Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sen. Vacant

I got an email from MoveOn today encouraging me to go to my nearest Senators office and explain to them why they should support health care reform. So far so good, they were even kind enough to point out where exactly the nearest Senators office is to me.

Here's the office closest to you (or at least we hope so; see the P.S. for other options) 

Sen. Vacant Vacant's District Office 
2550 University Ave., West, Suite 100N 
St. Paul, MN

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Maybe Michele Bachmann isn't crazy after all

While the entire left leaning blogosphere has been pointing our fingers and laughing at all the crazy things that Michelle Bachmann says, the Sixth Congressional district representative has been hauling in the dough. Apparently there is a method to her madness. In Q1 Bachmann raised $313,686, a 20% increase over her haul from Q1 '07 and almost 30% more than the next biggest Minnesota fundraiser, Eric Paulson. In fact the three Republican members of the Minnesota delegation collectively raised more money than the five Democratic members.

On the surface this looks like bad news for state Democrats, but there are some caveats, the biggest one being that none of the seats held by Democrats are likely to be competitive in 2010; of the five congressional races that Democrats won last November Tim Walz 62%-33% victory was the closest. So there isn't really any fundraising pressure on any of the Democrats, but for Bachmann and Paulson, both of whom can expect vigorous challenges in 2010, there is a very pressing need for cash now.

In Michelle Bachmann's case:

In addition to her growing national profile, the Republican's fundraising success likely also stems from concern in some quarters that she could be financially vulnerable in 2010.

Her 2008 opponent, El Tinklenberg, had nearly $453,000 on hand at the end of the election and still has $183,503. Tinklenberg gave away significant chunks of his war chest, returning $250,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and much smaller amounts to Minnesota members' PACs and election committees.

Regardless of that, over $300,000 in the first quarter of a non-election year for a two-term member not in any kind of leadership role is an impressive haul. For some context, Bachmann raised more money than Colin Peterson and Jim Oberstar combined, both of whom are chairmen of powerful House committees. Michelle Bachmann, all by herself, raised half as much as the five Democrats combined.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Hill backs Coleman all the way

In an article published yesterday The Hill does its best to assist Senate Republican's push back against the emerging "Norm Coleman is a sore loser" meme. The article consists of eight quotes from GOP Senators in support of Norm Coleman and one quote from a Democratic Senator who, as you can guess, doesn't support Norm Coleman's legal efforts beyond the state level. What sort of gems can be found within such an article?

"I'll back Norm as far as he believes he should go," said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). "He's there on the ground, he's the one with the best information and he's a good and honorable man. It's very hotly contested, very close, and there's a lot of questions."

There certainly are a lot of questions, the FBI just so happens to be asking some of them.

"Norm is somebody I greatly respect, I think he has very good judgment, and he has a great sense of what ought to be done. It's his case and he's in the middle of it," said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). "I know it's not damaging the party because I don't hear that. But I do think Norm is a very sensitive, thoughtful person and whatever Norm is doing I'm sure he believes is exactly the right thing to do and I support that."

As long as it's not damaging the GOP I guess its okay. I mean, who cares about the people of Minnesota who are underrepresented during perhaps the most important legislative session in at least forty years. After all, Norm is a sensitive, thoughtful guy, who would only do the right thing.

"This is about making sure every legal vote is counted, this isn't just about Norm Coleman. This is about protecting the rights of voters," said National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas). "It's to my mind a very noble endeavor and one in which, frankly, I admire his perseverence. [sic] I support getting it right, and if that includes a federal lawsuit, then so be it. I do think there are important legal issues that don't just affect Minnesota, or affect this race. They affect elections all around the country -- a uniform standard to make sure which votes are counted, and which are not."

John Cornyn wants you to forget that he doesn't care one bit about making sure every legal vote is counted and only about preventing Al Franken from being seated. Of course he is not challenged by the reporter with his past comments on the issue.

"Whatever he says," said Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine.). "So much has been committed. He's obviously invested so much in time and commitment and money -- it's staggering -- so I think it's important that either side abide by the final process by which the final decision will be rendered. It would put your mind at peace with the outcome."

This is actually a sensible answer, from the only sensible GOP Senator quoted. She's right; so much has been committed by Norm, not just in terms of time and money, but in terms of his political career. He has committed the future of his political career to this election contest and subsequent appeals. The damage has already been done, so for him to give up now would be stupid.

"They know what to do based on their intimate knowledge of the case," said Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). "I wouldn't presume to give them advice."

I can't tell if this is an attempt at humor or if Senator Kyl is serious. Either way it's funny.

"The question is, 'Should every Minnesotan's vote count?' And there are lots of votes out there that weren't counted, so the process ought to be played out until it's concluded," said Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.). "He should be able to exercise his options... There's a pretty good rationale for taking it to the U.S. Supreme Court."

Anyone who has actually paid attention to the recount and subsequent election contest knows that this is not quite what the question is. The question is "which votes should count?" No one, not even Norm Coleman, is arguing that every vote should count. It doesn't help when the media adds to the confusion by just regurgitating what uninformed Senators have to say. The question is, why does the media continue to come to Norm's defense?

"It seems to me, based on what I know, that (Minnesota) courts haven't fully understood that concept," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). "Therefore this might be a federal constitutional issue, that you're constitutionally required to count ballots by the same standard statewide."

It seems to me, based on what I know, that you don't know shit. The Minnesota courts (Supreme, ECC, canvassing board) understand the concept just fine and have been consistent and mostly unanimous in their rulings. All of these entities are bipartisan in nature, containing members of or appointees of all three major Minnesota political parties. It seems to me they probably have a better understanding of election law than a Senator from Alabama.

"There are very important issues involved -- constitutional issues -- and I have no qualms about saying that if he can, he ought to push it all the way," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). "We're so sick and tired of having one set of rules for Democrats they don't abide by, and then another set of rules for Republicans. The Democrats didn't count the ballots the way they should and they didn't put the protections in that they should. It was the Republicans who were better at counting ballots and doing what was right and following the law. They don't do it on the other side as much."

I'm not even sure what Orrin is saying here and it would be nice if the reporter had asked him what the fuck he's talking about. Something like "What rules are different for Democrats than they are for Republicans?" or "What the fuck are you talking about?"

Instead Orrin was allowed to continue with his train of thought, or train wreck of thought you could say.

"I don't think it's hurting the party. I think we all realize it's so close and there's a lot involved here and I don't think it's hurt the state, either, because it hasn't hurt them either. It's always good to have two senators, but not when one may not be entitled to the position."

It hasn't hurt the state because it hasn't hurt the state. Nice! But you may want to ask your colleague Amy Klobuchar, you know, the lone Senator from the state of Minnesota, if she thinks it hasn't hurt the state seeing as she probably knows a little bit more about it than you do. As you can guess, there is no effort by the reporter to ask for a little bit of clarification as to why exactly the state of Minnesota hasn't been hurt by only having one Senator. We're just supposed to take Orrin's word for it.

Oh yea, I told you there was a quote from a Democrat, here you go.

"We believe the law of Minnesota requires a candidate to be certified after all the state appeals are through, whether someone applies to the federal court or not," said Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

So there you have it, eight quotes from Republican Senators with questionable claims that go unchallenged followed by one quote from a Democratic Senator explaining how the law works. Truly a marvel of political non-reporting. Kudos.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Iowa Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban

From the Des Moines Register:

The Iowa Supreme Court this morning unanimously upheld gays' right to marry.

"The Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution," the justices said in a summary of their decision.

The court rules that gay marriage would be legal in three weeks, starting April 24.

With that Iowa will become the first Midwestern state to allow gay marriage. Or will it?

"The decision made by the Iowa Supreme Court today to allow gay marriage in Iowa is disappointing on many levels," State Senator Paul McKinley, the Republican leader, said in a statement on The Des Moines Register's Web site. "I believe marriage should only be between one man and one woman and I am confident the majority of Iowans want traditional marriage to be legally recognized in this state."

He added: "Though the court has made their decision, I believe every Iowan should have a voice on this matter and that is why the Iowa Legislature should immediately act to pass a Constitutional Amendment that protects traditional marriage, keeps it as a sacred bond only between one man and one woman and gives every Iowan a chance to have their say through a vote of the people."

As I'm sure Senator McKinley is aware an amendment to the Iowan constitution requires both houses of the legislature to pass the amendment in two consecutive general assemblies (two year sessions) and then it must be approved by voters, so no earlier than 2012.

And there's more.

Iowa has no residency requirement for getting a marriage license, which some suggest may mean a flurry of people from other states.

Some suggest? There is no doubt that three weeks from now the Iowa road trip will be a very popular activity for many Minnesotans. And Missourians. And Illinoisans. And even probably some Nebraskans and Kansans.