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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Worldnet Daily Gets Comment from Whitehouse on Ellison and the Qur'an


On another issue that also involves Congress, Snow was asked whether there was a White House opinion on a plan by Congressman-elect Keith Ellison of Minnesota to be sworn into office with the Quran.

"Does the president support this request, because he believes the Quran teaches nothing contrary to the freedoms in our Constitution? And if so, would he support the Book of Mormon being used to swear in LDS members of Congress if they ever ask for that?" Snow was asked.

"That is an issue that the president does not need to adjudicate, and therefore, will not," Snow said.

Missouri Congressman-elect Emanuel Cleaver II noted the U.S. Constitution sets out the requirement for an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution, but also notes that no religious test ever shall be required. The use of the Bible during swearing-in ceremonies is traditional.

"I do not believe that the law or rules should be changed to require one official holy book for use in administering our oath of office," he told a constituent.

"As a Member of Congress and as an ordained minister, I believe America's founders erected a wall between church and state – not to keep religion or faith out of public discourse – but instead, to keep the government out of an individual's faith and out of churches or other places of worship. I recall that our founders prohibited any religious test to qualify for public office and our Constitution already protects public prayer and other public observances of an individual's religious expressions. Imposing one holy book for the administration of a federal oath of office will diminish the religious liberties of all Americans, including my colleagues in Congress who do not share my Christian faith but may be Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist or some other belief," he said.

I bet Tony Snow hates taking questions from the Worldnet Daily reporter.

Dennis "Gasbag" Prager and Sean Hannity rant about Keith Ellison and the Qur'an

Newshounds summarizes the show.

Prager's abhorrent views caused the astonishing condemnation of him by the United States Holocaust Memorial Council's Executive Committee. It was astonishing because Prager IS a member of the Council. He was appointed by President Bush to a five-year term. The White House has so far refused to remove him. The FOX News screen put up banners indicating that various groups have called for Prager's removal (though Hannity and substitute host Bob Beckel didn't mention it) but left out the Executive Committee's censure.

Dennis Prager has been one big embarrassment to the Whitehouse.

The Stadium Swindle Runs Into Cost Overruns and Snags Already

It's interesting that Stadium boosters Mike Opat and Mark Stenglein seem to be at odds. From the strib.

Richard Pogin, chief financial officer of Investment Management Inc., which represents the property owners, said Friday that the county has budgeted a maximum of $13.5 million to buy the site, which he said is far below its fair market value. County officials have declined to make public what they have offered, though county records list the property's assessed value at $8.37 million.

As a Jan. 22 court date over the condemnation proceedings approaches, a war of words has begun over whether the project could be scuttled.

The first salvo was fired a week ago when Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, the lead stadium negotiator on the County Board, was quoted in the Star Tribune as saying the project was being jeopardized and Jerry Bell, the Twins stadium negotiator, said the land owners were being "stubborn" and "getting greedy."What's been said is so far from the truth as to be absurd. It's just reckless," Pogin said Friday. "If it wasn't tragic, it would really be funny."

The two sides have traded barbs even as Investment Management president Bruce Lambrecht, who has had personal and political ties to Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein, attended a swearing-in ceremony Tuesday for county officials, including Opat and Stenglein. Opat said he and Lambrecht briefly discussed the property-sale stalemate at the ceremony.

This part is interesting.

In a sign of the importance of reaching a solution, Pogin said both Lambrecht and Opat would for the first time take part in negotiations on Monday. In a letter to the editor in today's Star Tribune, Pogin and Lambrecht take exception to the comments by Opat and Bell. "Are those who smeared us unwilling to pay fair market value for our property?" the letter asks.

Even with the negotiations reaching a sensitive point, Lambrecht said he was not uncomfortable attending the swearing-in ceremony. Lambrecht, who once leased Stenglein office space during Stenglein's mayoral campaign in 2001, said he and his wife were invited to the ceremony by Rich Stanek, the newly elected county sheriff, whom he said he had also politically supported.

Rich Stanek and Mark Stenglein were joined at the hip with campaigns this past fall.

Stenglein said that when the county filed for condemnation two months ago, Lambrecht said to him, "God, Stenglein, you guys are condemning our livelihood." Stenglein said that while he often talks to Lambrecht, he has stayed away from discussing the land negotiations.


'Totally distracting'

Lambrecht downplayed the significance of his attending the ceremony. "I think it's totally distracting [and] gets into the whole connecting-the-dots thing," Lambrecht said. "I think I talk to everybody when I see people."

Opat agreed. "I said hello, as I always do. I like Bruce," he said. Opat said he briefly talked to Lambrecht about the negotiations at the ceremony, telling him that "we should sit down and figure it out."

Lambrecht played a huge role in Stenglein's mayoral campaign - and leased office space to him. You can also connect the dots to Governor Pawlenty of Tax Increases:

When Stenglein ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Minneapolis in 2001, Lambrecht was an influential member of his campaign - holding a fundraiser for Stenglein at Lambrecht's home and leasing office space to the Stenglein campaign. Lambrecht, according to Hennepin County Commissioner Penny Steele, an opponent of the stadium plan, helped recruit Stenglein to run for mayor and was "probably one of his best friends." Stenglein's campaign manager during that race, Brian McClung, later worked as a lobbyist for Twinsville Inc., a company used by Lambrecht to help promote the stadium and a redevelopment plan for the surrounding area. McClung now serves as Gov. Tim Pawlenty's spokesman. (Source: May 29, 2005, Sunday, Metro Edition
Stadium vote puts friendship in focus)

From today's article:

Pogin and Lambrecht formally responded to Opat and Bell's comments in writing, saying that the county was underestimating the land's value and that the property owners were looking forward to condemnation proceedings because a court would affirm that belief.

A $90 million limit by law

Pogin also said the legislation authorizing the downtown Minneapolis ballpark had in effect financially handcuffed the county: The county's total infrastructure budget for the project, which includes property acquisition, is capped by law at $90 million. So the more money the county spends to buy the land, he said, the less it has for the soil remediation, roads and bridge work and other infrastructure projects that are necessary at the site.

"I'm certainly not optimistic a deal's going to be done" unless the condemnation moves forward, Pogin said.

Opat all but confirmed the county's dilemma in an interview Friday. "We will not sacrifice public infrastructure to unduly enrich the landowners," he said. Opat also suggested that the county may not pursue condemnation -- an indirect acknowledgment that the county may be wary of its outcome.

Mike Opat has egg on his face. So does Mark Stenglein. Lambrecht is laughing all the way to the bank.

Here's my question though: why don't the Twins step up to the plate and deal with the cost overruns? Why should this be county responsibility?

Craig Westover is Shocked... Shocked

responds to my post about Keith Ellison busting Dennis Prager's chops both in his blog comments and mine.

If it was a "brilliant move" and "busted Prager's chops," then Ellison's critics are right -- Ellison chose the Qur'an not for sincere religious reasons but to get a rise out of conservatives, and he and anyone who sees the situation as an opportunity for vengence deserves the disdain that's been dished out.

As noted, I don't know Ellison's motives, so I can only comment on the action itself, which I think was an elegant combination of personal faith and American tradition. I don't think Eva's comment reflect's that, and it does disservice to any conciliation Ellison might have intended.
Craig Westover

Craig wasn't born yesterday - and he should know that both Dems and Republicans often do things for PR purposes.

I can't speak for Ellison's motives. My impression of Ellison - because I live in his legislative district, is that he is not particularly religious. He is very strong on separation of church and state issues. Ofcourse he did vote in favor of Intelligent Design creationism in public school science classes while he was in the house. He's disavowed that vote when I interviewed him later about it.

Do Craig think Michele Bachmann's praying at the state capitol in front of cameras was an "elegant combination of personal faith and American tradition" - or was it self-serving, narcistic and grandstanding?

Ellison was initially getting bad press when he first came to DC. I thought his skipping Bush's welcoming reception to be tacky to the extreme. Then Prager's column and Virgil Goode changed the subject - and Ellison - rather than getting on television and wrestling with pigs, just stayed above the fray. He avoided interviews initially which built up demands for interviews from the national media, and eventually got opportunities to put out his message in a positive way on CNN and other outlets.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Can Tim Johnson's Situation Be Compared to Terri Schiavo?

Lloydletta commenter Leo suggests it can:

Just wondering, that is, how long it would be before those who called for the death of Terri Schiavo, would prescribe the same "cure" for Senator Tim Johnson, should he fall into a similar condition.


Don't get me wrong. I wish for Senator Tim Johnson a full and speedy recovery; and even if he were to fall into a "persistive vegetative state," I would not wish Schiavo's fate upon him.

But if things do go south for Johnson, will all those who were clamoring for Schiavo's demise have a sudden "come to Jesus" moment and pronounce Johnson not only well and cognizant, but capable of carrying on his duties as Senator?


Ellison busts Prager's Chops

Craig Westover was happy that Keith Ellison chose Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an for his ceremonial swearing in ceremony.

That Keith Ellison chose a Qur'an once owned by Thomas Jefferson for his ceremonial swearing in.

Grant it, Jefferson had a deist’s skepticism of Islamic dogma. And he did wage America's first undeclared preemptive war against Muslim Barbary pirates. And I can't speak to Ellison’s motives.

Nonetheless, I like the choice of Jefferson’s Qur’an as a third alternative to the Qur'an/Bible much ado about little arguments; it preserves Ellison's desire to honor his religious faith and still acknowledges (albeit in a different way) American tradition. It's the opportunity for conciliation I thought Ellison missed by not using a Bible, but his solution is, I think, more elegant and no less respectful. I'm glad to see he understands tradition, even in the face of inevitable change, is important.

Media Matters is whining about CNN's coverage of this. They provide the CNN video - which shows Ellison swearing on the Quu'ran and shaking Virgil Goode's hand, and I don't understand what they are yapping about.

Legislating via Constitutional Amendments.....

This trend isn't limited to the Republicans. The DFL caucus in the Minnesota Senate also stands ready to add language to the Constitution that doesn't belong.

Sen. John Marty is the chief author of Senate File 14, which says:

Relating to health care; requiring the commissioner of health to establish a working group to design a universal health care system, specifying requirements and a date for legislative submission; proposing an amendment to the Minnesota constitution, article XIII affirming the right to affordable health care

Write to your state senator and urge them to not support a constitutional amendment re: health care. The legislature and governor should be able to craft public policy that is effective and prudent, without adding ambiguous, windy language to the contitution.

Here is the message I sent to my own senator:

Senator Pogemiller,

I am generally in support of efforts to decrease the number of uninsured or under-insured Minnesotans, but I do not support adding language to the Minnesota constitution re: a right to health care. That is a mis-use of the purpose of the constitution, and it ranks up there with attempting to define marriage via a constitutional amendment.

Please do not support a constitutional amendment re: health care.

Remember, the governor doesn't have to sign constitutional amendment proposals. If this mushy language about a 'right' went on the ballot, it would likely pass, and we'd probably face wave after wave of lawsuits as judges attempted to sort out what 'affordable' meant.....

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Is the Drama Queen Embarrassed by Katherine Kersten?

Say it isn't so. Rew at Powerliberal calls Brodkorb out.

I don't source articles written by Dane Smith as from Dane Smith. As with Dane Smith, Kersten writes for the Star Tribune, the article was in the Star Tribune. Therefore I sourced the article to the Star Tribune.
Michael B. Brodkorb #

funny, you source Nick Coleman and Doug Grow as themselves.

It's okay to be ashamed of Kersten, we won't tell anyone...

US House Republicans get a taste of their own medicine

From the Washington Post......

In the House, Suddenly Righteous Republicans

By Dana Milbank
Thursday, January 4, 2007; A02

Thirty-one-year-old Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) is not a large man, standing perhaps 5 feet 3 inches tall in thick soles. But he packed a whole lot of chutzpah when he walked into the House TV gallery yesterday to demand that the new Democratic majority give the new Republican minority all the rights that Republicans had denied Democrats for years.

"The bill we offer today, the minority bill of rights, is crafted based on the exact text that then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi submitted in 2004 to then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert," declared McHenry, with 10 Republican colleagues arrayed around him. "We're submitting this minority bill of rights, which will ensure that all sides are protected, that fairness and openness is in fact granted by the new majority."

Omitted from McHenry's plea for fairness was the fact that the GOP had ignored Pelosi's 2004 request -- while routinely engaging in the procedural maneuvers that her plan would have corrected. Was the gentleman from North Carolina asking Democrats to do as he says, not as he did?

"Look, I'm a junior member," young McHenry protested. "I'm not beholden to what former congresses did."

Anne Kornblut of the New York Times asked McHenry if his complaint might come across as whining.

"I'm not whining," he whined.

Even before officially relinquishing majority status today when the 110th Congress convenes, Republicans were protesting the Democrats' heavy-handed leadership. But Republicans expecting Democrats to rule the House with an iron fist are likely to be pleasantly surprised: The incoming majority was having enough trouble keeping its own supporters in line.

House Democratic leaders were giving their first news conference of the year when the session in the Cannon building was hijacked by Cindy Sheehan and other antiwar demonstrators, some wearing tie-dyed apparel and pins comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler. Just after Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) vowed, "We're gonna cut the interest rate in half for student loans," hecklers began to chant "De-escalate! Investigate! Troops home now!"

"That is exactly what we're talking about," Emanuel said, trying to appease the protesters. But the hecklers kept chanting, and he fled.

The Democratic leaders in retreat, Sheehan seized the microphone. "We put them back in power," she said of the Democrats. Passing out fliers calling for defunding the Iraq war, Sheehan shouted: "These are our demands. And they're not requests -- they're demands."

If yesterday was any indication, the 110th Congress will be highly entertaining, if not terribly productive. So far, it's hard to tell which will be a larger impediment to Democratic leaders: the McHenrys or the Sheehans.

The day began when House Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.) led fellow House GOP leaders to a news conference in a Capitol basement hall. At 32, he is a year older than McHenry, and several inches taller, but no less outraged by Democrats' refusal to bestow on Republicans the rights that Republicans refused to bestow on Democrats.

"We are disappointed," protested Putnam, whose fair skin was covered with a layer of makeup.

"We're clearly disappointed," seconded Roy Blunt (Mo.).

"I'm disappointed, as are some others," added Kay Granger (Tex.).

"I am very disappointed," concurred David Dreier (Calif.).

It fell to CNN's Dana Bash to point out the awkward truth. "You can play back, almost verbatim, Democrats . . . saying almost exactly what you all just said," she said. "So is there a little bit of hypocrisy in you saying that you want minority rights?"

"This is a missed opportunity to really change the way that the House does business," Putnam offered, citing Democrats' campaign promises for "a new way of doing business."

"What stopped you from taking that opportunity when you were still in the majority?" inquired Rick Klein of the Boston Globe.

"Well, I'll let Chairman Dreier speak to that," Putnam ventured.

Republicans must have known they'd have some explaining to do, because they scheduled back-to-back news conferences on their minority rights. As soon as Putnam's session ended, Granger took the elevator up three flights and joined McHenry and his cohort in the TV gallery.

Granger had not updated her talking points. "It's very disappointing," she said.

Further disappointment came when the first questioner elicited the confession that none of the lawmakers had previously sympathized with Pelosi's plea for minority rights. McHenry unfurled excuses: "We were not in Congress. . . . I didn't have the opportunity. . . . She did not put it in legislative form."

It had all the makings of a PR debacle. Fortunately for McHenry, the Democrats were otherwise engaged. An hour after fleeing the microphone because of Sheehan's heckling, Emanuel and other Democratic leaders returned for another attempt to talk about ethics and the minimum wage.

"Rahm, would you answer Cindy Sheehan, though?"

"An hour or so ago you had to stop your remarks because [of] Cindy Sheehan."

"What are Democrats going to do about the war in Iraq?"

For the new majority, it must have been, well, disappointing.

Newt Gingerich severely limited debate and amendments when the newly minted 1995 GOP House majority got to work on Contract for America bills. But, once that was done, he opened up the process. Dennis Hastert ran a completely closed system. If a bill didn't have the support of a 'majority of the (GOP) majority', it never made it to the floor. The minority caucus wasn't able to even read bills until just before they came up for a floor vote.

Rep. Mark Olson Looking for a Legislative Assistant

From Lawrence Schumacher of the SC Times:

Olson is still looking for a legislative assistant.

The eight-term veteran has been without a caucus to support him since last month. Fellow Republicans decided then to suspend his membership pending the outcome of two misdemeanor domestic assault charges against him. Olson last month pleaded not guilty to both charges.

The caucus suspension means he has no help with research or communications. He is entitled to an assistant and office, paid for by the state.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

DFLers Feed on the Lobbyists


Party caucuses didn't have any problem meeting another deadline - raising money before the legislative session started.

The House DFL caucus held a "preseason event" last Thursday, charging lobbyists $500 and political action committees $1,000 for the privilege. At the same time, Senate Republicans were holding a $250-per-person event headlined by Pawlenty.

State law prohibits caucuses and candidates from taking contributions from lobbyists and political action committees when the Legislature is in session.

The lobbyists will feed on the taxpayers.

Overturning Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Pam Spaulding has a rundown on the latest.

Retired general John M. Shalikashvili called for repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in a NY Times oped.

Second Thoughts on Gays in the Military

Steilacoom, Wash.

TWO weeks ago, President Bush called for a long-term plan to increase the size of the armed forces. As our leaders consider various options for carrying out Mr. Bush’s vision, one issue likely to generate fierce debate is “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy that bars openly gay service members from the military. Indeed, leaders in the new Congress are planning to re-introduce a bill to repeal the policy next year.

As was the case in 1993 — the last time the American people thoroughly debated the question of whether openly gay men and lesbians should serve in the military — the issue will give rise to passionate feelings on both sides. The debate must be conducted with sensitivity, but it must also consider the evidence that has emerged over the last 14 years.

When I was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I supported the current policy because I believed that implementing a change in the rules at that time would have been too burdensome for our troops and commanders. I still believe that to have been true. The concern among many in the military was that given the longstanding view that homosexuality was incompatible with service, letting people who were openly gay serve would lower morale, harm recruitment and undermine unit cohesion.

In the early 1990s, large numbers of military personnel were opposed to letting openly gay men and lesbians serve. President Bill Clinton, who promised to lift the ban during his campaign, was overwhelmed by the strength of the opposition, which threatened to overturn any executive action he might take. The compromise that came to be known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” was thus a useful speed bump that allowed temperatures to cool for a period of time while the culture continued to evolve.

The question before us now is whether enough time has gone by to give this policy serious reconsideration. Much evidence suggests that it has.

Last year I held a number of meetings with gay soldiers and marines, including some with combat experience in Iraq, and an openly gay senior sailor who was serving effectively as a member of a nuclear submarine crew. These conversations showed me just how much the military has changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers.

This perception is supported by a new Zogby poll of more than 500 service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, three quarters of whom said they were comfortable interacting with gay people. And 24 foreign nations, including Israel, Britain and other allies in the fight against terrorism, let gays serve openly, with none reporting morale or recruitment problems.

I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.

Senator Carl Levin of Michigan will be holding hearings to repeal the ban.

Some of Pam's commenters on this topic are truly wacked.

This Smells...
...more and more like a coordinated effort.

I'd like to be less cynical, but in this administration and time in history, nothing happens for a thoughtful or innocent or moral or ethical reason.

Lift the bar on gays just in time for a "surge," draft, or both.

In other words...
You aren't going to get anywhere close to having marriage equality for the next 50 years, but as a consolation prize, we have found it possible to allow you to serve the military, because we really need you.

Isn't America enlightened?

Are you considering joining the newly enlightened military?

Just say NO!

Dems Won't Do Much For Gays in Next Legislative Session

Read about it at Minnesota Monitor.

He does predict domestic partnerships for state employees:

Domestic Partnerships for State Employees
This is the most likely outcome for same-sex couples if it's pushed, but won't likely be a priority. In 2001-02, with support from labor unions and then Gov. Jesse Ventura, domestic partnerships were written into the state contracts. Republicans in the House blocked it. This year is perhaps the most GLBT friendly government Minnesota has had, with the exception of Gov. Pawlenty. If success for same-sex couples can be had at the capitol, it will probably be limited to those working for the state.

Striking the Sodomy Law
Minnesota Statute still outlaws a whole host of other common sex acts practiced by millions of Minnesotans each year. Any sex that involved the mouth or anus used to be punishable by 1 year in jail and/or a $3000 fine. These statutes were selectively enforced for decades in order to arrest and incarcerate gays and lesbians. The Minnesota's 4th District Court ruled this law unconstitutional in 2001, and in 2002 the US Supreme Court ruled the same for all states. If the DFL wants to make a not-so-controversial nod to the GLBT folks that helped put them in office, repealing this law which holds nothing but malice toward the community would be a good place to start.

That ofcourse is contigent on the labor unions bargaining for that benefit.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

President Ford's Funeral

It was moving watching the funeral of a genuinely decent person who served as President. I was especially impressed with President Bush's speech about Ford. Mark H's post on President Ford says it all.

Poyter has a good collection of Ford materials.

TV Ads for the Ford/Carter campaign in 1976 are available here.

Minnesota Monitor Interviews Mary Kiffmeyer

. The interview made me wonder whether Mary Kiffmeyer had ever held a real job.

I think it's easy for people to forget what it was like before I came to office, because after eight years, [people felt] "Oh, hasn't it always been this way?" No. No it hasn't. I remember all the Ventura people wanting election information, election records, and election stuff, and it didn't exist. There wasn't a website to put it up on. There was none of that stuff.

PS: Recently you said Joan Growe left you "absolutely nothing" when you transitioned into the job. Is this the kind of stuff you're talking about?

MK: Oh no. You see this office as it is right now? There used to be beautiful historical piece of furniture here, that was here in the office for a long time: that was gone. There was this desk. And there were two chairs—those two chairs—they were horribly soiled, and it took me two years, to save up enough money and get them recovered... I would say let's get that thing recovered. And the ends were all down to bare wood. Not being a good steward of that. So those two chairs and this desk... Otherwise there was nothing else.

PS: It sounds like you also didn't get the moral support you wanted. You felt like they were uncooperative when you transitioned?

MK: Joan Growe gave me one hour. She sat at this side of the desk. She had one piece of paper in front of her. I sat over there with somebody else. Although we made numerous requests for organizational charts and that kind of stuff, we weren't given anything. …She had one piece of paper in front of her, and I asked her for it when I left, and she wouldn't give it to me…

Oh cry me a river....


I was listening to the swearing in ceremonies on MPR today, and it sounded like Mike Hatch thought he was elected to something. He upstaged everybody - especially Lori Swanson, the AG.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Too Bad Paccione Didn't Defeat One Note Bigot Marilyn Musgrave

Pam Spaulding has video of Paccione giving her answer on the gay marriage question.

Happy New Year!

It was a strange week in Madison - with the weather being positively balmy. There was no snow.

Triple A and Joe Bodell have it out.

The Drama Queen continues the attack on Mark Ritchie.

Happy New Year from the Hennepin County Board

The Twins stadium sales tax swindle is now in effect, for at least the next 30 years.

Bye bye to discretionary spending in Hennepin county.

Lilly Cat with My Niece