10:16 PM | Posted in
We are all aware of the no new earmarks pledge taken by 6th District Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann. Since taking that pledge she was almost backed into a corner with the closing of the DeSoto Bridge in St. Cloud but was helped by Democrats in the state legislature appropriating more money for transportation needs.

Her new manner of finding money for her district without actually calling that money an earmark is to send out "grant applications" to local units of government. Prendergast over at Dump Bachmann does an excellent job of revealing this new found love of grant money over earmarks and exposing the inherent hypocrisy in such a position.

Due to this new found love of grant money, I am posing a new challenge to readers throughout the 6th District. Come up with ideas, ANY IDEAS, for grant money that you or your community need. Those needs can be as serious as a new bridge or library or as foolish as your imagination warrants. The purpose here is twofold: to see just how much grant money Michele Bachmann can obtain and to give her minions some work to do.

Here are the rules:

  1. Use the following criteria from her to write your grant (the better it sounds the better your chances).
  2. The grant must be created electronically in order to submit it to Congresswoman Bachmann. This seems strange given that she only sent out a paper copy to local units of government.
  3. Send a copy of your grant to jessica.taylor@mail.house.gov and a copy to me at political_muse(at)hotmail.com

If you are uncomfortable creating a grant of your own but have ideas for Bachmann's grant money, you can email me with your ideas and I will have someone on "staff" fill out an application and send it in for you. Let's make this happen people and watch the grant money roll in!

Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times & Dump Bachmann
9:53 PM | Posted in ,
Yesterday on the floor of the United States Senate, Amy Klobuchar spoke out on the continued rise in gas prices and offered her perspective on possible solutions. The first part of the speech connects the realities of rising fuel costs to the people living in Minnesota and chastising George W. Bush for not realizing that gas is well on its way to $4 per gallon.

Parts two and three of the speech can be found over at MNMuseTube. In these subsequent clips, Klobuchar addresses some of the technical issues surrounding the current state of oil and gas prices.

Money Quotes:

The fact is, this administration has failed to provide Americans with a meaningful energy policy that would provide relief from high gas and energy prices.

We should be investing not in the oil cartels of the Middle East but in the farmers and workers of the Midwest. We need better fuel efficiency standards in our cars.

It is time this administration stepped up and did something about it. If we are going to be doing business with Saudi Arabia and some of these countries, this administration should have the leverage to push for more oil from OPEC.

In conclusion, the cost of energy is hurting Americans from all walks of life and businesses. I don't think we need one silver bullet. As we say in my State, we need a silver buckshot. We need a bold energy policy, first of all, in the short term, that focuses on temporarily suspending deliveries of oil into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, that pressures OPEC nations to increase oil production, that closes the Enron loophole to eliminate that speculation, and to establish the DOJ Oil and Gas Market Fraud Task Force.
9:09 PM | Posted in ,
During a debate over the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2008, the issue of a historic landmark, The Delta Queen, was brought to the floor. At issue is whether the vessel should be given a continued exemption to cruise at night despite laws that forbid wooden vessels from doing so.

I am going to have to part with Mr. Oberstar on this one. This vessel represents a significant piece of history and should have been given the exemption. My love of history and preserving that history trumps any loyalty I may feel to the Democratic Congressman to the north.

For a little dry humor, at the end of the clip you hear a voice shout out, "God Save The Queen" to which Oberstar responds, "God Save Her Passengers".
8:50 PM | Posted in ,
Last week, Senator Amy Klobuchar gave a short speech on the floor of the Senate in support of Equal Pay Day and of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court and its right wing leanings have restricted discrimination lawsuits to 180 days after the first date of discrimination.

That is why it is so important that the Senate take up the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on the floor this week. We must light a candle to the pay discrimination women continue to experience across the country.

This important legislation will reverse a 2007 Supreme Court ruling--Ledbetter v. Goodyear--that significantly limited the rights of individuals to sue for gender-based pay discrimination.

The facts that gave rise to Lilly Ledbetter's case are all too common today. Lilly Ledbetter was a hard worker, working at Goodyear Tire as a manager for 20 years. When she started at Goodyear, all the employees at the manager level started at the same pay. She knew she was getting the same pay as the men did. But early in her tenure as manager, the company went to another system. Payment records were kept confidential, and Lilly did not think to ask what her colleagues were making. She did not think to look at her pay raise and ask if men in the department were getting the same. As the years passed by, the pay differential between what she made and what the male managers were making just kept getting bigger. She only found out about it from an anonymous note from a coworker.

At trial, she was able to prove discrimination. But the company appealed the jury's finding, and the Supreme Court, in a five-to-four decision, decided that Lilly filed her charge too late. Essentially, they read the law to say that she would have had to file it within 180 days of Goodyear making its first discriminatory decision.

Although this decision completely ignores the realities of the workplace--that employee records are kept confidential and that there is no way to know when it starts unless we require women to start the embarrassing practice of asking what men make--we can do what Eleanor Roosevelt says. We can bring the realities to the light. We cannot expect women to challenge practices they do not know are happening, and by passing this law we can start to give women those 4 months back--those extra months it takes to allow them to catch up to their male colleagues.
10:04 PM | Posted in ,
Over the past week I have spent significant time and energy debunking the denial in the recent Global Warming Denial Forum held at the Elk River High School. For my final post on this forum, I would like to address the nature of this event.

In this video, Mark Olson, disgraced Republican from House District 16B, is asked about why only Republicans were represented at the event and also about the funding for the event. His response to the first question is that he invited Democrats in the "area" but none of them chose to accept that invitation. His response to the second question is that this was a legislative event and not a political event.

Given that Mr. Olson never does define what he means by the "area" targeted by the event, it is difficult to determine who he may have invited. So, I emailed Democrats representing districts directly adjacent to the districts involved in the forum. From the legislator responses, it is interesting to note that the first that any of these Democrats heard of the forum was two hours before the event was slated to begin. It seems an empty gesture so that Olson can claim he invited Democrats. The only reason to ever give someone such short notice is so that you can claim you invited them but they just weren't able to attend.

A couple responses:

We received the invitation approximately two hours before the event. At that time, I had other commitments for the evening.

The only invitation that I can recall is the announcement on the House floor that Rep. Olson gave on the same day the forum was being held.

If Olson truly wanted this to be a bipartisan discussion of the issue he would have done more than just invite legislators hours before it was already set to start. He would have aggressively (perhaps not a good word for Olson given his history) sought not just attendance but meaningful participation from Democrats in the "area" and groups with divergent positions. Which leads me to the next issue found in this video.

Olson claims that this was a non-political event meant to "wrestle" with the issue. However, an anonymous source tells me that she attempted to get permission from Olson to hand out information after the event supportive of global warming and supportive of "An Inconvenient Truth". Olson denied her the right to do so deeming it too "political" but as I left the event there was a group from the right wing group, Minnesota Majority, handing out stickers and information from their website. One has to wonder how it is too "political" for someone to hand out information about global warming but not too "political" for a right wing front group to hand out information denying global warming.

Olson and the rest of the legislators involved in this forum have no intention of dealing with this issue in an honest manner. Their hope is to feed their believers with the information they want to hear and shield them from any information that may bring down their beliefs.

Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times
Now that Elwyn Tinklenberg is the DFL endorsed candidate for Congressional District Six, the question is whether or not the various factions that have formed in this area can come together in order to defeat Michele Bachmann.

Let us be honest, even at our most united this will be an uphill battle. None of these factions can win an election in a district such as this without uniting under one flag. I certainly hope it can happen but early rumblings from after the convention indicate that this endorsement and this speech are only the very beginning of rebuilding a unity in the DFL in the 6th District.

I am not a campaign manager nor have I ever been intimately involved in ANY campaign. However, the first step for me if I was advising the Tinklenberg Campaign would be to spend the next week or two vigorously seeking out those Olson supporters who may feel somewhat jaded and bring them into the fold. It sounds easier than it will be, but I daresay it would give the signal that you are truly interested in unity.

Olson, for all his problems campaigning, has a message that resonates with quite a few DFLers including myself. His expertise in tax law would be an invaluable asset to any campaign and I would hope that the Tinklenberg people will find a way to benefit from that expertise. Also, his advocacy of alternative energy and knowledge of the issues surrounding those energies could give Tinklenberg a well rounded message. Only time will tell...

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann & St. Cloud Times
There has been much editorializing by others and myself about this race but given that it is officially over there really is no need to beat a dead horse. The only thing I would say is that whether you like or dislike Tinklenberg, he gives a hell of a fiery speech.

Bob Olson Nominating Speech:

The word on the street was that the person giving the seconding speech for Olson was going to be former Federal Judge, Miles Lord, but in the end it was a woman from the DFL Feminist Caucus.

Elwyn Tinklenberg Nominating Speech:

I decided to add the seconding speech given by Tarryl Clark given that she is my State Senator and a shining light in the DFL. It is she and Larry Haws that make having Michele Bachmann as a representative a little more bearable.

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann & St. Cloud Times
5:06 PM | Posted in ,
I was at the 6th District DFL Convention yesterday chronicling events with my video camera. One of those events were the speeches given by the two candidates seeking the DFL endorsement to run against Norm Coleman this fall. While Franken has been garnering much of the support across the state, it seemed to me that he was significantly underrepresented yesterday. There appeared to be more people sporting Nelson-Pallmeyer apparel than Franken apparel.

You can read my previous analysis of these candidates here.

Al Franken spoke first and discussed the "new progressive majority" he and others are building in Congress. It is interesting to note that many DFL "progressives" have found Franken to be less than progressive. To be honest, this was a lackluster speech given to a crowd that was not particularly attentive. His money quote, however, was that it is time to send Norm Coleman home to Brooklyn.

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer told a story about going to India and seeing the plight of the people while he and the other visitors were ushered into a luxury hotel. This speech, like many of his speeches, was a call to action for people across the district and across the state. Nelson-Pallmeyer has an uphill climb to beat Al Franken but he represents an inspiring voice in the Democratic Party.

Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times
7:25 PM | Posted in
Yesterday I posted a speech by 1st District Representative, Tim Walz. In that speech he discussed the economic realities facing middle income Americans. Interestingly, Michele Bachmann also gave a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives this week to what can only be described as a crowd of her supporters. In that speech to commemorate "Tax Freedom Day" she once again extolled the virtues of the economy we are currently experiencing.

It is truly amazing the level of blindness our representative has toward the economic realities facing people throughout her district and across the country. Given that Elwyn Tinklenberg is now the DFL endorsed candidate, he should waste no time in highlighting time and time again what this woman believes is going on in the country. From her pride in seeing Minnesotans work multiple jobs to her constant kool aid induced belief that this economy is "prosperous".

As to the fallacy of "Tax Freedom Day", Michele apparently doesn't realize the problem with using an average to define the day when EVERYONE has worked enough to pay off their taxes. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the methodology used has "two major flaws".

First, its estimates of state and local tax burdens suffer from a number of serious methodological flaws (see the box below). Second, over the years, many journalists and policymakers have misinterpreted the Tax Foundation’s report as reflecting the tax burdens faced by typical middle-income workers.

Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann & St. Cloud Times
Living in the 6th Congressional District of Minnesota there is very little to be proud of in the way of congressional leadership. However, if you gaze your eyes to the southern swath of Minnesota you can find a leader that exemplifies everything good about our people driven government. Tim Walz, 1st District Representative, gave an exemplary speech this week on the floor of the House of Representatives.

The speech is split into five parts (Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, & Part 5) and highlights the economic realities facing average middle income Americans. With a folksy demeanor, Walz cuts through the rhetoric of Republican talking points and makes the case for continued Democratic leadership in Congress.

Mr. WALZ of Minnesota. Thank you for this opportunity to speak on the floor and to give this Chamber a demonstration of what is so great about this country. The previous gentleman's district actually borders mine, but you may not find a more diametrically opposed view of what is happening in this country than you may get in the next 28 minutes.

You hear a lot of statistics and you hear a lot things thrown out. You hear a lot of economists talking about different things. The one thing I have found, and I think maybe it comes from being new to this business of politics, coming from a high school classroom, coming out of what most middle class Americans are experiencing is, is that many of those things do not matter to people.

What matters to them is the reality in their everyday lives. And that reality doesn't take a whole lot of background from them. It doesn't take a whole lot of statistics. It doesn't take a whole lot of anything, other than for them to make some simple judgments.

One of those judgments that the American public is going to ask themselves, and they are going to get to ask themselves in November, after 12 straight years of Republican control of the House of Representatives, after 6 years of total control of both branches of the legislative procession, the American people got a chance to see by the fall of 2006 the direction that those policies had taken us in.

In watching that, they made a decision come November. They chose about 45 new Members of this body, many of them without elected office experience, but many of them who came from the ranks of middle class working people, many of them like myself that never had a salary over $50,000. Teaching for 18 years, my salary when I left my teaching position was $48,000 a year. My insurance costs coming off the top of that were $7,200 a year, and then the taxes that came after that.

One of the things the American public will ask is, were they better off before that time when President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress took over, or were things going in the wrong direction? Were decisions made that were affecting their lives negatively, and what were those decisions doing to them?

What was happening, as you saw the previous speaker talk about, what was happening to the price of fuel? Why was gas going up and who was benefiting from it? Why was the cost of their produce, why was the cost of groceries going up, and who was benefiting from that? What was happening to the cost of tuition? What was happening to their paycheck? What was happening to insurance costs?

Those were questions that they don't get to stand here and theoretically talk about and come up with some cute alliteration that I always hear. My colleagues are wonderful at the alliteration, and somewhat weak on the policy that impacts people's lives.

So as I listened this week and I watched a concerted effort, and one of the magazines on Capitol Hill wrote about that our friends in the minority have decided they are going to try and pin the energy policies on the new majority, understanding that President Bush will veto any attempt we make to change policy.

The policies that we are operating under in this economy are the ones that were put into place by the minority and put into law by the President. The changes that have been attempted and those that have been made, such as CAFE standards, the fuel efficiency standards and improving them for the first time in 35 years, are so overwhelmingly accepted by the American public, those could not be ignored.

The ideology being expressed by the previous speaker I think is reflected in some. You don't need the polls when you go out and talk to people, but if you want to get to the data you are hearing them talking about, 72 percent of the American people disagree. Twenty-eight percent of the American people agree that President Bush's economic policies are the right direction for this country.

So when I hear talk about supply and demand, as if it is gravity, as if there have not been decisions made to influence either the supply chain or the demand by interests, by the growth, the astronomical growth of lobbyists, especially energy lobbyists at this place, it is bordering on the ridiculous. And when I hear about Adam Smith being talked about, the only "invisible hand'' that is operating in our energy markets is that invisible handshake that happened in the White House between the oil company executives when they created this current energy policy.

I would like to take a chance here to illustrate what has happened on energy as it impacts the economy.

Now, again, speaking to the American people, when they are going and filling up, they are rightfully disturbed. They are rightfully concerned, and many of those people are understanding a larger portion of their disposable income is being eaten up in fuel costs, transportation costs.

The policy that was put into place that has driven this upward climb and that was so conveniently taken out here, about right in here and shown, has been a steady upward trajectory. And they are right. Several things are happening here.

There is no doubt that supply, world supply for fuels, especially with the rise of China and India, is having an impact in this. The only question I would ask on that is, who didn't know that back here? Who couldn't anticipate those changes and start planning ahead, instead of being reactive to everything that has happened?

This administration has been wrong on almost every single indicator economically around the world, socially, and they have not gotten any of it correct since they have come to office. So the trajectory is pretty steady, almost exactly what could have been expected on that.

But there are several other things at work here. One of the things is about this energy policy. I would love to show you and read from that energy policy to tell the Speaker, my colleagues and anyone in America that would like to know what that energy policy is. But the problem is, the White House claimed executive privilege, and in 2004 the Supreme Court upheld that executive privilege.

So that meeting that took place, we do have some reports on who was there, by the way. One of the first visitors on February 14, 2001, just 2 weeks after the inauguration and the President took office, was James Rouse, the vice president of ExxonMobil. He was also the major donor to all of the festivities that happened here with the inauguration of President Bush.

A week later was a long-time friend of President Bush and a supporter, Kenneth Lay, then, of course, head of Enron. They had two meetings. By March 5, the country's biggest utilities, Duke Energy and Constellation Energy, were in the White House. Then British Petroleum came on March 22. And that was followed by 20 oil and drilling companies to get meetings. At this point, to this day, none of that documentation is public. None of it has been out there. None of it has shown what happened. And what we saw was a steady increase and a policy that put this entire Nation's energy needs in the hands of oil company executives.

Now, I could almost get lucky in my district out in southern Minnesota. There is somebody who was in the room, somebody who knows. That somebody now lives in my district--well, temporarily. That someone is the vice president of Enron, Jeff Skilling. He is in the Federal Penitentiary in Waseca, Minnesota, in my district. He was with Enron. He understood what happened here, and he ended up, after going to court, in Federal prison for 24 years.

The policies here have nothing to do with supply and demand. They have everything to do with special interests and corporate interests over the national interests of this country.

So as you hear the previous speakers speak, and they talk about us trying to take energy off the market, the fact of the matter is, as I said, the previous speaker's district borders mine, I am very proud that in southern Minnesota my district is one of the Nation's top four producers of wind energy. We have beautiful wind generators going up and down the district. We have small towns, like Minnesota Lake, that are taking their town's energy and deriving over 75 percent of the energy for the town through the use of clean, renewable wind generation.

We are also one of the leading producers of alternative fuels and biofuels. And let me be very clear about this. As people talk about, well, biofuels are driving up the cost of food products, of commodities, there is a definite moral argument to be made of the idea of taking food, such as corn or soybeans, and turning it into fuel. The fact of the matter is, most economists agree that the impact on that is negligible, compared to the impact of the price of oil.

There is something I would like to quote here, and I would like you to see a couple of things here. When President Bush was asked prior to the election during the campaign back in 2000, he was asked what he would do to help control energy costs, he said, ``What I think the President ought to do when gas prices spike is he ought to get on the phone with the OPEC cartel and say I expect you to open your spigots, and the President of the United States starts jawboning with OPEC members to lower the price.''

Well, in April 2005 there is a pretty famous picture here of the President holding hands with that. That is about the point where oil went up. This is from an ally who has promised to help us pay for the war in Iraq and has yet to pay 7 percent of their total cost.

Now, if they can't make it on $118 a barrel, it makes it pretty difficult for me to understand when they are ever going to get jawboned into doing something about this.

The next thing that I think is a bit of a fallacy here in this whole free market thing and this supply and demand, as if it is going to come down and drop upon us and be in perfect order, is why in the world did my colleagues on the other side of the aisle continue to vote for $18.6 billion in subsidies to the oil companies? At $40 billion in profits for one oil company alone last year, over $100 billion in profits for the three major oil companies, they haven't got it figured out how to run their business to make a profit without the subsidies?

And what is at stake here is this isn't about class warfare. This isn't about, as the previous speaker from Michigan talked about, not being a friend of the oil companies or being their enemies. The fact of the matter is they have an unfair advantage on a unlevel playing field. If my wind generation and my cellulosic ethanol producers could get the same amount of subsidies driven back into research and development that we are putting into oil and natural gas exploration, I guarantee you we would compete on that.

I guarantee you we would have renewable energy sources that would take several things away. One is the dependence on foreign oil. That driver or that magnet of conflict around the world would be taken out of the equation. We would also start to create rural jobs and rural green collar jobs that would respur the economy.

This President and this energy policy that has created these prices that have been on a steady upward climb also took an economy that went from a manufacturing base and a base of middle class workers, who could figure it out. And this is all they are asking for. They go to work, they work hard at their job, they make the right decisions, they work 40 hours a week, maybe a little overtime.

Here is what they are asking for. All they want in return is the ability to have a home, the ability to have transportation to get to and from their job and maybe partake in their recreational activities. They would like to have health care for themselves and their children that is affordable and they can go when it is needed. And they would like to get to the point
where perhaps they could save enough money to send their children to college to ensure
their future.

The American people aren't demanding a lot. They are not asking for a lot.

But let me give you a couple statistics.

Since President Bush has come to office, guess what has happened. We have lost 1.4 million jobs. We need to be creating jobs. We need to be creating about 180,000 jobs a month to keep pace with population growth. Manufacturing jobs have increased by 3.4 million.

Income is down on an average, so the person going to work 40 hours a week, the person making the right decisions, the person trying to fulfill the American dream is getting further behind no matter how hard they are working.

The number without health care insurance has increased 8.6 percent. We now have 50 million American people without health care insurance.

And I guess the debate can be supply and demand: There is a big supply, there is big demand for it, not quite enough to pay for it, so your child doesn't get to go to the doctor.

If that is the type of country we are choosing to live in, then go ahead and follow the policies that have been put in place the last 8 years. If we think there is a better way to do this, perhaps we can start having a vision that extends to the next generation, not the next election.

Of course, we hear about gas prices doubling. College costs have gone up 36 percent. Foreclosure rates have hit an all-time high.

This President created an economy totally predicated on consumer spending. He drove that spending by the only way people could do it under the economy that was dropping their wages, by borrowing on their homes. And then they were given risky loans, and those risky loans--here is the thing in my district. I trust the bankers in my district; I trust those people to make loans. And do you know what? There used to be a contract in this country. As a borrower, you were expected to repay. I still believe that is true. But there is another part of that equation: As a lender, you actually used to want to get repaid. We have people now who are speculating, who are giving loans with no intention of ever caring what happened to the loan, selling it off into speculation, put in some exotic investment vehicle outside of any regulation, because we can have no regulation.

This economy predicated itself on consumer spending, on consumer borrowing. And the driver here was, if we regulate companies, how could they make money? If we ask them to take lead out of toys for children, that would cut into profit. And how dare we think we would do that. If we actually asked that our food be safe before we fed it to our children, we were overregulating and messing with that invisible hand.

Well, that is not the way the world works. It is not the way the people of America want things to work. What they want is a sense of fairness. They want that chance to be able to work hard, save a little money, get a house, take care of their family, and let their children have an attempt at living a life equal to or better than their own.

There are statistics out there now, for the first time in American history after 7 1/2 years of this Presidency, that the majority of Americans do not believe their children will live the type of life that they had, that they themselves had a chance to live. That is absolutely criminal. It is absolutely immoral. It is absolutely not the principles this country was founded on. And those that would say by us asking for alternative energy sources, by us asking to try and improve the ability of efficiencies in our automobiles and our building designs, that those of us who are asking oil companies to not be able to take $18 billion, and to think that you are going to drill your way out of this--they just tell us world demand is up. How in the world is drilling going to be a long-term solution? It is beyond me. With those things happening, though, the American people can be glad to know that is the minority opinion.

The majority in this House of Representatives is representative of the majority of the American people. Fully 72 percent disagree with the past policies we are on. Only 28 percent of the American people would espouse to believe that the policies you heard from the previous speakers are the direction that we should go in.

We should have a civil debate on this House Floor, we should talk about the implications of our policies, but we should also realize what we are talking about is the livelihood and the quality of life of the American public, and we have got work to do in that regard.

I wanted to just talk about a couple of things here, too. One of the things that is most striking to me is, is the President's and the rhetoric that happens on this House floor, that disconnect again with the American public, that disconnect of what a person is going through. And you can tell them all of these facts, all of these figures, all of the things that are out there, and they will still come back to the reality as it affects their life.

And I want to talk to you, as many of us saw, just for a minute, Mr. Speaker, as many of us were predicting for several years, they felt the fragileness in this economy, they felt they were saving less, they felt costs were going up, they saw that the ability to get their children to college getting further and further out of their reach. We saw policies that when those people of my generation had the opportunity to go to college, fully 80 percent was on the idea of Pell Grants and different types of grants, 20 percent in the forms of loans. We have almost exactly reversed that. And then we took those loans from being low-interest government guaranteed loans to being government guaranteed loans to private lenders with high interest rates. We have absolutely not made an investment in the future a priority.

And when you hear people talk about the so-called tax cuts, I ask everyone out there to see if, since 2001 and President Bush's tax cuts, are you better off? Have they fulfilled their promise? Have they filled your pockets with wealth? Have your streets gotten better? Have your schools become more productive? Has everything gone exactly the way they told you they would do? Because the bottom line in this country is, we have seen the single largest shift of wealth to the smallest percentage at the top than we have seen since the 1920s. We have the greatest disparity from those in the middle class and those in the top 1 percent than we have seen in the past 100 years.

The policies that were put into place did exactly what they were supposed to do: They shifted that wealth. And in the ideology, and I don't deny that my friends across the aisle believe this, those people in their benevolence were going to reinvest it all, creating great jobs here, and spurring the American dream.

The problem was this: They found out that they could invest in manufacturing jobs in places that didn't have worker standards, that didn't have environmental standards, that didn't care if there was lead in the toys. And, as they invested in those countries, their profits rose, and the jobs in America, according to I guess Adam Smith, the invisible hand pulled them and grabbed them to China. And when they couldn't do it in China anymore, they pulled them and grabbed them to Vietnam. And when they couldn't do it in Vietnam, they pulled them to Bangladesh.

I am unsure where they will go next, but I can tell you this, there is a lot of people sitting throughout the Midwest through Ohio and Michigan that sure wish some of those jobs were here. And they are not asking for a fortune, they are asking for a living wage. Well, that living wage, and every time we ask for it: That is going to hurt business, that is going to hurt the profits.

The bottom line on this is, this country was founded and predicated and was so successful because the middle class was successful. We are the most productive people in the world. Our productivity of workers in America is at an all-time high.

Now, the question I ask is, how can that be and real wages are decreasing? How that can be when their buying power has decreased? Unless something is fundamentally wrong with the economy? But if you ask President Bush, all is peachy clean. There are a couple quotes here, I don't know if it would be fair, but it sounds an awful lot like Hoover in the 1930s.

But here he was on October 17. Here was the economic news: The Commerce Department reports that housing starts in September fell to the lowest levels in over a decade and a half.

Here are President Bush's words: When you got more houses than you got more buyers, the prices tend to go down and we are just going to have to work through the issue. I am not a forecaster, but I can tell people that I feel good about many of the economic indicators here in the United States.

The subprime crisis was right on top of our heads, and yet we are hearing this type of rhetoric. It is not based in reality, it is not based on the people who were already behind in their mortgage payments. It is not based and behind some of those exotic investment vehicles that were going to come crashing down. It is not that we didn't see that the Bear Stearns thing was on the horizon. Most people did, including his former Fed Secretary in Alan Greenspan. But, nope, it didn't bother the President. It doesn't matter the people here who for 6 years rubber-stamped every single piece of legislation written by K Street by the lobbyists and sent down here. Everything that was done behind closed door by Ken Lay, by Jeff Skilling, by the rest of them, sent down here, voted on against the objection by the minority party, our party at that time, that, you are heading for disaster, do not do this. Oh, no, no. We will create jobs, we will create wealth, we will create energy.

Now, all of a sudden, we have a slim majority in the House, we are equal over in the Senate, and the President vetoes anything that we utter over here. Now all of a sudden all of this is the responsibility here.

Well, I have one thing to say. The American people, come November, don't care what side of the aisle you are on, they care about, what are you going to do about it?

Here are a couple more from the President.

December 17, former Fed Chairman Greenspan, as I was just saying, suggested a tax break or other government help for home owners facing the mortgage crunch.

Here is what the President said: This economy is pretty good. There are definitely some storm clouds and concerns, but the underpinnings are good, just fine.

February 28, reports show that new home sales in January fell to the lowest level in 13 years, and orders for big ticket items such as cars and refrigerators slumped dramatically.

Well, I don't think we are headed into a recession, but no question we are in a slowdown.

And then, just yesterday: No recession. No recession.

The bottom line on this is, you have got your head stuck in the sand for so long, you tell yourself for so long that these policies are going to work. The American public again, as I said, doesn't care what the economists say. The American public and the average person that is out there, middle-class worker, doesn't care what the exact number of foreclosed homes are. They don't care about the derivatives in these exotic vehicles that were created on the subprime. They don't necessarily care where the oil is coming from or where the energy is coming from. What they know is they have got to get to work in the morning, and that takes gas. And that job is not paying any more. It might not be there tomorrow. They are not saving enough.

And I heard the person before me speaking on this floor talking about how great this oil investment is in the 401(K). Well, I should probably get some of his advice, because mine like many others in this country showed a downturn last year because of all of the other drops in stocks and investment vehicles.

So, Mr. Speaker, we have opportunities, there is no doubt. This country does, as the President said, have the underpinnings to perform better than any economy in the world. But the one thing the President fails to realize is the most important underpinning of that economy is middle-class American workers, the ones who for 12 years of Republican rule, 6 years of total rule by this ideology have suffered and seen their quality of life decrease dramatically.

The good news is, it is starting to change. College is becoming more affordable under the new Democratic Congress, gas prices will start to be adjusted as we start to put research dollars in to moving towards cellulosic ethanol, fast growing poplar trees, switch grass, things that are out there that we can get to. These are the types of things that are going to happen. Our manufacturers in Detroit have already caught on. We are seeing hybrid vehicles now that you can actually buy. We are starting to see Detroit want to compete again. And, guess what? Where was that invisible hand? Where was that market when we were creating cars that got 15 miles to the gallon? When they start competing with everybody else in the world, we will start being able to get to where we need to go.

This is an economy that can come back from this, but it will not come back with special interest policies that care nothing about what happens to the middle class, care nothing about the everyday things that people are going through.

And the last thing I would say on this is, when I listen to what President Bush says, it reminds me of the time, and I think about this, when his father went to the supermarket about 2 decades ago. And I remember this very clearly, I was in high school, and it was a big story on the news because the first President Bush was fascinated that they had scanners to scan the price. Now, every American in the country had seen that since the early 1970s. They had seen them in their local supermarkets for a long time. But the President was flabbergasted that that would happen.

My suggestion would be, there is a Safeway not far, the one I shop at down here, that the President get out there. He can take some security down there and he can go through there, and he can start to see what people are going through. On the way back, he needs to fill up. And then he might want to swing by and check the tuition costs at a university, even a State-run school. And then he would start to understand, saying things like: This economy is fine and that it is a little bit bumpy.

Losing your home is not bumpy. Not being able to go to college is not bumpy. Not having a retirement account that you can retire with dignity is not bumpy. That is a fundamental failure of leadership. It is a fundamental failure to have a national economic policy that benefits the vast majority. And, as Justice Brandeis so clearly told us at one point is, you can have a wonderfully strong democracy or you can have the concentration of wealth in the hands of few, but you cannot have both. Well, we tried their way. I would like to go back to having the wonderful democracy.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak on this great floor. I thank you to give a different interpretation of what is happening in America.
9:29 PM | Posted in , ,
A hot tip from a loyal reader led me to the youtube page of MN Majority and an interesting question: Are Minnesota Majority and Mary Kiffmeyer "9/11 Truthers"?

If you scroll down to the favorites section of the Minnesota Majority youtube page you will find nine videos from a user named UPRsupport. This user describes himself as a Ron Paul supporter (despite being from Poland) and believes that 9/11 was "clearly an inside job". While it wouldn't raise an eyebrow if MN Majority had one or maybe even two videos from this user but when you have NINE videos from a user it indicates some pretty heavy support of the views of that user.

With the heavy support that Ron Paul is receiving here in the 6th District, would it really be that surprising if Kiffmeyer and her pet project were front groups for the "Revolution"? There is still the lingering pain amongst 6th District Republicans over the loss of their delegates (which secretly might include the likes of Michele Bachmann) to Ron Paul supporters and it appears as though Kiffmeyer is capitalizing on that.

Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times

We have thus far taken bit by bit the information provided by Mr. James Taylor about his love of spinning sound science. While we are not entirely finished deconstructing Taylor and his lack of acceptance of the facts, it is time to highlight the honesty by which the global warming deniers in the room wanted to examine this issue.

This man stood up and expressed his disgust for An Inconvenient Truth. The worst was yet to come as he went on to make the claim that Al Gore is no better than Leni Riefenstahl, the famed Nazi propaganda film maker.

It takes a special kind of hatred of someone to refer to them as a Nazi and it essentially highlights the faux debate that deniers are seeking. There is no amount of information or evidence that could have been provided to this man which would convince him that global warming is real and is being ostensibly caused by man. If you are willing to go so far as to call Al Gore a Nazi, then you have made up your mind and the debate is essentially over. His hatred of Al Gore will always blind him and many other deniers to any of the facts that may come out.

The other classic trotted out by this man was that the big bad education system is indoctrinating our children. After this comment, the rest of the question and answer period was devoted to those liberal teachers who dare show An Inconvenient Truth in their classroom and how we are systematically destroying the ability of our students to debate. Now, mind you, this man has no evidence to back up such a claim and I would daresay that he hasn't set foot in a classroom in many years. It is this type of vitriol towards educators and education that consistently makes my job and the job of teachers everywhere more difficult.

I have NEVER used my position as a teacher to push any agenda, whether liberal or conservative, and have always encouraged my students to discover their beliefs for themselves. I want my students to think for themselves whether that thinking leads them to conservative thought or to liberal thought or somewhere in between. THAT is the difference between myself and this man and dare I say many other deniers. He does not truly want both sides covered. He wants his side covered and the other side dismissed as tantamount to Nazism.

Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times
6:42 PM | Posted in ,
With the 6th District DFL Convention fast approaching, Bob Olson is making one last ditch effort to convince delegates to support his candidacy. Unfortunately, it is too little too late and with a message that is much of the same you have to realize that this same old message didn't work before and has little hope of changing minds now.

In fact, I would posit that those who are left around you are in it less to see you win than they are to pick up a temporary paycheck. This is precisely the message I got at the Senate District 15 Convention when speaking with one of your staffers. After telling this staffer that Olson should have dropped out after the Anoka debate, the staffer indicated that he hoped he wouldn't drop out. Why, you might ask? The reason for the statement was because this staffer wants to continue to be employed.

I had no intention of bringing this unflattering fact up but it seems increasingly obvious that Olson is willing to take the entire ship down with him in the hopes it might get him the nomination. What he doesn't realize is that even those who now surround him are in it for the money and not to get who theyy believe is the right candidate elected.

The Olson email:

The following is a copy of a letter recently mailed from Bob Olson to the roughly 150 delegates to the CD-6 DFL Convention on April 26th. We thought you might like to see what he had to say.

Dear Delegate,
Congratulations on your election to the 6th Congressional District Convention on the 26th. This is an exciting time because we’re pulling together for a common purpose, to retire Michele Bachmann. The district needs it. The country needs it.

Looking to the convention, you want to know what defines me and what defines my opponent. That’s critical. You’re set on choosing the one who represents your concerns.

Despite what you may have been told, giving up core Democratic values does not make us more electable. If we trade away our values in search of victory, we act in fear. And we end up with neither values nor victory.

My name is Bob Olson, a tax attorney, community bank owner and the founder of the American Sustainable Energy Council. I’m ready to make the difference you’re hungry for, to be your representative in Congress.

Why me?

I have experience helping people pay for college, pay for their homes, and secure their futures. I know how to change the tax law to save middle class families being drowned by trickle down economics. I am the only candidate that has a plan to get us out of this mortgage crisis and fix this economy.
By eliminating our dependence on foreign oil, by leveraging sustainable energy technologies, we can create jobs, boost the economy, preserve our national security and save the environment.

We need a sizable infusion of loan guarantee funds for sustainable energy – like the REA in the 1930s and 40s – and tax incentives that benefit middle and working class people.

By making the right decisions now, we can end our dependence on oil, gas and coal in 15-to-20 years. We can move faster to a sustainable economy than we moved from the horse and buggy to the automobile a hundred years ago.

But only if we stand on our progressive values.

I’ve never wavered on these issues. I have been against this war in Iraq since day one – the best way to support our troops is to bring them home. I am pro-choice no matter who I am talking to. We do not have to compromise to elect a Democrat in Minnesota’s 6th District. Amy Klobuchar proved that.

Progressive means healthcare for all. It means giving everyone choices. It means giving the middle class a break from what benefits only the rich. It means human rights for all Americans.

That’s where I stand. Stand with me on April 26th and we can turn this country around.

Bob Olson

Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times
While I hate to wonder about the education Mr. Taylor received, it does boggle the mind in this particular segment (number five in our series) to hear him mistake the word frequency for the word intensity. Now it is understandable if Mr. Taylor wants to ignore the findings of Al Gore and the vast majority of scientists throughout the world but if he is going to try to discredit their evidence on the INTENSITY of hurricanes he really ought to use the proper words. Given that Gore never related the FREQUENCY of hurricanes to global warming you will find Taylor using a classic strawman argument to prove a point that was never in question.

"The scientific evidence has piled on high against the theory that hurricanes are increasing as a result of global warming."

You are right about one thing, Mr. Taylor, that science has not accepted the theory that hurricanes are increasing as a result of global warming. However, the problem is that Al Gore NEVER SAID THAT! What he did say was that hurricane intensity was increasing.

Mr. Taylor goes to an article by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to prove his point. Now I don't know how many times we will have to point out that Mr. Taylor is cherry picking from a source that accepts anthroprogenic global warming, but here we go again. In its frequently asked questions about global warming, NOAA says outright that there is "no scientific debate" on the subject.

Setting up his strawman, Taylor reads from the article believing that he has effectively destroyed his strawman. Unfortunately, that same article supports the actual statement of Gore saying that the intensity of hurricanes is increasing due to warming ocean waters.

Hurricanes need warm ocean waters to strengthen and sustain them. Hurricanes do not form unless water temperatures are at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to create atmospheric convection that casts moisture 10 miles up into the atmosphere. Ocean waters were generally two to three degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average during the 2005 season, which favored stronger hurricanes.

Additionally, an article from 2006 indicates that anthroprogenic global warming has contributed to increases in ocean temperatures.

The region of the tropical Atlantic where many hurricanes originate has warmed by several tenths of a degree Celsius over the 20th century, and new climate model simulations suggest that human activity, such as increasing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, may contribute significantly to this warming.

The rest of the video consists of Taylor building up his strawman with statements from other renowned hurricane experts refuting the idea of increasing frequency. It is impossible to dispute these facts but important to point out once again that the point made by Al Gore and An Inconvenient Truth was that the intensity was increasing and not the frequency. Thus, these additional quotes become entirely irrelevant to the debate.

Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times
In the fourth piece of our continuing series to examine the Heartland Institute's continued denial of anthroprogenic global warming, we find James Taylor using evidence of climate change to disprove climate change. It is yet another example of Taylor picking one piece of evidence that is even in the slightest way contrary while at the same time ignoring the mountains of evidence provided by a magazine he himself deems "sound science".

While I am not entirely sure how you use evidence that something IS happening to prove that it ISN'T happening but here we go:

Let us for a moment examine a couple of key sentences:

"Sound science has proved that global warming is not causing any such recession of Himalayan glaciers."

Really? Mr. Taylor used an article from National Geographic in order to prove his point so I went to National Geographic given that he has termed this magazine "sound science". What you find is that either National Geographic has been taken over by a bunch of liberals or Mr. Taylor has cherry picked an article that suits his argument. First, the magazine put out a Global Warming Fast Facts piece last year that essentially supports the notion held by the IPCC and all but ignores the evidence provided by the Heartland Institute.

As to the claim made by Taylor regarding the Himalayas, a search of the same magazine he uses yields articles that show climate change affecting glaciers in many parts of the Himalyas.
The other sentence in question:

"National Geographic Magazine reported on September 11, 2006, in an article ironically enough entitled Some Glaciers growing due to Climate Change"

Mr. Taylor, are you really trying to tell us that an article discussing the "regionally varying effects" of climate change proves that anthroprogenic climate change isn't real?

This is now the second instance where Taylor tries to use evidence from scientists who believe in anthroprogenic climate change to disprove anthroprogenic climate change. Someone should really tell Mr. Taylor if there is so much "sound science" refuting climate change, then he should probably stop using evidence from scientists who believe in that climate change.

Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times
7:22 PM | Posted in ,
Collin Peterson was on the floor of the House of Representatives last week to once again seek an extension to the Farm Bill so that he and the rest of the conference committee can work out the final details of the legislation. Over at Minnesota Monitor there is an interesting story about some harsh words spoken by Mr. Peterson about the Farm Bill and its extension.

While some Democrats dismiss Peterson as little more than a conservative in Democrat clothing, I would argue that he represents exactly what the Democratic Party should represent. A diversity of opinion with ostensibly common goals for the future of this country. He is the perfect fit for his district and does amazing work for those constituents. I recall the floods in the Red River Valley in 1997 as Governor Arne Carlson was consumed by fishing rights on Lake Mille Lacs, Collin Peterson was springing to action to help the people affected by the disaster.

The farm bill maintains and strengthens the safety net that helps farmers and ranchers stay productive and competitive. It also includes important new investments including $9.5 billion for nutrition programs that are even more important today as food prices continue to climb. It contains $4 billion for conservation programs that will help protect our land, even as crop reduction soars; $1.2 billion for renewable energy programs that will help us address the rising cost of gasoline and help us get independent of foreign oil; and $1.3 billion for new initiatives and programs to support fruit and vegetable producers, including new programs to help socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers and ranchers.

All these important investments will be lost if we don't have time to finish this conference. This short extension will allow us to finish our work and bring back to the House a conference report that meets the needs of all of American agriculture and the consumers.

Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times
6:53 PM | Posted in ,
This past week on the floor of the House of Representatives, Keith Ellison spoke about our continued policy of ignoring those countries we deem as unworthy. It boggles the mind that we would pick and choose even amongst the "evil" nations of the world whom we will engage in dialogue. While some will take this speech as appeasement of the enemy, I would challenge them to show me a situation in which ignoring the problem has subsequently solved the problem.

Ellison makes a good point:

Dialogue is a tool that can help us stabilize the world, bring peace to millions and millions of people all over the world. Dialogues should not be used as some sort of a gift. It doesn't make sense for any nation to say capitulate to our demands, and then we will talk to you. The very purpose of negotiation is to say, let's talk, and the first agenda item could be serious problems we have with one another.

But the start is talking, unconditional talking, talking with a clear agenda in mind, talking with no illusions about differences. But talking, nonetheless, is something that I think we need, and we need it now.

Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times
We often hear that if you make a claim often enough and loud enough there will come a point when that claim becomes truth. James Taylor has mastered this technique and seeks to solidify his "truth" for an audience of mostly willing participants. In the next post in our series (which actually occurs before the video in the first post) we examine another claim made by Mr. Taylor about the Kilimanjaro reference in the film by Al Gore. By the by, as an educator I would say that Mr. Taylor is an absolutely horrendous teacher due to that fact that he flies through his information at such a speed (especially given the nature of that information) that I daresay not a single person in that room retained the details. Perhaps, though, that is the genius of Mr. Taylor for all you need to know as a global warming denier is that this man cited some article that said something that just might question anthroprogenic global warming.

Once again, I present to you Mr. Taylor:

At the beginning, Mr. Taylor once again makes the claim that the Earth has warmed 0.6 degrees since the end of the Little Ice Age. However, if you visit the Goddard Institute for Space Studies you will find that the Earth has actually warmed 0.8 degrees in the past century with 0.6 degrees of that warming coming in the past three decades. Given that this information is around 2 years old, you have to wonder why a man so interested in the science would have ignored this data.

Global warming is now 0.6°C in the past three decades and 0.8°C in the past century. It is no longer correct to say that "most global warming occurred before 1940". More specifically, there was slow global warming, with large fluctuations, over the century up to 1975 and subsequent rapid warming of almost 0.2°C per decade.

Taylor goes on to reference an article he found in Nature Magazine about the glacier found on Mount Kilimanjaro. Given that Mr. Taylor uses Nature Magazine and must hold its findings in high regard I decided to do a little experiment. If you go to their website and do a search for "Global Warming" it yields 1,744 results. I would challenge anyone to go to through those results (subscription required) and find a majority of articles that challenge anthroprogenic global warming. If Mr. Taylor and others claim that the majority of science refutes global warming it shouldn't very difficult to make such a collection of articles.

The article he does use, "African Ice Under Wraps" by Betsy Mason does indeed discuss the idea that deforestation is the cause for the shrinking Kilimanjaro ice cap. However, it is unclear whether this entirely discounts global warming as Mr. Taylor tries to assert or, more likely, that this is not the most pertinent example that could be found.

After hearing this, the friend I attended the Denial Forum with made a good point. If farmers cutting down trees can have an affect on the climate of a mountain, then why is it so difficult to believe that humans all over the planet can have an affect on the climate of the globe?

The folks over at Real Climate do an excellent job of fisking this claim as well:

The Heartland Institute's propagation of the notion that the Kilimanjaro glacier retreat has been proved to be due to deforestation is even more egregious. They quote "an article published in Nature" by Betsy Mason ("African ice under wraps," Nature, 24 November, 2003) which contains the statement "Although it's tempting to blame the ice loss on global warming, researchers think that deforestation of the mountain's foothills is the more likely culprit." Elsewhere, Heartland refers to this as a "study." The "study" is in reality no scientific study at all, but a news piece devoted almost entirely to Euan Nesbit's proposal to save the Kilimanjaro glacier by wrapping it in a giant tarp. The article never says who the "experts" are, nor does it quote any scientific studies supporting the claim. The Mason news article is what Crichton quotes as "peer reviewed research" proving that it is deforestation, not global warming, which is causing the Kilimanjaro glaciers to retreat. (George Monbiot's article in The Guardian documents a similar case of systematic misrepresentation of glacier data by skeptics.)

Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times
5:21 PM | Posted in
This will be the first in a multi post address of the "debate" that occurred after the one hour viewing of An Inconvenient Truth. James Taylor returned to the stage in order to "shed light" on some of the issues mentioned by Al Gore. Mind you, there was no one allowed on the stage who could have challenged the assertions made by Mr. Taylor which is precisely why this was in no way an honest discussion of global warming.

Stop for a moment and think about what Mr. Taylor just attempted to accomplish. His entire argument from the start has been that ALL of the science refutes the concept of anthroprogenic global warming. Yet, he is using the work of two scientists who believe in anthroprogenic global warming but are studying what other factors are in play at Mount Kilimanjaro.

In fact, even though Taylor cherry picks the sentences he feels suit his argument best, if you go and read the entire article you will find that the two scientists in question do not claim, as Mr. Taylor does, that global warming has nothing to do with the ice loss on Kilimanjaro. Rather, they have this to say:

Year-to-year variability and longer-term trends in the seasonal distribution of moisture are influenced by the surface temperatures of the tropical oceans, which, in turn, are influenced by global climate. On many tropical glaciers, both the direct impact of global warming and the indirect one—changes in atmospheric moisture concentration—are responsible for the observed mass losses. The mere fact that ice is disappearing sheds no light on which mechanism is responsible.

The fact that the loss of ice on Mount Kilimanjaro cannot be used as proof of global warming does not mean that the Earth is not warming. There is ample and conclusive evidence that Earth's average temperature has increased in the past 100 years, and the decline of mid- and high-latitude glaciers is a major piece of evidence. But the special conditions on Kilimanjaro make it unlike the higher-latitude mountains, whose glaciers are shrinking because of rising atmospheric temperatures. Mass- and energy-balance considerations and the shapes of features all point in the same direction, suggesting an insignificant role for atmospheric temperature in the fluctuations of Kilimanjaro's ice.

It is possible, though, that there is an indirect connection between the accumulation of greenhouse gases and Kilimanjaro's disappearing ice: There is strong evidence of an association over the past 200 years or so between Indian Ocean surface temperatures and the atmospheric circulation and precipitation patterns that either feed or starve the ice on Kilimanjaro. These patterns have been starving the ice since the late 19th century—or perhaps it would be more accurate to say simply reversing the binge of ice growth in the third quarter of the 19th century. Any contribution of rising greenhouse gases to this circulation pattern necessarily emerged only in the last few decades; hence it is responsible for at most a fraction of the recent decline in ice and a much smaller fraction of the total decline.

Interesting that Mr. Taylor doesn't add in the evidence provided by these scientists indicating possible indirect connections to anthroprogenic global warming. If he was truly interested in the science as he claims he would not have been cherrypicking his evidence so clearly. For other, more detailed rebuttals, you can check out Real Climate.
On April 17th, roughly 80 people assembled into the auditorium at Elk River High School to hear what was touted as a balanced presentation of the global warming "debate". Unfortunately, both the organizers and the presenter were deniers and thus controlled the flow and direction of the discussion. The following is the introduction of the presentation given by James Taylor of the Heartland Institute. We will have a deeper examination of Heartland and its "nonpartisan" nature of denying negative effects of smoking as well as their connection to the oil industry but for now we focus on this introduction.

The following is the introduction given by Mr. Taylor:

In his remarks he makes the claim that temperatures had been 2-3 degrees warmer than today without giving any explanation of where he came by such a figure. It becomes difficult to refute such a claim without knowing how he came to such a conclusion. However, it appears he was using a regional climate reading and attributing that to the globe as a whole. At Real Climate, there is a good refutation of such claims.

As part of the presentation, Taylor discusses how he will be showing roughly an hour of the Al Gore film, An Inconvenient Truth. I asked Mr. Taylor after the forum was over if he had received permission to show the film and he seemed a bit befuddled until a female supporter jumped in and declared that because it was a free event they need not seek permission. His final comment to my question about copyright was "Al Gore has enough money".

While I am no expert on copyright law, I did find the website of Swank Motion Pictures who own the rights to the film. In order to find out more about whether there is a potential copyright violation here I emailed the group with the following message:

To whom it may concern,

On April 17th, 2008 I attended a global warming forum in Elk River, Minnesota, put on by James Taylor of the Heartland Institute and some area legislators. At that event they showed an hour of your film An Inconvenient Truth. When I asked Mr. Taylor if they had received permission he claimed he did not need permission due to the nature of the event and that there was no charge for attendance.

I am curious as to whether this may be an infringement of your copyright?

Here is my question and the response given by Mr. Taylor. I apologize for the video but the audio is clear.

Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times
Senator Mike Jungbauer introduced the global warming denial tour in Elk River, Minnesota. While much of his speech centered around his own experiences in denying global warming while accepting whole heartedly any science that might shed even the slightest doubt on the phenomenon, what was particularly interesting was the constituency Jungbauer claimed to never think about working for in the state legislature. What might that constituency be? Gays? Liberals? Minorities? Nope, Mr. Jungbauer NEVER thought that he would be working for the poor when he got to the legislature.

Most people will not be shocked to learn that a Republican would never consider working for the poor but to hear it straight from the horses mouth sure does make one wonder if Republicans will be just coming out and admitting they only work for the wealthy rather than trying to hide it behind rhetoric.

Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times