Monday, April 30, 2012

Shorty in the dock!

MPR photo
It's May Day, but Pat Shortridge is not dancing around a maypole. He's in court, which is the polar opposite of a maypole. He's there, you see, as the executive director of the Minnesota Republican Party to answer for the party's failure to pay rent, well, for a loooooong time.

He's sitting in the Ramsey County courtroom, jammed between other people also in, well, a jam. He doesn't think he ought to be among all these down and outers, but there he is.

He does stick out, so much so that a careworn older black woman next to him leans over and says, "You been here, before, honey?"

"I beg your pardon," says Shorty with a start.

"What's your name, hon?"

"Pat Shortridge, but I . . . "

"Friends call you Shorty?"

"Not to my face."

"All right, Pat." "Ever been here before?" she continues.

"Are you kidding? Me?"

"Ah, a newbie. Sorry for your bad luck."

"Yeah, thanks."

"Can I give you some advice?"

"Well . . . "

"You back on the rent, ain't you?"

"Well, yes."

"Got an 'cuse?" asks the woman.

"Not really. We just don't have the money."

The woman smiles and gives him a conspiratorial wink. She says, "I got one word for you: rats."

"Rats? You have bats, lady, not rats."

The woman pats Pat on the arm and say, "No, listen to me baby. You got rats. That's why you not paying your rent. The place not habitable."

"We don't have rats!" Shorty says irritably.

"Shhhhh!" hisses the woman, "I'm tryin' to help you. You got rats, no judge gonna kick you out for not payin' the rent."

The woman open her large handbag revealing two Ziploc bags, each with a large dead rat in it.

"See," whispers the woman, "I got an extra for you."

Shorty recoils, and then he says, "I can't do that! Even I'm not that desperate."

"You can do it baby," replies the woman.

Just then, the bailiff calls: Hub Properties vs. Minnesota Republican Party!

Shorty flinches, looks at the bailiff; he looks at the woman, and then he reaches into her handbag for one of the Ziplocs. He stands up and walks to the bench.

Update: According to the Twitterverse, the MNGOP got a continuance.

Further update: This imagined dialog is based on a real case, observed but not participated in, by me. A defendant in an unlawful detainer action brought a dead rat in a plastic bag to show the judge that her apartment did have an infestation of rats and that she was justified in withholding rent. Pretty effective, too.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Not Almanac 4-29-2012

This week, Tony Petrangelo, Aaron Klemz, and Steve Timmer talk about the final death throes of the 'right to work' amendment, the denouement of the Minnesota legislative session, the endorsement of Mike Obermueller to take on John Kline, and a new lawsuit against a Minnesota for-profit college chain.

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Listen for the Not Almanac crew doing the news at the bottom of the hour on Matt McNeil's Morning Grind, 6 AM - 8 AM, Monday through Friday.

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He wanted to go out with a bang!

Governor Dayton vetoes Rep. Kriesel's fireworks bill

San Francisco Chronicle
And we're lucky he did, too. Because the last thing you need is the neighborhood idiot firing an aerial bomb through you bedroom window.

The veto angered Kriesel because:

By all accounts, Kriesel won't give it up on Twitter, either. Since he wants to be a truculent juvenile about it, let's discuss it. Rep. Kriesel frames the freedom to shoot off big fireworks, naturally, as a Republican, as a personal freedom issue.

But there are a lot of laws we need because "there are a few idiots who can't be responsible." In the public safety area, maybe most of them.

Yes, most people would discharge their firearms in the city responsibly; it's just a few idiots who ruin it for the rest of us 9 mil owners who just want to plink a few cans now and again.

And indeed, there are people who can drive safely at 50 mph down residential streets. Why should a few idiots who can't limit their freedom?

It's just so unfair.

Returning now to the world of responsible adulthood, Mark Dayton said this in his veto letter:
In his letter on the fireworks bill, Dayton noted that after Minnesota legalized ground-based fireworks such as sparklers and small cones in 2002, injuries have spiked, particularly among young people. Property damage statistics, he said, "showed a similar trend." 
"Expanding the array of legally-available fireworks products, particularly to explosive and aerial varieties, can only be expected to exacerbate these statistics," he said.
In other words, the "few idiots" hurt themselves and others and burn stuff down.

One of the other reasons advanced for the bill is that you can buy the big stuff in Wisconsin. When I used this kind of reasoning with my mother, she always used to say, "I suppose if everybody else jumped off the bridge, you would, too."

By the way, Wisconsin also has a higher and indexed gasoline tax, so we don't exactly follow Wisconsin's lead wherever it goes.

So just let it go, Rep. Kriesel; you'll still get to blow shit up on Guard weekends.

If any of you out there still thinks that Governor Dayton should have signed the bill, raise your three-fingered hand.

Update: Javier Morillo-Alecia reacted strongly to an earlier version of the post because he thought I was referring to Rep. Kriesel's lost legs. I wasn't (it didn't even occur to me), but I was thinking about missing fingers, hands, and eyes from fireworks.

I apologize to anybody who thought the reference was to Rep. Kriesel's lost legs, and I apologize for the thoughtless reference.

But I do not shrink for a moment from the point that Mark Dayton saved unnumbered persons from disabling injury from fireworks that would have been caused by Rep. Kriesel's bill.

Tina made Duane feel bad!

And he's such a delicate flower, too

Posterized lege bio photo
The article referred to in this post is several days old now, but the bill being discussed was recently passed by both of the houses of the legislature, and it's currently sitting on the governor's desk.

The situation is a wonderful example of the junior high debate and theatrics society often referred to as the "Republican-controlled Minnesota House of Representatives."

This bill would require that a woman would have to have two in-office visits with a physician to take the abortion-inducing RU-486: one to get he prescription, and one, apparently, to make sure she puts it in her mouth and not in her ear -- or, heaven forfend, up her nose.

"Simple women's health measure," says Rep. Joyce Peppin, Republican from Rogers, and author of the bill.

Baloney, replies Tina Liebling, DFLer from Rochester. RU-486 is safer than Viagra and Tylenol, and you don't need a doctor present to pop one of those in your mouth. It's just another transparent effort to limit access to a constitutional right. If there were going to be side effects, they would occur long after the woman washed down the pill with a glass of water and left the doctor's office, anyway.

Whereupon, Duane Quam, the Cicero from House District 29A, wherever that is, rises and says comparing RU-486 to Tylenol trivializes his wife's miscarriage.

I'm sorry that happened Duane, I really am, but this is what is called a non sequitur. The issue was whether the RU-486 pill is dangerous and requires extra medical supervision; plainly it does not. Liebling remarks were right on the point: women's health. Yours were wildly disconnected.

But bless your heart Duane; by being honest, you really did give up the game:
"My wife and I lost our first child through a miscarriage early in the pregnancy," Quam said. "Some of us ... believe that each occasion (RU-486 is used), there is a death. That is why I believe this is not a trivial prescription for Tylenol or anything else. That's where I'm voting on this, is from that conviction and belief."

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Shorty: Let's Face the Music and Dance!

Pat, it's a Sin to Tell a Lie*

Pat Shortridge*
According to MinnPost:
The Minnesota Republican Party is preparing for its state convention next month short of cash and bracing for internecine warfare between Ron Paul delegates and long-established activists.
Well, according to everybody, really.

But according to Pat Shortridge, he is darn-near giddy about the RPM's prospects. Of the spectre of the Ronulans banging on the party's door (well, until Tuesday, anyway), Shorty said:
Shortridge said the development is positive. “We are bringing in new people, Tea Party members, libertarians and independents,” he said. “Incorporating new people is never a problem.”
Well, of course, it isn't a problem unless you're Luke Hellier, staffer to Rep. Erik the Bland (and Michael Brodkorb's former custodian at Minnesota Democrats Exposed), who lost a seat on the 3rd Congressional District Executive Committee, a body now fully-occupied by the Ronulans.

Or perhaps no problem for Shorty, until the day after the convention.

* Let's Face the Music and Dance, and It's a Sin to Tell a Lie are both from the musical Pennies from Heaven, the movie starring Steve Martin. That's Martin's photo above, of course, from IMDB.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Early "Paulbots" or "Ronulans"
Since the MNGOP  is currently infected by Paulbots, aided and abetted by people like Kurt Bills and his U.S. Senate campaign co-chair, Keith the Crackpot, it is useful to examine what is behind the gold buggery of Ron Paul and his anointed candidate to serve in the United States Senate, the aforesaid Kurt Bills. You probably didn't know that Ron Paul had a walk-on role in the 1948 film, the Treasure of the Sierra Madre, from which this photo was taken.*

Co-chair Downey says that Bills will bring "Econ 101" to the United State Senate. Yes, indeed, if Downey means Econ 101 as taught in the Islamic caliphate in, say, 696 AD.

The gold fevered (and former coin dealer) Ron Paul has written four books on the return to the gold standard and the disbanding of the Federal Reserve Bank.

I will be as direct as I can: Ron Paul is a quack. So it Kurt Bills. And by championing the candidacy of Kurt Bills -- just like Ron Paul -- you can guess what that makes Keith Downey.

If the United States tried to go back to some kind of gold-backed currency, the result would be a severe diminution in the money supply (some economists believe by about half) and tremendous restriction in the supply of credit to business and individuals, and it would cause massive deflation and depression.

If you think your house is underwater now, just wait until nobody can buy it at any price because they can't get credit and you still owe the debt on the mortgage. We've witnessed just a taste of that in the past couple of years.

Tying the growth of the money supply, and therefore the economy, to the amount of new gold that is mined -- mostly not in the United States -- is absurd and bizzare:
The gold standard was in effect from about the middle of the 19th century to the last quarter of the 20th century (1971). In the late 19th century the growth of the money supply had nothing to do with population or the size of the economy [in other words, it was fixed by how much gold we had lying around]. The resulting deflation was disastrous and led to the free silver movement ("Don’t crucify me on a cross of gold.") The present system can tailor the money supply to the demands of the economy, which the gold standard failed to do.
Bills says that his inspiration for running for the Senate came from his students:

(First question: why would a serious candidate for public office write a fake essay on fake lined paper that makes him look like an eighth grader? I'm surprised that the letter "i" doesn't have a little circle - or maybe a heart - for the dot.)

Maybe it's just me, but I would have answered: don't continue to get into wars that you don't pay for and introduce some progressivity in the tax system.

Now, the avuncular Mr. Bills undoubtedly enjoys scaring the shit out of teenagers by telling them they're doomed. But merely because students beseech Mr. Bills for the answers to the calamity, a calamity that Bills himself conjures, doesn't mean that he's got a clue.

Personally, I suspect that the sackcloth and ashes routine is just the cultivation of a juvenile personality cult.

When I was a teenager, I had a friend whose family, I now suspect, were Birchers. He had the same stories about how the U.S. was on the path to perdition: inflation, debt, famine, privation. This was over forty years ago.

Guess what? We were on the gold standard at the time.

So, kids, don't get buffaloed by Uncle Kurt.

* Ron Paul was not in the movie; he was about thirteen at the time. Robert Blake was in the movie as a youngster; Robert Blake is dead.

Metaphor of the day

Legislators huddle before Senate hearing on Vikings stadium, March 2012. Photo by Aaron Klemz
The Star Tribune reports that taxpayers will be on the hook for stadium operating overruns if the Vikings stadium bill passes. A stadium that has been held up as an example to emulate, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, had to pass additional taxes to pay for operating costs:
Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis opened in 2008 and when the stadium's operating costs quickly exceeded projections, the pressure fell on the Capital Improvement Board, the public body that operates the stadium. "The operating expenses increased because the new venue -- I don't want to say quite doubled the size -- but it was a much larger venue" than the Colts' older stadium, said Dan Huge, the board's chief financial officer. "There was definitely a step up."  
In response to the financial crisis, he said, state lawmakers in Indiana authorized a hotel and motel tax and created a sports development area -- two moves that now generate $11 million a year extra for the operating costs of both the stadium and a nearby convention center.
Cincinnati, another city with a new football stadium, has the same problem. Their solution is even worse:
In Cincinnati, where the NFL's Bengals got a new stadium in 2000, the costs have forced Hamilton County to sell a hospital. Greg Hartmann, the county board president, said the county not only paid for most of the stadium's construction, but also pays for most of its escalating operating costs.  
"I'd love to trade with you," he said, in explaining the county's stadium dilemma. 
What does that say about our priorities as a society? And what does it say about our ideas of "public infrastructure" and "private enterprise" when we'll privatize a public hospital in order to pay the operating costs of a public stadium build for the benefit of a private enterprise?

Our priorities are exactly backwards. Hospitals, not stadia.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Keith: the Crackpot's Co-chair

Just when you thought it was strange enough

Posterized lege bio photo
If you thought it was strange that Keith Downey was supporting the fringe Paulbot Kurt Bills for the U.S. Senate, Downey is in even deeper than that: he's a co-chair of the Bills for Senate Committee:
Rep. Keith Downey, a Co-Chair of the Bills campaign, stated “I was more than happy to join Kurt in his effort to bring Econ 101 to Washington. This diverse group of legislators will be a major force to help Kurt secure the Republican nomination next month in St. Cloud.”
Who's the other co-chair? The site doesn't say. There are a total of three items of news on the "news" page: announcement of the Bills candidacy, the endorsement by Ron Paul, and the identification of supporters in, primarily, the Minnesota House, including Keith Downey.

A trip though Bills' issue page -- which ought to be titled Credo -- is a wing nut's dream. There is no mention, though, of one of Bills' great ideas from last session: make gold and silver coins legal tender and have the State of Minnesota print money.

Imagine, if you will, standing in the express line at Cub behind Keith Downey, whose basket only has a bunch of bananas in it, when he asks the cashier, "You've got change for a Krugerrand, don't you?" Your heart, of course, sinks while the manager comes over to inspect the coin and then calls over the PA for the triple beam balance because it seems a little worn and may be light.

After determining the value of the coin -- in dollars, naturally -- the cashier begins to count out Downey's change. "What's this?" demands Downey.

"Sir, these are American dollars," she replies.

"And lawful money here in the United States," you add helpfully, trying to get out of the store before the milk goes sour.

"I'm not taking that crap!" bellows Downey.

"But sir, it's all we have," says the clerk.

"Then keep your damn bananas," Downey says, snatching up his Krugerrand and storming out of the store.

The clerk shrugs, and looks at you, and then she says, "Same thing happens every week."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dear Professor (and Rep.) Banaian

Posterized lege bio photo
I notice that you are not on the Kurt Bills U.S. senatorial prayer team.

I'll bet this hurts Rep. Bills deeply. I mean, Keith Downey is on the list. How much more of an endorsement do you need?

Is it because Kurt Bills is a complete effing idiot on matters of economics?

Or are there deeper, more personal, issues afoot?

I'd really like to know.

Your friend, Spot

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Can Pat Shortridge actually excommunicate people?

Tractares tuam miseram asinos outta hic!

The MNGOP pontiff believes that he can:
Top state Republicans sent St. Cloud State College Republicans a message: Allow firebrand preacher Bradlee Dean to speak and you may not get Republican jobs in the future. "Sometimes young people need to have better judgment in who they invite to things under the Republican banner," said Minnesota Republican Party chair Pat Shortridge. "If you are going to do dumb things, and not take the advice of the state college Republicans and the state chairman of the Republican party, it might have some consequences."
The quote is from the Strib in an article you can read here. But Dump Bachmann is the source of the excommunication metaphor. And it's apt, too. Cross me, and be cut off from the host.
(You would not believe the stuff you can find doing a Google image search.)

In truth, Pat Shortridge forgets himself. In six months -- nay, a month -- no one will remember or give a tiny rat's ass what Shortridge thinks about this (let's assume he's still the party chair by then). One the other hand, the chance to hear Bradlee loosed before a friendly crowd? Priceless.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Keith the Crackpot

Three cheers for bi-metalism!

Posterized Lege bio photo
Why, you ask, is Downey a crackpot? We won't get in to all the reasons today, but rather pick just one: Kurt Bills. Bills is a freshman representative in the Minnesota House who after one -- now nearly two! -- terms thinks he ought to be a U.S. Senator. And boy, what spooky fun that would be. We'll get into that in a moment.

Downey is on the list of deep thinkers in the Lege who are supporting Bills. It includes the usual suspects: Drazkowski, Franson, Buesgens, Hackbarth, Garofalo, Quam, Wardlow, and Mazorol (Mazorol?), among a star-studded cast of extremists.

Bills is a Ron Paul supporter -- Bills introduced Paul at his recent pilgrimage to Minnesota -- and the support is reciprocal. Paul has stated that Bills should be one of Paul's extremist right hands in the Senate.


Bills has a shot at the nomination because of all of the Ron Paul/Tea Party types who have infiltrated the Republican party. Unseating Amy Klobuchar will be another matter.

This is a post about Keith Downey, not Kurt Bills, at least directly. But you're known by the company you keep.

Harper's - 1896
And here's where it takes a real crackpot turn. Bills wants gold and silver coins as a medium of exchange -- legal tender. But that isn't even the best part. He wants the state to consider printing its own money.

Seriously? That's crazy talk! Come on, you say; nobody wants to do that.

But Kurt Bills does; just read HF 1654 if you don't believe me. Or -- preferably and -- read Aaron Klemz's post here at the Stool entitled More GOP solutions: mint Minnesota money. Here's the theory behind Bills thinking, from the bill itself:

The utter zaniness of both of these ideas -- supported by the guy that Downey champions for the U.S. Senate -- can hardly be understated. House Research did not even do a summary of the bill that it made it into a committee but never emerged.

31 U.S.C. sec. 5103 makes it abundantly clear that only U.S. minted coins and printed currency are legal tender. Not foreign coins, not privately-make ones, and not shavings off your gold ingot.

In order to print money, the state would need a state bank, which it does not have. (North Dakota does, but it doesn't print money or strike coins.) A more serious problem with Bills truly goofball idea to print the true Loony is that it has been prohibited by the U.S. Constitution's Article I Sec.10 since the Constitution's ratification.

It was otherwise under the Articles of Confederation, and it was one of the things that interfered with the creation of a nation and a national economy out of the states.

In the words of Andrew Jackson -- who was talking to South Carolinians at the time (1832) -- Bills stands on the brink of insurrection and treason.

Downey didn't sign on as an author to HF 1654. But it is impossible to believe that Downey is unaware of Bills' peculiar ideas about money. This kind of foolish extremism will find scant support in Edina, where many people understand -- and profit from -- interstate and international commerce.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Not Almanac 4-23-12

This week, Aaron flies solo and talks about the mano y mano battle between Mike Parry and Allen Quist for the GOP CD 1 endorsement, the NFL commissioner’s visit to scold Minnesota for failing to cave to the Vikings fast enough, previews the DFL candidates vying to replace Rep. John Kline in CD2, and Dr. Jennifer Tuder has a guest audio essay about the Guthrie’s lily-white male season.

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Also, the Not Almanac crew is now voicing the news for Matt McNeil's Morning Grind show on AM 950 from 6 AM to 8 AM. Listen for us on the bottom of the hour (6:30 and 7:30.)

Follow us on Twitter @aaronklemz @TonyAngelo @stevetimmer

Let the imprecatory prayer vigil begin!

Keep your head down, Mike
You've probably heard that the CD1 Republicans failed to endorse a candidate yesterday after almost two dozen ballots. The two contestants are the godless Mike "the Tenther" Parry and Allen "the Chosen" Quist.

Really, it's a battle for second place in the First District; it is unimaginable that either one of these dunces will beat Tim Walz. But for some reason, some 250 people take this really seriously. They're going to meet again in a couple of weeks and try to sort it out. (My recommendation to Heather Carlson is to have some kind of family emergency, or maybe need an appendectomy, just before they get back together.)

But if you have a prayer request between now the the re-convened convention, you'll get a busy signal. Because you see, Quist and his backers have God on the speed dial. They have had since Quist got the Republican nomination for governor in 1994 against the sitting Republican governor, Arne Carlson. Carlson went on to crush Quist in the primary.

God moves in mysterious ways.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My favorite whopper!

And the competition is keen

Dave Senjem looked in his rear view mirror last week after saying at the beginning of the session that he wasn't going to do it. And asked about the Brodkorb matter some time ago, he responded by saying it was in lawyer land. Good one, Dave.

But Senjem seems to be sticking his nose in the case now.

After saying on Friday that the lawyer hired by Cal Ludeman was charging between $200 and $300 an hour, he had to amend his remarks to acknowledge that the rate was $330 an hour. Whether he was low balling it or was truly ignorant of the rate, somebody ought to ask Senjem.

But the whopper I am referring to came in the same remarks:
Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said Friday afternoon that he did not know how much her services had cost the Senate. 
“I’m not sure we’ve gotten a bill yet to be honest with you,” Senjem told reporters. “The clock runs. I can’t tell you as I stand here what the odometer is on this one.”
That's Cal's story, too: no bills from the lawyer, and he's sticking to it:
The Star Tribune and other news outlets had formally requested access to any contract or invoices that Nolan had signed with the Senate. Cal Ludeman responded to the newspaper on Wednesday that while the Senate was required to provide the Star Tribune with copies of invoices, “to date, we have not received an invoice(s) from Dayle Nolan or her firm.” Senate officials have said they do not have a contract with Nolan.
The letter from Dayle Nolan to Cal Ludeman outlining her representation was received by Cal on January 5, 2012.

It beggars belief to think that Nolan has not rendered a bill in nearly four months of representation. Her letter says that invoices will be sent monthly (which is a near-universal standard).

But Ludeman is right about one thing: there is no "contract," no written representation agreement, with Nolan. Nobody signed anything on behalf of the Senate.

After being faithful to his promise not to look back for so long, why is it that Senjem is getting involved now? He's certainly no better at telling the truth about what is going on.

One has to wonder if the Senate leadership is beginning the process of culling Cal from the herd. His leadership on the management of the dispute has not been inspiring, and he had a central role in creating the problem in the first place. It also appears that he may be keeping the Senators -- even the ones in his own party -- in the dark.

Update: There is one other thing that should be mentioned; the Hot Dish Politics post includes this paragraph:
Nolan has attended at least six hours of ethics committee hearings related to the Senate’s handling of the affair as well as a more than two-hour hearing over the rejection of Brodkorb’s unemployment insurance claim.
So that must be it right? Eight hours total.

Of course, not exactly. For every hour you see a lawyer in public, she's probably spent a half dozen in preparation, especially for hearings where a presentation is required: legal memoranda writing for any hearing officers or judges and preparation of remarks. There are also the routine discussions with a client regarding strategy and any contacts with the opposing parties, legal research, and investigation.

A diligent lawyer would already have many times eight hours in this file, some of which has almost certainly been billed at the end of the calendar months January, February, and March.

Dave and Cal are surely fibbing when they say they've not received a bill and have no idea what the charges are to date. Even if that were true, it would stand as an indictment of their management of the case.

Really, so much for the party of business.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The little convention that couldn't

Free Picture of Coretta Scott-King at the Democratic National Convention, New York City, 1976. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart
But might be able to after all: see update

The Republican party in SD 49 was originally scheduled to hold its endorsing convention for state Senate and House races on March 24th. Didn't happen.

As the date approached, the Republicans had only one standard bearer [chortle], Keith Downey, who said he would run for reelection to the House on the A side of the district. The Deputy (former Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel, that is) had called it quits, for reasons related to the unmitigated disaster of his management of L'affaire Koch and Brokdorb. And Jerry Mazorol had quit on the B side, reportedly saying that he "just didn't get" the place. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, which showered Mazorol's race with lavish support, has to be miffed.

The convention was rescheduled for tomorrow, April 21st. That ain't gonna happen either.

At least now they have two candidates more-or-less locked it. Downey decided to move to the Senate race and run against DFLer Melissa Franzen, leaving no one on the House side, either A or B. A got filled in this week when Polly Bowles announced she was run against the DFL endorsed candidate, nine term House member, Ron Erhardt. But nobody for the B side to run against Paul Rosenthal.

Polly's policy chops appear to consist of supplying the right answer ("world peace") to the question, "What do you want the most?" at the 1981 Miss Minnesota pageant.

Sadly, since the delegates would be left chanting "We want who?" during the convention hoopla and 49B election, the organizers decided that discretion is the better part of valor, and postponed the endorsements again, this time until May 10th.

This has to feel for the Republicans like having to use two people that you picked eighth and ninth for your sandlot baseball game as your one and two hitters.

Hardly confidence inspiring.

Errata: The Iron Maiden (something like that; boy, she'd be a tough date) called me on spelling 21st as 21th. Thanks for pointing that out, but I do have a lisp when I'm tired. And Polly Bowles is now, well, Polly Bowles, not Polly Peterson.

And now, an Update:

This morning (Saturday the 21st) I got these three tweets from Tom Scheck:

The Son of Brodkorb who was once fancied -- at least by himself -- as a candidate for the senate seat, is apparently now firmly installed as the 49GOP mouthpiece, or maybe twitpiece.

But they have candidates! Hurray!

The convention is still on for the 10th, as far as I know, unless they decide that they can just get together for coffee at Perkins this morning.

Further Update: The photo was a free photograph of a political convention; it had kind of a Republican look to it, so I used it. You can go to the site if you click on the photo.

Is 330 between 200 and 300?

Only if you're a Republican

Posterized lege bio photo
Earlier today, Senate Republican Majority Leader Dave Senjem said that outside counsel hired by Cal Ludeman to try to save Cal's mangy hide was being paid between $200 and $300 per hour for her work, including advising Cal, attending Geoff Michel's eithics hearings, and yesterday, attending the appeal of Michael Brodkorb's denial of unemployment insurance benefits.

Later in the day, we learned that the hourly rate is actually $330, which, I'm sad to report, Dave, is not between $200 and $300.

One of two things is true:

1) Dave Senjem is just as big a prevaricator as the rest of them.

2) Dave Senjem is not in the information loop and it's actually Cal who is running the show.

Take your pick.

Fishing expedition!

That's funny; I thought he was trying to get unemployment!

There was a hearing yesterday which began to address the Minnesota Senate's (or the Republican part of it, anyway) contradictory statements about why Big Cal met Michael Brodkorb in a suburban restaurant and left him face down in the soup course.

"Sigh, we just weren't up to keeping him on; nothing personal," said Cal at the time.

"Bonking the boss; we canned him," said Cal's office later when the unemployment office asked about Brodkorb's application for unemployment compensation.

You will appreciate the inconsistency between those two explanations.

At the hearing yesterday, Michael Brodkorb's lawyer said he wanted to subpoena some people to inquire about the firing, including:
Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, Deputy Senate Majority Leader Julianne Ortman, Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, Senate Secretary Cal Ludeman, Kevin Matzek, Chief of Staff at the Senate, and current Senate staffer Steve Sviggum
Heck, if I'd been preparing the list, I would have put the other two Senators from the infamous presser in December -- Sens. Gerlach and Hann -- on the list, too, and maybe Sen. Robing as well. You have read all the names on Brodkorb's list (and those on my addendum), in news coverage of this story, and many of them have been quoted in that coverage.

Persons with knowledge of the case every one. Unarguably.

Dayle Nolan
But according to Dayle Nolan, the person described as [part] Senate counsel, Greg Walsh, Brodkorb's lawyer, is just on a "fishing expedition."

This what Nolan calls it because she doesn't want the subpoena issued and can't say: these people know nothing about the case. When obviously they do.

It must be remembered that everybody was standing around the hearing room yesterday because of an assertion made by Cal Ludeman's office. It is very unfair now for Cal's lawyer -- because that is what she is, nothing more -- to assert that
Brodkorb cannot use that great engine of truth -- that's what Wigmore called cross examination -- to test that assertion. It would be a denial of due process.

We can understand why Nolan is unhappy about the prospect of, say, a quivering and pasty Geoff Michel or Cal Ludeman in the dock, but it's all part of putting your minions where you mouth is.

The Nolan photo is from the Larkin, Hoffman website.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ring, Ring, Ring


Is this Dayle Nolan?


Good. I saw you at the Capitol and at the recent hearing on the Geoff Michel ethics complaint; I tried to catch up to you and get an update on the Brodkorb case.

Dayle Nolan
Oh, hi, Cal; I didn't recognize your voice!

I'm not Cal Ludeman, but I am a client.

Who is this?

Tom Bakk.

You're the um, um . . . 

Minority Leader in the Minnesota Senate.

That's not who I was thinking.

But that's who I am.

Oh, yes, I remember now; Cal told me not to talk to you.

He did, did he? Did he tell you why?

Not exactly, but he did say that you were a really bad man.

Good old Cal. But enough of the chit chat; tell me what's going on the Brodkorb matter.

Oh, I mustn't!

Who are you representing?

Well, the Minnesota Senate, of course!

And I'm a senator, and Cal is not. Right?


Doesn't it seem a little odd to you that he is telling you not to talk to me?

Could you repeat the question?

Doesn't it seem a little odd to you that he is telling you not to talk to me?

Well, yes, but Cal's the one who sends me money.

If I sent you money, would you talk to me?

Well . . .

Never mind. At the hearing on the ethics complaint, I saw you huddled with Sen. Fischbach, Sen. Ingebritson, and Sen. Michel. Are they your clients?

Yes and no.

They don't send you money, either, do they?


Will you tell me what you told them?

Oh, I mustn't! They are clients after all! I think.

And I am not?

Can I get back to you on that?

I'd rather you just told me now.

Gosh, I feel so conflicted! I'm going to have to call you back! Bye Sen. Bakk!


The Nolan photo is from the Larkin, Hoffman website.

Of course, Karl won't tell you

So it's up to his friends

He hasn't so far, anyway. Karl is the proprietor of Ripple in Stillwater, judged by City Pages as the Best Local Blog.

Thoroughly and richly deserved.

Congratulations from all of us here at the Cucking Stool, Karl.

All you really need to know about Karl's credentials is that Bradlee Dean (whose last name is really Smith, a fact I know because of Karl) tried to call down the law on Karl once. The law was decidedly unimpressed.

Destroying wilderness for the children

Of all of the anti-environmental provisions being floated by this year's Legislature, the most cynical might be the proposal to create "Children's State Forest."

What's that you say? How could creating a State Forest for children be against the environment?

Let me explain.

Going back to the time when Minnesota was surveyed and platted, sections in each township were designated as school sections (usually sections 16 and 36 in Minnesota.) The intent was to provide land and money to establish schools as European settlement expanded across the West. Since the area that is now the Boundary Waters Wilderness and the Superior National Forest was never completely homesteaded and subdivided, state school trust land remains in the wilderness boundaries. Since this land is wilderness, it cannot be developed.

Politicians have long desired to either sell or exchange these in-holdings for other federal land. In Minnesota, the negotiations have been tedious and contentious. Now, a group of pro-mining politicians, including Iron Range DFL'ers and Republican Congressman Chip Cravaack, seek to force a trade of state land in the BWCA for land that sulfide mining companies covet in the Superior National Forest.

This battle is being fought on two fronts. First, Rep. Cravaack announced in December 2011 that he would introduce federal legislation that would require the Forest Service to exchange all 86,000 acres of state land in the Boundary Waters with land outside of the Boundary Waters. This would shrink the Superior National Forest and place that land under state control.

Second, the Minnesota legislature's omnibus environment bill designates the creation of "Children's State Forest." The emphasis here is acquiring land coveted by multinational mining corporations:
Subd. 3. Priority. An exchange of state land under this section shall give priority to exchanges that provide the most opportunity for revenue generation for the permanent school fund, and priority shall be given to lands within the Superior National Forest in the Mesabi Purchase Unit in St. Louis County and in the following townships in St. Louis County:
(1) Township 59 North, Range 14 West;
(2) Township 59 North, Range 13 West;
(3) Township 60 North, Range 13 West; and
(4) Township 60 North, Range 12 West.
These townships are adjacent to two proposed sulfide mining operations - PolyMet's NorthMet project and Teck Cominco's Mesaba project. You've probably heard of the first one, but maybe you haven't heard of the second mine proposal. Here are some maps to orient you:

First, this is the area of "Children's State Forest":

Second, a map of federal parcels that being considered for an exchange:

Third, a map of proposed sulfide mining projects in the area:

There have seemingly been two major players (PolyMet and Twin Metals) at the Capitol working on thwarting environmental protections and preventing legislation that would force sulfide mining companies to put a damage deposit down sufficient for mine clean up. But Teck, a huge multinational mining company, quietly spent $100,000 lobbying the Minnesota Legislature in 2011. In 2002, Teck pushed for a $20 million state loan to develop the Mesaba project. But they scrapped their plans when PolyMet scooped up the old LTV Steel facility that Teck wanted for their processing facility. The spike in Teck's lobbying signals a new interest in developing Mesaba, and the land exchange would be for land right next door.

"Children's State Forest" would be a strange place, a moonscape designated for destruction, exchanged for pristine wilderness land. It would give mining-friendly state agencies and politicians control over the surface and mineral rights for the Mesaba project. It would help develop a mining industry that threaten the environment and water quality of one the greatest wilderness areas in the world. As DFL Rep. David Dill stated:
“That land in the wilderness should belong to the federal government," Dill said. "We should do it in accordance with the constitution, and then we should mine, log, and lease the hell out of that land that we get in the change."
If you had any doubts about the what the plan is for "Children's State Forest," it's right there.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz 

(Images: Top: screen capture from, Middle: section of US Forest Service map of proposed land exchanges, full map available at, Lower: screen capture from Duluth Metals

Keith the Gunslinger

Posterized Lege bio photo
You've probably know about the ALEC conceived "shoot first" bill that passed the Republican-controlled legislature but was vetoed by Governor Dayton: HF1467.

This was a bill and an idea so stupid that even Geoff Michel voted against it. Ron Erhardt, unalterably against conceal and carry when he served in the House, undoubtedly would have voted against it, too.

But Edina's pal Keith Downey (and Pat Mazorol, too) thought it was a keen idea! He voted for it when it was first introduced in 2011; it didn't pass because the bill did not come up in the Senate in the closing days of the session. And he voted for it again this session! Way to keep your eye on the prize, Keith!

Even though he was clearly the aggressor, trailing Trayvon Martin in his car and then getting out of it to follow him after being instructed not to by a 911 dispatcher, George Zimmerman will doubtlessly defend his charge of second degree murder (for shooting an unarmed teenager because he "looked suspicious") based at least in part on a law in Florida similar the bill Downey supported in Minnesota. Indeed, the Minnesota bill was even more expansive than the Florida law.

Tellingly, "justifiable homicides" are up twenty-five percent since states started adopting "shoot first." Since Zimmerman admits killing Martin, if he is acquitted, the homicide he committed will be considered "justifiable."

If Downey had his way, you too could look forward to the day when an Edina teenager was gunned down in cold blood for being in the wrong place and "looking suspicious."

"Shoot first" is a poisonous idea; we can be grateful to Governor Dayton for overruling the man who Would be Senator.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Paynesville Warbler

Hangs tight for the Deputy

Posterized Lege bio photo
Michelle Fischbach can usually be heard barking from the dais in the Minnesota Senate. But she is also the chair of the Senate Ethics Committee, where she is currently holding -- along with Bill "shoot 'em first"  Ingebritson -- foursquare for the proposition that the truth is partisan.

Either that, or Geoff Michel is a Noble Liar.

The Ethics Committee, composed of two Republicans and two DFLers, has had two hearings now, and Fischbach and Ingrebritson are unwilling to find probable cause that Michel violated the ethics rules by lying to the press, deadlocking the committee. The committee is going to meet again (this evening as I write this), but it's a waste of public electricity in the hearing room.

There must be a complicated record that the committee has to sort through, right?


Within the four corners of the complaint, without referring to any testimony, tea leaves, or entrails of owls, the only conclusion that the committee can legitimately reach is that Geoff Michel lied to the press, and therefore to the public, about his knowledge and actions in not only the Koch affair, but its cover up.

We know this, among other reasons, because Geoff Michel admits it in press remarks quoted in the complaint. He lied, he said, to protect Senate staffers; it was part of the burden of leadership. Another transparent lie.

Here was a chance for the Republican caucus to step away from the stench of the whole sordid Koch/Brodkorb/Michel/Haan/Gerlach/Senjem/Robling -- and yes, Ludeman -- affair, to purge itself -- or try to, anyway -- of the taint of scandal.

Nice going, Michelle.

Flip the switch: nuke power back on in Minnesota Senate

Monday, the Minnesota Senate moved to resuscitate last session's bill overturning the moratorium on building new nuclear power plants. SF 4 has languished for over a year, but was one of the signature early initiatives of the 2011 Republican Senate led by majority leader Amy Koch. Fourteen months after the appointment of a conference committee to negotiate differences between House and Senate versions of the bill, Koch moved to take the bill from the table and reappoint new conference committee members.
Image Credit: Avidor

Many things have happened between the initial passage of this bill and its resurrection. The initial conference committee ran into a brick wall, with Governor Dayton insisting on provisions that the conferees were unwilling to insert. Then, the Fukushima disaster cast a pall on the prospects for a revived nuclear industry worldwide. After Fukushima nearly melted down, SF 4 was shut down. Now, it appears that the disgraced Sen. Koch will try to finish what she started as majority leader. 

The Senate conferees needed to be changed since an original member of the conference committee was the late Sen. Linda Scheid. She will be replaced by DFL Senator Ann Rest, who voted for SF 4 last year. Keep in mind that SF 4 originally passed the Senate 50-14, which could overturn a Dayton veto, but only gathered 81 votes in the House. It would need 90 votes to overcome a veto in the House. Having already sacked Ellen Anderson for her demonization of traditional sources of energy, there is no readily available Commissioner to threaten with a confirmation vote. 

It's hard to see how this gets done. But one of the Senate conferees, Sen. Julie Rosen, is also the sponsor of the Vikings stadium bill. Could the two be connected? With the move to bring SF 4 back from the dead, it joins a number of bills that could be used as bargaining chips in end of session negotiations. 

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

Monday, April 16, 2012

Not Almanac 4-16-12

This week, Tony Petrangelo and Aaron Klemz discuss the the re-Occupying controversy and Mayor Rybak, a supposedly revived Vikings stadium, the results of the CD3 and CD6 DFL conventions, and run down the fundraising in the other Minnesota congressional races.

Listen for us on Matt McNeil's Morning Grind show on AM 950 from 6 - 8 AM, Monday through Friday. We voice the news on the bottom of the hour.

Podcast Powered By Podbean

You can also download the episode, listen to older shows, or subscribe via iTunes at this link.

Follow us on Twitter @aaronklemz @TonyAngelo

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The VERY BEST thing about God

You can sic God on anybody!

Avidor - who else could it be?
God is truly the Holy Doberman.

His pal Ernie Leidiger got the tracksuit preacher a gig offering the opening "prayer" in the Minnesota House of Representatives last session, and after Bradlee Dean's artless performance, even Speaker Kurt Zellers called Dean out for the rambling, homophobic ignoramus that he is. Ever since, Dean [Smith] has harbored a grudge against Zellers.

But straight from the lips of God to Bradlee's ear: Zellers is in a war with God, and well, by golly, God will win!

Listen to Bradlee and his sycophant sidekick Jake explain to Kurt just who -- make that Who -- he's dealing with here! One wonders if anybody has explained the concept of imprecatory prayer to these two pustules. Apparently not, because I don't think they've muttered one in Zeller's direction, at least yet. But it's early in the war! No sense bringing out the big gun just yet.

But just remember, boys, when God starts hating the same people you do, chances are excellent that you've made God in your image, and not the other way around!

UPDATE: Readers have seen a lot of Ken Avidor's work here, but there's a lot more at Dump Michele Bachmann, the Frank Vennes Info blog, and Crowded Comics.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Keith the Snoozer

Posterized lege bio photo
Ordinarily, it is a waste of time to pay any attention to the inconsequential remarks of the inconsequential back bencher Keith Downey. One of the genuine tin horns in the Minnesota House, he's a guy who grew up in Edina, with all the benefits that confers, went to public schools and a public university, and yet never misses an opportunity to kick a person when he or she is down.

I know, Keith, it's easier to do it then.

But whether it's kicking poor people off of subsidized health care, bashing teachers (which is amazing and kinda Oedipal, when you think about it), or arbitrarily cutting the number of public employees without the smallest explanation -- or understanding -- of how he arrived at the conclusion or that knows what the right size of government is, other than wanting less of it, Keith Downey can be counted on to stand on the side of puckered self-absorption.

He's also a bigoted gay-hating legend. The complete package, in other words.

Every once in a great while, though, Downey says something that is so hypocritical and stunningly self-unaware that it is funny. Which brings us to his remarks on the occasion of Secretary of State Mark Ritchie announcing his strong opposition to the voter photo ID requirement proposed for amendment to the Minnesota Constitution.

The AP reporter who wrote the story at the link obviously knows the vein to tap when she's looking for nonsense:
"For the secretary of state to be fear-mongering like that to the entire state of Minnesota. That's pretty blatant politics," said Rep. Keith Downey, R-Edina.
Perhaps Downey didn't pay much attention to all the fear mongering that the Republicans did about the fictitious need for a photo ID to prevent all the non-existent voter impersonation fraud.

By golly, he didn't:

Aaron Klemz photo 
Wake up, Keith! You've just made a fool of yourself! Again.

Beard's extortion

Step away from the teachers, or the choo-choo gets it!

Postereized legislative bio photo
That's the word from Michael "Corleone" Beard to Governor Mark Dayton.

Here are Beard's thought on da choo choo hostage holding:
We wud mebbe be ableta trade sum polcee for a liddle more robust bondin' bill. If it 'cluded Sow West, I hafta tink long 'n hard. But I cud see somethin' like dat as possible scenaria.
Okay, I thugged that up a little.

The polcee that Beard has in mind include these items:
He said the initiatives include overhauling teacher tenure, environmental rules and prevailing wage requirements for workers on public projects.
According to the Governor's principal spokester, the Governor isn't interested.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Oh, what a tangled web we weave!

Cal, what were you thinking?

Avidor cartoon
Minnesota Public Radio reports that Michael Brodkorb's initial claim for unemployment compensation was denied.

When you make an unemployment claim and you're eligible (worked long enough, etc.), your claim is approved and allowed, or it's denied. If it's denied, it is for one of two reasons: you quit voluntarily, or you were fired for misconduct. In the present case, the information about the reasons for Brodkorb's departure would have come from Cal's office.

We know Brodkorb didn't quit. He was practically assassinated by Cal Ludeman in a suburban restaurant. So it must have been misconduct. What kind of misconduct?

Michael, did you steal a box of paperclips? 

The smart money -- and even the dumb money --  is on the square marked "fired for an inappropriate relationship." That's why Amy Koch was dethroned last December from her position as Senate Majority Leader (and it has been revealed since then that Brodkorb was, in fact, her paramour), an act that being explained in a press conference at the same time that Cal was firing Brodkorb.

Posterized MPR photograph
Thinking these two events were unrelated strained credulity at the time. That's what Cal said, however:
Cal Ludeman, secretary of the Senate, told MPR News earlier this week that the Senate Republican leadership team's reasons for recommending Brodkorb be fired did not have to do with an inappropriate relationship with Koch. Ludeman said Brodkorb was an at-will employee who reported directly to Koch. He said the will [emphasis added] was no longer there to keep Brodkorb on staff when Koch stepped down. Senate employees are at-will employees meaning they could be fired at any time, without any warning for nearly any reason.
It was bullshit then, and it's bullshit now.

Cal and the rest of the Republican Senate leadership -- note that the current Majority Leader is sitting next to the "acting" Majority Leader, Geoff Michel -- are complete dead ducks as witnesses in any litigation with Brodkorb.

Two different -- and irreconcilable -- accounts have been made about why Brodkorb left the Senate.

By the same people.

Lawyers pray for cross examination material like this. Were you lying then, or are you lying now?

It is remarkable that even people as thick as the current Republican leadership in the Senate would continue to have Cal -- who will be known as the lying farmer from Tracy -- in charge of this case.

Update: Here's a bit from a Hot Dish Politics post this afternoon:
“Over the last few months, representatives of the Minnesota Senate have systematically trampled on the legal rights of privacy afforded to a state employee under the law,” attorney Philip Villaume wrote in a press release Friday. 
The accusation came the same day Minnesota Public Radio broke the news that Brodkorb’s appeal for unemployment benefits had been rejected by the state.Villaume accused Cal Ludeman, secretary of the Senate, of leaking the news of Brodkorb’s appeal to the press.
Cal Ludeman is in a serious conflict of interest position in this case; it is mystifying that he is permitted to continue to manage it.

When approached about the matter, however, Senate spokester Steve Sviggum said, "What conflict?"

Okay, I made that last part up.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How are the Easter Bunny and the Invisible Hand alike?

Neither one exists!

UpdateBe sure to read Richard A. Levine making the same point. Um, better.

Before we get into that though, here's my hymn to the Invisible Hand, written in 2006, sung to the tune of Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise:
Immortal, Invisible Hand only wise,
Be careful, however, it’ll poke out your eyes.
Its origin Scottish, a myth from the moors,
It mostly appeals to the pikers and the boors.
Unthinking, uncaring, and cold as a fish,
Nor gen’rous, nor sharing, a total knish.
Its logic, all simple, its surface appeal,
Will make some scrubs think that it’s the real deal.
All laud they would render; O dear sweaty Hand,
E'en as You turn earth 'to a No Man’s Land.
The Hand gives a dope slap as it bids us goodbye,
Then gives us the Finger, and a poke in the eye.
Here's Joseph Stiglitz in 2003:
This year's Nobel Prize celebrates a critique of simplistic market economics, just as last year's award (of which I was one of the three winners) did. Last year's laureates emphasised [the column by Stiglitz is in a British newspaper] that different market participants have different (and imperfect) information, and these asymmetries in information have a profound impact on how an economy functions. 
In particular, last year's laureates implied that markets were not, in general, efficient; that there was an important role for government to play. Adam Smith's invisible hand - the idea that free markets lead to efficiency as if guided by unseen forces - is invisible, at least in part, because it is not there. [emphasis added]
Prof. & Rep. Banaian
Those of you who have taken any course in basic economics were undoubtedly told the very first day that humans are rational economic actors. If you went to St. Cloud State, you may have been told that by King Banaian himself.

The peudo-science of econometrics, of which Banaian is a practitioner, is based on it. But humans aren't especially rational, and as Stiglitz observes, we possess vastly different information in making our economic decisions.

Stiglitz goes on to say in his article that rational expectation analysis obviously contributes a lot to our understanding of the economy, but that it is foolish to rely on it as the sole determinant and regulator of economic behavior.

We've come to some pretty spectacular grief over free market theology over the years, including recently.
From the Times article that included the photo:
Facing a firing line of questions from Washington lawmakers, Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman once considered the infallible maestro of the financial system, admitted on Thursday that he “made a mistake” in trusting that free markets could regulate themselves without government oversight.
The aforesaid King Banaian had the vapors, of course. He framed the question as one of who should protect the shareholders, the market or the regulators? Completely ignoring that there are other stakeholders: employees, counterparties, and the public.

To King Banaian's shriveled Social Darwinist heart, nobody but the shareholders matter, but we've had four years to survey the wreckage of 2008 and Greenspan and others' misplaced reliance on market forces alone.

This all came back to me recently when I watched an address by Professor (at Columbia) Stiglitz at the Roosevelt Institute. Stiglitz begins at about 8:00 minutes into the video.

But the astonishing thing -- to me, and well, to Thomas Frank, too -- is that fools like Banaian are not only unrepentant; they've doubled down on the bullshit. That, in a nutshell, is the thesis of Frank's recent book, Pity the Billionaire.

Banaian the Lapdog is explained at least in part by his $50 ALEC membership and the access it gives him to periodic bacchanals put on by ALEC's true sugar daddies like the Koch brothers.

But pity the soul than can be bought for a couple of shrimp cocktails and a drink with a paper umbrella in it. For guys like the Draz, it is probably about that simple. But for Banaian, it is almost certainly more: a difficulty in acknowledging that everything you believed about how the world works, and all the theses of the stuffy academic suff you wrote, was utterly, and unalterably, wrong.

(The Rep. Banaian poster was made from his legislative bio photo.)