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August 31, 2006

Patty leads the money race again (for now)

Eric Black has the round-up of Minnesota "pre-primary" fundraising numbers. Patty Wetterling leads Michele Bachmann $800,450 to $666,257 in cash on hand, and outraised Bachmann by about $85,000 for the period of July 1st - August 23rd. However, as articles have pointed out, the Bachmann Victory Committee (Bachmann's other fund) did not have to report, and thus the reported $500,000 take from the Bush fundraiser is not included.

I took a look through Bachmann's donor list, and some names jumped out at me.

Glen Taylor, owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Minnesota Lynx, gave $1,000. His net worth is $1.9 billion, and he's consistently been ranked among the Forbes 400.

Rudy Boschwitz (and a bunch of other Boschwitzes, as well) gave $2,000. Boschwitz is the former Minnesota Republican Senator who lost his seat to Paul Wellstone in 1990. He currently serves on the board of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, an organization with close ties to both Israel and the neoconservative movement. Here is Jason Vest, a writer for The Nation:

Industrious and persistent, they've managed to weave a number of issues--support for national missile defense, opposition to arms control treaties, championing of wasteful weapons systems, arms aid to Turkey and American unilateralism in general--into a hard line, with support for the Israeli right at its core.

On no issue is the JINSA/CSP hard line more evident than in its relentless campaign for war--not just with Iraq, but "total war," as Michael Ledeen, one of the most influential JINSAns in Washington, put it last year. For this crew, "regime change" by any means necessary in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority is an urgent imperative. Anyone who dissents--be it Colin Powell's State Department, the CIA or career military officers--is committing heresy against articles of faith that effectively hold there is no difference between US and Israeli national security interests, and that the only way to assure continued safety and prosperity for both countries is through hegemony in the Middle East--a hegemony achieved with the traditional cold war recipe of feints, force, clientism and covert action.

Vin Weber, a former Minnesota Republican Congressman, and his wife both gave $1,000. Weber is currently an influential lobbyist on K Street with close ties to Tom DeLay.

John Hinderaker--formerly "Hindrocket"-- of the right-wing blog Powerline gave $2100, and his wife gave $400.

Bob Naegele, lead investor and chairman of the Minnesota Wild, and his wife both gave $1,000.

August 30, 2006

Today's Bachmania

Eric Black takes a look at Michele Bachmann's claims to oppose "the central planners, with their philosophy of totalitarianism." Wonder who she meant by that? Does her statement cross the line? You decide. Bachmann v. Wetterling tries to defend her.

Some fellow travelers stopped by Michele Bachmann's performance in a glass-encased radio booth with right-wing talk show host Jason Lewis. Here she is, doing the robot for the voters:

bachmannrobot.jpg

Bachmann took time out from her retro dance routine to lie about her lawyer credentials and advocate for the death penalty. Doesn't she know about Asimov's Laws of Robotics?!

bender.gif

robot_dance.gif

August 29, 2006

Influential pundit upgrades Sixth to "toss-up"; predicts Democrats will control House

Eric Black quotes Stuart Rothenberg's latest Rothenberg Political Report :

“Wetterling, who drew 46% against incumbent Kennedy (in ‘04) initially announced that she couldn’t win this district and therefore would run statewide. But she changed her mind, and Democrats are very optimistic about her chances. The Republican nominee is Bachmann, a personable, high profile conservative who has proven her campaign skills by defeating two incumbents.

“The district is quite Republican (Pres. Bush won it with 57% in 2004), but Wetterling appears to lead in early polling, in part because of her better name recognition. Bachmann has a chance of overtaking her by painting her as too left for district voters, but even GOP operatives are worried about Bachmann’s strongly indeological reputation and her combative quality.

“The question here is which candidate becomes the main issue in the race, Wetterling or Bachmann. A very competitive race that Republicans can’t afford to lose if they have any chance of holding the House.

I don't know what "early polling" he's talking about-- does he have access to polls the rest of us don't? Or is he referring to the polls that came out well before the endorsing convention?

Also significantly, Rothenberg predicts the Democrats will pick up 15-20 seats, enough to win control of Congress.

Interesting side note: David Sirota discusses Stuart Rothenberg and his reputation. If Rothenberg is, as Sirota claims, a "hard-right-wing political pundit," then his prediction that the Dems will win the House is an astonishing admission, and possibly understated.

NRCC exec: Bachmann "in serious danger of losing"

Michele: apparently not everyone "see[s] victory this fall everywhere [they] go."

Hot off the Pioneer Press: "GOP leader says she is worried about Bachmann's chances"


The executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee Tuesday told supporters she is very worried about her candidates' fate this year.

The e-mail featured photographs of four Republican congressional candidates "in serious danger of losing," including a photo of state Sen. Michele Bachmann, who is running for Congress from Minnesota's north and west suburban district. Her opponent in the 6th District is Democrat Patty Wetterling.

"Republican Congressional candidates are facing a desperate situation nationwide. Our candidates in targeted districts are in very serious danger of losing on Election Day. And if we lose those swing districts, the Democrats will undoubtedly win the majority on November 7th," Sally Vastola, NRCC executive director said in an e-mail to supporters today.

The dire e-mail was designed as a pitch for Republicans to contribute campaign cash.

"There are ten short weeks until Election Day and the Democrats have surpassed us in countless ways," Vastola wrote.

Fundraising ploy, or a desperate attempt to lower expectations? Or, even worse, an attempt to cut Bachmann loose?

The NRCC exec quoted in the article, Sally Vastola was involved in some controversy last October when questions were raised about her interesting part-time arrangements with Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY).

August 28, 2006

The Wetterling online machine

I don't know how much help these victories will actually be, but Patty Wetterling has been raking in the cash lately from online voting contests. She previously won a contest run by John Edwards' One America PAC and a "Red to Blue" contest run by the DCCC. She's now won a $5,000 contribution from Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund. Here's what Russ had to say:

"Patty Wetterling is a wonderful addition to our growing list of Progressive Patriots," Feingold said. "Patty has been a tireless advocate for those in need throughout her private life, and that experience will make her a valuable asset in Congress as she continues to stand up for improved educational opportunities, meaningful health care reform, and the working families of the 6th congressional district. I am proud to call her a 'Progressive Patriot.'"

And now, she's been featured again in another DCCC contest called "Candidate for Change." Voting appears to have ended, but the site promises to announce a winner soon. Based on her track record of these online contests, I'd say that Wetterling has a strong chance to pick up another.

Smorgasbord

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. It was a busy weekend. I don't have a really coherent and thoughtful post for tonight; instead, I thought I'd just point out a few random items of interest on the Sixth District front.

To begin... check out the modified Bachmann sign over at Dump Bachmann. Very clever.


-A letter to the editor in the Star Tribune praises Patty Wetterling and her support for sportsmen and conservation efforts:

Wetterling is supportive of sportsmen's agenda

Hunting and fishing have been a way of life in my family. It seems to me that politicians are always claiming to be a friend of the sportsmen without making themselves available to people who want to voice their concerns for the future of our sporting traditions.

That's why I was impressed to see Patty Wetterling spending so much time at the Game Fair in Ramsey, and later found out that she had a booth at the Anoka Gun Show.

It is great to see someone who has been so deeply and personally touched by gun violence reaching out to the voters who care about these issues.

Many politicians will pose in pictures holding a gun and wearing hunting gear, but Patty truly has an interest in conserving our lakes and land, protecting the Second Amendment and honoring the sporting traditions in Minnesota.

I am proud to support Patty Wetterling not just because she supports the rights of sportsmen, but because she continues to fight for American families and will represent us all in Congress.

BILL USHER, HAM LAKE

There are a lot of other blogs out there still doing great work, as always. Recommended:
-Eric Zaetsch looks at the recent revelation that Michele Bachmann does not provide healthcare coverage for her campaign workers, nor does her husband's Christian psychology practice.

Michele Bachmann derides universal healthcare coverage as “socialized medicine? while declining healthcare coverage to “Christian? employees in her “Christian? business.

First bottom line voter question: Is it indecent for a prospering small business to think so little of employees that health coverage is not provided while we lack universal federal health coverage?

The family business of Michele Bachmann (and spouse Marcus) is termed a “Christian? business by the Bachmanns but offers its employees no health benefits. If a health plan were offered employees, net profits to the Bachmanns would be less. They opt to not diminish Bachmann profits that way. Similarly, while flush with cash in DC from local sources Bachmann declines to give campaign staff any medical benefit coverage.

-Across the Great Divide has another great post looking at the apparent disconnect between Michele Bachmann's actions and the president's healthcare plan.

Let's start with the revelation that Bachmann's own Christian counselling business, founded in late 2004, doesn't provide health care benefits to its employees, who strongly incline toward applying Biblical principles to family counseling. One representative sample:
My goal as a Christian therapist is to help clients find hope, healing and freedom in Christ by offering empathy and encouragement in a sage, supportive atmosphere. I seek to combine my passion for God's Word and the practical application of Scriptural principles with my processional training and life experiences in a way that comforts clients with the comfort that I have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:4)

Okay, that's cool. They're disclosing their orientation. They don't, however, disclose their prices so could compare them with the other one in town — which is a basic feature of the consumer-driven health care system Bush and Bachmann espouse.

"I like the idea that people will be more responsive to their health care purchases if they know what the cost and if they believe that they personally will have to pay for those purchases, individuals will make wiser choices and they may decide to forgo a test and they may decide to shop for a doctor that has lower prices.?

-Dump Bachmann features an article by William Prendergast, of the Stillwater Tribune blog, who shows that Michele Bachmann has repeatedly and falsely claimed that legalizing gay marriage would force schools to teach children that homosexuality is OK and "perhaps you should try it."

Post your Sixth District-related news in the comments.

August 23, 2006

"Stand for the Family 2006 Rally": Will Michele Bachmann be there?

In the hard copy of today's Pioneer Press, on page 10A right next to the continuation of the front-page Bush/Bachmann/health-care article, is an ad featuring the smiling mug of everyone's favorite fundamentalist crazy upright moral citizen, Dr. James Dobson. The ad is promoting an event called "Stand for the Family 2006 Rally," which is to take place October 3rd at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Tickets are $7 (only $4 for the kiddies!), according to Ticketmaster.

The ad promises, "FREE to the first 8,000 attendees, copies of the books, Marriage Under Fire and Family Man." These must be the critically-acclaimed best-sellers by Dr. Doom Dobson himself.

James Dobson is the founder of Focus on the Family, a conservative evangelical Christian organization that opposes abortion and homosexuality. His internationally syndicated radio show reaches 200 million people worldwide, and he has been named "America's most influential evangelical leader" by Slate. In that article, Slate names Dobson a "Republican kingmaker":

He's already leveraging his new power. When a thank-you call came from the White House, Dobson issued the staffer a blunt warning that Bush "needs to be more aggressive" about pressing the religious right's pro-life, anti-gay rights agenda, or it would "pay a price in four years." And when the pro-choice Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter made conciliatory noises about appointing moderates to the Supreme Court, Dobson launched a fevered campaign to prevent him from assuming the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which until then he had been expected to inherit. Dobson is now a Republican kingmaker.

Dobson has taken many extreme and controversial stances over the years. In 2005, he led a campaign against popular cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants because the character appeared in a video promoting tolerance of others, including their "sexual identity." According to Dobson, the video was brainwashing kids into thinking homosexuality is OK:

"We see the video as an insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids," [Dobson] said. "It is a classic bait and switch."

It sounds very reminiscent of what Michele Bachmann said about what will happen if gay marriage is legalized:

"Little children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal and natural and perhaps they should try it."

Sen Michele Bachmann, Interview with Jan Markell, Olive Tree Ministries.

Dobson is known for other controversial stances, as well. He believes that homosexuality is "curable," as if it were a disease of some kind. He has written that, although people (except for gays, of course) are free to marry whomever they choose, that interracial couples face "unique pressures" and that they should factor that into their decision to get married. According to those who have worked with him and around him, Dobson subscribes to an extremely patriarchal worldview. The book James Dobson's War on America, written by former Focus on the Family Vice President Gil Alexander-Moegerle and summarized here, exposes the inner workings of Focus and the personal creed of Dr. Dobson. Some interesting quotes:

"With that as background, allow me to turn to one of the most unusual beliefs to which Dobson ascribes, one I believe to be highly relevant to an understanding of the man now leading the religious right. Nazarenes are part of what is called "The Holiness Movement," an approach to Christianity that includes several small denominations and which teaches that, subsequent to the dramatic experience of being born again, an adherent should have yet another dramatic crisis experience on yet another day and time that one remembers forever. This crisis is called "Entire Sanctification" or the "Second Work of Grace," and as a result of it one's ability to sin is eradicated - removed - exorcised by the instantaneous work of the Holy Spirit. James Dobson believes that he has been entirely sanctified, morally perfected, that he does not and cannont sin. Now you know why he and moralists like him make a life of condemning what he believes to be the sins of others. He is perfect." p. 98
"This lack of sensitivity and vision for inclusion, specifically for the value of including women in the workplace decision-making process is, in my view, a significant piece of evidence in evaluating Dobson's sexism. We have here an old-fashioned, male traditionalist who simply believes in masculine leadership, as have men with power throughout history. He overtly advocates male leadership with regard to the Christian family and he functions in exactly the same way with regard to the office, as if he believes there is a divine order in which men are ordained to lead corporations." p. 147

Hmm. Who would Dobson support in the Sixth District race, then? At first glance, Michele Bachmann, because she agrees with his ultraconservative platform... but then, after all, she is a woman.

That Slate article referenced above says that Dobson has threatened to "bring down the GOP" if it fails to adequately promote his radical social agenda. That is where Michele Bachmann fits in. With her hard-right stance on abortion and gay marriage, she would be a strong Dobson ally in Congress. In fact, they are already apparently quite close. The following picture of Dobson and Bachmann is no longer on Bachmann's website, but it can be accessed through the "Wayback Machine" here.

michele_and_james_dobson.jpg

Michele Bachmann also supported a Minneapolis Focus on the Family-sponsored event called Love Won Out. This conference "highlight[ed] the hope and help that is available for those struggling with unwanted homosexuality through the personal testimonies of individuals who have left homosexuality themselves.

“We are so pleased that Minneapolis has invited us back to share again that change is possible for those who are no longer satisfied with their homosexuality,? said Mike Haley, host of the Love Won Out conference, a former homosexual and the author of the book 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality. “In fact, we have been officially welcomed by Minnesota Sen. Michele Bachmann, the author of the state marriage-protection amendment.?

Though her amendment was blocked in the Legislature, Bachmann remains committed to protecting marriage and looks forward to hearing about the causes of same-sex attraction.

“I know that Love Won Out will present the truth about homosexuality,? Bachmann said, “and present it in a compassionate and loving manner. Those of us working to safeguard marriage from redefinition by radical judges must inform our efforts with an understanding of the deep emotional wounds that many in the homosexual community carry. I look forward to welcoming Minnesotans and residents of surrounding states to hear the message of healing that is possible.?

Here is the blurb for the Stand for the Family Rally:

It's time to take a Stand for the Family. Plan to attend this vitally important rally with Dr. James Dobson and special guests-- you'll learn about what's at stake this election and get equipped for the critical issues that will protect the family!

Special guests?!?!?!?! The ad features three other family crusaders: Dr. Ken Hutcherson (a Seattle preacher--aka "Dr. BlackMan"-- not kidding), Tony Perkins (President of Dobson's Family Research Council), and Gary Bauer (former head of the Family Research Council and erstwhile Republican presidential candidate).

Here is a Focus press release about the event. It says:


In collaboration with leading pro-family groups, Focus on the Family Action and Dr. James Dobson are gearing up for the November elections by hosting rallies intended to mobilize Christian voters.

The rallies will kick off in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 20, followed by St. Paul, Minnesota October 3, and Nashville, Tennessee October 16. Brad Miller Public Policy Representative with Focus Action explains the purpose.

“These rallies are designed to educate and to motivate pro-family conservative Christians.?

In addition to musical performances from Christian artists like Phillips, Craig and Dean, rally attendees will hear from an all-star lineup of conservative leaders like Dobson, Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer, Dr. Ken Hutcherson and Dr. Richard Land on the importance of participating at the polls.

“It’s vital that we do that. If we don’t vote, we really can’t complain when things go wry [sic] in our government. It’s our civic duty; it’s our Christian duty to go to the voting booth and to vote our values.?

Will this be another Justice Sunday? Both Tony Perkins and James Dobson spoke at the original Justice Sunday, which railed against "activist judges," decried Democrats as "against people of faith," and proclaimed the need for a "Christian civil rights movement."

I'm wondering... will Michele Bachmann be in attendance at the Stand for the Family Rally on October 3rd?

August 22, 2006

Bush and Bachmann-- and caption contest!

Link those two names in your collective unconscious, Sixth District voters. Here's an image to remember with the word association:

bushbachmannyogurt.JPG

(Hat tip to Karl Bremer. The original pic can be found here.)

Caption contest time!

Any other pictures of the Bush-Bachmann event, send 'em here.

The Washington Post has an article on the health care event, and it contains this about the Bachmann fundraiser:

After his health care event, Bush attended a fundraiser in nearby Wayzata to raise an estimated $425,000 for Minnesota Republicans and state Sen. Michele Bachmann, who is running for an open seat in the House. The event, attracting about 300 people to Jim and Joann Jundt's home on Lake Minnetonka, cost $1,000 a person. Photographs with Bush were going for $5,000.

Sounds good... but who's footing the bill? Contrast what Bush said about healthcare...

How many of you have got insurance and you never really care about the cost because somebody else is paying the bill?" Bush asked rhetorically. "You don't really care about quality because some person in an office somewhere is paying the bill on your behalf."

...with this paragraph from the article...

By pairing an official event with a campaign fundraiser, the White House can reduce the amount of money a political campaign must pay for Bush's attendance. How much a campaign pays for Bush's appearance is determined by a complex formula that calculates how much of the day's travel was political versus official.

So the whole "health care panel" was a farce, set up in order so Minnesota taxpayers can foot more of the bill for Bush's security, shutting down the roads, etc. People experiencing a loooooong rush hour today would probably be glad to know that they're also footing the bill for the President's visit. Suddenly the strategy of having the fundraiser in Wayzata (outside the Sixth) seems to be a good one.

My sources who listened to it tell me that the Bush speech on health care was ridiculously bad. Apparently he's gotten even worse at speaking since becoming President.

August 20, 2006

Bachmann on Iran

Michele Bachmann's comments on Iran, quoted below, are part of Eric Black's recent piece on his "Big Question" blog.

The question was: “If diplomacy should fail to stop Iran’s nuclear program, what should we do??

Bachmann: “I think that at this point diplomacy is our option. And we certainly don’t want to move toward a nuclear response any time soon or without an abundance of caution.

Iran is at a point right now where America has to be very aggressive in our response. We can’t remove any option off the table. And we should not remove the nuclear response.

However, we must proceed with an abundance of caution. Because we know that Iran is very precarious. And I think we should take very seriously the threats coming out of Iran right now. But again, there are other nations including Venezuela that we need to keep our eyes on as well.?

Think Progress has a good round-up of quotes from those who believe a military response in Iran would be disastrous. Many in Washington have conceded that a military response, especially a nuclear response, is already off the table, at least among those thinking seriously and rationally about the U.S. military's capabilities and the ramifications of an attack. (One could debate whether that includes the Bush administration.)

Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska, had this to say:

“I do not expect any kind of military solution on the Iran issue,? Hagel told a news conference. … “I think to further comment on it would be complete speculation, but I would say that a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option,? he added. … “Iran is a complicated issue. I think that a responsible approach to these challenges is to work closely with our friends and allies, in this case Pakistan, with the United Nations, with the IAEA,? he said. “I believe a political settlement will be the answer. Not a military settlement. All these issues will require a political settlement,? Hagel said.

Hmm. Hagel is saying pretty much the same thing as Wetterling: friends and allies, political settlements, the UN. Wetterling didn't state her opinion on a military response

The U.S. government has conducted war games and simulations examining the effect that a military strike on Iran would have. Newsweek reports:

“‘The U.S. capability to make a mess of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is formidable,’ says veteran Mideast analyst Geoffrey Kemp. ‘The question is, what then?’ NEWSWEEK has learned that the CIA and DIA have war-gamed the likely consequences of a U.S. pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. No one liked the outcome. As an Air Force source tells it, ‘The war games were unsuccessful at preventing the conflict from escalating.‘?

And a former Air Force Lt. Colonel had this to say:

Gardiner, a simulations expert at the U.S. Army’s National War College, after leading a “war game? on Iran: “After all this effort, I am left with two simple sentences for policymakers. You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. And you have to make diplomacy work.?

22 former diplomats and military experts have signed the following letter to the Bush administration, urging a diplomatic settlement to the Iran issue.

Words not War, A Statement on Iran, August 2006

As former military leaders and foreign policy officials, we call on the Bush administration to engage immediately in direct talks with the government of Iran without preconditions to help resolve the current crisis in the Middle East and settle differences over the Iranian nuclear program.

We strongly caution against any consideration of the use of military force against Iran. The current crises must be resolved through diplomacy, not military action. An attack on Iran would have disastrous consequences for security in the region and U.S. forces in Iraq, and it would inflame hatred and violence in the Middle East and among Muslims elsewhere.

A strategy of diplomatic engagement with Iran will serve the interests of the U.S. and its allies, and would enhance regional and international security.

Is Michele Bachmann considering a strategy that has already been ruled out by responsible, knowledgable experts and policymakers?

There is conflicting evidence. Think Progress reported that a fellow at the AEI said Bush may take military action against Iran in the next 12-18 months. Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker has reported that the U.S. has been doing covert operations in Iran, scoping possible targets. In April of this year, he wrote:

The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium. [...]

There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.? Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ?

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb? if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,? and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.?

One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.? He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ?

Bush dismissed this report. And in 2004, Bush ruled out military action against Iran, according to MSNBC.

Whether they are seriously planning it or not, it is clear that a military strike against Iran would have serious consequences and may not achieve the desired result of stopping its nuclear program. Patty Wetterling seems to recognize this. Does Michele Bachmann?

I'll quote her again.

We can’t remove any option off the table. And we should not remove the nuclear response.

August 19, 2006

Eric Black on Wetterling-Bachmann

Eric Black has an article in the Star Tribune today, and a post on his blog, "The Big Question," addressing the Sixth District race. Though he states his own opinion in a question, to make it seem as if he's only fishing for input from the audience, his thesis seems to be this:

Wetterling is too incoherent; Bachmann is too extreme

One huge failure of the mainstream media is that it seeks to be even-handed, or, more accurately, "bi-partisan." Sometimes this is good. Though I am a partisan Democrat, I would rather see dedicated, truthful reporting than a liberal/DFL slant on everything I read. In many cases, especially in politics writing, it can be a negative. Most politics writing goes a little like this: some news is uncovered; both major parties (and, sometimes, outside observers or third parties) are given a chance to respond and spin, whether that spin is deserving of reporting or not. In the worst cases, reporters allow one side to blurt an obvious untruth for the sake of "balance." Now, I'm not accusing Eric Black of this last, most egregious pattern, but in both of Black's pieces, he follows the basic motif. He says something bad about Bachmann ("too extreme"), so he has to come up with something bad about Wetterling ("too incoherent").

Bachmann's extremism is on display for all and pretty indisputable. Head over to Dump Bachmann for example after example of her out-of-the-mainstream politics and views. You can agree or disagree with her policy views, but no one should argue that they are far, far to the right of the mainstream political discourse in Minnesota.

But here's what Black says about Wetterling:


Wetterling’s answers to specific issue questions are often so meandering and unspecific that they raise questions about how well-informed she is, on issues other than children’s safety. Feel free to quarrel with the premise. But please bear in mind, the argument I’m making is about the rhetoric moreso than the positions.

OK, Eric. I'll argue with both.

As an example he says illustrates both Michele Bachmann's extremism and Patty Wetterling's incoherency, Black lays out both candidates' views on Iran. I will quote that part of the blog entry in full for easier reference.

Bachmann on Iran Here’s Bachmann, during a May 3 debate with her intra-party endorsement rivals, on what the U.S. should do about Iran:

The question was: “If diplomacy should fail to stop Iran’s nuclear program, what should we do??

Bachmann: “I think that at this point diplomacy is our option. And we certainly don’t want to move toward a nuclear response any time soon or without an abundance of caution.

Iran is at a point right now where America has to be very aggressive in our response. We can’t remove any option off the table. And we should not remove the nuclear response.

However, we must proceed with an abundance of caution. Because we know that Iran is very precarious. And I think we should take very seriously the threats coming out of Iran right now. But again, there are other nations including Venezuela that we need to keep our eyes on as well.?

Just me talking here, but this is an interesting example. Depending on your preferences, you might note that Bachmann endorses diplomacy and caution. And saying that no options should be taken off the table, is almost boilerplate, since few people argue for taking options off tables.

On the other hand, you could notice that, although the question didn’t ask about whether the U.S. should nuke Iran, Bachmann chose to bring it up twice in her answer, to say that it is an option. And then what heck was up with the sudden appearance of Venezuela at the end of her answer?

Wetterling on Iran

Not long after impeachment, good ol’ Gary Eichten asked Wetterling what the U.S. should do about Iran.


Wetterling: “We have to hope. We have to take Iran’s threats seriously. They see a world without Israel and without the United States. We have to aggressively go after them and work diplomatically to try and stop their going forward. I think that it’s part of our not having a strategic plan.

This is an error we made with the Iraq war. We did not engage the support of our allies. And we’ve got to pull everybody together at this point and take it seriously with tough economic sanctions and hope that it makes a difference. Right now, they’re hurting and we can have an impact.?

Eichten: “Anything beyond economic sanctions??

Wetterling: ? Political sanctions. How we all work together. I think the U.N. option has to be given an opportunity to succeed.

We recognize the fact that we are living in a shrinking world and we have to figure out a way to work within this planet. And that’s going to take people, serious efforts of coming to the table.

We all have an interest in making sure that Iran does not go forward with their stated plan.?

Take the bit about working within this shrinking planet. Perhaps to some ears that sounds like Gandhian wisdom. To others, meaningless mush. Who, after all, suggests that the answer is to move Iran to another planet? Who opposes people coming to the table? And, ultimately, what do you do if no one at the table produces a solution?

Take a look at what both candidates really have to say. Of course, these exchanges are just short examples of each candidate's rhetoric and speaking style, but how can you say that Wetterling's position is "meaningless mush" without saying that Bachmann's position is the same? At least, if you are being at all intellectually honest? Both candidates are saying basically the exact same thing: Take Iran seriously, be aggressive, use diplomacy, proceed with caution. Where Wetterling talks of economic sanctions, Bachmann emphasizes the nuclear option (and then goes off about nuking Venezuela.) Neither speaks of specific steps, because that's really not what the interviewer was looking for.

This pattern could also extend to candidates' talk on education. Michele Bachmann's website is extremely vague on education-- two paragraphs of meaningless drivel: "high standards," "educational choices," "parents and guardians," "local control," "understand our students' needs," yada yada yada. Wetterling's is more specific, addressing No Child Left Behind and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act specifically and laying out plans in a section entitled, "What Will I Do?" Of course, for brevity's sake, she is still very general. If she was too specific and wonky, who would go to her website?

I think you have to acknowledge that both candidates, and all candidates in any race anywhere, are guilty of dumbing down their actual priorities into generalities. Michele Bachmann is just as guilty as Patty Wetterling, who is just as guilty as John Binkowski. That's politics, folks. For the sake of balance, Black's pieces did not acknowledge this fact and call Bachmann on her lack of specific detail. Star Tribune's readers deserve better.

Well, I could write more about this, but I'm going to see Snakes on a Plane! I may return a changed person. Head over to The Big Question to comment on this piece. It is a much bigger and more diverse forum than this humble site.

Tag Team

I found this photo in a section of Michele Bachmann's website entitled, "You meet the nicest people at Game Fair."

bachmann-kennedy.jpg

Birds of a feather flock together. Michele Bachmann, it has been shown, has repeatedly claimed to be a "tax litigation attorney," when in fact public information shows she is "not authorized" to practice law in the state of Minnesota. Mark Kennedy, whose seat Bachmann is now trying to win, is also in hot water over repeatedly misrepresenting himself as a Certified Public Accountant. In fact, Kennedy's CPA license is inactive, and he signed the following pledge:

mrkcpa-big.jpg

It says, "I will not use the [CPA] designation in a way that may lead a person to believe that I hold an active certificate in Minnesota" and "I will place the word 'inactive' adjacent to my CPA title."

The only difference in Michele's case is that she did not sign such a pledge, to my knowledge. Her misstatements are still in clear violation of Minnesota statute:

481.02 Unauthorized practice of law

Subdivision 1. Prohibitions. It shall be unlawful for any person [...] except members of the bar of Minnesota admitted and licensed to practice as attorneys at law, [...] by word, sign, letter, or advertisement, to hold out as competent or qualified to give legal advice or counsel, [...]

I guess both Bachmann and Kennedy agree that "sanding off the truth" is good enough for the citizens of the Sixth District.

The Star Tribune, at least, and perhaps other media, have covered Kennedy's CPA misstatements. When will they cover Michele Bachmann's case?

August 17, 2006

Bachmann excited for photo-op with Bush

In contrast with Makeover Mark Kennedy, Michele Bachmann appears to be looking forward to having her photo taken with President Bush next Tuesday, at least according to the Strib:

Michele Bachmann will have no qualms about being photographed with President Bush on Tuesday, when the commander-in-chief headlines her fundraiser in Wayzata.

"We have five children and they are all excited," said Bachmann, the GOP candidate for the U.S. House from Minnesota's Sixth District. "They're all going to have haircuts. ... We're going to get everybody there and just hope everyone smiles and is looking at the camera."

[...]

Although the White House has yet to disclose the president's plans, Bachmann said Bush has agreed to attend her fundraiser at the home of Jim and Joann Jundt. The reception costs $1,000, while a $5,000 donation gets a photograph with Bush.

"I welcome help from the president," Bachmann said. "It is no small honor to have the leader of the free world come and stand by someone like myself and say, 'She needs to be on our team and I want to see her elected to be a member of Congress.' "

Like I said yesterday, Bachmann will be another Bush rubber-stamp. Is that what Sixth District voters want? The most recent SurveyUSA poll (August 11-13) showed a 36% approval rate, against 63% disapproval, for Bush in Minnesota. There is no specific data breakdown for the Sixth District, but one could estimate it is a few points higher owing to the more conservative nature of the district--still dismal numbers heading into the election season.

Here are some previous Bush photo classics. Let's hope there's a few of the same caliber produced next Tuesday.

bush driving.jpg

bush smile.jpg

bush_dogdrop.jpg

bush_door_noexit.jpg

bush_turkey.jpg

So many classics... post yours in the comments. Or, better yet, photoshop Michele Bachmann into one of these.

August 16, 2006

Wetterling named a "Progressive Patriot" by Sen. Russ Feingold

Today I received this e-mail from the DFL:

Last week Patty Wetterling was one of the top two vote-recipients in John Edwards’s online One America Votes contest. Through your efforts, John Edwards will be coming to Minnesota to help raise money for Patty!

Now you can help support Patty again by voting for her in an online Progressive Patriots Fund contest.

The candidate to receive the most votes will receive a $5,000 campaign contribution. So vote for Patty and help send her to Congress this November!

The e-mail quoted a letter from Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, a probable candidate for President in 2008 and one of the most principled and courageous members of the Senate. Here is that letter:

I'm proud to announce that today is the beginning of our next "Pick a Progressive Patriot" event. We're once again featuring great candidates for the House of Representatives who were nominated by you: the grassroots. Now it's up to you to decide whom we should support next. Please vote for your favorite candidate, and whoever receives the most votes will receive a $5,000 contribution to their campaign from the Progressive Patriots Fund.

Vote Now!

It wasn't easy choosing just twelve candidates. You nominated some outstanding people from all fifty states. But these candidates are all running in tough races, and our support can make the difference. As we've seen in recent months, without Democratic control of Congress, we can't hold this President accountable for his actions, so I need you to help me choose who to support in our effort to take back the House.

Vote Now!

If you're not familiar with the candidates in our "Pick a Progressive Patriot" event, you can learn a little more about them by visiting our website. They're all fantastic candidates who I'm proud to support. With the crucial midterm elections just a few short months away, these candidates need your support. Please cast your vote today.

Sincerely,

Russ Feingold

Russ Feingold
United States Senator
Honorary Chair, Progressive Patriots Fund

I especially like what Senator Feingold has to say about accountability. Michele Bachmann will follow in Mark Kennedy's footsteps as a Bush rubber-stamp, and may even outdo Kennedy in the lockstep-voting department. He's now trying to run away from that record of consistently voting over 95% with Bush; something tells me that Bachmann would outdo that impressive record. As long as folks like Kennedy and Bachmann are willing to sacrifice principle and the Constitutional system of checks and balances to party loyalty, the failed domestic and foreign policies of the Bush administration and the Republican leadership will never change. As long as one-party rule continues, Congress will refuse to investigate the misdeeds and mistakes of the Bush administration. Democrats have a golden opportunity to re-take the House. Patty Wetterling is one piece of that puzzle.

Minnesota police association endorses Wetterling

Patty Wetterling has won endorsement from the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association. Here are the organization's stated goals:


Created to fulfill the promise of making law enforcement a recognized profession, the MPPOA’s mission statement is simple, direct and effective.
• To organize into one body all Police and Peace Officers in the State of Minnesota.
• To correlate the activities of several regional Police and Peace Officers Associations around the state.
• To promote efficiency in police work statewide.
• To promote sound development and administration of laws.
• To maintain the highest standards of ethics, integrity, honor and courtesy in the police profession.
• To encourage the sound, practical and thorough training of police officers.
• To promote a spirit of brotherhood among its members and to perpetuate the memory and history of their calling.

Here is what the organization states about their endorsement process for House candidates:

In terms of the United States House and Senate races, endorsements are granted based on the same line of reasoning as the endorsements for the state races. Performance on and voting records for law enforcement issues, accessibility to and willingness to listen are what we consider and discuss when deciding who to endorse and who not to. Candidates for the federal races tend to have a history that we can look at so we know where they stand, and that does help in aiding our decisions.

Though Patty Wetterling has not held elected office, she has been a strong advocate for law enforcement, especially on children's safety issues. Probably the endorsing committee also looked at Michele Bachmann's record; her support of conceal-and-carry was probably a factor in her not winning the endorsement. The MPPOA opposed that legislation, as NPR reported February 11, 2003:

Opponents say the bill would make the state more dangerous because virtually anyone would be able to receive a permit. Bill Gillespie, with the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, says Boudreau's bill would let permit holders carry guns into the Metrodome, stores and other public places. It would also allow people to carry a gun into a school if they were dropping off their child. There are fines for others who carry a gun in a school.

Gillespie says sheriffs and police chiefs currently spend thousands of dollars doing backgound checks on permit applicants. The proposed bill would require local law enforcement to process an application in 15 days. Applicants would pay forty dollars to cover the cost of processing. Gillespie says applicants would automatically have their permit approved if officials don't deny it in the 15-day period.

"Every year there are millions of contacts between citizens and police officers. It only takes an instant, I can tell you from 25 years as a police officer, that it only takes an instant for those things to go to pieces and for that situations to be heightened by a handgun lawfully issued by the state of Minnesota is an awesome responsibility," Gillespie said.

A quick look at the list of endorsees around the state (very balanced between Republican and Democrat) shows that this is a very non-partisan organization. Their endorsement document even states this:

Just so it is clear to everyone, the MPPOA does not endorse based just on political party affiliation. There are MPPOA members out there that just cannot understand how the Board could endorse a member of this party or that party. Folks, it is not about party affiliation for us. As a matter of fact, it might even be a fair statement to say that party affiliation is about the least considered factor of anything when it comes to who we endorse and do not endorse. Endorsements are given based on performance and attitude as pertains to law enforcement issues and not on party affiliation. It would simply be stupid for the MPPOA to endorse anyone based only on the party they belong to. Legislators from all three major parties in Minnesota are champions of and for the membership of the MPPOA, and to turn our backs on them come endorsement time simply because of the party they belong to, would just plain be wrong.

Here are the issues ranked as "most important" to the endorsing committee:

• Wage & benefit reductions to law enforcement • Changes to our PERA Police & Fire plan benefits • POST Board funding formulas • The Public Safety Officers Benefit Act • Primary seatbelt enforcement • Proposals to increase tractor / trailer weight & load limits • Gasoline taxes as pertains to State Patrol funding • Gang Strike Force / Drug Task Force organization & funding • Legislation regarding making false complaints against cops • Legislation regarding lying to cops • Part-time Police Officer licensing • 800mHz / trunked radio system funding • CrimNet • Legislation regarding non-licensed DNR staff writing citations • Meth related legislation • Local Government Aid (LGA) • Sex offenders

No time right now to do the research-- but what was Michele Bachmann's role in passing/not passing this legislation during her time in the state Senate? Please post any research in the comments.

August 14, 2006

Remember 2004

Patty Wetterling came very close to winning the Sixth District in 2004. Where the DFL candidate, Janet Robert, a socially conservative Democrat, lost by 22 points to Mark Kennedy in 2002, Patty Wetterling lost by just 8 percent in 2004. Then, she was running against an incumbent who raised millions from conservative PACs and ran vicious, degrading, and false ads impugning Wetterling's character, distorting facts, and ascribing views to Wetterling that were completely untrue. One ad showed pictures of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, implied that Wetterling had been against the war in Afghanistan (she supported the military action there), and claimed she had taken $80,000 from MoveOn.org, when FEC records showed she had received only $32.

Patty's friend John Walsh, a Republican and host of TV's America's Most Wanted, appeared in an ad defending Patty from Kennedy's vicious smears and endorsing her candidacy.

The Pioneer Press, which I would rate as having a moderately conservative editorial page, endorsed Wetterling, saying the following:


Voters in the 6th, a diverse district of rural, exurban and suburban communities, have two excellent candidates who can represent them in Congress. We think that Wetterling is the better choice. ...

Wetterling is an extraordinary person, a moral presence with her feet planted firmly on the ground. She is just the kind of person who can dilute the partisanship and mean divisions that are preventing Congress from solving problems with civility. She has grown quickly as a candidate, gaining knowledge about the issues. [...]

It also is discouraging to see the Kennedy campaign go fiercely negative against Wetterling. The baseless anti-Wetterling ad Kennedy began airing late last week shows appalling judgment. She has kept the campaign on a positive plane. That's where we see the future of productive congressional decision-making for the people of the 6th and the nation. Patty Wetterling is an extraordinary person who salves terrible wounds with constructive action.

Below is some reading material on the '04 race. Remember the old saying, "those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Fellow Sixth Districters, let's not repeat history. Never fall for the GOP smear tactics again. Vote for the "extraordinary...moral presence" in this race: Patty Wetterling.

City Pages: "Mother and Country: How personal tragedy made a politician of Patty Wetterling"
MPR: "Negative ads suggest close race in Minnesota's 6th District"
MN Republican Watch's October 2004 Archive

August 13, 2006

Open thread

Yeah, you're right. I just wanted an excuse to post this:

bachmannbooks.jpg

I saw someone reading this book on the bus the other day. I thought the title was appropriate. I'm sure one could write a horror novel, nay, an entire series, with material provided by an imagined future (thankfully, it won't come true) where Michele Bachmann is elected to Congress.

Anecdotal evidence

In Stillwater, there are a ton of lawn signs for mayoral and sherrif candidates. But until this past weekend, I had not seen any for the Sixth District race. I drove around Stillwater a fair amount over the past few days. Here are my sign counts:

Patty Wetterling: 3
Michele Bachmann: 1 (this was not even in Stillwater, it was on 36 on the right side as you're heading east, about 4-5 miles outside of town.)
John Binkowski: 0

Significant? Probably not. But even on her home turf, Michele Bachmann does not appear to be enthusiastically supported by her constituents.

Piling on the Westover column

As you've probably already noticed, Captain Fishsticks Craig Westover recently wrote another column defending Michele Bachmann, this one in response to Karl Bremer's Pioneer Press editorial that pointed out the stone-cold fact that Michele Bachmann has accepted $50,000 in contributions from a group that wants to "end government involvement in education." Dump Bachmann has already weighed in at length on Westover's column and the problems with it.

I have a simpler problem with the column: Craig Westover fails to hold Michele Bachmann accountable and demand a clear statement of her position on education. Of course, we shouldn't be surprised, because this tactic follows a unique Westoverian pattern. In his columns on the emergency contraceptives issue and Bachmann's (lack of a) stance on them, Westover attacked "DFLers" and other Bachmann detractors while failing to be intellectually honest and holding Bachmann's feet to the fire. Those columns never answered the essential question: Does Michele Bachmann support the availability and use of emergency contraceptives such as Plan B? Similarly, in this column, Westover attacks Bremer for using "guilt by association" and claims an attempt to "politically nail" Bachmann-- then changes the subject completely. The telling line is this one:

The gist of Bremer's harangue is that it is somehow inconsistent for Bachmann to say that public education is "her number one issue" and accept campaign contributions from individuals who have signed the proclamation of the Alliance for the Separation of School and State, which favors "ending government involvement in education."

Hmm. Yes, that seems "somehow inconsistent" to me. I can't think of a single way that those two facts would be consistent. Thus the question asked by Karl Bremer is a reasonable one: is Michele Bachmann for or against public education? Does she support the abolition of public education? What is her plan on education?

Westover's column answers none of these questions. It fails to address them completely. Whether or not you agree with his ideas in the rest of the column, it is intellectually dishonest for Westover to smear Bachmann's critics, who are asking reasonable questions, and not demand, or even look for, an answer from the candidate herself, or even to acknowledge that, based on the facts, their questions are relevant and substantial.

In short, the "principled conservative" Westover, who uses his support of gay marriage as a way to "prove" that he doesn't walk the GOP party line, has become yet another partisan hack. There's nothing wrong with partisan hackery, as this site has been known to dabble in that illustrious field occasionally. But at least I am up-front about it. Westover is not. Why does the Pioneer Press continue to publish the writings of this GOP hack and represent them as somehow transcending partisan discourse?

August 12, 2006

More good news

Poll after poll shows the public trusts Democrats to run the country much more than they trust the GOP. A new Newsweek/MSNBC poll gives these results:

On every issue other than terrorism and homeland security, the Dems win. Americans trust them to do a better job than the Republicans handling:

* The situation in Iraq: 45 to 39
* The economy: 53 to 34
* Health care: 56 to 26
* Gas and oil prices: 52 to 25
* Stem-cell research: 52 to 29
* Federal spending and the deficit: 53 to 29.

Wow. But what about the issue of the "war on terror" and homeland security? Republicans still hold a 5-point edge. But in the 2002 midterm elections, the GOP held a 23-point lead. Keep in mind also that this poll was conducted directly after the airliner plot was foiled, as the hype was still fresh in the air and the Republican fear-mongering began. If this news hadn't broken, would the Republicans be leading on any issue? Doubtful.

Polls coming soon?

Wetterling v. Bachmann hasthe scoop. Apparently someone's been calling voters asking about the races for Gov, Senate, and Congress in CD6. They don't know who's doing it, but theorize it's not the NRCC (and by their sound logic, I would add, not the DCCC either.) Chances are we'll see a poll released in the next couple of weeks.

What will it show? Well, I can't say for sure, but it seems to me that Michele Bachmann and the Republicans have been ramping up their desperate attacks recently. A few days back, she attacked Wetterling for not showing up at the Forest Lake debate. She also used a significant chunk of that debate (after arriving late) to harangue Wetterling for not appearing, according to someone who was there. The state GOP chairman, Ron Carey, also recently attacked Wetterling on national security, asking if she supports the Patriot Act and the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" (apparently a euphemism for Bush's warrantless wiretaps.) As Polinaut notes, his press release was less than wholly original. He also parroted Bachmann's debate attacks. (Predictably, though they attacked Wetterling for not debating, there was no complementing praise when she agreed to a fair debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters.)

What does all this mean? In politics, an increasing frequency and intensity of attacks issuing from one side's camp usually means that they know they are behind in the polls. I predict that, if the results of this poll are made publicly available, it will show that Bachmann is slightly behind Wetterling, or that the race is a statistical toss-up. Given the GOP spin that this is a conservative district and that the "crazy, out-of-touch liberal" Wetterling has no chance, anything less than a poll showing a clear Bachmann lead could be considered a setback for the Bachmann campaign.

August 11, 2006

Yet another poll shows great news for Dems

33%: President Bush's approval rating

55-37:: Margin by which Democrats now lead Republicans in generic poll matchups for House seats

Bad news for Bachmann, who's holding a fundraiser with Mr. 33% in a couple of weeks. Great news for Wetterling, who is capitalizing on this anti-Bush, anti-Republican sentiment with an optimistic vision of a new direction for this great country, and a plan for a way out of the quagmire that is Iraq.

Trust the experts:

``The signs now point to the most likely outcome of Democrats gaining control of the House,'' said Robert Erikson, a Columbia University political science professor.

We'll still have to work hard and remain vigilant to achieve that goal, but the news keeps getting better for Democrats. Go Patty!

August 10, 2006

Wetterling, Bachmann to court sportsmen/women at Game Fair

pattyfishing.jpg

Dennis Andersen's latest column in the Strib asks why the DFL isn't working harder to court the votes of sportsmen and sportswomen, 60,000 of whom are expected to attend Game Fair in Anoka this weekend. Patty Wetterling and Amy Klobuchar are the two DFLers who will be there. Both Wetterling and Bachmann will have booths set up and will be working the crowd.

Patty Wetterling has a lot to offer sportsmen, and I think that fairgoers will be impressed. She strongly supports the Second Amendment, stating,

I am convinced that the right way to fight the problem of gun violence is to crack down on the criminals who use them. Let’s take guns out of the hands of criminals and children, not law abiding Minnesotans.

Who's going to be a more appealing candidate to hunting and fishing enthusiasts-- the no-frills Wetterling, who seems like she'd be most comfortable in jeans and tennis shoes, or Michele Bachmann, who enjoys vaccuuming in high heels and wearing her "little pink dress"? But, of course, Bachmann does have a conceal and carry permit, which apparently (according to her) makes her bona fide on "sportsmen's issues."

And what about Bachmann's $2,000 donation from the Safari Club? Does she represent the real-life sportsmen of this district, or the 40,000 fat-cat trophy hunters of the Safari Club?

Here's some more info on the Safari Club:

The Arizona-based SCI has made a name for itself as one of the most extreme and elite trophy hunting organizations, representing some 40,000 wealthy trophy collectors, fostering and promoting competitive trophy hunting of exotic animals on five continents. SCI members shoot prescribed lists of animals to win so-called Grand Slam and Inner Circle titles. There's the Africa Big Five (leopard, elephant, lion, rhino, and buffalo), the North American Twenty Nine (all species of bear, bison, sheep, moose, caribou, and deer), Big Cats of the World, Antlered Game of the Americas, and many other contests.

To complete all 29 award categories, a hunter must kill a minimum of 322 separate species and sub-species - enough to populate a large zoo. This is an extremely expensive and lengthy task, and many SCI members take the quick and easy route to see their names in the record books. They shoot captive animals in canned hunts, both in the United States and overseas, and some engage in other unethical conduct like shooting animals over bait, from vehicles, with spotlights, or on the periphery of national parks.

SCI members have even tried to circumvent federal laws to import their rare trophies from other countries. Prominent SCI hunter Kenneth E. Behring donated $100 million to the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum and, according to published reports, tried to get the museum's help in importing a rare Kara Tau argali sheep which he shot in Kazakhstan and had shipped to a Canadian taxidermist - one of only 100 Kara Tau argali sheep remaining in the world. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, now under Hogan's watch, is the agency charged with granting or denying such trophy import permits.

Read Andersen's column. He brings up some interesting ideas on why this voting bloc traditionally votes Republican, despite the Democratic value of protecting the environment. He also points out that, with around 90% of sportsmen and women in three key swing states voting in the 2000 election, they are an extremely motivated and important bloc that both candidates must appeal to.

Bachmann's response to "homegrown" British terror plot: "military action...in other parts of the world"

Michele Bachmann made the following statement today on the recently-uncovered plot to bomb airliners heading from England to America:

(Woodbury, MN) – State Senator Michele Bachmann, Republican candidate for Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District, commented today that news of a thwarted 9/11 type commercial airlines hijacking plan is a chilling reminder that the world democracies must still be ever vigilant. “The fight against global terrorism is never-ending,? said Bachmann. “Today’s events in Great Britain demonstrate our need for continued vigilance and the need to win the War on Terror at home and aboard [sic]. I believe the terrorists. They say they are committed to doing harm to the United States and this plot further reveals their goal.

The necessary safeguards need to be in place to keep our citizens safe here and abroad. The discovery and arrest of the terror suspects validates our need to be vigilant everyday.

This is a victory for the intelligence community and the watchful citizens who were on high alert for patterns of suspicious behavior. Our goal must be to catch those who plot against us before they can implement their dastardly acts. We need to track down these people and in due process, deliver the ultimate penalty our society can place on them.

“If elected to Congress, I will work non-stop to assist in strengthening our homeland security needs and support military action that needs to be taken in other parts of the world to fight terrorism,? stated Bachmann. “It is imperative we give our intelligence agencies the tools they need to fight terrorism wherever it exists. We must continue to support the Patriot Act and strengthen our borders to help keep a protective shield around our citizens.?

I wonder if she actually said "aboard" instead of "abroad." That would be kind of funny.

Anyway, I don't think I would disagree with much of Bachmann's statement. Do we need to support the intelligence community, strengthen our borders, and uncover these plots before they happen? Absolutely. I don't think you'd find a Democrat who would disagree with you on any of these points. Though, admittedly, there is no link on Wetterling's too-skimpy "Issues" page about "National Security," she does have this to say about border control and national security:

When elected to Congress, I will:

* Work with Democrats and Republicans on a bipartisan basis to make our borders more secure;
* Work to increase the rate of border enforcement;
* Vote to give Homeland Security the budget it needs to get the job done;

Basically, Wetterling takes the same positions as Bachmann on national security.

But Bachmann goes a step further. Even though this terror plot is described as "homegrown" (more details are sure to come later), Bachmann says she "support[s] military action that needs to be taken in other parts of the world to fight terrorism." Please, somebody tell me how bombing another country to smithereens would have stopped this attack, or any of the other attacks that have been perpetrated or attempted in the past 20 years? The way to fight terrorism, in the short term, is to beef up law enforcement efforts, to support efforts to gather intelligence on terrorist threats, to investigate and cut off the terrorists' means of financial support and recruitment, to better control our borders and keep tabs on those entering from other countries, and to secure our ports, airports, public transit systems, and other potential targets.

Bush, Cheney, Rove (all Bachmann cronies), and the Republicans talk a tough game on the "Global War on Terror" and the war in Iraq, but have they really made our country safer since 9/11? In June 2005, 52% of Americans believed that the war in Iraq has made us less safe from terrorism. Support for the war has eroded still further since then, so a larger majority probably now agrees with this statement. I believe that the war in Iraq has diverted resources that could be used to really make us safe against terrorism. It has increased anti-American sentiment across the globe, increasing the ability of al Qaeda and other groups to recruit potential terrorists. Meanwhile, critical areas of national security have been neglected almost entirely.

Here are some statistics compiled by About.com's Deborah White in December 2005:


Factor by which passengers on mass transit systems exceed passengers on airlines: 16

Funding per passenger the Bush Administration has spent to secure mass transit systems since September 11, 2001: $0.01

Cost of security upgrades needed to protect rail and transit systems as estimated by U.S. transit authorities: $6 billion

Amount of funding designated specifically for rail and transit security in President Bush's budget: $0

Total amount of funding added to the Fiscal Year 2006 Homeland Security Appropriations bill for rail security in the wake of the July 7 London Bombings: $0

Number of provisions in federal law requiring chemical facilities to establish safeguards against a terrorist attack: 0

Number of chemical facilities at which a terrorist strike could threaten the lives of over 1 million people: 123

Percent of cargo arriving at U.S. ports inspected for WMD: <1

Percent of "high-risk" cargo inspected: 17.5

Estimated economic impact of a terrorist attack to a U.S. port: $1 trillion

Percent of Transportation Security Administration Fiscal Year 2005 budget allocated for port security grants: 2.8

Deadline for meeting port security standards set by the Maritime Transportation Security Act: 2004

Year in which MTSA port security standards will be met if port security funding levels remain constant: 2050

Ratio of federal air security screeners to federal surface transportation (rail and public transit) security screeners: 450:1

Homeland security grant dollars per capita awarded to the U.S. Virgin Islands in Fiscal Year 2004: $104.35

Homeland security grant dollars per capita awarded to California in Fiscal Year 2004: $4.97

In short, the Republican "national security" program is not working. Michele Bachmann's solution is to hype the Iraq war and threaten military action against... who? Should we be bombing London's Pakistani neighbo(u)rhoods? Nuking Iran? Would that have stopped these terrorists?

Democrats like John Kerry, Harry Reid, and Ned Lamont spoke out today on the disastrous effects the Iraq war has had on our national security, and were promptly attacked for "playing politics" with national security-- contradicting RNC chairman Ken Mehlman's own words from the 2004 campaign, when he said that the war in Iraq and national security were "entirely appropriate issues for election campaigns." Here's Kerry:

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts...said America was "not as safe as we can and must be" and in part blamed the president's focus on Iraq.

"This event exposes the misleading myth that we are fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here. In fact, the war in Iraq has become a dangerous distraction and a profound drain on our financial and military resources," Kerry said.

Patty Wetterling's national security plan seems to be simple. Step 1: withdraw our troops from Iraq, eliminating this resource drain, distraction, and rallying cry for jihadists. Step 2: improve our homeland security for real by increasing border security and increasing resources available to the Department of Homeland Security to prevent attacks on America. I would agree that Wetterling needs to present a comprehensive plan for national security; I hope she will do this sooner rather than later.

Wetterling is also the only candidate in this race to address the only long-term solution to the problem of global terrorism: to eliminate the conditions that breed terrorism. In a questionnaire for the Global Solutions PAC, Patty Wetterling is on record supporting initiatives that will fight poverty worldwide, thereby helping to eliminate the conditions that can make the "solutions" offered by bin Laden and other extremists attractive:

4. Will you actively work to allocate an additional one percent of the U.S. budget to Official Development Assistance in order to match the commitments of our G8 partners and other allies to help reduce hunger, poverty, disease and other agreed upon goals?

[Wetterling's answer]
Yes.

Providing people in poor populations the economic opportunity to sustain themselves is an important part of our national security to reduce the threat of terrorism.

Where is Michele Bachmann's press release on fighting the "War on Poverty" that is the only long-term solution that can combat the influence of bin Laden, Hizbollah, and other hateful ideologies? Bachmann inadvertently said something in her press release that is very illuminating. She described the war on terror as "never-ending." With her idea that we can stop (but apparently not "end") terrorism by attacking other countries, the "Global War on Terror" truly will be never-ending. I think that's the appeal for Bush, Cheney, Rove, Bachmann, and others like them. Wetterling knows there's a better way.

Comments

Before we begin the evening's blogging, an apology. Several comments to this site over the past few months were classified as "junk comments" by the UThink system's overaggressive anti-comment spam features. I didn't notice them until just now, as the system doesn't notify me when it has "junked" a comment. To those of you whose comments were affected, I apologize, and I will promise that I will check more often to resolve this problem.

I appreciate all the comments and debate that have been left on this site, and, even though I don't respond as often as I should, I do listen to your thoughts, suggestions, and arguments. Keep reading and responding with your own thoughts!

August 9, 2006

Shades of '04: John Edwards campaigning for Wetterling; G.W. Bush lending the "golden touch" to Bachmann

The big names keep rolling into the Sixth District. This time, it's a fundraising rematch between the current President Bush and John Edwards, who was the VP candidate on the Democratic ticket in '04.

First, the Star Trib reports that the Prez is coming here on August 22nd to fundraise for Bachmann. (One quick aside on the priorities of this administration-- Bush couldn't cut short his infamous annual vacation last year to deal with Hurricane Katrina, and insists on taking another vacation this year instead of dealing with the Lebanon crisis, but he can afford to fly in and raise some money for candidate Bachmann? Who elected this guy?) The AP reports that Bachmann's campaign manager, Andy Parrish, refused to confirm this report, showing that the Bachmann campaign doesn't want to give this any more exposure than they have to. And why would they? Bush is an albatross around any candidate's neck. Mark Kennedy has been trying, with little success, to distance himself from Bush and his 95%+ votes-with-the-President average. Bachmann seems to want it both ways... accept the President's cash, but try to keep it a secret in order to lessen the fallout. Well, we're not going to let her. The President, his failed domestic and foreign policies, and his mid-30's approval rating are going to be synonymous with Michele Bachmann after this.

Meanwhile, since Wetterling won an online contest, John Edwards will be headlining for Wetterling in the near future. Dates aren't worked out yet, but it would be nice if the fundraiser were held around the same time as the Bush visit. The images of Bush chumming it up with Bachmann (and those of the protestors surrounding the Bush fundraiser) will present a nice contrast with photo-ops of Wetterling and the photogenic, extremely well-liked Edwards. I'm guessing, too, that if we compare the totals from these fundraisers, the draw of Edwards won't be all that far behind that of Bush, and Patty's fundraiser may even come out ahead. A lot of big Bachmann donors are probably already tapped out, what with the Rove, Hastert, and Cheney events. Wetterling supporters may not be, and more might come out of the woodwork for such a big name.

August 8, 2006

Media finally pays attention to the facts about Bachmann

...at least a little. Or, at least, the information is now out there to a wider range of people.

First, Karl Bremer had an excellent op-ed printed in the Pioneer Press about Bachmann's record of accepting campaign cash ($50,000 and counting) from people who want to abolish public education. He lays out all the evidence tying Bachmann to the Alliance for the Separation of School and State and their extremist views on education, and then asks the relevant questions:

So why would all these people who want to kill public education be showering money on Michele Bachmann, who proudly states that public education is her "No. 1 issue?" What do these public education abolitionists want in return when Congresswoman Bachmann goes to Washington? Are the voters of the 6th Congressional District ready to send someone to Congress to advocate ending government involvement in education?

If Michele Bachmann is going to claim that public education is her "No. 1 issue," then she should tell the voters why she's bankrolling her campaign with tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from people who want to end all public education. Or is there something else Michele isn't telling us about her education agenda?

Then, KARE 11 covered the story, broken by Eric Zaetsch at Dump Bachmann, that Michele Bachmann is not a lawyer, despite claims in her campaign materials. Here is their take on the story:

KARE-TV also received mail from viewers pointing out 6th District congressional candidate Michele Bachmann gave up her license to practice law in 2001 but that her campaign flyers say she's a federal tax attorney.

It's true she voluntarily placed her license, which she first received in 1986, on restricted status in 2001. If you check the state's lawyer registration department Bachmann's in the category of "not authorized."

A campaign flyer distributed last year clearly says "Michele is a federal tax litigation attorney." A biography prepared by the Bachmann for Congress Committee reads "Michele is a federal tax litigation attorney." Another letter dated October 5, 2005 and signed by Bachmann reads "I'm a federal tax litigation attorney who has spent a career fighting against high taxes on businesses and individuals."

Senator Bachmann's campaign spokesperson told KARE-TV she surprised to hear that anyone's raising this issue. But more recent news releases refer to her law career in past tense -- noting she "was" a federal tax litigation attorney.

KARE seems to be unwilling to definitively say that Michele Bachmann lied, but it's pretty clear that she did. Though her campaign spokesperson is "surprised" to hear these charged levelled against Michele Bachmann, she really shouldn't be. The facts are very clear here. Michele Bachmann claimed to be something she is not on mutlitple occasions, with no qualifiers or asterisks. She was not straight with the voters of the Sixth District. This story deserved more than the usual "balanced" coverage of the mainstream media. I hope that other local media outlets will pick up on both of these stories and make them issues in the campaign, as they deserve to be.

August 5, 2006

Bachmann video gets local CBS coverage

Congrats to Ken Avidor, whose video "Michele Bachmann Goes Fission" was named the #3 best campaign "parody" video in a brief segment on CBS. This video is simple but effective, playing Michele Bachmann's statement that she would be willing to use nukes on Iran (and perhaps Venezuela? her syntax in the voiceover is unclear) over video of nuclear explosions.

I'm glad this got some metro-wide exposure on Channel 4, and it is well-deserved. People need to know about Michele Bachmann's apparent enthusiasm for nuking another country. My only quibble with the CBS segment is that it labels this video a "parody." This is no parody--it's deadly serious. If Michele Bachmann is elected, she would approve of the use of nuclear weapons on the citizens of another country. Listen to the candidate in her own words:

[link]

Perhaps another look at Lyndon B. Johnson's famous campaign spot, "Daisy," from 1964 is warranted. It warns against the possibility of Republican candidate Barry Goldwater starting a nuclear war.

They don't make campaign commercial voiceover's like this anymore:


"These are the stakes! To make a world in which all of God's children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die."

Read more about it at Wikipedia.

Poll analysis, pt. 1

Recently, I posted about an interesting NPR poll which seemed extremely promising for Democratic candidates in the closest House races that will determine which party will gain control of that deliberative body in 2007. Now Eric Zaetsch over at Dump Bachmann has pointed out the raw data used in that study.

One section of this data was especially interesting to me, and I had a few thoughts about the significance it may have in the Sixth District race. I've produced a very professional-looking chart in Microsoft Paint, which I shall endeavor to explain below.

pollchart8506.GIF

[open image in new window]

This question is very interesting because it gives data on those issues that are supposed to be the "hot-button issues" of the upcoming election. Basically, it shows how voters react to the Democratic vs. the Republican position on each issue, and how likely they are to vote for the Congressional candidate based on their views on that issue. Though this is a composite poll combining data from the 50 most competitive races, I believe the results will generally reflect the situation on the ground in CD6. It is a typical suburban/exurban battleground district in many respects, and, while of course there will be some dynamics that are atypical, the differences should be slight. If you disagree, please let me know, as I am by no means an expert.

Here are my thoughts, issue by issue.

Illegal Immigration: The poll results, as I have highlighted above, show an extremely even distribution of opinion on this issue. Unlike other issues examined in this poll, there appear to be more voters that have not entirely made up their minds on this issue-- 11% completely undecided, and 34% (17+17) leaning "somewhat" towards either party (but apparently still convinceable.) There is also a small segment - 6 percent - that feel that "neither" party is qualified to lead on immigration. This is a small number, but at least twice as large a percentage answered "neither" on the immigration question than on any other question in this survey. Perhaps this signifies a "third way" that could be exploited by a sensible candidate?

I expect Bachmann will be the aggressor on this issue, and perhaps she may gain the upper hand as the election goes on. Anti-immigrant sentiment has been strong throughout U.S. history, and this year is no exception. But overall, as the data shows, there will likely be a relatively even split of voters on this issue.

The war in Iraq: Undoubtedly, this will be one of the most important issues of the campaign. The candidates have already clearly defined themselves on the Iraq war, with Patty Wetterling calling for quick withdrawal and Michele Bachmann stubbornly insisting on "staying the course." I also believe that, with the strong beliefs this topic generates, it will be one of the issues most influencing voters' decisions this fall.

The generic Democrat in this poll seems to have a slight advantage (+5%) when looking at the "Dems-Reps" column. The advantage is much stronger when looking at the columns circled in red, those that are "strong" in their views-- Democrats enjoy a 10-point advantage in this group, showing pretty clearly that a majority of those who have come to a strong decision on the Iraq war will vote for Patty Wetterling, who has taken a much clearer stance on the war than many Democrats. There is a decided shortage of undecideds and "leaners" for this question, showing that Michele Bachmann will have a smaller base of possible undecideds to court as she tries to wrest control of this issue from Wetterling. But because Michele Bachmann will be forced to defend an unpopular war, and because Patty Wetterling has defined her stance extremely clearly, I believe that the advantage on Iraq lies in the Wetterling camp.

Economy/jobs: I expect this to play a role in the race, though not more or less than a typical race for Congress in Minnesota. Bachmann will stick to her guns of lowering taxes and being "pro-business," while Wetterling will argue for the traditional DFL policies of a fairer tax policy and support for working families. The minimum wage will be an issue here, especially with Bachmann's extreme statements against it. The poll data shows a slight advantage for Democrats on this issue, especially when comparing "strong" supporters, though there is a sizeable body of voters just waiting to be convinced. I think that this group will generally be more receptive to Wetterling's overtures rather than Bachmann's extremist rhetoric and record on this issue. She will not be helped by rising gas prices and an economy that, while growing, has not produced gains for the majority of working families or created as many quality jobs as hoped; fairly or not, these failures will be blamed on the Bush administration and the GOP-controlled Congress.

Guantanamo/Bush Administration spying & abuse of power:
This appears to be another issue where voters are split down the middle. Dems enjoy an advantage that could be more of a statistical blip than anything else. I don't forsee either of these topics becoming a huge issue, though they could play into the debate on Iraq and the broader "Global War on Terror." Wetterling could score points by tying Bachmann to the Bush administration's willingness to violate civil liberties, especially in light of her fundraisers with Rove and Cheney. But, since Bachmann has not served in Washington and thus will not be viewed as a Bush/GOP toady in quite the way that Norm Coleman or Mark Kennedy might be, she may escape relatively unscathed.

Stem cell research: As the poll shows, stem cells are a HUGE winner for the Democrats and for Wetterling. Look at the difference in the two numbers circled in red, those with strong feelings on the issue: Democrats enjoy a 17-point advantage on the issue. Being an issue with a complex blend of science, ethics, and faith, there are understandably a large amount of undecided/"leaners" on this issue. I would guess that they would break heavily for Wetterling, especially in light of Bachmann's extensive ties to the religious right.

"Moral issues": Michele Bachmann has based nearly her entire political career on a crusade for the "moral values" espoused by the extreme Christian right. This poll decisively shows that voters in swing districts have severe doubts about the direction that Bachmann and others of her ilk want to take this country. The 10-point differential between "strong Democrats" and "strong Republicans" on these issues contradicts the conventional wisdom that "moral values" are a winner for the GOP. This divide, as well as the others circled in red, are the more exceptional in light of data on party breakdown and ideological self-description found elsewhere in the survey:

Q.31 Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a Democrat, a Republican or what?

Strong Democrat ................................................................. 27
Weak Democrat................................................................... 10
Independent-lean Democrat................................................ 12
Independent ......................................................................... 6
Independent-lean Republican .............................................. 9
Weak Republican ................................................................ 12
Strong Republican............................................................... 24
(Don't know/Refused)........................................................... 1


Q.34 Thinking in political terms, would you say that you are Conservative, Moderate, or Liberal?

Liberal.................................................................................. 20
Moderate ............................................................................. 40
Conservative ....................................................................... 36
(Don't know/refused) ............................................................ 3

The self-described "conservatives" in the survey outnumber "liberals" by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. Yet, the "liberal" Democrats enjoy a wide margin of support on these moral issues and especially on stem cells. The party ID chart shows a similar pattern-- those identified as some type of Democrat or Dem-"leaner" outnumber their GOP counterparts by 4 points. This says to me that moderate voters are abandoning the Republican Party over the so-called "values" issues that have been increasingly hijacking their party over the past couple of decades.

In light of Bachmann's strong views and extremist, divisive record on issues like gay marriage and abortion, voters will probably be even more likely in the Sixth than in a "typical" swing district to favor the common-sense, consensus-based policy views of Patty Wetterling.

Well, that's my summary. Please post any thoughts you have in the comments.

August 2, 2006

Wetterling gets support from big IP donors

While researching Patty Wetterling's campaign recepits, I noticed something that I think is significant. Two of the biggest donors to the Independence Party of Minnesota have also given money to Patty Wetterling's campaign.

Julia W. Dayton (I can't confirm this, but it's probable she's connected to, or married into, the family of Sen. Mark Dayton) gave $5,000 to the IP, and has given $4200 in this cycle (for Patty's Senate and House campaigns) and $4000 in the '04 cycle to Wetterling.

Michael D. Goldner, a $1,000 contributor to the IP, gave a total of $800 to Wetterling in the '04 cycle.

Since John Binkowski, the IP candidate in the Sixth, does not list his individual contributors on his FEC filing (I'm not sure why... perhaps the donations were all very small, or since he declared his candidacy more recently he is not required to file that information), it is impossible to say whether these IP backers will switch to Binkowski. But it seems that Wetterling, through her moderate, common-sense policies and values, is reaching out to independent donors (and, by extension, independent voters.)

Wetterling has celebrity backing

The Bachmann campaign receipts have been analyzed quite a bit, with some shocking results, as this blog has detailed in the past. Not much has been said about those who are backing Wetterling. They include:

-former Vice President Walter Mondale ($200 donation)
-Susan Vento, political activist, current board member of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, and widow of the late U.S. Rep. Bruce Vento ($1,000 donation)
-Garrison Keillor, writer and host of the popular public-radio show "A Prairie Home Companion" ($500 donation)
-William C. Moyers--I thought it was THE Bill Moyers at first and got excited, but it's actually his son-- a Vice President at the Hazelden Foundation, which runs the world-famous Hazelden addiction-treatment facility. ($500 donation)

The right is also making a fuss over the fact that Wetterling received $10,000 from Al Franken's Midwest Values PAC. Ken Avidor at DB wrote a good rebuttal to the claim that "Hollywood values are not Sixth District values." I also like this quote from Larry David, star of the hilarious Curb Your Enthusiasm and creator of Seinfeld:

"It's better to get money from people in Hollywood than corporations," he said. "He's not beholden to anyone in Hollywood to do them favors by accepting their money."

Very true. Hollywood actors have their pet issues, and doubtless wield influence, but their donations have "less strings attached" than the corporations and the corporate PACs that give to politicians hoping to use their money to favorably influence legislation.

Wetterling, Bachmann, Binkowski at Farmfest

Bachmann v. Wetterling has a decent round up of the coverage of the CD6 candidates at Tuesday's FarmFest. Even better is St. Cloud Times writer Lawrence Shumacher, who has audio up of the CD6 candidates' responses to the questions asked. Looking through the coverage, I found some real gems.

Apparently, Michele Bachmann was walking around in style:

Difficult walking conditions on the FarmFest grounds did not prevent state Sen. Michele Bachmann from staying in style.

The 6th Congressional District candidate appeared at the event in high-heeled shoes. She is known for that type of footwear. A newspaper article about her once included a picture of her running a vacuum cleaner wearing them.

I'm guessing that Patty Wetterling just wore tennis shoes. She probably doesn't vacuum in high heels, either.

With both her style and her policy positions, Bachmann showed she's a lightweight:

Bachmann noted her service on the Senate Environment, Agricultural and Economic Development finance committee and said she was an early supporter of a dairy investment tax credit that has yet to make it through the Legislature.

She offered elimination of state and federal inheritance taxes as a tool for preventing the loss of Minnesota dairy farms.

Hmm. Bragging about yet another bill that didn't pass? And what's this about the inheritance tax? You mean the one that only applies to those estates above $1.5 million for 2006? How many small farmers have $1.5 million lying around? I'm sure their land is worth something, but studies have shown that the fear-mongering of Bachmann and other "taxpayer advocates" is unfounded:

The debate sometimes revolves around which estates are affected by current law. The effects of the law on small business owners and family-owned farms (entities which, conservatives argue, are hardest hit by the estate tax) was studied in an analysis undertaken by the Tax Policy Center. A study of the 18,800 taxable estates taxed in 2004 found 7,090 which had any farm or business income. Of those, there were 440 estates in which half or more of its assets were the value of farms and/or businesses. The effective tax rate on the 440 estates studied in detail never averaged more than 23%.

And the chart of the study shows that, for all but the largest estates, the effective tax rate is lower than that 23% figure. And, with 435 House districts in the United States, if you accept that figure of 440 farms/small business estates affected, that means that, on average, the federal inheritance tax only affects one farm or small business in the Sixth District each year.

Meanwhile, Patty Wetterling offered a real solution:

Wetterling suggested prohibiting milk protein imports to ensure local milk is used in making cheeses. She advocated a permanent disaster assistance fund and renewal of a milk subsidy that kicks in when prices fall below a specified level.

[...]While Tuesday's debate yielded no direct clashes, Wetterling said finding a solution to spiraling health care costs would do more to help farmers than Bachmann's proposal to eliminate inheritance taxes.

She also delved into the political ramifications of voting Democratic this November:

She attempted to link her election to potential benefits for Minnesota farmers that could arise if Democrats take control of the U.S. House. That could mean Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-Minn., would become chairman of the House Agriculture committee, and Rep. James Oberstar, DFL-Minn., would lead the House Transportation committee.

"When I get to Congress it will not only elevate Collin Peterson, if we get 15 seats, but it will elevate Congressman Oberstar to head the transportation committee," she said.

The Strib had only this to say:


In the Sixth District, Republican candidate Michele Bachmann and her DFL opponent Patty Wetterling agreed that rural roads need improvements.

Where was Michele Bachmann on this issue in her years in the State Senate?

Independence candidate John Binkowski was also there, being independent (as usual.)

In a three-way race for an open Sixth Congressional District seat this fall, Independence Party-endorsed candidate John Binkowski of St. Mary's Point appeared most willing to say things the audience might not have wanted to hear.

Binkowski questioned whether federal crop insurance was wasteful and whether price supports help small farmers or large agribusiness corporations.

"My responsibility in all of this is not only to Minnesota farmers and Minnesota family farmers, especially, but to the American taxpayers," the first-time candidate told the crowd. "So some of the things I say here might not be agreeable to everybody, but I'm going to be honest with you."

I respect that, and it might resonate with voters. Not a huge percentage of Sixth District citizens are farmers, and despite the farmers' political clout, I think it might help Binkowski in the long run. (He still has no chance, though.)

Bachmann campaign receives warning letters from the FEC

Looks like someone (Michele Bachmann and her 'GOP superstar' treasurer Keith Davis) has some 'splainin' to do (to the FEC.) I posted a while back about Keith Davis' repeated run-ins with the FEC over his use of "Victory Committees" to hold joint fundraisers, and speculated that the Michele Bachmann Victory Fund could be one of the committees under investigation. Looks like I was right.

The first letter (available here), from July 21st, requests additional information about the Bachmann Minnesota Victory Committee (the name seems to change every time!) and states, citing USC 432(e)(4), that

"any political committee which is not an authorized committee...shall not include the name of any candidate in its name."

Further, it requests that the committee change its name to remove the Bachmann brand, due to the fact that

a joint fundraising committee with an unauthorized committee as a participant cannot include the name of a candidate in its name, ...since the unauthorized committee participant has supported other candidates.

The letter threatens an audit or further action if an "adequate response" is not accomplished by August 21st.

There is a second letter in the FEC database as well, this one dated July 26th. It details a host of issues raised by the committee's 2nd quarter filing, including disbursements to other campaign committees (the RNC and Bachmann for Congress), and requests additional details for vaguely-worded disbursements such as "fundraising consulting fees," "printing," and "office supplies." An interesting question is raised by the letter: with no payments listed for "administrative expenses," is this committee really separate from the Bachmann for Congress committee? The letter states,

I

f these expenses are being paid by a connected organization, your Statement of Organization must be amended to reflect this relationship.

This letter, too, threatens possible audits or other repercussions if an "adequate response" is not received by August 25th. The letter says that any response will be in the public record. We will be waiting to see what the Bachmann campaign has to say about the FEC's concerns.

Research on the Wetterling campaign indicates that no such "requests for additional information" have been filed this quarter for the Wetterling campaign, but one was filed in the '04 cycle regarding a single discrepancy with a contribution received very close to the day of the election.

Thanks to Karl Bremer for the tip-off to the Bachmann letters.