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Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Broken Vows

I think we now know why Chad the Elder's blog production has been lacking in recent weeks:

St. Louis Park is dropping the contractor that was supposed to build the nation's first solar-powered citywide wireless Internet service. It will soon look for a new partner.

The City Council voted Monday to find Maryland-based Arinc in default of its contract with the city. It's the first step in dissolving the contract entirely.

Although the city has pledged to continue talks with the company, a fight is likely over who gets what and who owes whom. That battle could include a lawsuit.

A municipal government using expensive, untried technology in order to provide a service already offered by many private companies. Who could possibly have seen a problem with that?

Not the intrepid mayor and city council of St. Louis Park But it's good to see that they are finally starting to see the light. The Mayor himself brings us this heart warming lesson:

"As my father said before he ended his marriage: Never remain loyal to a bad idea," said Mayor Jeff Jacobs.

OK. So much for Mother's Day around the ol' Jacobs house.

But it may be good advice for voters to remember next time they get the chance to revisit the idea of having this clown in office for another term.


Saturday, November 24, 2007
Anatomy Of A Scandal

The Wall Street Journal editorial board weighs in on the Rachel Paulose "Scandalette" (sub req):

Most of the criticism against Ms. Paulose amounted to the accusation that she can be a difficult boss. If that's a hanging offense, most of Congress would be out of a job. It's also alleged that Ms. Paulose "mishandled" classified documents, and that she called a black woman in her office "fat and lazy." Yet the employee who was supposedly insulted never filed an adverse report against her boss, and Ms. Paulose has said she self-reported the documents incident to the Justice Department. Meanwhile, the accuser who claimed to have been "demoted" in retaliation for making the charges was one of the three who had publicly resigned in protest.

In sum, Ms. Paulose seems to have been an innocent political bystander who got drawn into a classic Beltway bloodletting. Congress wanted to take some public hostages, the media played up the fight, the career staff took the chance to trash a political appointee they don't like, and a scandalette was born.

It would be a scandal of its own if Ms. Paulose lost her job in these circumstances, and her transfer allows her to stay at Justice if she wants to. The Office of Legal Policy advises the Attorney General on a variety of public policy matters, and Mr. Mukasey will presumably have a chance to judge Ms. Paulose's capacities for himself. As for replacing Ms. Paulose in Minnesota, the AG ought to send that office someone who'll take no grief and clean out the whiners.


Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wearing A Suit And A Name Tag

The Minneapolis Marriot Southwest in Minnetonka is going to be host to two events of note in the near future:

#1 The Patriot Primary

Watch The Debate - Discuss - Participate in the Straw Poll

Wednesday November 28th, 2007
6:30 PM - 9:30 PM

It's a free event where you can get together with fellow Patriot listeners, watch the GOP You Tube debate (should be a fun one) live, and then vote in a straw poll for your candidate of choice. I also understand that Rusty Humphries will be wearing the special custom beret he picked up on his recent European vacation.

#2 Freedom Foundation State of Minnesota Conservatism Conference:

On Saturday, December 1, the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota is hosting the first annual State of Minnesota Conservatism conference. This day-long conference (at the Minneapolis Marriot Southwest in Minnetonka) will bring together a diverse group of conservative activists and leaders from throughout Minnesota to hear from nationally renowned conservative and political leaders regarding the state of conservatism in Minnesota.

Sessions will explore the past, explain what is currently happening on the ground in Minnesota (especially vis-ŕ-vis Soros-funded leftist organizations), and examine what conservatives can do in the future. Just as importantly, conservatives from throughout Minnesota will have an opportunity to network with each other and exchange ideas.

Speakers include:

* Governor Tim Pawlenty
[This is a conference on conservatism, right? Just checking.]

* Michael Barone, FOX News contributor and author of The Almanac of American Politics

* Jason Lewis, host of KTLK's The Jason Lewis Show

* Tony Fabrizio, one of the nation's pre-eminent pollsters

* Former Congressman Vin Weber, one of the nation's most influential conservative intellectuals in Washington, D.C.

* ...and many others including a panel discussion in the afternoon including state legislative leaders

The last event is something that our own Saint Paul would normally be all over. Unfortunately, he's been suffering from a crippling bout of confobia--fear of eating food on flimsy plates while trying not to stain your tie too badly--lately and until researchers discover a cure for this dreaded psychological disorder, he's limited to watching such events on C-SPAN on his couch, in his underwear, with easy access to food, drink and the ability to change the channel during the boring parts. Be thankful that you still have your health.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Board In Edina

Dave from Edina e-mails for information:

What's the line on Edina elections? I have no way of knowing which school board candidates are on "our" side. I tried to look for clues in their ads and local newspaper articles, but its hard to tell. Any advice?

Our Edina connection answers the call:

I personally am voting for the 3 male candidates (other 3 are women). Peyton Robb is a man and Bert Ledder is a woman so it's tricky.

1- Andrew Cialla (or something similar) is advocating more trade classes to prepare kids for the workforce.

2- Peyton Robb man mentions "fiscal responsibility". And a super-liberal friend of mine does not like him. 'Nuff said.

3- And I will vote for Cory Whalen even though he is not actively campaigning just to send a message that I don't want the others (his name remains on the ballot).

The women are all about the same thing....early childhood education mandated by the state, and more money for the chilrun. With no end in sight.

Unfortunately no candidate is talking about tackling the "open enrollment" issue! I think we are up to 15% of the kids being from outside the district. And my understanding is although the money follows them from their district, it does not cover the cost fully.


Monday, November 05, 2007
Vote Locally

Time once again for the Fraters Libertas editorial board to offer our official endorsements for Tuesday's election.

- The three school levies in Stillwater: Vote no on all three. In fact, vote no on any school levy wherever you happen to live. No additional money should be dumped into the seemingly bottomless pit until we see more accountabilty and visibility in school spending.

- Hopkins School Board: Jamie Wellik

- Golden Valley City Council: John Giese

That is all.


Thursday, October 25, 2007
The Memories Smolder

Lest you think Atomizer exaggerates the obsession that state Democrats have with the legacy of Paul Wellstone, let me take you a on a quick stroll through some local lefty blogs on the fifth anniversary of his death:

Corner House Comments:

I remember the day clearly as I was working and a coworker came up to me and asked if I had heard that the Senator's plane had crashed. I couldn't believe it and I did not want to believe it. I could think of nothing else the rest of the day and as soon as I punched out I raced to my car to turn on the radio. The news announcer confirmed what I didn't want to hear. Senator Wellstone had been killed in an airplane crash. It was a long tearful drive home. Our lives would change forever.

Bluestem Prairie:

We were working on a state senate campaign in the Northfield area in 2002 and that cold and deadly day hit the small college town with a punch to the heart. It looks to be a sunny autumn day today. Oh sun, where were you then?

From the comments at MNpublius:

All I was interested in, five years ago today, was trying to console my 16 year old daughter. Us old farts having been through this too many times weren't able to express our feelings completely. Why is it, John, Martin, Robert, now Paul? I'm not a conspiracy advocate but, damn, doesn't it seem like there's a trend here? It's much more difficult to kill the idea then the man. Paul's conscience live's on in people like my daughter who, when they stopped crying, became iron. No compromise, no giving in. What's right is right, what's evil is evil. My daughter is hell on wheels now because of Wellstone.

As JB pointed out, if you charted this--1963, twice in 1968 and then 2002--it doesn't exactly look like much of a trend.

Across the Great Divide provides a hymn for the day:

As a recording, "Eveleth" could've used revising and polishing after the fact, and the vocal track should've been recut. But I wanted to preserve the pulsing roughness, the tension between knowing/not knowing. This was a gulp of emotion, of trying not to dwell on what couldn't be changed and looking for what could.

As I wrote in a bar five years ago, the fire was still burning in TV footage from that obscure, lonely swamp.

A fire's still burning.

And last but not least, Eric Black--formerly a political reporter for the Star Tribune--explains how he finally decided to drop the veil of objectivity when Paul Wellstone Spoke to Me from the Grave:

I don't want to overdramatize. This was just one of many moments that led to my decision to drop out of mainstream journalism. And, after all those years of writing in the disembodied voice of a reporter, it still embarrasses me to write something this personal.

But by the time I got Kahn's email, I had moved into open rebellion against the model of so-called objective journalism. The memory of that lame piece, written at such a crucial time, seemed an abdication of responsibility. That, combined with my repressed admiration for Wellstone as a guy that at least stood up for his beliefs, felt like a message from Paul. The message was:

Seek the truth. Share the closest approximation of it that you can assemble. Stand up as bravely as you can for your convictions. When the end comes, don't be full of regrets for things you should have said.

Or biases you should have even more clearly revealed.

I think the more important message is, why put off until tomorrow, what you can take care of today?


If You Don't Expect Too Much From Me, You Might Not Be Let Down

It was five years ago today when a plane carrying Senator Paul Wellstone crashed into a Northeastern Minnesota forest killing all aboard. Minnesota Democrats have spent every waking hour since trying to reanimate him.

Case in point...this piece from today's Minneapolis Star Tribune (registration required, but strongly discouraged) attempts to illustrate how "Wellstone's legacy remains vibrant five years after his death":
The names of Paul and Sheila Wellstone have been attached to buildings, awards and legislation.

No fewer than three schools, three community centers, two affordable housing developments, two gardens and a hospital now carry the name Wellstone.

Awards in their names are granted by the Campaign for America's Future, Freedom Network USA, the American Public Health Association and Families USA.
That's all very nice and well and good. People love to put Paul's name on lots and lots of buildings and awards and gardens and things ...but where, exactly, is evidence of Senator Wellstone's actual legacy?

The very next paragraph locates it for us:
And years after Wellstone introduced a bill in Congress that would grant parity for mental health in health insurance, legislation toward that end and bearing his name remains pending in Congress.
Paul Wellstone has been dead for five years and a piece of legislation bearing his name still holds the high honor of being considered "pending in Congress". Kind of reminds me of every piece of legislation he put his name on when he was alive.

Now that's a legacy to be proud of.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007
The Rammer Falls

Late comment on the pending departure of Rep. Jim Ramstad from a life of "public service," after a lucrative 18 years. I mentioned a few months back his incongruous vote against a fat raise for himself and his colleagues. He was the only multi-term incumbent from Minnesota to do so.

At the time I thought it was a profile in humility that he would reject profiteering during a time when he and his colleagues are collectively at record low approval rates for their performance. But now I'm not so sure. Might his leaving have already been on his mind during this vote and he was simply denying his successor an extra $4,400 of undeserved gravy? As I said in my original post in June:

I'm willing to accept this as another piece of powerful evidence in favor of term limits. How many of these people would have voted for the increase if they knew they'd never personally benefit from it? And with the further knowledge that they'd be back home in their districts scratching out an existence, having to pay more for some other, less qualified stooge to do the job?

Not Jim Ramstad. It appears he's back to thinking like a taxpayer, instead of a tax consumer. Welcome back to the real world Jim.


Monday, September 17, 2007
Rammer? I Hardly Even Know Her

Ramstad announces retirement:

Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) will announce Monday that he will not run for a 10th term in Congress, according to a GOP source familiar with the situation.

The lawmaker becomes the sixth Republican House member to retire this cycle and creates an open seat in a bona fide swing district. Ramstad?s retirement ranks as one of the bigger surprises of the six. Despite his 17 years in Congress, Ramstad is just 61.

He was forced to cede the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee when the Democrats took power after the 2006 election.

Ramstad, who has built a centrist voting record during his tenure, has spent much of the new Congress voting with Democrats on key issues. He was one of only 17 Republicans to vote against the troop increase in Iraq and one of 24 to vote to allow the government to negotiate prices with prescription drug companies.

I wish I could say that I would miss Jim Ramstad in the House. But I can't, so I won't.

His announcement does open up the field on both sides in the Third District. I imagine a number of prominent Republicans will consider jumping in and I would expect the Dems to be able to field a much better candidate than Wendy Wilde. I know, I know. Low bar and all that.


Friday, July 27, 2007
Basic Instinct

Last week on NARN we mentioned Sen. Amy Klobuchar's participation in stripping the so-called "John Doe" protections from legislation moving through the Senate. A public servant fresh off a landslide victory taking a stance in opposition to the common sense wisdom of the vast majority of her constituency? I ain't no managing editor, but it seems like a newsworthy item.

Crazy talk, I know. Those currently presiding over the sinking ships of both newspapers know best and little was made of Klobuchar's actions in the local press. The Star Tribune and Pioneer Press have trained us long-time residents of the Twin Cities not to expect this kind of coverage. (Not coincidentally, they've also trained us not to subscribe to them.) That kind of story just wouldn't be helpful and doesn't go far enough in afflicting the comfortable., I suppose.

Once again, Katherine Kersten does her best to fill the news breach from her opinion column. Her report is on Ms. Klobuchar's apparent flip-flop on the issue:

Klobuchar's vote was one of the three that seemed to sink John Doe. But on Monday, she told me that she had decided to support the measure. "It came up in the middle of the night, attached to an unrelated bill," she said. "I was thinking about a case I had in Bloomington as [Hennepin] county attorney. A security guard reported a series of fires set by a 'Middle Eastern man,' but police discovered he had set the fires himself.

Someone needs to check the facts on the xenophobic arsonist story. It might be true, or parts of it might be, but it sounds a little too PC-perfect for my ears.

True or not, Klobuchar's reliance on this example is illustrative of her mindset. The theoretical possibility that a false accusation could be leveled against a member of a protected class is enough to junk the notion that all citizens should be protected from getting sued for reporting suspicious behavior. So until we realize the utopian vision where racism doesn't exist in society, you people better think twice before objecting to the guy re-enacting a scene from United 93.

Of course, this utopian vision will never be realized. There is the potential for abuse in any law. The question is, on which side do you want to err?

If you enact this measure, people in protected classes might get falsely accused and not be able to sue for damages (gasp!). But if you kill the bill, those reporting their concerns, in good faith, may be frivolously sued and be financially devastated in defending themselves. And, more to the point, the mere threat of this would create a chilling effect on citizen's willingness to bother reporting suspicious behavior, with potentially fatal consequences.

Which do you chose? Who's interests are you looking out for? In this era of terrorism, and frivolous lawsuits, this seems to be an easy call. But not for the conflicted junior Senator from Minnesota.

I guess there is a happy ending. She has begrudgingly come around to supporting it:

"I wanted to make sure that the [immunity provision] had exceptions that would preserve the right to sue under such circumstances."

After the late-night vote, Klobuchar talked to Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., a cochairman of the committee and a supporter of the John Doe provision. He alleviated her concerns, she said.

It would be nice if she actually understood the bill before she voted on it the first time. She's still new, maybe they didn't cover that in freshman orientation classes. But in the absence of perfect information, it's interesting to note what her instincts tell her to do.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Scotch Egg On His Face

On a couple of critical issues, Norm Coleman has not exactly been a profile in courage of late and local conservatives have had good reason to wonder when he will next go wobbly when the rubber meets the road. But one area where Norm has never wavered and in fact has been a rock of strength is his leading role in investigating the UN's Oil For Food scandal. In today's Wall Street Journal he pens an opinion piece on a new report by the British Parliament on George Galloway's role in said wrongdoing called Scurrilous George (sub req):

Two years ago George Galloway, a member of the British Parliament, came to the U.S. and attempted to make a mockery of an investigation into allegations of corruption within the United Nation's Oil for Food program. Readers will remember that Oil for Food started as a way to feed Iraqi children, but became a vehicle that Saddam Hussein used for bribery and extortion.

Mr. Galloway dismissed accusations that he benefited substantially through a charity he was involved with (the Mariam Appeal), from Saddam. Evidence that he and the Appeal had received lucrative oil benefits had been released by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, of which I was chairman. In testimony to the subcommittee, Mr. Galloway denied the accusations and later attacked the integrity of his accusers, including me. His bombastic denials won him international attention.

But now, thanks to an investigation conducted by the British Parliament, the truth is out. Last week the House of Commons's Committee on Standards and Privileges issued a damning report presenting "undeniable evidence" that Mr. Galloway and his political operation at the Mariam Appeal benefited from Saddam's regime through Oil for Food. This report is the fourth official investigation -- from the U.N. to the U.S. to the U.K. -- to condemn Mr. Galloway for his misconduct.

The committee report, which is remarkably thorough and objective, is highly critical of Mr. Galloway, ruling that he violated the House of Commons Code of Conduct on numerous different counts. In fact, the committee ruled against Mr. Galloway on every count brought against him. It concluded that Mr. Galloway, through his extensive misconduct, brought the House into "disrepute." It also chastised him for his inappropriate conduct throughout their investigation, including making inconsistent statements, acting belligerently and verbally attacking key witnesses. "Mr. Galloway has consistently denied, prevaricated and fudged in relation to the now undeniable evidence" that his political operation (and he indirectly) received money from Saddam Hussein's regime via Oil for Food.

The committee recommends suspension from the House of Commons for a month -- a rare and severe punishment -- and that Mr. Galloway apologize to Parliament for his improper behavior.

Galloway is a smooth-talking silver-tongued devil who won great acclaim from many on the Left when he came to the US and supposedly made Coleman and the US Senate Committee look foolish. It's encouraging to see that in the end, facts and not bombastic rhetoric have won the day. Well done Norm.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Before we put our house on the market this week (no horror stories please), I was forced to thoroughly depoliticize all aspects of it prior to being ready for showing. Down came the framed pictures of Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and Captain Ed. Back issues of National Review were carefully tucked away out of site. Any potentially partisan books were boxed up. Campaign signs and bumper stickers that hung in the garage were unceremoniously stripped from the walls.

After some debate, we decided that we could continue to fly our flag despite the fascistic message that it sends to some. After all, what are the odds that Susan Lenfestey would buy our house anyway?


Tuesday, July 10, 2007
U Got the Look

The distinguished mayor of Minneapolis, spotted at a recent cultural event:

It was far too hot to don a raspberry beret, but downtown Minneapolis dripped purple Saturday for the "Ultimate Prince Xperience" - from the purple curtains draped along the center aisle at Macy's to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak's purple and pink Saks Fifth Avenue shirt circa 1987, the last time he saw Prince perform at First Avenue.

I'm no expert in urban studies, but is there a chance there's a correlation between the success of a major urban metropolis and the incidence of having a mayor who's actually an adult?

The implication that he hasn't worn the pink and purple shirt since 1987 needs some fact-checking. Knowing Rybak's style, he has to have worn it more recently than that. But so far I can find no photo evidence to prove it.

There are pictures available from some of his most important public appearances during his tenure as Mayor. For example, at this community meeting at the Ukrainian Event Center a few years back he was wearing a shiny tie, but a conservative blue shirt. And this, while out encouraging young people to become better citizens, it looks like he had a simple dark green t-shirt on. And in this photo with one of his policy advisors, it looks like standard Minneapolis office casual.

Anybody see what he was wearing while he was jumping off floats in the Pride Parade a couple years ago? Don't tell me he's got something else in his wardrobe even more suited for the occasion than his pink and purple Saks Fifth Avenue shirt.

If we can find just one example of Rybak wearing the pink and purple shirt between 1987 and this past Saturday, we can finally expose his web of lies and end his iron-fisted, dictatorial rule once and for all.


Friday, July 06, 2007
We Like It Here?

It's not everyday that you read a Wall Street Journal editorial about your state. Then again, it's not every state that bans non-American made flags:

t's the week to wave the flag, as millions did on the Fourth. However, in the case of Minnesota, perhaps we should say "waive" the flag -- at least if it happens to have been made overseas.

In St. Paul this week, the legislature passed a law making it a misdemeanor to sell a non-made-in-the-USA flag anywhere in the state. "Nothing is more embarrassing to me than a plastic flag made in China," declared Tom Rukavina, who sponsored the bill.

Actually, we can think of several things more embarrassing, starting with Mr. Rukavina. Under the Minnesota flag law, violators could be subject to a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail. So under Mr. Rukavina's patriot gaming and thanks to the Supreme Court's 1989 decision in Texas v. Johnson, Minnesotans will be able to legally burn an American flag made in America, but could go to jail for selling one made in Shanghai. Splendid.

Proponents say this protectionism is about national symbolism, so let's not tell them that Major League baseballs have been made in Costa Rica for years. We also won't tell Mr. Rukavina where his favorite hot dogs are made, much less what they're made of. The Commerce Department says about $5.3 million worth of flags were imported last year, so the ban will not make much of a dent in our trade deficit. According to the Associated Press, the biggest recent surge in flag imports came after September 11. Luckily for Minnesotans, Mr. Rukavina wasn't around to criminalize that patriotic sentiment.

Old Glory stands for freedom, including the right to trade with people of other nationalities. We suspect that when most Americans wave the flag, they care more about the ideas it represents than where it was made.

Feel the pride?


Monday, July 02, 2007
Behind the Other FEC Report

As a follow-up to my investigation into Al Franken's star-studded first quarter FEC report, Sisyphus delves into the report from Franken's assumed opponent, Norm Coleman. It turns out paging through this document didn't quite provide the same thrills of discovery that Franken's did:

Not only is Norm's report about five times longer than Franken's, finding a celebrity among Norm's contributors is about as easy as finding a parking spot at the Star Tribune.

Nevertheless, Jim manages to uncover some fascinating nuggets. It's celebrity Minnesota style, with Glen Mason, Rachel Paulose, and the Rookie from KSTP all making cameo appearances. Read the whole thing.

Influential Minnesota celebrities still not accounted for: Fancy Ray McCloney, Kent Hrbek, Tyrel Ventura, Francisco Javier Serrano. Their endorsments could swing this entire election. With the second quarter FEC reports soon to be released, rest assured we'll be first with any breaking news on this front.


Thursday, June 28, 2007
Minnesota Incumbents Exposed

The US House of Representatives approved a salary increase for themselves yesterday, a healthy $4,400 per person. This raises their salary to an appalling 170K per year . Not bad for a group of people getting a 24% job approval rating from their alleged bosses. Stink at your job, make huge dough, and get regular raises. Good work if you can get it. Which is probably why it's so difficult to get any of these people to ever leave Washington and return to living the life of an ordinary citizen. In the real world, the compensation to performance ratio isn't nearly as good.

It is interesting to note this was a reasonably bi-partisan vote. 64% of voting Democrats supported it, as well as 50% of voting Republicans. Although the GOP is slightly less culpable, neither party can legitimately claim their hands are clean on this one.

Minnesota's gang of eight representatives show a similar tendency of bi-partisan support for giving themselves a raise. 60% of our Democrats and 33% of our Republicans jumped on the automatic cost of living increase expressway. Individually, there were some surprises.

Voting hell yes, I'm here to bleed taxpayers for every nickel I can get:
John Kline (R)
Betty McCollum (D)
James Oberstar (D)
Collin Peterson (D)

Voting, no, we're not worthy:
Michele Bachmann (R)
Keith Ellison (D)
Jim Ramstad (R)
Tim Walz (D)

It's too bad Kline went wobbly on this one. A united front for fiscal accountability among our GOP contingent might have been a powerful symbol come election time. As for the DFL'ers, I would have guessed they'd all be up for a little more government cheese, at any time. That two of them rejected it seems like a sell out of their principles.

There is another variable at work that appears to be more powerful than party affiliation in predicting willingness to give yourself a raise. The same list, presented with the number of terms they have served in Congress.

Voting hell yes, I'm here to bleed taxpayers for every nickel I can get:
John Klein (R) - 3rd term
Betty McCollum (D) - 4th term
James Oberstar (D) - 17th term
Collin Peterson (D) - 9th term

Voting, no, we're not worthy:
Michele Bachmann (R) 1st term
Keith Ellison (D) - 1st term
Jim Ramstad (R) - 9th term
Tim Walz (D) - 1st term

Only the Rammer throws a hammer into this perfect correlation of incumbency and the mindset that at 165K, you're underpaid. But, as our Congressmen would I'm sure agree, that's close enough for government work.

I'm willing to accept this as another piece of powerful evidence in favor of term limits. How many of these people would have voted for the increase if they knew they'd never personally benefit from it? And with the further knowledge that they'd be back home in their districts scratching out an existence, having to pay more for some other, less qualified stooge to do the job? Under these conditions, I predict a vote somewhere in the range of 0 yea to 435 nay.

Solution, all Congressmen are limited to a maximum of ONE term.

If they must have multiple terms, no Congressman can ever personally benefit from a salary increase passed while they are in office. That is, your pay is FROZEN at the amount you received in your first year. For 34 year incumbent Jim Oberstar, I think that was about $2,587. Any chance he's still be doing his "public service" for us at that rate of pay? Highly unlikely. But if he was, at least we'd be paying him about what he was worth.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Nobody Here But Us Progressive Non-Partisans

I see Minnesota is soon to be graced with the intellectual byproducts of a new think tank, Minnesota 2020. It's run by by one of the most liberal politicians in the state, former DFL State Congressman Matt Enteza. But fear not, fellow citizens, when they start advocating for higher taxes and more regulation, politics will have nothing to do with it.

From their mission statement:

Minnesota 2020 is a progressive, non-partisan think tank. We are focused on what really matters for the future of our state. We are tired of a state that focuses on divisive side issues while our schools, healthcare, transportation, and economic development suffer.

This is the equivalent of Fred Smoot renting a party boat on Lake Minnetonka and assuring us it will be a non-hooker affair.

It remains to be seen whether or not the media outlets in this town will start finding ways to work Minnesota 2020's findings and talking points into their non-partisan news accounts. But MN2020 certainly has their foot in the door already. I see one of their "Fellows" is Conrad deFiebre, a member of the brotherhood, a Star tribune reporter/editor for 30+ years. Yes, believe it or not, a Star Tribune political reporter leaves his job and steps right into a position with the former DFL House majority leader. How does that happen?

Here's one possibility. From the Fraters Libertas archives, check out this post for an example of deFiebre's prior experience at keeping partisanship out of a reporting of the facts. Now that's the perfect candidate for a job working for Matt Entenza at a non-partisan think tank.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Thanks for the Amnesty

According to reports, Norm Coleman was among the Senate Republicans voting to allow the Senate Comprehensive Immigration Reform to continue to an almost certain passage.

National Review had earlier identified Coleman as one of the key players who could have stopped this bill before its future fell under the control of a simple majority vote, in a body controlled by Democrats, 51 - 49.

They are Sens. Kit Bond, Sam Brownback, Richard Burr, Thad Cochran, Norm Coleman, John Ensign, and Jim Webb. If any of these senators votes to revive the bill, his professions of opposition to amnesty should no longer be taken seriously. He will have done his crucial bit, when the amnesty bill was most vulnerable, to help shepherd it to passage.

The vote just occurred and Coleman hasn't been asked to comment yet. Let's just see how much his explanation for this vote matches the NR prediction:

We know how senators who claim to oppose amnesty will try to explain away a vote to revive the bill. They will rely on procedural obfuscation: They didn't want to obstruct the process, they wanted to get a vote on an amendment, etc. But amnesty is staying in the bill -- no amendment to strike the bill's central features has any chance of passage -- and it deserves to be obstructed.

Knowing Coleman's history of getting on both sides of an issue, a vote allowing the bill to progress, then voting against the specific bill's passage would be in character. Come election season next year, depending on his audience, he can then point to his various votes to prove he's on your side. But ultimately, today's vote was the big one and he's acted contrary to the preferences of most conservatives.

This vote is going to be a bitter pill to swallow for many who fought so hard for the man in 2002. He's turning out to be no Rod Grams or Mark Kennedy, something most already knew. But he's also no Walter Mondale or Al Franken. Elections are choices not referenda.

It should be noted that Coleman will have to face an election before a Democrat can officially challenge him in 2008. And there is a potential candidate out there who seems a little more reliable than Norm. Whether Joe Repya can capitalize on this issue will be an indicator of how much Minnesota Republicans really care about illegal immigration. I think Coleman is banking that the answer is 'not that much'.

It's also interesting to note the timing of the Minnesota GOP releasing one of its SCREAM email press releases today, entitled:

Why I Oppose Misleadingly Named 'Employee Free Choice Act'

Hard for Republicans to argue with Norm about that. Now ignore that undocumented worker in the corner.

UPDATE: According to sources, today's "cloture" vote was only a preliminary one. The final "cloture" vote is on Thursday. (Maybe by this time, they'll figure out they're spelling "closure" incorrectly.) This measure also needs 60 votes to pass, so the tyranny of the bare majority still has one more impediment in its way. A chance for Coleman to redeem himself? Or maybe a chance for him to stake out a third position on the issue. An abstention, a vote of "present," a cry of "yea, but," it will be interesting to watch.

UPDATE: Press release from Norm Coleman's office, 'splaining his actions. According to this, he wants to give the bill one last chance to "significantly improve" before voting against it.

Senator Coleman intends to vote for cloture in order to allow one last effort to significantly improve the enforcement measures in the immigration reform bill. He fully believes that the current immigration system in this country is totally broken. It remains to be seen whether this bill will be the answer to this serious problem, which is why he is reserving judgment on how he will vote on final passage.

Hoping people like John McCain, Ted Kennedy, and Harry Reid are going to get it right with one more chance to fiddle with it. Now that's faith based politics, bordering on fanaticism.


Thursday, June 14, 2007
Disillusionment and Triumph

We are still recovering from the revelation of Ben Stein's going native and throwing his money at Al Franken for Senate. Professor Bainbridge and Brian Maloney add their thoughts as well, including evidence that Ben Stein's conservatism really isn't all that it was cracked up to be.

Dismay also registered by Squotty at Kowabunga. As one would expect from the official MOB representative to the Klingon Empire, his problem isn't with Stein, it's with the 4 grand going to Franken from Leonard Nimoy:

I always figured that Spock was Democrat, but I didn't realized that he was a far-left leftie who would support Al Frank-N-Furter. Egads Mr. Spock, how could you?

One more Franken supporter was in the news this week. Robert Smigel donned his dog puppet and prowled the red carpet at the Tony Awards for targets, with hilarious consequences (video here). For example:

I understand the ratings are going to be so low, Osama Bin Laden will be hiding on stage.

I once saw Rosie O'Donnell in Grease. Not the musical, she was trying to wedge herself through a door way.

A lesson Franken should learn. It's much easier to forgive people for their political sins when they happen to be actually funny.

UPDATE: Better link to the Triumph video here.


We Got You Covered

DFL negotiates with Rochester for state convention:

For the second election cycle in a row, the city of Rochester appears to be in line to play host to one, if not two, state political conventions.

On Sunday, the state DFL executive committee authorized party leaders to negotiate a contract with the city as the host site of the 2008 Minnesota DFL Convention, which will run from June 6 to 8. The state DFL held its convention in Rochester last year.

Local officials say the city's selection reaffirms its status as a political bellwether. While the Rochester area moved firmly in the Democratic column in last year's state elections after decades of Republican dominion, leaders from both state parties see the area as having the potential to swing in either a Democratic or Republican direction in 2008.

The state Republican party has yet to name its site for the state GOP convention, but a party spokesman said Rochester was in the running.

"It's kind of a hotbed for politics right now," said Brad Jones, executive director of the Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Both parties see that they can win here, if they pay a little attention to us. Politically, it makes sense."

Fortunately, we're perfectly positioned to cover all the action with our in-house political uber-wonk JB Doubtless already strategically situated in Rochester.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Opening Another Front?

Word on the street (and The Hill) is that retired Lt. Col. Joe Repya--fresh off a failed bid to oust Ron Carey as the Chairman of the Minnesota GOP--is seriously considering challenging Senator Norm Coleman in next year's primary. Not sure if this is really the battle that Joe should be fighting.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Behind the FEC Report

Al Franken is finding out that being a politician isn't exactly what he thought it would be from watching the West Wing all those years:

I often think about how badly we need public financing of elections in this country. We need it because I should be out talking to Minnesotans about the issues that matter to their families. We need it so that I can spend my days meeting with policy experts and reading up on legislation and working with progressives all over the state to build a movement that can take on Norm Coleman next fall.

Yes, Al has been forced to lower himself to calling people and asking for money for his campaign and he doesn't like it. Like any good liberal, he'd prefer a government subsidy instead, so he can have more time at his disposal to pass laws giving other people government subsidies.

Despite his frustration with having to convince voters to fund his efforts rather than the government, he's been very successful at it. To the tune of $1.3 million in the first quarter of 2007, according to his FEC report.

That FEC filing is a fascinating document. Did you know that anyone running for federal office in this country has to submit a detailed form to the government, listing the names, address, occupations of all people who gave them money, along with the amount given? It's true. I believe this level of intrusion into free association and political behavior has been around for some time. But I wouldn't have known that if Al Franken hadn't come along and turned the paperwork into a page from Variety Magazine.

The stars have come out in force for Al Franken. Sen. Norm Coleman, the man holding the seat Franken covets, is even using this form as evidence that Franken is not fit to be Minnesota's senator, based on the company he keeps. Hard to argue with that when you see people like this flocking to Franken's side:

"Me too," said co-host Rosie O'Donnell. "I'm maxing out to him. I'm maxing out my contribution."

A review of Franken's FEC filing shows Rosie has not yet put her money where her enormous mouth is. Maybe she's waiting to hear whether or not Franken agrees with her that 9/11 was an inside job before she ponies up.

Rosie aside, the left-wing celebrity activists you would expect to see supporting a fashionably unjustifiable and destructive cause are present. But there are a lot of other celebrities on this list, some I heretofore had some level of respect for. Yes, I understand one must at times separate entertainment and state. But it is exceedingly difficult to respect anyone who would willingly give money for the purpose of sending an embittered, loud mouth, nominal comedian to do one of the most important jobs in the country. Especially when those people don't even live in Minnesota.

What follows is a litany of the radical chic outside agitators who've donated money to Franken's campaign. To paraphrase one of their other heroes, Michael Dukakis, I don't question their artistic talent, I question their judgment.

Bill Maher - $1,000. OK, I question his artistic talent. But I understand his donation. Embittered, loud mouth, unfunny liberal comedians making millions in Hollywood have to stick together.

Tom Hanks - $4,600. Ouch. It's hard not to like Tom hanks. But this is the most thoroughly disreputable thing he's done since Turner & Hooch. In fact, I would have respected him more if he'd have donated money to elect his slobbering hound costar to the US Senate instead.

Donna Dixon Akroyd - $2,300. Longtime wife of Dan Akroyd and Hanks' blond bombshell Bosom Buddies costar It's sad to think the historical integrity of that crossdressing 80's sitcom rests upon the thin shoulders of Peter Scolari, who has not, yet, donated to Franken.

Jane Curtain - $4600. The woman Dan Akroyd used to regularly refer to as an "ignorant slut" on one of those legendary, and not funny, SNL sketches from the golden years. It looks like maybe she's finally come around to Dan's way of thinking.

Paul Newman - $4600. I'll never be able to drown my spaghetti with Newman's Own Sockarooni with the same carefree zest again.

Lucy Lawless - $2,000. Xena, Warrior Princess. What the three headed Zorgon couldn't destroy, the FEC filing report lays to waste. BTW, I thought this gal was from New Zealand. Is she legally able to intrude into our political system? Somebody check her Z visa.

Kevin Bacon - $1,000. Another bitter pill to swallow. But this does expand the options of the Kevin Bacon game. It used to take like 23 steps to connect Kevin Bacon and say, Lucy Lawless. Now there is only one. Plus everyone else on the Franken FEC filing is now only one step away from Kevin Bacon. Congratulations, Howard Stewart, auto worker from Ann Arbor Michigan, you are one step away from Kevin Bacon. And two steps from Lucy Lawless.

Larry Hagman - $500. JR Ewing. Is he still alive? Or has the Democratic dream of giving dead people the franchise finally been realized?

Robert Smigel - $4600. The man behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. You know, if he supports Franken, maybe there is something worthwhile about the man. For me to poop on!

Leonard Nimoy - $4000. Dammit Spock!

Shawn Otto - $250 - The writer of the painfully dull, depressing, and award winning movie "The House of Sand and Fog." He is also the husband of Minnesota's Auditor Rebecca Otto. A search of her state campaign donation filing indicates that, while Al Franken did not personally donate to her campaign, his political action committee, Midwest Values PAC, kicked in $500. Some quid pro quo perhaps? But the Ottos are coming back a little light here. Maybe they're waiting until Shawn can sell the rights to The House of Sand and Fog II: Unstable Foundation.

Others donors I recognize, by category:

Family Members
Frances Franken -$ 4,600 - his wife
Joseph Franken - $4600 - his son
Thomasin Franken $2300 - his daughter. And part time Huffington Post contributor. I particularly like her charming take on take on urinating in public restrooms.

Other entertainers
Jason Alexander - $4,600. Down goes George Costanza.
Barbara Bosson - $1,000. Last seen on Hill Street Blues 20 years ago. And she can still kick in a grand?
Beth Broderick - $1,000 - Aunt Zelda on Sabrina, The Teen-Age Witch.
Larry David/Laurie David - $4600 each.
Buck Henry - $1,000.
James Morrison - $250. Actor on 24.
Bob Odenkirk - $2,000.
Garry Trudeau - $1,000 - Doonesbury
Bradley Whitford - $4600 - West Wing
Marlo Thomas - $4600 - That Girl!
Phil Donahue - $4600 - That Lousy Talk Show Host!

Lorne Michaels - $4600. SNL Creator
James L Brooks - $4600 - The Simpsons creator.
Jonathan Demme - $2300
Richard Donner - $2000
Nora Ephron - $2300
Peter Farrelly - $4600 - "Dumb and Dumber" creator.
Marshall Herskovitz - $1,000. 30 Something creator. It's interesting to note that he donated a single dollar on 3/1, then $999 on March 2. Perhaps a new genre of comedy, FEC Filing Zingers. Tonight on NBC!
Barry Levinson - $4600.
Rob Reiner - $2300 - Meathead on All in the Family
Harvey Weinstein $4600
Edward Zwick - $2300

Don Henley - $1,000
Stone Gossard - $2,000
Bonnie Raitt - $1,000.
Linda Ronstadt - $1,500

Paul Begala - $1000
Geraldine Ferraro - $1000
Karenna Gore Schiff - $500.
Warren Spanus - $250

Craig Newmark $500 - Craig's List.
Melvin Simon - $4600 - the guy behind the Mall of America.
George Zimmer - $4600. The guy behind The Men's Warehouse..

And, finally, the most painful discovery of all.

Ben Stein - $1,000. Legendary Ferris Beuhler actor, game show host, and brilliant conservative. Former speech writer for Richard Nixon and columnist for the American Spectator and Yahoo Finance, among other outlets. One of the finest writers around on politics, economics, and culture, as demonstrated in this listing. In particular, he's one the most articulate and persuasive speakers advocating the pro-life stance in the country.

And he's giving money to Al Bleeping Franken? A guy who's never found a liberal position on abortion he didn't like (as shown by the $5,000 contribution he also received from something called Washington Women for Choice.) How in the world can Ben Stein be supporting Al Franken?

Rather than engage in rank speculation, I have chosen to utilize the most powerful tool in the Internet journalist arsenal, the email interview. And believe it or not, Stein wrote me back. The disturbing transcript follows:

SP: I was recently reviewing Al Franken's FEC filing for donations and expenditures. I must say I was a little surprised to find what I believe to be your name on the contributors list (if he was paying you, I'd applaud it). I'm a great admirer of your work from the American Spectator and the other media commentary you've provided over the years. But I always thought you were reasonably conservative in your orientation. So why in the world do you want to stick up poor Minnesotans (and the rest of the country) with a comedian who fancies himself a second coming of secular St. Wellstone? He's going to be about as far left as one can be in polite company in this country. If you're friends with the guy, I understand the motivation. But actions like these have consequences. Can't you just shake his hand extra friendly-like at the next cocktail party and leave it at that?

BS: Al is a close friend and one of the smartest people I have ever met.

SP: One final question, with all due respect. I believe you have a pretty strong commitment to pro-life issues and pro-growth economic policies. Are these trumped by your personal admiration for Franken and his alleged intellect?

Anyone ... anyone ... Beuhler?

Maybe my question sent Ben Stein into a spell of intense introspection and he's still trying to reconcile his actions with his philosophy. Or maybe he has a policy of one email only to obsessed, loser fans. Either way, the question stands unanswered. And if we wake up on November 5, 2008 to the reality of Senator Al Franken, we have Ben Stein's money to thank for it.

UPDATE: Sisyphus, our go-to-guy on Barbara Bosson news, chimes in:

I can explain how Barbara Bosson could come up with a grand -- she was married to Stephen Bochco (producer of Hill Street Blues, LA Law, NYPD Blues etc.) for many years. She is a (very) slightly more talented Laurie David.


Thursday, June 07, 2007
The Commish

When Penny Steele announced that she would not seek reelection to her seat on the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, there was concern that her departure would leave a void on the local political scene. Steele is a rare stalwart of common sense and responsibility and was often the lone voice on the Hennepin County Board willing to stand athwart Utopian visions of the future yelling "Stop!". God only knows how many bureaucratic boondoggles would have been foisted on the taxpayers of Hennepin County with little or no discussion or debate if Steele hadn't been on hand to provide a much-needed sanity check.

We appreciate Penny Steele's years of service and will definitely miss her feisty attitude on the Board. However, it looks like we're going to have an opportunity to replace her with another excellent public servant.

Jeff Johnson has announced that he will seek the seat being vacated by Steele in 2008. Last time we heard from Jeff, he was being caught up in the Democratic wave that swept over Minnesota in the 2006 election. Despite being one of the strongest Republican candidates anywhere on the ticket, he was defeated in his bid for Attorney General by Lori Hatch Mike Swanson Lori Swanson, who's already managed to alienate her staff, get the Legislature to call for an investigation of her office, and anger one of the Democrats key constinuencies (they put the L in DFL).

Among the Republican candidates in Minnesota who deserved a better fate in '06, none were more worthy of victory than Jeff Johnson. It was a crying shame that a man of his qualifications, integrity, and committment would get swamped in a tide of blue. But that's politics for you.

It's great to see that Jeff is back in the game, ready to fight the good fight once again. At this early stage, it looks like aught-eight is not shaping up to be a great year for Republicans, but we are confident that this time around, it will be for Jeff Johnson.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007
The Vezina of Vetoes

T-Paw gets some love from an editorial in today's Wall Street Journal:

If he's looking for tips on handling Nancy Pelosi, President Bush might want to consult Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. The Republican Governor is using his veto power to good effect on policy and making himself more popular.

Last month the Democrats who run the Legislature in St. Paul pushed through a big tax and spending increase in their $35 billion state budget. Last week Mr. Pawlenty responded by vetoing all six of the spending and tax bills the Democrats sent him. The usual media and interest group suspects are upset, but Mr. Pawlenty is rallying his own supporters and making himself a defender of the taxpaying middle class.

There's a lot to be gained at times by simply saying "No". Or maybe more appropriate for GW's sensibilities "No mas."


Wednesday, May 23, 2007
And Doggone It, I'm Rich Enough

A story in today's Strib reports that Senate candidate Al Franken may not exactly identify with Minnesota's Joe Six Packs and Sally House Coats when it comes to pocketbook issues:

Al Franken, a comedian and best-selling author before launching his Senate campaign this year, is worth between $4.3 million and $9.9 million, according to a financial disclosure form he filed with the Senate.

I'm guessing the variation in his net worth is determined by the daily closing price of Halliburton stock.

Franken, a Democrat who hopes to challenge Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman next year, also listed a salary of just over $1 million last year from his corporation, Alan Franken Inc. That corporation is the business entity that provides Franken's services (such as speaking engagements and his stint on Air America Radio), and then pays Franken a salary at the end of the year after commissions, taxes and other fees are paid, said his campaign spokesman, Andy Barr.

I wonder how that breaks down on a per joke basis. How about per funny joke?

You know the thing that the Senate really needs is more millionaires. Who will stand up and represent the big guy?

Even on the low end, that would easily eclipse Coleman, a Republican who listed only an IRA rollover valued at $564,000 in his assets. Coleman's report voluntarily provided the exact market value.

So can we now expect to see the jackasses in tuxedos, with top hats and monocles (the caricature of the typical rich guy you know) who showed up to protest Republican candidates start following Franken around this year? Don't hold your breath.

It's interesting that the Republicans are labeled as the "party of the rich," but time and time again the candidates you hear about with the big ching are Democrats. One of the other contenders for the right to face Coleman in '08 is Mike Ceresi, who, even after dropping a cool FIVE MIL in 2000 trying to get the DFL Senate nomination, still has millions in tobacco settlement money to burn. The man who beat him out that year and wasted six years in the Senate was the uber-rich Mark Dayton, who's threatening to run for governor in 2010.

On the national level, you have the likes of John Kerry and John "Two Americas" Edwards who recently completed construction on a mansion that you can see from space and charges public universities 50K to deliver speeches on poverty (apparently without irony!). Funny that the media never sees fit to ask one of these wealthy plutocrats how much a loaf of bread costs these days.


Monday, May 21, 2007
Blinding Us With Science?

Scientist might join race for Senate:

Dr. Peter Agre, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist at Duke University, said Friday he's considering a run for U.S. Senate in his native state of Minnesota, where he would join an eclectic Democratic field that already includes a comedian and a trial lawyer.

In a telephone interview, Agre conceded he faces long odds.

"If you talk about a dark horse, I'm the jet-black Shetland pony that's four miles behind everybody," he said. "But this is a marathon, this is not a sprint. I've talked to many people who have assured me this will be really tough. I've been willing to try things in the past that are really tough. By and large, I've done a pretty good job."



Friday, April 20, 2007
Dimed And Quartered

Q: Is there anything that the DFL won't find a way to tax?

A: Of course not!

Puck stops here; DFL'er proposes hockey ticket surcharge:

The House floor turned into a game as rough as hockey during debate on providing money to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

Rep. Tom Rukavina included a provision in his economic development bill to add a 25-cent surcharge on every Division I college hockey ticket sold in the state. That did not set well with many Republicans.

"It is a bad idea for the 'state of hockey,'" added Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove.

Before we continue with the story, how do you think Rukavina will try to defend his proposal? By following the longstanding DFL tradition of minimizing the impact down to the micro level of course:

Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, said the Iron Range has done a lot for the state and Republicans should not begrudge it a relatively little money.

"I don't think a quarter is going to break anybody," he added.

A dime on my drinks, a quarter on my hockey tickets, pretty soon you're talking about some real money here.

UPDATE-- Tim from Colorado e-mails:

Once again a subject has come up in which the State of Minnesota Hockey Commissioner should step up. Where is he? Is he waiting for some sort of official request? Does he need some sort of Bat Signal in the night sky (maybe the old standard of a pair of crossed hockey sticks with a puck between)? You know he'd be all over this if we were talking about some sort of pants tax on Dockers.

You know, if he's not going to step up and do his job you should have his appointment rescinded.

Not only that, but the Wild recently played three playoff games right in his backyard and he didn't so much as lift a finger to help their cause. Dangerously incompetent is a charitable way to describe his job performance of late.

Meanwhile, Cathy from Wyoming gets the last word in on the debate between the states by rubbing salt in our open tax wounds:

I hate to rub it in BUT--I live in a three bedroom, two bathroom house on two and a half acres, overlooking a rimrock canyon on the edge of the Black Hills (think million dollar views). My property taxes for this year are $203....

There is no state income tax (personal or corporate) and the sales tax is 5% (food is exempt). Energy (coal and oil) royalties fund the state. (And we would like to thank all of you end users.) I think we have had billion dollar plus surpluses for the last four or five years.

We like it here?


Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Come for the Liberty, Stay for the Sharia

Speaking of Sharia Central, to the litany of cab rides, pork sales, feet washing, and terror free airline travel, let's add one more item to the accommodations needed by one of our immigrant communities.

The City of Minneapolis and the African Development Center (ADC) have partnered to offer a new alternative financing program targeted at small businesses in the city. The program addresses Islam's prohibition on paying interest on loans.

At a press conference in Minneapolis to announce the program, Mayor R.T. Rybak impressed by the business zeal of the Somali and larger African community in the city had no doubt that this new financing program would benefit the city, "The city (Minneapolis) has built equity thanks to African small business owners. This city is the Statue of Liberty for Somalis even in Mogadishu."

Bring us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses .... isn't that already the slogan for the light rail line?

Beyond depressing is the thought that RT Rybak is out there promoting Minneapolis as a beacon of liberty while running a government whose designs are the exact opposite. Ever increasing taxes and regulatory fees, smoking bans, traffic tickets by camera, etc. etc. If this is liberty, who needs government control?

Then again, Minneapolis is no Mogadishu. That probably is enough to get some good word of mouth going over there on the Horn of Africa about making a move.

Won't they be surprised upon their arrival to find out that Minneapolis has already brought a little of Mogadishu over for them. About those Islamic friendly loans:

Islam prohibits the collection and payment of interest. It is with this in mind that two years ago that Samatar through ADC began working with the City of Minneapolis in establishing a financing program that would allow the growing population of Muslim entrepreneurs whose religion restricts them from receiving traditional interest-based financing.

How the Loan Works

* A private lender provides half the financing at their rate of return
* The City provides the rest of the financing, up to $50,000, at a 2% rate of return
* The term of the loan (up to 10yrs) is set by the lender

I'm not sure how "rate of return" differs from paying interest. Sound like accounting gimmicks and semantics. Is that all you need to get around Sharia Law provisions? Maybe. We all know how tolerant Muslims can be.

A few more details on the Minneapolis program provided here:

Under the plan, investment repayment is based on a profit model rather than interest. "This type of financing opens doors for the city's growing number of Muslim business owners whose religious beliefs restrict them from receiving traditional interest-based financing," said Hussein Samater, Executive Director of African Development Center.

Wikipedia provides a list of Islamic banking techniques. The outline above best matches this concept:

Mudarabah (Profit Loss Sharing) - Mudarabah is an arrangement or agreement between a capital provider and an entrepreneur, whereby the entrepreneur can mobilize funds for its business activity. The entrepreneur provides expertise and management and is referred to as the Mudarib. Any profits made will be shared between the capital provider and the entrepreneur according to an agreed ratio, where both parties share in profits and only capital provider bears all the losses if occurred.

That sounds about right for a public investment in Minneapolis. Although I must admit, this one seems even more like RT Rybak's management style:

Qard Hassan - This is a loan extended on a goodwill basis, and the debtor is only required to repay the amount borrowed. However, the debtor may, at his or her discretion, pay an extra amount beyond the principal amount of the loan (without promising it) as a token of appreciation to the creditor.

Now that's a variable interest rate loan I can get behind. I'll have to request this option from my Ukrainian mortgage broker next time I'm in the market. After laughing in my face, I suspect he'll tell me this is a reason he's not planning on opening a branch office in Mogadishu anytime soon.

What I find interesting about this whole program is that the City of Minneapolis has such a vast reservoir of money to give away, they're looking for innovative, new ways to distribute it. There are no cultural barriers that can't be overcome when it comes to spending tax dollars.

The larger logic of this is curious as well. Investing public money in businesses that are unable or unwilling to participate in the broader economic system of the country. What does that say for their ability to be successful after the start up funds are gone? Is that taken into account before we start dumping public money into them?

Furthermore, I think its fair to say that countries which have adopted Sharia law typically have stagnant, moribund economies. Is that mere coincidence, or is there some relationship between the two conditions? If there is a relationship, is that the kind of system we want to be importing into Minneapolis?

I plead some level of ignorance on this and send a request to that 800 lb. silver back gorilla of economic knowledge in St. Cloud for answers. Access to credit and liquidity of capital are generally good things for an economy, right? Assurances of a market rate of return encourages investment of capital, right? This is what we want, right?

I end with another expert in the field, Victor Davis Hanson. He detailed his "dream" about how the West could be responding to the challenges that face it. This excerpt seems relevant right here in Minnesota:

Europeans would advise their own Muslim immigrants, from London to Berlin, that the West, founded on principles of the Hellenic and European Enlightenments, and enriched by the Sermon on the Mount, had nothing to apologize for, now or in the future. Newcomers would either accept this revered culture of tolerance, assimilation, and equality of religions and the sexes -- or return home to live under its antithesis of seventh-century Sharia law.


Friday, March 16, 2007
More Than A Feeling

Deep thoughts from would-be Senator Al Franken on his school days in St. Louis Park:

While he would go on to become a celebrity, he recalls feeling much like any other kid.

"I remember anything anyone remembers--having crushes on girls, feeling nerdy," he said. "That's anytime, any place, any century, any civilization, I have a feeling."


Thursday, March 08, 2007
I can be your long lost pal

Two conflicting stories from the Franken front. The first, from the Forest Lake Times proclaims "Serious Franken won't be muzzled" and includes an interesting tidbit on one of Al's pals:

And no, Franken the comedian is not muzzling himself as he travels the state, suppressing jokes, watching his words.

At least that's what the candidate said.

Ultimately, if Franken is elected to the U.S. Senate, he'll have to deal with the same political class that he has been lampooning for years.

Can he work with Republicans?

Does he even want to attempt bipartisanship?

State Republicans argue the answer is "No."

"Franken offers Minnesotans nothing but polarization and vitriolic personal attacks," said Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Ron Carey recently.

Franken insists he can work with the people he's been skewering.

He considers Arizona Republican U.S. Senator John McCain a friend, Franken said.

Ouch. Probably not something that McCain needs right now as his support from conservatives continues to disappear faster than cocaine on the SNL set.

Meanwhile, counter to the sober-minded, serious Franken portrayed by the Forest Lake Times, the Star Tribune reports that Franken shows flashes of the comedy career he left behind:

But Al Franken still can't campaign without making a joke about it.

After a campaign speech before a starstruck, autograph-seeking crowd of about 1,000, the comedian/talk show host/politician retired to a classroom for a quieter session with reporters--and stood before a blackboard on which was written a "plan for today" that included health care, the environment, Iraq and "recess."

Stop, you're killing me.

Franken told the crowd he has been "married for 31 years, many of them happy." Later, reporters asked how big he thought the crowd was. Franken's deadpan reply: "20,000."

Hilarious. How does he do it?

I gotta go with the Forest Lake Times on this one: the humor is definitely being suppressed.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007
The Joy of Flying

Tough week for Minnesota's Congressional delegation. The pride of the 5th district, Keith Ellison reveals he can't work and play well with others. Jim Ramstad goes wobbly on the war and supports the self indulgent resolution to begin the bail out. Jim Oberstar briefly returns from Washington to tell our Minnesota legislature to raise the state gas tax by a staggering 10 cents PER GALLON, lest we lose out on the opportunity to accept the billions in Federal tax collections he has arranged to channel our way.

And then there's Collin Peterson. The DFL representative from up in the normally conservative 7th district is working harder than ever on one very important issue.

"It's a pretty stupid deal," said Peterson, 62, the new chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

He has worked on the issue since Jan. 4, when the House passed its new rules.

He's been working tirelessly for almost two months on this issue. Very impressive. I guess that happens when your most precious constituency has its interests threatened. That constituency being the most precious to all career politicians, themselves:

He said his Democratic colleagues were "trying to do the right thing" by cracking down on lawmakers flying around in fancy [corporate] jets, but he was surprised when he was told he could no longer be reimbursed for flying his own plane for official business.

"And I told Nancy Pelosi that if she didn't get this fixed, I was going to quit and there was going to be a Republican in my place, that if I couldn't fly I wasn't going to do this anymore."

If he's not allowed to have the taxpayers fund his preferred method of travel, he'll take his plane and go home! Please revise your definitions of public service accordingly, you poor SOBs in the 7th district who voted for him.

I also like how he uses the fact that the Democratic party is fundamentally out of step with the people in his district as leverage for getting his way. Give me what I want or I'll le the people elect someone who genuinely supports their interests! Talk about a loaded gun at the head of the Democrats. I'm surprised Nancy Pelosi didn't offer to get him Air Force 1.

So what is Peterson's excuse for needing the taxpayers to pony up for his flying around the district in his own plane?

Mark Brownell, Peterson's chief of staff, said Peterson has flown to at least 47 cities in his district in the past two years. He uses small airports or private landing strips.

"A plane has made it possible for him to be up in Roseau in the morning, Marshall in the midafternoon and then back up to Warroad at night," Brownell said.

Yes, I'm sure it's absolutely critical that he shows his puss in all of these cities in the same day. How would the people possibly survive without seeing their Congressman? To paraphrase the movie Sixteen Candles, there's nothing a teen age girl looks forward to more than seeing her grandparents.

Actually, I'm there may be some people who are happy to see Collin Peterson dropping down from the clouds. Those people who know he's bringing presents. Like these people in Roseau:

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson announced that the U. S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration awarded the City of Roseau $1.9 million for upgrades to the existing storm water system and repair and replacement for sanitary sewer lines.

And these people in Marshall:

Collin Peterson announced that both the Marshall Airport, and the Southwest/West Central Services Cooperative are slated to receive funding through the federal appropriations bill that passed the House last weekend.

"I'm pleased to see these two projects recognized in the appropriations process, and I am glad I was able to help secure funding for Marshall and the surrounding region,? Peterson said. The Marshall Airport will receive $1 million as part of the Airport Improvement Program.

The SW/WC Services Cooperative will receive $340,000 from the Fund for the Improvement of Education, for the development of infrastructure of a youth program that teaches free enterprise and entrepreneurship.

And these people Wilmar:

Congressman Collin C. Peterson (D-7th District) announced that the Willmar Municipal Airport has been awarded $2 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation for construction on the new airport.

"The current airport has outgrown its space," Peterson said. "As someone who often uses the airport, and knows how important an airport is to economic development in the region, I am looking forward to seeing the new one when it's complete.:

I think we can see the real motive behind Peterson's need to fly to all these far flung locales, something he ought to call Air Pork. Bringing home the bacon to the voters just doesn't have the same punch over the telephone.

The law Peterson is so anxious about(H RES 6, Section 207 which amends Rule XXIII clause 15(a) of the Rules of the House of Representatives) states:

15. (a) A Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not use personal funds, official funds, or campaign funds for a flight on a non-governmental airplane that is not licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate for compensation or hire.

To which Rep. Peterson submits (without a single cosponsor) in H RES 170:

Resolved, That clause 15(a) of rule XXIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended by inserting before the period at the end thereof the following: `, except that when a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner uses his personally owned airplane in the performance of official or campaign travel, he may be reimbursed on a rate per mile basis for the cost of the use of the airplane from official or campaign funds, respectively'

So not only will Peterson be reimbursed for "official business," he'll be reimbursed for campaigning. At least he's got enough shame to pretend there's a difference.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007
He's Serious Enough

Red Wing Republican Eagle:

To hear some talk radio pundits and blowhards [ed. note: needlessly repetitive] tell it, comedian/author Al Franken's bid for the U.S. Senate from Minnesota is just another joke. They are trying to write off Franken as a liberal lightweight who has no business challenging incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.

They protest too much.

It could be they realize Franken will be a formidable candidate. It could be Coleman fans are so nervous about even the possibility Franken could get the DFL endorsement that they are pulling out all the stops now in an effort to discredit the former Saturday Night Live regular.

Damn, they're on to us. I guess it's time to fess up. It's true, we're simply terrified of the prospect of an intellectual heavyweight with a populist touch like Al Franken challenging Norm Coleman. The mere thought of Franken's rousing stump speeches keeps us up at night and haunts our sweat-soaked dreams. We knew that was no chance we could ever hope to defeat such a formidable candidate and realized that our only chance was to mount a desperate effort to "Swift Boat" Franken before his campaign built the momentum of a runaway freight train.

Sigh. Now that the cat's out of the bag, it looks like all is lost. There's nothing we do to derail the Franken juggernaut, which will surely steamroll to victory in 2008. It's time to accept the inevitable and admit that we're powerless over the force of Al Franken.


Friday, February 16, 2007
Oh We Don't Want Him, You Can Have Him, He's Too...

Minnesota is one of the most provincial of states. It's been said before that if someone once made a connecting flight in Minneapolis, we'll seek to claim them as "one of our own." And towns and cities often vie to be known as the "Home of ____."

So what it does it say when the Albert Lea Tribune seeks to distance their town from being too closely associated with Al Franken:

Comedian Al Franken is running for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat. We have heard people remark, "Hey, Al Franken is from Albert Lea."

Al Franken lived in Albert Lea for two years as a small child. He moved away at 6. While we and most anyone appreciate that the Franken family lived here for a time and we like other folks appreciate that Al Franken remembers our fair city, let's be honest here. He is not really from Albert Lea in the way that, for instance, actress Marion Ross is from Albert Lea or musician Eddie Cochran is from Albert Lea. Franken is from St. Louis Park.

As a current resident of St. Louis Park, I don't think we should let Albert Lea off the hook so easily. He's all yours.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007
The Usual Suspects

Franken looking to academics for help with issues:

Al Franken is asking academics to help him with policy issues as he gears up for a possible Senate campaign against Republican Norm Coleman, R-Minn.

Last week, Professor Sally Kenney, who directs the Center on Women and Public Policy at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, e-mailed faculty and staff to say Franken "has asked me to put together a Minnesota team Franken."

"We would offer some substantive policy expertise, some knowledge of who does what where at the U and in local non-profits, and most importantly, the ability to find out quickly through research things we do not know," she wrote.

Oh the things that you don't know.

"I think it will be loads of fun and a great learning experience for those interested in honing their public policy skills and learning more about political campaigns."

And more importantly, helping a Democrat get elected.

Of course no local political story is complete without a reference to the two guys who seem to always turn up in these cases:

Kenney's e-mail was posted Monday by a Republican blogger, Michael Brodkorb, who called it an abuse of taxpayer resources. Larry Jacobs, director of the Institute's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, said he told Brodkorb it was "regretful" that Kenney used a university resource for political work.

Yes, a shame that. But not to worry:

Jacobs said he'd been reassured by Kenney that she would keep her political and university work separate.

Move along, nothing to see here.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007
We Won't Have Mark Dayton To Kick Around Anymore

Or will we? Dayton mulling run for governor:

Sen. Mark Dayton said Wednesday he is considering a run for governor in 2010, although he stressed that a decision is two years away.

Dayton, speaking in a conference call with reporters in his final hour as U.S. senator, said he only recently began thinking about a race for governor.

"It's something I never thought about because I thought Mike Hatch was going to win," said Dayton, D-Minn.

Al Franken running for Senate in 2008 and now Mark Dayton possibly running for governor in 2010. Who says we don't have a lot to look forward to?


Friday, December 22, 2006
The Hands of Fate

I see Keith Ellison was on CNN teaching America about its civic and religious heritage. I especially like this part, about who gets to put there hands where during a Congressional swearing-in ceremony:

In a private ceremony, of course I'll put my hand on a book that is the basis of my faith, which is Islam, and I think that this is a -- this is a beauty. This is a wonderful thing for our country because Jewish members will put their hands on the Torah, Mormon members will put their hand on the Book of Mormon, Catholic members will put their hand on the book of their choice and members who don't want to put any book -- their hand on any book are also fully free to do that.

Yeah, those Catholics, which deity do they worship again? I know, it's hard to keep track of such an obscure sect, especially in the multicultural utopia of the MN 5th district.

Since we are given such wide discretion by the distinguished gentleman, I think we should take advantage of it. If the American people are ever foolish enough to elect any of my favorite Cathlolics to higher office, I predict their hands will be firmly placed, or perhaps trembling, on each of the following books of their choice at their swearing-in ceremonies:

Atomizer: The Bartender's Bible

Chad the Elder: Blog, by Hugh Hewitt

JB Doubtless: Liberalism is a Mental Disorder

Nihilist in Golf Pants: 2005 City Pages "Best Of" Issue

Sisyphus: The Personal Beliefs of Jimmy Carter


Wednesday, December 20, 2006
What's That Smell?

Former Minneapolis Council person Dean Zimmerman has become the third member of that august body sentenced to hard time for taking bribes in recent years.

He's getting 2˝ years in federal prison. A relatively lax sentence. Federal prosecutors argued for more, given this egregious violation of public trust, but the judge disagreed.

Interestingly, bribe taking isn't the only crime Zimmerman is guilty of. Buried in the story is this little factoid:

Noting that a presentence investigation found Zimmermann smoked marijuana a couple of times a week since the 1960s and drank beer daily, the judge suggested he participate in a drug treatment program that could cut seven months off the sentence.

It's too bad he wasn't smoking crack too, he might have been let go with time served.

But it is a lesson to be learned for all the children of Minneapolis. If you're going to use your public office for personal enrichment, make sure you're also regularly blazing up.

BTW, local media this is kind of an interesting story. A Minneapolis council person brazenly flouting the law by purchasing and using drugs throughout his term in office. Who did he get his drugs from? Did his colleagues ever suspect anything? Are they willing to submit to drug testing themselves? Was Zimmerman baked when he voted for the smoking ban? This is how you sell newspapers, people.

UPDATE: For more on this story, the Nihilist in Golf Pants.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006
And They're Not Going To Take It Anymore?

[Gomer Pyle voice]

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

[/Gomer Pyle voice]

The political leaders of Minneapolis suddenly develop a little backbone when it comes to their lesbian fire chief:

Efforts to remove embattled Fire Chief Bonnie Bleskachek will proceed, after Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council members rejected a proposed settlement Tuesday that would have allowed her to remain a supervisor in the department.

The unanimous vote of the city's executive committee, led by Rybak, to reject the deal came as a surprise to Bleskachek's lawyer, Jerry Burg, who had revealed terms of the agreement Monday: a cash settlement of less than $50,000 and a voluntary demotion for Bleskachek, the nation's first openly lesbian fire chief.

Why the unexpected stiffening of spine?

But the mayor's office and council members were flooded with calls Tuesday, criticizing the proposed deal.

Are the long-beaten down taxpayers of Minneapolis finally rising up and saying enough's enough?

Dozens of calls and e-mails poured into the mayor's office in the past day, Hanson said. By far, callers didn't want Bleskachek to return as chief, he said.

Many City Council members also heard such comments Tuesday.

Well, it's a start anyway. But don't expect the guardian of the city's purse to change their stripes overnight.

But while there was some sentiment at Tuesday's meeting for firing her, there was no straw poll, and no consensus that she should be forced out of the department.

No, of course not. Wouldn't want to do anything drastic and actually follow through and can an employee who has no business running a lemonade stand to say nothing of a fire department.

Bravo to the taxpayer of Minneapolis for saying "no mas" at last. It's a good beginning, but you've got a long way to go baby.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The Real Cost Of Preferential Hiring

If you're a Minneapolis taxpayer, I take pity on you. A good deal of your problems of course are your own fault, since you keep electing bozos who keep finding new ways to squander your money. But when it comes to tales of fiscal woe like the following, I feel your pain. When you read this article keep in mind that the reason most oft cited by Mayor RT Rybak for the city's inability to afford to put enough cops on the streets is the LGA (local government assistance) cuts made by the state more than three years ago.

Time to oust fire chief, Rybak says:

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak called on Monday for the removal of embattled Fire Chief Bonnie Bleskachek, saying he no longer has confidence in her ability to lead the department.

He no longer has confidence in her abilities? Now? What was it R.T., the FOURTH lawsuit alleging sexual harassment that finally got your attention? Or did you actually sit down and figure out how much this little diversity play was costing the city?

Under the proposal, Bleskachek is asking to remain in the department as a captain, said her attorney, Jerry Burg, of Minneapolis. If the settlement is approved by the City Council, Bleskachek would receive a severance payment because her chief's contract has not yet expired.

Bleskachek, who has been on paid administrative leave for eight months, is accused of allowing her romantic liaisons to color her ability to manage the department. She has been the target of lawsuits brought by four firefighters.

That litigation depicts a lesbian chief who allegedly favored some firefighters and retaliated against others.

It also depicts a firehouse culture where careers rose and fell based on who slept with whom.

Bleskachek was ill with the flu Monday and unavailable for comment, Burg said.

Well, at least she didn't have to call in sick.

Burg said he believes the severance package amounts to the difference between what Bleskachek would have earned as chief and her salary as a captain. The settlement payment, if approved by the council, would be one year's worth of that difference, he said.

Given her salary of $113,000 and that of a senior captain -- $68,000 -- that would put the payment at roughly $45,000.

Let me get this straight. She commits workplace violations that would have gotten anyone in the private sector thrown out on their arse long ago without so much as a second thought and now she not only is going to continue working for the Minneapolis FD, she's going to get paid difference between her position as chief and her new "demotion" to captain? Unbelievable.

Bleskachek, 43, has been the focus of internal investigations as the suits claiming discrimination and sexual harassment were pressed.

A city investigation continues, but it has already been determined that the department gave preferential treatment to lesbians or those socializing with them.

Good advice for budding job seekers out there: be sure to network with lesbians.

Bleskachek joined the Fire Department in 1989, quickly emerging as a leader and pioneer. Fifteen years later, she became the first lesbian in the nation to head a big-city fire department. Then, a few years ago, the city's Civil Rights Department accused her of repeatedly mixing her romantic relationships with her professional life.

Burg calls such claims baseless and painful. Now, he said, the embattled chief simply wants to return to what she loves: fighting fires and helping people.

And freeloading off the taxpayers of Minneapolis for as long as possible and running a fire department as a lesbian dating service.

You want to talk about pain? Here's some real pain for the hard-working taxpayer of Minneapolis:

In all, Minneapolis has spent more than $410,000 on the investigation, legal settlements and compensation of Bleskachek during her paid leave.

Since she was placed on leave March 22, Bleskachek has collected about $90,000 in salary and benefits, said Matthew Laible of the mayor's office.

Through early October, the amount paid to the private law firm conducting the internal investigation was $220,580, but that figure continues to rise, Laible said. The city is paying Bleskachek's attorney, and as of early October, that amount totaled $7,125.

So far, two of four suits brought by firefighters have been settled. On Oct. 6, the city paid Jennifer Cornell $65,000 and Kathleen Mullen, $29,000. Their suits contended that the chief prevented those firefighters' promotions because of her own grudges.

Ouch. Each figure another dagger in the wallet of Minneapolis taxpayers. But hey, your city hired the first lesbian in the nation to lead a big city fire department and that's gotta be worth something, right? Right?

UPDATE-- Bert e-mails to bring up some other costs:

It should be remembered that the cost of Bull Bleskachek's tenure as fire chief is costing the city far more than $400,000 when one considers that a lot of bright young firefighters have probably left the force when they realized that they wouldn't exactly be on her short list of prospective dates, and it's possible to likely that certain emergency situations were not handled as well due to their absence.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Now That The 2006 Election Is Behind Us...

...can everyone please take the frickin' 2004 campaign bumper stickers off your vehicles? Most of the ones that I see are Kerry/Edwards, but I'll still note an occasional "W '04" too. My personal standard would be that you remove all campaign bumper stickers within a month of the election. Don't even get me started on the pathetic people who insist on sportin' the green stickers for a guy who's been dead for four years.


Friday, November 10, 2006
Standards? They'll Have a Double

The audio of the Keith Ellison victory speech on Tuesday is just now getting wider exposure, through the alternative media. I heard it for the first time on the Jason Lewis show last night and now Power Line has linked to the audio.

The frenzied shouts of Allahu Akbar! ringing through the Minneapolis night air doesn't seem to be of much interest to the mainstream press in town. If asked, I'm sure they'd assume the Alfred E. Neumann position and refer to the official story about how it is merely an expression of praise among one of the many communities making the city such a beautiful tapestry of diversity. Something along the lines of the Wikipedia interpretation:

... a common Arabic expression, which can be translated as "God is Great," "God is Greater," or "God is the greatest."

This phrase is recited by Muslims in numerous different situations. For example, when they are happy or wish to express approval, when an animal is slaughtered in a halaal fashion, when they want to praise a speaker, during battles, and even times of extreme stress or euphoria. The term has gained relative infamy in the eyes of some Westerners, who only encounter it as a battle-cry of Muslim terrorists.

All right, so maybe the crowed dug Ellison's speech, maybe the preparation of the halaal appetizers had begun in the kitchen, maybe one of the many other conditions for uttering the word among the Muslim fundamentalists was being met.

But surely you have to understand "some Westerners" for their associations of the term with things of a more sinister nature. Because some Westerners may remember that the term is also used intentionally to intimidate. No less a practitioner of the art than Mohammed Atta said as much in his instructions to the 9-11 hijackers on what to do when the carnage began on those ill-fated airplanes on a September, now seemingly so long ago:

When the confrontation begins, strike like champions who do not want to go back to this world. Shout, 'Allahu Akbar,' because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers. God said: 'Strike above the neck, and strike at all of their extremities.' Know that the gardens of paradise are waiting for you in all their beauty, and the women of paradise are waiting, calling out, 'Come hither, friend of God.'

Using that term at a campaign rally in this country is a problem. And it's news to any rational observer, except apparently those running the monopoly news outlet in Minneapolis.

Actually, according to prior Star Tribune standards, it's news any time a candidate's political and religious beliefs intersect. Michele Bachmann attempted to speak in a church to her fellow Christians about what compelled her to enter the political arena, one of her dedicated band of stalkers captures the video, and the compliant Star Tribune splashes it across their editorial page and cites it as the reason she is unfit for office, calling it "an embarrassment."

Another leftist Internet provocateur digs up a relic of Lutheran animosity from the Reformation and it is used repeatedly by the Star Tribune to smear Bachmann as a religious extremist. WCCO TV even got into the action with this opening salvo from Pat Kessler:

Religion and politics. That has crept into this campaign over and over and over again. The Minneapolis-based Star Tribune reports today, Senator, that the church you belong to is affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod which, it says, regards the Roman Catholic Pope as the Antichrist. Is this true? Do you share the views of your church? And, why should any Catholic in the 6th District vote for you if it is true?

You'll note that no such question was ever asked of Keith Ellison during the campaign. And the media wouldn't even have to go back to the 16th century to find examples of his faith having some "problems" with Catholics or (INSERT ANY OTHER RELIGION HERE).

I guess it's not fair to say Keith Ellison never had to face this same scrutiny. The intrepid press did address this way back on September 13 with this exchange with award winning journalist Wolf Blitzer on CNN:

BLITZER: I know, have been reading a bit about your background. You converted to Islam while you were in college from Christianity?

ELLISON: That's right. Yes, sir.

BLITZER: What made you decide that you wanted to embrace Islam?

ELLISON: It was a personal religious choice.

BLITZER: And that was that. And you've obviously made some major changes over these many years in your attitude. What about this other issue that's come up? You are also going to make history by becoming the first African American to be elected to the U.S. Congress from the State of Minnesota assuming you win?

Moving on now to Kirstie Alley's new diet plan ...

The double standard applied to the campaigns of Michele Bachmann and Keith Ellison have been brazen and breath taking, even for long time observers of media bias. Can you imagine the huffing firestorm of controversy the local press would have whipped up if Michele Bachmann's victory speech would have been greeted with calls of "Praise the Lord" or "Hallelujah!" from the assembled at GOP headquarters in Bloomington Tuesday night.

Why do our cultural elite demonize and denigrate the fruits of their own Western culture, like Christianity, while turning a blind eye and coddling the crimes and excesses of others? This week Thomas Sowell asks the same question and also provides the answer:

How can a generation be expected to fight for the survival of a culture or a civilization that has been trashed in its own institutions, taught to tolerate even the intolerance of other cultures brought into its own midst, and conditioned to regard any instinct to fight for its own survival as being a "cowboy"?


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