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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Revenue forecast

The November forecast was released today, and the news was mainly good. The state is expected to have a $700 million surplus, due to the economic recovery and increased tax revenue.

People are already arguing about what should be done with the money, but the law says that any surplus has to first be used to undo the accounting gimmicks that the legislature created the last time around, and I agree with this. Accounting gimmicks are utter nonsense, and it was shameful that they were passed in the first place. Righting this wrong has top priority, and that will probably take care of the entire surplus.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Pawlenty in the Middle

SurveyUSA is tracking the approval ratings of all 50 U.S. governors. Their latest tracking poll results are here. Pawlenty is about average in terms of popularity. More detailed breakdowns are here. There is also a neat chart here.

His latest trend has been a slow creep downward. Come on, Tim, call a special session! That will get the popularity up!


Back from an "extended" Thanksgiving break. So what happened? It looks like all the politicians are still around here with few changes. Am I missing anything?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Her latest kolumn is about how nice Thanksgiving is. I can't really disagree with her here. Everybody, have a happy Thanksgiving!

No new taxes!

When Governor Pawlenty vowed not to increase taxes if he was elected governor, was there a double-secret clause in there making the clause moot for double-digit property tax increases?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Pawlenty is already saying it's not his fault, that local officials are responsible for it. But consider this: local governments have to pay for the most basic of services: education, police, fire protection. When the state government cuts LGA and education funding, the cities still have to provide these services. Thus, they must rely on the more unfair and unpopular property tax, instead of more fair income taxes.

As Senate Tax Chair Larry Pogemiller says, the reduction in property taxes that were the result of the 2001 tax reform bill may soon be gone entirely.

Go read

...the article in City Pages today about PZ Myers, the owner and proprietor of www.pharyngula.org.

Special election results

Special election returns are in, and Republicans can't be terribly happy about the results: the DFL picked up a seat in the Senate by capturing a seat covering Plymouth and Minnetonka that was formerly held by a Republican. The other election, in Wright County, was not very surprising, as the Republican candidate won in a three-way race.

The Republican loss in Senate District 43 was not due to a weak candidate: Judy Johnson was the mayor of Plymouth. Although Republicans will talk about how a low-turnout special election doesn't mean anything, it is still troubling for them that they lost by nine points in what has traditionally been a Republican district.

Next up is the special election in St. Cloud. The Democrats have another very good pickup opportunity here for the Senate, as Tarryl Clark is the DFL candidate, who has come close to beating Dave Kleis in the past. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Purchase of plane by state is A-OK

So says the Legislative Auditor. Still, coming up with criteria such that only one bidder can fulfill them doesn't sound like good government to me. There should always be options.

Special elections

There is a special election today for Senate Districts 19 and 43. Results are here.

In addition, there will be a special election for two seats (a House and a Senate seat) up in St. Cloud on December 27th. Yes, that's right: two days after Christmas. And who decided this? Our governor, Tim Pawlenty.

Since the legislature isn't going back into session until the beginning of March, the election could have been held any time between now and probably the middle of February. It's not like there is a rush for this. However, Republican tactics are to make elections as inconvenient as possible so as few people as possible show up. This is obviously the thinking behind the December 27th election date, but the reasoning goes further than that. Since St. Cloud is a college town, and since college students tend to vote Democratic, the election date was also almost certainly deliberately chosen to be at a time when school is not in session and students are not around, to ensure that the student vote is not heard. Real nice.

See, this is one of those things that demonstrate the fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats. I think that voting in and of itself is a good thing, and something that should be as easy as possible. If that means more Republicans show up to the polls, that's great. The more, the merrier: high turnout is an end in itself. Republicans, though, will try to manipulate elections to make them as inconvenient as possible (two days before Thanksgiving, or two days after Christmas) to try and tilt things their way.

I don't think democracy is a club to be wielded against your opponents.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Today, Katherine Kersten turns her kolumn into a blatant Republican media outlet. It's not hidden in even the slightest way: she simply lets Ron Eibensteiner, the former chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, make baseless attacks on Mike Hatch.

The background of the story is as follows: Mike Hatch obtains a letter that he thought was proof of a campaign violation (there is some dispute over whether he took the letter with or without lobbyist Ron Jerich's knowledge). Based on the evidence, criminal charges are filed against Eibensteiner, alleging that he violated campaign finance laws. Eibensteiner is found not guilty.

Now, I'm not saying Hatch didn't act in some pretty questionable ways. A legislative auditor's report found as much. However, Eibensteiner in the column rants and raves without offering any proof. "Eibensteiner is convinced that Hatch saw the letter as political gold, and waited for an opportunity to use it to maximum advantage." It's nice that he thinks that, but where is the evidence? "[Hatch was] consumed with rage and vindictiveness on the stand," Eibensteiner claims. His attorney says "The story here is the abuse of office of the attorney general to satisfy his own ambitions and go after his political enemies." Again, there is absolutely no proof offered, only ridiculous attacks.

I guess Eibensteiner and his attorney have every right to be angry that Eibensteiner had criminal charges filed against him. I also guess that they have the freedom to rant and rave about Hatch, although making serious charges without offering a shred of evidence is something that I would expect a lawyer would know better not to do. But it's pretty sad that Kersten has nothing better to do with her column-inches than to give Eibensteiner a soap box for his

Stupidity has consequences

Or, more accurately, refusing to teach students science has consequences for those students.

To the news that schools are taking a critical look at high school curricula in terms of science, I say good. Students who aren't taught basic skills like science should not be in accredited institutes of higher education. I hope that the University of Minnesota and other Minnesota schools are doing the same thing.

At the same time, this is more evidence that education, like health care, can never be the beautiful free market that some conservatives believe. It is sad that as a result of the shortsighted beliefs of their parents, children who have no say in what is taught in schools may have to suffer their entire lives. I don't think kids are pushing Creationism in schools, but when parents inflict their ignorance on others, the kids suffer. In addition, the problems take years to manifest themselves. Curriculum decisions may not reveal their full consequences for ten years or more. A market where the effects aren't felt for years can't be a free market.

So in order to protect the education of all of our youth, we can't allow this nonsense to be taught in our schools. I think I would prefer to live in a world where our children are responsible for technological breakthroughs, not Korean or Chinese children.

John Hottinger retiring

Senator John Hottinger is retiring. His name is yet another added to the list of retirees.

Again, other than that, I've got nothin'.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Tax Fairness

A discussion between Joel Kramer of Growth and Justice and Lynn Reed of the Taxpayers Association. Reed makes it sound like a poll tax is a good thing. There is also a distinction drawn between a merely high-tax state and a high-tax state that makes good investments. Minnesota used to be the latter; now, I'm not so sure (Stadia anyone?)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Idiot Protesters

I meant to catch this yesterday, but it slipped my mind. Apparently, when torture-loving' John Yoo spoke at the University of Minnesota Wednesday, a bunch of protesters managed to disrupt the event with their protests. I'm hardly a fan of Yoo, but the best way to take on idiotic ideas is to debate them and show how stupid they are, not yell the loudest. When you do that, you give the supporters of these idiotic ideas power, as they think that they are so right people are trying to beat them down.

Why didn't they just flood the event and ask pointed, intelligent questions that would show how wrong Yoo is? Beats me. It does anti-torture supporters no favours, though, when protesters resort to these tactics when faced with people like Yoo.


Boy, Norm Coleman really hates the U.N. Now he is taking credit for keeping the Internet in the hands of the U.S. and out of the hands of the U.N. Funny, I hadn't heard that Coleman had been appointed ambassador.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I normally don't do national politics. But after I read that Scott McClellan said Democratic hawk John Murtha (D-PA) is "endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore," I thought about what Steve Sviggum had to say about DFL representatives up there in Bemidji. And then it hit me, like a diamond bullet striking me right between the eyes:

This is all these people know how to do!

Now I will go have some more nightmares.

Barricade the door!

Oh no! It's sex!

Sviggum on the rampage

House Speaker Steve Sviggum went up to Bemidji this week, where he ranted and raved in what appears to be a preview of the Republican strategy for the next elections. It appears to be based on hyper-partisanship and an appeal to right-wing social nuts. Sounds like a great plan!

Sviggum seems pretty ticked off that the area is now represented by two DFLers, Frank Moe and Brita Sailer. In order to turn their constituents against them, Sviggum said that those two and House Minority Leader Matt Entenza are "three peas in a pod." Yep, Moe and Sailer are definitely "liberal, leftist extremists" as Sviggum puts it. Why, I bet all those DFLers are down in St. Paul smoking dope right as we speak! Those darn "urban liberals" who are running Bemidji, doing, uh, urban liberal stuff like, hmmm, walking in parks and driving hybrid cars or something.

You shouldn't govern from the extreme radical left, he said (and added, probably as an afterthought, that governing from the extreme radical right is bad too). So how should people govern? By passing the extreme radical right ban on gay marriage! In fact, gay marriage seems to be the only reason that David Myers is challenging Rep. Moe, as Myers admits that "Frank Moe has done a good job representing his constituents." However, Myers needs to be elected so he can apparently not represent his constituents by being a right-wing tool. That sounds like a good campaign platform.

Add in a few lies about how the Evil Dean Johnson and Senate Democrats were solely responsible for the state's shutdown, despite the fact that the governor and House are Republican, and you're done!

If this is the Republican strategy for next year, bring it on. I think Minnesotans are getting really tired of partisanship, and attempts to paint moderate Democrats as extremists, while pushing an extremist agenda of their own, are not going to get Republicans any votes. They want results, not a lot of hot air. What Sviggum is pushing is enough to launch a fleet of balloons.

Ignorance is bliss

This article in Pulse Magazine about a Sixth Congressional District Republican Candidate forum is pretty damn scary. Sure, when you take into consideration the fact that the candidates are Senator Michelle Bachmann, Rep. Jim Knoblach, Rep. Phil Krinkie, and apparent Tancredo-clone Jay Esmay, you know it's not going to be a Mensa meeting. But still, the sheer ignorance of some of the things that came out of these candidates' mouths is shocking.

Unsurprisingly, Michelle Bachmann wins for the most idiocy. Apparently, she just assumed that suburbs in Europe are the same thing as suburbs in this country, ranting about how since the rioting in France was in the suburbs, out-of-control upper-middle-class youth who were sick of playing Halo on their Xboxes were responsible. Wow. I honestly don't know where to begin with that one. How about a discussion about the birth of suburbs in the U.S., driven entirely by the Interstate Highway program, contrasted with the fact that suburbs in European countries are, oh, just hundreds of years old and have nothing to do with white flight like here. Or how about her later comments on the "Muslim faction" that is taking over France, when the rioters said nothing about Islam. We could merely start with the fact that Bachmann has almost certainly never been out of this country, but her ignorant bigoted supporters would probably see that as a good thing.

What bothers me most is not that these politicians were willing to simply make things up in an attempt to win over the crowd; politicians do that all the time. The worse thing is that these Republican candidates are probably happy with their ignorance and have no desire at all to find out the truth behind the most pressing issues of today. Good luck, sixth district voters!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Katherine Kersten's Korner

If today's Katherine Kersten kolumn is supposed to be an example of one of those scholarly-backed articles that Todd Flanders talked about yesterday, I really, really find it wanting. Maybe wanting is not the exact word. How about incredibly insulting?

The article is ostensibly about how we need to get al-Qaeda members to talk in order to gain intelligence on terrorist attacks. But the problem is that pesky human rights advocates just won't let good, moral, and decent people like John Yoo do whatever it takes to get those confessions out. See, according to Yoo, who was a lawyer at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel and analyzed the legal protections of prisoners, the Geneva Conventions are "documents designed for another age." The next time that American soldiers are captured by the enemy and tortured because their evil captors also believe that "The Geneva Conventions are designed for another age", I'm sure our soldiers will appreciate the fine legal wisdom that Yoo has shown us.

Next in the article comes the straw man, which must be, according to Kersten's supporters, a favourite of scholarly work. Kersten says, "Some human rights advocates insist that anything beyond simple questioning of Al-Qaida operatives -- tactics such as sleep deprivation, isolation and even loud music -- is barred as 'cruel, inhuman or degrading' treatment." Maybe there are some human rights activists out there who think this. I don't know of any. Kersten tries to paint all opponents of torture as people who want to give al-Qaeda members a teddy bear and a cup of hot cocoa or something, but it ain't gonna work. People who are opposed to this administration's torture of prisoners have ample examples of real torture, not things like Britney Spears music at loud volumes. We are not flower-child wackos.

What comes next? The false dilemma! "I pose this question to human rights activists," says Yoo. " 'We've captured a top Al-Qaida leader, who knows of impending attacks. Would you be willing to do anything more than ask polite questions to prompt him to talk?" Yoo seems to imply that the only options are to ask polite questions or do whatever "need to be done." I don't know of anybody who thinks that interrogation should be limited to "polite questions." The very concept is insulting; we don't even limit Mike Tice to polite questions. But just because people think that polite questions are inadequate doesn't mean that we can buy Yoo's position that the Geneva Conventions are outdated and therefore we can do whatever we want to this hypothetical leader. It's possible to interrogate people without using torture and get useful information. In fact, not using torture is the only way to get useful information, as many people, like the Israelis, have learned.

Second, please, put down the remote! This is not the show 24, this is real life. And as much as torture advocates like to talk about the "ticking time bomb" argument for torture, it is not relevant. It simply does not happen enough so that there should be legalized exceptions to a ban on torture. Torture should be illegal period, just like murder. But sometimes with murder, there are certain extenuating circumstances that would make it pretty much impossible for a person who had no choice but to kill to be found guilty of the crime. If we did wake up on a Fox TV show and this ticking time bomb event did happen, even if torture were illegal, nobody would prosecute or convict.

Kersten ends with "...That day, we will wish we had stopped hurling insults at John Yoo and engaged him in a serious discussion." Based on Yoo's comments in her column, I have serious doubts that Yoo is capable of having a serious discussion about torture. Anybody who believes the Geneva Conventions are "outdated" and who believes that the anti-torture position can be summed up by requiring that interrogators do no more than ask "polite questions" is not somebody to be taken seriously. Neither is the person who puts him in her column.

Rep. Ruth Johnson won't run again

DFL Representative Ruth Johnson of St. Peter has announced that she is retiring and won't run for re-election next year. This is her third non-consecutive term in the House. She was first elected in 1996, left in 1998 to be Mike Freeman's Lieutenant Governor pick, came back in 2000, was redistricted into a district with another incumbent, Republican Howard Swenson, whom she lost to in 2002, and then finally came back in 2004 beating Swenson in the rematch.

Why is she quitting? Her reason of "in a Democracy, we take turns" probably has some truth to it. If you don't have the passion for the job, being a legislator isn't a whole lot of fun, and Johnson seems to have lost a bit of her passion for the job. It happens, especially when you are in the minority and you discover that there are other ways to make a difference in people's lives outside of the legislature. She was a tireless advocate for education, and she will undoubtedly find a way to continue that.

So far, there are no Republicans running for the seat. The chair of the St. Peter school board, Terry Morrow, is expected to run as a Democrat in 2006.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Eibensteiner not guilty

Former GOP state chair Ron Eibensteiner has been found not guilty of campaign finance violations.

Again, that's about all I can say.

Becky Lourey officially running for governor

State Senator Becky Lourey is officially running for governor.

That's pretty much it for now. I can't think of anything else to say.

Kersten invades "The Simpsons"!

How? Well, it looks like Todd Flanders thinks Katherine Kersten is kool.

Now, everybody knows that the Flanderses are Republicans, but I was a bit surprised to see one of them living in Plymouth and rooting for Kersten. Besides, isn't Todd Flanders supposed to be gay? I wonder how he can square his support for Kersten with her comments about homosexuals.

Let's just ignore the fact that Kersten's kolumns have as much scholarly backing as a term paper written by one of Clem Haskins' basketball players. I didn't see any scholarly citations in her column on gay marriage.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Today's Kersten kolumn can be summed up thusly: it's not nice to call people names. For everybody whose education ended before kindergarten, I suppose this is a new and fascinating thought. For most people...well, do you really need 488 words to say this?

The best part of the kolumn isn't this broad and deep idea, though. It's this little gem: "It's part of the much-noted recent decline in civility -- an anti-intellectualism, or rejection of reason, that afflicts our public discourse." I bet Kersten wrote that without the tiniest bit of irony entering her brain, considering that it is conservatives like her, and in fact Kersten herself, that is leading the charge of the anti-intellectual brigade to rampage through our public discourse.

For example, might it just possibly be anti-intellectual to say that gay marriage is causing a revolution and then fail to show a single fact that demonstrates this? How about a screed that trashes anti-war protestors based on their alleged media-whoredom and the groups that organized the rally? I wouldn't say that these things are hate speech, but they certainly aren't logical arguments based on facts.

Then, you have Republicans pushing Intelligent Design creationism, about as anti-intellectual an idea there is. How about comments like "America-hater" or "terrorist-coddler" that the right has used to impugn the patriotism of people who question this country's foreign policies? If there's one thing that the left will never be able to match with the right, it's the ability to name call. Commie. Baby-killer. Traitor. There are so many, and almost none of them are original. And I'm not even going to get into the policies that this current administration has with regards to outright lying to the public.

Of course, the Republicans don't have a monopoly on anti-intellectualism. But they have raised it to an art form, and they have made it a huge part of their election and governing strategy. For Kersten to complain about it is the proverbial pot calling the kettle a cheese-eating surrender monkey.

Target's nonsense

Political? Yes, partly. Minnesota? Definitely. So there's no reason not to comment on Target's actions of late.

I am referring, of course, to Target pharmacists who refuse to dispense Plan B emergency contraception. Like many people, I e-mailed Target about this ridiculous practice, and I got the same e-mail back that is posted over at Americablog. There is also a good discussion of the issue at that site.

I'm with John: Target's explanation that they have to allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense prescriptions is in accordance with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Now, I'm not a lawyer, but I think that the act protects people from being discriminated against with regards to their religion, which is a good thing. It also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to respect employees' religious beliefs if it doesn't interfere with their jobs, which again is not a terrible thing. However, I'm pretty sure that the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not give employees the right to refuse to do their job and use religion as the excuse. However, this is exactly what Target is arguing.

Actually, Target knows that this excuse is a bunch of bull, because they say it only applies to Plan B. So, presumably, a Catholic Target employee would not be allowed to refuse to ring up a box of condoms because he or she is opposed to birth control. So Target would be going against their "interpretation" of the law, but no problem. I specifically asked in my e-mail to Target if a Catholic employee would be allowed to refuse to ring up condoms; apparently, the answer is no.

There are a few good solutions to this problem. First, Target could stop caving in to theocrats and require its employees to do their jobs. Or the FDA could stop playing politics and approve Plan B for over-the-counter sales. My personal favorite, and the most extreme, is to simply legalize all drugs and get the pharmacists out of the way entirely.

I'm really getting sick of religious zealots making medical decisions for me.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Trade mission to China

I really don't have a lot to say about the trade mission to China. It's a good thing. I'm a free-trader. That won't win points among the far-left people in the world (or the far-right people in the world who are concerned with China's treatment of Christians), but I think that the more trade we have with China, the more open they will become. And if Minnesota companies can reap some benefits from that trade, it's all good.

Besides, I'm not trying to win points from those aforementioned groups anyway.

Mental Health

Lori Sturdevant is absolutely right: this took a lot of courage. Had John Hottinger been facing cancer, or a stroke, or some other health issue that affected his ability to lead, everybody would have supported him. Depression still has too much of a stigma attached to it, even though it is just as real as any other health issue.

Meta-Katherine Kersten's Korner

Instead of blogging about a Katherine Kersten kolumn, how about blogging about a column that talks about a Katherine Kersten kolumn? Readers' representative Kate Perry talks about Kersten today.

Why is Kersten there? Well, as she puts it, "Many people think what I say. Generally these people don't have a forum." If you are talking about playing fast and loose with facts, and throwing logic out the window, then perhaps these people don't deserve a forum. It's not that people don't want her ideas "to see the light of day" as she puts it in her best martyrdom voice, it's that her ideas are vapid, uninspired, and insulting to the intelligence of readers. Why not give some crazy street-corner guy a column?

There are some conservatives out there who can be reasonable most of the time (John Cole of Balloon Juice is one who I read regularly, even though I don't always agree). Why not find a conservative who is thoughtful and doesn't simply recite Republican talking points, no matter how logically tortured?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Today's Kersten kolumn is a screed-less tribute to today, Veteran's Day. It talks about a site in Rochester that is devoted to veterans, something that I did not know about (it's nice to learn new things). Kersten must have taken her sanity pills today, and we can all be glad.

It is important to remember today. With public sentiment running against the current Iraq war, news stories about prisoner abuse and some questionable tactics used by our soldiers, it may be hard to think about all those veterans who lived and died doing only the best for this country. The vast majority of people who have served the U.S. in our armed forces were good, decent people, because they were our neighbors, our friends, and our family members. Let's not let the few bad apples or the current leadership of our country overshadow the sacrifices that these fine people have been making for over 200 years, first to create a country based on freedom, and then to protect it when it was in peril.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Heating Assistance

It's good that an agreement has been made to give more slack to low-income families this winter in terms of heat assistance. This winter is going to be completely awful for natural gas prices. It would be nice for the federal government to stop cutting taxes and pony up some money for an actual emergency, but at least this is a start.

Katherine Kersten AWOL?

It's Thursday, but no column. What can I do?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Kelly post-mortem

A Pioneer Press article attempts to answer the question, why?

Legislators and rental allowances

The Star Tribune has an article about rental allowances for legislators. WCCO had been poking around this issue recently, and I guess the Star Tribune was as well. I think it is ridiculous that the distance minimum for getting the allowance is 50 miles. Lots of people commute a lot farther than that on a daily basis and don't get any allowance for it. I think the distance should be extended to 80 or 90 miles. If more legislators had to commute to the Capitol daily on our roads, maybe they would finally do something about road funding.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Katherine Kersten Korrected

Paul Schmelzer in comments points out that the Star Tribune had to run a correction to Kersten's latest column, since it was full of errors. I really should have checked her "facts" myself instead of just being snarky, but I was so tired Sunday night I forgot. I'm glad others out there are fact-checking her, though, and I'll try to do better in the future.

Election results

Kelly loses big time. Shocking.

Too early to tell in Minneapolis, and I'm not going to stay up and wait. I guess you need to go here to see them.

Election day

It's been election day forever already! Why haven't you voted yet?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Katherine Kersten's Korner

The Star Tribune has posted Kersten's next column already, so it's time for another Katherine Kersten's Korner! This one could aptly be titled "Attack of the Homos" because Kersten swings her 10-watt thought bubble to illuminate Canada, and the repercussions of legalizing same-sex marriage there.

Can anybody guess whether Kersten thinks same-sex marriage is a bad thing or a good thing? You can? That's super. Let's take a look at how she goes about expressing her, ahem, "opinion" on this.

She starts off with a foul ball: she says that the anti gay-marriage amendment is "one of the biggest issues our state will face in the next legislative session." Not education, not health care, not the deteriorating condition of our roads, not jobs, but gay marriage. Yep, lots of people are worried about this issue. Unfortunately, it only goes downhill from here.

Kersten moves along to talk with a catholic bishop in Canada, who says that the legalization of gay marriage has created a "social revolution" in Canada. Personally, I find it extremely difficult to imagine Canadians revolting over anything, let alone gay marriage. They are just too polite. But nevertheless, apparently social structures are falling to the ground up north due to this.

Bishop Henry, who seems to think like Kersten, trots out the old conservative canard that if gay marriage is legalized, anybody who thinks that a man and woman are required to raised kids will be, in Henry's words, "the legal equivalent of racists." I have never understood this reasoning, for lots of reasons. First, who cares what some random Canadian (or American) thinks is the best form a family should take? I don't. Second, in the world I grew up in, a man and a woman weren't exactly the best parents around sometimes. What people like Henry are doing, when they present such a simplistic argument, is that the two worst male and female parents are better than the best same-sex couple. They will say that this isn't what they mean, but it is what they say.

Kersten also complains about how Canada is going through their laws to remove gender-specific language from the laws. That sounds good to me; what is wrong with using the word "spouse"? It would be nice if our own laws were gender neutral.

Next comes a perennial favorite for conservatives: children will be taught about homosexuality in schools. Since I believe in teaching facts and not teaching complete crap to further a political ideology, I am pretty offended that anybody would have a problem with teaching students that yes, homosexuals exist and that's okay. I doubt that Kersten realizes that GLBT teens are far more likely to commit suicide than the rest of the population, due to the fact that people like Kersten still can't get over the fact that homosexuals exist and that's okay. It's okay, really. And teaching students that it's okay is a good thing, not a bad thing.

And yes, it is going too far to brand talk against same-sex marriage as hate speech, but so far it sounds like the fear is what the so-called "thought police" could do, not what they have done.

Then, to sum up, Kersten says that nobody has taken advantage of the legalization of same-sex marriage. Hmm. It looks like Bishop Henry and Kersten called a revolution and nobody showed up. As far as putting this factoid in at the end of a column decrying same-sex marriage, it's a bit like building a house of cards and then slapping the lowest level out with a broomstick. I have a hunch that Kersten won't be guest-lecturing in any college-level composition classes in the near future.

Seriously, can we get a conservative columnist that doesn't simply rehash every tedious, boring, already destroyed Republican talking point out there? Come on, Star Tribune, is it that hard to find a conservative who can write more coherently than Kersten? Please tell me it's not that hard; this is a joke, right?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Coleman, Rybak hold big leads

So says a new Star Tribune Minnesota poll.

The Coleman numbers aren't very surprising, as Coleman has consistently been beating Kelly. However, the numbers in Minneapolis are more interesting, as this is the first time I recall seeing Rybak at more than 50%.

Katherine Kersten's Korner

It's time for yet another Katherine Kersten's Korner. Today, she is, like many conservatives, in histrionics over the recent anti-war rallies that many students participated in locally. Kersten, who seems to have a problem with youth today like all curmudgeons, is not pleased that high school and college students gathered together to protest the war and military recruitment on the University of Minnesota campus.

She doesn't waste much time in attacking the motives of those people who marched, saying that, "...for many of the fist-waving young people outside Coffman Union, media attention must have been the icing on the cake...Kids who join such demonstrations are likely to get their picture in the paper -- a pretty big deal when you're 17." Yes, these rambunctious teens were just looking for a way to get on TV. Perhaps some of them saw their compatriots in Madison last weekend, and felt a twinge of jealousy. Those partying rioters got their 15 seconds of fame, so how could students in Minnesota get on TV? They couldn't riot, since that was already done and it would look pretty tacky, so how about an anti-war rally? Yeah, that's the ticket! It would allow students to get on TV in a new, unique way. I'm sure that's what they were thinking.

Well, perhaps 17-year old students are not as shallow as Kersten may have been at that age. When I was 17, I was already engaged in politics, without any prompting on the part of my parents, so it is possible that these young adults are genuinely interested and knowledgeable about the situation in Iraq. If Kersten has only spent time around Young Republicans, though, she can be excused for believing that youth are ignorant and mainly interested in material possessions and/or getting some coño.

She also, in the midst of all of this, tosses in a backhanded slap against the media: "The media are generally an easy mark whenever two or more are gathered with a placard (preferably bearing an anti-Bush message)." Oh, Katherine! You know that when you rant against the "liberal media", it's tickles me so, in that way that only you can do.

What did these kids learn, according to Kersten? Well, that it's more fun to be outside protesting on a November afternoon than slogging away in geometry class, apparently (not everybody needed remedial studies like you, though, Katherine!). You know, I'm really detecting a thread of bitterness from her, aimed at those young students who were more adventurous and more interested in world affairs. It really makes me wonder if she has some issues stemming from her school experience that she needs to address.

But eventually she leaves her sad reminiscing behind and moves to the issue that really gets pro-war supporters' panties in a bunch: who else shows up at these anti-war rallies. Apparently, this recent anti-war rally was organized by a group calling itself "Socialist Alternative," a name guaranteed to flip out conservatives. Other conservatives have decried these anti-war rallies because of who shows up, like Socialists, or, God forbid, GLBT groups! Gasp! According to Kersten, these groups were simply using students for their nefarious ends, which probably means setting up workers' soviets in all major cities in the country or something like that.

Of course, the fact that this was an anti-war rally, not a pro-Marxism, rally, doesn't matter. I think it's time we remind Kersten and other conservatives that this is an example of their favorite faulty attack, the ad hominem argument, to try to score political points. Honestly, where would conservatives be without ad hominem attacks? Serving fries at McDonald's, most likely. But seriously, the people who organize a message have nothing to do with the validity of the message itself, for those conservatives who have forgotten what ad hominem means.

See, an ad hominem attack is a logical fallacy. It would not be a valid argument to point out, for example, that the conservative ideology is bankrupt because it is supported by indicted criminals, drug addicts, pedophiles, incestuous child abusers, and so on. Logically, the personal failings of those people who happen to believe in the conservative ideology have nothing to do with how valid that ideology, which is a good thing for the few honest conservatives out there, who would otherwise be drowned in a sea of filth.

Kersten, like other conservatives, can no longer find any real justification for the war in Iraq. However, their inability to admit wrong in any situation means that they simply, in a feat of psychological gymnastics, turn their moral bankruptcy against those people who were proved right from the beginning. The contortions that must exist in the psyches of people like Kersten must be, in Spock's words, "Fascinating." Unfortunately, the inability of conservatives to admit they werewrongt has real consequences, which is what those anti-war protesters were trying to say.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Jerry Dempsey retiring

Via www.raycox.net, Rep. Ray Cox's blog, we see that Republican Rep. Jerry Dempsey is not running again.

The thing that comes to mind when I think of Rep. Dempsey is that he likes to yell. And that's about it. He did get elected over and over in his district, though, so he was a formidable opponent for aspiring DFL representatives. However, in the last election, Sandy Wollschlager, who is quite the unique candidate, managed to get pretty close. It's going to be hard to run as a Republican next year, I think, so if Wollschlager runs again, the Democrats may have a pretty good shot at winning this district.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Coleman votes against ANWR drilling, but is still a jerk

So Norm did vote against the budget bill, and therefore against drilling in ANWR, finally fulfilling a campaign promise after bobbing and weaving all over the map. But he still found a way to be a complete ass about it. When asked about whether pressure from environmental groups affected his vote, he said, "If anything, I wish my environmental friends would care as much about people as some of them do about caribou."

Let's see: his Republican buddies just voted to cut Medicare and Medicaid (and was itching to cut food stamp benefits) so that they can further increase the deficit by giving out more tax cuts to the rich, and Norm has the audacity to say that environmentalists don't care about people? Bill Frist, in a brave show of helping people removed $4 billion to combat avian flu because he was worried that Democrats might want to spend just a bit more money on something that could cripple the health care infrastructure of much of the country. Yeah. Whenever Republicans cast a vote on some bill these days, I definitely feel like they are showing their love for the people. The richest 1% of people, of course.

Kelly's follies

According to Checks and Balances, MCCL (Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life) is starting to campaign on behalf of Randy Kelly, sending pro-life literature to people living in St. Paul. Yep, I'm sure that's going to put him over the top.

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Today's Katherine Kersten kolumn is hardly worth commenting on. It's feel-good glurge again. Some Christian college students have opened up a coffee shop. That's smashing. Good for them, I guess.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Flippity floppity bippity boppity

Can Norm ever make up his mind?

Would he agree that oxygen is necessary for living things, or would that be going too far out on a limb?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Pure evil

If you have an opportunity to drastically reduce cancer deaths using a vaccine but deny it to teen girls because you think it will encourage them to act immorally, then I think that's about as evil as you can get.

Why not cut out the middleman? If you want to punish people you think are immoral, let's not wait for cancer to kill people, let's bring back stoning!

Another poll shows doom for Kelly

Another poll is showing Kelly losing the mayor's race big time. Larry Jacobs, director of the university's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, doesn't understand it, but it's pretty simple to me. Kelly is an uncharismatic politician who turned his back on his party to endorse a hack that hasn't done anything for the city of St. Paul and never will. Why should people vote for somebody like that?

Katherine Kersten's Korner

It's time for yet another Katherine Kersten's Korner. Today, it's on a topic of little importance but lots of media hot air: the NBA dress code. Wow. So the NBA is going to require it's players to wear business attire. Some people decry this as an attack against basketball culture, and, by extension, an attack against black culture. Others, like Kersten, thinks this is a smashing idea and may very well turn around the decline of Western Civilization. Me, I don't give a damn. Requiring employees to adhere to a dress code is nothing new; even McDonald's has one. If NBA players think that wearing a suit is too large a sacrifice to make in order to be paid millions of dollars a year, they can find a new job.

I frankly don't understand why anybody would comment on something so mundane, Kersten included, but I suppose it is just a way for her to write the same old, finger-wagging, "tsk tsk"-ing column that conservatives love so much. There is nothing new in her writing; the same thing could have been printed two generations ago decrying the hips of Elvis. It's the same old hand-wringing every time the latest fad comes around, and frankly, it's worn out. Yes, we get it! What the kids are doing today is so awful, this isn't "culture," this isn't "music," blah blah blah.

It's also a way to fight the ultimate enemy in many conservatives' eyes: the individual. She doesn't even hide it: the coach she approvingly quotes says, "To combat this tendency, he bars his players from wearing anything distinctive -- flashy bow ties or vests -- that calls attention to them as individuals." Yes, it would be awful for people to be individuals. There are no individuals, just the collective. Do you work for the collective, be it your place of employment, church, or whatnot, and don't be unique.

In the end, that's the world that conservatives like Kersten want. A world where they aren't challenged at all, where there aren't any individuals rocking the board. They can't wrap their minds around why people would find rap music or NBA players to be entertaining and popular. Neither can I in many respects, but where I just don't care about these things, Kersten and others want to eliminate it so they don't have to think about it at all. They want to cling to a mythical time when everybody did as they were told, an idea that according to Ned Flanders, "only exists in the minds of us Republicans." I sure hope Kersten doesn't lose too much sleep over the thought of people wearing "baseball caps, chains and oversized jerseys."