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Friday, March 09, 2007

Senate Committee Moves State Domestic Partner Benefit Bill Forward

Update: This was on a voice vote. Anyone could have demanded a roll call vote. It's interesting that no one wanted one. This suggests Republicans no longer think this issue helps them win elections.

Outfront Minnesota Press Release:

Today, the Senate Committee on State and Local Government Operations took a positive step forward in passing the domestic partner benefits bill for state employees. Senators voted to re-instate the benefits that had been withdrawn four years ago.


OutFront's Press Release didn't indicate who voted how, or whether this was passed by voice vote or by roll call.

There's been no committee action on this bill in the house. Margaret Kelliher, the DFL house speaker, said the municipal domestic partner bill would get a hearing, but did not commit to bringing it to the floor. I did not ask her about this bill.

I talked to a DFL higer up last night about this legislation. He was totally surprised that Denise Dittrich voted in favor of the Bachmann amendment. He said she totally misread her district on this one. It will be interesting to see how she votes on this one.

The Minnesota Family Council had a press conference about all this at 11:00 AM. Did anyone go to hear their bleatings? I didn't hear anything on TV news about this bill, or the MFC press conference. Photocop and the Veterans Home scandal dominated coverage.

Mayor RT Rybak; "Investigated by the Bush Justice Department".... WTF?

UPDATE: Mayor's aide says Cragan and Shields study is "innacurate" and Mayor Rybak has not been investigated.

--------

I've been following the excellent coverage of the Congressional hearings into the Justice Department's purge of US Attorneys at TPM Muckraker.

TPM Muckraker links to a site called ePluribus Media

I downloaded their PDF titled -- "Table 3. Only Local Public Elected Officials (Non-Congress and Non State-Wide) Investigated by the Bush Justice Department Identified by Political Party Affiliation 2001 thru 2006"

Minneapolis Mayor Rybak is listed on page 4 after G. Dean Zimmermann and before Brian Heron with this note; "Political corruption investigation". The date on the list is 09-09-05... the same date that Zimmermann's home was searched.

Anybody know what this is about?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

UPDATE:

The Times' Paul Krugman copied in the Welcome to Pottersville blog:

Donald Shields and John Cragan, two professors of communication, have compiled a database of investigations and/or indictments of candidates and elected officials by U.S. attorneys since the Bush administration came to power. Of the 375 cases they identified, 10 involved independents, 67 involved Republicans, and 298 involved Democrats. The main source of this partisan tilt was a huge disparity in investigations of local politicians, in which Democrats were seven times as likely as Republicans to face Justice Department scrutiny.

How can this have been happening without a national uproar? The authors explain: “We believe that this tremendous disparity is politically motivated and it occurs because the local (non-statewide and non-Congressional) investigations occur under the radar of a diligent national press. Each instance is treated by a local beat reporter as an isolated case that is only of local interest.”

Olson vs Brodkorb Lawsuit Ends with "Both Reputations Intact" States Blois Olson's Spokesperson

Well the long soap opera is over. The case is dismissed.

Michael Brodkorb stated he "stands by what I wrote". Michael also said that he is glad this case is dismissed so he can get on with his life. Blois Olson referred me to John Wodele. Wodele made the following points:


  • The citation of New York v Sullivan (1964) suggests that bloggers should take care that original posts use journalistic sourcing standards.
  • Lots of reporters are glad that Blois sued.


Wodele also stated that he thought since the case was dismissed, without determining whether the allegations by Brodkorb were factual that both Brodkorb and Olson emerge with reputations intact.

MN Observer at Norwegianity gives her opinion on the case:

Nonetheless, it's pretty obvious that Brodkorb’s sources are the focus of the protective order, and the fact that he had several sources for the information came into play in the court's decision. What’s fascinating here is that Brodkorb seeks to claim the protections that any journalist in Minnesota gets in being able to protect sources ("Hey -- two different dudes told me"), and be free of liability for defamation when he adheres to the bare minimum of journalistic standards. But in posting things to his "personal blog," he prints things that no journalist with an ounce of ethics would go near (unless they were quoting Brodkorb himself as some sort of credible source on issues of, say, gastrointestinal diseases).

It's also important to point out that truth is always a defense in a defamation claim and that this court did not make a determination as to the truth or falsity of what Brodkorb said (Par. 8). Rather, the court's focus was on whether he said what he said with "reckless disregard." That's hardly a high standard - that the statements might have been utterly false, but Brodkorb did not know that when he said so. It does not appear from the order that Brodkorb even tried to rely on a claim that what he said about Olson was true. In looking at the answer to the complaint (warning: pdf) that is posted on Brodkorb's site, Brodkorb never even asserted the affirmative defense of truth.

...
And as we listen to him thump his chest and proclaim victory, let's remember that even he didn't see all the evidence that went to the judge and that he didn’t use the most common defense to a defamation claim: that the offending statement was true.


Both Olson and Brodkorb have significant legal bills to pay.

I don't think either one can claim victory. There's not enough evidence in Brodkorb's post to show that he was telling the truth about Blois Olson. I'm sure Michael's sources for the Blois Olson story were Democrats, not Republicans. Republicans would not have the insider scoop on who the Rowley campaign hired, and who approached them.

Tim Nelson at the Pioneer Press does a good job on this story:

St. Paul-based public relations executive Blois Olson sued Brodkorb in January 2006. The suit centered on a Brodkorb blog posting suggesting Olson criticized a Democratic congressional contender because her campaign had rebuffed political services offered by one of Olson's associates.

In dismissing the suit Thursday, Dakota County District Court Judge Timothy Blakely cited a 1964 U.S. Supreme Court ruling stating that public figures must prove malicious intent or reckless disregard for the truth to win defamation claims.

Blakely's ruling indicates that Olson, a Democratic political advisor and publisher of a prominent political newsletter, "Politics in Minnesota," would have had to meet that standard.

"You can't be surprised at the judgment, because it's a very, very difficult to overcome, as a public figure, the standard of actual malice," said spokesman John Wodele, to whom Olson deferred for comment. "But you can't just let something like this go."

Suits against bloggers are becoming more common, said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Arlington, Va.,-based Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press.

"They are showing that the ground rules for existing mass communication can be successfully applied to the Internet," she said. "The standards don't just apply to the mainstream media … but usually people don't go after bloggers because they tend to be loudmouths without any money."

Olson sued Brodkorb — at the time an anonymous blogger — for a Dec. 28, 2005, posting suggesting Hubert H. "Buck" Humphrey IV, the grandson of the late vice president and an employee of Blois' New School Communications firm, solicited business from former FBI agent Coleen Rowley's congressional campaign for New School and that Olson later publicly characterized the campaign as inept.

Last year, Olson told the Pioneer Press his firm's employees sometimes advise candidates, but do not accept campaigns as paying clients. He said at the time that he had "no idea" whether Humphrey sought paid work with the Rowley campaign but that Humphrey was not acting on behalf of the firm if he did.


In order to find the truth in this one, you'd have to talk with Buck Humphrey and Colleen Rowley. As I recall, at the time this was going on, Buck Humphrey made himself scarce. I'm not sure that at this point they want to get into this.

The Drama Queen is crowing.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Deputy Chair Eric Hoplin Deserting the Sinking Ron Carey Minnesota GOP

Andy Aplikowski has it here and reports on an email with more here.

He can see the handwriting on the wall in 2008 with Carey consolidating power and running the entire show. He feels stained by the disaster of 2006 and he sure as hell isn't going to stay around for 2008 if it means losing his future.

He's not going to be any part of the impending Carey and RPM implosion coming our way in 2008.


Marty Andrade has Hoplin's resignation email.

Marty comments:

I have very little to say about Eric Hoplin leaving the MNGOP. I'm not surprised, he was originally on the Ron Ebensteiner (sp?) team and when Ebensteiner lost and Carey won I can't imagine the relationship between Carey and Hoplin was anything but frosty. On top of that, the MNGOP was absolutely destroyed in this last election. In politics losing is like leprosy and I know Hoplin has been working his way up the ladder for a long time (the term used for guys like Hoplin is "Harry Climber," they are people who do anything to move up in the party). If the MNGOP doesn't gain ground in 2008 I can see anyone associated with the MNGOP would have the loser label attached to them. Major career killer. Especially if we lose Norm Coleman's Senate seat, which is well in the realm of possibilities. Andy also has some thoughts on the resignation.


I'd agree with Marty's assessment. Hoplin is deserting the sinking ship to save his own career.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Pick-a-little-talk-a-little-pick-a-little-talk-a-little

Evangelical leader says Giuliani's divorce a problem

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- A Southern Baptist leader said Tuesday that evangelical voters might tolerate a divorced presidential candidate, but they have deep doubts about GOP hopeful Rudy Giuliani, who has been married three times.

Richard Land, head of public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention, told The Associated Press that evangelicals believe the former New York City mayor showed a lack of character during his divorce from his second wife, television personality Donna Hanover.

"I mean, this is divorce on steroids," Land said. "To publicly humiliate your wife in that way, and your children. That's rough. I think that's going to be an awfully hard sell, even if he weren't pro-choice and pro-gun control."

Giuliani married his longtime companion, Judith Nathan, in 2003. They had dated publicly while Giuliani was married to Hanover. His first marriage ended in an annulment.

A Giuliani staff member referred calls on Land's statement to Giuliani's exploratory committee, which did not have an immediate response Tuesday night.

Giuliani already has a challenge in winning over conservative voters who make up the GOP's base. Many of them view him with skepticism because his moderate views on social issues such as gays, guns and abortion are considered too liberal.

Land noted that Republican presidential candidate John McCain has been married twice, but said the Arizona senator has acknowledged his part in the failure of his first marriage.

"It's a molehill compared to Giuliani's mountain," Land said. "When you're a war hero [like McCain], you have less to prove on the character front."

Many polls identify Giuliani as the front-runner in the Republican presidential primary, followed by McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Southern Baptists have been among the most vocal of conservative Christian groups in support of the Bush administration. But they and other evangelicals are struggling to find a consensus presidential candidate who embraces their stands against gay marriage and abortion.



Cheep cheep cheep talk-a-lot, pick-a-little-more

So, the conservative Christians continue to believe George W. Bush is a person of upstanding moral character.

I dunno, a messy divorce seems pretty minor in comparison to the skeevy shop that the Prez and Karl Rove have been running.

KSTP Poll: Minnesotans Support Domestic Partner Benefits for Public Employees 52-41

This is the poll that Outfront was referencing. Now Tom Emmer is worries about wedge issues:

Perhaps surprisingly, the strongest support for same-sex partner benefits came not from the Twin Cities or the northeast, but from western Minnesota.

"I'm still trying to figure out what the thing is with western Minnesota. I'm going to be talking to their representatives when the bill comes up for a vote, I'll tell you that much," said Rep. Jim Davine, DFL-Minneapolis.

Davine, the author of the house bill, found encouraging news in our survey.

But deputy minority leader Tom Emmer, R-Delano, thinks lawmakers should stay away from divisive political issues and stick with more pressing needs.

"The new leadership in the House campaigned on, 'we are going to stay away from wedge issues.' What happened to the promise?" Emmer said.


Personally I think the Smoking ban is more of a wedge issue than the municipal domestic partner bill. The Governor ought to sit up and take notice.

City of Minneapolis Likely to Support Municipal Domestic Partners Bill

From Outfront's website:

OutFront Minnesota Public Policy Director Monica Meyer testified before the Minneapolis Intergovernmental Relations Committee March 6th on the Local Government Health Benefits Bill. The committee then voted unanimously to incorporate the bill as part of the city's legislative agenda. City Council Member Ralph Remington told Meyer, "I'm glad this is moving forward and I commend your efforts." The full city council votes on the measure March 9th.


Jo Marciano from Outfront also tipped me off that Representative Paymar has been added as a sponsor to the state domestic partner bill (SF 1369). The first hearing for this will be this Friday - Room 123 - 12:30pm.

I also got this week's ENews:

Hearing This Friday on State Domestic Partners Bill

One of OutFront Minnesota's key initiatives this legislative session is to restore domestic partner benefits to state employees. State employees received domestic partner benefits under former Governor Jesse Ventura in 2001, only to have them taken away in 2002/2003 when the legislature refused to approve union contracts that included domestic partner benefits.

On Friday, the Senate Committee on State and Local Government Operations will hold a hearing on the bill (SF 1369) that is open to the public. We encourage you to attend if possible. The hearing is Friday, March 9th, at 12:30 pm in Room 123 of the State Capitol in Saint Paul.

ACT NOW! Please take a moment NOW to contact your legislators in St. Paul to express your support for SF 1369/HF 1618!

Please call, write, email, or fax your legislators today! Click here for the House members directory; click here for the Senate directory.

Don't know who represents you in St. Paul? Click here for OutFront Minnesota's District Finder, which will provide you the names of your state representative and senator and access to their voting record, if any, on GLBT-related issues.

Here is a sample letter to send to your legislators:
If your senator and/or representative is not among the authors, your letter might look something like this:

Dear Representative/Senator ________:

My name is ______, and I live in your district.

I strongly support legislation that would provide health care benefits for the domestic partners of State employees. I believe this is important because:

• Offering equal benefits for equal work promotes fairness in the workplace and respect for the desire all workers have to provide for their families.
• The State of Minnesota has an interest in providing access to health care and reducing uncompensated costs for its employees.
• The bulk of the discussion around domestic partner benefits is about providing medical coverage to a relatively small group of people, who may not otherwise have access to health care.
• Xcel Energy, 3M, Medtronic, General Mills and hundreds of employers extend health care benefits to the domestic partners of their employees because they have found that fair treatment in the workplace allows them to recruit and retain critical employees.
• The State of Minnesota should be a leader in promoting the fair and equal treatment of all its employees.

(If you have a story about how the legislation might impact you - or someone you care about - personally, it would be great to add it here.)

Please vote "yes" on SF 1369/HF 1618.

Thank you for considering my position.
Sincerely,


Your Name
Your Full Mailing Address

If you have not contacted your legislators already, please do so and ask them to support SF 1369.

This bill is one of several that has been introduced this session and part of our ongoing efforts to lead Minnesota toward GLBT equality.

_________

Poll Shows Support for Local Government Domestic Partner Benefits

A new poll shows more than half of Minnesotans support allowing local governments to offer domestic partner benefits, one of the other bills we're advocating at the legislature.

Hennepin County Will Lobby for Municipal Domestic Partners Bill; Opat, Stenglein and Koblick are new votes in favor

From Outfront's ENews:

Write a thank you note to Hennepin County Commissioners. Yesterday, Hennepin County Commissioners passed a resolution in support of the Local Government Health Care Benefits Bill. Join OutFront Minnesota in thanking the five Commissioners who voted in favor of the resolution. Please thank Commissioner Gail Dorfman, Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, Commissioner Linda Koblick, Commissioner Mike Opat and Commissioner Mark Stenglein for their support.


I have often been unhappy with Commissioner Opat and Commissioner Stenglein on a variety of issues (the Stadium boondoggle being the most prominent). This has been a change in thinking for them. Kudos to them for doing the right thing.

Peter McLaughlin has been taking the lead on this issue for a long time. He also deserves thanks.

Pioneer Press Supports Municipal Domestic Partner's Bill

Editorial here:

Let communities decide on benefits

Gay and lesbian couples cannot marry in Minnesota. State law prohibits it. They cannot enter into civil unions — the law does not allow it. But Minnesota wisely did not enshrine those policies in the state Constitution. That means there is hope for change someday.

In the meantime, a move to allow local governments to decide whether to extend benefits to the same-sex partners of their employees is pending at the Legislature.

We strongly support the measure. For one thing, it's a matter of local control. Two, we believe this is a matter of freedom and fairness, two American values that have a way of winning out. And no matter what the civil law says, now or in the future, churches will — and should — always have the right to decide which relationships to consecrate.

We recognize that society as a whole may not be ready for same-sex marriage. We respect principled arguments about tradition and about the role of government in private lives — provided those doing the arguing show respect for the human beings at their center. Although there are drawbacks to a piecemeal approach to making our laws reflect real life, these debates about extending benefits to couples who don't have access to marriage are useful.

Former Gov. Jesse Ventura was a trailblazer in this area, seeking to make it policy for state government. He was blocked by a Republican-controlled House at a time when our current governor, Tim Pawlenty, was the House majority leader. Pawlenty's Republican Party considers this a non-negotiable issue, and he has opposed same-sex benefits and favored enshrining a no-gay-marriage provision in the state Constitution.

Love is bigger than government, Ventura once said, and indeed, people have followed their hearts to form loving families regardless of what the law or benefit packages say. Many employers have found it smart to make same-sex benefits available in order to attract the best people. There is no evidence that heterosexual marriages at these institutions have fallen apart as a result.

A court decision currently prohibits local governments from enacting same-sex benefits. The bills under consideration in the Legislature would not require cities, counties and school districts to provide the benefits. It would allow them to decide the issue for themselves.

Groups opposing such measures say they are "defending marriage.'' But this proposal isn't about marriage; it's about fairness and freedom. It seems that these groups oppose the relationships: They do not want our friends, cousins and co-workers to follow their hearts.

Fairness and freedom are on the side of love, not denial. We hope this is the year the Legislature and Pawlenty recognize this.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Brodkorb Gets Story on DJ Tice's Blog

Brodkorb is very good at this game. DJ Tice on the Big Question compares an Al Franken Statement to Ann Coulter's statement.

Ann Coulter is an embarrasment to conservatives, or anyhow she should be.

Coulter is a kind of shock rocker of rhetoric, ever laboring to sustain interest in her act by coming up with ever-more appalling stunts. Let's keep the chickens and puppies away from her, whatever we do.

There is no defense for Coulter’s recent insinuation — about which Eric posted Monday –that presidential candidate John Edwards is a “faggot.” There is not even any sense in it.

But, all that having been said, what defense do liberals offer for U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken's many outlandish remarks?

Consider in particular Franken's statement in this interview last October with the New Statesman (very near the end) that Sen Norm Coleman is…

"one of the [Bush] administration's leading butt boys."

For a Feb. 15 story about Franken’s announcement of his candidacy, the Star Tribune inquired about the authenticity of this quote, which was trotted out by the state GOP.

The Franken campaign did not dispute the quote.


Commenter Bill Prendergast, a liberal, won't defend Franken:

Bill Prendergast says:

March 5th, 2007 at 11:13 pm

No defense for Franken on this score. I've written elsewhere that I don't think he's a good candidate and I don't believe he's qualified to be in the Senate.

You want to be a satirist, be a satirist, but if you want to represent people in public office, you put away the nasty, juvenile remarks about political opponents–even if that's your "strength."

This, by the way, is why I don't listen to liberal talk radio and don't rely on it as a source of political information. Just like conservative talk radio–more heat that light.


Another commenter disagreed:

Ben says:

March 6th, 2007 at 12:24 am

I will admit that Franken’s comment is, in my opinion, less destructive (and much much much more humorous) than Coulters - hers didn’t even come close to the aroma of funny.

I’m not saying that “butt boy” is an acceptable thing for our representatives, or anyone for that matter, to go around calling one another - but in this case I don’t think it is in the same boat as Coulter’s comment.

I can overanalyze this if you want - Franken’s use of the term “butt boy” was meant as a knock on Coleman for being Bush’s ‘monkey’ (a better word, I believe, for what Franken meant). I don’t think Franken intended to use the term “butt boy” to evoke negative attitudes toward homosexuals - but unfortunately, he may have. Coulter’s remark, on the other hand, was nothing more than blatant hateful speech about both Edwards and gays. There was no substance to her claim - does she believe that someone possessing feminine traits can’t hold the highest office? What about Hillary, then?

Also, it goes to show you what saying things like this on TV versus in the paper will do to you.


I have emailed the Franken campaign for comment.

Lefty Bloggers Call Ann Coulter Transgender (Suggesting it's bad), While Complaining About Her F-word Statement

Autumn Sandeen calls them on it at Pam's House Blend.

As a transwoman, I find insulting Coulter by claiming she's transgender pretty thoughtless commentary. If Coulter were to turn out to be transgender, what's wrong with the way she states her viewpoints would have nothing to do with her being transgender.

Insulting Coulter by calling her transvestite, transsexual, or transgender insults my transgender peers and me in the process of saying something is wrong with Coulter for making outrageous statements AND having an adam's apple/looking transgender. Nice going, lefty bloggers, for stooping to using other f-word style insults to make your points about Coulter using the other f-word.

Re-working the Republican Leadership Council

Just got this message from Christie Todd Whitman:

Dear Member,

Since you are an important part of our team, I wanted you to be the first to hear about a new development for It’s My Party Too.

Since the 2006 midterm elections, many people have asked how we can get the Republican Party back on track in future elections. With that in mind, today we are embarking on an exciting new phase for It’s My Party Too (IMP-PAC).

I have recruited former Senator John Danforth of Missouri and former Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele of Maryland, and the three of us are reenergizing the Republican Leadership Council. Former Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania will be joining our Board of Directors.

It has been a few years since the Republican Leadership Council (RLC) has been active in federal, state, and local politics, but by merging with IMP-PAC and with the support of our grassroots activists like you, this organization will be a powerful force working to return the Republican Party to its foundational principles.

For members of IMP-PAC like you, rest assured that our goals remain the same and our commitment to centrist Republican candidates endures. Additionally, you will automatically be signed up as an RLC member, so you will continue to receive important updates. The critical difference that will result from this combination is that we will now have double the energy, resources, and impact!

To learn more about the Republican Leadership Council, please visit our website at www.republican-leadership.com. We welcome your input and support.

I know I speak for Senator Danforth, Governor Ridge, and Lieutenant Governor Steele when I thank you for all of your hard work on behalf of the Republican Party. Our work is far from over – and now as the Republican Leadership Council, the work is just beginning. I look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail!

Sincerely,

Governor Christie Whitman


I wish them the best of luck....

Monday, March 05, 2007

Bloggers Send Open Letter to CPAC: Don't Invite Coulter Next Time

Captain's Quarters:

Ann Coulter used to serve the movement well. She was telegenic, intelligent, and witty. She was also fearless: saying provocative things to inspire deeper thought and cutting through the haze of competing information has its uses. But Coulter's fearlessness has become an addiction to shock value. She draws attention to herself, rather than placing the spotlight on conservative ideas.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2006, Coulter referred to Iranians as "ragheads." She is one of the most prominent women in the conservative movement; for her to employ such reckless language reinforces the stereotype that conservatives are racists.

At CPAC 2007 Coulter decided to turn up the volume by referring to John Edwards, a former U.S. Senator and current Presidential candidate, as a "faggot." Such offensive language--and the cavalier attitude that lies behind it--is intolerable to us. It may be tolerated on liberal websites but not at the nation's premier conservative gathering.

The legendary conservative thinker Richard Weaver wrote a book entitled Ideas Have Consequences. Rush Limbaugh has said again and again that "words mean things." Both phrases apply to Coulter's awful remarks.

Coulter's vicious word choice tells the world she care little about the feelings of a large group that often feels marginalized and despised. Her word choice forces conservatives to waste time defending themselves against charges of homophobia rather than advancing conservative ideas.

Within a day of Coulter's remark John Edwards sent out a fundraising email that used Coulter's words to raise money for his faltering campaign. She is helping those she claims to oppose. How does that advance any of the causes we hold dear?

Denouncing Coulter is not enough. After her "raghead" remark in 2006 she took some heat. Yet she did not grow and learn. We should have been more forceful. This year she used a gay slur. What is next? If Senator Barack Obama is the de facto Democratic Presidential nominee next year, will Coulter feel free to use a racial slur? How does that help conservatism?

One of the points of CPAC is the opportunity it gives college students to meet other young conservatives and learn from our leaders. Unlike on their campuses—where they often feel alone—at CPAC they know they are part of a vibrant political movement. What example is set when one highlight of the conference is finding out what shocking phrase will emerge from Ann Coulter's mouth? How can we teach young conservatives to fight for their principles with civility and respect when Ann Coulter is allowed to address the conference? Coulter's invective is a sign of weak thinking and unprincipled politicking.

CPAC sponsors, the Age of Ann has passed. We, the undersigned, request that CPAC speaking invitations no longer be extended to Ann Coulter. Her words and attitude simply do too much damage.


Captain Ed comments on the letter:

For the second year in a row, Coulter hijacked CPAC to get herself some headlines. The ACU was warned by at least one of their sponsors about that after last year, but either chose not to address it or got snowed again by Coulter. They need to cut off their association with her, or conservative organizations have to find a different organization for their conferences.

Former Rep Paul Gazelka Attacks Paul Koering in Brainerd Dispatch

March 4, 2007, Letter to the Editor:

Koering promoting homosexual agenda

I¹m concerned about Sen. Koering's continued departure from the Republican Party platform. Sen. Koering is author of two recent bills, S.F.1369 and S.F. 960; both promote homosexual relationships to equal status with marriage in two specific areas of the law. Senate File 1369 forces the state government to provide health benefits to homosexual partners if the State provides those benefits to spouses of employees.

If Sen. Koering is not trying to promote the homosexual agenda, why does he continue to author legislation that does? In fact, why reward just homosexuals that live together with marriage benefits? Under Koering's bill, heterosexual couples that live together without being married don't get any of the same benefits he is proposing for homosexuals....why discriminate?

Here are just a few reasons why this is bad legislation:

1) This would increase the cost to Minnesota taxpayers.

2) This is part of the gay marriage advocate¹s plan, like OutFront Minnesota, to legalize gay marriage.

3) Bills like these minimize the reward to and purpose of marriage, forgetting that the primary purpose of marriage is to raise the next generation of children.

The mountains of data confirm that children are healthiest and best prepared for adulthood when raised by their biological mom and dad, living together in marriage. As long as that is true, as a society, we should support and encourage the institution of marriage above any other living arrangement.

Moms and dads need more tools and support to stay together and raise a family, not less.

Paul Gazelka
Former state representative
Rural Brainerd


Gazelka supported Kevin Goedker, the anti-gay non-endorsed Republican opponent in the primary. Goedker had a campaign blog. This was a typical entry.

It's notable that Paul Koering won and Paul Gazelka lost. Gazelka's one issue, anti-gay activist campaign turned off the mainstream voters in that district.

I encourage people to write letters to the editor to respond.

Diane Loeffler (DFL, NE Minneapolis) Adds Herself to Municipal Domestic Partners Bill

By the way, Representative Diane Loeffler was added as an author today
to the Local Government Health Benefits Bill.

Jo Marsicano
Communications Director
OutFront Minnesota


Some house DFLers introduced a bill to add a new tax rate - starting at $70,000 for singles to pay for all day kindergarden. Over the last 10 years or so, there has been more and more efforts to move the tax burden from married couples with kids to single taxpayers. The $1000.00 per child tax credit is one such example. Single taxpayers make up 1/3 of the population, and a disproportionate percentage of gays fall into this category, even if one happens to be in a partnered relationship. I am not sure of the bill number for this one, but I'd urge readers to contact your representive and tell them this is bad policy.

I could see a tax rate like this starting higher. $70,000 is not rich - even for single taxpayers.

The Idolatry of Mis-Placed Patriotism

With American theocrats continually working to broaden their influence on elections, courts, public education, revisionist American history, reproductive rights, end of life decisions, science, personal relationships, war and peace, foreign policy, etc., etc., etc., more traditional Christians are not always heard amid all of the clamor and pulpit-pounding.

In his March 4th sermon, Pastor Christopher Nelson at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in south Minneapolis had some succinct warnings on cultural influences....

A real danger to us is that we succumb to the idolatry of our culture--the culture that teaches an individualism and narcissism so intense that a 16 year old in Cloquet, MN, can dump ice water on a disabled elderly woman not once but several times and find it "hilarious..." and never consider her feelings. What do we--you and I--say to that sort of behavior and a popular culture that produces it?

A real danger to us is a culture that seduces us away from Christ and instead to accumulating more and more and more? What do we--you and I--say to a culture where our stuff becomes our god?

A real danger to us is the idolatry of American Civil religion that blesses a particular political point of view and demonizes those who disagree. Pastor Greg Boyd of the Woodland Hills Community Church has rightly spoken out against tying God to any one side of a political argument and it has cost him. His church lost at least a thousand members and likely millions of dollars. What do we--you and I--say when it is necessary to challenge the powerful, to challenge an idolatrous connection between church and state?



I've heard other religious leaders refer to the current brand of theocratic patriotism as a form of idolatry, which is as much a sin as lying, stealing, and killing. I hope people like Pastors Boyd and Nelson continue to inspire use of the Gospel for its true intended purpose, vs. advancing a political agenda.

The Prosperity Gospel is a Lie

Evangelical mega-churches are often able to grow membership (and balance sheets) by preaching and practicing what is known as the 'Prosperity Gospel'. Joel Osteen in Houston is a believer, as is the 'pastor' with no seminary degree or ordination, Mac Hammond at Living Word Christian Center. A few weeks ago Sky Pilot Mac offered some shocking rebuttals to a Star Tribune cover story and yet another complaint filed by CREW re: stunt planes, luxury real estate, and greed under the tax exempt cover of 501(c)3 IRS provisions.

The problem with the prosperity Gospel is that isn't based on Biblical truth. Read Matthew 6. Read all of it. The prosperity Gospel is a lie. It relies on feel-good bromides and motivational speeches delivered in the context of a sermon. It suggests that the more God loves you, the bigger your house, your mutual funds, your SUV, etc, will be. Does that mean poverty is a sign that God doesn't love you?

In the season of Lent, when traditional Christians focus on humility and repentence in preparation for Holy Week and Easter, sermons at the church I attend have offered a few sharp warnings re: the lie of a prosperity Gospel. In her February 21st Ash Wednesday sermon, Pastor Mary Pechauer offered the following:

Beware then of any preacher who says that God's good news includes no more suffering for you. Beware of anyone who points to success as evidence that God is blessing them for bigger and better things. The Gospel of Prosperity is on the rise and it proclaims that living the high life is God's desire for you. Wealth is a sign of God's stamp of approval of you. People are flocking to this message and I'm not surprised. Who doesn't want life to go well for them? Who doesn't want to avoid suffering and pain? But when we avoid the reality of pain in our life we avoid the reality of the cross on which Jesus suffered and died. Roy Hammerling writes: "If any teaching pulls the nails out of the cross or wipes away the wounds of Christ, then beware, for it is only quick temporary relief from true Christian pain."



In his March 4th sermon, Pastor Christopher Nelson made the following observations:

(Refer also to Paul's letter to the Philippians, 3:17-4:1, and Luke 13:31-35)

Now let me point out several things: First, I haven't the slightest idea where the notion of an easy, comfortable Christian life came from! It's not true for the vast majority of Christians living today- in Africa, China, India, who live in poverty and in all the dangers that poses, as well as the possibility of the danger persecution, depending on where they live! It certainly wasn't true for the first generation of Christians, as we see from Paul, or the generations that followed him. Luther, for example, faced similar persecution and death. And it wasn't true for Jesus himself: the one who took on suffering and death for our sake!



and more:

This was what Jesus was all about. he came to us to show us God in the flesh, to show us, to live for us what God has always had in mind for God's creation: all people are valuable and have worth. It is not God's way for the strong to lord it over the weak, for oppression to be the rule, that might makes right... It is not God's way that human beings should try and take God's place, putting themselves at the center of the universe, .

To the contrary, God even has, as Pope John Paul 2nd so inconveniently pointed out, has "a preferential option for the poor..." Remember Mary's song when she was pregnant with Jesus, visiting her cousin Elizabeth: "He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty..."

Jesus, and his whole ministry, his teaching, healing, preaching threatened those in power--those who would lift themselves up at the expense of the poor or anyone who might get in their way. His Great Commandment--to love God and to love the people around you, period, end of conversation, would, if followed literally, change the world forever for the better--and at great expense for the people in charge. You can't live as though you are the center of all things when you know God is.



No church is perfect, nor does any single clergy person have all of the answers.

But this I know - pride, arrogance, narcissism, stunt planes, luxury homes, perpetual man-tans, and greed are out of synch with an honest reading of the Christian Gospels.

When charlatans like Mac Hammond are hogging the airwaves, know that he does not speak for all Christians.

Sad News from St. Paul

Former state Sen. Dallas Sams dies at 54

By Conrad Defiebre, Star Tribune

Former state Sen. Dallas Sams, who battled brain cancer through a losing reelection campaign last year, died Monday at St. Joseph's Hospital in St. Paul. He was 54.
The death of the Staples DFLer was announced on the Senate floor, where members observed a moment of silence.

Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, said that pending legislation Sams championed to dedicate a portion of Minnesota's sales tax to funding for the outdoors will be dedicated to his memory. Praise for Sams came from Republicans as well.

"He was a consummate legislator, able to work both sides of the aisle," said Senate Minority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester. "He was someone who put policy ahead of politics. We'll miss him a lot."

Sams' 16 years in the Senate ended with his loss to Republican Bill Ingebrigtsen in last November's election. Sams' illness and treatment hampered his ability to campaign, and Senjem said he probably would have been reelected had he been healthy.

A dairy farmer, agriculture management teacher, airplane pilot and motorcycle enthusiast, Sams concentrated on rural issues as a senator. According to Politics in Minnesota, the Directory, he pushed through legislation aimed at attracting young people to farming and helping rural hospitals stay in business.

"Minnesota lost a true champion of the outdoors, agriculture and veterans today," Gov. Tim Pawlenty said in a news release. "Senator Sams was loved by everyone around the Capitol for his caring nature, good humor and common sense."

Sen. Dick Day, R-Owatonna, who often drove Sams to treatment sessions at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, called him "my best friend as a Democrat." Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, said that Sams "carried a lot of controversial issues, but he could disagree without being disagreeable. He was fun to be around."



Senator Sams represented my hometown in Grant County, and I'd follow the news about him in my hometown newspaper.

I didn't agree with him on every issue, but he was a great role model of the citizen legislator.

Senator Ingebrigtsen, a former sheriff from Alexandria who won Sams' seat last fall, had the full support of nutty theocrats like the Minnesota Family Council. He regularly says outrageous, hateful things about immigrants. Senator Sams paid a big price for not supporting Senator Michele Bachmann's effort to push a marriage amendment to the Senate floor without a committee process.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Breaking Nooz! Aravosis is Fair to Conservatives

Americablog:

Aravosis points to a Reuters story that reports that the National Center for Public Policy Research, a sponsor of CPAC is especially unhappy with Coulter's speech. He also quotes Captain Ed's posts about the subject then comments:

I don't think all conservatives are as monnolithic as we think. They don't all love the religious right, and they don't all love hatemongers like Coulter. Or, more generally, not all conservatives are social conservatives. I think we forget that sometimes. It's a fact that we should welcome, and find common ground on, if possible.


I agree. It's rare to see Aravosis make such a point.

When Will the US Attorney's Office Release the FBI's Zimmermann Tapes?

USA Rachel Paulose gets some favorable media coverage today in the Strib:

In a October 24, 2006 blog post titled "Moscow on the Mississippi", Pioneer Press reporter, Ruben Rosario criticized Rachel Paulose for poor relations with the media:

We’re not talking here about a KGB directive, but a new and questionable media policy instituted this week by Rachel Paulose, the recently appointed top federal prosecutor for Minnesota.

First a requisite lowdown on Paulose. The 32-year-old Minnesota native -- born and raised in the Twin Cities -- was appointed to the post after longtime federal prosecutor Tom Heffelfinger stepped down last year.

She is the first woman and the first Asian American to head the local federal office. She is the granddaughter of Indian immigrants and the daughter of Joseph Paulose of Eagan, an administrator for Hopkins public schools.


... According to TPM, Rachel Paulose has been a member of the Federalist Society. Paulose is also a friend of Scott Johnson of the Powerline blog. Rosario compares Rachel Paulose to her predecessors...

Heffelfinger, and his two predecessors, David Lillehaug and Todd B. Jones, played things close to the vest in terms of releasing information about active cases. But they all understood the critical role of the media in disseminating information about important cases or issues they felt the public needed to know about. They sat down with newspaper editorial boards. They held backgrounders on complicated cases or issues. They spoke in general terms about specific cases without hampering prosecution.

Were they perfect? No way. They never gave me any real good scoops. None approached Rudolph Giuliani, the former Manhattan federal prosecutor and still, in my eyes, the reigning master media manipulator in that position.

Paulose, who has worked the past few years on the civil litigation side of the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C., seems to be towing the agency line when it comes with dealing with the public through the mass media. Paulose, as far as I know, has turned down every request for either a face-to-face interview on the record or a simple and mostly informal meet and greet from members of the local media.

My request for a sit-down months ago, just to chew the fat and say hello, was unceremoniously turned down. No sweat off my back, but it spoke volumes about what was to come. So I was not surprised in the least when our standout legal affairs reporter, Shannon Prather, informed me of a new media policy issued by Paulose’s office.

The office’s long time public relations spokesperson, Karen Bailey, who ably worked for all three previous U.S. attorneys, is no longer doing that job. A recording identifying Bailey as the office’s “external relations specialist’’ also makes a point to inform callers that “if you are a member of the media’’ to call a general media hotline.

Here’s more from Prather’s missive on the Paulose edict: “New U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose has set up a media phone line where reporters are to leave messages outlining their requests. … The U.S. Attorney’s office will no longer be commenting on any open cases. They will not be confirming or denying investigations. They will no longer provide court documents to members of the media. You will be automatically referred to the clerk of courts."

Jeanne Cooney, the office’s long time executive secretary, emphasized that Paulose has nothing against the local media. According to Cooney, DOJ policy prohibits her from making any public statements or meeting with folks until the Senate confirms her.

Paulose was named to the interim post in March DOJ head Albert Gonzales, a move officially endorsed by President Bush.


...There's a lot of controversy lately about the firing and replacement of US Attorneys across the country. TPM Muckraker has been covering the controversy.. House Judiciary Committee hearings into the matter will continue next week.

Rosario goes on about his frustration with the US Attorney's office and concludes with this observation:

I can feel the love. I wonder how this policy had it been in place during the shootings at Red Lake High School or the high profile arrest of a suspected Al Qaeda terrorist linked to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Minnesotans and the local media, frankly, deserve better than this from the state’s top federal prosecutor.


I tried to get information about the release of the FBI tapes from the Gary Dean Zimmermann bribery trial, but my most recent phone call was not returned.

I saw the FBI tapes at the trial. I believe that the portions of those tapes shown at the trial should be released to the media. There is still quite a few people who believe the FBI "persecuted" Zimmermann and that Zimmermann was somehow "entrapped" by the FBI.

The tapes would also reveal a side of Zimmermann that few people could imagine.... Zimmermann's comfortable relationship with a Hummer-driving Republican who raised considerable cash for Senator Norm Coleman.

Zimmermann was caught on tape accepting and receiving bribes from Republican Gary Carlson who raised thousands of dollars for Senator Norm Coleman. At one point in the tapes, Zimmermann told Gary Carlson that he would have like to have been invited to Carlson's fundraiser for Norm Coleman:

In May 2005 Azzam invited Carlson to a Shriner’s function for African-American businesses (Azzam had told him it was the Sierra Club on Park Avenue). Carlson had a private conversation with Zimmermann outside when Carlson took a cigarette break. Carlson mentioned he had recently had a fundraiser for Norm Coleman at his house; Zimmermann chided Carlson for not inviting him. Carlson replied by saying he didn’t think Zimmermann [as a Green] would want to attend a Republican fundraiser.

Zimmermann responded by saying, “Liberals, Greens, Democrats, Republicans…it’s all money.”


Zimmermann also lobbied the City of Minneapolis on behalf of Crown Hydro, a company owned by another Republican, William Hawks who hosted a fundraiser at his Lake Minnetonka mansion for Michele Bachmann (with special guest Dick Cheney). Here's a quote from Zimmermann in the Skyway News:

"You better vote for Crown Hydro or I'll come and get you in the middle of the night," joked Zimmermann,"


Gary Dean Zimmermann is currently an inmate at the Federal Correctional Facility in Littleton, Colorado .

Zimmermann's supporters still maintain he is innocent. PULSE publisher, Ed Felein claims that Zimmermann was "stalked" and "nailed" by the FBI. If Zimmermann is innocent as his supporters claim, they should join me in asking the DOJ to release the FBI tapes.

Until those tapes are released, you can read notes on all 8 days of the Zimmermann trial at the Minneapolis Confidential blog.

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