Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Attention, GOP: You're NOT LISTENING! (DFL, make sure you do!)

From the GovernorsJournal.com:

Something else the GOP should note before they get even more carried away with their culture war agenda, also from GovernorsJournal.com:

"Pro Choice v. Pro Life
By GoJo Staff on May 23, 2011
A new Gallup poll says Americans continue to be evenly split over the issue of abortion, but for the first time since 2008, the number of people who consider themselves pro-choice is larger than the pro-life group. Gallup: Abortion – May 22, 2011"

Gay Marriage
By GoJo Staff on May 23, 2011
For the first time in the history of the poll, a Gallup survey reveals most Americans are in favor of allowing gay couples to legally marry. 53% say gay couples should have the same legal rights as other married couples. Gallup: Gay Marriage – May 20, 2011
and possibly the most telling:
For What It Is Worth
By GoJo Staff on May 27, 2011
A series of polls taken over the last few months by the Democratic polling firm, Public Policy Polling, shows if voters in more than a half dozen states had to do it over again, they would have voted for the Democratic candidate for governor in almost every case.
The problem for the Democrats is; they can’t do it over again. Not for three and a half years
Except for those states that have recall elections. 
I wish THAT was something that the legislature would consider adding to the MN Constitution as an Amendment.

But this may be one of the most interesting ideas that our legislature should consider, something that unlike their culture wars and bizarre spending-cut-only-don't-address-revenue budget ideas that are so unpopular, could easily gain genuine bipartisan support here; keep a small surplus (if we ever see one again) and then provide a rebate.  I like this idea:
Kicker Rebate
By GoJo Staff on May 27, 2011
As a governor, tax rebates are nothing you want to change if you don’t have to.

In Oregon, they have a constitutionally protected kicker rebate that means residents get a check at the end of the each year if state revenues exceed projections by a certain percentage. Now, Governor John Kitzhaber(D) has been sent a bill that would end the practice of sending out checks – just before Christmas – with a tax credit to be claimed the following year.

His office is not indicating whether he plans to sign it, which is a good sign he might not

Accountability from Executives - About Damn Time!

Executives expect to be paid large, even exorbitant salaries in part for the responsibility they have in their jobs.  Yet, they seem to be claiming they shouldn't be held accountable for that very same responsiblity for which they are so well paid.

It's damn well time they stopped having it both ways.  Well done, Obama administration!  Well done!

from the AP:

In Shift, Feds Target Top Execs For Health Fraud


WASHINGTON -- It's getting personal now. In a shift still evolving, federal enforcers are targeting individual executives in health care fraud cases that used to be aimed at impersonal corporations.

The new tactic is raising the anxiety level – and risks – for corporate honchos at drug companies, medical device manufacturers, nursing home chains and other major health care enterprises that deal with Medicare and Medicaid.

Does THIS Explain 'Republican Math'?

Clearly, odd malformations and bulging distortions of the amygdala are associated with certain fears, phobias and paranoias seen in conservatives, which I've written about here.

I've used the phrase 'Republican Math' which, like revisionist history, occurs where the Right pretty much makes up numbers, rather than representing accurate accounting or projections or most common, objective economic figures. 

Until I read this, I had assumed it was simple intellectual dishonesty, rather than incompetence.  Now I'm less sure.  Perhaps the University College London needs to see if there is a political component to this brain difference the way they did with the amygdala, to explain the vagaries and inaccuracies of 'Republican Math':
Bad at math -- or is it dyscalculia?
Described as the mathematical equivalent of dyslexia, dyscalculia is a little-known disorder that makes it extremely difficult to learn math. While dyslexics struggle with reading and interpreting words and letters, dyscalculics have a hard time with basic arithmetic and understanding the meaning and concepts of numbers.

Although often a forgotten stepchild to its well-known relative dyslexia, dyscalculia affects the same number of people -- an estimated 5% to 7% of the population, suggests new research in the May 27 issue of Science.

Often first discovered by low scores on math achievement tests, both children and adults who suffer from dyscalculia have trouble grasping the size of a number and its relative value.

Unlike dyslexics, however, they don't reverse the order of numbers when reading them. "Typically, dyscalculics don't have problems with the order of symbols, but anything with numbers could cause anxiety or even panic," says Brian Butterworth, an emeritus professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London, and lead author of the Science review article.

While many people think they're bad at math or don't have a head for numbers, dyscalculics are slower and less accurate at estimating the number of sets of objects and selecting the larger of two numbers, explains Butterworth.

For example, if dyscalculics were shown two playing cards a 5 and an 8, and asked to say which card was larger, they would count all the symbols on each card. If asked to count down from 10, they would count up from 1 to 10, then 1 to 9, then 1 to 8, etc.

They might use their fingers to count and do simple addition, far beyond the age when it's normally done. And they are challenged by making change and handling money, and estimating the height of a room (they may say 200 feet). They also have trouble with concepts of time, like approximating how long a car trip will take.

Dyscalculia appears to be inherited, and scientists have begun to identify abnormalities in the brain that make learning math such a grind.

Even so, it's important for those affected to realize that "having a serious problem learning arithmetic does not mean you are stupid," says Butterworth.

In fact, the disability can affect people with normal intelligence and normal working memory, or be seen in those with other developmental difficulties, such as dyslexia and ADHD. Some adults with severe dyscalculia can even be very good at geometry and using statistical packages, and capable of doing college-level computer programming. So it doesn't affect all mathematical abilities or skills.

But it can be a lifelong liability if it's misdiagnosed, unrecognized by teachers or not properly treated.

The paper calls for greater attention and funding for the problem, and specialized teaching that strengthens the processing of numbers using concrete materials, such as beads and counters, supported by game-like software for learners.

The important thing is to not go on to more advanced concepts until the basics have been mastered, says Butterworth.
Unfortunately, there is zero chance (for you republicans, that is the round number) of the University College London being persuaded to take this on and deliver results before the REPUBLICAN controlled Minnesota Legislature's intransigence and bad math and worse economic theory sends our state government into shut down.

For those of you who are not clear, this was written somewhat tongue in cheek, as humor (and to indulge my geeky interest in neuroscience). But I am serious in wondering why it is that the Right has been so intellectually dishonest in their ideology-driven rather than factually objective approach to our economy.

When they can be bothered to address it at all, that is, instead of their backwards into the past approach to culture wars. 

I would underline that had the REPUBLICANS dealt with the budget at the beginning of the legislative session, not the end, we would have had ample time to resolve this budget crisis without resorting to a possible shut down or special session.  Had REPUBLICANS been willing to compromise, to examine their ideology objectively - like finding ANY objective factual justification whatsoever for their premise that the tax cuts to the rich or to corporations results in job creation, or objective factual justification for their claims that we should not equally address tax revenue issues, including subsidies and tax expenditures as part of budget balancing and economic / job growth.

The Republicans (and you Tea Partiers as well) showed your utterly flawed priorities in the past legislative session, and your equally flawed values and regard for Minnesota citizens in your choices.

I don't think there is any neuroscience that can explain or excuse that.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bradlee Dean Street Teams Solicited Funds Under False Pretenses from My Friend

There have been recent stories of the Bradlee Dean so-called ministry's 'Street Teams' being kicked out of parking lots at Walmart and other locations, and claims that they operated under false pretenses, using a false name.  It appears to be a major source of their money, money which pays for Dean and his family to be living a life of luxury in a $400,000 home in Annandale and which has subsidized Dean courting religious right politicians like Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty, and Tom Emmer.  Dean has appeared with his colleagues at the 2011 convention, apparently with a table / booth for free, at the invitation of Tony Sutton, chair of the MN GOP.

I'm sorry to say that another friend and blogging mentor, Mitch Berg, right wing radio personality and right wing blogger, has been another staunch supporter of Dean, regardless of how hateful the statements Dean made were.

The Dean home in Annandale listed for sale by local realtors for just under $400,000, on acreage; note the pool; all money that doesn't appear to be spent on kids at risk for drugs or suicide. Well, it appears to be money spent on the Bradlee Dean and his own family kids, but not on kids at risk in schools across Minnesota or anywhere else apparently:

Here is a YouTube video of the advert for the paid street team who Dean sends out to panhandle and  apparently scam for him in the name of religion and helping kids, so he can live it up:

For those who haven't followed the story of Dean, he's also been kicked off of local radio for his incredibly offensive statements, embarrassed the GOP on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives, and for years has been the darling of Minnesota conservatives.  He is the Minnesota equivalent in many respects of the hateful Koran burning Terry Jones in Florida or the equally heinous Fred Phelps of Kansas, except that the Minnesota Right has embraced and supported him far more than either Jones or Phelps were recognized in their home states. Dean is like Jones and Phelps in that he is not formally trained by any recognized seminary, he has effectively no actual regular physical church, he is not part of any formally recognized denomination, and he does not appear to have been ordained so far as I can tell by any credible religious body.  Like Phelps and Jones, he promotes a version of scripture which is not accepted by any well-recognized respected religious body, views which are extreme, and he espouses equally extreme right wing political views.

My friend Sara, (who has supplied many of the ideas and news stories that have been the basis for posts here on Penigma and the other blogs for which I write - most recently, the source of the punt-the-geek game), was solicited by one of the Bradlee Dean street teams at the Murphy USA gas station in Cambridge, MN in April of 2010.  She paid by check, and has shown me her canceled check from the transaction.

I first learned of this in June of 2010, when I saw a Bradlee Dean CD on the dashboard of her van as we were on our way to a dog show together.  I asked her about it, and she told me then of how she was approached and what she was told.  She repeated the story to me again before I wrote this post.

She was told by the street team, people who are simply hired employees rather than members of any church, that the money they were raising was for kids.  When my friend asked what kind of things they did, she was told it was for after-school programs for kids, to keep them out of trouble.  The street teams did not accurately in any way represent the philosophy or the activities of Bradlee Dean or his organization in seeking donations.  In exchange for a $20 donation, she received the CD, which she still has, unopened.  She feels scammed, ripped off, lied to by the street teams Bradlee Dean pays to go out to solicit funds.

At no time did the street team accurately represent the views of the Dean organization.  Had they done so, my friend Sara, (a Religion major from a MN Lutheran College, and therefore rather better equipped than most of us to recognize a sham Christian minister and ministry which makes claims to be like Luther) is adamant that she would not only never have given them a penny, but that she would have vigorously protested their presence to the gas station on the spot.

When I told Sara about Dean's claims of homosexual pedophilia and his other false statements about homosexuality, those positions more than any of his other statements, would have ensured she did not in any way, much less financially, support Dean or his organization with a donation.  As Sara put it, assholes like Dean and his views on being gay are far more likely to result in gay teens being bullied and harrassed, and in leading them to be unnecessarily conflicted about their sexuality; Dean's views are far more likely to contribute to teen suicide than to save anyone from it.

I am encouraging my friend Sara to report her experience to the Minnesota AG Lori Swanson, to the IRS, and possibly other agencies.  Bradlee Dean not only has no place on Minnesota radio stations spouting his inaccuracies and hatred, I believe from what I have read, and from the account of her experience from my friend, that Bradlee Dean should not have a religious tax exempt status with which to scam people into making this kind of donation.

Dean is now off the radio; lets also get him out of the (in my opinion) fake religion biz.

Dean seems part of the cult of personality that exists on the political right, on large and small scale, where individuals so long as they mouth the appropriate dog-whistle themes are able to promote themselves to relative wealth.  I believe for the well being of our state, and our nation, we need to push back against these people who promote lies, who promote hate, and who live off - live very well - by doing so.

Shame on Dean and his organization, and shame on those who support them and encourage them and defend them.  If nothing else, let us all make an effort to ensure they do not avoid the responsiblity of having supported Dean in the past with their glib revisionist history.  Let us all hold them accountable for their support for and alliance with Bradlee Dean.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fact Checking Pawlenty Shows Plenty of Failures, or, WHY Minnesota Wouldn't Vote for Pawlenty If He Was the 2012 Candidate

We wouldn't vote for him (per polls now from the past two years) because we know him.

And, we wouldn't vote for him (or Michele Bachmann) because despite using the word "Truth" a lot, or  more accurately abusing the word Truth, TPaw doesn't have the close personal acquaintance with it that he would like to claim.

Politifact.com has given TPaw only three truth-o-meter ratings - a pants on fire, their worst rating for a lie; a rating of false; a full flop for their flip-flop category, which you can see here.  Hardly auspicious for Mr. Tell-the-Truth.

Factcheck.org has looked at TPaw as well, which you can read in greater detail here.  They have four separate factcheck failures for TPaw where he has failed to tell the truth, one more failure than was found by Politifact.com.  Tsk tsk tsk, TPaw! Shame on you!

But the grand daddy of finding the ways in which TPaw ISN'T a truth-teller comes from the Fact checking done by the AP in his first week of running; they list six fact check failures / LIES, but they do find one claim that he did pass as truthful - not a great track record, 6 lies - 1 truth:

FACT CHECK: Not the whole truth in Pawlenty claims
(AP) – 5 days ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — "Truth" was Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's buzzword Monday when he announced his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. He said he will tell the truth about hard choices facing the nation while others — President Barack Obama notably among them — do not.

A parsing of Pawlenty's opening-day statements shows they were not the whole truth.

Here is a sampling of his claims Monday and how they compare with the facts.
PAWLENTY: "The truth is, people getting paid by the taxpayers shouldn't get a better deal than the taxpayers themselves. That means freezing federal salaries, transitioning federal employee benefits, and downsizing the federal work force as it retires." — Campaign announcement.

THE FACTS: A federal pay freeze is already in effect. Obama proposed and Congress approved a two-year freeze on the pay of federal employees, exempting the armed forces, Congress and federal courts.
PAWLENTY: "ObamaCare is unconstitutional." — USA Today column.
THE FACTS: Obama's health care overhaul might be unconstitutional in Pawlenty's opinion, but it is not in fact unless the Supreme Court says so. Lower court rulings have been split.
PAWLENTY: "Barack Obama has consistently stood for higher taxes." — Campaign announcement.

THE FACTS: Obama's record shows more tax cutting than tax raising. The stimulus plan early in his presidency cut taxes broadly for the middle class and business, and more recently he won a substantial cut in Social Security taxes for a year. He also campaigned in support of extending the Bush-era tax cuts for all except the wealthy, whose taxes he wanted to raise. In office, he accepted a deal from Republicans extending the tax cuts for all. As for tax increases, Obama won congressional approval to raise them on tobacco and tanning salons. The penalty for those who don't buy health insurance, once coverage is mandatory, is a form of taxation.
PAWLENTY: "For decades before I was elected, governors tried and failed to get Minnesota out of the top 10 highest-taxed states in the country. I actually did it." — Campaign announcement.

THE FACTS: Minnesota remains among the 10 worst states in its overall tax climate, according to the Tax Foundation. In its 2011 State Business Tax Climate Index, the anti-tax organization ranks Minnesota 43rd, making it the eighth worst state. The ranking slipped from 41st two years earlier. The index considers corporate, individual, sales, unemployment insurance and property taxes.
PAWLENTY: "I stood up to the teachers unions and established one of the first statewide performance pay systems in the country." — Campaign announcement.

THE FACTS: The system may be statewide, but it is voluntary and most school districts have not joined. Out of the 340 school districts and charter schools in the state, with 830,000 students, 104 districts and charter schools serving 254,592 students are currently enrolled in the performance-pay program.
PAWLENTY: "There's only four governors in the country that got an A grade from the tough-grading Cato Institute for fiscal management. I was one of them." — ABC's "Good Morning America."

THE FACTS: Cato may be a tough grader, but it is hardly objective. The institute holds staunch libertarian views, including a passion for smaller government, and graded governors in 2010 according to their success in cutting taxes and spending. Pawlenty tied for third with Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, behind South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, both Republicans.
PAWLENTY: "I could stand here and tell you that we can solve America's debt crisis and fix our economy without making any tough choices. But we've heard those kinds of empty promises before."

THE FACTS: Although politicians typically talk about the need for hard choices, Pawlenty actually does name several. He proposes to phase out ethanol and corporate subsidies, raise the Social Security retirement age for young workers and restrain cost of living increases for Social Security recipients who are wealthy.
Associated Press writers Brian Bakst in Des Moines, Iowa, and Jim Drinkard in Washington contributed to this report

And then there was his blunder, confusing Iraq and Iran (they're hardly interchangeable). This is Minnesota, and apart from the misstatements of fact which we have come to expect from the right by Michele Bachmann, for the most part we expect a higher level of knowledge from our elected officials. This was like one of those senior moments that were such a problem for John McCain; but he was far older than TPaw. So that's not an excuse. It's also the kind of mistake we expect from popsie Palin, who proves over and over how ill-educated SHE is; but TPaw is supposed to be appealing to the smart part of the base, not the part that wants to dumb down everything (especially science). 

And then we have TPaw called out for his lack of truth telling by former Governor Arne Carlson on the Ed Show on MS NBC. Ed Schultz is from these parts, so it's not like he was unfamiliar with TPaw's track record, but Arne pretty much nailed it to the wall for the rest of the country even more definitively.

TPaw (and for that matter, you too Congresswoman Bachmann) if you can't carry your home state where we know you, you can't win the general election nationwide. It doesn't matter how many interviews you do, how many stages you stand on, or how much money you raise. You can't win.

But please, by all means run; it provides Saturday Night Live, and dozens of comedians and even more political cartoonists with material to entertain us a whole lot more than you do directly.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Republi-CAN'T's Month of May Losses

May has been anything but merry for the GOP and Tea Partiers.  They've taken a terrible....oh, what is the word I'm looking for.......oh yes, shellacking.  They've had losses; lots and lots of them, with likelihood of many more in the near future.

So how long will it be before the GOP and the Tea Partiers recognize that their policies have been rejected, repudiated....or, in conservative-speak, to use the made-up word of the inarticulate and ill educated Palin, refudiated?

They are consistently losing, and will continue to do so in advance of the state recall elections in 2011, and the local, state, and national elections in 2012.

A few of the recent editorial cartoons that appear to have the pulse of the nation, courtesy of the Yahoo.com editorial comics:

Wishing all of our readers and contributors a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.

Please take time over the next couple of days to remember what it is we are celebrating, the reason for this occasion, which is to commemorate and honor those who died in military service to this country.  It was first celebrated on a wide scale in 1868, to honor our Civil War dead.  While it is now more generally a holiday where we remember all of our deceased friends and family, please do take a special moment to remember those who made the sacrifice from the Civil War, and all subsequent conflicts.

I know I will be taking a moment to pay my respects honoring a family member from the Minnesota artillery regiment, the First Minnesota, a unit which took the heaviest losses of any federal regiment at the First Battle of Bull Run.  They were in some of the heaviest losses at Antietam and at Gettysburg. Killed in battle from the First Minnesota were 10 officers, and 177 enlisted men; 2 more officers and another 97 enlisted men died of their injuries or illness.

There is a monument to the First Minnesota at  Gettysburg National Battlefield Park which bears this inscription:

On the afternoon of July 2, 1863 Sickles' Third Corps, having advanced from this line to the Emmitsburg Road, eight companies of the First Minnesota Regiment, numbering 262 men were sent to this place to support a battery upon Sickles repulse.

1st Minnesota Monument, Gettysburg Battlefield National Park
As his men were passing here in confused retreat, two Confederate brigades in pursuit were crossing the swale. To gain time to bring up the reserves & save this position, Gen Hancock in person ordered the eight companies to charge the rapidly advancing enemy.

The order was instantly repeated by Col Wm Colvill. And the charge as instantly made down the slope at full speed through the concentrated fire of the two brigades breaking with the bayonet the enemy's front line as it was crossing the small brook in the low ground there the remnant of the eight companies, nearly surrounded by the enemy held its entire force at bay for a considerable time & till it retired on the approach of the reserve the charge successfully accomplished its object. It saved this position & probably the battlefield. The loss of the eight companies in the charge was 215 killed & wounded. More than 83% percent. 47 men were still in line & no man missing. In self sacrificing desperate valor this charge has no parallel in any war. Among the severely wounded were Col Wm Colvill, Lt Col Chas P Adams & Maj Mark W. Downie. Among the killed Capt Joseph Periam, Capt Louis Muller & Lt Waldo Farrar. The next day the regiment participated in repelling Pickett's charge losing 17 more men killed & wounded.
I will both honor those who were so courageous in defense of the Union, and regard with the greatest contempt and offense those who, like Governor Perry of Texas now taling of running for the office of President in 2012, still propose to risk another civil war with modern day boasts about secession.  It is all too true that those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.  This seems to be far too true of some of our current Tea Partiers and others, including some of the further extreme of center on the right, who embrace a false version of the facts of history.

Anyone who advocates for secession disrespects the sacrifice of soldiers that we commemorate on Memorial Day.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Pen!

Monday is Memorial Day; it will also mark the 2nd Anniversary of my joining Penigma.

Because I do not wish to compete with the far more important occasion on Monday, I'm going to take a moment today instead to thank my blogging partner for allowing me to join him here.  It's been a great adventure, I've enjoyed myself tremendously.  Most of all I couldn't ask for a better person with whom to write.  Thanks, Pen for your support and encouragement, and most of all for your patience with my faults.

Thank you, my friend and colleague, Penigma, and thank you as well to those who read here for joining us as well.

Let the adventure continue! Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Factcheck.org Busts Congressman Ryan, Including Lyin' Ryan Promoting False 'Mediscare' Claims

Ryan and the Right Continue to LIE about their Plan and Medicare, because they need to; they aren't listening to the people of the United States, they listen only to their big donors, particularly the big insurance companies.

Ryan and the Right is trying to do something bad, something wrong.  They keep saying we 'don't understand their plan'.  We understand it perfectly, and the overwhelming majority of us REJECT their plan. 

Lyin' Ryan and the Republicans, THEY are the ones who don't understand.  But as we have more elections where they lose, they will eventually get the message.  Or it will cease to matter if they understand because they will have been thrown out, beginning with the recall elections in states like Wisconsin and Michigan.
Ryan Revises History on Medicare Reform

May 23, 2011

Rep. Paul Ryan revises history when he says his Medicare plan is "in keeping with the Bill Clinton bipartisan committee" proposal in 1999. Contrary to the impression left by Ryan, the commission's final report failed largely along partisan lines. Clinton opposed it, and all four of his appointees voted against it.

It's true, though, that both proposals recommended providing a government subsidy for seniors to buy insurance — that's one of the issues that caused the plan to fail to win final approval. (my emphasis-DG)

Not Clinton's Committee

On "Meet the Press," Ryan called his Medicare plan "sensible" and compared it to the work of a "Bill Clinton bipartisan commission" — referring to a 1999 final draft report issued by the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare.

Ryan, May 22: And the way in which we propose reforming for the next generation, it's in keeping with the Bill Clinton bipartisan commission that — to reform Medicare, it's an idea that's been around for a long time called premium support: guaranteed coverage options for Medicare where the government subsidizes the poor and the sick a whole lot more than the wealthy, and people get to choose.
He's right that both plans recommended "premium support payments" — or government subsidies — to help seniors buy insurance. Under Ryan's plan, future beneficiaries (those currently younger than 55) would use the subsidies to buy private insurance. Under the 1999 plan, seniors would have been able to apply the subsidies toward the traditional government-run Medicare program or buy private insurance. So, to that extent, his plan indeed is in keeping with the 1999 proposal.

But any attempt to cast the 1999 report as bipartisan or suggest it was Clinton's commission is misleading. (emphasis added - DG)

The commission was created by Congress as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. The New York Times reported that Clinton appointed just four of the 17 commission members, and all four of them voted against the report. Clinton himself opposed the final draft report. He issued a statement on the day of the vote that criticized the plan for, among other things, potentially increasing premiums for seniors who remain in the traditional government-run Medicare plan. Why? Clinton and other Democrats feared the subsidies would not keep pace with inflation.

Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat and commission member, voted against the report and criticized it in words that echo today's partisan criticism of Ryan's plan: "The proposal before us would convert Medicare from a universal guarantee to a Government voucher for private insurance."

The commission failed to get the 11 votes it needed to approve the final report. All eight Republican appointees and only two centrist Democrats, chairman John Breaux of Louisiana and Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, voted for it. The report failed by a 10-7 vote.

'Mediscare': A True Bipartisan Plan

Ryan is correct, though, when he blames both parties for engaging in what he called "Mediscare" — which we documented as recently as May 19 in the special House election in New York's 26th congressional district.
Ryan, May 22: Look, of course people are scared of entitlement reform because every time you put entitlement reform out there, the other party uses it as a political weapon against you. Look, both parties have done this to each other.
He proved his point when he engaged in, well, a bit of Mediscare himself.

Ryan repeated a false claim that the Independent Payment Advisory Board created by the new federal health care law will "ration" Medicare to cut costs.

Ryan, May 22: The alternative to this, David, is a rationing scheme, are the 15 bureaucrats the president's going to appoint next year on his panel to ration Medicare spending. We don't think we should give the government the power to ration spending to seniors.
As we have written before, the health care law specifically states that the advisory board “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care.” And the voting board members are doctors, economists and other outside experts, not Washington bureaucrats.

Posted by Eugene Kiely on Monday, May 23, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Filed under The FactCheck Wire · Tagged with medicare, Paul Ryan

Lesons from History

In 1961, a magnificent film was produced staring Spencer Tracey, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark and even a young William Shatner called "Judgement at Nuremburg."

In this film, the decisions by the Germans (and ultimately by Americans concerned with the Soviet menace facing Berlin in 1948), are weighed.

The most poignant and eloquent part of this movie, as with many courtroom dramas, was at the reading of the verdict.

In the reading, the judge (Spencer Tracy), says the following (paraphased/remembered as well as I can)...

"When the hands of our enemies are at our throats, it is easy to say 'save us by any means.' To this I say, 'Save what?!"

A country is not a rock. A country is defined by what it stands for, by what it stands for when standing for something is the hardest. Let it be known that we stand for this, for Justice, for Truth, and for the value of one single human life."

After the reading, a US Army Officer said, "He (the judge), just doesn't understand."

In the end, clearly, it is we who must understand the truth, or like the officer, fail.

In seeking to preserve "liberty", if we sacrifice justice, we keep nothing. I ask you to consider this when you consider whether it's appropriate to strip thousands of the right to vote to "protect us" from supposed voter fraud, whether to "presever" economic liberty, it's right or just to ask the poorest to live with less and less, and whether in the eyes of God, providence or whomever you pray to, whether it is right to deny people the right to counsel and a fair trial. It might "save" us, but is what is left worth saving? It is easy to turn a blind-eye, far harder to stand for something unpopular. Which person will you be?

Governor Dayton Vetoes Voter ID Bill - Well Done Governor! IRRESPONSIBLE, GOP!

From this morning's STrib (5/27/'11)

Following his veto of the Republican Legislature's budget, anti-abortion legislation and his symbolic veto of their marriage constitutional amendment, Gov. Mark Dayton Thursday vetoed their move to require voters to have photo identification when they go to the polls.

"The push to require photo identification in order to vote has been based on the premise that voter fraud is a significant problem in Minnesota. I do not believe that is the case," the DFL governor wrote in his veto letter.
Well said, Governor.  There is NO credible evidence for the premise that we have a SIGNIFICANT voter fraud problem, not in this state, not in other states. There have been plenty of fraudulent attempts by the right to create the impression that there is voter fraud, like the case in Crow Wing County, but they consistently and repeatedly turn out to be false when investigated. CONSISTENTLY. REPEATEDLY.  By significant, I use the word to reference a problem which changes the outcome of elections, or which amounts to a statistically important number.

But the letter, available here and here, references all of the OTHER problems with this legislation which clearly underlines why it was such a bad GOP priority ahead of far more important legislation, like budget and jobs/economy efforts.  It makes it clear why and how the GOP majority FAILED, FAILED UTTERLY the citizens of Minnesota with passing this bill, but not arriving at a workable budget that was actually FAIR to Minnesotans.

A prime example of the failures of the GOP  majority to pass workable, important, LEGAL legislation.  The two paragraphs of the Dayton letter which most struck me were not the one which addresses voter fraud - although the governor was perfectly correct, but the ones about the legality of the law, and the unfunded mandate inherent in it - those damned Republican UNFUNDED mandates that have plagued our country and our state every single time that Republicans have had any power whatsoever:    
"This bill would put Minnesota in violation of the Federal and Military Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE), which requires absentee ballots to be sent to military and overseas voters at least 45 days before each federal election......I cannot sign legislation that does a disservice to military and overseas voters and is so clearly in violation of federal law.
     In addition, this bill is an unfunded mandate on local units of governments at all levels--counties, cities, townships, and school boards.  There is a $23 million dollar cost, documented with a local impact note from the Department of Management and Budget, that has been totally ignored.  At a time when local governments are facing dramatic cuts, adding another mandate without financial assistance is irresponsible.
I would encourage every Penigma reader who has supported a voter ID bill anywhere in this country to read the entire letter, and certainly it would be a good idea for every reader who lives in the state of Minnesota to do so.  We need an accountability in our government; this kind of legislation should result in those who proposed it and those who voted for it being held accountable by being removed from government at the earliest opportunity before they can successfully trash what is best and brightest about Minnesota any more than they already have.  Sadly, that will not be before the next election; perhaps we need a recall option like that in Wisconsin.

Thank you Governor Dayton, and thank God you won the election.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Union Busting Bill Struck Down in WI

Wisconsin Republican legislators are rushing to enact as much of their extremist agenda ahead of recalls as they can manage.  Court cases are likely to hold up some of their progress, but they are undeterred. 

Apparently they don't realize that their conduct is likely to backfire against them in future elections.  Or they just don't care what anyone other than the extremists in their base, and their corporate big money donors want. 

That suggests to me an inherent disregard for the basis of representative government and for the state and U.S. Constitutions.

from this morning's STrib:
Wisconsin judge strikes down union law; state Supreme Court to hear arguments next month

MADISON, Wis. - A Wisconsin judge has struck down a law taking away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most state workers.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi ruled Thursday that Republican legislators violated Wisconsin's open meetings law during the run up to passage. She says that renders the law void.

The law pushed by Gov. Scott Walker takes away all bargaining rights except over base salary for teachers and other public workers.

The decision is not the end of the legal fight. The state Supreme Court has scheduled arguments for June 6 to determine whether it will take the same case.

Lawmakers could also pass the law again in order to nullify open meeting concerns that led to the judge's ruling Thursday.
Will the GOP in either WI or MN learn from the recent election in the New York Congressional District?  Or are they too power mad to think clearly?  I'm guessing the latter, given their habit of overreaching.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The GOP Legislators FAILED their Constituents in Minnesota with FAILED Policies, and FAILEd Priorities

The STrib is running this poll - which I should stress is unoficial, and presented as entertainment.
PollsQuestion of the Day
Who do you blame most for the failure to solve the budget deficit at the State Capitol?

Results of votes % of votes

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton 269                22%
Republican legislative majority 716        59%
Both equally 212                                  17%

Total Votes 1197
Editor's note: Instant polls are intended as entertainment. They are not considered to be true measurements of public opinion.
But I think it does represent something far more serious, which will be addressed by more scientific polls that measure public opinon.  I couldn't do better at addressing HOW the MN GOP legislators failed the citizens of Minnesota than was covered HERE (not how these are about waging conservative culture wars, not at all about our economy or JOBS - the very thing we were promised they WOULD NOT DO):

32 bills MN Republicans worked on instead of the budget (+)

by: The Big E
Tue May 24, 2011 at 17:00:00 PM CDT

The 2011 legislative session was supposed to be strictly about the budget. Republicans did nearly anything but work on the budget. As the last day of the session ground to a halt and GOP legislators sat idly by, I reflected upon what they tried to pass this session instead of the budget.

Obviously, the marriage discrimination constitutional amendment comes to mind. So does the Voter ID constitutional amendment as well as the new stadium for billionaire Vikings owner Zygi Wilf.

But that barely scratches the surface and much of it was totally insane:
Repeal the smoking ban
Eliminate background checks for gun purchases
Designate English as the official language
Bike tax
remove the ban on increasing carbon dioxide emissions by utilities
Ban state funding of abortions
Eliminate 8 state agencies including Depts of Employment & Econ Dev, Health, Human Rights, Labor &  Industry, Revenue, MNDOT, Vet Affairs and the Office of Mgmt & Budget
Further weaken a woman's right to choose with yet another abortion bill
Repeal the Next Generation Energy Act which was signed by Pawlenty
Prevent welfare recipients from having more than $20 cash in their pockets
Prohibit anyone from suing a company if you get fat from their food
Drug testing for welfare recipients
Racist immigration laws
End pay equity for women
A second bill to end pay equity for women
Bail-outs for schools in Republican areas as well as small budget increases yet they dramatically slash budgets for the large cities
Yet another abortion bill, require parental consent for teens to get healthcare
Logging in our state parks
Ban federal funding of family planning
Eliminate Meals on Wheels
Ban human cloning and end life-saving and job creating research in MN
An amendment to Health & Human Services bill to exempt MN from health care reform
Prevent animal welfare activists from filming animal cruelty at factory farms
Ban state payments to nonprofits
Amendment to the HHS bill to use baby monitors instead of nurses
Another abortion bill, this one a gag rule which prevents any organization that receive state funds to council about abortion services
Shoot first, show Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card later bill
MN should print its own money
Make it easier to violate licensing laws
Did I miss anything?
No Big E. You didn't miss a thing.  Every one of these bills is stupid.  Every one of these bills is a step backwards, or is actively harmful to Minnesota and Minnesotans.  None of these bills should ever have been given consideration in 2011 given the nature of the problems facing the state, not the least of which is our budget and deficit, and our unemployment numbers.  None of these bills have merit, much less merit that gave them a priority over other business.

Oh, wait - yes you did miss something - the proposal by the idiot who wanted to pass illegal legislation that would give Roman Catholics a vote in their Dioceses decisions.  Let's try to include all the Conservative Insanity under one heading. 

Other than that, Big E -- well done!  Applause and a standing cyber-ovation from me!

Geek Pride Day

Every once in awhile, we need a break from the unrelenting seriousness of politics and economics.

While I have never worn bottle-bottom thick glasses, or a pocket protector, I am an anabashed, unapologetic lover of the sciences.  I read scientific papers and journals for fun, which makes me a geek of sorts. 

We need to play as well as work; my thanks to my very literate friend Sara for sharing with me something she found in an old folder on her computer, a totally silly game, "Punt the Geek".  You can download it for free here.  Try it, have some fun, and celebrate your own inner geek! 

Just to make sure you don't lose any valuable brain cells, you might want to go read something from a science journal afterwards. 

Or, you could at the very least read this story from the STrib about Geek Pride Day.

Once a year, on May 25, it's hip to be square. Today is Geek Pride Day, celebrating geeks, nerds and whoever else wears thick glasses and a pocket protector.

For all Trekkies, comic collectors and gadget gurus, this day is just for you. Today, the world celebrates Geek Pride Day. (Who knew?)

Geeks, nerds and whoever else wears thick glasses and a pocket protector can publicly boast about their geekiness without being labeled as weird. It happens every May 25, which coincides with the release of the first "Star Wars" movie in 1977.

The day started in 2006 in Spain -- strangely enough -- when 300 geeks showed their pride by creating a human "Pac-Man" game. In 2008, it came to the United States, where bloggers heralded it as a holiday.

Not sure of your geek orientation? Here are some rights and responsibilities, as outlined in Geek Pride Day's manifesto. If they inspire you to put on your favorite "Dungeons and Dragons" cape, then, no question, you're a geek. So take pride and celebrate.
Follow the story link to read the rest at the STrib online.  Play the game.  And if you are not yourself a geek, take a geek to lunch, or at least, say something nice to one.  They're fun, and they're too often neglected and overlooked becaues some of them are also shy or socially awkward, you need to make the first move.  It's worth it.

Happy Geek Pride Day!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

(D) Hochul Defeats (R) Corwin in New York Congressional District 26!

Republicans have over reached; and now, as always happens when the Republicans over reach, they begin to lose elections.  They lose elections even when the spend three to four times more than the Democratic candidate; they lose elections because they have utterly failed policies.


Democrat wins House election on Medicare issue Race was seen as referendum on Republican plan to transform popular program

In a special House election carefully watched by national political strategists, Democrat Kathy Hochul won what had been a Republican seat Tuesday in upstate New York, lifting Democrats’ hopes for the 2012 campaign.

As her campaign’s centerpiece, Hochul attacked changes in the Medicare program proposed by House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan.

“I will fight any plan that tries to decimate Medicare — that is something people in this district feel passionately about and I do as well,” Hochul said in a debate last week with Republican opponent Jane Corwin, who supported the Ryan budget plan.

With about three quarters of the precincts reporting, Hochul had 48 percent and Corwin 42 percent, and The Associated Press called the election for Hochul.

May 23rd Wisconsin GAB Announces It's Official - Three Republicans Will Have Recall Elections July 12th

 From the Government Accountability Board:

The Wisconsin board that oversees elections has rejected most challenges to recall efforts targeting three Republican state senators. The Government Accountability Board's action on Monday clears the way for recall elections on all three on July 12.
The recalls target state Sens. Dan Kapanke of La Crosse, Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac and Luther Olsen of Ripon.
From the Wisconsin site Ballot News:

From the Wisconsin site Ballot News:

Details sparse for May 23 GAB meeting regarding Wisconsin recall signature challenges

 MADISON, Wisconsin: This is the first in what will eventually be a daily installment covering the recall elections in Wisconsin.

The next key hurdle for the recall campaigns are the May 23 and May 31 Wisconsin Government Accountability Board meetings. At these meetings, challenges to the signatures for Sheila Harsdorf (R), Dave Hansen (D), Randy Hopper (R), Dan Kapanke (R) and Luther Olsen (R) will be heard before the six-member board.
Recall papers were first filed in late February and early March for all 16 senators. Petitions were circulated and signatures have been submitted for 9 of the 16 senators. Should the signatures survive the challenges, that would lead to a July 12 date for initial recall elections. However, if ultimately a primary is required for any of the recalls, then that would likely take place on the July 12 date, pushing back the actual recall itself until August 9.
The state has indicated a desire to hold as many recalls in one day as possible, with July 12 being the preferential first date. However, if for example, three of the recalls require primaries but the other six do not, it remains to be seen whether all of the elections will still occur on July 12 or whether the main recalls will be pushed back to coincide with recalls that are having primaries. This is of course assuming that all legal challenges are thrown out and the recalls continue according to schedule, which is still unclear at this point in time.
Between 1913-2010 a total of 20 state legislative recall elections reached the ballot. The 20 recalls took place in five total states: California, Idaho, Michigan, Oregon and Wisconsin. Of the 20 recalls, 13 were of state senators (8 were recalled) and 7 were state representatives (5 were recalled). Thus, 13 out of 20 state senators were recalled by voters since 1913. The sheer fact that there are 9 possible recalls in Wisconsin alone in 2011 indicates the extremely rare and historically relevant nature of the events.

 Also from the Ballot News site about the three REPUBLICAN recall elections:


Randy Hopper is one of six Republicans facing recall. He represents District 18. About 22,500 signatures to recall Hopper were filed on April 7, 2011. On May 9, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board verified 23,127 signatures, 15,269 were necessary to force a recall. Hopper has challenged the petitions. Jessica King (D), an attorney from Oshkosh, announced on April 13 that she would run against Hopper if a recall takes place.


Dan Kapanke is one of six Republicans facing recall. He represents District 32. 22,561 signatures to force a recall election for Kapanke were submitted to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board on April 1, 2011. The signatures submitted to recall Kapanke were the first set of signatures submitted in the overall recall battle. On May 9, the Board validated 21,868 signatures on the petition, a sufficient number for a recall. Kapanke has challenged the petition’s validity. Democratic state Rep. Jennifer Shilling announced she would run against Kapanke if a recall takes place.


Luther Olsen is one of six Republican senators facing recall. He represents District 14. About 24,000 signatures to recall Olsen were filed on April 18, 2011. On May 9, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board verified 22,381 signatures, 14,733 were necessary to force a recall. Olsen has challenged the petitions. Democratic state Rep. Fred Clark announced on April 21 he would run against Olsen if a recall takes place.

The Minnesota Budget Crisis, and the Federal Budget Crisis, What Do They Have In Common?

The Right wrongly repeats ad nauseum the mantra that we don't have a revenue problem.

They claim it about the federal level, and they claim it about Minnesota.

The Right is, no surprise considering their disastrous economic policy results, are consistently and spectacularly WRONG.

Had the Bush tax cuts not been made, government would be in far better shape. 

Without numerous bad choices, including Republican driven changes like the Republican sponsored Republican passed Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which replaced the Democratic driven Glass-Steagall Act of 1932, our economy would be in far better shape.

The Right doesn't want to tell the truth about the effects of what they did in the past, and they don't want to tell you the truth about what their policies will do in the future either.  All they want to do is to benefit their big money donors at the expense of the overwhelming majority of the people in the United States. 

This post was inspired by my something my friend,  Laci the Chinese Crested said yesterday, "Business doesn't care about creating jobs.  Business just cares about making money.", as part of a larger conversation about the pervasive ignorance of economics that occurs in politics.

All that empty talk about caring about future generations is garbage, it is insincere, it is bullshit.  It is trying to put lipstick on their political pig.  They just want to continue the headlong shift of money out of your pockets into the pockets of those already wealthy, while handing you the bill for everything.  Just giving the wealthy money does that and nothing more; it give the already wealthy more money, nothing else whatsoever.

Want to see what will happen to us if our electorate believes the false message from the Right?


The insistence of the Right on doing the same things at the state level in Minnesota that they are trying to do at the federal level is profiled here.  The Right has been inaccurate and dishonest about the impact of their budget proposals on our state.  Giving the wealthy more money, through either tax cuts OR subsidies will DO NOTHING to improve our economy, much less generate job creation.  The wealthy top percent is already holding more money than ever, and have done very little.  Corporations are holding more money than ever, and very few of them are doing what the Republicans claim for that money; giving them  more will not do anything either.

Wisconsin Recount Concluded, with Prosser Declared Winner by the GAB; Kloppenburg May File a Legal Challenge

Waukesha County concluded their recount on Friday, the last county to do so, with the results for that county, and for the entire state election, being certified and announced on Monday May 23, 2011.

Democratic candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg is considering a legal appeal, and has until May 31st to do so.  If Kloppenburg does decide to challenge these results, it would presumably be based on the following problems with the conduct of the election in Waukesha County.  Outside of the votes from Waukesha County, Ms. Kloppenburg held a slight lead over Prosser, both before and after the recount.

Signficant problems with the conduct of the election,  and security of ballots, occurred in Waukesha County. At the annual Wisconsin Women in Government dinner on May 18th, where Kloppenburg introduced the keynote speaker, told WisPolitics.com:
The recount, she said at the annual Wisconsin Women in Government dinner on Tuesday, is a test of our electoral system. “Our elections will be better as a result. People will be more confident that their votes will be properly counted. Clerks will know what to do better than they’ve known before. At a time when we’re having so many elections, it’s really important that our electoral process runs well.”

Kloppenburg said most of the clerks in the state do a good job. “They have learned a lot from this recount. They have uncovered things that need to be fixed, improvements that need to be made, but people can be confident that, in most parts of Wisconsin, elections are run fairly. Waukesha, however, has been one anomaly and irregularity after another —- bags completely open, seals completely torn apart, numbers written over. There are reasons for all those requirements to preserve votes, and those requirements are not being met in Waukesha.”
The irregularities in Waukesha were extensive and systemic.  Unlike Minnesota's recounts which have been highly praised by experts in election law, the Wisconsin recount was not a hand count, where each ballot was examined and those which presented a clear problem were challenged and subsequently went through a review process.   The problems mentioned by Prosser to Wispolitics went beyond open bags of ballots - bags which were kept in the office of the county clerk whose conduct of the election in Waukesha was responsible for the many irregularities while she occupied that office.  That clerk has in the past made an immunity deal to testify against five Republicans who were criminally convicted of misconduct.  There have been problems with electronic balloting equipment, with ballots filled out in pencil, with undervotes, and with absentee ballots, among other concerns.

It was noted elsewhere that the number of balltos which appeared the day after the election results were announced coincidentally was just barely over the number which required candidate Kloppenburg to pay for the requested recount not a mandated state-paid recount, which some observers found suspicious in the context of the many "irregularities and anomolies" unique to Waukesha county. Presumably the basis for such a legal challenge would rest on those failures to comply with the legal requirements for the conduct of an election in Wisconsin.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bradlee Dean, the Right's Jeremiah Wright-style Scandal - the Gift That Keeps On Giving?

Dean appears incapable of learning from his mistakes.  Reverend Wright, far more genuinely a man of god, continued at the prompting of the media to put his foot in his mouth.  Bradlee Dean needs no prompting; he does it all by himself.   He is now complaining about the Speaker of the House, and making even more of the exact kinds of comments that so properly antagonized the legislature and the citizens of Minnesota.

Here is another one of his pronouncements, his 'gifts':
"I feel like Martin Luther innnocenly nailing the 95 thesis on the wall and I'm not even Catholic, I'm a Christian."
Bradlee Dean, I was raised and baptized a Lutheran, from a long line of Lutheran ministers and Lutheran church founders.  Allow me to assure you, you are nothing whatsoever like the historic Martin Luther.  You dirty his name and insult his accomplishments by that reference.  I really doubt you are much of a Christian either if you are making statements like that about Catholics, or any other denomination of Christianity.

Possible WI Voter Fraud by GOP Aide to VOTER ID Author; No Outbreak of Conspiracy Theories?

Is it possible that Republicans are so convinced of voter fraud conspiracies because they're the ones doing it, so they think everyone else is too? 

Is their voter fraud paranoia simply a problem of projection?

The only case that turned up of voter fraud in the highly contested Coleman / Franken senate race in the 2008 recount was a Republican.  Now one may have turned up in Wisconsin in both the 2008 AND the 2010 election, where recall elections and recounts are a problem.  Of course, it is another case where voter ID wouldn't have helped much to prevent this (alleged) serial voter fraud.  What the news story doesn't cover, but I'd like to know, is did this woman who (allegedly) voted this way in both 2008 and 2010 also vote this way in the more recent State Supreme Court election?

My thanks to my friend and former colleague Sarah Jones, over at PoliticusUSA for catching this one from the Wisconsin State Journal:
GOP legislative aide under investigation for voter fraud

A Republican legislative aide is under investigation for possible vote fraud after she cast her ballot in the November election in Onalaska although she lives in Madison.

La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke said he has forwarded the report from the Onalaska Police Department to Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne to see if criminal charges are warranted against Marcie Malszycki, 30, an aide to state Rep. Warren Petryk, R-Eleva.

Records from the Government Accountability Board show Malszycki voted in Onalaska on Nov. 2, 2010, and Nov. 4, 2008, at the same time she had a home in Madison and worked at the state Capitol. Messages left with Malszycki by email, phone and Facebook weren't returned.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Update: Revisionist Republican History, the Whitewash of the Bradlee Dean Prayer Scandal

Revisionist history is when someone rewrites history so that it is less factually accurate, but presents instead an account of history which is a lie by either omission or commission so as to present someone in a more favorable light, or to present the events the way they wished they had happened.

How much Dean has embarrassed the Republican and the rest of the right is measured by the extent to which they have tried to make the whole incident disappear, including from any formal record.  I think this is a good measure of what kind of legs this scandal potentially has.  Perhaps the GOP leadership is unaware of the possibilities of the record of that prayer being on sites like Youtube - or here and on other media.

We have yet another instance of revisionist history in the Republican treatment of the Friday May 20th Bradlee Dean Prayer scandal according to the STrib:
GOP scrubs mention of prayer
Pastor who gave Friday's controversial invocation disappears from the record.
House DFLers are upset that a legislative journal scrubbed mention of the controversial religious leader who gave a divisive prayer before Friday's floor session.
Democrats on Saturday wanted to know why the Journal of the House, the historical record of the day's legislative work, had no mention of pastor Bradlee Dean offering the prayer. Dean had said that Jesus Christ is the "head of the denomination ... as every president up until 2008 has acknowledged."
"I am not trying to make this a difficult thing, but I think it's important to have this civic discussion," said DFL Rep. Terry Morrow, who questioned the omission of Dean's name on the House floor.
Republican Speaker Kurt Zellers, who took the unusual step of publicly apologizing to House members Friday after the prayer, said the omission wasn't out of line because no quorum was present when Dean spoke.
Dean's prayer caused such an uproar that Republicans restarted the session and had the Rev. Grady St. Dennis, the House chaplain, give a new prayer. The official House journal lists St. Dennis as offering the Friday prayer.
Zellers said the Pledge of Allegiance and the prayer are a custom on the House floor, but that they are not technically part of the session. Omitting Dean's name doesn't pollute the accuracy of state records, he said.
"It was my decision, and I stand by my decision," Zellers said.
I question Zellers explanation. 

First of all, there have been plenty of instances where the legislative journal has included accounts of events in the legislature where no quorum was present; that is not a valid or legitimate criteria for scrubbing this embarrassment to the Republicans from the official record.

Secondly, I challenge Zellers claim that a quorum was not present, as roll call was mentioned in accounts of this scandal as having taken place - twice - once before the prayer by Dean, and again before the SECOND prayer, by St. Denis.

Thirdly, if the basis for removing the Bradlee Dean reference from the journal is because it was not part of the session.......why is there a mention of St. Denis offering the prayer, and why has there been other mentions of people offering the prayer?

No, this is one thing and one thing only.  Zellers is trying to expunge a formal reference to actual historic events which he doesn't like.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bradlee Dean - Will He Become Minnesota Presidential Candidates 'Reverend Wright' in the 2012 Presidential Election?

Here is Bradlee Dean giving his objectionable prayer:
"I know this is a non-denominational prayer in this Chamber and it’s not about the Baptists and it’s not about the Catholics alone or the Lutherans or the Wesleyans. Or the Presbyterians the evangelicals or any other denomination but rather the head of the denomination and his name is Jesus. As every President up until 2008 has acknowledged. And we pray it. In Jesus’ name."
Emphasis added - DG.  I object not only to Bradlee Dean mischaracterizing President Obama's faith.  That is consistent with all of the fallacies that Dean preaches.  This man has no clue about the U.S. Constitution either.  I object to him making his prayer about Jesus when there are people who are atheists and people who practice other faiths in the Minnesota Legislature.  Dean would have us be a Christian theocracy, the way Iran is a Muslim theocracy.  He is a man who preaches hatred and calls it love, who preaches ignorance and intolerance and calls it religion.  He is not even an ordained minister of a recognized faith or an actual church.
MNPublius has an excellent list of the close associations and endorsements of Minnesota Republican legislators here:

IN 2009, ....Representative Michele Bachmann delivered a video message to fundraiser attendees: “It a tough job that you do, but someone has to do it.”
IN 2006, Michele Bachmann led a prayer for Bradlee Dean’s anti-gay ministry
  Bachmann: “Lord, I thank you for what you have done with this ministry”
TIM PAWLENTY is listed as a guest on Bradlee Dean’s radio show, along with many other local Republicans and conservatives:  Photo of Tim Pawlenty with Bradlee Dean’s radio co-host, Jake McMillan
It's not just the homophobic statements, totally INACCURATE statements about pedophilia, which will sink them.  It's not really the Islamophobic statements either (those play to far too large a demographic of the Right's base).  In some respects, Dean is Minnesota's version of Florida's not-ordained self-styled Pastor Terry Jones with the non-existant church who burned the Koran.  No, I think "the Pope is the anti-christ" statements will go far further to sink the aspirations of TPaw and Tea Party Queen Bachmann with the majority of the national electorate:
"IN 2007, former Secretary of State and current Representative Mary Kiffmeyer served as master of ceremonies for an event honoring Bradlee Dean’s ministry
•Mary Kiffmeyer: “They’re not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, and their country, to preach it, and using that exercise of their freedom”
•Bradlee Dean at the same event: The Pope is “a devil disguised as a minister of righteousness”
•Dean’s speech also compared the teaching of evolution to the ideology of Hitler
Mary Kiffmeyer is a real piece of work in her own right; she was Secretary of State in Minnesota under TPaw.  It is a tenet of the faith espoused by Michele Bachmann, Wisconsin Synod Lutheran, abbreviated WELS - the faith in which I was raised - that the pope is the antichrist.  Don't take my word for it; it is on their website here:
Scripture does not teach that the Pope is the Antichrist. It teaches that there will be an Antichrist (prophecy). We identify the Antichrist as the Papacy. This is an historical judgment based on Scripture. .... The Joint Doctrinal Committees of the Synodical Conference adopted this statement on October 15, 1958, and reported this to the Lutheran Synodical Conference Convention in 1960. The "Statement on the Antichrist" was adopted by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod at its convention in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1959, without a dissenting vote.
The position of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod goes on for multiple pages. I don't think that is going to play well in a general election.  BOTH TPaw and Bachmann have multiple long-term close political associations with people who support that belief.  The Right was wrong in condemning Wright. I can't wait to watch them wiggle around when that shoe of guilt by association, and support by long term association for controversial views, is on the other foot - one might say, the RIGHT foot - for a change.

Short term, Dean is going to get a lot of attention, which will be interesting as he runs and hides from any interviews which are likely to disagree with him or toss him hard questions.  Long term? I think Dean is pretty well over and done; he has imploded, he just might not know it yet.  The only question is......how many Republicans will he take with him, and how much will he hurt the 2012 presidential aspirations of the candidates from Minnesota.

It couldn't happen to more appropriate individuals.

Friday, May 20, 2011

UPDATE to Wisconsin GAB and the State Supreme Court Recount

photo courtesy of the Bradblog
UPDATE, 5:30 p.m. 5/20/'11
Contrary to the promise on the Wisconsin GAB website this morning that there would be some new information before noon, there has not been.

More than that however, the previous page, linked below in red, which showed the counties which had completed their recount, and the results for each in pdf format has been TAKEN DOWN!

It was anticipated that the one remaining county for which the recount was not yet complete, the county with the major problems and the serious questions about integrity and validity - Waukesha - might be completed either today, or alternatively, Monday at the latest.

The statement on the GAB website which asserted that open bags did not in and of themselves constitute any crime of voter fraud or ballot tampering is also gone.  The bags were stored during the recount in the office actively occupied by the County Clerk who was at the center of the recount controversy, which certainly raised eyebrows for me, given the problems with security during the election and the suspicious manner in which the ballots - precisely the number which would make it necessary for Candidate Kloppenburg to PAY for the recount - mysteriously appeared after the election seemed to be won by Ms. Kloppenburg.

I will be watching for some announcement to be made by the GAB, but if one has not been made by this late hour, I doubt that anything will happen yet tonight, but I will keep watching and waiting for any news.


Stop the Obstructionism - a PSA

This is Godwin Liu, this is not a blatantly unqualified candidate being promoted the way that Bush did with say, Harriet Myers.  This is not a candidate who has the baggage and the questionable qualifications of say, a Clarence Thomas.  This is a bi-partisan supported candidate of impeccable qualifications who has been the subject of a filibuster for absolutely NO other reason than partisan dickishness.  This demonstrates more clearly than ever that the GOP and the Tea Partiers have joined to continue to be the party of NO, not the party of change.  If there was ever a clear cut example of the right being willing to sacrifice the conduct of government to get their own way, in a temper tantrum tantamount to the conduct of a spoiled child, it is this.

While People for the American way can be fairly categorized as left leaning, their statements in the message below appear to be so far as I could tell, absolutely accurate, fair and objective.

Imagine senators of one party filibustering a judicial nominee who has been hailed as one of his generation’s great legal minds by legal experts of both parties and across the ideological spectrum on the grounds that he is *too* qualified.

Well that's exactly what happened today.

In what could be the most egregious example of the GOP’s partisan obstruction of judicial nominations to date, Senate Republicans today blocked Goodwin Liu from receiving an up or down vote. Liu, a law professor and dean at U.C. Berkeley who as a nominee has the American Bar Association’s highest rating, was nominated for a seat on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by President Obama over a year ago, and has since been approved by the Judiciary Committee three times.

Wisconsin Supreme Court May 20, 2011 - Kloppenburg ahead, for now

The Wisconsin GAB lists the current recount totals here (link now inactive), with one county left to finish reporting, the one that has all of the problems with security, and ballot reliability.  The web site promises an update today, Friday May 20, 2011 before noon; and the one remaining county where the recount is dragging on, Waukesha County, is expected to finish earlier than the full extension granted to them, either today or by Monday.  It is of course Waukesha where the missing ballots turned up after the election results were announced.

For the moment, with 71 of 72 counties reporting, Kloppenburg leads with 738,804 to Prosser's 736,775.

We will be watching the web site for any further official updates!

An Open Letter to the Minnesota GOP

Dear Republicans - and Tea Partiers, this means you too.

You have left the important business for which you were elected go too late. 

Your priorities were stupid culture war issues which your constituents overwhelmingly did not elect you to address.

Your proposed solutions fail to accurately define problems, and consistently benefit only a tiny proportion of Minnesotans who are wealthy.

You have utterly failed to address serious economic challenges facing Minnesota, or to come up with a single solution to any problem which is not a hackneyed, failed old solution.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Affinity Scam, Part 7 Gerald Durand and the FBI

After far too long there are new developments in the Affinity Scam which we have profiled here.  I will elaborate on this in updates, as I re-read and process further the FBI Agent affidavit and search warrants from these new developments which I perused overnight.

In that interim, I refer our readers to the excellent latest work by Dan Browning of the Star Tribune.  I personally think Dan deserves a Pulitzer,  for his investigative reporting.  He is fair, accurate, and he has been well ahead of the curve on this story.

Here are the first few paragraphs from Dan: 
Feds target longtime associate of Cook's

It appears that the investigation into Trevor Cook's $194 million international Ponzi scheme is far from over.
A half-dozen federal search warrants unsealed Wednesday in St. Paul reveal that one of Cook's longtime associates has agreed to plead guilty in the case and is working with federal agents zeroing in on Gerald Durand, a Faribault entrepreneur.
Durand was deeply involved in the decision making at Cook's enterprise, court records indicate. The two had done business together since the 1990s, starting out in coins. In February 2008, Durand traveled to Switzerland to investigate a report that Crown Forex SA, which was handling Cook's currency trades, was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and had just $1 million left in its accounts.

Durand abruptly vacated the offices where he and Cook worked in the Van Dusen mansion in Minneapolis in June 2008. Cook pleaded guilty in August and is serving a 25-year sentence in the fraud.

A sworn statement filed Monday by FBI special agent Eileen Rice identifies the associate who is working with authorities as "Cooperating Defendant #1" or "CD#1." It says the associate told law enforcement that Cook agreed to pay Durand $5,000 to $15,000 a month if he would not tell investors about the fraud and if he would not try to poach any of Cook's investors. Payments continued through June 2009.

Durand could not be reached for comment, but he has denied wrongdoing in earlier interviews.

Rice wrote that she's seen evidence that Durand has tried to conceal his assets or involvement with different companies. He transferred ownership of his home into his wife's name during a bankruptcy proceeding, admitting that he was trying to protect it from creditors, she said. He uses a bank account in her name as well.

Bank records cited in the affidavit indicate that Durand may have significantly under reported his income from Cook's currency program.
My best guess so far is that Cook rolled over on his former colleagues, and that Kiley and Beckman who have been playing coy with cooperating with the authorities have let it go too late to make an equally favorable deal. There has been no mention recently about co-defendant Pettengill.

For those who haven't followed the series either here, or with Dan Browning's STrib coverage, Trevor Cook was convicted and sent to jail last year;  and along with Gerald Durand, Chris Pettengill, 'Bo' Beckman, Pat Kiley and others are alleged co-conspirators who are accused of  targeting a number of people, but most particularly conservative Christians, in an Affinity Scam.  The Scam used radio shows which made claims that promised returns which were false, using in part the right wing anti-government fear mongering that we have so often decried here.  The radio shows used both AM stations here in MN, including prominently the Salem Broadcasting network, and short wave radio broadcasts to reach their 'investors', and word of mouth.

As the documents I referred to above indicated, Gerald Durand is accused by the FBI agent in her affidavit of the original Affinity scam and of continuing to promote subsequent investment scams, including over the Salem AM radio stations.   As recently as February 2011 Durand is alleged to still be trying to work with one of those local radio stations.  It appears to be one of the Salem stations previously used to continue with new investment scams, the Patriot 1280 AM, as those were the files identified from Durand which were seized in the search warrant, and an unnamed radio employee met with Durand to do a new show similar to the Strom show.

Apparently, as we surmised, Gerald Durand allegedly was receiving payments from Trevor Cook while using the David Strom show on the Salem station 1280 AM 'the Patriot' to promote these continuing scams; not poaching potential 'investors' from each other was part of their alleged deal right up to when Dan Browning broke the story in June of 2009.  From the documents I read, and from the Browning story, it appears the Scam funds were going directly from Cook to Durand to David Strom and the Patriot 1280 up until June 2009.  We can only hope that for the sake of the investors, the court appointed Receiver will pursue clawbacks of the funds from both Strom and Salem broadcasting.

Our Affinity Scam series deals with  how David Strom continued with Durand and Pettengill funding his show as the details of the Scam emerged, although promoting the show as being funded by a non-profit educational organization, until mid-September of 2009.  Even as we brought the issues that seemed to us to be obvious about the source of the money that Strom was taking to his attention, Strom refused to us to look more closely at his associates Durand and Pettengill.  He continued to take money directly from them while presenting his show as being sponsored by an educational non-profit organization to his listeners, both in a verbal announcement before every show, and on his Patriot station web site.  In 2010, Strom left the radio show to be the Research Director of Tom Emmer's Republican campaign for Governor of Minnesota, despite Strom apparently not researching his own sponsors.  I found that a tremendous irony, and I think it suggests just how little the right concerns itself with safety and integrity, so long as they profit.  And profit they do, from their base, by exploiting and creating their fears and then making money from them..

We can only hope and pray that those who are found criminally responsible for the Scam will go to jail, for a very long long time.  And pray as well that so far as is humanly possible that the investors who lost their money to this scam will be compensated by receiving more of their money back than the few cents on the dollar they've received so far.

Watch for more updates here. Another co-defendant, radio host Pat Kiley, is due in court on Monday.