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Saturday, March 31, 2007

GOP Party Chair Race

Drew Emmer of Wright County Republican is standing by his man, Ron Carey. I left a comment, but comments are moderated there. We'll see if he approves it.

One of the first bits of advice I got when I came back to Minnesota to run a campaign for my elder nephew was to be aware that republicans are really good at circling the wagons, but the big mistake we make is that we usually shoot toward the middle of the circle. As a party we do a great job of tearing each other down. Partisanship is a breeze if you can just pass muster with our fellows within the local GOP party.

That's one thing I envy about democrats. No matter how wrong they are on an issue or how bad their position is they almost always can pull together and acheive a sense of solidarity. Maybe its the union influence. Whatever the reason for unity among the opposition, regard for one another, respect and loyalty are characteristics all republicans could use a brush up on.

I wonder how many Democrats agree with this assessment. I hear democrats say the same about republicans.

Governor Pawlenty is supporting Ron Carey. Andy Aplikowski:

I am now hearing word of calls being made to Delegates in the Republican Party today saying that Repya is a McCain supprter [sic] and therefore not a real conservative, so people can't support him.

(What comes to mind at first when you here this?)

Tim Pawlenty is currently serving as national co-chair of John McCain’s Presidential Campaign and is speaking at his behalf across the country and on TV. One could say Pawlenty is McCain’s biggest supporter.

(Anyone, anyone, Bueller?)

Now, I did ask Repya about the McCain thing earlier this week, and he fully understands that he must remain neutral, and he said so right in the PiPress story. He is not working for John McCain and he is not going actively campaign for McCain or against any Republican candiate as party chair. He knows that the Chairman MUST remain neutral.

These upcoming CD conventions should be interesting.

Friday, March 30, 2007

St Cloud Times on DP Benefits

Our view: Legislators should spurn showboating, deliver basics
Times Editorial Board

Published: March 30. 2007 12:30AM

Last fall, a sizeable number of DFL legislative candidates ran campaigns that touted the desire to get back to the basics of state government and away from divisive social issues.

More notably, though, we can't recall any single legislative race in which the DFL candidate made allowing same-sex marriage their top priority.

With those two items in mind, we strongly suggest DFL leaders take off the table for this session legislation that tilts in that direction.

Even though we strongly support civil unions and equality, we believe at least two pieces of DFL-sponsored legislation go against the spirit of those fall campaign promises, not to mention add immense pressure to a growingly partisan session.

The main item is a bill the Senate passed Saturday that allows domestic partners of state workers to buy into the state's health insurance program. The other proposal improves visitation rights for domestic partners at health care facilities.

Indeed, tracking the former through the Senate even indicates actions this session might be more about politics than public service and principle. No? Really?

Supporters originally crafted the measure to give domestic partners the same coverage as spouses of state employees. That, though, also meant it cost more for taxpayers.

Apparently not wanting Gov. Tim Pawlenty to be able to veto the measure on fiscal grounds, they amended it to allow partners to buy into the state plan. In theory, that's still cheaper than open-market rates.

But from a political perspective, the change created a bill that still poses a direct challenge to the governor's longstanding position of opposing state benefits to domestic partners. Pawlenty's spokesman has said the governor will veto any bill.

Given all the other more time-sensitive issues on the state's plate, Minnesotans don't need this political showdown now. What we do need are a responsible budget plan, adequate investments in transportation and education, sound tax policies, etc. — all completed on time.

A political war over domestic partnerships won't help accomplish all that, and it certainly is not in the spirit of how most DFLers ran their campaigns last fall.

So again, we ask this and similar measures be put on hold until next session.

Most commenters seem to agree with the Editorial.

I'd like the Governor to actually have to carry out that veto threat. Does he really want to be kowtowing to these characters?

Strib's Political Editor Parrots the Drama Queen

Why would anyone read the Big Question, when they can go get the latest at MDE?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Don't Let the Door Hit Ya On the Way Out

From Planned Parenthood:

Anti-birth control advocate Eric Keroack will no longer oversee Title X, the nation's family planning program! The day he took office, Planned Parenthood launched a massive grassroots campaign against Keroack, rallying a nationwide groundswell of opposition to his appointment.

PPFA President Cecile Richards issued the following statement on the resignation:

"It's a good day for women's health. Keroack was unqualified to run the nation's family planning program. The Bush administration must replace Keroack with a legitimate, mainstream public health expert who supports family planning and access to birth control. More than 17 million women in our country need access to affordable birth control. The nation's family planning program should be run by a champion for women's health and safety."

Cecile Richards
Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Did he resign or was he pushed?

Relative of Minnesota Family Institute Leader Speaks Out Against Him

Minnesota Monitor comment thread:

I'm ashamed...
I'm ashamed to admit being related (thankfully a couple levels removed) to the CEO of the Minnesota Family Council John Helmberger. However, I feel it is my responsibility to speak out against him and the MCF at every opportunity, in the hopes of off-setting our family name's affiliation with John, his views and the council.

In a large family that includes loved, accepted and openly gay and lesbian family members, I find it reprehensible for John Helmberger to state,""Homosexual activists are aggressively targeting the most vulnerable members of our society, our children,". For him to imply that our children are in any way "at risk" by the GBLT members, turns my stomach. I would feel more comfortable leaving my child in the middle of a Gay Pride parade than I would leaving my child with him for 20 minutes.

I was raised in a Christian home with strong morals and values. We believe in "Let He Who is Without Sin Cast the First Stone." John Helmberger appears to have a whole bucket full of miseducated, misguided, unproven and 1950's stereotypical stones and he's casting them out.
by: Nicole Helmberger

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Rumor: Kelliher running for Senate?

Flash has the goods.

Sen. Paul Koering Squares off Against Tom "Phone Sex" Prichard of the Minnesota Family Council

Minnesota Monitor:

The Senate Health, Housing and Family Security Committee heard testimony from gays and lesbians from around the state who told tearful stories of being blocked from visiting partners and children during medical crises. Following that testimony, Prichard spoke against the bill, which was submitted by Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville. Prichard said, "The concerns we have with the bill is that it would create a family redefinition... If the state begins writing in alternative, marriage-like statuses it will make our marriage law more vulnerable in court."

I heard Prichard testify against repealing the sodomy law. At the time, he said the reason we needed sodomy laws was to prevent teenage pregnancy. I've never understood why people pay any attention to Prichard's nonsense.

Koering, who came out as a gay man in 2005, took issue with Prichard's committee testimony and called his credibility into question.

Lloydletta's Nooz obtained a copy of the mailing and posted it here.

After distributing the lit piece, Koering states:

I had a series of questions for [Mr. Prichard]. I have a handout here from Mr. Prichard's organization to hand out to the committee just to kind of show you what kind of organization they are and how they operate. I think it just gives you a better understanding of how they are and then you can understand Mr. Prichard's testimony a little bit better...

This is a campaign brochure from last fall. ...If you look at the headline, it says "Senator Paul Koering refused to vote to protect our children from the promotion of homosexuality in public schools.” That’s not true. That’s not true at all. And so this is the kind of organization this is and the light needs to be shined on them. And so this is what I intended to do. I am trying to protect our children and to make a statement like that and to scare my constituents is just plain wrong.

Failed School Board candidate and embarrassment to the Republican Party Tom Swift comments:

You can stick a fork in Koering.
He's done.
by: Swiftee

Swiftee goes on in greater detail in other comments.

Minutes and audio of the hearing are available here. The relevant bill testimony starts around 2 hours 30 minutes.

Outfront's Legislative Update

State Employees' Domestic Partner Benefits
(SF1369, Sandy Pappas and HF 1618, Phyllis Kahn)
This past Saturday, the Senate passed the State Government Appropriations bill which included coverage of state domestic partner benefits. Opponents tried to strip the bill of this provision but were turned back. However, the bill was amended to require that same-sex partners of state employees pay the premium for their coverage. The bill awaits action in the House.

Because Governor Pawlenty has said that he will veto legislation that includes domestic partner benefits, Senator Don Betzold offered an amendment to have the employees pay the cost of insuring their domestic partners. The majority of the Senate voted for the amendment and it passed. Senator Warren Limmer offered an amendment to take out all the domestic partner language. That failed on a vote of 40 to 22. All Democrats voted against this effort except Senators Dan Skogen, Dan Sparks and Jim Vickerman. All republicans voted in favor of it except Senators Paul Koering and Steve Dille.

One of the liberal bloggers at Drinking Liberally called me "self-loathing" because I said that Steve Dille was a decent guy, and deserved reelection. It's interesting that Dan Sparks is voting the way he did. He got lots of credit for standing up to the leviticus crowd during the election. It seems like he's taking his orders from Jeff Davis over at the MCDM.

House Action
In the House, the state employee domestic partner benefits bill passed the Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, March 21st. The bill will be heard next in the Finance Committee where legislators will vote on whether or not to include the state employee domestic partner benefits in the omnibus spending bill.

Local Government Health Care Benefits
(SF 960, Linda Higgins and HF 1097, Jim Davnie)
The Senate passed this bill on Saturday, March 24th as part of the larger spending bill. The legislation would allow local governments to offer domestic partner benefits if they choose. Originally, the omnibus spending bill did not include this provision, but Senator Sandy Pappas offered an amendment to include it and that amendment passed. All democrats voted in favor of it except Senators Dan Skogen, Dan Sparks, and Jim Vickerman. All republicans voted against the amendment except Senators David Senjem, Paul Koering and Steve Dille.

This is very interesting that the Senate minority leader voted with the good guys on this bill. It's also interesting that Geoff Michel - whose district would like him to vote otherwise, voted with the theocrats.

In the House, the Local Government Health Care Benefits legislation was added to the bill granting health care benefits to the domestic partners of state employees.

Hospital Visitation
(SF 1398, John Marty and HF 1589, Erin Murphy)
In the Senate, the Health, Housing and Family Security Committee which passed the hospital visitation bill on Wednesday, March 21st. The legislation has been referred to the Judiciary Committee for a Wednesday, March 28th hearing (today) and vote.

In the House, the bill was passed by the Health and Human Services bill on March 19th. The next vote on Hospital Visitation will be during Session when the House decides whether or not to pass the bill.

Sick Leave
(SF 1128, Ropes and HF 219, Walker)
In the Senate, the bill passed the Business, Industry and Jobs Committee, but the language to include domestic partners was not included.

In the House, the bill was amended to include domestic partners in the Labor Committee and sent the State Government Finance Division Committee.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Plague of Political Purity on the Right and the Left

For a few years, I've blogged about a grandstanding, "progressive" politician, Gary Dean Zimmermann and his alliance with two grandstanding, right-wing politicians, Michele Bachmann and Rep. Mark Olson to promote and pass legislation for a bogus boondoggle called Personal Rapid Transit.

All three were headed for trouble; Zimmermann was convicted of bribery and sent to prison. Rep. Mark Olson was arrested for beating his wife five days after he was re-elected and is awaiting trial. Michele Bachmann continues to be a national joke.

Despite the trouble they have gotten into, the supporters of these three politicians insist that they are really good people while attacking other, more pragmatic politicians for not being pure enough.

Loosetrife at the Mpls Upside Down blog has an excellent post about this phenomenon.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Is the Bush Administration Coming Unglued?

From the Associated Press

Gonzales Aide to Invoke Fifth Amendment

Mar 26, 4:50 PM (ET)


(WASHINGTON (AP) - Monica Goodling, a senior Justice Department official involved in the firings of federal prosecutors, will refuse to answer questions at upcoming Senate hearings, citing Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, her lawyer said Monday.

"The potential for legal jeopardy for Ms. Goodling from even her most truthful and accurate testimony under these circumstances is very real," said the lawyer, John Dowd.

"One need look no further than the recent circumstances and proceedings involving Lewis Libby," he said, a reference to the recent conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff in the CIA leak case.

The White House, meanwhile, continued to stand by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales despite new calls over the weekend for his resignation and documents that indicate he may have been more involved in the dismissals than he has previously acknowledged.

Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Hagel appeared on ABC's Sunday morning gab-fest with George Stephanapolous. His recent quotes in Esquire magazine were cited:

"The president says, 'I don't care.' He's not accountable anymore," Hagel says, measuring his words by the syllable and his syllables almost by the letter. "He's not accountable anymore, which isn't totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don't know. It depends how this goes."

The conversation beaches itself for a moment on that word -- impeachment -- spoken by a conservative Republican from a safe Senate seat in a reddish state. It's barely even whispered among the serious set in Washington, and it rings like a gong in the middle of the sentence, even though it flowed quite naturally out of the conversation he was having about how everybody had abandoned their responsibility to the country, and now there was a war going bad because of it.

"Congress abdicated its oversight responsibility," he says. "The press abdicated its responsibility, and the American people abdicated their responsibilities. Terror was on the minds of everyone, and nobody questioned anything, quite frankly."

What I find personally.... startling about the President's reaction to last week's Iraq vote in the US House is the fact that like it or not, in many cases the current majority won their seats based on the voters' reaction to the Iraq fracas. And yet Dubya stands in direct defiance of the very people he is sworn to lead.

Senator Hagel has it exactly right - it doesn't appear that the President is interested in facts and the political will of the majority of Americans.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Domestic Partner Benefits

Michael Brodkorb's got an open thread asking for comment about Domestic Partner benefits going through the senate.

It's ironic that Governor Pawlenty supports the smoking ban - which is more unpopular than Domestic Partner benefits.