9:44 PM | Posted in ,
Apparently, Gary Gross has his dander up (probably STILL up from the lack of outrage amongst the general populous over the transportation compromise) over Bob Olson calling Bachmann out on her politicization of the Cottonwood incident.

From his post:

I just called Bob Olson’s office to find out what they specifically thought scape-goated “an entire class of people.” Christopher Truscott said that bringing up the English only drivers license test was playing politics. I reminded him that that isn’t the same as scape-goating. Here’s the definition for scape-goat:

a person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place.

If Olson’s campaign thinks that that’s a politically motivated statement, then that’s what they should say. For them to say that she tried scape-goating people with that statement is over the top. Mr. Truscott said that there was a hint of politicking to the statement, which I rebutted by saying that it’s a political issue that couldn’t be extricated from a political context.

Frankly, this statement was all about tying Rep. Bachmann with Mr. O’Reilly on immigration. It’s obvious that Olson’s campaign wants to cast Mr. O’Reilly as a big, bad boogeyman & Rep. Bachmann as his lackey.

Perhaps if Bachmann didn't want to be tied to Mr. O'Reilly and his immigration fear mongering, she wouldn't have gone on the program to demonize all immigrants as homicidal criminals.

Over the top? By the very definition provided by Mr. Gross, we see clearly that Bachmann has scapegoated any and all immigrants who haven't yet learned to speak English as not deserving of a drivers license and somehow the cause of these types of accidents. Seems as though scapegoating non-English speaking immigrants (even legal ones) is precisely what Michele Bachmann was doing.

This part of the post struck me as the most interesting:
The sad part is that a vast majority of people agree with Mr. O’Reilly’s & Rep. Bachmann’s position on immigration.

You are absolutely correct, Gary! It is sad that a large majority of people agree with the fearmongering tactics of Bachmann and O'Reilly. I am glad you don't share the same scapegoating vision as these two individuals.

While I appreciate the gesture Gary displayed by providing me with the video of the appearance on the O'Reilly Factor, he didn't do much to dissuade the notion that this appearance was politically motivated. Why? Well, in the forwarded email it appears as though the email comes directly from Stephen Miller and the Bachmann offices in the House of Representatives.

How could it be that Bachmann and Associates will return an email about a potential Bachmann media appearance so quickly when most constituent emails are left unanswered or take weeks to return? How is it that Gary Gross is able to have such quick response time from Bachmann central about a trivial media appearance when the vast majority of constituents are left without any contact with their representation? Nope, no politicization here!

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
Michele Bachmann appeared on The O'Reilly Factor tonight to cash in on the tragic bus crash that occurred in Cottonwood, Minnesota. O'Reilly is infamous for portraying illegal immigrants as murderous rapists and Bachmann was more than willing to play along. It is unfortunate when our representation in Congress is more concerned about guns being taken out of public housing projects and using issues such as immigration to get her air time than she is about the people affected by these situations.

6th District Candidate, Bob Olson, was quick to respond:

Olson: Bachmann's Fear-Mongering Fails Minnesota

For Immediate Release

Contact: Christopher Truscott



ANOKA—Bob Olson, a DFL candidate in the 6th Congressional District, released the following statement regarding Rep. Michele Bachmann's Wednesday night appearance on the O'Reilly Factor:

"In the wake of the tragic accident in Cottonwood, Minnesotans had a right to expect smart and compassionate leadership from those in power. That Michele Bachmann chose instead to go on the O'Reilly Factor and play along with O'Reilly's fear mongering is absolutely disgusting.

"It's true that we need comprehensive immigration reform, but it's important to remember, as John McCain reminded us recently, that we're all children of God. This serious debate must be handled in a manner consistent with the human decency that has defined our great state for 150 years.

"Countless number of lives were forever changed after that crash. Instead of scape-goating an entire class of people, it's time Mrs. Bachmann demonstrate leadership worthy of her office and the people of Minnesota."

If anyone has a copy of this interview, please post it on youtube or send it to me at political_muse@hotmail.com so that we can get it posted.

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
10:46 PM | Posted in ,
H/T to Avidor on this one:

Apparently, one of Mark Olson's favorite books is on the topic of marriage and the other is about satan.

'Marriage Makeover' by George Kenworthy is described by Amazon as:

Book Description
Do you find yourself in a troubled marriage? Do you dare to believe God's word and trust in His spirit? Refurbish your relationship into a thriving marriage by applying God's principles. God understands that it's hard, let him save your marriage.

'Bait of Satan' by John Bevere is described by one Amazon reviewer as:

If you read this book, you need to be very careful and should also read other books on spiritual abuse. This book is very close to being cultish, this is my strong warning. Be alert if your church leader requests you read this book without also recommending others, as this book could easily be used to justify spiritual abuse.

His basic point is that taking offense is the bait of satan to lure you to do wrong things. There is some truth in this, one's offended ego can be used to try to justify sin. But there is also great danger in this teaching, in that it seems to teach that if one is EVER offended, it is your fault. For example, this book teaches that if I am offended by this book, (and I am) then it is my fault and I need to repent.

Jesus got offended sometimes and we should also. One reason I am offended by this book is that it can easily be used to "guilt" people who have done nothing wrong.

Does that mean that Mrs. Olson was at fault for being offended at being pushed around? Are we all at fault for being offended by the actions of Mr. Olson? Was an apology on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives even necessary given that our offense was our own fault? Perhaps if Mr. Olson wouldn't have taken the 'Bait of Satan' he wouldn't have needed a 'Marriage Makeover'.

So many questions, so few answers...
5:09 PM | Posted in ,
H/T to Larry Schumacher for this one:

Bachmann on O'Reilly Wed. night

Posted: 2/27/2008 at 3:29 PM

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., will be on the O'Reilly Factor interview show on Fox News sometime during the show's airing Wednesday night at 7 p.m., according to her campaign office.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann will appear on Fox News' the O'Reilly Factor to discuss how our broken immigration system led to last week's Minnesota school bus crash in which four young kids died.

The show re-airs at 11 p.m.

Bachmann wrote a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials this week about the crash, asking them to determine "how federal and local law enforcement can ensure such a thing never happens again."

Apparently it is wedge issue week for Michele Bachmann after her gun rights stunt on the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday. I wonder if O'Reilly or Bachmann will bring up the study put out this week that shows immigrants are far less likely to commit crime than the citizen population. While the study only looks at California, with its larger than average number of immigrants it can most likely be extended to the population as a whole.

Among men 18 to 40, the population most likely to be in institutions because of criminal activity, the report found that in California, U.S.-born men were institutionalized 10 times more often than foreign-born men (4.2 percent vs. 0.42 percent).

Among other findings in the report, non-citizen men from Mexico 18 to 40 -- a group disproportionately likely to have entered the United States illegally -- are more than eight times less likely than U.S.-born men in the same age group to be in a correctional institution (0.48 percent vs. 4.2 percent).

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
8:37 PM | Posted in , ,
On the floor of the House of Representatives today, Michele Bachmann brought forward a motion to recommit the Housing and Urban Development Bill because it allows Public Housing Authorities to restrict guns on the premises of federally owned public housing.

In response, Maxine Waters (D) of California gave Michele Bachmann a verbal thrashing for this stunt which really only serves to delay the passage of the bill. Does anyone truly believe that Michele Bachmann cares one iota whether the gun rights of public housing tenants are protected?

This is what comes of living in an all or nothing/black or white world. Being from a rural area and having numerous relatives who enjoy hunting, I have no problem with the right of people to keep and bear arms. However, that is an entirely different issue and for people such as Michele Bachmann to continually make the situations equal show little ability to understand unique circumstances.

If there is anywhere that we can try to solve the gun violence problem in this country, it is within our nation's impoverished public housing units. To believe that allowing more guns into an already volatile situation will create anything short of increased gun deaths and gun violence is to have ones head buried in the sand or is someone who doesn't really care in the first place.

A study from the Department of Housing and Urban Development found that public housing tenants are twice as likely to be victims of gun violence.
  • 70% of children age 7-18 had witnessed some sort of shooting.
  • 43% of children age 7-18 had witnessed a murder.
  • Children are showing signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Perhaps if Michele Bachmann and the Republican leadership in Congress wanted to help the people living in public housing, they would support programs that lift people out of poverty rather than worrying about whether or not their guns are being taken from them. This is yet another example of the wedge issues used by Republicans to divert the attention of people away from their pocketbooks and the many ways that Republicans consistently vote against their economic interests.

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
Some are quick to wrap themselves in the blanket of 'We The People' and try to portray themselves and their party as those People while pointing out others as somehow NOT 'We The People'. Today, however, those forces look less like 'We The People' and more like 'We The Party'.

As punishment for daring to think for themselves and the best interests of their constituents, Marty Seifert and the rest of the House Republicans decided to strip these six Republicans of their leadership roles.

The message is clear, you either tow the Republican line or the consequences are dire! Marty Seifert, who expects his sheep to follow along and stop thinking for themselves had this to say:

"When we expect Republicans to follow other Republicans, there's obviously a mixed message in what happened yesterday"

In even more outrageous rhetoric of the situation, Andy Aplikowski equated the vote yesterday to the punishment received by convicted abuser, Mark Olson.

Chriminies, Olson was a rockstar on the Transit tax bill. And what does he get, (IR) he paid his debt and can legally serve. And he does a hell of a lot better than any one of those 6 with his arms teid behind his back. But nope, these 6 get their slap on the wrist with no real reprimands.

Apparently, in the world of Republican outrage, conviction for abuse is a far less serious offense than a vote on a tax bill. This line demonstrates just how off the deep end the Republican minority has gone. When you feel as though a man who has a record of spousal abuse is redeemed by how he voted while others who have no such record are damned because of one vote, you have truly lost touch with reality.

While it is entirely within the rights of these Representatives constituencies to punish them through their vote, it is absolutely shameful for a political party to act in such a vindictive manner.
9:27 PM | Posted in , ,
One of the things that we can all agree upon, whether Democrat or Republican, is the need to keep a watchful eye upon our elected representatives. Until the advent of the internet, constituents relied on the print media to get the bulk of their information from the legislature.

An important resource that many people throughout the state may have overlooked is the Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services website.

The mission of House Public Information Services is to provide credible and timely nonpartisan services that inform the general public of legislative actions, educate the public about the legislative process and encourage public participation in the Minnesota Legislature.

Among other things on the site, you can find Session Daily and Session Weekly. As these are nonpartisan publications, they can be used by anyone to get the spin free version of happenings in the legislature.

One of the most important tools found on this site is the live video feed of the legislature as well as the video archives. For example, today the DFL held a press conference to discuss the veto override of the Transportation Bill. I was able to download the press conference and view a triumphant moment from the comfort of my couch.

In fact, here it is:

The only issue I have with this service is that it only uses Windows Media Player for its videos. As a Mac user I am forced to download extra software just to view the archives from the legislature. Additionally, as a blogger I try to add informative video to this page through my youtube site. The addition of a Quicktime option on this site would allow for easy transfer and distribution of legislative activities and press conferences.
Much has been written already today (Check it out here and here) about the override of the Pawlenty veto, so I will simply add that the following legislators deserve our thanks and gratitude for their actions today:

Jim Abeler (Anoka)

Ron Erhardt (Edina)

Rod Hamilton (Mountain Lake)

Bud Heidgerken (Freeport)

Neil Peterson (Bloomington)

Kathy Tingelstad (Andover)

Why should these Republican members of the Minnesota House of Representatives receive our support and gratitude? They have looked beyond the snit fit currently taking place in the Republican blogosphere and in their endorsing conventions to vote for the traffic needs of ALL Minnesotans.

Yes, a snit fit! It is the only way to describe the infantile reaction that some have displayed in learning that we actually have to pay real money to reduce traffic congestion and keep our roads driveable. While we may not agree with these six individuals on each and every issue, they have shown a willingness to work with others and stand up to the obstructionists within their own party. Send them an email thanking them for their support. They joined the business community and Democrats to responsibly invest in our future.
I received a forwarded message in my inbox today that was quite amusing. It seems as though the Tinklenberg campaign has Elwyn shackled to the desk and the only thing he has been doing is raising money. Apparently, debating Bob Olson or doing voter outreach is out of the question when you build your campaign upon soliciting other people for money. Blue Man and Eric Zaetsch would be better suited than me to evaluate the connection between Tink's incessant need to raise money and his "consulting" past.

Dear ********,

February 26th is El Tinklenberg's birthday. The campaign team would like to give El a night off from campaigning so he can spend the evening with his wife Terri. But we need your help!

For the last 4 months, El has been working overtime to lay the groundwork for a winning campaign. Much of that time has been spent on the phone raising funds and support to ensure that we can effectively deliver our message and defeat Michele Bachmann this fall. To reach our quarterly financial goal, El needs to raise $1,000 per half hour of phone time.

You can help give El a much-needed birthday break: for every $1,000 donated by 5 PM on February 26th , we will give El 30 extra minutes to spend with Terri on his birthday. If you'd like to include a birthday greeting, or a message thanking El for his work, we will make sure to deliver it in person.

We appreciate your help in giving El a great birthday present!


Michael Guest
Finance/Political Director
Tinklenberg for Congress

Paid for by Tinklenberg for Congress. Contributions are not tax deductible.

9298 Central Avenue
Suite 204
Blaine, MN 55434
Is this really the message Tinklenberg is going to bring to the general election? He is willing to sacrifice family time in order to solicit money from strangers? Perhaps the person or person's who thought this gimmick up should have contemplated the message of disconnect and greed that it sends to people in the 6th District.

"Elwyn Tinklenberg for Congress: He won't stop fundraising even for his birthday and his wife!"
10:57 AM | Posted in , , ,
My good friend Blue Man has ventured into the world of the youtube and is quickly filling his page with local events and candidates. I encourage everyone to check it out.

A couple videos of note are my State Senator, Tarryl Clark, speaking about transportation and the confirmation of Carol Molnau and Bob Olson speaking on the importance of unions and education for building the middle class.

Blue Man writes:

Senator Clark outlined Governor Pawlenty's transportation "plan". It's simply a red pen. Pawlenty wants to bond for roads and bridges in need of great repair. Despite the fact that the state will be seeing possibly a billion dollar deficit, Pawlenty's "plans" are all revenue neutral, result in no increases in taxes.

That's not a plan.

I wake up every morning thankful that, despite my lack of representation in Congress, at least I have Tarryl Clark and Larry Haws representing me in the state legislature.

Blue Man writes:

I'll try to get some You Tubes up later today from the SD 19 "Breakfast of Champions" event in Buffalo yesterday. Both Bob and Elwyn delivered remarks yesterday.

Olson's speech had substance. Elwyn delivered a great speech, but he said nothing. Other than a few "Yes we can" chants from Elwyn, it was well delivered but devoid of any ideas or solutions.

My sense is that Elwyn thinks he has the endorsement sealed up. Labor was in full force for Elwyn in Buffalo yesterday. He'll obviously secure the labor vote, but what will progressives do? Will this be a repeat of 2006 where progressives support Olson and labor supports Tinklenberg, with the progressive voter winning out?

Great Job, Blue Man!
11:08 PM | Posted in ,
Earlier this month I attended my Precinct Caucuses to participate in the process and hopefully get myself elected to go to the Senate District Convention. Not only was I able to do that, I somehow found myself volunteering to act as Precinct Chair for the next two years.

Earlier this week I received a letter from the Olson Campaign congratulating me on my attendance at that convention and discussing what Bob Olson will do if nominated to run against Michele Bachmann.

Dear Fellow DFLer:

Thank you for volunteering to become a delegate to your local party convention. You've taken the first big step toward ending Michele Bachmann's political career!

I'd like to invite you to call me directly at (763) 210-2009 so we can discuss the issues most important to you. You can also e-mail me at bob@bobolson.org or visit my campaign Web site, www.bobolson.org, for more information.

I'm running for Congress because I know we need to do more than simply change parties in power in Washington. We need to fundamentally transform the way business is done. Replacing one career politician with another isn't good enough if we want to break the stranglehold lobbyists and special interests have on our political process.

If we really want to end the Iraq War, provide health care coverage for every man, woman and child in America, break our addiction to Middle Eastern oil and deliver for working families, we need to do something bold and different.

I opposed the Iraq War from the beginning. I knew that the biggest threat was Osama bin Laden, not Saddam Hussein, and couldn't believe that so many members of Congress—Democrats and Republicans—were willing to believe President Bush and Vice President Cheney. As your congressman, I will work to end this wasteful war, not fund it.

Today 47 million Americans, and 9 million children, are uninsured. Ending this national tragedy requires a commitment to wage the good fight, not compromise with the special interests and lobbyists who have perpetuated this sin for decades. As your congressman, I will never vote for health care legislation that leaves millions of our fellow citizens behind.

As the founder of the American Sustainable Energy Council, I know we can end our dangerous reliance on Middle Eastern oil. By implementing the renewable energy technologies available in Minnesota and across the Midwest, we can dramatically improve our environment, create good new jobs and end our no-win alliances with anti-American dictators in places like Saudi Arabia. As your congressman, I will never put the financial interests of the Middle East ahead of what's right for Minnesota and America.

Over the course of this campaign, I've met too many people who are falling behind even though they're working hard and doing all the right things. I've also seen this in my work as a tax attorney and as the owner of St. Stephen State Bank. It's time to stand up and fight for working families. Michele Bachmann has done a great job representing ExxonMobil and Wall Street. As your congressman, I will introduce a Working Families Bill of Rights and spend everyday of my term advocating for those Mrs. Bachmann has forgotten.

The road ahead will be difficult, but doing great things is never easy. If we stand together and fight hard between now and Nov. 4, we can end Michele Bachmann's extremist brand of politics once and for all!

Thank you so much for all you have done to make this campaign a success so far. Please let me know if you have any questions. Again, you can call me directly at (763) 210-2009, e-mail me at bob@bobolson.org or visit my campaign Web site, www.bobolson.org, for more information.

I look forward to working with you and for you.

While I appreciate the letter from Mr. Olson, my first thought was where is my letter from the Tinklenberg campaign? It seems to be a relatively inexpensive way for these campaigns to reach out to the rank and file who will eventually decide the nominee. Is the Tinklenberg campaign doing anything to reach out to voters, and if so, why haven't any of us heard from them? Thank You, Mr. Olson, for going the extra mile to reach out to the voters. The last thing we need is another representative unwilling to recognize the constituents they serve.

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
In our third installment of 'An Issue Analysis' of the three main contenders for the DFL nomination to take on Norm Coleman we examine the always contentious issue of the Iraq War. With only 33% of the population seeing Iraq as a battle worth fighting and 66% demanding we leave right away or, at the most, within one year this issue remains at the top or near the top of most lists of prioritized issues. There seems to be fairly even agreement amongst the three contenders that we need to find some way to extract ourselves from this mess of Bush's making.

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer on Iraq:
I call for the United States to announce immediately its intention to end the occupation of Iraq, with the goal of withdrawing all US troops (and all private contractors) in a period of approximately six months.

The Bush administration never had an exit strategy for Iraq because it does not plan on leaving. The Bush administration invaded and occupies Iraq in pursuit of two principle goals: to establish permanent military bases and to control Iraq’s vast oil supplies. Responsibly ending the occupation depends on rejecting these goals.

Most Iraqis oppose the US occupation and will never agree to the United States having permanent military bases or controlling Iraqi oil. The Bush administration’s recent escalation (surge) does nothing to address Iraqi grievances. We are no closer to a political resolution of conflicts that separate Iraqi factions and the reasons Iraqis are hostile to US forces continue to fester.

Ending the occupation is the essential first step to reconciliation within Iraq. The United Nations, international community and Iraq’s neighbors could help promote Iraq stability and reconciliation but they will not help the United States establish permanent military bases or control Iraqi oil. Their assistance depends on ending the US occupation.

We have a moral and fiscal responsibility to help reconstruct Iraq, to help the more than 4 million Iraqi refugees created by the war and to fully support returning US veterans.

All of our hopes and dreams are held hostage to the Iraq war. The $12 billion per month we spend on the war not only hurts Iraqis, it also cripples domestic efforts to address pressing environmental, health, education and other needs at home. It is shameful that the Bush administration demands hundreds of billions of dollars to continue an unnecessary war while refusing to adequately fund programs for returning vets or health care programs for uninsured US children.

Nelson-Pallmeyer does an excellent job of not only demonstrating the problems we continue to face in Iraq but also connecting those problems with those we are facing here at home. A Republican Party which prides itself on fiscal discipline is willing to spend billions of dollars every single month on venture that has brought us no closer to a stable Iraqi government than we had at the beginning of the occupation. While I am not certain that it is healthy or productive to continually dwell on the failures of this administration, it is abundantly evident that Nelson-Pallmeyer would be a strong voice in the United States Senate for getting us out of Iraq and perhaps using that $12 billion per month the Republicans are willing to spend on domestic priorities.

Al Franken on Iraq:
I say it’s time to leave Iraq. Our troops have served magnificently, but even General Petraeus has stated that military action alone cannot fix Iraq.

It’s been clear for years that this war was a mistake, and that mistake after mistake has been made in the conduct of it. And in my books, on my radio show, and all over this country, I’ve been speaking out for years about this sad, tragic mess. Now it’s time for all of us to come to terms with the truth about the situation there.

  • There is no reason to believe that the Maliki government is able, or even willing, to meet the political benchmarks necessary to make progress in Iraq: devising a fair plan to share oil revenues among ethnic groups, reversing the disastrous de-Baathification and putting Sunnis back to work, engaging and eliminating sectarian death squads, and starting a reconciliation process to defuse sectarian tensions.
  • Conversely, there is every reason to believe that the Maliki government just wants us to stay there so that they can consolidate their power. Our troops should not be there to make that happen.
  • The best way to convince the Iraqi government that we’re leaving is to actually start leaving. I support immediately beginning the process of bringing our troops home. Our withdrawal should not be precipitous, and we should have a national conversation about the best way to complete our disengagement – we should put more thought into how we get out than we did into how we got in. But we should start now.
  • At the same time, we should be convening a regional conference including Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and Egypt to come up with a long-term plan for Iraq and ensure that a regional conflict does not arise. Jordan and Syria have over a million Iraqi refugees. Nobody wants Iraq to devolve into utter chaos. It’s inconceivable that the Bush administration hasn’t roused itself to initiate regional diplomacy.
Perhaps it is just me, but Franken seems to have taken a classic political cop out by claiming we should have a national conversation "about the best way to complete our disengagement". Democrats have been discussing the best way to disengage for years now while Republicans simply want to stay the course. So, Franken really ought to either come up with a plan of his own or endorse one of a multitude of plans bouncing around. If we continue to vote for candidates willing to have an endless "conversation" about withdrawal from Iraq, I can guarantee you that we will be there for the 100+ years that the Republicans long for.

Mike Ciresi on Iraq:
As your U.S. Senator I will:

  • Never send American troops to war unless there is a clear and present danger to our national interests.
  • Never send American troops to war without a plan and without sufficient equipment and force to win the peace.
  • Vote to rescind the original war resolution bill.
  • Support a surge in diplomacy and an international peace conference covering Iraq and the Middle East.
  • Support a withdrawal plan that gets us our combat troops out within 8 months.
  • Support a plan to redeploy our troops into training functions and on to the borders of Iraq to interdict people who are coming in from either Iran or Syria.
  • Require Iraqis to stand-up and defend their own country in this civil war and meet economic and political benchmarks calibrated to our troop redeployment.
  • Direct our troops to combat terrorism and seek out al-Qaeda.
  • End our involvement in a war that does nothing to stabilize the Middle East.
At first glance, it appears as though Ciresi has less to say about Iraq than either of his competitors. However, within his brief statement there appears far more detail in what he would do than either statement by Nelson-Pallmeyer or Franken. Ciresi has plotted out a step by step plan that extracts the United States from Iraq while Franken tries to play the fence and Nelson-Pallmeyer talks about the philosophy of the situation.

It is difficult to declare a hands down winner on this issue given that all three are advocating only incrementally different plans that ALL get us out of Iraq. The clear loser in this trio has got to be Franken for his political game of mincing words so that he doesn't have to support immediate withdrawal while at the same time claiming to advocate it. Much like his position on health care, he tries to play the political fence by keeping his words vague and noncommittal.

I am going to give this one a tie between Ciresi and Nelson-Pallmeyer. Ciresi gets the win for his detailed method on which he believes we should proceed while Nelson-Pallmeyer gets the win for his principled stand against this administration's goals for Iraq as well as his forward looking vision of what could be done here at home if and when we stop spending billions per month on a war that most believe was not worth waging.

I encourage anyone who supports one of these three candidates to comment about the positive aspects of their candidates health care positions. Perhaps I missed some policy statements or other evidence highlighting what your candidate will do in terms of Iraq.

Stay Tuned, in the next episode we will examine these three candidates on the environment.
5:06 PM | Posted in
To anyone who is so inclined, I invite you to join me in the official Liberal in the Land of Conservative chat room located along the left sidebar. Tonight, among other things, we will be discussing the increasing obstructionism of the Republican Party on the Transportation Bill. Perhaps we can get a few Republicans willing to defend their party in offering nothing while voting NO on everything.

In order to participate you need to do one of two things:

1. Click on the big smiley face to start chatting. Once the Welcome to Geesee message comes up, simply click on the X in the upper left hand corner and you are ready to chat.

2. If you would like to expand the chat so that it can be viewed full screen, simply click on the button with four arrows pointing to the four corners. Once in the room, you must click on the big smiley face and you are ready to chat. a welcome to Geesee message will appear that will eventually disappear. DO NOT click on the button entitled Full Chat!

You will not need to sign in or create a username and can remain entirely anonymous.
2:28 PM | Posted in ,
In January, Michele Bachmann released one of her usual press releases with accompanying photo-op. This time she was touting her participation in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Walk to Cure Diabetes. While there was an excellent letter written to the Woodbury Bulletin pointing out the inconsistencies between Bachmann rhetoric and Bachmann actions, there is some recent evidence arising that bears revisiting this story.

What that letter didn't point out was that the very foundation Bachmann purports to support and walk for is an advocate of stem cell research. Visiting this site, you can find their policy statement and links to the role call vote which shows Michele Bachmann voting against HR 3 (The Stem Cell Enhancement Act of 2007).

In addition to stem cell research, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation advocated for the passage of HR 3162 (Children's Health and Medicare Protection). While Bachmann slips into her release that she supported the SCHIP bill, what she leaves out are the four votes against the expanded funding of SCHIP which was advocated by the JDRP.

To top off our list of Bachmann inconsistencies in rhetoric vs. action is her obvious absence in a third bill advocated for and supported by the JDRP. HR 2762 reauthorizes special diabetes programs for Indians and currently has 238 co-sponsors. Michele Bachmann is not one of those co-sponsors.

Hopefully, someone at this walk pointed out to Michele that true support of the foundation really ought to be in supporting at least some of its legislative goals for a cure. Otherwise, her walk and subsequent photo-op look a lot like HYPOCRISY.

In recent news, a study done in California has found that they were able to create insulin producing cells from stem cells which could yield a limitless supply for diabetes sufferers. Unfortunately, Bachmann continues to be opposed to such research and thus is a hindrance to a cure rather than an advocate for a cure.

Researchers Use Embryonic Stem Cells to Treat Diabetes

Study in Mice Shows Promise; Hurdles Remain

ABC News Medical Unit

Feb. 20, 2008—

Doctors may be one step closer to using stem cells to cure diabetes, according to a new study by researchers at the stem cell engineering company Novacell, Inc. in San Diego who report that they managed to convert human embryonic stem cells into insulin-producing cells.

Insulin is the chemical produced in the pancreas that allows the body to regulate blood-sugar levels  and it is precisely the substance that many of those with diabetes lack.

The researchers, who reported their findings in the journal Nature Biotechnology, found that when they injected these human cells into diabetic mice, the treatment alleviated diabetes in the rodents.

According to Dr. Emmanuel Baetge, primary study investigator and chief scientific officer at Novocell, Inc., the new technique used by his team will provide doctors with a bulk supply of clean, uncontaminated insulin-secreting cells for use in diabetes patients.

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
The first big battle of the legislative session took place this week and while Democrats in the State House & Senate attempted to work with the Republican minorities, they were met with what can only be described as infantile temper tantrums because they weren't given absolutely everything they wanted.

First, the Legislative Auditor came out with a report essentially describing the use of bonding as fiscally irresponsible and recommending a move back towards the "preservation first" policy of MN/DOT.

Second, the Democrats in the State Senate introduced the Safe Roads & Bridges Improvement Act. In the process of writing this bill, the Democrats consulted with both the Governor and the Bridge Office at Mn/DOT. Of the proposals recommended by the Governor, 100% of them appear in this legislation.

Finally, in the debate that occurred this past week on the final version of the bill, a controversial piece was removed that allowed the gas tax to be indexed to inflation. This was immediately pounced on by some as a sign that the DFL majorities were somehow weak. Unfortunately, the Republican minority in this state will never be satisfied with any amount of compromise unless that compromise equals complete acquiescence to their wishes. In fact, in a recent post Gary Gross even indicated that Republicans were willing to compromise for a 5 cent a gallon gas tax. Unfortunately, when those Republicans received that provision in the final bill, it was still met with opposition. Democrats even got the support of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce as well as some local County Commissioners.

In response to these many compromises, the right wing blogosphere has mounted a campaign to impose the will of the minority upon the will of the majority. Larry Schumacher even uncovered what could be seen as the Republican Parties new method of dealing with those in the party that don't want to tow the party line.

I encourage everyone to find out who your legislator is and encourage them to stand up to the super minorities in the House and Senate so that we can finally get some comprehensive transportation solutions.
10:53 AM | Posted in ,
The St. Cloud Times has a letter to the editor today discussing the experiences one constituent had with Michele Bachmann and her method of avoiding true contact with voters in the 6th District.

Letter: Residents in 6th District deserve new leadership
By Pat Welter, Waite Park

Published: February 23. 2008 12:30AM - Last updated: February 23. 2008 2:05AM

The other day I received an automated call from U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann inviting me to participate in her town hall meeting.

The word "participate" is used loosely. I could stay on the line and listen to Bachmann respond to prerecorded questions and I could prerecord a question of my own, which was then screened before it was used. The notion of give and take, of dialogue, of real discussion in a real meeting was totally absent. I came to the conclusion that Bachmann's town hall meetings are a showy sham.

I was reminded of this when I read Times Writers Group member Karen Cyson's Feb. 15 column, "Bachmann's mailer costs us."

Her point is similar. The glossy, full color mailing she received from Bachmann using taxpayer dollars was also a showy sham for Bachmann's own propaganda purposes.

I, too, received several such mailings from Bachmann. The focus was on affordable health care for families, Medicare and children's health care. With the glitzy photography, the glossy paper and the nice, flowery language, the mailings looked good until I found out that they were another sham.

According to Project Vote Smart, Bachmann voted against appropriations for the Departments of Health and Human Services three times, against the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act and the State Children's Health Insurance Program four times, and against the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act.

Her actions speak louder than her showy words. We in the 6th District deserve better. It's time for a change.

As is typical with any Michele Bachmann LTE, the local lemmings come out to defend her each and every action. However, on occasion you find some interesting commentary:

Deminn from Minnesota
Comment Posted: 2/23/2008 7:12:02 AM

I got this call too, which I remember as being as an opportunity to listen to her positions on issues and provide input by staying on the line and speaking with a representative.

Which immediately got my polidar up and what I saw incoming was not an opportunity for me to ask questions or share input meaningfully, but an apportunity for a representative touch on my wallet. Maybe I was wrong, but as I hung up I remember feeling that my resources, and our resources as a nation, were being wasted in so many different ways with calls like that and the support of people and equipment to make them.

It demonstrated in my own home the problems that both sides of the crown party have with the system they've corrupted in order to keep themselves significant whether or not they are actuallt doing the people's business.

Very sad.

John Ellenbecker from St. Cloud
Comment Posted: 2/23/2008 9:33:02 AM

The glossy, full color mailing she received from Bachmann using taxpayer dollars was also a showy sham for Bachmann's own propaganda purposes.

Funny how Rebublicans who continually complain about wasteful government spending never - NEVER - seem to complain about their Rebublican representatives wasting tax dollars in this manner. I have repeatedly asked people like Gary Gross to identify the waste that they think exists in government - they have never identified this as waste. I will - this is waste - stop it now.

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann

Category: ,
5:23 PM | Posted in
This has been a hectic week and unfortunately, when hectic weeks come, the blog is the first thing to be neglected given that no one pays me to do this. That is a good idea! Someone should pay me to sit around and write all day long. If anyone from a campaign or even the DFL itself is reading this, I am awaiting your call and your money.

Anyway, now that the craziness is dying down and I have a few spare moments, there will be regularly scheduled posts appearing here once again.

Some of the things I am working on:

The next episode of Al, Mike, and Jack on Iraq.

If Michele Bachmann is so supportive of ending diabetes, one has to wonder if she has read the new study about embryonic stem cells and diabetes?

I received a letter in the mail from Bob Olson congratulating me on attending my local nominating convention. Where is my letter from Elwyn Tinklenberg? Perhaps he is too busy wondering how he is going to escape the beat down from Blue Man.

More on the transportation debate. It seems someone has been bullying legislators. Gosh, I wouldn't have the slightest idea where to start with that investigation!
Last week I posted about the Safe Roads and Bridges Act introduced in the legislature. That bill has caused quite the uproar in the right wing blogosphere with its gas tax and provision tying such a tax to inflation.

The biggest source of fear and concern is coming from Residual Forces author, Andy Aplikowski. He has been furiously reporting (here, here, here, here, & here) about the possibility that a number of Republicans will vote to override a suspected Pawlenty veto on the Transportation Bill. Obviously, I take this news as a sign that there are Republicans in the state legislature who understand the art of compromise but Andy is trying desperately to beat them back into submission.

Gary Gross, on the other hand, takes a far more cautious tone with respect to the news that Aplikowski is putting out there. Unfortunately, in doing so, Gross lambasts Democrats for taking out the indexed piece of the legislation. Apparently Democrats are damned if they do compromise and damned if they don't. While most would take this news as a sign that Democrats are willing to work with the minority to find the most broad appeal but Gross and other Republicans are having nothing to do with it. It couldn't be more clear to the public that while Democrats are willing to cede some ground in the interest of passing a bill, Republicans like Andy and Gary are going to sink the ship before they ever allow true compromise to take place.

As I asked Gary in his comments section:

Given that the Democrats have compromised on a provision by taking index to inflation out of the bill, what items are the Republican minority willing to compromise upon?

It seems like a fairly honest way to negotiate in order to finally get something accomplished but only time will tell. Perhaps these Republicans have never learned the art of compromise or the concept of negotiation.

In related news, the State Auditor released a report today on State Highways and Bridges. Some of their concerns are as follows:

Between 2002 and 2007, spending on road preservation decreased, with the amount being spent on new construction projects increasing to over half of the construction budget. Previously, new construction spending was about 25% of the construction budget.

The Auditor attributes this shift to the increased use of trunk highway bonding, which has been championed by the Pawlenty Administration, to fund transportation. As a result, road upkeep has suffered and they aren’t as safe.

The OLA says Mn/DOT’s spending is not aligned with its “preservation first” policy.

The Legislative Auditor found that Mn/DOT needs additional resources for fracture-critical bridge inspections.

When construction projects come in over budget, the overruns are taken out of preservation dollars, which means less-safe roads and bridges. In the FY 2002-03 biennium, $36 million was diverted from maintenance to construction.

Mn/DOT estimates that by 2012, it will take all of its forecasted resources (about $672 million/year) just to keep up with preservation. This is $350 million/year more than Mn/DOT is currently planning to spend.

The pavement conditions of our trunk highways are in worse condition than they were five years ago, and they will continue to decline. If we continue current funding levels, the number of roads rated “poor” will double by 2011.

In 2002, 72% of the state’s roads had pavement in good condition. Today, only 66% of our roads have this rating.

We must renew our focus on preserving our state’s existing roads and bridges. If we let them deteriorate beyond repair, replacement costs will only continue to skyrocket.

This administration’s reliance on transportation bonding is not only fiscally irresponsible, but jeopardizes the safety of our infrastructure and citizens.

Mn/DOT needs stable, dedicated resources to ensure that they can properly preserve and maintain our state’s roads and bridges.

We must move forward with an investment in transportation that will keep our roads and bridges safe.

Last month I attended a Health Care Listening Session hosted by some area legislators. The event was meant to allow constituents in the area to provide their ideas and express their opinions about health care in Minnesota. At this event I was disappointed to notice local legislator, Steve Gottwalt, responding in a less than civil manner to the testimony provided by a local resident. After the event, I wrote an open message to Mr. Gottwalt in which I expressed my disappointment to these actions. In my opinion, the post was fair in that it did not entirely rake Mr. Gottwalt over the coals, but rather it expressed my feelings on a man who I had thought was principled despite any disagreements we might have.

Another attendee, Gary Gross, offered his opinion of the event (both on his blog and in my comments section) and of the Gottwalt incident in a fair and civil manner. Others chimed in and although I have disagreements with their opinions at the very least they were respectful.

Unfortunately, local conservative blogger Leo Pusateri has decided to take respect and civility and throw it out the window entirely. On my youtube page, he posted this comment about the Gottwalt incident:

"Personally, I don't see the problem with this. I think he showed remarkable restraint in that he didn't bust out laughing at the ludicrous idea that we should adopt a failed Canadian system of healthcare."

Essentially, the message is that if you do not believe as Mr. Pusateri believes, then you are worthy of nothing more than laughter and derision. Is this the opinion of Mr. Gottwalt? One has to wonder, then, if Steve Gottwalt would be willing to stand by the statements of his friend Leo Pusateri that constituents deserve to actually be laughed at in open forums or in other venues. I may not like or agree with the opinions of Pusateri or Gottwalt but I would NEVER claim that those opinions deserved public scorn through laughter.

Perhaps, given these recent statements, it is time to write or call Mr. Gottwalt. If Mr. Pusateri would like to make these statements, then I want to hear from the horses mouth just how constituents ought to be treated.

Get to your phones and write your letters and lets find out just what Mr. Gottwalt believes! If this is the battle that Mr. Pusateri wants, perhaps we could oblige.

As I have said before, Perhaps THIS is why you keep losing elections!
5:27 PM | Posted in ,
Today on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Mark Olson rose to offer a psuedo apology for having brought disgrace upon the legislature. Unfortunately, we have heard an apology before and that was followed by months of delay and a subsequent defense that made his wife out to be the abuser in the family. While this apology is laudable, a more apologetic gesture might have been a gracious exit from the legislature and a defense that didn't try to absolve him of all responsibility. Even today, his apology was riddled with language that can only be construed as avoiding responsibility.

You take full responsibility for "your part"? If that isn't double talk for continuing to blame your wife, I don't know what is! The only way, sir, that we will bring honor back to the legislature is by taking you out of it. Be you Republican or Democrat in District 16B, there must be a recognition that this man does not deserve a seat in the legislature.

I apologize in advance for the Flip 4 Mac advertisement plastered across the video. I haven't decided whether to purchase the software or not.
In our second installment of 'An Issue Analysis' of the three main contenders for the DFL nomination to take on Norm Coleman we examine the issue of health care. Health insurance costs have continued to rise at an alarming rate and while it is clear that Republicans such as Norm Coleman have a 'stay the course' mentality, the Democrats in the race to defeat him offer varying degrees of universal care and coverage. In the interest of fairness, we will switch the order of the candidates.

Mike Ciresi on Health Care:
Ciresi comes from a unique position that neither of the other candidates can claim. He, as a business owner, has experienced first hand paying for the health insurance of employees.

As your U.S. Senator I will work to create a system that’s goals are to:

  • Provide universal coverage
  • Keep people healthy through preventative health care and early detection and cure of diseases – before they become chronic problems
  • Keep people affordably insured for their lifetime – from job to job, and through retirement, and forever eliminate the term “pre-existing condition”
  • Reduce error and waste by making a single, electronic record of a patient’s history accessible to those who need it, when they need it, but with the highest level of security to protect our privacy
  • Provide everyone with cost-effective medical, prescription and mental health insurance coverage at an affordable price, and which allows people to choose their provider and purchase more options

We will make this cost-effective because we will:

  • Use the collective buying power of all Americans and their
    employers to provide quality insurance at an affordable price.
  • Strengthen existing programs such as Medicare which covers seniors, SCHIP which covers children, and the VA that covers veterans.
  • Require drug companies to negotiate with Medicare.
Ciresi doesn't go so far as to advocate for a single payer system but does want to make it so that everyone has some sort of coverage. Once again, the only problem I see here is an unwillingness to explain just how such a system will be financed. While some of this may have been explained in other speeches to the public, the casual observer to his site will find him without recommendations on how to finance such a system. The positive in this plan appears to be the improved record keeping system touted by Ciresi to cut down on error and waste.

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer on Health Care:
Health care reform depends on a willingness to confront the powerful health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. I support a national single payer health care system that will:
  • Provide universal coverage;

  • Control costs and end the for-profit health care system;

  • Focus on prevention;

  • Offer parity for physical and mental health needs;

  • Anticipate chronic health care needs;

  • Respond effectively to public health emergencies; and,

  • Be funded through progressive taxation.
Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer one ups both Ciresi and Franken by essentially labeling their methods of universal coverage without deeper reform only half measures. Nelson-Pallmeyer, through fundamentally changing the way we deliver health care, wants to institute single payer universal health coverage. Also, he is brave enough to come out and say that he believes it should be paid through progressive taxation. A recent poll indicates that while Americans are essentially split over single payer healthcare, a significant percentage of people aren't even sure what that would entail. If Nelson-Pallmeyer could take his message to the United States Senate, perhaps he could begin the process of informing those Americans of the benefits of single payer.

Al Franken on Health Care:
We need to go to universal health care.

A single-payer system would be the most effective in terms of reducing administrative costs, and I would be thrilled to support such a system. But I believe that today’s political environment requires a creative and flexible approach to covering every American. Here’s mine:

  • I would require every state to cover every one of its citizens, and the federal government to provide funding to fulfill that requirement. Each individual state would be free to offer a variety of options, as long as they add up to universal coverage, giving us 51 laboratories (if you count DC) to figure out which system works best.
  • I would add one constraint: each state must cover every child 18 and under with a single-payer system similar to Medicare.
  • And speaking of Medicare, I would fight to make Medicare a true single-payer system. Right now, we overpay insurance companies, who then turn around and cherry-pick only the healthiest seniors to cover. That’s not fair and we should change it.

But universal coverage isn’t enough. We must also address the quality and cost of care. I think we should start with the following measures:

  • Medicare should be allowed to negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies for lower prices on prescription drugs.
  • Simple, secure, electronic medical records would cut down on errors and streamline care.
  • We should establish safe staffing levels for nurses – when the people on the front lines of health care tell us that they need reinforcements to maintain their high standards of care, we should listen.
  • We should pass Paul Wellstone’s bill ensuring full mental health parity.

The essential message out of Franken appears to be that while single payer would be desirable, he is not willing to stake his political career on advocating such a program. It does not speak very highly of Franken to recognize the advantage of single payer but advocate for something that is only a patch to the current system. Additionally, Franken stops short of giving details on how he would pay for such a system.

When it comes to health care, the advantage clearly goes to Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer for his ability to recognize and truly advocate the advantages of a single payer health system. While all three of these candidates offer significantly better options than the 'stay the course' options of the Republican Party, Nelson-Pallmeyer offers a road to real change in how we take care of Americans across the country. To top it off, he is brave enough to say that such a system can and should be paid for with taxes that force those that have the ability to pay to pay their fair share.

I encourage anyone who supports one of these three candidates to comment about the positive aspects of their candidates health care positions. Perhaps I missed some policy statements or other evidence highlighting what your candidate will do in terms of reforming health care.

Stay Tuned, in the next episode we will examine these three candidates on Iraq.
11:49 AM | Posted in
It is well established that Michele Bachmann has been avoiding direct contact with her constituency ever since she took office in January of last year. Those wishing to speak with the woman who represents them are forced to either wait by the phone hoping that she might grace them with one of her staged tele-town halls or tune into her on one of many conservative radio shows. Many of these stations exist in the Twin Cities and at the very most are heard by only a fraction of the actual residents living within her district. One of these stations, AM 980 KKMS, caters to the ultra religious right that Bachmann has spent her career appeasing. In the past four months, Michele Bachmann has appeared on the Jeff & Lee Show four times. For those people unable to catch the show live, the Jeff & Lee Show allows listeners to download shows so that they can hear previous episodes and segments. Unfortunately, there appears to be an exception to this rule, and that is Michele Bachmann. Of her previous four appearances, there are none that can be downloaded from the site. What possible reason would the Jeff & Lee Show have for excluding Bachmann appearances? Have they struck some sort of deal with Bachmann? If so, why wouldn't Bachmann want her constituents (especially those not in the KKMS listening area) to hear her on the radio? As usual, so many questions, so few answers...

February 14th, 2008

January 29th, 2008

December 21st, 2007

November 16th, 2007

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
10:43 AM | Posted in
Being the contrarian that I am, I often avoid the obvious choices provided to me by the masses. When the question is posed, who is your favorite president, my thoughts do not immediately turn to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and certainly not to Ronald Reagan. So, for this President's Day I offer you the lessons we can learn from a couple of our more obscure leaders.

William Henry Harrison:
Harrison, the hero of The Battle of Tippecanoe, is the perfect example of why you should always be brief and bundle up. Mothers have always harped on us the need to wear warm clothing or we will catch our death of cold. Perhaps they could begin using Mr. Harrison as an example. After winning the election of 1840, Harrison chose to be a tough guy and give his inaugural address (the longest in history at 2+ hours long) on a cold and rainy day. One month later, he was DEAD! So, if you ever become President, be sure to bundle up and keep it brief.

Zachary Taylor:
While the exact details of Taylor's demise are not entirely clear, there are lessons to learn. First among those is to learn from the mistakes of your predecessors. Taylor, attending a 4th of July celebration, chose not to dress for the weather and ended up with a fatal case of heat stroke. Second, is the lesson of gluttony. Other theories for the demise of Taylor are that he consumed a large amount of iced milk and cherries which contributed to his stomach ailment. Taylor died five days after attending this celebration. So, if you ever become President, dress for the weather and don't be a glutton.

So, who is your favorite (obscure) President?
9:02 PM | Posted in ,
For those of you believing that the name Michele Bachmann has been irreparably damaged, I give you hope. That hope is in the form of Swiss singer Michele Bachmann. From those of us here in the 6th District and across the state of Minnesota, thank you! Thank you for allowing us to imagine a world where the mention of the name Michele Bachmann offers hope and happiness to the world. Thank you for restoring the karmic balance of your namesake.

And Ms. Bachmann, if you would ever be inclined to immigrate to Minnesota, we have a congressional seat ready and waiting for you. Our Michele Bachmann doesn't really use it, so somebody ought to get some use out of it.

I encourage everyone to show their support for singer/songwriter Michele Bachmann by checking out her band web site and perhaps even purchasing an album. This could be our new cathartic way of redeeming the name Michele Bachmann.

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
Category: ,
Inspired by commentary at MNBlue on the United States Senate race here Minnesota, I thought it was high time we had some comparative analysis of these three DFL contenders on various issues. We begin, then, with the issue of education for our first installment in a series of posts on the issues.

While each of these three candidates herald the public school system and recognize that on the federal level the problems of NCLB and unfunded mandates are the primary cause for concern, they have varying methods of addressing the issues in question.

Al Franken on Education:
In addition to funding issues, I believe that the No Child Left Behind law must be dramatically reformed or scrapped altogether. I'm for accountability, but I'm not for the deeply-flawed NCLB system.

End arbitrary performance standards and replace them with models that measure and reward progress achieved during the school year.

Encourage more flexibility in measuring student achievement. Allow teachers to participate in the evaluation of their students' progress over the course of a year instead of at a single point in time (for instance, by assembling student portfolios).

Franken describes the need to move away from evaluating schools based on the results of one test. However, there is no explanation of how such a student portfolio system would operate and how much flexibility schools across the country would have in implementing this system. Also, there is little discussion of how to effectively evaluate growth from year to year. The Ciresi campaign seems to understand far better, that comprehensive evaluation across grade levels is far more sensible than comparing students in one year to the students the following year.

Stop duplicative testing. My daughter taught third grade in a public school for three years, and she was constantly frustrated by the amount of classroom time that had to be devoted to testing and test preparation. While we need to measure student progress, too many districts have overlapping district, state, and federal tests. We should audit tests at the district, state, and federal level to ensure that this doesn't happen.

This statement is somewhat odd given the previous support for moving away from testing based assessment. The question becomes, what role will testing play in the student assessment proposed by Mr. Franken? If testing is pared down to just one, haven't we essentially moved back to a system of one test determining the "progress" of our students? Franken has essentially adopted the reform platform of Education Minnesota, NEA, and AFT. If that is the case, it makes me wonder how much of it he truly believes versus how much he simply wanted to gain the support of the unions.

Mike Ciresi on Education:
I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed to notice that Ciresi does not have a K-12 education statement on his issues page. While the issues facing higher education are prominently displayed and important, I cannot understand why Ciresi, who has done much through his private foundation, doesn't have an issue statement on K-12 education.

There is some evidence as to his education beliefs in the video section of his campaign website, so we will use those statements in this analysis.

"I would introduce, immediately, a bill to scrap No Child Left Behind."


"This bill has left all of our children behind."

Ciresi does much to explain what is wrong with No Child Left Behind. Unfortunately, he does not offer solutions on what initiatives or proposals he has to replace the program. Much like Franken, Ciresi touts the need to find another method of evaluating children beyond the punishment system of NCLB. He does, however, tout some of the ways he has involved himself in education. Specifically, through the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation Board and his own private foundation, the Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. Foundation for Children. While it is important to understand the problem, it is equally important to offer solutions to those problems. Education solutions appears to be a weak point for the Ciresi campaign.

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer on Education:
Shifting the costs of education from general taxes to property taxes also strains budgets, aggravates inequalities and erodes financial support for public education.

I support increased state and federal funding for k-12 public education. I support a federally funded universal preschool program for 3-5 year-olds to be paid for with reductions in military spending. I also call for ending tax breaks given by the Bush administration to the richest 1% of US families and redirecting those resources to make college and university education affordable to all students.

Nelson Pallmeyer essentially sticks to the topic of funding education and avoids the topic of education reform. While it seems feasible to accomplish the rollback of Bush tax breaks, I simply do not see how he will accomplish reducing military spending. Taking on military spending during a rather contentious time of war v. peace speaks to the willingness of Nelson Pallmeyer to take on the big fights. However, as a realist, I think we need to address extracting ourselves from Iraq before we jump headlong into issues of military spending. At the very least, Nelson Pallmeyer has thought about how he might pay for the programs he supports rather than simply just proposing them. Neither the Franken or Ciresi campaigns appear to offer ways in which they will pay for unfunded mandates or new initiatives.

With respect to education, I am going to have to give the edge to Al Franken. Purely based upon the comprehensive nature of the issue statement on his campaign site, Fanken has the advantage. While I have concerns about the level to which he is simply pandering to the education union and how much he truly believes in the rhetoric found there, it is hard to deny that he is offering the more specific solutions and revisions of NCLB. Ciresi and Nelson-Pallmeyer, though, have an advantage over Franken that they really ought to be highlighting with respect to education. Nelson-Pallmeyer as an educator with experience in the classroom and Ciresi through his education advocacy work should both be using these tools when touting their message.

I encourage anyone who supports one of these three candidates to comment about the positive aspects of their candidates education positions. Perhaps I missed some policy statements or other evidence highlighting what your candidate will do in terms of reforming education.

Stay Tuned, in the next episode we will examine these three candidates on Health Care.