10:28 AM | Posted in
Eight years ago today, I helped to bring our first little liberal into the world. While Mrs. Muse would probably try to claim most of the credit, I am fairly certain that I did most of the work. Actually, the story leading to her birth tends to get me into hot water because in the last two months of the pregnancy, I was touring around Europe. In my defense, the trip was planned well in advance of learning the little liberal was on the way.

At 8 years old, she is probably a little too smart for her own good. From an ability to read that is beyond her years to a curiosity for all things in this world, I am impressed by her on a daily basis. My only problem is that recently she has been corrupted by certain individuals into supporting Hillary Clinton for President. Apart from that little character flaw, we are proud of our oldest little liberal.

Happy Birthday, Little Liberal!

With the DFL Convention fast approaching and Al Franken being beaten down from both the left and right of the political spectrum, one has to wonder if this isn't the perfect opportunity for a Draft Ciresi movement.

While some see Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer as the alternative to Franken, I have yet to fully embrace his candidacy for a variety of reasons. Chief amongst those reasons is that he could very well be more liberal than myself and the pragmatist deep inside me wonders if he could compete against the faux moderate in Norm Coleman. Don't get me wrong, Nelson-Pallmeyer has a wonderful story to tell and he never ceases to inspire with his stump speech but I cannot help but believe that his message will not play well in Northern Minnesota and onto the Range.

Mike Ciresi offers a third path in this United States Senate race. In all of my analysis of this three way contest, I have found Ciresi and Nelson-Pallmeyer to be excellent candidates on the issues progressives care most about. The difference is, though, that Ciresi provides a much more mainstream progressivism than that of Nelson-Pallmeyer.

I stand by my previous statements that a Franken candidacy will lead me to cast a vote for someone outside of the Democratic Party but urge the delegates attending the state convention to rethink this endorsement and draft Ciresi so that it doesn't come to that.

Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times
7:12 PM | Posted in ,
According to a new report out by a group known as the Commonwealth Fund, Minnesota ranks 23rd overall in the area of health care for our children. The organization uses indicators such as access, quality, and cost to evaluate the children's health care systems used by each of the states.

While you can make your judgments about what this data actually means, for me this report highlights the need for expanded access to health care for our children. Unfortunately, those efforts have been consistently thwarted by forces more concerned with saving a buck than they are with making sure the highest possible percentage of children are covered.
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9:47 PM | Posted in
Perusing the internets this evening, I ran across this photo taken by Charles Dharapak for the May 28th day in pictures. My first thought: can't you get kicked out of the military for doing that?

Caption Away People...

The Associated Press has an article today describing the growing power of a group of House Democrats known as the "Blue Dogs". With the recent victories in Louisiana and Mississippi of more conservative members of the Democratic Party, this organization is swelling its ranks and finding its influence growing.

Tanner and "Blue Dog" Democrats — conservative fiscal hawks "choked blue" by their party's liberal flank — are building their own political operation to propel like-minded candidates to victory this fall. They're also quietly raising their own influence within a party personified by liberals like Sens. Edward Kennedy and presidential candidate Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In a year when Republicans are facing an exceedingly tough political climate, the small but determined band of centrists sees an opportunity to turn more GOP districts over to Democrats.

"The Blue Dog philosophy is catching on in a lot of the country," Tanner said in an interview in the Capitol. "The American people are looking for pragmatists rather than ideologically driven candidates, and they want people who pledge allegiance to the country first and to a political party second."

Here in the 6th District of Minnesota we have one of those Blue Dog philosophers running against one of the most egregiously partisan politicians currently occupying the House of Representatives.

Can Elwyn Tinklenberg defeat Michele Bachmann with the help of his Blue Dog credentials? It certainly cannot hurt him in a district that is conservative in nature but that has also given support to the likes of Jesse Ventura and Amy Klobuchar. By continuing to remind the people of this district that Bachmann has taken stances against SCHIP, against the 21st Century GI Bill, and against a whole host of other pieces of legislation that garnered broad bipartisan support while at the same time positioning himself as the common sense candidate he has a legitimate shot at taking down Bachmann. However, in order to do those things he is going to have to run the campaign of his life. It is going to take not only a lot of money but also a considerable amount of footwork in order to compensate for the free publicity Bachmann gets every time she abuses her franking privilege.

In another development that should help Tinklenberg, union members have begun mobilizing to help get the word out about the need for a change in representation in the 6th District. While I have my disagreements with some of the positions taken by Mr. Tinklenberg, there is little doubt that he has a unique opportunity during this election season to turn the 6th District of Minnesota into Blue Dog country.

10:12 PM | Posted in ,
Earlier this month, Ollie Ox over at Bluestem Prairie broke the story about the new anti-depressive slogan used by the National Republican Congressional Committee. That story just keeps coming back to haunt the Republicans:

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7:09 PM | Posted in ,
On my return home this past weekend for the graduation of a nephew, I was once again thrown in the middle of the great nickname debate over the use of "Fighting Sioux". It truly amazes me that not a visit goes by without someone bringing up the use of the nickname and discussing passionately one side or the other. To be perfectly honest, I am ambivalent about the whole issue and am a little taken aback as to the people that find the issue to be of any importance at all. When there are issues of war, education, poverty, health care, and others out there to worry about there are too many people worrying about whether or not a university should be using Indian nicknames. Yet, when pulled into these debates (as I simply cannot constrain myself) I am amazed at the arguments used by those who support keeping the name. They seem so lacking in any understanding of history or in the continuing fight of a group of people to rebuild and retain their cultural identity.

"They should be honored that we use their name for a prestigious University."

Well, first of all many Indians aren't honored by their heritage being trivialized by the very people who have spent the past 500 years taking more of their land, bringing virulent disease, and demanding that they give up the very heritage we now purport to honor. Second, I am not entirely certain you or anyone else gets to dictate who should and should not be honored by something. Finally, it might be more of an honor if their entire culture wasn't summed up by the word "fighting" as if that is the only characteristic about them worth highlighting.

"All they really want is money."

HOW DARE THEY! The audacity of a group of people wanting a share of the profits off the use of their name is unthinkable.

"But, Sioux isn't even their name so what do they care."

While that may be true, do you really want to bring up the fact that the name you are currently using for the University of North Dakota is nothing more than a slur used by another tribe to describe the Dakota/Lakota/Nakota? Also, even if it is not their true tribal name we all know who you are referring to and in that case it becomes their name. Is it any different than naming a team any number of other nicknames given to other minorities? That isn't their name, so why should they care?

"We were the stronger culture so they need to just get over it."

Apparently, from what I learned this weekend, if you are able to defeat another group it gives you perpetual license over their cultural identity no matter how much they wish you would stop using that identity. Also, why is it that so many Americans demand we get over history when that history is less than pretty but demand we celebrate history when that history is sunshine and lollipops? It is quite easy for the victor to "get over it" but I daresay that if these people were on the losing end there would be no "get over it" in their lexicon. I will leave it to another post to debunk the other patently false premises of this statement.

Incidentally, it doesn't really matter what you call them because they are going to always be better than the Minnesota Golden Goofers!
9:04 PM | Posted in ,
H/T to Dump Bachmann:

I find it completely unconscionable that Bachmann would continue to support the rhetoric of war in Iraq but refuse to support those troops on their return to the United States. For more information on representatives whose actions show support for our troops rather than empty rhetoric you can check out Tim Walz over at Bluestem Prairie and Senator Jim Webb of Virginia.

6th District candidate, Elwyn Tinklenberg, has a post up about the vote cast by Michele Bachmann. To be honest, though, if I were Tinklenberg I would be doing more than putting up a blog post. He should currently be screaming from the rooftops about this blatant vote against the future of our servicemen and women.
12:02 AM | Posted in
My wife is one of the most non-political people I have ever met in my life. It makes for an interesting relationship as I talk politics and she roles her eyes and refers to me as a nerd. She votes, but beyond that she doesn't really get into any discussion of politics. However, with the emergence of Hillary Clinton she seems to have gained a new interest in the topic and is under the delusional belief that there is a snowballs chance in hell that Clinton could yet gain the Democratic nomination.

I was always under the impression that I had influenced her enough and educated her enough to vote in much the same way I do. Unfortunately, that influence seems to have been little more than a myth as I come to find out that she is one of these crazy folk that will not support the Democratic candidate if that candidate is not Hillary Clinton. She is going so far as to say that she will be supporting John McCain over Barack Obama.

If anyone knows of a support group or a good marriage counselor that I could call, let me know. Also, if you have any advice on dealing with this tense situation I could really use some at this point.
With the end of a legislative session there begins an election campaign in Minnesota to see who will control the State House of Representatives. As of now there are 85 DFL members and 49 Republican members which, unlike the Minnesota Senate, is just short of a veto proof majority. Obviously, the Republican Party will be fighting hard to keep that from happening just as hard as we should be fighting to make sure that it does happen. Right now there are three districts right in this area that are difficult pick ups but have Democrats running in them with the potential to make it happen. All they need is for people to help!

Steve Andrews (District 16B):
In perhaps the most difficult district in the state for a DFLer to win, Steve Andrews has a unique opportunity to show the people of 16B that they no longer have to be represented by the divisive and destructive wing of the conservative movement. Mary Kiffmeyer may have won the Republican endorsement but in all likelihood, Mark Olson will run as a so called Independent Republican. With this situation there is the potential for these two ultra conservative candidates to split the heavy Republican vote leaving Mr. Andrews to sweep in to office with Democrats and truly independent voters. I am confident that if given this chance, Andrews can show the people of 16B that he can be an effective voice for them in the legislature.

Andrews, though, will need the support and foot work of every single person in his district. Having talked to Andrews and knowing that he is passionate about education and reforming the way we invest in education, I implore educators in the area to get in touch with Mr. Andrews and help him so that they can finally be represented by a friend of education rather than a representative bent on destroying public education.

Rob Jacobs (District 14A):
A little closer to home is Rob Jacobs running against Dan Severson. While Severson is prone to using wedge issues in order to gain support, Jacobs is not backing down from the fight. He is mounting a one man letter writing campaign focusing on bread and butter issues that will hopefully resonate with voters concerned with economic concerns.

Joanne Dorsher (District 15A):
I haven't had the opportunity to cover Mrs. Dorsher in any detail, but was able to meet and briefly wish her luck at the Senate District 15 Convention. Having worked on the St. Cloud School Board for 7 years, she offers a wealth of education experience that her opponent does not have. While some might label this a safe district for Steve Gottwalt, it should be noted that Tarryl Clark carried the district. Also, given the way that Gottwalt treats those people that disagree with him, Dorsher should be able to highlight her ability to work with even those people that aren't in 100% agreement. I am hoping, in the coming months to reach out to Mrs. Dorsher to find ways that this blog can help her get her message out to the voters in the area.

All of these candidates need our help given that they are all in challenging areas that will likely see only minimal support from the state DFL Party. So, it is incumbent upon us locally to find ways to assist them. Whether that help is leg work, financial, or even writing a letter to the editor it is time to mobilize and bring these three seats out of the divisive wilderness and in to a world of common sense leadership.
5:38 PM | Posted in ,
Over at a site entitled Democrats Work, there is currently a contest going on in which General Wesley Clark will be visiting a congressional district to do a community service project with the Democrat running for office in that district. Here in Minnesota there are two candidates from which to choose: Ashwin Madia and Elwyn Tinklenberg. One has to wonder why there is no Steve Sarvi choice. So, for whom will you vote?

Will you vote for Madia running in the 3rd district or Tinklenberg running in the 6th district? While I would love to get some coverage from Clark in the 6th district the reality is that the 3rd district is far more winnable. Given that reality, it would seem far more useful to throw your support to Madia who is going to need to run an impressive campaign in order to take this seat. On the other hand, a figure such as Wesley Clark might play well in the 6th district and energize a Democratic electorate that seems to be fairly ambivalent about Tinklenberg.

The four main goals of Democrats Work:

  • Make tangible contributions to increase the visibility of Democrats at the local level. We want to show our neighbors that Democrats get things done, making improvements that people can point to and say: "The Democrats did that for this community." We associate Democrats with service so when there is a need in the community, people will say, “Call the Democrats, they always have people who can help.”
  • Engage the grassroots during non-election time to keep folks active and involved. Instead of asking people to get involved every two or four years, we tap into that energy year-round and “keep the band together.”
  • Reach out to people who might not otherwise get involved in purely “political” activities, but share our values. Not everyone wants to hand out campaign literature or phone bank or even wants to work for a particular candidate, but they are willing to paint a school or clean up a park with their friends.
  • Build a unified stable of motivated and easily mobilized volunteers who can help candidates win elections.
    Go and vote for the candidate of your choice here!

    I encourage you to use the comment section as a way to convince myself and others who the better Minnesota choice would be for a Wesley Clark visit.

    Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times
    9:56 PM | Posted in
    As Ted Kennedy has learned that he has a brain tumor of the worst kind, I find myself pondering the appropriate response to the suffering of others. Senator Kennedy is a polarizing figure in the general political populace. He is loathed by some and loved by others but given this new situation what should we expect in the way of reaction out of those who would typically despise the man?

    At the death of both Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford I felt sadness at the passing of two important members of our country and influential figures in our history. I may not have supported what they stood for, it was nonetheless an appropriate response to the suffering of others.

    Unfortunately, it seems as though right here in the Minnesota blogosphere there are a couple people who do not hold to that principle. Over at Roosh Five, the blogger by the name of "JRoosh" indicates that the signs of a stroke are typical behavior of Senator Kennedy. While this is perhaps somewhat insensitive given the unknowns of the situation up to that point, it is by far the less serious of the two examples I have seen and I was not even going to broach the subject until I read what I read today. Over at Lake Minnetonka Liberty, a blogger by the name of "Admiral" wrote perhaps the most vile piece I have seen on any topic.

    From the piece:

    That's right, I don't give a damned about that privileged puke. If he lives through this term, it'll be 52 years we've had to endure that drunken hack that really hasn't done much of anything useful, and gets by riding the family coat tails. Talk about a career politician, time for you to check out, Teddy.

    From "Mafia Joe" to that liberal fruit Bobby, to JFK himself (although he did have some good points about him). And let's not forget the imbecile Mike, pulled a "D-OH!" while downhill skiing, right in to a tree! R.I.P. Then there's the genius himself, RFK, Jr. What a dope! He needs to be committed to a psychiatric hospital. Speaking of psychiatric hospitals, lest we forget Rose. Also known as, "Lobotomy Rose, The Retard."

    The question I have to ask is if it is really necessary at this point, when the man is going to be dealing with a horrific situation to write something as hateful as this? To not only go after a man who you disagree with politically in such a manner is disgusting in and of itself but to then extend that out and go after a relative who is handicapped shows a lack of character the likes of which few have seen.

    That being said, I do not believe that this attitude represents even a significant minority of any particular group as I have read several respectful posts by people who would not typically support Senator Kennedy (see here and here). However, disgusting behavior such as this needs to be called out no matter who they are.

    Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times
    7:32 PM | Posted in
    Ever since attending the Global Warming Denial Forum in Elk River, I have tried to stay current on the activities of the deniers around the country. While I have tried to debunk their arguments using the available scientific research, I also have to recognize that I am not a scientist and am not qualified to debunk these arguments with in depth analysis. That level of analysis is better left to experts such as RealClimate and DeSmogBlog. However, I do have the ability to do is fight back against the public relations war put on by the deniers.

    That being said, the denial machine has recently put out a list of supposed "scientists" deemed qualified to debunk global warming. Given the complete smackdown that previous lists have received, I am exceedingly skeptical about this particular list. However, it is very difficult for one person to sift through over 31,000 names to determine who really does have the credentials necessary to evaluate global climate change.

    I am posing a significant challenge to the readers of this blog and all people passionate about exposing global warming deniers. Below are listed the names of 337 people from the State of Minnesota that have supposedly signed on to this position as experts or scientists qualified to speak on the complex science of climate change. While I will be attempting to check in to these names to verify who they are, if you have any information to offer on any of the following names please send me an email (political_muse@hotmail.com) or put your information in the comment section. With every new update of information I will repost this message so that people can see who is signing this petition and how qualified they really are.

    This is an ambitious project, but if we can debunk (at the very least) the supposed expert deniers here in our own state perhaps other states will follow suit with their own campaign. These people are entitled to their opinion about global warming but they certainly are not entitled to make themselves on a level playing field with those people who have spent years studying this phenomenon.

    Petition Signers in Minnesota

    337 Signers Out of 31,072 Total in US

    Terry D. Ackman,
    Bryan C. Adams,
    Paul Bradley Addis, PhD,
    Ronald R. Adkins, PhD,
    Gene P. Andersen,
    Ingrid Anderson, PhD,
    Ken Anderson,
    Nathan Anderson,
    B. M. Anose, PhD,
    Dana Arndt,
    Orv B. Askeland,
    Bryan Baab,
    Ronald R. Bach, PhD,
    Paul A. Bailly, PhD,
    A. Richard Baldwin, PhD,
    Douglas W. Barr,
    Blaine W. Bartz,
    Milton Bauer,
    Wolfgang J. Baumann, PhD,
    Brian P. Beecken, PhD,
    Richard Behrens, PhD,
    Andrew H. Bekkala, PhD,
    David M. Benforado,
    Jody A. Berquist, DVM,
    Jack N. Birk,
    Rolland Laws Blake, PhD,
    Rodney L. Bleifull, PhD,
    William R. Block,
    Todd E. Boehne,
    Clay B. Bollin,
    Maurice M. Bowers,
    Susan H. Bowers, MD,
    Raymond J. Brandt,
    Arvid J. Braun,
    E. J. Bregmann,
    Charles W. Bretzman,
    Roderick B. Brown,
    Allan D. Brown,
    Stephen M. Brzica, MD,
    Richard L. Buchheit,
    Donald Burke,
    Mary E. Butchert,
    James Calcamuggio,
    Elwood F. Caldwell, PhD,
    Herbert L. Cantrill, MD,
    David Carlson,
    Dave Carlson,
    Orwin Lee Carter, PhD,
    M. Castro,
    Victor M. Castro,
    Jim Caton,
    Eugene Chao,
    John W. Chester,
    Terry R. Christensen, PhD,
    Arnold A. Cohen, PhD,
    Mark W. Colchin,
    Professor Cole, PhD,
    Mariette Cole, PhD,
    James A. Collinge, MD,
    Kent W. Conway,
    Robert Kent Crookston, PhD,
    Donald D. Dahlstrom, MD,
    Moses M. David, PhD,
    Thomas Jonathan Delberg, PhD,
    Fletcher G. Driscoll, PhD,
    Terrance W. Duffy,
    Wayne D. Dunshee,
    Dedi Ekasa,
    Wayne G. Eklund,
    James H. Elleson,
    Paul John Ellis, PhD*,
    Richard F. Emslander, MD,
    Arthur E. Englund,
    Douglas J. Erbeck, PhD,
    John Gerhard Erickson, PhD,
    Jack A. Eriksen,
    John A. Eriksen,
    Lee M. Espelan, MD,
    Robert W. Everett, PhD,
    Craig T. Evers, PhD,
    Michael Fairbourne,
    Eric E. Fallstrom,
    Homer David Fausch, PhD,
    Daniel A. Feeney, DVM,
    Keith Fellbaum,
    Herbert John Fick,
    Stephen D. Fisher,
    Eugene Flaumenhaft, PhD,
    Eugene Flaumenhaft, PhD,
    Carolyn R. Fletcher, DVM,
    Dean G. Fletcher,
    Terrence F. Flower,
    William R. Forder,
    David William Fox, PhD,
    Melvin Frenzel,
    Melchior Freund*,
    Frank D. Fryer,
    John Gaffrey,
    Mary Carol Gannon, PhD,
    Frank Germann,
    Harold E. Goetzman,
    Lawrence Eugene Goodman, PhD,
    Max Green,
    Gregory Greer,
    Troy Gregory,
    Carl L. Gruber, PhD,
    Sam Gullickson,
    Kelleen M. Gutzmann,
    Jeff Hallerman,
    Arthur Hamburgen,
    George Charles Hann,
    Steven Hanson,
    Jonathan Hartzler, PhD,
    Peter Havanac,
    Dean J. Hawkinson, DVM,
    Neil R. Helming,
    Tara Henrichsen,
    Ryan Henrichsen,
    Donald W. Herrick, MD,
    Fred G. Hewitt, PhD,
    Frederick George Hewitt, PhD,
    David A. Himmerich,
    Charles D. Hoyle, PhD,
    Mark D. Huschke,
    Valentin M. Izraelev, PhD,
    Wayne D. Jacobson,
    Rodney Jasmer,
    Mark T. Jaster,
    Jean Jenderlco,
    Timothy Berg Jensen, PhD,
    Robert P. Jeub,
    Scott Johnson,
    Richard W. Joos, PhD,
    Frank D. Kapps, MD,
    Michael Peter Kaye,
    Charles Keal,
    Allan H. Kehr,
    Patrick L. Kelly,
    Paul T. Kelly,
    Frank W. Kemp, MD,
    James L. Kennedy,
    Bridget R. King, DVM,
    Donald W. Klass,
    William P. Klinzing, PhD,
    Roger C. Klockziem, PhD,
    Charles Kenneth Knox, PhD,
    David Kohlstedt, PhD,
    Richard A. Kowalsky,
    Michael S. Kuhlmann,
    Joseph M. Kuphal,
    John J. Lacey Jr.,
    Robert F. Lark,
    Ashley V. Larson,
    Allen Latham,
    Wayne Adair Lea, PhD,
    R. Douglas Learmon,
    Scott A. Lechtenberg,
    Brian W. Lee, PhD,
    Bruce Legan, PhD,
    Ernest K. Lehman,
    Mike Lehman,
    E. K. Lehmann,
    Ernest K. Lehmann,
    Wendell L. Leno,
    Roland E. Lentz,
    Donald A. Letourneau,
    Benjamin Shuet Kin Leung, PhD,
    Wyne R. Long,
    Donald Hurrell Lucast, PhD,
    Mariann Lukan,
    Rufus Lumry, PhD,
    Richard G. Lunzer, MD,
    William Macalla,
    Mac Macalla,
    James D. MacGibbon, MD,
    Jay Mackie,
    John Maclennan,
    John R. Manspeaker,
    Jean A. Marcy-Jenderko,
    William N. Marr,
    W. N. Mayer,
    WT Mac McCalla,
    John McCauley,
    Tom McNamara,
    William H. McNeil,
    Igor Melamed Sr.,
    David Shirley Mellen,
    Maurice W. Meyer, PhD,
    Frank Henry Meyer,
    Daniel W. Mike, DVM,
    K. Milani,
    Stephen A. Miller,
    David W. Miller,
    Lawrence D. Miller,
    Robert Moe,
    Robert Leon Moison,
    Glenn D. Moore, PhD,
    David L. Mork, PhD,
    Howard Arthur Morris, PhD,
    Dave Mueller,
    Edward S. Murduck, PhD,
    Richard C. Navratil,
    Kenneth H. Nebel,
    Kevin F. Nigon, DVM,
    Wayland E. Noland, PhD,
    Frank Q. Nuttall, PhD,
    Richard P. Nyberg,
    August J. Olinger,
    Mark G. Olson, PhD,
    Leonard G. Olson,
    Joseph Wendell Opie, PhD,
    Charlotte Ovechka, PhD,
    John S. Owens,
    Gordon Squires Oxborrow,
    Richard Palmer,
    Robert E. Palmquist,
    Guy R. Paton,
    Timothy A. Patterson,
    John W. Paulsen,
    Alfred Pekarek, PhD,
    Michael Pestes,
    Steven F. Peterson, MD,
    Donald G. Peterson,
    Douglas D. Pfaff,
    John N. Pflugi,
    Frederic Edwin Porter, PhD,
    Russell C. Powers,
    Thomas F. Prehoda,
    Randy M. Puchet,
    Steven M. Quinlan,
    Byron K. Randall,
    Steven T. Ratliff, PhD,
    Nancy C. Raven,
    Timothy J. Reilly,
    Richard J. Reilly,
    Kristin Riker-Coleman,
    David Joel Rislove, PhD,
    Janis Robins, PhD,
    Robert G. Robinson, PhD,
    Robert Rosene,
    Janet M. Roshar, PhD,
    Olaf Runquist, PhD,
    Peter A. Rzepecki, PhD,
    Wilmar Lawrence Salo, PhD,
    Wade D. Samson,
    Richard M. Sanders, PhD,
    Peter K. Sappanos,
    Jay Howard Sautter, PhD,
    Paul Savaryn, MD,
    Curt C. Schmidt,
    Tony Schmitz,
    Thomas W. Schmucker,
    Oscar A. Schott,
    Gerald Schramm,
    Kevin Schulz, PhD,
    James W. Seaberg,
    Dave Seibel,
    James M. Sellner,
    James C. Sentz, PhD,
    James B. Serrin, PhD,
    Arlen Raynold Severson, PhD,
    Dennis F. Shackleton,
    G. P. Shaffner,
    Mark W. Siefken, PhD,
    William E. Skagerberg,
    Frank J. Skalko, PhD,
    Neil A. Skogerboe, MD,
    Ivan Hooglund Skoog, PhD,
    Norman Elmer Sladek, PhD,
    Kenneth Sletten,
    Aivars Slucis,
    Chad J. Smith,
    Bryan Smithee,
    David Perry Sorensen, PhD,
    Harold G. Sowmam, PhD,
    Dale R. Sparling, PhD,
    D. Dean Spatz,
    Edward Joseph Stadelmann, PhD*,
    Leon Stadtherr, PhD,
    Larry A. Stein,
    Truman M. Stickney,
    Sandy Stone,
    Bart A. Strobel,
    Patrick Suiter,
    Bruce M. Sullivan,
    Arlin B. Super, PhD,
    Frederick Morrill Swain, PhD,
    David R. Swanberg,
    Brian M. Swanson,
    Robert M. Swanson,
    Brion P. Szwed,
    Robert T. Tambornino,
    Gerald T. Tasa,
    Gregory D. Taylor,
    Greg Taylor,
    Walter Eugene Thatcher, PhD,
    Brenda J. Theis,
    James A. Thelen, DVM,
    Mark Thoma,
    Herbert Bradford Thompson, PhD,
    Mary E. Thompson, PhD,
    Richard David Thompson,
    Arnold William Thornton, PhD,
    Edward A. Timm,
    Patrick A. Tuzinski,
    John R. Tweedy,
    Oriol Tomas Valls, PhD,
    William R. Vansloun, MD,
    Gloria E. Verrecchio, DVM,
    George M. Waldow,
    David R. Wallace,
    James R. Waller, PhD,
    E. C. Ward,
    Robert Wardin, PhD,
    Douglas Eugene Weiss, PhD,
    Rod Wells,
    Jerome R. Welnetz,
    James E. Wennen,
    James E. Wenner,
    James F. Werler,
    Clarence L. Wesenberg,
    Darrell J. Westrum,
    Robert W. Whitmyer,
    John F. Wilkinson,
    Daryl P. Williamson, MD,
    Richard D. Williamson,
    Dick Williamson,
    Ronn A. Winkler,
    Jerry Witt, PhD,
    Mark Wolf,
    Bruce Frederick Wollenb, PhD,
    Professor Woller,
    John Woods, MD,
    Richard R. Zeigler,
    Nancy Zeigler,
    William J. Zerull,
    Daryl E. Zuelke
    7:08 PM | Posted in
    This represents little more than pure speculation and my own wishes for the future of the State of Minnesota. This very topic has been covered recently by Chris Truscott, the folks at MNPublius, and even hints from a recent article at MinnPost with corresponding quote:

    "I've had enough people talk to me about it that I do think about it."

    My only response to that quote would be: Run Tarryl, RUN! While I do not know Tarryl personally I have spoken with her on several occasions and have been pleasantly surprised that she recognized me immediately and was more than happy to talk. Here is a woman whose energy and drive have put her on the fast track to a leadership position in the Minnesota Senate. She has, since that first special election, taken the legislature by storm and worked exceedingly hard for her constituents as well as those in the education community. I daresay her work on education would make her the education Governor more than any other prior Governor since the likes of Wendell Anderson and the Minnesota Miracle.

    As to the political analysis of a potential Clark run for the governorship, I would say that aside from a lack of name recognition she represents a brand of common sense DFL principles that will play well all over the state of Minnesota. Even here in what is perhaps the most conservative part of the state, she garners large amounts of support. She certainly has her detractors (he knows who he is) but these are mere whispers when compared to the number of people who feel as though Clark is doing a fantastic job.

    It is time for the DFL Party to pony up a candidate that can gain large swaths of support from across the state in order to negate the inevitable run from an independent candidate. Unfortunately, it is in no small part because of those independent candidates that the Republican Party has been able to remain dominant in the Governor's office. With a Clark candidacy we can once again bring the DFL back to the office of the Governor and dare I say it, an eventual Clark for President Campaign.

    Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times
    5:00 PM | Posted in
    As the end of the legislative session is upon us (count them two years in a row that the legislature ended on time) and Gary Gross desperately tries to spin this session as a loss for Democrats and a win for Republicans, I offer a different viewpoint. There is much to herald in this session for both sides of the aisle. Being a liberal and a Democrat, I would have liked to see more in terms of real health care reform but living under a divided government means that we don't always get what we want. Is that a bad thing? Probably not, it simply means that we have to do more to convince people that single payer health care can work and is necessary to keep our state and country moving forward.

    So, the highlights from the session?

    1. The Transportation Bill: We can finally begin the process of keeping our infrastructure strong by funding it responsibly. Without the help of this obstructionist Governor, the legislature was able to keep projects such as the DeSoto Bridge at the forefront rather than scrambling to find the cash with which to replace it.

    2. Bipartisanship: This is a necessary part of governance. Democrats do not hold a veto proof majority in both houses of the legislature and do not control the Governor's office. Thus, bipartisanship is a significant key to success. While some may feel as though Democratic bipartisanship was brought about by purely Republican efforts I take a far less cynical view. Democrats certainly had the ability to give Republicans nothing and take a message of obstructionism into an election that already looks grim for Republicans. Could it be that Democrats were bipartisan because they wanted to accomplish things even if some of those things would make Republicans look good come November? I would like to believe that is true. Also, one has to wonder how much bipartisanship the minority truly wanted when their leader equates Democrats to an evil empire and himself to Luke Skywalker. Unfortunately, the bipartisanship that the Republican Party appears to prefer is complete acquiescence to their agenda.

    3. Health Care: Did I get everything I would like? No, and I rarely expect to get everything. What we did get will allow upwards of 12,000 more people with affordable health care. This brings us ever closer to universal coverage which should be the goal of every politician be they Republican or Democrat.

    4. Money for Education: A per pupil increase of $51 doesn't seem like a lot of money but with the increasing demands of educating our children every little bit helps insure that we have a strong public education system.

    All in all I would say that the session offered something for all sides to point to as a victory. That is precisely what a representative government should be about.

    Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times
    10:32 PM | Posted in ,
    The floor of the United States House of Representatives was a buzz with emotion and rhetoric as another Iraq Supplemental came up for discussion and vote. Separate votes were had on Iraq/Afghanistan appropriations, an improvement to the GI Bill, and provisions seeking to end this war responsibly. It is the second of these votes that is truly astonishing to me and others in the area.

    The improvements to the GI Bill include educational benefits for those men and women leaving the military. This is truly the best investment our government could be making in both keeping our military strong as well as lifting up the very men and women whose job it has been to lift us up.

    What then was the problem? The Republican Party in its infinite wisdom would rather not have us as a nation pay to educate the men and women that their leader sent into battle. God forbid we have the wealthiest amongst us pay a few more dollars so that the soldiers of this country can come home and get an education. I hate to quantify patriotism given that I have long claimed that the Republican Party does it too often as a way to gain support for a conflict that should not have been waged, but it certainly is a glaring contradiction that is a cheerleader for our troops when they go to battle but remains remarkably silent when those troops come home and need the help in rebuilding their lives. The measure of a country is not in how willing that country is to send its troops into harms way but rather in how well it takes care of those people who take care of them.

    Unfortunately, one of these patriots of war but betrayers of troops is our very own Michele Bachmann. She who consistently claims the need for unending occupation decided that rather than take care of those returning home would take care of the wealthiest amongst our population.

    On a positive note, my favorite Congressman, Tim Walz, gave the Republican Party the tongue lashing they deserved:

    An outraged reader sent me a heads up that she watched this debate on C-Span and along with another beat down given by Representative Dave Obey, there was considerable outrage from all sides of the political spectrum when citizens were allowed the chance to call in with opinions. For more information about this vote and the GI Bill improvements you can check out posts from two of my favorite bloggers (Blue Man and Ollie of Bluestem Prairie).
    Category: ,
    10:06 PM | Posted in ,
    Keith Ellison, 5th District Congressman, paid tribute this week on the floor of the House of Representatives to two fallen soldiers from his district. Whether we are opposed to this war or in favor of it, we must always remember that it is the young people of this war and of our military that should be consistently and repeatedly honored. For better or worse, they are the ones who make the supreme sacrifice while we sit in our armchairs and bicker about who is and is not patriotic. It is they who deserve whatever resources we can muster in the hopes that in some small way we have provided them with as much as they have provided us.

    As I start, I want to invoke the memory of two young men, one Robert Dixon and another one, Quising Lee.

    These are two young men who are from Minneapolis who were killed in Iraq. There have been 64 Minnesotans killed in Iraq, and Robert Dixon and Quising Lee are two gentlemen who lived in my district.

    I'll never forget when I went to go see Quising Lee's family after he was killed. He went to North High School. He was 20 years old when he died, and he was killed in a roadside bomb in Iraq.

    Robert Dixon was killed in a roadside bomb in Iraq as well. I wasn't able to go to see Robert Dixon's funeral. I was here. My wife went for me. Kim, thank you for doing that. And she sat there and listened to stories about Robert Dixon and his life and his service to our country and the things he hoped for and wanted.

    But I did get a chance to visit the family and go to the funeral of Quising Lee. Quising Lee, 20 years old when he was killed, went to North High School, had his whole life in front of him. Only 20 years old.

    It's in the memory of those two young men from Minneapolis that I offer remarks tonight, and on behalf of those 64 Minnesotans that have been killed, and on behalf of those 4,500-some individuals, Americans who've been killed in Iraq, and on behalf of those, probably as many as perhaps 600,000, perhaps even 1 million Iraqis who've lost their lives in Iraq.
    2:35 PM | Posted in ,
    Some have probably heard of Larry Havluck and his "Michele Bachmann Song". Well, courtesy of someone with the screen name dahlgutz, the song has been immortalized on Youtube.

    Cross Posted on Dump Bachmann
    Category: ,
    10:31 AM | Posted in , ,
    Yesterday I wrote a piece about the Your Turn article in the St. Cloud Times by DFL candidate for House District 14A, Rob Jacobs. As is typical with many of the things I write critical of local Republicans, my friend Gary Gross stopped by to offer his perspective. While he and I have our disagreements at least he offers up substantive arguments rather than baseless attacks.

    In contrast, today I found an anonymous commenter had left a message attacking myself and Rob Jacobs.

    Bring your boy against Rep. Severson in a debate. I can't wait for that impending disaster from your man crush.

    Now I will go shame myself for commenting on your blog and giving you the impression that anybody cares what you write.

    While it comes as no surprise that a supporter of Representative Severson would choose to attack by using accusations of homosexuality, what does come as a surprise is that this anonymous commenter arrived onto this site through a Minnesota House of Representatives email address.

    So, who is it from a House of Representatives email address (IP Address using attacks such as this? Could it be Representative Severson himself or perhaps a legislative assistant who has decided to take it upon themselves to attack on behalf of Mr. Severson? If it is Mr. Severson, could he think of nothing more with which to defend himself than empty attacks?

    There will definitely be more to come as this story develops...

    I sent an email to Representative Severson requesting comment:

    Dear Representative Severson,

    I am a blogger in the St. Cloud area and I recently received this comment on my blog regarding a post I wrote about your opponent, Rob Jacobs.

    "Bring your boy against Rep. Severson in a debate. I can't wait for that impending disaster from your man crush.

    Now I will go shame myself for commenting on your blog and giving you the impression that anybody cares what you write."

    This message originated from a http://webmail.house.mn email address (IP Address I am wondering if you could comment on why someone using a Minnesota House of Representatives email address would feel the need to accuse someone of being gay as if that is something to be ashamed of rather than argue the substance of the issue at hand. It is rather disheartening to believe that people are using government resources to go after citizens of this state. I await your response.

    Thank You

    Political Muse

    Cross Posted on St. Cloud Times

    4:48 PM | Posted in ,
    Ever since my conversation with Rob Jacobs, DFL candidate for House District 14A, I have been increasingly impressed with his willingness to pull no punches and go after Dan Severson on the issues that matter most to the people of the district. While Severson relegates himself to wedge issues, Jacobs has been hammering away at him on issues such as property taxes and overall tax equity. It comes as no surprise that Severson would be opposed to tax fairness given that he is opposed to most fairness.

    From the St. Cloud Times:

    Your turn: Under Severson, wealthy don’t pay a fair share

    By Rob Jacobs
    Candidate, House 14A

    On April 30, House 14A Rep. Dan Severson wrote about what he called a “steady stream of substantial tax increases” enacted by the legislative majority.

    The only example he gave was the transportation bill. He pointed out that he believes it is better to fund transportation on the state’s credit card rather than the “pay as you go” system that was passed this winter.

    My campaign is focusing on a vision of a fair distribution of the tax burden for all Minnesotans. Most people I have spoken with agree that Severson has failed to ensure that everyone pays their fair share of taxes.

    I have covered the continuing fallacy that is the Republican argument against the Transportation Bill. If Severson really wants to rehash the obvious, we can always go back to the legislative auditor report on the condition of highways and bridges within Minnesota. In it they lay considerable blame on the condition of those roads on the increasing use of bonding to pay for them.

    We have seen a very unfair shifting of the tax burden. The things we value most — education, health care, transportation and public safety — have all been shifted to our local property taxes. This shift has occurred under Severson’s watch and he has consistently supported this regressive method of taxation, all the while telling us there are “no new taxes.”

    He has supported an increase in fees that will cost Minnesotans an additional $530 million this year.

    The Minnesota Department of Revenue recently released its annual incidence study, which shows how much individuals and families are paying in state and local taxes.

    This study proves that there has been a steady shifting of Minnesota’s tax burden onto lower- and middle-income Minnesotans and away from the wealthiest Minnesotans.

    Most of that shift has been caused by property tax increases. Since 2002, when Severson was first elected, there has been a $1.6 billion increase to individual property taxes. That is an 81.7 percent increase on Minnesota homeowners in the six years that Severson has been in office.

    While the tax burden has shifted to the lower- and middle class, the wealthiest Minnesotans have enjoyed a tax break.

    The wealthiest Minnesotans, many making more than $1 million per year, pay a smaller percentage of income taxes than people making less. If these folks paid the same as the rest of us, not more, just the same, Minnesota would take in close to $500 million annually. That represents almost half of our current budget shortfall!

    The legislative majority that Severson criticizes made at least four attempts to fix this tax disparity in 2007, but he voted against every one of their tax fairness initiatives.

    These attempts would have provided significant and permanent property tax relief for homeowners, farmers and small-business owners, and increased Local Government Aid.

    Those bills either died in committee or were vetoed by the governor even though they would have increased income taxes on only 1 percent of Minnesota filers.

    Eighty-one percent of the additional revenue would have come from taxpayers making more than $1 million per year.

    “The voters who elected me need to know I have their backs,” Severson says.

    If you are fortunate enough to be making over $1 million per year, he does “have your back.”

    The rest of us need to watch our backs and quit being fooled by the “no new taxes” plan. This plan has shifted the tax burden, through increased property taxes and fees, to those who can least afford to pay.

    The tax incidence studies Mr. Jacobs speaks of can be found here. It is often said on the right that by lowering the tax on the "producers" we can build the wealth of those at the bottom. Unfortunately, that theory has not born out and many of us who are sitting at the bottom of the tax scale are sitting patiently waiting to be trickled on. Severson hopes and prays this will happen but as they say, you can hope in one hand and crap in the other and see which gets filled first.

    Another golden oldie of the right wingers is that we cannot tax our way to prosperity. While that may hold some truth to it, I would posit that neither can we starve our way to prosperity.

    Keep writing, Mr. Jacobs, and to those of you who liked his message I would encourage you to send a donation his way because a candidate cannot live on letters to the editor alone. If you financially unable to make a donation, consider signing up as a volunteer. Take action and we can defeat Severson in the fall.

    Contributions can be made out to the "Elect Rob Jacobs Committee" and mailed to the following address:

    Elect Rob Jacobs Committee
    9545 Sucker Creek Rd NW
    Rice, MN 56367
    10:41 PM | Posted in
    In yet another shout out to his BFF, John McCain, Pawlenty has vetoed the minimum wage increase passed by the House and the Senate. Despite compromises made by the DFL controlled legislature to reduce the raise in the minimum wage and remove language that would index a raise to inflation, Pawlenty continues to nitpick in the last way he can by demanding that those getting tips live on a paupers wage to compensate for the tips that they may or may not receive.

    This message of "Let them eat cake" to those people in the state that are trying to live on rock bottom wages is truly disheartening. Given that the federal poverty level is set at $22,200 for a family of four, Pawlenty has indicated that the current minimum wage with its resulting $13,000 per year is just fine for the people of Minnesota. Perhaps he is as proud of our "workingest" citizens as 6th District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

    I offer this letter to Mr. Pawlenty:

    Dear Governor Pawlenty,

    While I understand you have an ambition to move beyond the state of Minnesota and become the losing Vice-Presidential candidate in 2008, we here in the state have to continue living and working here. We would greatly appreciate it if you would stop practicing the failed principles of ultra-conservatism and allow us to have common sense solutions to the problems we are facing. It may come as a surprise to you, but you are not the King of Minnesota and therefore are not going to get your way on everything you would like. Additionally, I hope that this veto does not come on the heels of pent up "frustration" you are feeling. We would hate to think that this frustration coupled with your aspiration to be John McCain's BFF is causing you to screw the people of your state.

    Thank You,

    Political Muse
    10:13 PM | Posted in ,
    With the Farm Bill veto threat essentially neutered by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson can claim victory. The obstructionist wing of the Republican Party led by Jeff Flake did everything they could to derail the bill but was given a significant smack down from both Peterson and a majority of their Republican colleagues.

    From ABC News:

    The bill also would:
    • Boost nutrition programs, including food stamps and emergency domestic food aid, by more than $10 billion over 10 years. It would expand a program to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to schoolchildren.
    • Increase subsidies for certain crops, including fruits and vegetables excluded from previous farm bills.
    • Extend and expand dairy programs.
    • Increase loan rates for sugar producers.
    • Urge the government to buy surplus sugar and sell it to ethanol producers for use in a mixture with corn.
    • Cut a per-gallon ethanol tax credit for refiners from 51 cents to 45 cents. The credit supports the blending of fuel with the corn-based additive. More money would go to cellulosic ethanol, made from plant matter.
    • Require that meats and other fresh foods carry labels with their country of origin.
    • Stop allowing farmers to collect subsidies for multiple farm businesses.
    • Reopen a major discrimination case against the Agriculture Department. Thousands of black farmers who missed a deadline would get a chance to file claims alleging they were denied loans or other subsidies.
    • Pay farmers for weather-related farm losses from a new $3.8 billion disaster relief fund.
    • Provide the first-ever infusion of federal farm dollars - more than $400 million - to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.
    On the floor of the House of Representatives, Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson criticized Jeff Flake (you know, the guy who says he knows agriculture because one time he got the tip of his finger chopped off) for demagoguing earmarks and paygo.

    Peterson Beats Down Flake

    Peterson Dismisses Obstructionist Paygo Argument

    Throughout the rest of the process of debating the Farm Bill, Peterson offers a few other moments of explaining both the process and point of this legislation (Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5). Given that Collin Peterson is my former Congressman and I long for the days that I was represented by a beacon of sanity, there will always be a soft spot in my heart for this guy. Also, having relatives in the business of farming who have nothing but good things to say about the man I can only assume that he is serving his constituency well. His Blue Dog status makes him more conservative than I but he fits his district well.
    9:21 PM | Posted in
    So, this guy in the Swiss Alps figured out how to strap a jet pack to his back and achieve flight. My question is: when can I get my cheaply made Walmart knock off made in China?

    I propose a caption contest!

    I'll start, "Now who are we going to complain about when the flight is bad?"
    8:35 PM | Posted in ,
    Betty McCollum gave a one minute speech on the floor of the House of Representatives urging others to support women's health here at home and around the world.

    House Resolution 1022:


    Reducing maternal mortality both at home and abroad.

    Whereas more than 536,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth every year which is one every minute;

    Whereas in 15 percent of all pregnancies, the complications are life-threatening;

    Whereas girls under 15 are 5 times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s;

    Whereas nearly all these deaths are preventable;

    Whereas survival rates greatly depend upon the distance and time a woman must travel to get skilled emergency medical care;

    Whereas care by skilled birth attendants, nurses, midwives, or doctors during pregnancy and childbirth, including emergency services, and care for mothers and newborns is essential;

    Whereas the poorer the household, the greater the risk of maternal death, and 99 percent of maternal deaths occur in developing countries;

    Whereas newborns whose mothers die of any cause are 3 to 10 times more likely to die within 2 years than those whose mothers survive;

    Whereas more than 1,000,000 children are left motherless and vulnerable every year;

    Whereas young girls are often pulled from school and required to fill their lost mother's roles;

    Whereas a mother's death lowers family income and productivity which affects the entire community;

    Whereas in countries with similar levels of economic development, maternal mortality is highest where women's status is lowest;

    Whereas the United States ranks 41st among 171 countries in the latest UN list ranking maternal mortality;

    Whereas the overall United States maternal mortality ratio is now 11 deaths per 100,000 live births, one of the highest rates among industrialized nations;

    Whereas United States maternal deaths have remained roughly stable since 1982 and have not declined significantly since then;

    Whereas the Centers for Disease Control estimates that the true level of United States maternal deaths may be 1.3 to 3 times higher than the reported rate; and

    Whereas ethnic and racial disparities in maternal mortality rates persist and in the United States maternal mortality among black women is almost four times the rate among non-Hispanic white women: Now, therefore, be it

      Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
        (1) makes a stronger commitment to reducing maternal mortality both at home and abroad through greater financial investment and participation in global initiatives; and
        (2) recognizes maternal health as a human right.
      My first thought on reading this bill is to wonder where Michele Bachmann, so called defender of the unborn, stands on this bill and why she has not added her name to its list of co-sponsors. The problem for Bachmann is that infant mortality rates are not a glamorous issue on which to hang her hat and inevitably lead to the question of better access to health care.
      11:30 PM | Posted in
      In a recent interview, President Bush indicated that he had given up golf due to the Iraq War. I cannot tell you how saddened we all feel, Mr. President, that you were forced to pay so high a price for our country. It takes a big man to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country and forgo hitting a tiny white ball with a long metal stick.

      Your sacrifice gives me butterflies in my stomach or perhaps I am about to throw up, it is hard to tell anymore.

      10:17 PM | Posted in ,
      Keith Ellison spoke out yesterday about the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing state legislatures to require voter identification. Using the recent incidence of nuns being denied the vote in Indiana because of this new stringent law, Ellison spoke about the various groups that are disenfranchised due to these identification laws.

      Mr. ELLISON. Madam Speaker, it was on May 7, the day of the Indiana primary election just last Tuesday, I believe that was May 5, excuse me, May 5, that 12 nuns came to the voting booth to cast a ballot in the election. These nuns, women of the cloth, women who have dedicated their lives to prayer and service, only wanted to vote but were barred from doing so by Indiana's photographic identification law. This law, which is the most stringent in the United States, the most stringent of any State, requires that before you can cast a ballot, you must present a government-issued photographic identification card. This 98-year-old nun, American citizen, devoted to her country and her faith, was denied along with 11 of her colleagues.

      I'm disappointed to tell you, Madam Speaker, that this problem didn't have to happen. Only a few days before this Indiana photographic ID law was put in place, the United States Supreme Court reviewed this law and found that it was reasonable for Indiana to force citizens to provide such identification.

      Now, Madam Speaker, you might say, well, isn't this designed to just stop voter fraud? The answer is "no,'' Madam Speaker. In the United States Supreme Court decision, the Justice that wrote the majority opinion admitted and acknowledged that there was no evidence of voter impersonation. And in fact, Madam Speaker, this bill was a bill to solve a problem that simply did not exist at all. This bill was confronting a mythical voter fraud that worked only to stop 12 nuns and many others from voting.

      Ellison speaks of an editorial in the New York Times. In that editorial, The Myth of Voter Fraud, the writer gives examples of voters disenfranchised by voter identification laws. Unfortunately, the article does not do a very good job of proving that voter fraud due to lax identification standards doesn't really exist.

      Over at the Pew Center on the States, you can find information pertaining to voter identification laws and each of the states.

      9:37 PM | Posted in ,
      One of my all time favorite campaign commercials is of our illustrious Governor standing in front of a school (presumably his school) and proclaiming that he understood education because he was a product of the education system. Like most educators, I laughed and laughed as two important points struck me: first, given that nearly everyone in the state is a product of the education system, they must all be experts in education according to Pawlenty so what makes him so special and second, very few people who have not been involved in the business of education truly understand what it takes or what it entails.

      That being said, part of the veto threat made by Pawlenty over the Education Finance Bill recently passed through the legislature is that it:

      “The DFL education bill stops our nation-leading program to pay teachers for performance and revokes other key education accountability measures.”

      Tim Pawlenty never did get the pay for performance initiative (QComp) he wanted. Rather, the legislature passed ATPPS (Alternative Teacher Professional Pay System). Since that time the Governor and his Department of Education has done everything they could to deny those districts who offered almost identical programs to the ones initially accepted. Why? Because in the beginning they needed to approve as many districts to show that the system was working. Now, because of the obstinance of this administration, many districts have been denied because Pawlenty demands pay tied to arbitrary test scores. Well, Mr. Pawlenty, districts are no longer interested in your little system of judging us based on one test score. So, you can either stop being obstructionist and allow districts to develop their own pay systems or you can take that money and allow it to be spread across a hurting education system.

      So, Mr. Pawlenty, just because you went to school does not mean you have even the most basic understanding of how best to educate students.
      11:27 PM | Posted in ,
      Monday, on the floor of the United States Senate, Amy Klobuchar discussed the increasing price of gas (you can view Part 1 and Part 2 of that video at MNMuseTube). This is the second time in recent weeks that Klobuchar has spoken out about the rising cost of gas in this country (check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). With gas prices hovering around $3.70 per gallon, it is high time that someone came up with the short term AND long term solutions to our energy needs. While Republicans try to solve the crisis by drilling more holes in the Earth, Democrats such as Klobuchar are looking for resources that can effectively replace dwindling supplies of oil.

      Later on in her speech she touted her support of the Consumer-First Energy Act of 2008.

      Summary of the Consumer-First Energy Act

      The cumulative impact of disastrous Bush Administration policies and priorities has created an energy and economic crisis that is now plaguing consumers at the gas pump and damaging our national security. Since President Bush came to office, gas prices have more than doubled, the Big Oil companies have made more than half a trillion dollars in profits and the United States is even more dependent on oil. Democrats are providing solutions that address the root causes of high gas prices, hold the Big Oil companies accountable and put consumers first.

      The Consumer-First Energy Act Addresses the Root Causes of High Gas Prices, Holds Big Oil Accountable and Puts Consumers First

      Roll Back Tax Breaks for Oil Companies and Invest in Renewable Energy – In 2004 and 2005, the Big Oil companies received tax breaks worth $17 billion over 10 years. The Consumer-First Energy Act will roll back $17 billion in tax breaks for oil and gas companies and instead invest those taxpayer dollars to improve consumer price protection, renewable energy development and energy efficiency technology through a designated Energy Independence and Security Trust Fund.

      Force Big Oil to Pay Their Fair Share through a Windfall Profits Tax – Since the Bush Administration came into office, the five biggest oil companies have made over half a trillion dollars in profit. The Consumer-First Energy Act creates a 25 percent windfall profits tax on companies that fail to invest in increased capacity and renewable energy sources. This provision would not apply to the profits those companies reinvested in clean, affordable, domestically produced renewable fuels, expanding refinery capacity and utilization, or renewable electricity production. The proceeds of the tax will be invested in consumer price protection, renewable energy development and energy efficiency technologies through a designated Energy Independence and Security Trust Fund.

      Halt Government Purchases of Oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve – The Administration continues to place between 70,000 and 80,000 barrels of oil a day underground in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), which is 97 percent full. The Consumer-First Energy Act calls for suspending through December 2008 oil purchases for the SPR. Filling could resume when the 90 day average price of crude oil recedes to $75 or less. Energy officials have stated that by halting purchases for the SPR, the price of gasoline can be reduced 2 to 5 cents per gallon.

      Protect Consumers from Price Gouging – The Federal government’s authority and enforcement actions are inadequate to protect consumers from artificially created spikes in retail gas prices are inadequate. The Consumer-First Energy Act would give the President the authority to declare an energy emergency should there be a shortage, disruption or significant pricing anomalies in the oil market. Once an emergency is declared, setting an “unconscionably excessive price” during such an emergency would be deemed unlawful and subject to civil penalties.

      Stop Market Price Speculation – The Administration’s failure to regulate the oil futures market has lead to exorbitant speculation. The Consumer-First Energy Act establishes two key limitations on speculation. First, the bill prevents traders of U.S. crude oil from routing transactions through off-shore markets to evade speculative limits and sets forth reporting requirements. The bill also requires the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to set a substantial increase in the margin requirement for all oil futures trades, contracts or transactions. Recently, one oil company executive indicated crude oil prices could be inflated due to speculation in the futures market.

      Stand Up to OPEC – OPEC’s near-monopolistic control over oil prices has lead to record oil prices which have driven up the cost Americans pay at the pump. The Consumer-First Energy Act allows the U.S. Attorney General to bring an enforcement action against any country or company that is colluding to set the price of oil, natural gas, or any other petroleum product. Enacting this provision will make it clear to nations that participate in the oil cartel that engaging in conduct designed to fix the price of oil is illegal under U.S. law. As such, nations concerned with maintaining good diplomatic relations with the U.S. will likely be reluctant to blatantly act in a way that is counter to U.S. law.
      10:32 PM | Posted in
      The Sarvi Campaign put together a video they recently posted on their youtube page. It sends a simple, but powerful message about defeating John Kline in November.