are open to the public. When you look at the statute, be sure to check out the strict penalties for violating the law.
Subd. 2. Enforcement. The house of representatives and the senate shall adopt rules to implement this section. Remedies provided by rules of the house of representatives and senate are exclusive. No court or administrative agency has jurisdiction to enforce, enjoin, penalize, award damages, or otherwise act upon a violation or alleged violation of this section, to invalidate any provision of law because of a violation of this section, or to otherwise interpret this section.
You read that right - the remedy to violating the state's Open Meetings law is determined by the bodies that will violate it. That's right up the alley of the Republicans who think that investment banks are self-regulating and that we should let polluters police themselves. So there you have it. The final shape of the biggest corporate giveaway in decades has been negotiated behind closed doors for the benefit of the privacy of the company. But don't worry! At 9:00 PM, you can watch the conference committee announce what they decided!

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

The Pharaoh and the bill collectors

Some Pharaohs get no respect - used with permission
Many of you have undoubtedly heard about the charming firm of Chicago bill collectors named Accretive Health, and the equally charming practice of its representatives to chat up patients in the Fairview Hospitals emergency rooms about their bills. While they are still being treated.
Be a real shame if that appendix couldn't come out, wouldn't it?

The doc here tells me that you really need stitches for that gash. We need to talk.

That's some fever the kid's got. Bet you want to help her out.
I am uncertain whether the root word of the firm's name is "cretin" or "secretion," or maybe both. At all events, the word "health" has no business anywhere near the sinister and reptilian "accretive."

Word of the activities of Accretive Health came to the attention of Minnesota's Attorney General, Lori Swanson. She commenced an investigation, which Mayor Rahmses called a plague on the city of Chicago:
In an undated letter to Swanson, [Rahm] Emanuel defends the Chicago-based Accretive. The company served as a financial consultant at Fairview hospitals until Swanson issued a blistering report that accused the company of violating federal and state laws on debt collection and patient privacy.

The letter from Emanuel, a former high-ranking member of the Obama White House, did not directly address any of the concerns Swanson's report raised. The letter said Accretive "does important work for hospitals and good things for our City, particularly for our neediest citizens." [Riiiiight.]
Let my people go, bellows Rahmses. No, I guess that's Moses' line. Anyway, leave 'em alone. So let it be written; so let it be done.
"I request that the parties cease efforts to publicly prosecute this matter and rather try to resolve the matter privately," Emanuel's letter read. "I also request that there should be no further contact between your Office and the company's clients pending the outcome of the meeting. Please confirm to me that is the path we are on. ..."
Whereupon, Attorney General Swanson says, Who let this guy in?

The Pharaoh replies, I let myself in. I'm a big deal.

Attorney General Swanson says, No shit? Well, she really didn't say that, but she was undoubtedly thinking it.

In spite of the Pharaoh's best efforts though, the investigation continues, and to add insult to injury, Sen. Al Franken is going to hold hearings, too.

Some Pharaohs get no respect.

Just as $330 is between $200 and $300

The Senate's first legal bill on the Brodkorb "matter" may be in the mail. So says Cal, whose powers of estimation are clearly just as good as Dave Senjem's.

The way these characters low ball things, it'll probably be hundred grand, easy. And all because Cal and the (then, mostly) leadership was itching to fire Brokdorb.

He's making goats of them all.

Crocodile tears

Enough to swim in
In the debate over the stadium bill the past couple of days, one of the funniest things to watch has been the faux concern of some of the anti-stadium Republicans over people, and things, for whom and for which they ordinarily don't give the smallest damn. Suddenly, education, bridges, and vulnerable people are on the lips of legislators who, as I heard someone say recently, don't have green buttons on their desks (the green button is how you vote "yes" in the Lege).

Just for example:

Sen. David Hann is consumed with concern about "problem gamblers." It's very touching, and it would be interesting to compare his concern with his voting record, say, on mental health coverage for the indigent and those on MinnCare.

Glencoe's representative, Gruesome Glenn Gruenhagen, is burdened with concern about the lack of a referendum on the stadium in Minneapolis. Glenn was right there, too, in fighting to preserve LGA for the City of Minneapolis last year. Well, not exactly. He's also stands shoulder to shoulder with Hann, whining about social costs; I didn't know Glenn could say the word "social."

My favorite though, is Doug Wardlow, the Cicero from Eagan, who pleaded with his colleagues not to build a "monument to misplaced priorities." [snort] Wardlow's only priority — after a right to work amendment that he tried to get into the stadium bill as an amendment — is to skin state government and hang the pelt on his wall.

Whether you're for building a stadium or against it, you ought to be revolted by prestidigitation and legerdemain like this.

Update: In the House, the best and worst arguments were by Morrie Lannig, who did yeoman's duty in carrying the bill all along.

His best argument: Look, people do you really want to come back and do this again next year? That one probably carried the day all by itself.

His worst arguments: The Vikings have many suitors and will leave. To paraphrase Sen. Barb Goodwin, in response to a similar argument by the Deputy in the Senate: Who? When? Neither Lanning nor the Deputy could answer that. Lanning also said that the Vikings were "a marginal operation," when neither he nor anyone else in the Lege has the foggiest idea how much money the Vikings make.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

It's an even bigger cookie jar than we thought

Tony could be good to his friends

Nearly lost in the hoo ha of the Vikings stadium noise is this story from Rachel Stassen-Berger about the Society of Tin Horns known as the Republican Party of Minnesota. The story includes a link to a report  of the "new Executive Committee" of the RPM. It details, inter alia, payments to candidates for office and sitting office holders, including Mark Buesgens, Dave Thomson, Joe Shomacker, and Bill "the Hair Puller" Pulkrabek. Here's the report:

Oversight Report 1

Also detailed in the report are payments to RPM employees and to Tony Sutton (and his taco empire) over and above their stated compensation. And let's not forget contracts to Bob Cummins, one of RPM's big contributors.

Joe Repya is a freakin' clairvoyant.

Drinking Liberally trivia night

Grand Prize: 2 tickets to Stephanie Miller's Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour show

On Thursday, May 10th, we WILL be playing political trivia at Drinking Liberally.

First prize -- now listen up -- is a pair of tickets to Stephanie Miller's Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour show on Saturday night the 12th. (Second prize is a set of steak knifes. I jest; we'll also have some books as prizes.)

The tickets are courtesy of KTNF - AM950 - the radio station that carries Stephanie Miller's radio show in the mornings.

It'll be the same patented DL trivia formula, favoring quickness of mind and body. The competition will be keen, and the questions diabolically difficult.

We'll do the competition at seven, but come at six and get loosened up.

We'll be at the 331 Club, 331 13th Avenue N.E. as always.

I'm better than you

And I can prove it!

City Pages
I don't know why I bother, really. I could be outside. Sitting in the cold rain.

Perhaps some of you read Katherine Kersten's latest school-yard taunt on Sunday. Perhaps not. According to Katie, conservatives are better informed, more tolerant, and more generous than liberals.

And better looking, too. So. There.

All  right, she didn't say the last thing, but she was thinking it.

Her proof that conservatives are better informed includes:
The widest gap [in political knowledge] -- 30 points -- came on a question about which political party is "generally more supportive of reducing the size of federal government." Seventy-six percent of Republicans, but only 46 percent of Democrats, correctly named the GOP.
The funny thing is, you see, that Republicans administrations are better at spending money and increasing the deficit than Democratic ones, going back to the Archangel Ronald. So you might conclude that really, it's the Dems who have their facts straight.

That comes from not spending so much time on Fox News, which Katie, statistics show actually makes you dumber.

Her tolerance data is this:
A March 2012 Pew report, entitled "Social Networking Sites and Politics," found that 28 percent of liberals have "blocked, unfriended or hidden someone" on social-networking sites because of their political postings, compared with 16 percent of conservatives.
Of course, this is equally susceptible to the conclusions that it's the conservatives who are over the top obnoxious a greater percentage of the time, and that conservatives are personally threatening more often. Certainly, personal anecdotal evidence would bear that out.

Katie says that conservatives are more "charitable," too. A lot of that charity goes to churches, many of which spend most of their money right within the four walls of the church. (I read an article by an evangelical some time ago who quoted the figure 90%, but I don't have it handy. I don't recall whether that was for all churches or just evangelical churches.)

Moreover, the Mormon and the Catholic churches specifically have taken a lot of tax-deductible contributions from the pews and put it into the culture war against the GLBT community. Here's a Minnesota Public Radio story about the Catholic Church and its priorities.

This is not, I submit, generosity.

So Katie, I recommend that you just go back to telling people that their mothers wear combat boots.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Not Almanac 5-7-2012

This week we discuss Kurt Zellers and his political courage, Pete Hegseth versus the Paulbots, and the DFL endorsement of Rick Nolan in the eighth congressional district.

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You can also download the episode, listen to previous episodes, or subscribe to Not Almanac on iTunes at this link.

Listen for the Not Almanac crew doing the morning news during Matt McNeil's Morning Grind on AM 950 from 6 - 8 AM.

Follow us on Twitter @TonyAngelo @stevetimmer @aaronklemz

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Nice little stadium plan you've got here, Governor

Be a shame if something happened to it

Strib photo
But something might, if you don't give us our business tax breaks, understand?

Julianne Ortman
John Kriesel, et al.

This is the same crew that calls Michael Brodkorb a shake-down artist.

The governor burned his last bridge, says Tax Chair and Deputy Majority Leader Ortman. And Rep. Kriesel (one of the stadium bill's sponsors) has been tweeting his own dire warnings since Dayton vetoed the package of tax breaks to business.

Play ball with us on the on the taxes, or the stadium get it.

The governor's view of the matter is that he doesn't want to start the next biennium an extra billion and half bucks in the hole. Next January, Ortman will be in the minority, at best, and Kriesel won't even be around; they are kind of short-term thinkers.

With his quick veto, however, Dayton signaled that he's serious about his position.

But hey, if the Republican caucus wants to trade the guy pictured above for David Olson, well, lotsa luck, my friends, lotsa luck.

The Prince of Maple Grove . . . speaks

Whether he said anything is a separate question

Here is an exchange between Kurt Zellers - the Dithering Prince of Maple Grove - and a couple of reporters trying to figure out what the Prince really thinks about a bill to build a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. The dialogue took place on Friday, May 4, 2012 and was reported in the blog Hot Dish Politics (Minneapolis Star Tribune). It will stand the test of time as one of the great moments in political obfuscation.

Credits to Ken Avidor for the Hamlet cartoon, Politics in Minnesota for two photos of Zellers, and the Minnesota Legislature for the posterized bio photos.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Prince of Maple Grove

Alas, poor Morrie; I knew him well

Do you know how many Speakers of the Minnesota House have ever gone on to be governor? Well, the dithering Prince Kurt is out to make sure the line remains unbroken.

The drama of Conflicted Kurt transcends how you may feel about the stadium and plunges into the realm of tragedy and comedy -- or perhaps comedy alone -- never before seen in Minnesota politics, at least since last December when Amy Koch was awarded the Scarlet Letter and Michael Brodkorb went face down into the soup. Personally, though, I think this is better. It has a wonderful Ken Avidor illustration, for one thing (although he did some great stuff for that fiasco, too).

In just the briefest recap here, earlier in the week, the Republican leadership floated the idea of using the state's general obligation bonding authority to raise the money for the state's share of a roofless stadium, rather than electronic pulltabs for a roofed stadium. Virtually within hours, though, the plan was withdrawn as unworkable and probably illegal. Apparently, we're now back to an up or down vote on the stadium bill carried by Morrie Lanning and others on Monday next.

This is a proposal that the Speaker of the Minnesota House says that he hopes will pass, but that he won't vote for. He really said that in an interview on KFAN. The interview with Zellers begins at about 11:30.

Stadium proponents don't think they have the Republican votes -- 34 -- in the House.

Mike Kaszuba of the Strib caught up with a puzzled Morrie Lanning to find out what Morrie thought about the events of the last couple of days. The ever-thoughtful Morrie said that he was "puzzled" but not "surprised."

Kids, I invite you to think about that for just a moment. There is indeed a passing resemblance between Morrie and Yorick.

Prince Kurt is also quoted as saying the matter is in the hands of Mark Dayton now, to which Dayton replied, "Who am I, the Speaker of the House?"

Dithering Prince Kurt's plan from the get go seems to be that the stadium bill would pass without assigning any of the blame to him. But the plan has come a cropper, and all it has done is reveal Prince Kurt's breathtaking level of political cowardice.

That is probably why Morrie isn't surprised.

Update: The Prince of Maple Grove, recognizing that he had left things a little, um, confused, had a presser today where he cleared everything up. [snort]

Further update: Remarkably, a package of business tax cuts would make the Prince of Maple Grove and other Republican's reservations about expanded gambling disappear. This is what is known as qualified morality.

Stupid or craven?

You be the judge

Peter Bartz Gallagher for Politics in Minnesota
Lori Sturdevant votes for stupid. She says it was not a political stunt to offer a new stadium financing plan using general obligation bonds to pay the state's share. As she puts it:
Roll out a radically new stadium funding scheme a day after the originally scheduled session adjournment date, as leaders of the Republican majorities did Tuesday, and suspicion that a poltical trick was afoot was understandably rampant.
Gosh, Lori, ya think?

But Sturdevant says that the purity of the motives of the Republican leadership cannot be questioned because:
After Thursday's quick GOP retreat from their idea, no one should [think it was a stunt]. If adding the stadium to the bonding bill had been a political stunt, as many Capitol wags first surmised, the resistance the idea encountered from state bonding authorities would not have deterred them. The majority leaders would have pressed on. They even might have succeeded in giving political cover to GOP legislators who don't want to be accused of doing nothing to prevent an NFL exodus from Minnesota, but don't support putting e-pulltabs in many of the state's bars to pay for a new stadium.
But there you have it, kids. The idea was withdrawn, well again, let's Sturdevant tell us:
House Majority Leader Matt Dean, an architect by profession and the "architect" of the withdrawn bonding idea, said he spent several hours with state, Minneapolis and Vikings officials Wednesday examining the narrow question: Would general obligation bonding work? State officials' analysis [emphasis added] convinced him that the rules governing those bonds, which are backed by state income and sales taxes, would preclude their use for this project, he said.
So, after conferring with with people in, inter alia, the Dayton administration who Dean didn't feel the need to consult before he trumpeted this brand new idea, he figured out it wouldn't work; the "rules" just wouldn't allow it. Nice job Matt.

You know, Sturdevant is probably right.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

A straight line from Peter to Benedict

Minding the Deputy Jesus

The Strib's letter of the day for May 3rd:
I understand that political cartoons are supposed to be satire, but in order to be intellectually honest, this satire should at least be based in some semblance of truth. The implication of the April 30 anti-Catholic cartoon is that because Jesus did not "speak out" against homosexual acts, the pope is wrong in doing so. [We all know that popes are incapable of being wrong. Like all fathers.]
This misrepresentation of Christian dogma is easy to make outside the context of church history and teaching. Jesus founded a church, and he built this church on Peter, who was the first pope (Matthew 16:18-19). 
In that gospel passage, he tells Peter, "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven," and also "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
Paul later wrote in 1 Timothy 3:15 that this church is "the pillar and authority of the truth." Pope Benedict shares in the apostolic succession from St. Peter. Also, scripture says that not everything Jesus taught was written down (John 21:25). 
In other words, that Jesus was not specifically quoted condemning homosexual acts does not mean that his legitimate Christian church on earth cannot do so. The church is Jesus Christ. 
- o 0 o -

Guys like our pal Bob here go a long way in explaining why the Reformation occurred. In Bob's Epistle, the pope is God's agent here on earth, dispensing advice, and serving as the sole spokester for "his legitimate Christian church."

As one of those bastard Christians, Bob, I have to tell you that rankles a little. Well, a lot.

You see, I don't care a fig what Bob thinks about my brand of Christianity. Really. But I do care when Bob, or the pope, presume to speak for the entire Christian community.

Take it from me, they do not.

Kids, Bob suffers from what Sigmund Spot might call an "ego boundary problem." That is, he doesn't know where he - or Benedict's Catholic church - stops and the rest of the world begins.

You've really got a lot of damn nerve, Bob.

Out here in the bastard Christian world, Bob, there is the freedom to read and interpret the Bible in light of history, reason, and yes, science. Each of us gets to do it -- and indeed is expected to do it -- on his or her own.

For example, Bob, many of us decided long before the middle nineties of the last century when the Catholic church finally said, "Oops!" that Galileo was right: the earth really does revolve around the sun!

And it really burns me, Bob, when you say that the church -- and you mean the Catholic church as directed by Cardinal Ratzinger, as he was known before he changed his name -- IS Jesus Christ. Obviously an absurd statement, it is also a libel of Jesus, because it means, by necessary implication, that all of those altar boys were buggered by Jesus himself.

I don't accept that.

Regrettably, there are some Protestants who come to same conclusion that you do -- or rather Benedict does; sorry -- about homosexuality, but certainly not all of them. And I certainly don't.

And I 'd really appreciate it, Bob, if going forward, you'd take some pains to leave me out of it when you say that Benedict speaks for all Christendom.


Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Counting to 34 is hard

But getting to 34 is apparently harder

It is especially difficult when this is your leader:

Does anybody know what Kurt the Silent thinks about a stadium deal? He's had some time to think about it now. I don't care whether he's for it or agin' it, but so far, he's just been a feckless boob.

Update: You really have to wonder what would have happened if Governor Dayton had proposed GO bonds for the state's share right at the beginning of the session. Maybe he did in private. But can you imagine the Republican outrage?

But now that it's their idea, well, that's a different story.

Further Update: The GO bonding idea has collapsed. The Lege will now vote -- in each "body" -- up or down on Monday on the earlier plan using charitable gambling. Kurt Zellers says it is "in the governor's hands," although frankly, it is hard to see how that is the case when the Republicans control both houses of the Legislature.

Whether you agree with him or not, Governor Dayton has been very clear and steadfast about support for a stadium. Rep. Kriesel has been making fun of the governor on Twitter, but if this thing goes in down in flames, you'd better look at your own caucus, Rep. Kriesel.

Do as we say! Do not as we do!
If I had put these words into a Republican's mouth -- just for fun -- there would be people who would jump all over me. But here they are, delivered straight, with plenty of unintended irony, as a Letter of the Day in the Strib:
Joe Repya seems to miss the larger and more critical point concerning the future of the Republican Party of Minnesota ("Money, sex, Ron Paul hits KO GOP," April 25). 
While political parties serve an important role, it's the principles they represent that matter most. Like any other human institution, political parties are made up of people whose words or actions can sometimes fail to live up to the principles that they support. 
Nevertheless, the failures of individuals, however disappointing, don't prove or disprove those principles. 
While Repya goes to some length recounting recent disappointing events involving some Republicans [that's because there are so many events to recount], the principles of fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility and a strong national defense [yes, take that, Col. Repya, you coward*] are what matter and should be the focus this election year. 
Contrary to Repya's assertion, the real threat comes from those who would distract us with sensationalistic stories of failures by some individuals instead of what voters need and deserve: a genuine debate on the issues facing our state and nation.
Really now, who does that first sentence remind you of?

Come on; it's easy.

It's Katie, of course: the Sacajawea of the Moral Way, the Mistress of the Larger Point, the Minister of the Ministry of Troubling Signs. You can almost hear Katherine Kersten in her linebacker-barking-out-assignments voice declaiming that first line.

According to the letter's writer, we must focus solely on the marble tablet on the altar with the words principles of fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility and a strong national defense written on it, while paying no attention to all the scrubs, confidence men, and tin horns milling around it.

I told you you'd I'd never get away with putting those words in a Republican's mouth.

According to our correspondent, the wizards really can award you a brain, a heart, or courage, even if the wizards are feckless themselves.

This is laughable. The last time somebody tried to pull such a transparent ruse was when -- well, let me think a moment; ah, I have it! -- Katie tried to make us focus on the Catholic church as a timeless institution with such great values, and never mind all the priests buggering children.

The truth is, you cannot separate the values from the people who preach them -- or pretend to.

Further Update: Because it was such a silly letter, I refrained from naming its author, just out of decency. But Aaron points out to me that Todd Vollmers, the author of the letter, is a director of the Elephant Club. This is something, you would think, that Scotty Gillespie would have remarked on when publishing the letter. But maybe Doug Tice was on duty that day.

At all events, Vollmers' apologia remains laughable, doubly so now.

* Update: And before some irony-challenged Republican accuses me of calling Col. Repya a coward, I'm not. But the letter writer intimates that Col. Repya wants to ignore the issue in favor of airing the MNGOP's dirty laundry.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

If I were Governor Dayton....

Gov. Mark Dayton announcing his supplemental budget. Photo: Aaron Klemz
I would walk through the door that the Minnesota Republican leadership opened with their decision to propose using general obligation bonds to pay for the state share of a Vikings stadium. The offer made today could become the vehicle for a global agreement to end the session. This might be the best time to strike the hardest bargain with the Vikings and get the best possible deal, as well as get the best possible bonding bill.

It is surprising, to say the least, that the same House Republicans allergic to a bonding bill are now offering to bond $250 million to $300 million in stadium expenses. Tactically, it's a horrible blunder. In some ways, it's like last year's Republican mention of tobacco bonds and the school shift, which provided the revenue needed to bridge the budget gap. Like last year, Dayton can "accept their offer" to bond for the stadium and drive a better bargain for the state.

Demand more from the Vikings: There should be some user taxes in this deal. While an 18% of revenue user fee plan is unacceptable to the Vikings, a smaller percentage might be available. Don't take the team off the hook now, they want a deal. At a minimum, luxury suite taxes and a share of the sale of personal seat licenses. You can probably squeeze at least another $40-70 million out of the Vikings. Accept the Republican premise that the team is responsible for cost overruns (as the Twins deal did.) Demand at least the same share of the profits if the team is sold as the Twins stadium deal.

You can make both parties look like heroes who drove a hard bargain for Minnesota if this all works out. Hopefully, you'll be able to get enough of a concession from the Vikings that the Republicans can declare victory that they limited the state cost to "infrastructure."

Get a reasonable bonding bill: Offer to bond for $1.1 billion, including $330 million for the Vikings, $220 million for the Capitol and $550 million in other projects. We can afford it.  And Republicans can claim the legacy of saving the Capitol from decay.

When you announce your offer, make sure to pick all of those "heavy equipment" projects that Kurt Zellers talked about today. The Southwest LRT has to be in there, as well as the civic centers in St. Cloud and Mankato. Remember, you're coming down over $200 million from your initial bonding proposal. Now that the Republicans have gotten over their debt allergy, let's make a deal.

Mark Dayton has been a "big infrastructure" Governor, and if he pulls this off, he could claim over $2.2 billion in building projects in his first two years, including the Stillwater bridge.

Give in on their tax bill: Many of the worst provisions have been removed and it's of manageable size. Demand some revenue in return, so we're not just draining the budget reserve, perhaps the internet sales tax which has bipartisan support. But besides that, they get their tax bill. It passed the House today, but hasn't been approved by the Senate yet.

This basic framework for a global agreement is made possible by the Republican's clumsy attempt to kill the stadium Tuesday afternoon. Business and labor would both support this compromise, and it would burnish the centrist credentials of both Dayton and Republicans. Republicans desperately need to be able to claim some victory from this session.

There would be opposition from the right and the left, but you might be able to get to 81 in the House with the significant support that removing gambling and increasing bonding would create in the DFL caucus. And with some Vikings concessions, still more could vote for it, declaring victory.

General obligation bonds are the most stable source of revenue possible for this project. Removing the gambling issue for the Republicans is a plus, and general obligation bonds don't need a backup revenue source. The "roof-ready" part of this proposal is a canard. Eliminating a roof only saves $100 million. I can't imagine a roof on the stadium is the crucial issue for the Republicans, it's the money.

So, why not swing for the fences? The negotiations aren't working, so go back to what worked last time. Accept the revenue source the Republicans are offering and then work on the details.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz


Just a little fun with the horrendous meltdown press conference of the GOP leadership, MPR reporter Tom Scheck's #allinthegameyo hashtag, and quickmeme.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Keith the illegal slush fund operator

Check out the office of Prosperity Minnesota

5021 Vernon Avenue, Edina
"Suite 178" is, naturally, a post office box. Here's the record of a PAC, formed by Rep. Keith Downey and Sen. Dave Thompson just a couple of days ago.

Pretty tony digs, huh?

But if you planned on paying a visit to the PAC, you're too late. Because, you see, Prosperity Minnesota went back to being a glimmer in Keith and Dave's eye today. According to a spokesman for the Campaign Finance Board, the Board today approved the request of the dynamic duo to withdraw the filing.

Why? Because it was pointed out to them that their heading up a PAC was illegal.

Come on, guys, this is pretty fundamental stuff.

Gosh, it seems like just yesterday -- well, it was yesterday -- that Politics in Minnesota gave Downey and Thompson some glowing ink for forming a PAC to back "fiscal conservative and pro-business candidates like themselves."

The fawning article by Cyndy Brucato didn't last a day before another article appeared on the Politics in Minnesota website announcing that Keith and Dave were striking the tent.

In the words of the Campaign Finance Board spokesman:
The relevant statute is 10A.105, which prohibits a candidate from directly or indirectly controlling a political committee other than the candidate’s own principal campaign committee.
[hysterical laughter] Sorry.

Because of the CFB's "no blood, no foul" rule, Downey and Thompson will escape any consequences for their effort to evade campaign finance laws in Minnesota.