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Monday, July 31, 2006

Good thing?

I have no idea, but given the little information in the article, this sounds like a good idea. As long as QCare doesn't mean "let's replace insulin with Coors Light to save money".

Fear teh gay

A story about how gay marriage is an issue in two primary battles in Central Minnesota: for the Republicans, a battle between Senator Paul Koering (who is gay) and Kevin Goedker; for the Democrats, a battle between Majority Leader Dean Johnson and sometimes-Democrat Michael Cruze.

Such a lovely tactic, making sexual orientation a campaign issue.

Video game law tossed

Republican Representative Jeff Johnson, who is running for Attorney General, counts as one of his accomplishments a bill that would fine kids who try to buy or rent video games that are rated M (Mature) or AO (Adults Only). And now that law, like every other similar law that has been passed around the country, has been found unconstitutional.

Anybody with any sense knew that this law would be tossed. They all have, because you can't put prior restraint on speech without a compelling reason. There is no compelling reason to fine kids for renting or buying video games. It's a parent's job to keep tabs of what games their kids are playing. But Rep. Johnson had to look tough to please his social conservative base, and the result is a waste of time and money.

Do I think kids should be playing video games like Grand Theft Auto? Of course not. But this law is the wrong way to go about it. What is the right way? How about we get a leader such as the governor to haul in the leaders of Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Circuit City, and other game shops, and tell them that unless they make it their store policy to ID every kid who tries to buy a video game, they won't be getting any tax breaks or favorable treatment. A store policy can't be unconstitutional, the kids don't get the games, and the government is not involved. Sounds like a win all around to me.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Today's kolumn is kinda about the fire up in the BWCA. I say "kinda" because it is short on useful facts and long on a conversation with State Representatives David Dill. I know: a Kersten kolumn that's short on facts? Shocking.

Wingnuttia level: 3 (Not enough information)

The headline (not Kersten's fault) reads "Federal law stands in way of reducing fire risk in BWCA". The only indication that this is indeed the truth is the sentence that "wilderness rules forbade" salvage logging after the blowdown in 1999. That's it. Aside from that short, unsourced sentence, there is nothing about federal law. Just some comments about how fears of lawsuits have stopped people from taking action.

So what are we supposed to do with this information? Are there any suggestions of improvements? Any specific language that needs to be tweaked? Any new rules needed, old ones repealed? You aren't going to get any of that from Kersten, just the same old government bashing. If this were an academic paper on the issue of how federal law is impacting the BWCA, she would fail for an utter lack of content.

Being unfamiliar with the law, I have little to add (and I'm not going to pretend that I do and write a kolumn about it). I generally think that forest fires, being necessary for the continued health of forests, should be allowed to burn naturally for the most part. I think that dragging away fuel in non-damaging ways is perfectly fine. And I also think that if you feel like living in the middle of a forest, then don't expect me to care much when your surrounding burst into flame, as they do from time to time.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Why I support Amy Klobuchar

The Wege (AKA Mark Gisleson) left a fairly long comment at my post on Ford Bell. It was a bit more negative than I expected, because I really don't think I insulted Ford Bell or any of his supporters. If so, that's certainly not what I intended.

He says that he has never heard from anybody why they support Amy Klobuchar. Okay, here's why I support her: she's a strong Democrat. She generally has the right positions on the issues I care about. She has been very involved in building up the Democratic party, and every time I have seen her she has been extremely enthusiastic. She is engaging and a tough speaker. I feel that she connects with people. I think she will be a perfectly fine debater against Kennedy.

Ford Bell ran an issues campaign: that much is true. But I am tired of Democrats running issues campaigns because they never win. When was the last time a Democrat won a major statewide office on the strength of their values instead of the strength of their character? I can't remember the last time that has happened. Has it ever happened?

I saw Ford Bell speak several times, and never did he inspire me. Never did he make proud to be a Democrat. And that is despite the fact that I agree more with him on Iraq and universal health can than Klobuchar. Agreeing with somebody on the issues isn't enough, however. Maybe 10-20% of the electorate would pull the lever for Bell simply on those two issues. For the rest of them, they need to feel a personal connection. Ford Bell just didn't transmit that, for better or worse. Plus, to tell you the truth I never saw Ford Bell at DFL events before he announced his candidacy. That made a small bit of difference.

I understand why a lot of Ford Bell's supporters thought so highly of him. I certainly do not begrudge them their efforts, nor am I trying to "rub it in" after winning. This wasn't my race; sure, I supported Klobuchar but I wasn't even a delegate to the state convention. Had Ford Bell won then I would have been just fine with that.

Is the state DFL screwed up? You bet it is. Was Ann Wynia a joke? I don't think anybody believes otherwise. Mark Dayton didn't win his race so much as Rod Grams lost it. Roger Moe was a disaster, a party tool that I wouldn't have voted for had I no other choice. Klobuchar is not in the league with any of these people. The reason that the DFL party is a mess has less to do with Klobuchar and more to do with the fact that they are unorganized and they can't motivate volunteers for anything.

So believe me, I do not mean to insult Ford Bell or his supporters. I don't disagree with his issues. I don't disagree with his supporters, or his methods (though I do wonder why he decided not to seek the endorsement; tactically, that seems like a very poor decision). I just don't think that a non-charismatic candidate can run solely on the issues and expect to win in this political climate. It has nothing to do with the DSCC, nothing to do with the DFL party, and everything to do with how voters make their voting decisions.

Finally, can somebody actually clue me in as to what Chuck Schumer did to favor Amy Klobuchar? I seriously don't know. If it was some huge deal that screwed over Bell, then it wasn't well publicized.

Logic, Republican style

Senator Becky Lourey has a tax plan that involves raising taxes on the highest wage earners (I've been arguing about the unfairness of our tax system forever), a health care tax credit (meh), gas tax increase (I'm all for that too), a "carbon tax" (meh), and an "Education Stability Levy" (meh). Typical stuff, for the most part.

Lourey's tax plan, though, is not what is on my mind. Instead, it's a quote from Pawlenty: "We didn't raise taxes when we had a deficit. We certainly don't need to do it when we have a likely surplus."

Okay, so according to Pawlenty and other Republicans, is there ever a time to raise taxes? When there is a deficit, you say no (even though Pawlenty did raise taxes). When there is a surplus, you say no. Logically, doesn't that mean that eventually tax rates will go down to zero if they can only ratchet down, never up?

So when is it appropriate to raise taxes?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Kennedy bravely runs away...

I finally saw the Mark Kennedy TV ad this morning, and it was basically as people have described it. If Democrats have any brains at all, they aren't going to let Kennedy get away with claiming to be "independent", given that he has voted with Bush at least 90% of the time.

Kennedy, like many Republicans, has voted over and over to give the finger to most Minnesotans be supporting the Bush administration's extremist legislation. He can't expect to pretend to be independent now and not have to answer for his voting record. Kennedy is a Bush Republican through and through, and he is going to have to answer for what he and the Bush administration have been doing for years.

It's a nice try, though. I never would have thought that Republicans would be running away so quickly from their leader.


It's definitely nice to see the Wege blogging again after his brief absence to work on Ford Bell's campaign (even if we don't agree on drunk driving laws). But there is one thing I really don't understand: his surprise at discovering that Ford Bell didn't have a chance, and his anger at the process ("I underestimated the willingness of the current incarnation of the Democratic party to ruthlessly push their anointed candidates").

I hate to break it to him, but even if Chuck Schumer and Howard Dean and the rest of the Democratic leadership didn't exist, Ford Bell never would have had a chance. I didn't support Amy Klobuchar over Ford Bell because somebody in New York told me too. I had no idea what anybody else thought of Klobuchar or Bell because the only person's opinion that mattered was mine. And it was clear to me that Bell was a loser from the beginning. Why? Simply put, he was just a little too nutty.

Now, I know that most Democrats don't think this way. Democrats value reality, they value facts, and they value an effective government that actually does good things for people (unlike Republicans, who these days value a corrupt government that does good things for their campaign contributors). So for a lot of Democrats, especially the party activists, the only rational way to choose a candidate to support is to look at their issues, look at their proposals, look at their programs, look at their issue papers, and pick the one who is smartest, most capable, and takes positions on issues that seem to be the best. Democrats also believe that most other people think the same way when they choose candidates.

But they don't. If that were true, then Democrats would be in control of the government, because people agree with the Democrats on almost all issues these days. So it's clear that the majority of people aren't weighing policies and issues when they pull the lever in the voting boot. And I am not afraid to admit that I am one of those people who is like that. It's not that I don't care about issues; I do. I am a huge policy wonk, in fact. However, at this point in time, when you get right down to it, character counts for a whole lot more when people decide whom to vote for. Ford Bell just didn't have that character. Even if he would have become the DFL endorsed candidate, he would have been slaughtered in the election. Not because he is "too liberal", but because, like I said, he is just a little too nutty.

It's hard to come up with a better explanation than saying that he is a bit nutty like Mark Dayton is a bit nutty these days. He doesn't turn people on. Amy Klobuchar does; I've seen her speak at enough events to see that she connects with people at a level that make it easy for people to like her. Ford Bell...well, when I saw him in person, he was campaigning at people, not with them. He couldn't connect. I didn't feel that he could be a good leader or work on my personal behalf if he were in office. That's just my first impression, but first impressions count for a lot in politics.

Some people think that it is an issue of liberal versus moderate, but it's not. True, we have had a dearth of charismatic left DFLers running for higher office lately, so that makes the Paul Wellstone, who was able to connect to everybody at a very personal level and who had the right issues, so very unique. That doesn't mean it will stay this way forever, though. I've been around many candidates for office this year, and I can say that so far I have been pleasantly surprised. People seem to be grasping the importance of character and personal values more and more, given all of the Lakoff and other stuff that came out of the disaster that was 2004. So it's getting better.

A lot of Democrats think that it is completely stupid that people ignore issues and make their choices based on things as ethereal as a person's character. Maybe they are right. But we have to win elections with the rules that we have, not the rules that we want (thanks Rummy!). Remember that Republicans have been running on destroying government for decades now; to them, programs aren't important, so why would voters care about them? It will take a lot of good governance coming from Democrats before people will once again realize that government can be a force for good in their lives, instead of being disasters like Katrina and Iraq. Until then, we are going to have to win on things other than the best 10-point program for fixing this or that.

So while it may be unfair that Ford Bell's candidacy was doomed from the start because he just couldn't connect with people, that's how things work. It's the job of the Democratic Party to get candidates who can connect with voters in addition to merely saying the right things when it comes to the issues.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Today's kolumn is about health insurance mandates. Republicans believe that requiring insurance companies to cover certain things drive up the costs of health care, more than which is recovered in the end by treatment. Why don't you take a guess as to what Kersten thinks?

Wingnuttia Level: 5 (picking and choosing of facts ahead)

According to Kersten and other Republicans, mandates may add as much as 20% to the cost of health insurance in this state. While she appreciated the 48-hour mandatory health care stay that Amy Klobuchar helped fight for, she doesn't think that mandates are a good thing. Several people come up with the flawed analogy of an expensive car with lots of options: mandates are nothing more than leather seats in a Caddy, according to them. They aren't necessary. They don't add anything.

Don't they? One of the most expensive mandates according to detractors is parity for mental health coverage and chemical dependency coverage. Showing that not all Republicans are divorced from reality, parity in chemical dependency coverage is a big deal to Republican Congressman Jim Ramstad, who has battled chemical dependency himself. When these things aren't mandated, they are some of the first types of treatment to be dropped: after all, therapy is expensive.

But so are the medical conditions caused by chemical dependency, such as chronic liver problems. So are the medical conditions caused by mental health issues like anorexia. Rarely does mental illness not affect physical health. The same can be said for chemical dependency treatment. Although I don't know of many studies on this, probably because it would be very hard to set up a properly controlled study, but I'm guessing that it might be easier to treat mental health issues and chemical dependency issues before they manifest themselves as more serious, chronic physical health problems.

Even for men, mandatory maternity coverage makes sense. Why? Because insurance is a pool. If somebody's health is bad, then that means I am going to be paying more for my insurance. Pre-natal care is such an inexpensive way to prevent serious medical problems upon birth. If pre-natal care is dropped, then that will lead to more babies being born with health issues. And that means people's health insurance costs, men's and women's, will go up.

This doesn't even begin to address the human side of the equation, though. How many people have died because they didn't have access to chemical dependency treatment? How many fathers, mothers, children, and friends have been lost to suicide because they did not get their depression treated? The real human toll is even greater than what can be measured in dollars and cents.

So no, health care mandates aren't power windows or sunroofs. They help prevent higher costs down the road. They also save lives that may not be saved without the coverage. For everybody who has been afflicted with a mental illness or chemical dependency, to say that health insurance coverage for these issues is a "luxury" is completely heartless.

Even more about MnDOT

Seriously, I am tired of commenting on yet another article about how MnDOT has no money.

Governor Make-Believe

Governor Pawlenty is now pretending to care about higher ed tuition. Yeah, he sure cared about tuition when it was going up by double digit rates every year during his first term in office.

Pawlenty seems to believe that despite the fact that he has screwed over large numbers of Minnesotans during his first terms (students, people who need health care, people who drive, people who pay property taxes...am I missing anybody?), if he apologizes now it doesn't matter. Yeah, right.


It's hot elderly Senator's father sex!

Please, test out your Viagra prescription in private, not in public.

Monday, July 24, 2006

More MnDOT follies

Once again, road projects are being delayed because MnDOT doesn't have any money. This time, it's the expansion of U.S. 53 in northern Minnesota, which is getting $50 million in federal money due to an earmark from Jim Oberstar. That money can't be used, however, until the state comes up with its share, and given how underfunded MnDOT is, that's not going to happen until 2012 at the earliest.

First of all, congressional earmarks, otherwise known as pork, are evil and should be done away with. This is no different than the "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska. Yes, I know that highway 53 needs to be expanded for safety reasons, but lots of highways in Minnesota need to be expanded for those same reasons, and MnDOT is in a far better position to decide what is a priority and what isn't. Pork projects may get votes, but they are not good government.

That said, once again we see clear evidence that MnDOT needs more money. Not credit card spending, not cutting of maintenance to build roads, but more money. Period. The legislature last year passed a bill to increase the gas tax for the first time in almost twenty years, and Governor Pawlenty vetoed it, as we are all well aware. Thank you, governor, for delaying yet another project.

Easy, buddy

Seriously, Mike, ease up. After the horrible stories that DFL candidates have had in the media in the past couple of weeks, this isn't helping. The first rule of finding yourself in a hole is stop digging, and you are forgetting that.

Plus, nobody likes a candidate with no sense of humor. It's a parking ticket! Laugh it off. Joke about how if reporters keep on digging, they are going to discover his last place finish in a karaoke contest twenty years ago.

Voters don't like Pawlenty and Republicans in general. Democrats, give voters a reason to like you. It isn't all that hard!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Yuck. My manners prevent me from adequately describing what Kersten is doing to Jason Lewis in today's kolumn, but let your imagination run wild, then figure that my language would be about ten times worse.

Wingnuttia Level: XXX (Not safe for minors)

Kersten obviously has a bit of...er...ah, that language again...let's just say that the thought of Jason Lewis coming back to Minnesota has set Kersten off in a specific way. When he left, radios were "draped in black." He is returning with his "erudite brand of conservatism." He has a "verbal spring in his step." He makes "complex subjects...both understandable and entertaining."

I'll wait for you to go vomit...

Seriously, I've listened to Jason Lewis I think once in my life, for some strange reason. He was going off on immigrants (something he seems to do regularly, so I've heard), and as usual, he was completely full of it. I mean, he and his callers had no grasp on how immigration law works in this country. They were just making things up. I know, that's surprising for conservative talk radio, isn't it? It didn't take before I had to shut it off.

If Jason Lewis continues to just make stuff up and rant and rave about "libruls", I don't think he's going to be reversing the decline in conservative talk radio listenership anytime soon. And KTLK, if you start receiving tons of flowers for Lewis from a secret admirer, I think I have a good idea who is sending them.

Belittling drunk driving

Apparently, killing somebody while driving drunk is not a big deal to Minnesota courts, or so says the Pioneer Press. A year in prison, two years in the workhouse, probation...who cares if your idiotic actions directly caused the death of an innocent victim?

Our laws and our courts continue to downplay drunk driving. I have absolutely no tolerance for it. There is never a reason to drive drunk. Never. Your third drunk driving conviction should result in a mandatory one year prison sentence. Killing somebody while drunk should be ten years. As it stands now, you could get more jail time for possessing or selling drugs than for killing somebody while driving drunk. I really don't care if somebody is in possession of a bunch of pot. That is almost certainly not going to hurt me. Drunks on the roads? That will.

More metablogging

MDE is all the rage this weekend, with an article in the Pioneer Press today.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Come on, Norm!

Via Atrios, I came across a very interesting statistic today. Remember all of those "snowflake babies" that the far-right crazies used as props to justify their votes against the stem cell research bill? All of those Petri Dish-Americans who had been "adopted" out of the freezer? Well, I had figured that there aren't a whole lot of those kids around, but I was shocked to read how few there are. There have been 128 "snowflake baby" adoptions. Not 128 per month, or even 128 per year. 128 in total, ever.

All the reports I read say that there are 400,000 frozen embryos in clinic freezers around the country. Since I'm guessing that more than 30 or so couples per year in this country undergo IVF (creating several embryos each), that means that all of the available "snowflake babies" will be adopted...never. That's right: the longer IVF is legal in this country, the more "people" we are creating just to ultimately destroy.

So, Norm, I ask again: since you voted against the stem cell bill to protect the "sanctity of life" along with all of the other fundies, and since the continued existence of IVF is only creating more frozen embryos faster than they can be adopted, leading to their almost certain "death", when are you going to put forward a bill to ban IVF? I'm waiting.


The Star Tribune has a writeup on MDE if you are up for some blogospheric navel-gazing.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Katherine Kersten's Korner

I missed Monday's pointless article, but today Kersten is back, and she is talking about the upcoming elections. Will facts get in her way? Never!

Wingnuttia Level: 5 (Picking and choosing of facts ahead)

Kersten starts with the Minnesota poll, and tells us that voters aren't worried about the environment or health care. No, voters care most about taxes and education. Since the poll backs her up on this, so far, so good.

So what about taxes? According to Kersten, what voters mean is that taxes are too high. Why does she think this? Because she is Katherine Kersten, of course, and she has her finger on the pulse of Minnesota! How dare you question her? If she says that Minnesotans think taxes are too high, then they are too high.

Education? More money? Pshaw. See, what voters are really concerned about is how to get Minneapolis schools to be safer and do better academically magically without spending any more money. Concentrations of poverty and language barriers mean nothing. Once again, Kersten knows what voters are thinking, and she is going to tell us out of the graciousness of her heart. She's all about helping, you know?

According to Kersten, "Candidates who want to win this fall should come down from the clouds." Buy why? Kersten is having lots of fun drifting among them, high above us where she can divine what we are thinking. It's working for her!

Mr. I-Hate-Science

Oh, Norm, Norm, Norm. The Senate overwhelmingly (though not with a veto-proof majority) passed a bill that would allow continued research on embryonic stem cells. It had the support of all but one Democrat, not to mention quite a number of Republicans, including Orrin Hatch and Bill Frist. Sure, many wingnuts voted against it, such as man-on-dog Rick Santorum and fanatic pro-lifer Sam Brownback, but stupid is as stupid does and all that.

What was pretty surprising to me was that our own Norm Coleman also voted to protect Petri Dish-Americans at the expense of real live people who have debilitating diseases and who would like to see some cures. Now, Norm's ability to flip flop is quite well known, but he does seem to flip flop around a generally centered mean (he's not a Michelle Malkin who flip flops between wanting to kill all brown-skinned people and just wanting to put them in concentration camps). So it was a bit surprising to see him line up with all of the insane and ignorant right-wing yahoos on this vote.

I hope that Norm's next bill intro in the Senate is a bill to ban in vitro fertilization altogether. Frankly, I can't understand how somebody can be against stem cell research because it destroys embryos, while not also being against IVF since it also results in embryos tossed in the trash. See, I think that it's a good thing to use material that would be tossed in the trash to instead save countless lives. But that's me.


What great timing. The world is turned upside down in Minnesota politically, and I have computer problems. Lovely. Well, since it is a bit late to be commenting on polls results or the AG race or anything else, I will keep my mouth shut. Hopefully, I won't disappear like that again.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

An open letter to the media

Dear Media,

Blogs such as this are now all over the place. As a result, the media has started paying attention, along with pundits, candidates, activists, and lots of other people who are considered to be "thought leaders" in our society. Some people see the rise of blogs as a threat to democracy, the old-fashioned media, civility, and the American Way. Some people see the rise of blogs as giving power to the people, as leveling the playing field, as opening up the realm of discourse to the masses.

Me? I really don't care much about any of this. I blog because it is easy and free. I follow politics pretty closely and thus, I have a number of opinions on the issues of the day. In the past, the best I could do was share my opinions with friends, family, and coworkers. These people by and large agreed with most of my opinions, so it wasn't a very illuminating experience most of the time. Now, however, I can post my thoughts and anybody can read them and respond. True, it sometimes leads to trolls and other bad behavior, but by and large, I think it is great.

I do not blog for personal gain. I am not trying to be a "kingmaker" or anything else. I do it because it's easy and free, that's all. That's why most people blog. They are trying to connect to people who think the same way as they do (or even differently!) on whatever subject they blog about: politics, sports, hobbies, anything. It's a way to expand communities and connections. It's not insidious, for the most part.

But there are exceptions. As Glenn Greenwald points out, a large number of the most popular conservative blogs have literally declared war on all media that is not conservative, particularly traditional media like newspapers and television. It is a literal war. They want people dead, and they say this repeatedly. They are not joking. To fail to take them seriously is to make a huge gamble, a gamble that is ill-warranted given history.

And yet, what does the media do? Do they expose conservative blogs for inciting violence and hatred? No. Instead, they report on liberal blogs, on silly things like squabbles on Daily Kos or how Ned Lamont is a tool of far-left bloggers. They ignore the people who want to destroy them while focusing on soap opera antics.

Atrios, Daily Kos, Kevin Drum, Josh Marshall...these people never advocate the murder of those that they disagree with. Yet prominent conservative bloggers do. Sure, there are crazy left-wingers, but conservative crazies outnumber them at least ten to one, and for the conservative bloggers, this is what they do every day. It's their bread and butter.

So media, be warned: the conservative blogosphere is rapidly arming itself for a battle with you. So far, you have turned your back on the battle, perhaps hoping that if you don't acknowledge that conservative bloggers want the publisher of the New York Times to be killed for treason, it doesn't exist. However, ignoring such a threat is disastrous, as history has taught us. You may want to start viewing this as the war that it really is.


The latest Minnesota Poll shows Hatch and Pawlenty neck and neck. There is no longer any doubt about what Republicans will be harping on in the elections: "Krueger said Pawlenty will pull further ahead when Republicans emphasize that Hatch will 'raise taxes' and 'encourage illegal immigration.'" The tax thing is pretty weak (as if Pawlenty didn't raise taxes), and the "encourage illegal immigration" is patently ridiculous (what, is Hatch going to put up signs at the border saying "Illegal immigrants welcome"?) Republicans are now running the risk of sounding like crazy people on the issue of immigration.

Sue Jeffers, Pawlenty's primary opponent, is going even further in the immigration baiting racket, choosing as her running mate an anti-immigration extremist. Way to go, Republicans!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Curiouser and curiouser

It's pretty hard to square Rep. Entenza's previous comments with this.

If I were in a similar situation (not that I would be), I think it would behoove me to tell the 100% truth immediately. Say, "Yes, I did oppo research on Hatch just to let him know that if we were going to run in the same race, he should expect a fight. I even took a look at some parking tickets, since they are all the rage right now! How about that? So that's your story, folks."

Telling it straight probably would be better than having another story with another lead every day in the media.

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Today's kolumn is about one of her favorite topics, teh gay. She loves talking about how teh gay marriage is going to ruin the world, and this kolumn is no different, focusing on the recent New York court decision.

Wingnuttia Level: 6 (I'm too tired for this)

Typically, she starts out with the same old smear about how a small number of Senate DFLers kept the state from enshrining bigotry in the state's constitution. Boo hoo. I'm playing the world's tinyiest violin for her. Those Democrats that want mandatory gay marriage, I'm telling ya...

Anyway, she then moves on to the recent New York Court of Appeals decision that chose not to require the state to offer gay marriage. She sees this as proof that gay marriage isn't an issue of equal rights, and instead marriage "can be up to the people, not the courts."

No, this means that the court wasn't sufficiently swayed by the arguments put in favor of legalizing gay marriage at this particular time, that's all. That could change in the future if other courts see things differently, or if other arguments are made that are more successful. This means very little in the grand scheme of things. I certainly didn't pay much attention to the decision. I hardly noticed a "shock wave" as she put it.

I was not impressed by the court's rationalization about the differences between heterosexual and homosexual marriages, such as that the latter don't lead to kids. The former don't have to either; what's the big deal? Children doing better with both a mother and father is similarly flawed: what if a parent is a deadbeat, an abuser? Does this mean that the state has a compelling interest to all but eliminate divorce except in the most heinous of circumstances? Saying that marriage is between a man and a woman and has been forever may be factually true, but also isn't all that compelling. In the same manner, marriage was only permitted between people of the same religion or same racial group for the longest time; things changed.

I don't necessarily agree with the New York decision, but I have hardly spent any time thinking about it. I doubt it will be a "watershed" decision. It is simply another stop along the way of the continually adapting legal framework that exists in this country (oh no, activist judges!). If Kersten thinks that this means that she and other conservatives like her will continue to be successful treating teh gay as second-class citizens, think again.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ember tries to pull a fast one

I think this is why I haven't met a person who actually likes Ember Reichgott Junge. I am not a bit surprised that this chicanery is coming from her. Despite what her campaign says, putting "DFL" on a billboard is illegal, not to mention wrong and misleading. If she wanted to point out that she is running in the DFL primary, she could write "Running in the DFL primary" on the billboard. She knows exactly what she is doing: trying to confuse voters.

If she has something of value to add to the campaign, let's hear it. There is no need for this nonsense.

So, I was wrong...

Okay, it turns out that the story that Matt Entenza hired a private investigator to take a look at Mike Hatch is true. I am not ashamed at all to admit that almost a year ago, I dismissed the story as a bunch of bull. I was obviously wrong. MDE has far better sources than me, which is not surprising considering that he is a Republican operative and I'm not. He had the goods.

And this is a weird story. My guess at this point is that Entenza was sniffing around in case Hatch decided not to run for governor and go back to running for Attorney General. But that is complete speculation on my part. It could be nothing. It could be something else. It could be the end of the world as we know it.

This probably illustrates my level of political naïveté more than anything else. I wouldn't run a campaign this way. Maybe that means I'm not cut out for office.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

CD 1 fundraising numbers

According to kos, Tim Walz, the Democratic war veteran challenging Gil Gutknecht in CD 1 in southern Minnesota, outraised Gil $198,000 to $190,000 last quarter. If true, that is huge. Gil has all the benefits of incumbency, and rarely do challengers outraise them.

Gil has more cash on hand right now, but he can't be feeling good about these numbers. This will be a race.

Ford Bell out

Yes, Ford Bell has dropped out of the race for the DFL spot, leaving Amy Klobuchar a clear shot. Bell wasn't going to win, so better to get out now than lose in the primary.

Now Klobuchar and the DFL can focus on Mark Kennedy and his record, and there is a lot of ammunition out there. Hey Mark, get ready to have your best friend George W. Bush hung around your neck, and get ready to explain all of the votes you have taken to help special interests while screwing over Minnesotans. Better conserve your energy, because you will be doing this for a LONG time.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Katherine Kersten's Korner

It's missing again today. Maybe her kolumn on the Rolling Stones has left her emotionally spent.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Battle of the mind-blowing songs

So Atrios, Sadly, No!, and The Editors are having an annoying contest. While the Super Bowl Shuffle and Kokomo are worthy entrants (including bonus Tom Cruise!), this will always take the cake:


Click if you dare.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

House retiree

Rep. Connie Bernardy, D-Fridley, announced her retirement today to pursue other career opportunities. 51B is a fairly strong DFL district, so the Democrats start off favored. No word on who is running to take her spot.

Rep. Bernardy was first elected in 2000.

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Oh, man. Wow. In today's kolumn, Kersten tells us just how square she is. As if there was ever any doubt.

Wingnuttia Level: N/A (It's just too funny)

So the jist of the kolumn is about Keith Richards being in the next "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, and how the freedom that Richards, Johnny Depp, and the rest of the Rolling Stones represent has no place in society.

Seriously, just read it. Please tell me if you think that when Kersten sees her new baby's face after staring at Richards and inflatable dolls, she was partaking in what is typically passed around at Stones concerts. Just the thought is funny.

The moral of the story: don't expect any of Kersten's parties to be memorable, I guess.

At least this kolumn is a break from the crazy political ones she has written of late.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fifth CD fundraising

I have to admit that I am more than a bit surprised at this article. It totally bewilders me that Ember Reichgott Junge has raised the most money, mainly because I have yet to meet a real live person who actually supports her. Erlandson, I can understand: he is Sabo's chosen successor and a former party chair. But Ember? What has she done aside from be on television?

A lot of people are probably going to be making a big deal about Keith Ellison's lackluster fundraising. I still think that the people who believe he is in serious trouble are mistaken. I do realize that I could be very, very wrong about this statement, but that is just my gut feeling. Ellison may have done some silly things in the past, but so has Norm Coleman. Ellison is not a ticking time bomb; he seems to know his stuff. I don't expect any crazy antics from him should he win.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Pawlenty's transportation funding plan

What a surprise! Pawlenty's borrow-and-spend budgeting has led to a cash shortage at MnDOT. Apparently, if you want roads, you have to pay for them somehow. If you borrow for them, you eventually have to pay them back, and in the meantime, you are screwed.

Pawlenty's budgeting is like promising the kids a big screen TV for Christmas, and then having no money for groceries after buying it. Minnesota needs more money for transportation; it can't borrow its way out of the problem.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Katherine Kersten AWOL

There is no kolumn today, making the July 4th holiday just a little bit nicer.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Penny away!

I totally agree with eliminating the penny. I have lots of rolls of pennies that I have laying around. What can I do with them? Bring them to a bank when I have time? Leave them as tips for servers I don't like? They just take up space.

Plus, it costs more to strike a penny than they are worth. That's not good budgeting. So what if things get rounded up? C'est la vie.