Thursday, March 31, 2005
One thing I forgot to mention earlier is that the House will be taking up the anti-gay marriage amendment today supposedly. Look for a long debate with tears and disgusting arguments. Ick.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
It's shocking, but the Attorney General has found that the proposed stadium deal is unconstitutional, for all the obvious reasons. The governor through a spokesperson is hemming and hawing, but it's pretty clear what the law is, as well as what legislative intent is.
Deal on the bonding bill
At around two o'clock today, an agreement was made on the bonding bill (see here for an overview). It sounds like they pretty much split the difference and came to an agreement, like good legislators should. It will still have to be voted on by the House and Senate and signed into law by the governor, but hopefully, that will be pro forma at this point.
The details are too vague for me to decide if this is good or not, but any deal at this point is better than no deal.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Universal health care
Blogger is bloggered again tonight (you get what you pay for, I guess), cutting down on the posting (or multiplying the content, depending on how you look at it). But a bill has been introduced to give health care to all Minnesotans. It's not going anywhere this year, but the fact that it has been introduced, and has bipartisan support, is interesting.
This is going to happen eventually. We can't afford double-digit increases forever and Medicare will become a crisis long before Social Security. I do think, however, that this should be a nationwide thing, not necessarily just a Minnesota thing. We already get screwed when it comes to giving the federal government more than we get back, so paying for health care for all of our citizens while also paying for the citizens of Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas is a bit unfair. If we do have a plan like this, perhaps we could withhold our federal taxes too until the rest of the country came around.
The House passed their budget resolution today by a vote of 67-66. The Greiling-Dorman amendment, which would have increased spending by around $350 million, failed on a 71-62 vote. Only one Republican besides Dorman voted for the amendment (Ron Erhardt was the other). Six Democrats voted against the amendment: Rep. Denise Dittrich, Larry Hosch, Dan Larson, Ann Lenczewski, Joe Opatz, and Bev Scalze. Of those, maybe Denise Dittrich and Ann Lenczewski had to vote no. Rep. Maria Ruud, who represents Republican Minnetonk and Eden Prairie, voted yes for example.
So much for more funding for education this session.
Monday, March 28, 2005
Education: a winning plan
Blogger is all bloggered tonight, so hopefully this will get through. A story today details how Minnesota is at or near the top in the nation when it comes to how many people have high school and college diplomas. Even neighbor states are nowhere close to Minnesota.
This demonstrates what a great investment education really is. All of these highly-educated people create economic growth, which in turn attracts more highly-educated people to join in. It's a self-reinforcing trend that gives our state a boost that it might not otherwise get considering its climate and location. And as the story hints at, higher taxes are not necessarily a deterrent. As long as we have the jobs, cultural amenities, and transportation network (let's work on that), we will be able to attract and keep these knowledge workers. The cry of "lower taxes no matter what" is in the long run a destructive plan.
Minimum wage blues
It is often said that the only people who live on minimum wage jobs are teenagers working part time. This is not always the case, as a story today in the Star Tribune shows. Many adults with children have to get by on $5.15 an hour with no benefits.
The minimum wage has not been increased in some time. I generally don't like these kinds of laws, as they interfere with the market, but I also think that we should continue to allow immigrants into this country, which will expand our labor pool. Since I'd rather see more immigrants get the chance to live free in this country than not, I think a minimum wage is necessary to provide a salary floor that will keep businesses from racing to the bottom, especially in service industries. Raising the minimum wage also helps generate wealth as people have more money to spend. It's time for an increase to pass.
Friday, March 25, 2005
Of Gophers Stadiums
I feel the need to talk more about the subject of a Gophers stadium. As I said a couple days ago, I am generally for this plan. Some people have concerns about the fact that money is going to a stadium as opposed to academics. I completely understand these concerns. In fact, I think that we should do away with Division I athletics altogether. When you mix high-revenue sports with academics, bad things happen: from abysmally low graduation rates to cheating to money scandals. It's not good.
However, this is not an ideal world. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you have the athletics program that you have, not the one you necessarily want. We do have successful sports programs, and they need a place to play. In addition, while it is obviously possible to have TCF give millions of dollars to sponsor "TCF Bank Stadium," you are never going to see them sponsor "The TCF Bank Russian Area Studies Program." Capital costs are separate from operating costs, and it is much harder to find non-public permanent sources for the latter.
Thus, I think we should take what we can get, and this deal does look like a good one, especially when compared to the pro sports stadium deals. It's not ideal, and it doesn't address the real academic needs facing the University, but we can't let the perfect get in the way of the good.
Tax the Texan
I must say that I was a bit surprised at this proposal from Senate Minority Leader Dick Day to tax Red McCombs upon the sale of the Vikings. After all, Dick Day is a Republican, and they generally aren't the ones calling for $25 million taxes on the wealthy.
However, I admit that the plan does make sense. Key to this is the argument that if McCombs does successfully sell the Vikings, because he is from Texas, he will not pay Minnesota capital gains taxes. This, after using a stadium that the public paid for. If it ends up that he doesn't pay Minnesota taxes on the sale, one where he will make a pretty penny, I see no problem with Day's plan.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Senate committee approves Gopher stadium
The Senate Government Operations committee approved a funding plan for a Gophers stadium. The plan would have the state pay $7 million a year for 25 years, representing 40% of the cost of the stadium. The University would have to raise the other 60%.
I am against state funding for professional sports teams. The University is another matter, however. First, the University is state-funded to begin with. Second, this plan has the state paying for less than half the cost of the stadium, which is much less than funding plans for a Twins or Vikings stadium.
A Big Ten university needs a real stadium. This is a fiscally responsible plan that benefits the state.
With the legislature heading home for Easter break, progress on many issues remains slow. The bonding bill is still in limbo, although there is progress and there is sure to be an agreement before too long. What I find to be more interesting is the fact that the budget resolution is nowhere to be seen.
The budget resolution sets the total amount of the state's budget. It provides the starting point for the negotiations as to how to divide the money among the various state agencies. It's the first step in the long budget process.
However, it hasn't been passed yet. The House was supposed to take it up yesterday, but it was pulled at the last minute because the votes weren't there. Not only is Dan Dorman looking for a larger budget than Speaker Sviggum and House leadership want, but rumor has it Rep. Ron Erhardt won't go along either. If those two switched and all the Democrats voted in a block, that would be 68-66 in favor of the higher budget, and that just wouldn't do. It's unlikely that all the Democrats would vote for a larger budget, however, so that probably means that even more Republicans are flaking off. In any case, the vote is too close, so Sviggum couldn't risk bringing it up.
So now what happens? Unless Sviggum can keep his caucus in line, it looks like the budget will include more money for education and other things. It's a long way from the 81-53 advantage Republicans used to have.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Impasse on bonding bill
The House and Senate can't come to an agreement on the bonding bill. Big surprise. They are 7% apart, but that gulf is too wide to bridge apparently.
Look, this isn't that hard. We didn't have a bonding bill last year and it's time for one. Split the difference and be done with it. House Republicans will have to spend more than they want, the Senate less. A good compromise, in the words of Calvin, leaves everybody unhappy.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Senate Budget Bandaid
The Senate today proposed a plan to take care of the budget deficit even if the legislature can't decide on an overall budget fix. This plan would take care of the shortfall by enacting some of Pawlenty's cuts (not the cuts to health care, however), and raising revenue by preventing some taxes from expiring.
Preventing cuts to health care is good news, but I think this is not much more than a gimmick. It would be nice to see the legislature agree to a comprehensive budget that covers everything, instead of a temporary fix. There's still time.
I think the best part about the article is Steve Sviggum's comments, however. He panned the proposal for "not giving enough money to public schools." Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! And, "The do-nothing Legislature last year was caused by Senate Democrats." Oh, Steve, your caucus may be in disarray, but at least you still have your sense of humor.
I am disgusted by the actions of Senator Dayton, Coleman, and four members of Minnesota's Congressional delegation. Few times in American history has Congress as an institution sunk so low.
If these people had any courage at all, they would now go to every person in Minnesota who has ever had to make such a decision about a loved one, or will have to make such a decision, and say, "Despite your beliefs that you are doing what is best for your family, 535 strangers from Washington have the right to interfere with your family's decision when it is politically expedient."
But no. Not one of these people has the courage to face somebody who has made this decision, and say directly to them, "I know better than you what is best for you and your family. I even know better than the court system." Cowards.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
I have a new e-mail address: email@example.com. Powerline bloggers take note.
Representative Dan Dorman
The Star Tribune has a blurb on Representative Dan Dorman He is "revolting" against House Republican leadership by supporting a larger budget, and thus higher taxes. Since the Republicans hold the House 68-66, a defection of one person is a big deal, although the article correctly points out the fact that not all Democrats may be willing to vote for higher taxes themselves.
Rep. Dorman also went against Republicans last year by refusing to support their huge Local Government Aid cuts. I've heard that the House Republican caucus is in complete disarray these days and that a lot of Republicans are looking to bail on their leadership. If Rep. Dorman does take a half-dozen other Republicans with him, as he says he might, then things could really get interesting.
As expected, the House Civil Law Committee approved a bill banning gay marriage yesterday, on a seven to five vote. The House voted for this amendment last year, so this really is no surprise.
The committee held their hearing in Grand Rapids yesterday, possibly because the Iron Range is socially conservative despite being a DFL stronghold. I didn't see the hearing this year, but I did see part of a committee hearing last year.
The thing I remember about the hearing last year was one testifier in particular. He was a gay man who had "turned straight" because of Jesus, or so he said. He argued that without an amendment, he would continue to be "tempted" to go back to how he was. He was obviously in a lot of pain, and at the risk of using stereotypes, he was obviously gay too, no matter how much he argued that he was not. I felt so sad that we live in a society where he is not able to simply admit who he is and live his life in peace and happiness. Instead, due to the same religious nuts who are pushing this amendment, he had to completely deny his identity so he wouldn't go to Hell or some other such nonsense. I am not much for religion, but I do have to wonder if God exists, how could he think it is better for gays to live in such perpetual conflict by doing what religion tells them to do.
Hopefully, this bill will not pas the Senate.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Grand Theft of Rights: Capital City
What's up with DFL Senator Sandy Pappas? Not only is she carrying the gambling-expansion proposal heavily lobbied for by Governor Pawlenty, but she is also trying to criminalize video games. She's by no means the only person who believes that violent video games are evil incarnate and should be banned from the face of the Earth, but she is pushing a bill to make it a crime for kids to rent or purchase mature- or adult-rated video games.
I don't play these kind of FPS games, but I do know enough to see the rank hypocrisy in criminalizing renting a video game while allowing a child to see an R-rated movie with a parent. If parents don't want their kids to play violent video games, then they should make sure their kids don't play violent video games by paying attention to what they are doing. There's something to be said for parental responsibility, after all. Not only that, but laws like the one she is proposing have been found to be unconstitutional. This doesn't daunt her; in the article, she says, "Who says children have First Amendment rights?" I wonder if she would argue that the Bloomington Kennedy High School students who were protesting the Iraq war last month didn't have First Amendment rights? I certainly hope not, which would make her a bit of a hypocrite.
Kids should absolutely not be playing video games for adults; that much is certain. However, making criminal out of kids is definitely not the way to solve this problem.
Coleman votes against ANWR drilling
Giving credit where it is due, Norm Coleman did vote against drilling in ANWR today. Unfortunately, his vote was not enough to carry the day.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Transit death spiral?
Metro Transit today announced today proposed service cuts, fare increases, and hearings to debate it all. The service cuts would affect 70% of their bus routes, in both urban and suburban areas. Fares would go up by a quarter.
This latest bunch of budget cuts could very well hasten the end of transit in this area. Metro Transit is already caught in a death spiral: fare increases and cutbacks in 2001 led to lower ridership, as did the strike. Raising prices and cutting service even more will lead to even fewer riders, less farebox revenue, and the need to do this all again in very short order. Eventually, we will have nothing more than a skeleton system, if anything.
We simply don't spend enough on transit here. The legislature has cut funding over and over, demonstrating a tin ear when it comes to recognizing that there are many people who depend on transit to live. I'm not pleased with regressive taxes like a sales tax to fund transit improvements, but it has worked in other areas and it seems to be our last hope at this point. If we don't do something soon, we are going to be in a heap of trouble.
Will Senator Norm Coleman support drilling in ANWR? That's a good question. He has said that he opposes drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. Then he said maybe that's not such a bad idea. Today, he's against it. Will that change?
It's more than an elementary question. Republicans will attempt to put the drilling provision in the budget bill, a bill that can't be filibustered. Thus, it can pass with a bare majority of votes. Even if Coleman votes against the amendment to allow drilling, he may very well vote for the overall bill, and because the vote will probably be close, his vote will matter. We're waiting.
Monday, March 14, 2005
The Senate today passed a bill loosening up restrictions on the media at polling places. More media presence is a good idea, and it's nice to see this pass.
The Star Tribune also has an article on the negotiations between the state and Burlington Northern Santa Fe over the Northstar line. It's an interesting read.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Personal reasons have kept me from blogging of late. For example, today I looked over the free credit report I got as a result of the new federal law, and cancelled a couple of credit card accounts (one because I didn't know it existed, and one because it is a card from MBNA, big supporter of anti-consumer legislation like the bankruptcy bill in Congress).
Also, you may have noticed a new link for RSS feeds that gives me a little more information on who is subscribing, including numbers. So, to the two people who are subscribed to my feed, you rock! Along those lines, there is an article in the Pioneer Press today about RSS feeds and blogs. The writer of the article contacted me about it, but no quotes from yours truly are in the article. Despite that (hah!), it's still a good read.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Pawlenty spends more money on education
The smaller projected deficit has allowed Governor Pawlenty to propose a supplemental budget which includes more money for education. It's good news for schools. Too bad he doesn't put more money into health care or any other important issues. Well, it's a start.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
City Pages has an interview with former Senator Dave Durenberger about the state of the Republican party today. It's an interesting read.
Dave Durenberger was before my time, so I don't remember much. I remember his censure, and that he was in general a moderate Republican who was interested in foreign policy. Because he is moderate, he would not fit in today's Republican party.
The interview goes into how that happened a bit, but I don't think it said enough about what it means to be a Republican today, aside from the obvious fact that people like Durenberger and Arne Carlson would not be allowed in. As I thought about it some more, some parallels suddenly emerged.
Everybody knows that there is a strong connection between Republicans and Evangelical Christianity these days, but I don't know if much attention is paid to the fact that the philosophical methods are the same. Not the philosophies themselves (which does get a lot of media attention), but how you arrive at them. We're talking about the metaphysics of Republicanism today, so bear with me.
As I read about how moderates are no longer a part of the Republican party, it struck me that most Republicans these days probably don't even know themselves what being Republican used to stand for. Many Republicans today legislate by slogan, not by any core fundamental beliefs. I spend a good deal of time thinking about issues and what it means to be liberal and conservative on them, but I am not seeing that kind of introspection on the part of many Republicans.
Instead, they believe these slogans simply on faith, not putting them together into some larger framework. Much like those Evangelical Christians today who say that they devote their lives to Jesus but hardly know the Bible from TV Guide. It takes more than just being handed down rules and phrases from on high to be faithful. The unexplored faith isn't very strong. Aside from your Rush Limbaugh-blasted catch phrases ("You are either with us or with the terrorists", "Pro-family", "Personal responsibility"), I don't see a coherent philosophy today, certainly not one strong enough to stand up under scrutiny.
Which brings me to my second thought: the reason why Republicans hate facts. If you have a philosophy that you don't understand well and haven't studied, it is going to be tenuous. Anything facts that contradict the shallow understanding of that philosophy are going to be seen as extremely threatening. It doesn't matter if that philosophy is religious or political. The Republican party today, because its philosophy isn't solid, thus denies facts that contradict their worldview.
Are there liberals that do this too? Sure there are; I've met my share. But these liberals have not taken over the Democratic party by any stretch of the imagination, while the conservatives who argue with basic facts have taken over the Republican party. It is hard to see somebody like Arne Carlson or Dave Durenberger or Elmer Anderson just flat-out deny facts, which is why they just couldn't be a part of the party today.
Kevin Drum over at Political Animal has this example: the effectiveness of needle exchange programs. Studies show that they cut down on the transmission of diseases. The Clinton administration acknowledged this fact but said that they don't believe in the programs anyway. That process is perfectly fine: they are admitting that the facts are accurate, but their politics takes them in a different direction. Republicans, on the other hand, deny the facts outright. They lie and pretend they say the complete opposite. They don't say, "Well, we don't like needle-exchange programs for such-and-such a reason," they pretend they don't work. They have done the same with abstinence-only sex ed as well. The studies show this approach doesn't work, but they say it does. Since the facts get in the way of their worldview, they have to change the facts because they are not strong enough to look at their worldview.
Or, take an example from right here. Governor Pawlenty will not raise taxes, or so he says. Now, everybody knows that his policies have raised taxes. They have raised property taxes, they have raised fees for nursing home residents who pay privately, they have raised tuition for college students, they have raised fees for just about everything. And he is going to keep on doing that. However, in order to keep to his Taxpayer's League-provided worldview, he just denies that this is happening. Instead of admitting that government revenues are going to have to go up somehow, thus providing a starting point for discussions about how this should happen, he just denies it. Nope, not a tax. Go away.
The medical malpractice issue is the same thing. All the studies show that malpractice costs are no more than 5% of health care spending, and that most health care spending comes from prescription drugs and care during the last six months of a person's life. Do they admit this, however? No, they say that the absolute number one issue driving up health care costs is malpractice. They have to deny reality, instead of saying, "You know what? Malpractice isn't a cost driver for health care, but we don't like Democratic trial lawyers and so we want tort reform." At least that would be honest, and a starting point for debate.
Obviously, there are Republicans that take this rejection of reality further than others. But the party as a whole is definitely moving in that direction. Eventually, something's going to give, and since the facts are pretty immutable, that means that it's the worldview that will eventually crack. But how long will that take, and what catastrophe will have to come along to prompt it?
I don't hate Republicans. I do think, however, that when one side of the political spectrum is so uninterested in facts and reality, the debate suffers. It can't even get started. Unfortunately, we all have to live in this reality, not the one concocted in the minds of some of our political leaders. I just hope that something will happen to change these people's minds.
Truth in taxation
Governor Pawlenty gave up on the turbocharged Truth in Taxation for school levies, but he is pushing ahead on the idea for local government levies. Or, should I say, he's pushing behind, far, far, far behind. He is trying to take us back to the 18th century, when only property owners had any say in this pseudo-democracy. See, according to his proposal, only property owners would be able to object to tax increases. And a property owner would have as many votes as they have parcels of land. So a landlord with five apartments could have five votes, the hundred tenants in his buildings: zero.
Well, at least we know his stand on progress.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Don't these people ever give up?
Senator Michelle Bachmann, making sure she constantly exercises her crazy muscle, is bringing back the gay marriage ban. Apparently, she once again feels like ignoring the important things going on in this state, such as the budget deficit, transportation funding, health care, or any of those more pressing issues. No, to her, the greatest threat to our state is homos. It's like this decade's version of the red scare.
Is she ever going to get sick of this garbage? Unfortunately, since people like Minnesota Family Council leader Tom Prichard live for this stuff, I doubt it.
I do think that it would be a good idea to load the constitution up with amendments to go along with this one. Dedicating the motor vehicle sales tax to transportation, health care, dedicated environmental, arts, and education funding...let's bring it on. If she wants to wreck our constitution with idiocies, let's go all the way.
Health care for few
Speaking of pointless health care reforms, Republicans have introduced a bill to "help" with health care costs. Surprise, surprise, the bill consists of a cap on malpractice awards.
The story doesn't explain exactly how this will reduce health care costs. That's because it won't. If malpractice awards were really $27.5 million in Minnesota last year, that means it is less than 1% of health care spending in this state, assuming that annual health care spending is more than $3 billion (I'm too lazy to look it up, but considering how much just the government spends on health care, I'm willing to bet it is). How eliminating these costs will help is beyond me.
So, to sum up: The Democratic proposal will actually get more people health insurance if businesses who are not enrolled in a plan choose to enroll in the state plan. The Republican plan will...well, I don't know what it will do, but there's nothing in that bill that explicitly gets insurance to more people. Decisions, decisions.
Monday, March 07, 2005
Expanding health care
House Democrats unveiled today a plan to let small businesses buy into the state's health care plan. By allowing these small businesses into the pool, the risk is spread out (hey, doesn't that sound like insurance?) so their costs are not as high. If a small business purchases health care and one of their employees gets sick, costs skyrocket, which doesn't sound like risk pooling to me.
I'd much prefer to see everybody in one pool, thus spreading the risk out among the largest possible population, but this is a start.
The Governor, of course, had to find fault with the plan, saying, "it would not address the key problem of rising health care costs for everyone." Hmm. How does Pawlenty think we should address the rising costs for everybody? High on his list of priorities is "tort reform," which will deal with that pesky 5% or less of health care spending, and will help those costs for about six months. Another brilliant idea is allowing stripped-down health care plans with fewer requirements, something which was tried before and had zero takers. Yeah, the governor is all about reducing health care costs, isn't he?
Pawlenty endorses Kennedy; Grams pouts
It is becoming clear that a split is forming in the Republican party over the party's candidate for Senate.
Today, Governor Pawlenty endorsed Mark Kennedy, while Rod Grams joined Gil Gutknecht in blasting the "kingmaking" that's going on. He specifically attacked party chair Ron Eibensteiner for refusing to be neutral in the fight. Eibensteiner said that he is being neutral: saying that Kennedy is a foregone conclusion is just the facts, ma'am.
So it is quite clear that there will be some kind of fight, but it remains to be seen whether the anti-Kennedy forces actually have any power. They are a distinct minority right now. I especially liked the comment from Grams that the party has become a top-down, "undemocratic" institution. Gee, Rod, what tipped you off? That phone call from Cheney telling Pawlenty to run for governor instead of senate in 2002? Today's Republican party is run with an iron-fisted efficiency not seen in a free country in a long time. Grams just happens to be on the short end of the stick.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Legal hurdles for the casino
Here is an article detailing all the legal hurdles a casino would face. I think that Dan McElroy, Pawlenty's Chief of Staff, is full of it: no lawsuit against the casino would be disposed of so quickly. We are looking at years here.
Why? Well, here's the simplest answer: look at Minnesota's constitution, Article 13, Section 5:
LOTTERIES. The legislature shall not authorize any lottery or the sale of lottery tickets, other than authorizing a lottery and sale of lottery tickets for a lottery operated by the state.
This fight will probably center on whether operating a casino is the same as selling lottery tickets, since the sale of lottery tickets is the only thing allowed by this section. I'm guessing it is not. But I'm not a lawyer, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.
In any case, this is not going to happen anytime soon.
Friday, March 04, 2005
The low-down from Bloomington students
A couple days ago as I was reading the City Pages, as I am wont to do on the Wednesday night bus rides home from work, I came across this article on the relatively poor state of American public education. This is hardly news to most people, but one thing did catch my eye, relating to evolution. According to the story, many biology teachers simply skip coverage of evolution in class, especially in the South, Midwest, and West. However, there was no dodging of evolution in Catholic schools, and Catholic dogma accepts the theory of evolution.
What's this? Public education shying away from evolution while religious schools embrace it? As a person who attended Catholic schools, the fact that they have no problem teaching evolution doesn't surprise me at all. Why would there be a problem with teaching it? The fact that public schools are afraid is what really scares me.
I have some rather unorthodox views of public schools due to my private school experience, and it is stories like these that buttress these views. If Catholic schools have no problem with teaching evolution, then no public school should.
Representative Gutknecht stays put
Republican Congresscritter Gil Gutknecht is not running for Senate. The interesting this is that he's not endorsing Mark Kennedy, either.
Kennedy has up until now seemed to have all the momentum, but this puts the brakes on a bit. I think it is safe to say that this means there is a stop-Kennedy movement brewing among certain Republicans. The question is who, and who will their alternative candidate be? Rod Grams is a loser and a poor campaigner. Who else? Who's calling the shots?
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Casino deal reached
According to the Star Tribune, a casino deal has been reached. I'll believe it when I see it, though. There are still a lot of hurdles for this to go over before we will be seeing more slots in the Twin Cities. This has to pass the legislature, there are constitutional questions...this isn't over by a long shot.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Bachmann keep it coming
Senator Michelle Bachmann keeps on driving the crazy train. Now she is supporting a David Horowitz-inspired bill to chill academic freedom. See, some conservatives are unhappy that they still have to see liberals in the world. They no longer exist in any branch of the federal government, they don't exist in the media, but there is still apparently a pocket at colleges. So this bill would "fix" that.
In all the classes I took at the University of Minnesota, I had professors of all ideological stripes. I never saw one student punished for being conservative. I did see students get bad grades for having closed minds, doing poor work, and in general being bad students. Ideology had nothing to do with it.
College students are adults. They can handle hearing differing viewpoints. There's no need for this intimidation.
House committee votes down smoking ban
The title pretty much says it all. The Commerce Committee voted it down on a voice vote. The strange thing to me is that not one person on the committee wanted to go on record and call for a roll call vote. Surely, somebody would have wanted to go on record supporting the ban.
This bill may not be entirely dead, but it will take some pretty good maneuvering to keep it alive. Passing it as an amendment to a bill on the floor is still possible.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Get your free credit report
Starting today, Minnesota residents can get a free credit report from https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp. Given the prevalence of identity theft, taking a look at your credit report at least once a year is a very good idea. This site, and the federal law that helped create it, make that easier.