6:25 PM | Posted in ,
Are you kidding me? Is the new Brodkorb drone over at Minnesota Democrats Exposed REALLY trying to tell us that the location of a fundraiser gives us a clue as to the ideology of the person for whom the fundraiser is held?

Tonight, Tax and Spend Liberal Senator Tarryl Clark is holding a fundraiser outside of the 6th District. The fundraiser will be at Sweeney’s Bar which sits squarely in the 4th District.


I guess Michele Bachmann just out big city liberaled Tarryl Clark because just days ago SHE held a fundraiser outside her district in the 5th district. THAT'S RIGHT, Bachmann held a fundraiser in the MOST LIBERAL district in all of Minnesota!
5:30 PM | Posted in
Over the past two months I have written a total of 14 posts. The majority of those being repostings or brief postings with little of my own writing. At first, I chalked it up to being very busy with the start of a new school year and a new teaching assignment. While that was and continues to be true, there is something more to it all than just being busy with school work.

I find myself not caring about whether or not this protest or that protest is manufactured or real. I find myself not caring about the underlying motives of people opposed to President Obama. I find myself not caring about what stupid calendar Michele Bachmann is on or that she has been turned into an action figure. Most of all I find myself not really caring about getting involved in the battles currently taking place in the political world. Now I have certainly gotten involved in some of these disputes but each time it is only in an apathetic half hearted manner and once done there is this feeling that what I just did was a colossal waste of time. The question becomes, why? Why have I reached a point at which I don't give a damn about the daily faux outrages that currently consume the right and the left?

Perhaps the reason is that all the last two months have become is a back and forth one upsmanship about which party is more like the anti-christ and which side hates America the MOST. From my perspective there has been almost no discussion of issues or debate about policy or even constructive argument about visions for the future. It has been one long annoying pissing match to see who can demonize whom most thoroughly.

Oh, you thought we were debating the merits of health care reform? NO! We were trying to figure out which party hates the elderly, poor, and disabled MORE. Which side is going to most swiftly and efficiently kill all these people. Really? Are we really arguing about this? Are you ALL idiots? Seriously, because if Republicans truly in their hearts believe that Democrats are setting out to kill old people then you are idiots. If Democrats truly in their hearts believe that Republicans would rather see poor people die then you are idiots. I truly have lost the will to give a shit about either of you. Hell, we have even sunk so low as to argue about who is and is not a real protester. I frankly don't give a damn if the health care industry did or did not organize anything. My question is so what if they did? Is it any different than when organizations on our side of the aisle organize protests? Maybe I am missing something...

Even today, the new OUTRAGE in the health care reform debate/demonizationfest is from Gary Gross who is really really mad at some Democrat because he said Republicans want you to die quickly. Is this particular Democrat an idiot for making such a ridiculous claim? YES! Yet, I wonder where all this furious outrage was when Charles Grassley and others were telling people that Democrats were going to kill grandma. It is all just so mind numbingly ludicrous that I completely understand why people avoid politics like the plague.

But it's not just health care reform...

There are so many other useless and annoying faux outrage debates taking place right now that I, as a liberal, would like to make the following concessions and apologies to my rightie friends in the hopes that we can move beyond the idiotic and on to something productive:

You are right, I have been trying to create panels in which my liberal friends and I would choose who amongst the elderly will live or die. It was wrong and I promise not to do it anymore.

You are right, there is a secret plot to indoctrinate all of your children into the liberal/commie/socialist/fascist (you take your pick) lifestyle. The thing is, we didn't think you would find out but since you did we promise to keep our indoctrination camps to a bare minimum (you can't expect us to quit cold turkey). Additionally, there had been a plan to create a "brownshirt" coalition much like Hitler's but you found that out too so I promise we will

You are right, even though George W. Bush and Presidents prior to that appointed "czars" and there was no apparent constitutional crisis it is clear that when President Obama names those same positions czars he is trying to completely subvert the Constitution.

You are right, ACORN (an organization that primarily helps poor people) and SEIU (an organization consisting mostly of paraprofessionals, custodians, and health care workers) are terribly evil organizations whose goal is the ultimate destruction of the United States of America.

And while I am not completely certain about whether President Obama is a super secret Muslim terrorist who was actually born in Kenya, you have been so right about all this other stuff that I hesitate to question the accuracy of these statements.

Oh, and the teleprompter thing? TOTALLY a legitimate complaint. I mean having your prepared remarks scroll onto a teleprompter versus simply holding them in your hand, COMPLETELY OUTRAGEOUS.

Now that I have fessed up to all these super awesome accusations (I hope I didn't forget anything) that have consumed our every waking moment over the last couple months, I have to ask, what would you like to see done? Granted, these Democrats were elected by the people in a free and fair election last November but it sounds to me like you do not want to wait until the next round of elections.

For my leftie friends I offer these words:

I DON'T CARE! I don't care if someone made an action figure or a calendar featuring Michele Bachmann. That is NOT news...

NO, it is not racism every time someone disagrees with the President...

As much as I think Joe Wilson is a douchebag, it WAS a waste of time to bring legislation against him...

And I am quite sure there is more faux crap that we ought to be knocking off...

Please do not take this rant as a feeling that I am somehow better than anyone else for being sick of all this crap because it doesn't. I am as guilty as anyone of adding faux outrage crap to the political debate. However, the last two months have seen the debate devolve into so many different ludicrous arguments (each more foolish than the last) that I simply cannot take it anymore. I am going to try to continue in the blogosphere in the hopes that I can get the faith back but know that it is currently hanging by a very loose thread.
6:00 AM | Posted in , , ,
If you had asked me this summer who I liked among the numerous DFL gubernatorial candidates and potential candidates, I would not have had a clear answer as I have been frustrated by the seeming lack of a viable out state candidate. However, there was one name in the group that I had a visceral reaction against and that was Matt Entenza. Between the stories I had read, the Entenza mythology associated with those stories, and the feeling that he was just another Twin Cities candidate, there was something there that made me count him out even more than others as someone I could support. That was until I had the chance to meet him and talk with him.

Now, to be clear, I have no preconceived notion that an endorsement from me or this blog carries any weight amongst DFL circles or even amongst the general population but I felt it necessary to speak out in favor of a man for whom I had previously negative opinions.

It was at the annual Divots for Democrats fund raiser that I was able to meet and talk with Mr. Entenza for an extended period of time. Rather than working a room filled with more important and more influential Democrats than I, Entenza stood outside the room with myself and a friend of mine to talk. We talked some politics but for the most part we just engaged in small talk. It was a comfortable conversation about home towns, my disdain for the tv show Scrubs vs. his love of that show (which still might make me vote against him), and a sprinkle of education policy. He didn't give me the fake canned talking points that so many politicians resort to when engaging in one on one interactions. I left that event with an entirely new perspective and new appreciation about who Matt Entenza is and about whether or not I could support his candidacy. The Entenza mythology that floats around out there just didn't appear to hold any water.

That isn't the only factor which has lead me to choose Entenza for 2010...

When it comes to issues there is no single issue more important to me than education. In fact, a large percentage of my vote is based upon who the best education candidate will be. Based on that criteria, Entenza immediately rose to the top of the pack even amongst DFL candidates normally known for their friendly public education stances. The think tank he founded, Minnesota 2020, is the gold standard for anyone looking to understand the reasons we need to invest in public education. I fully expect Entenza will bring this research and this policy perspective to the Governor's office.

With so many decent choices for Governor (I had a particularly enjoyable interaction with Tom Rukavina at the state fair) there really aren't any completely WRONG choices in my humble opinion. For my part though, I have decided that the best choice for education and therefore the best choice for the state, is Matt Entenza.
4:46 PM | Posted in
Let me begin by saying that there are few people out there who enjoy a good obsessive crusade more than I. Being able to demonize and tear down another person, organization, or entity is truly one of the most enjoyable and noble pursuits one can engage in. In fact, I have placed entire cities on a blacklist for simply annoying me on a visit (Do you hear that DULUTH? Don't think I have forgotten). So I can totally relate to your obsessive hatred of ACORN for, you know, just existing. Imaginary potential threats really are the worst although are a somewhat easier target...

I couldn't help but wonder, though, after reading your third email in six days whose primary subject was the ACORN menace and how you are working to keep them from killing my family and I in our sleep that perhaps you are becoming a little TOO obsessed with an organization which doesn't seem to have much of an affect on the day to day lives of people in the 6th district.

Now if you were obsessing about things like the foreclosure rate here in the 6th which just happens to be the highest in the state or maybe even the economy in general I wouldn't have a problem but it seems to me that crusading against ACORN really does nothing for your constituents. Interestingly, it does seem to help further your career amongst the conservative talking heads on radio and television but that couldn't possibly be the reason for this crusade, could it?

So, Michele, if you could perhaps find some time to obsess about things that might actually improve the lives of your constituents we would be eternally grateful.

Thank You,

A Constituent
5:30 PM | Posted in ,
You see, this is exactly why I cannot leave for two minutes. As soon as I do, your local Republican spin machine begins to go so out of control that there is a decent chance that he could rip a hole in the space time continuum.

While I cannot cover ALL of the "gross inaccuracies" made by my ill informed friend, Gary Gross, I can chronicle a few of the more recent and more egregious examples.

First, we have a little numbers inflation with regards to the recent St. Cloud Tea Party held at Lake George:

Saturday, the Central Minnesota Conservative Coalition sponsored a TEA Party rally at Lake George in downtown St. Cloud. The 1,000+ people that attended participated in a freedom celebration. [Emphasis Mine]

Now I get that you would like to inflate your numbers in order to look like your group is more than just a collection of ultra conservative zealots who apparently aren't certain that you did, in fact, LOSE the last election. However, when doing your inflating you really ought to come up with a number which is on the upper end of realism.

In fact, when the friend of mine who took these pictures brought them to me, I was impressed that you were able to get this many people out on such a beautiful day. However, to claim that there were anywhere near 1,000 people is completely laughable. 200? Perhaps. 300? Now we are stretching. 1,000? Only the most partisan ideologue could look at this crowd and come up with a number that ridiculously high.

Second, we find Mr. Gross going after every good conservatives white whale. I speak of Nancy Pelosi of course...

By now, most people have seen the video of Speaker Pelosi tearing up about the violence that visited San Francisco 30 years ago, then expressing her worries that TEA Partygoers would resort to violence.

It's strange, because I don't believe I heard Nancy Pelosi say one word about "TEA Partygoers". Could it be possible that you, Gary, hear what you want to hear so that you can cry VICTIM and spew about how horribly evil Pelosi is for telling people to tone down the rhetoric? Further, this continued crusade against SEIU is laughable as anyone in their right mind who has seen the Kenneth Gladney video sees very clearly that he was on the ground for a total of one second, received no kick or punches, and was walking around moments after this supposed attack. But that is beside the point because you bringing up one example of supposed liberal violence only demonstrates the adolescent "they do it too" mindset. So, attack away Gary, and don't bother recognizing that there absolutely ARE some people on your side of the aisle spewing the most vile hate I have ever heard. When my side threatens to bring their guns "next time" and when my side openly advocates "armed revolution" and even secession then I will believe that there is some equivalence between Kenneth Gladney falling down for one second and people bringing semi-automatic weapons to a SPEECH.

Finally, we have the one topic that Mr. Gross enjoys covering the most which is Tarryl Clark. If this crusade wasn't so sad due to its nearing an obsessive disorder, then it might be laughable how Gross feels the need to hyper analyze and thereby criticize every move Clark makes. Yet, one particular point in this usual tirade against all things Tarryl stands out:

This year, Steve Gottwalt crafted legislation that would’ve reformed health care throughout the state. Had the DFL been serious about improving Minnesota’s business climate, they would’ve passed the tax cuts and the health care reform bills passed.

If there is one thing that Gross enjoys MORE than bashing Tarryl Clark, it is expressing his man crush for one Steve Gottwalt. Now, Gary, let's review:

Seriously, Gary, there has got to be ONE thing you are willing to be honest about...
8:00 AM | Posted in ,

What’s Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s relationship with convicted money launderer and Tom Petters associate Frank Vennes Jr.—and why did he want him pardoned?

By Karl Bremer

If Tim Pawlenty decides to run for President of the United States, at some point he’s going to have to explain his relationship with campaign contributor, Tom Petters associate and convicted money-launderer/cocaine-and-gun runner Frank Vennes Jr.

This relationship is especially relevant in light of Pawlenty’s recent donation of nearly $86,000 from his defunct gubernatorial campaign fund to Minnesota Teen Challenge (MnTC), a controversial Christian chemical dependency program that was once closely affiliated with Vennes and allegedly lost millions on account of that affiliation.

Like his Republican cohorts Norm Coleman and Michele Bachmann, Pawlenty’s connections to Vennes are intertwined in several ways: campaign con tributions, a request for a presidential pardon for Vennes’ federal crimes, and now, MnTC, where Vennes and Pawlenty’s wife, Mary, served on the board of directors together.

The campaign cash connection
Vennes and his family have contributed thousands of dollars to Pawlenty’s gubernatorial campaigns. Kimberly V ennes (Frank’s wife), Gregory Vennes, Stephanie Vennes (Gregory’s wife), and Colby and Denley Vennes, who have shared an address with Frank and Kimberly, each donated $2,000 to the Pawlenty for Governor Committee in 2002. Frank, Kimberly, Gregory, Stephanie, Colby and Denley Vennes each contributed $250 to Pawlenty in 2004 and $2,000 apiece in 2006.

The presidential pardon connection
Coincidentally, the same year the Vennes money started to flow into Pawlenty’s campaign coffers, Pawlenty’s name appeared in a request for a presidential pardon for Vennes sent by Senator-elect Norm Coleman.

In a letter dated December 20, 2002 and sent to “President George W. Bush c/o Karl Rove,” then-Senator-Elect Coleman said he was “well acquainted with Frank [redacted portion] and that I want to join “my friend, (former Minnesota GOP Chairman) Ron Eibensteiner and Governor-El ect Tim Pawlenty in urging President Bush to grant Frank Vennes a Presidential Pardon. ”

The roles of Pawlenty and Eibensteiner in seeking a pardon for Vennes are unclear. A Freedom of Information Act request did not turn up pardon letters from either one, and Pawlenty’s office did not immediately respond to requests for an explanation.

The pardon Coleman, Pawlenty and Eibensteiner sought was for Vennes’ conviction in 1987 on federal charges of money laundering, cocaine distribution and illegal firearms=2 0sale, to which he pleaded guilty and no contest.

Vennes was sentenced to five years in Sandstone (MN) Federal Correctional Facility, where he reportedly “found God”, and was released in 1990. Follo wing his release from prison, Vennes filed a petition for a pardon, which has never been granted.

The Minnesota Teen Challenge-Tom Petters connection
Vennes was a board member of MnTC as recently as 2008. Pawlenty’s wife, Mary, also sat on MTC’s board of directors during at least a portion of the time that Vennes served on the board.

But that organization now stands to lose millions of dollars as a result of MnTC’s investments Vennes allegedly steered to his associate, Tom Petters, in Petters’ alleged multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

Vennes is alleged to have been a facilitator, or conduit, used by Petters to lure primarily Christian organizations into investing in Petters’ companies through Metro Gem—one of Vennes’ companies—or through the Fidelis Foundation, which served as a fiscal agent for Minnesota Teen Challenge. Among those investors was Minnesota Teen Challenge, which allegedly lost $5.7 million in investments in Petters companies.

On Sept. 24, 2008, federal agents raided Vennes’=2 0$5 million Shorewood home on Lake Minnetonka and his $6 million oceanfront hom e in Jupiter, Fla., in connection with the Petters investigation.

A ccording to the federal search warrant, Vennes was alleged to have hauled in more than $28 million in commissions for his role in luring five investors to pony up $1.2 billion in Petters’ alleged giant Ponzi scheme. On Oct. 6, the assets and records of Vennes, Petters, Petters’ companies and other Petters associates were frozen by a federal judge, and many seized assets of Vennes and Petters have been sold off to compensate victims of the alleged fraud.

Still, the multimillionaire Vennes has not yet been charged with any crimes in connection with the Petters case. Nor has he been named as a defendant in any20of the lawsuits filed against Petters and hi s associates by alleged victims of the fraud.

Vennes’ ‘dirty money’
Michele Bachmann received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Vennes and his family and also wrote a letter of request for his presidential pardon. However, she retracted it after Vennes became embroiled in the Petters scandal.

Bachmann initially donated a portion of her campaign contributions from the Vennes’--$9,200—to MnTC in an apparent attempt to wash her hands of it. However, MTC returned the check to Bachmann, calling it “dirty money.” Bachmann later sent the money to another organization affiliated with MnTC.

Similarly, after the Petters scandal broke, Coleman donated $14,600 to the Boys and Girls Club in October, which represented the amount of money Tom Petters had donated to his campaign in this election cycle.

Gov. Pawlenty’s office did not immediately return requests for information about Pawlenty’s relati onship with Vennes or whether he intended to return any of Vennes’ campaign contributions.

However, one other question remains: Would a President Pawlenty grant Frank Vennes Jr. the pardon he believes he deserves?

Karl Bremer is a Stillwater writer and can be reached at saintcroix@aol.com.