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September 29, 2006

A perfect opportunity

Now that Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) has resigned from Congress because of sexual improprieties involving teenage boys, there is a perfect opportunity for Patty Wetterling, if she is elected and the Democrats take control of the House.

Foley was ironically the leader of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. If Patty Wetterling is elected, who better to lead the caucus than a woman who has overcome the tragic kidnapping of her son to lobby successfully for tougher laws protecting the kids of America?

(P.S.-- anyone know if Patty was involved in starting this caucus? I found info that Rep. Nick Lampson founded the caucus, but I would venture to guess that victims' advocates were also involved.)

September 27, 2006

A Bachmann victory spells doom for the Independence Party?

That's the thesis of a new piece up at The Bachmann Record. Excerpts:

Voters who want to protect the future of Minnesota’s Independence Party should do everything they can to make sure that Michele Bachmann is not elected to Congress.

Here’s why: if Michele Bachmann is elected to Congress this fall, she can keep that seat as long as she wants to, and the Independence Party is through as a political force in the 6th District—and possibly in other districts as well.

If Patty Wetterling wins this year and performs poorly in Congress during the next two years, she will not be re-elected. The support she would enjoy in Republican-trending 6th District would be inherently weaker than the support that Bachmann would enjoy. Wetterling would be vulnerable in the next election two years from now, because the number of people in the 6th District that would constitute her “liberal base? is comparatively small. If Wetterling wins, the Independence Party stays alive in the 6th District and gets another chance to influence policy there over the next two years and to play “kingmaker? at the next election.


If an IP candidate inadvertently helps Bachmann get into office (by shaving Wetterling vote totals) they are actually diminishing their own influence in the district—since Bachmann is a special-interest politician who will pay them no heed and since her political position, once elected, will be virtually unassailable.

Seems like a sound theory to me. You can't argue with the fact that Michele Bachmann would be much more formidable as an incumbent, barring any catastrophic gaffes (and you never know with Michele!), than would Patty Wetterling. We might have a chance to defeat her in '08; after that it seems like it would be smooth sailing, should Bachmann choose to keep her seat.

Conventional wisdom is that the Sixth is fertile ground for the Independence Party and independent candidates in general, based on strong vote totals for Jesse Ventura in the Sixth in 1998.

Since The Bachmann Record is not a blog, feel free to use this space as a discussion thread.

A source for the ad

Corey Day, Patty Wetterling's campaign manager, promptly responded to my e-mail seeking a source for the allegation that Michele Bachmann supports replacing the income tax with a national sales tax, presumably based on the "Fair Tax" plan put forth by Rep. Linder of Georgia. Here's the new source that definitively backs up this claim:

Bachmann Favors A National Consumption Tax. Bachmann “would replace income tax with national consumption tax.? [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2/19/06]

This article is only available on the pay-only section of the Star Trib website.

I'll write more about this later. In the meantime, DB is covering reaction to the ad.

September 26, 2006

Press release on ad

Here's Wetterling's press release on her new ad:

ANOKA, Minn. – Patty Wetterling released a new TV ad on Tuesday that exposes opponent Michele Bachmann’s support for a radical plan that would raise taxes and hurt middle-class families.

“Michele Bachmann says she’s for lowering taxes, and yet she supports replacing the income tax with a national sales tax,? says Wetterling. Under a national sales tax, all taxable goods and services – including daily basics like milk, bread, groceries, clothing, new tires and prescription drugs – could cost 23% more.

“All lower and middle-class Minnesotans would pay more taxes under this plan, up to $4,077 per year,? says Wetterling. “I find it incredible that Michele Bachmann wants to place a heavier burden on the people who can least afford to pay more for basic goods and services.?

“My opponent’s support for a national sales tax shows that she is ready to raise taxes. This plan is another example of her extremist agenda that hurts everyday Americans," adds Wetterling.

Wetterling notes that in the state Senate, Bachmann raised taxes after pledging not to (Taxpayer’s League of Minnesota 2005;HF 139, 7/13/05). “She goes back on her word and cannot be trusted to offer relief and opportunity to the average American.?

“Unlike my opponent, I believe in providing real opportunity for the middle class. That’s why I have clearly proposed targeted middle-class tax breaks that assist in buying a home, raising a family, paying for college and saving for retirement,? adds Wetterling.

Still no source where she supports the plan. I will e-mail the campaign and ask.

(Still no response from the Bachmann campaign; I wrote them a few days ago to ask about Michele Bachmann's "accomplishments" in the State Senate. We'll see if I have better luck with the Wetterling campaign.)

[UPDATE]: I did have better luck with the Wetterling campaign. Here is the solid source for the ad's claim.

BvW is on this, too.

Wetterling's New Ad: "Michele Bachmann: Radical Ideas We Can't Afford"

Commenter Karl stated below that he'd seen the new Wetterling ad. I checked and it's now up on her website, entitled "More."

The ad says that Bachmann supports a 23% national sales tax, and concludes, "Michele Bachmann: Radical Ideas We Can't Afford."

This is a claim I had not heard before. I did some searches and I can't find Bachmann explicitly making this claim. It's certainly not on the "economy and taxes" page of her website.

[UPDATE]: Here is the solid source for the ad's claim.

Bachmann did mention a national consumption tax in a Star Tribune candidate profile dated 2/21/06:

[Bachmann] says the federal tax system is "totally broken," and "in need of a complete overhaul." She would consider the elimination of federal income taxes, to be replaced by a national consumption tax.

And here's a quote from a debate between the candidates for the Republican nomination:

Michele Bachmann: "...we are now at a time where we are, very realistically, looking at a consumption tax vs. an income tax. And the whole difference behind this is that people would really feel the burden of the tax increases, and they would choose how they want to proceed."

I can't find her making the solid claim to "support" a national consumption tax, and nowhere does she mention that 23% number. I can't see a source in the ad, either; perhaps it is too small to be read in the tiny internet version.

[UPDATE]: Here is the solid source for the ad's claim.

IP candidate John Binkowski is the only candidate I've found to have put out the 23% national sales tax idea. He gets it from the "Fair Tax" plan proposed by Rep. John Linder of Georgia, which has over 60 co-sponsors. Perhaps Bachmann made the claim to support that at one of the recent debates, I don't know.

I was going to write a post a while back detailing the fallacies of Binkowski's plan, but it never caused much of a splash so I held off. I would refer you to this article by Media Matters on the many fallacies of the "Fair Tax" plan.

For one thing, the 23 percent figure is calculated by the "tax-exclusive" method; using our current "tax-inclusive" method the sales tax rate would be 30%. Also, the recent Bush administration Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform concluded that the tax rate would have to be even higher to make it truly "revenue-neutral":

In their submission to the Panel, proponents of the FairTax claimed that a 30 percent tax exclusive sales tax rate would be sufficient not only to replace the federal income tax, but also to replace all payroll taxes and estate and gift taxes and fund a universal cash grant. In contrast, the Treasury Department concluded that using the retail sales tax to replace only the income tax and provide a cash grant would require at least a 34 percent tax-exclusive rate.

Some may wonder why the tax rate estimated by FairTax advocates for replacing almost all federal taxes (representing 93 percent of projected federal receipts for fiscal year 2006, or $2.0 trillion) is so much lower than the retail sales tax rate estimated by the Treasury Department for replacing the income tax alone (representing 54 percent of projected federal receipts for fiscal year 2006, or $1.2 trillion).

In conclusion, John Binkowski is supporting some bad legislation and is not being straight with the voters when he proposes this 23 percent sales tax plan. If Michele Bachmann supports it, or has in the past, she is also guilty.

As of right now, with no proof that Bachmann concretely "supports" this proposal, I have to say I'm disappointed in the Wetterling campaign or the consultants who decided this ad was necessary. I suspect they're trying to counter Bachmann's recent "Accomplishments" ad that talked exclusively about taxes, but there are better ways to make taxes an issue. Why not talk about Bachmann's do-nothing record in the State Senate, or how extending the Bush tax plan hurts the middle class instead of helping it. Then contrast that with Patty's own middle-class tax plan.

The Wetterling campaign could have stayed above the negativity of Bachmann and the NRCC; now they've waded into it. I think this could be a poor campaign move.

I will wait for a source on the Bachmann 23% claim; until then I'm reserving judgement. I do like the line, "Michele Bachmann: Radical Ideas We Can't Afford." It could have been made in a better way.

[UPDATE]: Here is the solid source for the ad's claim.

Michele Bachmann and MDE

MN Publius made the discovery today that Michael Brodkorb, who runs the blog Minnesota Democrats Exposed, has done "research" for the Michele Bachmann campaign. He was paid $5500 on August 3rd, according to FEC disclosure reports. Brodkorb did not disclose this relationship, though MN Publius points out that is not illegal.

So, let's see:

Bachmann basically pleads the Fifth on the NRCC smears, thus tacitly endorsing them.

She puts out press releases filled with similar distortions (Wetterling will raise your taxes. Wetterling is skipping debates.)

She hires Michael Brodkorb, a professional Republican hit man, to do "research" for her campaign.

Add that up, and you see that Michele Bachmann is running a negative campaign that is not focusing on the issues, despite her claims to the contrary.

Get ready for NRCC, DCCC ads

Tom Scheck of Polinaut has been visiting the various metro TV stations and has the goods on who's spending what where:

The NRCC is investing a boatload of money in the race in support of Bachmann. The public files at KSTP-TV, WCCO-TV and KARE-11 say the NRCC is spending $1,192,275 for 863 ads between today and election day.

Get ready for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to follow suit. They're scheduled to run 256 ads between October tenth and election day on WCCO-TV and KARE-11 at the total cost of $771,175.

Maybe the DCCC is getting ripped off, or they're targeting their ads in primetime. It seems the NRCC is getting a lot more ads for their money, but the time slot does matter.

Mr. Scheck has also seen the new NRCC ad, which repeats the lie that Patty Wetterling will raise taxes on the middle class.

I just saw the ad on KSTP-TV. The National Republican Congressional Committee ad basically tells viewers that Wetterling will raise your taxes if she's elected. Here's the text from the ad :

"Patty Wetterling just doesn't get it. Lowering taxes helps families and creates jobs. Yet Patty Wetterling opposes making our tax relief permanent that means higher taxes on working families. It means reducing child tax credits and it means bringing back the marraiage penalty. And bringing back the death tax on family businesses and farms. It's clear, Patty Wetterling means higher taxes. She's wrong. The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising."

This lie has already been addressed. Patty Wetterling has NOT proposed eliminating all of the Bush tax cuts. In fact, she has her own plan for middle class tax relief. The only people who would see their taxes increase are those who benefited disproportionately from the Bush tax cuts-- the wealthy.

But the indirect Bachmann-Wetterling exchange on taxes reflects a common disconnect in the discourse on this point this election year.

Wetterling and most Democrats do not favor the expiration or repeal of the Bush tax cuts as they apply to middle-class families.

The standard Democratic position this year is that only those in the top 1 or 2 percent of income earners should see their tax rates revert to the pre-Bush levels. You can argue against that on the basis of economic stimulus and how it indirectly benefits working families.

But apparently there is a broad bipartisan consensus that the $50,000 family of four should keep the benefits it has received under the Bush cuts.

-Eric Black

Why does the NRCC feel the need to fill every ad they run with baseless smears? Can't Michele Bachmann run on her record? (Oh, that's right... she hasn't accomplished anything...) Couldn't they at least go with the standard smears of Democrats... you know, things like,

"Patty Wetterling will ban the Bible!"
"Patty Wetterling will make abortion mandatory!"
"Patty Wetterling will come to your house and forcibly marry your 13-year-old daughter to an iguana!"
"Patty Wetterling will take away your gun and send it to her best bud, Osama bin Laden!"

What ad can we expect next from the liars at the NRCC?

Patty Wetterling endorsed by Wesley Clark

Bachmann v. Wetterling has the story from Roll Call:

Child-safety advocate Patty Wetterling (D) is getting help from failed 2004 and potential 2008 presidential contenders in her bid to win the Gopher State’s open 6th district seat.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark (D), the former NATO commander, is endorsing Wetterling today in her race with state Sen. Michele Bachmann (R). Over the weekend, former vice presidential candidate and ex-Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) was the main event at a St. Paul fundraiser for Wetterling.

Perusing the Wetterling website, I don't see a mention of the Clark endorsement yet, but I did notice they've updated their events calendar FINALLY. Looks like Patty is doing a lot of meet and greets, candidate forums, and debates in the upcoming weeks. I also see she's supposed to appear on two TV shows:

Wednesday, Sept. 27, 3 PM: The Bo Bogotty Show
Thursday, Sept. 28, 2 PM: Between the Lines

I don't know anything about either of these shows. Michele Bachmann criticized Wetterling in the past for missing the Bo Bogotty show; DB has the story (with some help from Polinaut). If you watch them, let us all know how Patty does.

More on the GOP smear campaign

LA Times: Negative Ads a Positive in GOP Strategy

"When people are looking at national issues that are not breaking our way, what you want to do is focus on your opponent," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a former Republican National Committee chief of staff. "You've got to play the field's conditions. They demand very tough tactics."

Cole spelled out that approach in a recent strategy memo to House Republicans: "Define your opponent immediately and unrelentingly…. Do not let up — keep the tough ads running right up to election day. Don't make the mistake of pulling your ads in favor of a positive rotation the last weekend."

Republican incumbents this year began running attack ads earlier than ever. But the hardest-hitting are yet to come.

"You haven't seen the majority of the negative ads yet," said Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, where a staff of 10 has been deployed on opposition research.

Tom Cole has donated to Michele Bachmann's campaign via his COLE PAC.

September 25, 2006

The Kennedy effect

The Pioneer Press today has an article today analyzing the Minnesota Senate race. It contains this flashback to '04:

Kennedy is a three-term Republican U.S. House member from Watertown. Voters might think worse of him because of his association with now-unpopular President Bush and the war in Iraq.

He may also suffer from his campaign two years ago against Democrat Patty Wetterling. Before the campaign, Wetterling was best known for her work on crime issues after her son Jacob was abducted in 1989.

Late in the 2004 campaign, Kennedy and his supporters began running ads directly questioning Wetterling's politics. One said she had "latched onto radical extremist groups." Another said: "The more we learn about Patty Wetterling, the more surprised we are."

Kennedy won that race but may now be paying the price.

"I really think Mark Kennedy is dangerous. I didn't like his tactics in the race with Patty Wetterling. I don't like his tactics now," said Kathleen Miller, a St. Paul housewife and Democrat who took part in the poll.

Susan Phillips, of Forest Lake, considers herself independent of party affiliation. She also answered the poll questions and said she is pulled to Kennedy's message but not his way of campaigning: "I like some of the things Kennedy is saying. But I won't vote for him. He had such a dirty campaign last time."

The article doesn't even mention the infamous Kennedy ad which shows images of Patty Wetterling alongside those of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, and implies that Wetterling opposed the invasion of Afghanistan (she didn't.)

Now that Kennedy is behind by huge margins in every poll, even his own internals, it seems his negative campaign against Patty Wetterling in 2004 is hurting him. He's so far behind that he's already gone negative in this race, a month and a half before the election. Republicans are abandoning him. John Kline's campaign manager reportedly said, "It's over for Mark Kennedy"; the NRSC appears to be leaving his campaign for dead. His campaign is desperate, and we can expect an almost completely negative campaign from now on. Kennedy still has a ton of money in the bank, and it's all going to be used to drag Amy Klobuchar through the mud.

How does this affect the Sixth District race? Well, as you know, Mark Kennedy currently represents the Sixth District. His dirty smear campaign against Patty Wetterling is still fresh in the minds of Sixth District voters. His poor performance top-of-the-ticket Senate race, some say, may even be dragging down the rest of the Republican ticket--a recent segment on MPR linked Tim Pawlenty's lower-than-expected poll numbers in part to Kennedy's poor showing.

With the recent publicity given to the smear-filled NRCC mailings, which have not been condemned and thus implicitly accepted by the Bachmann campaign, will the memory of Kennedy's infamous smear against Wetterling spur voters to vote for Patty? Will Kennedy's poor poll numbers drive down Republican turnout and become toxic for Michele Bachmann? Let's not forget, Bachmann and Kennedy are tight:

The Governor's race, if things remain tight, will also become a slugfest with mudslinging on both sides. The NRCC has already gone negative on Wetterling four times in less than a week; Michele Bachmann refuses to condemn these tactics. Most of all, voters will be besieged by smear ads from a desperate but well-funded Mark Kennedy. If the Patty Wetterling campaign can stay above the fray, I think the memories of '04, and the current round of dirty campaiging, could end up being a benefit rather than a negative for Patty.

[UPDATE]: Kennedy releases another negative ad in desperation.

Wetterling receives LCV endorsement

Tom Scheck of Polinaut reports that Patty Wetterling has received the endorsment of the League of Conservation Voters, quoting from their press release:

Patty Wetterling understands that by investing in clean energy technologies, we are investing in our future public health and economy. We know Patty Wetterling will be a true leader in Congress for the people of Minnesota’s 6th District.?

In addition to her strong support for investing in renewable energy, Ms. Wetterling is also a proponent of investing in public transportation projects. In Congress, she will support public transportation measures and will work to extend Minnesota’s Northstar Commuter Rail line from Minneapolis to St. Cloud.

September 24, 2006

Wetterling, Edwards rally for education

John Edwards was at my former high school yesterday for a Patty Wetterling campaign rally. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any pictures. If you were there, please send me some!

Edwards joins Wetterling in rally for Minnesota's public schools

ANOKA, Minn. – Former Sen. John Edwards joined 6 th District congressional candidate Patty Wetterling today at Stillwater Area High School for a rally in support of public education. Flanked by local leaders, teachers and students, Wetterling laid out key principles that should drive our government investment in public education.

"Public education is the cornerstone of our democracy," said Wetterling. "We need more people in Congress who know education – as a mom and a former teacher I know the importance of strong schools and I know that our future depends on our investment in our children."

Wetterling stated that we must provide the resources schools need to meet national mandates in No Child Left Behind, increase emphasis on math and science to prepare students for the next generation of jobs, and decrease class sizes so that kids can get the individual attention they need to reach their full potential.

"I want to work with superintendents, school boards, teachers and parents to make significant, common-sense changes to this law to make sure our focus is on our children's success – not a testing company's profits."

Wetterling has made increasing educational opportunities a cornerstone of her campaign. A former teacher, she has seen first hand the needs of our students and the failings of our government to meet those needs.

"Education is the most important investment we can make in our future. If we don't educate our kids – we have no future. When I am in Congress I will put our children first."

Edwards emphasized support for our public schools, teachers and students, and echoed Wetterling's hope for public education: "We have got to make a commitment as a nation that every child in America, no matter where they live, what the color of their skin or the income of their family, will get exactly the same education as the richest parents in America can afford for their children."

I heard that my former U.S history teacher introduced the candidates.

Wetterling's polls have her up 2-3 points?

I found this on DKos. I don't know the source; presumably it originates from within the campaign. It is a response to the SurveyUSA poll that showed Bachmann up by 9 points:

"The only polling that is reliable in this race is the internal polling in this race done by our campaign and the DCCC. This polling shows that it is an extremely close race leaning towards Patty by 2-3%. This is reliable polling done by Mark Mellman, possibly the most respected public opinion researchers in the nation."

So is this spin? or reality? One person in the thread disputed these numbers, another said they were correct. It's hard for me to tell who to trust. I'm sure that this race is closer than 9 points, and would like to believe that Patty is up, but until we get some more polling data, you just don't know.

If anyone knows the source on this, please let me know. I am subscribed to the campaign emails but did not get this one. Perhaps there is a separate campaign donor list, or an "insider list."

If anyone knows Bachmann's internals, or has heard anything, post those as well.

Bachmann-world vs. reality

From Lawrence Schumacher's coverage of Thursday night's debate in Woodbury:

Bachmann, a state senator from Stillwater, continued to emphasize her belief... that the nation is safer because of its military involvement in Iraq.

Here is the headline in the NYT today:

Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terror Threat

A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,? cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,? said one American intelligence official.

Why does Michele Bachmann continue to ignore the facts about the Iraq war?

September 23, 2006

New Bachmann ad touts "accomplishments"

Michele Bachmann has a new ad up on her website entitled "Accomplishment." I don't know if it's been shown on TV yet.

This ad touts Bachmann's record of "accomplishment" in "standing up for taxpayers" during her career in the State Senate. It mentions her attempts to end the "death tax" (aka the estate tax), end the Alternative Minimum Tax, and the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights.

As far as I'm aware, all of these bills and amendments failed.

Can this really be called a record of "accomplishment"?

Over at Dump Bachmann, there's a challenge to Bachmann supporters: come up with anything that Michele Bachmann accomplished in her six years in the Minnesota State Senate.


Before I go to bed, I want to comment on a bizarre comment by John Binkowski in tonight's Almanac debate. The Star Trib article on the debate contains this quote:

Binkowski, Eskola said, is not known well enough to even have a stereotype.

Binkowski: "I think that's great. ... I'm trying to run a campaign that's going to represent younger folks in this country. I'm 27. People between the ages of 18 and 25 haven't turned out to vote in percentages greater than single digits since 1992. I think that that's a product of seeing legislation and representation in Washington that doesn't represent them."

I don't know where he's getting his statistics, but this claim is easily disproven. For instance, in 2000, nationwide voter turnout for voters between 18 and 24 was 36.1%. I don't think it's ever been in the "single digits." In the 1998 midterm elections, the 18-24 nationwide turnout was 17%.

Of course, these are terrible statistics, and Binkowski's point is sound. But candidates shouldn't be in the business of making up statistics and overexaggerating them to make their point.

Some would probably take issue with this statement from Michele Bachmann:

"Almanac" host Eric Eskola asked each candidate to address stereotypes. Bachmann, he said, is perceived as "focusing on social issues like gay marriage and as a lightning rod for division and disunity -- pulling people apart, not bringing them together."

Bachmann: "... I've been in the state Senate for six years, probably the strongest fiscal conservative that there was in the Minnesota State Senate.

Why the self-aggrandizement? I guess it depends on your definition of "fiscal conservatism," but I assume Bachmann is referring to the Taxpayers' League, no-new-taxes type of "fiscal conservatism" (rather than the "use sane and responsible measures to balance the budget" type). Even by that measure, it would be hard to claim that she is the "strongest" in a State Senate filled with David Strom wannabes. Take a look at the 2006 Taxpayers League scorecard; there are a good handful of senators with extremely high ratings and even a couple of freshmen senators who have lifetime ratings of 100, higher than Bachmann's 94.

And let's not forget, this was the "fiscal conservative" who graciously allowed the taxpayers to pay her home cable bill.

More bad press for Bachmann and the NRCC

Good for the Strib. Eric Black says what I said yesterday about the latest dishonest NRCC flyer claiming that Patty Wetterling is helping to ship jobs overseas.

A new flier sent to homes in the Sixth Congressional District this week accuses DFL congressional candidate Patty Wetterling of complicity in shipping American jobs overseas.

This is based on the argument that Wetterling is accountable for the actions of the companies whose stock is owned by mutual funds in which Wetterling has invested.

The flier also ignores the fact that Wetterling's Republican opponent, Michele Bachmann, likewise owns shares in mutual funds that own shares of companies that have shipped U.S. jobs overseas.

There is a ridiculous quote from Jonathan Collegio, the same guy who defended the claim that Patty "failed to vote" in the election in 2004 when in fact she voted in both the primary and the general elections.

Collegio of the NRCC: Bachmann's holdings are not relevant because "the mailer is not about the Republican candidate."

September 22, 2006

Michele Bachmann video contest

The Sunshine Foundation has a new website up where you can mix-and-match to create a scene imagining what your congressperson does all day in Congress. You can select pre-recorded scenes, arrange them as you see fit, and add text and music.

I propose a contest: create a video about what Michele Bachmann's congressional life would be like, were she to be elected. Post the link in the comments. The best video(s) will be posted here.

Nothing too vulgar, please.

Also check out the Michele Bachmann Video Blog, run by Ken Avidor of Dump Bachmann.

Comments fixed (?)... for now

Comments should be working again.

As an anti-spam feature, I've set up the site to automatically close comments on any thread that has been dormant for more than 14 days (i.e., no one has commented on it for two full weeks.)

If you want to comment on an older thread, send me an e-mail.

Another blatantly dishonest NRCC smear

Dump Bachmann has the images of the latest NRCC smear against Patty Wetterling. Here's the text:

"Shipping American jobs overseas hurts American workers. [...] PATTY WETTERLING IS HELPING LOAD THE SHIP. Patty Wetterling's financial disclosures reveal that she has had a financial interest in companies that outsource jobs overseas or employ cheap labor overseas."

The two sources listed for this claim are Patty's filing with the U.S. Senate (apparently from when she was in the running for the Senate nomination) and this list from Lou Dobbs of CNN of companies that are "exporting America":

These are U.S. companies either sending American jobs overseas, or choosing to employ cheap overseas labor, instead of American workers.

Well, guess what? I took a look at Michele Bachmann's financial disclosure form from the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board. Listed there are several mutual funds. I took the first one, American Funds Capital World Growth and Income and looked it up. I randomly selected a company from the top of the list, Aetna, Inc., of which the fund owns 2 million shares worth almost $80 million.

Then I checked it against Lou Dobbs' list. Guess what? Aetna is EXPORTING AMERICA! Michele Bachmann has a financial interest in "exporting America!"

That is just one example; I'm sure a detailed search through the records of Bachmann's funds and holdings would result in literally hundreds more.

Here's another: Michele Bachmann has taken contributions from PepsiCo's PAC; Pepsi is listed on Lou Dobbs' list. These AMERICA-EXPORTERS are funding her campaign!

I can't believe the hypocrisy. I hope the media spreads the word about this smear, as well.

September 21, 2006

Bachmann campaign manager Parrish proposed a "womb tax" to curb abortion; wrote that "life for the left begins at taxation"

You can tell a lot about a person by the people they associate themselves with.

In the case of Michele Bachmann, we can tell a lot about her by the person she hired to run her campaign, Andy Parrish. Through the immense help of a source at UW-River Falls, Parrish's alma mater, I have obtained a stack of materials pertaining to Parrish's days on campus, which were filled with controversy, to say the least.

I will be writing about Parrish more in the upcoming weeks. Suffice it to say that there's enough here to keep me entertained for a looooong time.

Parrish wrote columns for the UWRF student newspaper, The Student Voice, for at least the 2003-2004 school year. Unfortunately, the newspaper's online archive only dates to October, 2004, but I have photocopies of some of his columns from the newspaper archives at River Falls. Once I get access to a scanner, I will post images of the columns so that you can all enjoy them as much as I have. The following are excerpts from a column Parrish wrote on November 21st, 2003, entitled "Left might think right with womb tax."

I have come to the conclusion that, for [liberals] life does not begin at conception, life for the left begins at taxation... Since liberals believe that life does not begin until they can tax you, I thought it my duty to educate [them.]

Parrish then proceeds to give readers advice on how to "be your own abortionist" (direct quote) and gives an extremely graphic description of a home abortion. (Isn't this an argument for legal and safe abortions?) He then continues,

Some people argue that this new partial birth abortion ban takes away their right to play God and choose who lives and dies based on convenience. I have this to say to the anti-life crowd. I am not taking away anyone's choice over their own reproductive life. They already chose when they engaged in sexual intercourse. Here is my solution to this life debacle.

If we tax the baby--we'll say property tax--for occupying the mother's womb, the left will fight to keep the baby alive instead of fighting to abort it. Then they can receive more money for-we'll say education beacuse there isn't enough spent there already--then maybe, just maybe, the left would acknowledge the fact that this fetus is more than just a fetus: It is a human life.

If you still want to try partial birth abortions on your own, happy abortioning. Support our troops, support our president and have a great conservative day.

His trademark is ending every column with the "have a great conservative day" line.

I also have a page of letters to the editor criticizing Parrish's insensitive, inaccurate, and inflammatory column. I will quote one of the letters:

This article is more of a shallow attack and a cheap attempt to demonize liberals at the expense of a valid issue. Your points about taxing the baby to get liberal support are about as dumb as saying [R]epublicans would support it if they got a tax break... When given a chance to provide a piece on why we need to deal with these issues, Andy chose instead rhetoric and baseless attacks. Talking about what type of limits for the life and health of the mother would have been a far better issue.

Hmm... rhetoric and baseless attacks rather than an attempt to deal with the issues? That description also fits Andy's boss, Michele Bachmann, to a T.

So, where does Michele Bachmann stand on the "womb tax" that her campaign manager proposed less than three years ago?

Keep checking back for more Andy Parrish Antics.

September 20, 2006

NRCC smear backfires

The NRCC has sent out at least three mailings (here's the third) claiming that Patty Wetterling "failed to vote in three elections." The AP does some checking and finds that it's a damn dirty lie:

The National Republican Congressional Committee claimed in a brochure sent to 6th District voters this week that Democratic candidate Patty Wetterling failed to vote in three big election years, including 2004.

The hitch? Wetterling voted in both the primary and general elections that year, when she made her first run for Congress in the suburban and exurban district.

NRCC Press Secretary Jonathan Collegio cited Wetterling's voting record from the Minnesota Secretary of State's office, which shows no evidence of her voting in a March 2004 presidential preference ballot.

But that's because there are no official voting records on anyone from that ballot, which was conducted by the political parties at precinct caucuses, said Kent Kaiser, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office. News reports said scrap paper and Post-It notes were used as ballots in some busy precincts.

Wetterling accused Republicans of lying about her voting record.

"They're trying to say that I didn't vote for myself in '04," she said in a prepared statement issued Tuesday. "I think the 6th District knows better than to believe that."

This was a BS attack from the start. The other elections (2000, 2002) were primary elections. I didn't vote in the primary this year; less than 16% of Minnesotans did. I hope this doesn't disqualify me from running for public office.

In all likelihood, a majority of those who prepared this ad didn't vote in the primaries, either.

And, please-- not voting in the nonbinding "presidential preference ballot" at the caucuses?

Collegio on Wednesday said the NRCC won't back off its claim. The record shows that Wetterling didn't vote in the 2000 or 2002 primary elections.

"If Patty Wetterling wants to produce documentation showing that she did in fact vote in the 2004 presidential preference ballot, then we will take a look at it," he said.

I did vote in this ballot in 2004. Of course, there will be no record of this, because we voted on slips of paper. The ballots were counted by hand and, to my knowledge, a person's vote was not recorded anywhere.

Patty Wetterling should sue the NRCC for libel.

Bachmann flip-flops on the importance of debating

Which of these things is not like the others? Which of these things just doesn't belong?

August 8th:

Patty Wetterling--one out of four, the sixth district deserves more. What would your employer do if you only showed up twenty five percent of the time?

It is a sad day when a Congressional candidate decides veterans and local businesses are not worth the effort to show up. I received an invitation to attend a candidate forum sponsored by both the Forest Lake Chamber of Commerce and the Forest Lake VFW. Even though I had a previous commitment, my scheduler made it work. Given that Patty cancelled the day of the Forest Lake forum in 2004, I can understand why allowances were not made for candidate schedules.

-Letter from Michele Bachmann

August 9th:

In her opening comments Bachmann went on and on about how awful it was that Patty Wetterling wasn't participating...

-Mike at Minnesota's in the Middle

September 19th:

The nonpartisan, nonprofit organization Working Families Win will host a public meeting with 6th Congressional District candidates from 6:30 to 8:30 tonight at Bayport Public Library, 582 Fourth St. N.

Independence Party candidate John Binkowski and Democrat Patty Wetterling have confirmed their attendance.

-BvW, quoting from a PiPress article

Where is Michele Bachmann? I thought showing up to debates was her #1 issue!

Or was it education... or was it gay marriage... or was it "radical Islam"...

The Bachmann Record is a great site, people! Use it!


I have enabled TypeKey authentication to stop the comment spam that was driving me crazy. I received over 2,000 spams from two different IP addresses (a trace showed them to be from Ukraine) in the past two days.

This change will hopefully be temporary. I don't want to discourage anyone from commenting, and I don't particularly care if you use a real name and email address.

If you posted a comment in the past couple of days and it doesn't show up, it may have been caught in my "junk filter." Please let me know and I'll try to fish it out.

September 18, 2006

Debate in St. Cloud

Eric Black has the story about tonight's debate at a St. Cloud senior center. There's nothing in it that we didn't know before about the candidates, but it's still worth a read. Perhaps he'll have more on "The Big Question" blog later. I also expect Lawrence Schumacher to weigh in; he normally covers these debates. The play-by-play according to Mr. Black:

Binkowski, a political newcomer with a low-budget campaign, may have stolen the show as he aimed courtly barbs at both opponents, whom he called "the two lovely ladies sitting on either side of me." He accused Wetterling and Bachmann of having campaigns that are funded and run from Washington and that follow talking points from Republican and Democratic leaders.

Wetterling's strongest rhetoric was on domestic issues such as whether Congress should fully fund its promised 40 percent share of the cost of mandates on public schools for special education.

Bachmann said that Congress would never provide full funding so she favors eliminating the mandates. Wetterling replied; "We cannot not fund special education? That's criminal and against everything I believe in."

Bachmann's biggest ovation came on a national security issue. Binkowski had set the stage by accusing the Republicans of fear-mongering on terrorism, leaving Americans cowering in front of their television sets.

Bachmann replied that her brother is defending the country in the U.S. Navy and he is "not cowering."

If anyone was there, please tell us about it. I'm interested in more details on the candidates' styles and speaking ability, and how each of their messages was received.

The candidates will debate Friday night on Almanac. Hopefully I'll be able to watch it.

Another poll

Dump Bachmann points out a new poll, this one by Survey USA. It doesn't look pretty:

Bachmann Holds MN6 House seat for GOP: In an election in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District today, 9/18/05, Republican Michele Bachmann edges DFL Candidate Patty Wetterling, 50% to 41%, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for KSTP-TV Minneapolis. Independence Party candidate John Binkowski gets 5%. Bachmann gets 89% of Republican votes. Wetterling gets 85% of Democrat votes. Independents split. Bachmann leads by 19 points among men. Wetterling leads by 3 points among women. Bachmann's lead comes entirely from voters under age 50. Voters age 50+ split evenly. Bachmann leads by 70 points among conservatives. Wetterling leads by 62 points among liberals and by 19 points among moderates. Of those who approve of President George W. Bush's job performance, 87% choose Bachmann. Of those who disapprove of Bush's job performance, 77% choose Wetterling. President Bush's job approval among likely voters in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District is 46%. Incumbent 3-term Republican Congressman Mark Kennedy is running for the U.S. Senate this year. The House seat is open. Wetterling lost to Kennedy by 8 points in 2004. The election is on 11/7/06.

The margin of error on this poll was +/- 3.9%, so the 9-point differential is almost within the margin of error. 3% also remain undecided. Overall, though, one can't argue with the trend so far in the two polls: Patty Wetterling is playing catch-up.

The poll appears to show that Bachmann has more support among Republicans than Wetterling does among Democrats. More surprising is the fact that, while 77% of those who disapprove of President Bush support Wetterling, a full 15% support Bachmann.

The crosstabs on this are not all that useful. They don't show voter confidence in their choice or differentiate between "leaners" and "solid" voters. Some of the crosstabs are suspect; for instance, I don't believe that 56% of my generation (Gen Y) would support Bachmann. Young people tend to vote Democratic, and we are much more moderate on social issues than Bachmann is. Anecdotally, most of the people I knew at my high school (those who were into politics) were virulently anti-Bachmann. This was in Stillwater, Michele's home turf. A lot of us will be voting in the Sixth District even if we attend college somewhere else, and college students at St. Cloud, St. John's/St. Ben's and elsewhere will be an important voting bloc that may be underrepresented in this poll. I suspect that the Gen Y-ers polled were not representative of my generation.

It appears that potential spoiler John Binkowski is drawing equally (4%) from the Republican and Democratic camps, but he is siphoning off independents (10%) that would otherwise probably break for Wetterling. Who knows-- if Binkowski remains a longshot candidate in the polls and does not inspire more support in the debate, the "anti-Bachmann" contingent among the independents may decide to bolt for Wetterling. We'll see what happens in the debates, but at this point Binkowski is nothing more than a spoiler.

Another qualifier on this poll: there are still almost 2 months before election day. Most people have not tuned into this race yet. Ads just began running. There are debates and controversies that will change this race. Anyone who says this race is over is dead wrong. None of the campaigns are throwing in the towel, and neither will this blog.

Massive CD6 doorknock this weekend

Dedicated DFLers will be doorknocking across the district this Saturday, September 23rd, in support of Patty Wetterling and other statewide and local candidates. Here are the locations and details:

Elk River 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Elk River Dairy Queen 403 Morton Avenue Northwest Contact Caitlin at charvey@dfl.org or 320-229-3930

Circle Pines
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
43 E Golden Lake Rd
Circle Pines, MN 55014-1702
Contact: Graham Wilson at gwilson@dfl.org or 651-249-1736

Rocori High School
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
534 5th Ave North
Cold Spring, MN 56320
Contact: Jeff Will ( jwill@dfl.org) or 320-229-3930

Carol's Restaurant
2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
11888 Aberdeen Ct
Blaine, MN
Contact: Graham Wilson at gwilson@dfl.org or 651-249-1736

St. Cloud DFL Office
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
904 W. St. Germain Street
St. Cloud, MN 56301
Contact: Jesse ( jlevine@dfl.org) or 320-229-3930

Forest Lake Area High School
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
6101 Scandia Trail N.
Forest Lake, MN 55025
Contact: Katy Cosse ( kcosse@dfl.org) or 651-982-8400

Washington County DFL Office
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
8645 Eagle Point Blvd
Lake Elmo, MN 55042
Contact: Jonpaul Barrabee ( jbarrabee@dfl.org) or 651-209-9356

The ads begin

Last week, Michele Bachmann released her first ad, and is calling it "Dream Big." You can see it at her site (but only with Internet Explorer, at least in my experience.) Today, Patty Wetterling released her first ad, entitled "Voice."

Patty's ad is, in my opinion, a fantastic "intro" ad. In the same vein as Amy Klobuchar's well-received ad touting her successful fight to win more hospital time for new mothers, this ad starts with a brief summary of the Jacob Wetterling tragedy and then moves to Patty's successful fight in Congress for tougher crime and safety legislation. People already know who Patty Wetterling is, so this is more of a "reintroduction," and it seems nearly pitch-perfect.

Bob Collins at Polinaut does point out the oddity that the ad is entirely in black and white, a color scheme normally reserved for attack ads. He suggests an Oz-like color change from B&W to color would be psychologically effective. I'm wondering if there is some new advertising theory that seeks to blunt the effect of the inevitable GOP attack ads by creating a positive connotation with that color scheme. Has it ever been tried before?

(Anyone with any knowledge of the psychology of advertising, help me out here. I'm just BSing.)

On the other hand, Bachmann's ad seems mostly boring. It tells us a little about Bachmann, that she has a family and a "small business" (but, predictably, fails to mention that neither the Bachmann clinic or the Bachmann campaign provides healthcare for employees) and used to be a tax attorney. Its biggest success, I suppose, is that it does nothing controversial and portrays Bachmann as a run-of-the-mill Republican. Once voters learn the truth about Bachmann's extremism, this positive image of Bachmann will start to be tarnished.

Blog spam

Over the past week, and escalating in the past 8 hours, this site has been receiving a ton of spam comments and trackbacks.

I am instituting measures to try to stop this, as it really makes the site less enjoyable. In this process, some legitimate comments and trackbacks may get lost. If you post a comment and it doesn't show up, contact me using the email address above, and I will try to rescue your comment from purgatory.

Also, if you have any suggestions as to how to combat spam on the Movable Type system, I'd be very appreciative of any advice.

I really don't want to implement a registration system, but it seems to be very effective at combating blog spam at BvW. So I will ask:

If you were required to register to comment, how would that affect your commenting habits?

Smear campaign begins

Dump Bachmann has been covering the anti-gay lit piece sent out by the NRCC to smear Patty Wetterling. It says that Patty "failed to vote in 3 elections" on the front, and when you turn it over, there's a picture of a wedding cake with two grooms and the text,

"But There's One Vote Patty Wetterling Would Make..." "Liberal Patty Wetterling is against a Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage. (St. Cloud Times, 10/20/04)" "You'd think protecting marriage would be a piece of cake, but obviously Patty Wetterling's "hometown" values aren't like ours."

I just received a tip that there's another NRCC hit piece circulating, using the same format ("Patty Wetterling didn't vote in 3 elections, but there's one vote she will make...") and then making the claim that she would "raise taxes." I'd be interested in seeing this piece, so scan it if you have it and send it here.

September 14, 2006

Wetterling hits Bachmann on light rail

WCCO has the story:

Democrat Patty Wetterling criticized Republican Michele Bachmann for her Minnesota Senate vote in favor of amendments that would have stripped state Northstar appropriations in 2002 and 2005.

Wetterling said she wants to extend the $307 million line between Minneapolis and Big Lake all the way to St. Cloud.

Bachmann voted for the 2005 bonding bill containing more than $37 million for Northstar, but voted against the 2006 bonding bill, which included $60 million for the project. She said the district's residents care more about roads than transit and that's a better way to spend government money.

This could be an effective line of attack as voters go to the polls to decide the fate of the transportation amendment.

Campus media

I was interviewed for an article in the Minnesota Daily. The author did a pretty good job of conveying what I said, but even the statements in quotes aren't verbatim. If reporters are not going to quote people accurately, they should just drop the quotes altogether. Anyway, here's my part of the article:

English and Russian language junior Pat Smith is also familiar with the campaigning process: He's been blogging about the 6th District U.S. Congressional campaign this summer.

Although Smith writes in support of Democratic candidate Patty Wetterling, he is unaffiliated with her official campaign.

Wetterling's Republican opponent, state Sen. Michele Bachmann, represents Smith's hometown, Stillwater.

Smith said he is supporting Wetterling for two reasons.

"(Bachmann's) done a poor job," he said. "And, (Wetterling) is offering a way out of the chaos in Iraq, a tax plan for the middle class and she's done great work in the past lobbying. I'm proud to have cast a vote for her in 2004 (when she ran for Congress)."

Smith also worked for John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign at an on-campus phone bank and went door-to-door to promote the candidate.


Smith said he has strengthened his personal political identity and his understanding of government on a broader scale.

"I have become more informed and I feel more of a connection to the process of government," he said. "Voting's very important. It is both a privilege and a responsibility - and it can have an impact."

I actually told the reporter that Wetterling has done great work lobbying Congress on child-safety and crime issues, and compared that to Bachmann's do-nothing record. I mentioned Wetterling's pro-student stance. I gave reasons why Bachmann has done a poor job, especially her focus on extremist social-conservative goals at the expense of accomplishing anything. On the issue of voting, I specifically mentioned that until college students and young people vote, politicians won't take us seriously.

On a related note, last night I wrote a letter to the editor of the Daily, and I just received word that it will be published tomorrow. I wrote it in response to an ostensible 9/11 memorial held by the College Republicans that was used as a recruiting tool for the organization. I borrowed the rhetorical frame of the letter from a suggestion by Josh Marshall over at TPM. You saw it here first... I'll post the link to the Daily's version tomorrow.

I wouldn't mind that the College Republicans politicized 9/11 with their recent "Never Forget 9/11" recruiting event if our Republican-controlled government hadn't failed so badly at capturing those responsible and at keeping our homeland safe.

I just saw a picture of a guy who pledged on September 12th, 2001, not to trim his beard until Osama bin Laden was captured or killed. After 5 years, his beard's getting pretty long. President Bush recently warned bin Laden, "America will find you." Strong words from a man who said he was "not that concerned" about bin Laden. Bush decided to pull out most of the special forces and CIA operatives searching for bin Laden in early 2002, when we had a good idea of his whereabouts, to prepare for the invasion of Iraq, a war which had nothing to do with 9/11 and has actually made our country less safe by stirring up anti-American sentiment among those who would do us harm.

And let's not forget the Republican record when it comes to protecting America. Five years later, the most basic recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission to improve homeland security have not been implemented. We still scan less than 1% of the shipping containers entering our vulnerable ports for smuggled WMDs. Our mass transit systems, like the light rail here in Minneapolis, have been proven vulnerable by attacks overseas, yet transit security remains desperately under-funded. Republicans have also been more interested in dishing out pork in security aid to states than on spending the money in places where it is needed most, like our most populous and vulnerable cities.

Republicans talk the talk, but they can't walk the walk. It seems that Republicans have forgotten the lessons of 9/11. Vote for change in Washington this November 7th.

Here's the picture of the beard guy:


September 12, 2006

The man behind the curtain

I am still interested in the story about the GOP's strategy for the midterms, namely to avoid the issues and spend millions attacking Democrats on "personal issues and local controversies." Josh Marshall has a post on the guy who's going to be running this attack campaign, Terry Nelson. He's been involved in two big GOP scandals (that we know of): the New Hampshire phone-jamming case and the Tom DeLay money-laundering scandal.

Marshall ends by warning,

Everything is on the line for these guys. So be prepared for literally anything over the next sixty days.

September 11, 2006

RNC Chair Mehlman coming to town for Bachmann

I got an email today from the Bachmann campaign, inviting me to "Rally for Victory with RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman"! It's September 20th in Woodbury. They have another "photo op" going down, but this time you don't need to pony up the big bucks (though I'm guessing if you slipped them a cool $2,000 under the table, they wouldn't care so much if you didn't fulfill your grassroots obligations...):

The Bachmann for Congress campaign issued a call challenge to all grassroots activists, volunteers, and campaign supporters. Simply make 180 total calls or register 12 people to vote between now and September 19, to have your picture taken with Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman at our Rally for Victory on September 20.

Your work is needed to help find more supporters for our Republican candidates. The more supporters we can identify the better our direct message will be and the more people we can turn out to vote on Election Day! This work is vital to our victory in November.

I challenge readers of this blog to call 180 people in the Sixth District themselves and deliver some talking points about the real Michele Bachmann. Tell them about her long tradition of protecting the taxpayers while allowing them to pay her cable bills. Tell them about her stance on nuking Iran, and her consistent support for the failed U.S. policy in Iraq. Tell them how she got all giggly when she ate custard with President Bush, and the fundraisers with Rove, Cheney, Hastert, et. al. Tell them about the $50,000 in contributions from anti-education groups, the donations from the Safari Club (supports the hunting of endangered animals), and the money from tobacco and liquor interests. Tell them about her opposition to the minimum wage-- the concept of the minimum wage itself-- as well as her support of business interests over those of working families. Tell them about her firm belief in a market-based healthcare system, and mention that she takes a principled stand in refusing to cover one red cent of her employees' health-care costs. Tell them about her long, prestigious State Senate record of submitting purely symbolic bills, and bills that would be consistently killed in committee. Tell them how this led her own party to demote her from her leadership position.

Deliver all these facts in a pleasant, non-combative way. Simply present the facts, and tell your listener to have a good night.

Once you've hit 180, contact the Bachmann campaign and sign up for that pic with Ken Mehlman!

New campaign meme: "Vote Republican or DIE"

Actually, this is the strategy they've been using since 9/12/01. But never has it been stated as explicitly as this...

Yep, it's come to this: If you don't vote for the pro-war candidate in your district, you will die. That's literally the message in a new ad that a conservative think tank, The Center For Security Policy, has now released in time for the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11. The ad shows images of the burning Twin Towers and Americans held hostage and concludes by flashing on the screen: "Vote as if your life depends on it. Because it does."

TPM Cafe has the video. The ad is not currently scheduled to run in Minnesota, but we can expect something similar (though perhaps phrased a bit differently) from the Bachmann campaign.

September 10, 2006

Politicizing 9/11

By now, you've probably heard of the ABC/Disney miniseries The Path to 9/11, set to air on ABC stations Sunday and Monday nights. The WaPo's "style columnist" Tom Shales describes it thusly:

Factually shaky, politically inflammatory and photographically a mess, "The Path to 9/11" -- ABC's two-part, five-hour miniseries tracing events leading up to the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon -- has something not just to offend everyone but also to depress them.

Though it claims to be "based on the report of the 9/11 Commission," the miniseries has been criticized by members of that same commission for its inaccuracies and falsifications. Many questions have been raised about the accuracy of this film, and they are summarized here. Basically, critics allege that the film attempts to use the 5th anniversary of 9/11 for political gain by disproportionately blaming the Clinton administration for the government's failure to stop the plot. It was produced by conservative evangelical activists, and it was marketed and shown to conservative talk-show hosts and bloggers at the same time members of the Clinton administration were denied opportunities to view the film. Key scenes in the film were completely made up for "dramatic effect." href="http://thinkprogress.org/">ThinkProgress has been on top of this story all along; read their archive for all the dirt.

So who's broadcasting this piece of junk? ABC, now a subsidiary of Disney. The ABC affiliate in the Twin Cities, broadcast across the Sixth District, is KSTP Channel 5. The station is owned by Hubbard Broadcasting, and according to KSTP's website, the station is still planning on broadcasting the controversial show.

A message posted to the DFL SD59 message board:

I spoke with an aide to the Hubbard family regarding Hubbard Broadcasting Company's projected airing of ABC's "Pathway to 9/11." The Hubbard aide indicated that all 241 ABC affiliates will likely air the program. He also indicated that KSTP may place a statement at the beginning or end of the program to indicate that the views of the program do not necessarily reflect the view of KSTP's management.

I called 5TV-NEWS (612-588-6397) and asked to speak to Mr. Hubbard's office
with my concern. If you call, please ask for Mr. Stanley Hubbard's office.

They appeared interested and amenable to presenting a caveat. Please ask
them to present a caveat.

How does this relate to Michele Bachmann? Dump Bachmann alerts us that Bachmann held a press conference yesterday to politicize 9/11:

5th Anniversary of 9-11 Michele Bachmann and Congressional Intelligence Chair Pete Hoekstra Will Provide an Overview on the War on Terror and Intelligence Legislation. Woodbury, MN – Michele Bachmann, Congressional Candidate for Minnesota’s 6th District and Congressman Pete Hoekstra (MI-02), will provide an overview on the War on Terror and Intelligence Legislation. Pete is the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In this role, he leads Congressional oversight issues relating to the U.S. Intelligence Community as the United States defends itself in a global war on terror.

There are no reports available from the press conference, but that name Pete Hoekstra sure rings a bell... hmm... Pete Hoekstra... is he the guy who was still claiming as recently as June that the U.S. did, indeed, find WMD's in Iraq? Does Bachmann believe this stuff, too?

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Bachmann is politicizing 9/11 for political gain, and her campaign stands to benefit from the lies contained in the ABC "docudrama." Is there any further connection?

Take a look at the evidence, in the form of FEC reports. Hubbard Broadcasting, owner of KSTP, is one of Bachmann's most generous supporters.

Here's a list of the Hubbard-related donations Bachmann has accumulated.

Bachmann for Congress
$250 on 8/3/06 from Gerald Deeney, listed as a Hubbard Broadcasting executive.
$4200 total from Karen Hubbard, listed as a Hubbard board member.
$1500 total from Stanley Hubbard, listed as Hubbard's Vice President.
$500 on 8/2/06 from Kathryn Rominski-Hubbard, listed as a board member.

Bachmann Minnesota Victory Committee
Another $5000 from Karen Hubbard.

Stanley Hubbard has also given at least $1,000 to ERICPAC (Every Republican Is Crucial), which has given money
to Bachmann
. There may be other links through the web of contributions to PACs, Funds, etc. from the Hubbards to Bachmann.

So not only is Bachmann benefiting from the Hubbards' fiscal generosity, her campaign also stands to profit when they air this program. It should be noted that ABC plans to run the program without commercial interruption. Let me repeat that: there are no commercial sponsors for this program. No one is paying their bills. So they're basically taking a $40 million hit to air propaganda in hopes of influencing an election. Hubbard, presumably, is also taking a hit, in the form of lost ad revenues and costs associated with broadcasting the show.

Draw your own conclusions. Patty Wetterling is up against a lot of powerful forces in this campaign.

[UPDATE]: Minnesota Monitor has more on KSTP and the "Path to 9/11." KSTP's response to questioning:

[A]s the ABC affiliate, Channel 5 broadcasts ABC network programming but does not determine the content of it. We are the only locally-owned television station serving the Twin Cities, and hope that you will judge ABC network offerings separately from Channel 5's own local news and public affairs programming... We also suggest that you make your opinion known to the originator of the program: ABCNEWS.

But should we judge the politics of the station's owners differently from the politics of ABC and their bosses at Disney? Whether or not the folks at Hubbard Broadcasting had anything to do with the content of the program or whether they have any control over what they show, they seem to have the same political agenda.

Here come the attack dogs

Talking Points Memo today finds an article in the Washington Post outlining the GOP strategy for the midterm elections:

Republicans are planning to spend the vast majority of their sizable financial war chest over the final 60 days of the campaign attacking Democratic House and Senate candidates over personal issues and local controversies, GOP officials said.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which this year dispatched a half-dozen operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates, plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads.

The hope is that a vigorous effort to "define" opponents, in the parlance of GOP operatives, can help Republicans shift the midterm debate away from Iraq and limit losses this fall.

Minnesota Republican Watch also quotes this WaPo article, and finds that the NRCC is dumping money into the Sixth District race, quoting Polinaut:

The groups will run a total of 946 ads on WCCO-TV between October third through election day. The groups won't say which races they're targeting but it's safe to say the DSCC will run ads on behalf of Amy Klobuchar, the DCCC will probably run ads on behalf of Patty Wetterling and the NRCC will run ads on behalf of Michele Bachmann. Bachmann and Wetterling are running for Congress in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District. …

The National Republican Congressional Committee will run 396 ads on WCCO between October third and election day at a cost of $579,100.

Put those two facts together, and it sure looks like some nasty attack ads are coming in the two months before the election.

This is the Minnesota Democrats Exposed style of politics: dig up any dirt you can on your opponent, no matter how irrelevant or scurrilous the allegations. Fling mud rather than debate policies. It's despicable.

Unfortunately for the Repubs who would attempt this strategy in the Sixth, there doesn't seem to be too much dirt on Patty Wetterling. I can't think of anything damaging the Republicans were able to find on Wetterling in the '04 campaign. Even MDE, currently (probably) the person most responsible for lowering the level of political discourse in Minnesota, hasn't been able to dig up anything on Wetterling. His website used to have a link to an "upcoming section" called "Patty Wetterling Exposed"; after remaining empty for the entire summer, it appears to have been removed from the site completely. Of course, having no basis for attack ads never stopped a Republican from running them: the craven Mark Kennedy, lacking ammo for personal attacks, still ran ads implying that, because Wetterling accepted money from MoveOn, she supports Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

Patty Wetterling, the person, is a saint in Minnesota. That may or may not translate into victory for Patty Wetterling, the Democrat, in the most Republican district in the state. But any attempt to smear Patty Wetterling will backfire.

September 7, 2006

Beer, smokes, and soft drinks: a quick glance at Michele Bachmann's donors

Apparently, the lobbyists in the tobacco, liquor, and soft-drink industries are counting on Michele Bachmann to carry their water (or liquor) if she is elected to Congress.

According to FEC reports, Bachmann has received $10,000 from the National Beer Wholesalers Association of America.

She has also received $1,000 from the tobacco company R. J. Reynolds' PAC, and another $500 from the Lorillard Tobacco Company PAC.

Bachmann accepted $500 from the Pepsi-Co's "Concerned Citizens' Fund," and another $1,000 from the lobbying arm of the soft-drink manufacturers' lobbying group, the American Beverage Association (formerly the National Soft Drink Association.)

Draw your own conclusions about who Michele Bachmann will be working for in Congress: the health of American citizens, or the health of the tobacco, liquor, and soft drink industries?

Finally, a poll in the Sixth!

Hat tip to BvW and Polinaut for pointing this one out.

Some bloggers (KvM's Gary and BvW's GOP Wingman) jumped the gun and declared that this poll showed a decisive Bachmann lead over Patty Wetterling. It's true that the poll shows an 11-point advantage for the Republican candidate, when the "weak Dem"/"weak Repub" voters are added in. However, as several people have pointed out (notably Lawrence Schumacher at the St. Cloud Times and Jeff Kouba at BvW), the poll asked asked voters to choose between a generic Republican and a generic Democratic candidate. It did not include the names of the candidates.

Therefore, questions may be raised as to the usefulness of this poll. A comment at Daily Kos puts it succinctly:

Lose no sleep over MN-06 (1+ / 0-)

Patty Wetterling, the icon, runs well ahead of the generic Democratic line in this Republican-leaning district. Similarly, Michele Bachmann has more baggage than the Orient Express. The question as phrased is going to put a Democrat at a disadvantage.

I would agree with that assessment. Patty Wetterling ran four points ahead of John Kerry in 2004, and her 2004 percentage was 11 points ahead of the 2002 Democratic nominee Janet Robert's total. A study done in January by the Mellman Group found that Patty Wetterling enjoyed 76% name recognition in the Sixth District, far outreaching Michele Bachmann's 32%. I'm sure those numbers have changed, and will change more as the campaign escalates, but the fact remains that any poll done without the use of the candidates' names gives an inaccurate picture.

The poll also did not include the Independence Party candidate, neither his real name (John Binkowski) nor his generic title (IP candidate). In what is sure to be a close race, Binkowski could be a spoiler, and any poll that does not include the Binkowski option is automatically suspect.

There are still interesting facts to be gleaned from the poll, however, and especially from the detailed crosstabs that accompanied the poll results.

One interesting point is gleaned by looking at the "certainty" question (#3 in the pdf.) Among self-identified Democrats, 87% were "certain" of their choice, while just 13% said they "may vote for [the] opponent [of the candidate they chose]." The latter segment seems more likely to include a disproportionate number of the 11% of Democrats who said they preferred the Republican candidate. On the Republican side, the "certainty" number was smaller at 80%. The +/- on this poll is 3%, so the 7-point differential is nearly within the margin of error, but it would seem that Republican voters are slightly less confident in their choice than are Democrats. Also take into consideration the 29% of independents who remain "uncertain" of their choice, the overall 5% "undecided" number, and the 18 percent of respondents who registered "weak" support for either candidate. The conclusions I draw from all of this is that the Sixth is still a close race that's going to come down to the wire.

The Bush Factor
Overall Bush job approval in the Sixth is registered at 47% approval, with 48% disapproving and 5% undecided. I cant't find approval numbers broken down by district for 2004, but if we take Bush's 57-42 win in the Sixth in 2004 as an approximation of his approval rating (not necessarily a good one, I recognize), then Bush is 10 points behind where he was in 2004. The crosstabs give us a better look at some of these figures. Two interesting statistics jump out at me.
1. Approval/disapproval among independents in the Sixth is 52-46. Self-identified Repbulicans outnumber Democrats in this district by two points, but if independents view this election as a referendum on Bush-- and with Bachmann's ties to Bush, that's plausible-- then the difference could be made up if more independents (28% of the electorate) go for Wetterling than for Bachmann.

2. As expected, Bush's disapproval rating among Democrats is very high, at 89 percent. Conversely, the Republican approval rate is 83%. Combine that six-point differential with the 11% of Repbublicans "unsure" about Bush (compared to 4% of Dems) and there is another slight trend favoring Wetterling. Those Republicans who disapprove or have mixed feelings about Bush may not decide to pack it in and vote for Wetterling, but they may be turned off to Bachmann and decide not to bother voting at all.

There's probably more good stuff in the details of the poll, but I must retire for the evening. I'll leave you with a few reminders of the Bush-Bachmann connection.

Bachmann gushing about "The President" [sic]

What an honor it was to have the President of the United States here on my behalf. Hopefully, you were able to see some of the coverage on television, heard about it on the radio or saw an article in the newspaper.

After President Bush participated in a Health Care Forum in Minnetonka, I was able to join him, Governor Tim Pawlenty, US Senator Norm Coleman and White House Advisor Karl Rove for the limousine ride to my event. On the way to the Jundt home in Wayzata, we were informed we were going to make a stop. Little did we know what a treat it would be for us, literally and a treat for the unsuspecting customers at Glaciers Custard and Coffee Café.

I have never been in the Presidential limousine before so I was a little unsure what to do when the limousine stopped at the custard stand. I wasn't sure if I should exit with the President or get out of my side of the car. Karl Rove told me I would exit out the door on my side after The President steps out and someone would open the door for me. I could not believe I was discussing what flavor of custard to order with the President of the United States!

President Bush was so incredibly engaging with the servers. He actually stuck half of his body through the order window and asked, "Can anybody get some custard here." It was fun to see the excitement in the people's faces when it dawned on them that President Bush was in the same line to order custard. People were whipping out their cell phones to call loved one to say, you will not believe who is here. Everyone wanted to get their picture taken with him.

Always the mom, I thought, we need napkins. I asked the President if he had a napkin and he said no. So, I had to quickly grab napkins. I cannot imagine dripping custard in the Presidential limousine.

President Bush and I did share our custards with Governor Pawlenty, Senator Coleman and Karl Rove. Every bit of custard was gone well before we arrived at the Jundt home!

As we were driving, President Bush was constantly waving to people along the streets. I was struck by the humility he has towards his role as President of the United States. He enjoys connecting with people, even ever so briefly, and having them feel they have made contact with the President of the United States. I turned around and looked out the back window. The expressions on people's faces were priceless. They were just ecstatic when they realized The President had just waved at them.

If they were ecstatic, I can not even put into words the honor and joy I felt from having the support of The President.