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January 14, 2007

Bachmann votes against capitalism and the free market

One of the reasons Wal-Mart is able to offer goods to consumers at such low prices is their monumental market power. Because of their sheer size, they are able to negotiate deals with their suppliers to buy products at lower prices, and their suppliers are all too eager to agree because it means that they will have the world's largest company as a customer, buying huge amounts of their product. The deal is advantageous for both companies, and for consumers, who reap the benefit of lower prices.

I don't think there is a single person who would disagree that Wal-Mart has the right to negotiate prices with its suppliers, and to use its market power to bring down prices, as long as it does not break any anti-trust laws in the process and an equal playing field is assured for all. This is the way capitalism is designed to work.

Apparently, Michele Bachmann doesn't believe in capitalism, despite her constant invocations of the "free market" on the campaign trail. She was one of 170 Republicans to vote against allowing Medicare, the government program that is the Wal-Mart of health care, to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

The Mankato Free Press weighs in on Bachmann's vote in an editorial today, saying she and her friend John Kline "voted against the free market solution to a price-gouging problem." They explain the reason that the law change is needed:

U.S. drug companies have for too long been on a diet filled with government fat. Their appetite for government desserts has swelled their underbelly. It’s time to medicate these drug makers with the remedy of the free market. [...]

If you buy in large volumes, you should be able to negotiate a lower price per unit with the seller. The seller sees this as a good deal too. They can make as much profit, if they sell more units, even if the profit margin per unit is somewhat lower.

But up until now, the drug companies have been protected from having to negotiate. It’s been illegal for the government to ask for a deal. Drug makers have been able to sell more at the same very high profit level. Taxpayers have paid an estimated $30 billion cost for the Medicare prescription drug program in 2006 alone.

Rep. John Dingell, D, Mich., thinks taxpayers can save money if the government is allowed to negotiate. He and other supporters, including 24 Republicans in the recent vote, point to the Veterans Administration, which is allowed to negotiate prices. A study finds the VA is able to buy prescription drugs lower than others because of this negotiating power. In one case the VA was able to get one drug for a 58 percent lower price than negotiated by private plans. [...]

This proposal is a far cry from the heavy hand of government interfering in the free market. In fact, it is a free market solution Adam Smith, the father of free market theory, would be proud of.

When you have 43 million people buying prescription drugs regularly, you should be able to negotiate some kind of a discount.

Michele Bachmann's friend, President Bush, has pledged to veto this legislation. What are these Republicans thinking? There is no way that this is anything other than crony capitalism at its worst. Unless I am missing something here, Bachmann, Kline, Bush, and all others who opposed this bill ought to be ashamed.

I will call Michele's office on Tuesday to see if she gives a reason for her "nay" vote. Again, her number is (202) 225-2331. Put it in your cell phone!

January 6, 2007

"Fiscally responsible" Bachmann votes "nay" on pay-as-you-go and earmark reform

Michele Bachmann likes to talk about how she values fiscal responsibility. Why, then, did she vote NAY on the pay-as-you-go rule, which basically ensures that any new spending must come with an accompanying way to raise the money, and must not increase the deficit. Why did she vote NAY on earmark reforms that will increase transparency in spending and prevent a lot of the pork-barrel spending Michele has criticized in the past?

Here is a Reuters article
on the reforms passed this week in Congress.

Many of Michele Bachmann's Republican colleagues broke ranks to vote for the fiscal responsibility reforms, including this guy:

The move won applause from some of the most conservative House Republicans, including Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who said Democrats "had more guts than we did to tackle earmark reform in a meaningful way. I compliment them for that."

Write Michele Bachmann an e-mail asking why she voted NAY on these important reforms. You probably won't get a response-- so maybe you should write your letters to local newspapers instead.

[UPDATE]: Eva pointed out that my links did not work, and that I linked to the wrong roll-call vote. These have now been fixed. For clarification, the law that Bachmann voted "NAY" on was Title IV of House Resolution 6, which contained the earmark reforms and the pay-as-you-go changes. Since my earlier links didn't work, you can read a pdf of the entire H. Res. 6 here... scroll down to Title IV for the relevant information.

January 2, 2007

Pat Robertson speaks to God... was Michele in on the conference call?

Scary messages from God, according to His confidant / bff, Pat Robertson:

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson cited communications with God in predicting Tuesday that horrific terrorism aimed at the United States will result in "mass killing" during the second half of 2007.

"The Lord didn't say nuclear, but I do believe it'll be something like that — that'll be a mass killing, possibly millions of people, major cities injured," Robertson said.

"There will be some very serious terrorist attacks," he added. "The evil people will come after this country, and there's a possibility — not a possibility, a definite certainty — that chaos is going to rule." Robertson did not say where the terrorism would occur.

Ruh-roh... I'd be worried, if I thought God really talks to Mr. Robertson. Based on his past track record, however, it looks like Mr. Robertson needs a divine hearing aid, or else God is playing some nasty practical jokes on him. This is a guy who predicted Bush would win a second term in a "blowout"; he ended up getting 51%. He also claimed that Bush's second term would be a "triumph," and we can see how well that's going (record low approvals, a do-nothing Congress, escalating chaos in Iraq... you get the picture.) And Mr. Robertson's meteorology skills seem to be a little rusty, as well:

Robertson said last May that, "If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed" by "devastating" storms and "vicious hurricanes." He also predicted that "there well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest."

Heavy rains over New England caused serious flooding last spring. But no hurricanes hit the U.S. coast in 2006 and only two tropical storms made landfall on the U.S. mainland.

No tsunami struck the Pacific Northwest, although various parts of Washington state saw record-setting rains, floods or drought during 2006, said Josiah Mault, the assistant Washington state climatologist.

Will Michele Bachmann be dialing God on His personal line to chat about Mr. Robertson's divine information? Will God fill her in on the details that he neglected to offer Mr. Robertson, so she can prevent the terrorist attacks?

As a reminder, here's Michele speaking about her personal conversations with God back in October...

In the midst of that calling to me, God then called me to run for congress. ....

In the midst of him making this calling sure, what's occured in this particular race is that this congresssional seat - one of 435 in the country - has become one of the top 5 races in the country and in the last week has become one of the top three races in the country and you may have seen now God has in his own will and in his own plan has focused like a laser beam after this scandal that came up about a week or so ago he has focused like a laser beam with his reasoning on this race.

Michele, can we get a tape-recording this time? Some specifics would be nice. Ask God about the lottery numbers, too, while you're at it.

December 11, 2006

Commenter: Bachmann's campaign dysfunctional?

Although I was disappointed by her win, I'd say Michele Bachmann won pretty convincingly over Patty Wetterling. True, she received just barely over 50%, but she outperformed Wetterling by 8 points, in what was supposed to be a down-to-the-wire race. John Binkowski doubtlessly pulled more votes from Wetterling than he did from Bachmann (on many issues he was more liberal than Patty), he wasn't the deciding factor in the race. All other things being equal, with Binkowski out of the race, Bachmann still would have won.

However, over at the blog Residual Forces, Andy Aplikowski, aka "Triple A," who wrote occasionally for rival blog Bachmann v. Wetterling, thinks that Bachmann's 8-point margin was an under-performance:

“Bachmann underperformed terribly. She mustered only 50%, and fell tens of thousands of votes behind Kennedy’s previous performances in 04 and 02. The state party made it a sport of attacking the great St. Patty, as did the NRCC. I believe that was detrimental to the case that Bachmann was a better choice for voters.?

As I recall, Mr. Aplikowski was a gleeful participant in many of those "sporting" attacks on Patty Wetterling. But we'll let that pass for now. The really interesting stuff came in a comment by commenter "Jonathan," responding to Andy's assertion:

You can hardly blame the Bachmann race on the state party. The failure of the Bachmann campaign to win by a large margin was a result of having lackluster campaign management. The reason for their marginal victory was because the campaign manager didn’t work on weekends until the final weeks of the campaign, had two staff members working on yard signs months after they should have been distributed, didn’t even attend all of the candidate’s debates. And the list could go on and on.

Not being, obviously, involved in the campaign, I can't attest to the truth of any of this comment's assertions, but I do recall that, at the beginning of the summer, the Wetterling campaign had many more signs out in Stillwater and the surrounding areas than Bachmann did--in her home turf! Could this be due to a poorly-run Bachmann campaign? It sounds plausible.

I still don't think an 8-point win is an "underperformance," but could this be one reason why Mr. Andy Parrish is now relegated to purse-holder status? Of course, if it's true, the reason he's still around is because, for all his alleged shortcomings, he still has a bigger work ethic than Michele Bachmann.

Drop me a line if you have any "insider" info on either of the campaigns, or Binkowski's for that matter.

December 10, 2006

Bachmann's fundraising records are now up

Bachmann's campaign has filed their post-general report with the FEC. Head over to their website to see who Michele Bachmann will really be working for in Congress.

On the same wavelength, it appears the MN-06 Victory Committe has responded to the FEC's questions about the transfer of $115,000 to the Bachmann for Congress committee:

IN response to your letter dated November 8, 2006 regarding the 12 Day Pre-General Report please note that MN-06 Congressional Victory Committee is an affiliated committee with Bachmann for Congress.

Please contact me with any further questions. Thank you.

That response doesn't seem to answer the FEC's complaint:

Schedule B of your report ... discloses one or more contributions which appear to exceed the limits set forth in the Act. 2 U.S.C. 441a(a) prohibits a non-multicandidate political committee and its affiliates, from making a contribution to a candidate for federal office in excess of $2,100 per election.

I don't see the committee's response addressing the FEC's issue. Of course, I have no knowledge of election law. If someone could clarify this issue, that would be great.

December 3, 2006

More FEC troubles for Bachmann?

I hadn't looked at Bachmann's FEC filings since the election, and I found that the FEC has some issues with her campaign committees' reporting.

On October 10th, the FEC sent the Bachmann for Congress a "request for additional information" relating to her pre-primary filing. Bachmann's filing was apparently missing some information on some of the contributors. It appears these problems were rectified and the campaign filed an amended report on October 16th.

This seems like a pretty standard slip-up, though it does raise concerns about the professionalism of Bachmann's staff. It seems like a mistake that many campaigns could, and probably did, make. It could also be chalked up to mistakes made by the contributors rather than the campaign itself.

However, there is another request for additional information filed November 8th regarding a transfer of $115,000 from the "MN-06 Congressional Victory Committee" (an apparent name change) to the Bachmann for Congress Committee. The transfer occurred on October 18th, the last day covered in the pre-general filing. According to the FEC, this runs afoul of regulations restricting this type of contribution to $2,100-- in other words, the transfer exceeded limits by almost $113,000.

The FEC letter states:

Schedule B of your report ... discloses one or more contributions which appear to exceed the limits set forth in the Act. 2 U.S.C. 441a(a) prohibits a non-multicandidate political committee and its affiliates, from making a contribution to a candidate for federal office in excess of $2,100 per election.

The FEC indicates that Bachmann's committee must either justify the contribution under election law, or refund it. They indicate a deadline of December 11th for Bachmann's committee to respond to the request. If an adequate response is not received, the committee may be audited or made subject to an "enforcement action."

I am not an expert by any means in election law, but this contribution does seem illegal, and the FEC seems to agree. If you have any expertise in these matters, please leave a comment explaining what you think of the legality of this contribution.

Read more about past Bachmann conflicts with the FEC here.

November 29, 2006

Fun with internets

The fine folks at Dump Bachmann have enlisted the help of some computer-whiz friends to bring you the Michele Bachmann Comic Generator. Check it out--it's nifty!

Care to comment, Michele?

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

November 14, 2006

Mrs. Bachmann goes to Washington

Freshman orientation began for the new members of Congress today, and thus there are the usual wave of stories in the media about their experiences. Even in these puff pieces, there are some interesting pieces of information. For instance, multiple stories mention that Michele Bachmann stopped by to see the Constitution on Sunday.

Paraphrase from this KSTP story:

"It takes my breath away, because this is what our country is about. This is what I'll be swearing to uphold."

And from this Star Trib story:

Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann arrived early and got to do a little sightseeing, getting a glimpse of the Constitution on Sunday.

She stopped by to see it, but has she actually read it? Will she now begin to take the President, her frozen-yogurt buddy, to task for his secret prisons in Europe, his "extraordinary renditions," Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and torture (a "no-brainer," according to her close friend Dick Cheney)? And will she still be trying to amend the Constitution to include discrimination?

New members did their work behind closed doors, learning how to get their offices up and running, prepare their budgets, use franking privileges and how to keep abreast of complicated ethics rules.

"My No. 1 goal is to not go to jail," Bachmann said, chuckling.

Hmm... what does that mean? Is Michele planning on breaking some rules? As I've said before, the company she keeps doesn't have very good ethical standards. I had a suspicion she would fall into these same habits, favoring the special interests that funded her campaign over the people that elected her. But here the Democratic majority could be a benefit to her--it will be hard to push their agenda as part of the minority. So she won't be going to prison anytime soon. . . unlike her buddy Mark Olson, a paragon of family values, who was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of fifth-degree domestic assault.

November 8, 2006

Bachmann brings in out-of-state "Christian nationalist" home-schoolers to campaign

I hate on the Minnesota Daily a lot, because, frankly, it is a terrible newspaper, but their article on the CD6 results contained a very interesting tidbit:

One group called Gen J, or Generation Joshua, rallied middle school and high school students to pass out campaign literature and call voters for Bachmann.

Patrick Henry College (Virginia) journalism senior Adrienne Cumbus is a volunteer leader for Gen J. Originally from Houston, she said she came to support Bachmann because the candidate doesn't try to appeal to everyone - instead, she knows her own values.

"She's very articulate in what she says," Cumbus said. "She's not sitting on the fence."

I did some research on this Generation Joshua. Start out first at their website: What is Generation Joshua?. Generation Joshua is an organization born from the Home Schoolers' Legal Defense Association, a group that purports to represent all American home-schoolers... but not every home-schooling family feels represented. Some believe that the organization has become nothing more than a publicity and money-making front for its founders, and many take exception to the legislative agenda of the organization, which runs far beyond the bounds of home-schooling issues to issues like gay marriage, abortion, and even the Chemical Weapons Treaty (!):


"The more non-homeschooling issues homeschooling groups are associated with, the more negative opinions you cultivate, and you take on unnecessary risks that could hurt what should be your primary task: protecting homeschoolers...unless it's of vital interest and a homeschooling issue, don't stick your neck out." While HSLDA's full agenda "may be worthy of your interests, it is a catch-all for conservative... issues, and it paints us all with that brush."

-Will Shaw, long time homeschooler,
state homeschool lobbyist and
founder of the Virginia Home Education Association

The organization has been linked to the Christian Reconstructionist movement through its founder, Michael Harris, a former attorney for the Moral Majority and unsuccessful Republican candidate for Lt. Governor of Virginia in 1993. The Christian Reconstructionist movement is scary:

The Dominion theology movement places Judeo-Christian biblical law above any and all constitutional law, including the U.S. Constitution. "Postmillienialists believe that righteous human beings, essentially servants of Christ, must achieve positions of influence in societies in order to prepare the world for the Messiah's return."

In his excellent 1996 book, With God on Our Side, William Martin used a sampling of the views of several noted Reconstructionists to give a sense of how a Reconstructed America would be: "The federal government would play no role in regulating business, public education, or welfare [S]ome government would be visible at the level of counties but citizens would be answerable to church authorities on most matters subject to regulation income taxes would not exceed ten percent - the biblical tithe - and social security would disappear [P]ublic schools would be abolished in favor of home-schooling arrangements, and families would operate on a strict patriarchal pattern. The only people permitted to vote would be members of 'biblically correct' churches. Most notably, a theonomic order would make homosexuality, adultery, blasphemy, propagation of false doctrine, and incorrigible behavior by disobedient children subject to the death penalty, preferably administered by stoning a reconstructed America would have little room for Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, or even non-Reconstructionist Christians. 'The Christian', one Reconstructionist author has asserted, 'must realize that pluralism is a myth R.J. Rushdoony, also regards pluralism as a heresy, since, in the name of toleration, the believer is asked to associate on a common level of total acceptance with the atheist, the pervert, the criminal, and the adherents of other religions."

Generation Joshua's political goals are similar to their parent organization's: "Our goal is to ignite a vision in young people to help America return to her Judeo-Christian foundations."

The group is mentioned in this Salon article, which describes them as "an organization ... that trains college kids to make Christian nationalism palatable to the MTV generation, [attempting] to take a " 'firm, solid Biblical worldview' and [translate] it into 'terms that the other side accepts.' "

Here are the extremely well-informed political views of one precocious, intellectually independent teenager, expressed in an almost Bachmann-esque stream of eloquence:

"We took the church out of the state, but you've still got that thing of our founding fathers were Christians and they put God in the government and the way things have gone now, it's just gone almost," Kaity says.

But, Kaity also says the group doesn't form her opinions for her.

"I'm not an uneducated kid," she says. "I'm not going to base what I believe on mere opinion. I'm going to research it and I'm going to look things up [ed.: In the Bible?] and look at both sides of an issue and make an informed decision based on what I believe and not what my parents tell me."

The HSLDA PAC has a page up detailing the group's planned efforts for Bachmann. Apparently all travel was reimbursed for these volunteers and their families:

Travel Compensation

Travel to, from, and during the Student Action Team will be compensated. ALL RECIEPTS MUST BE SUBMITTED TO THE FOLLOWING ADDRESS BY NOVEMBER 21, 2006. NO EXCEPTIONS.

HSLDA PAC
PO BOX 3000
Purcellville, VA 20132

Someone should check into the legality of this... I have no specific legal reason to doubt it, but it seems kind of fishy. At the very least, it seems to me ethically dodgy that the PAC of the entire home-schooling association would be used to pay for the tenuously-related political activities of its daughter group.

The page also includes this reminder:

Note: Under no circumstances can unrelated students room with a chaperone.

Probably a prescient move, given the recent troubles of the religious right.

Wikipedia has more information on Generation Joshua, and this local media story gives a good inside look at a "Gen J" chapter.

Bachmann elected, promises more roads, less taxes, and twice the "life"

Well, as you may have heard, the election is over, and Michele Bachmann defeated Patty Wetterling by a solid margin.

Bachmann made the rounds of the media today, making outlandish promises she will never be able to keep as a freshman member of a minority party (wooooo!)

She promised two seemingly incompatible goals: paving over the Sixth District and enacting a "tax cut at every turn":

KARE 11:

"My goal is to sit on the financial services committee where I can affect tax code and I want to be able to sit on the Transportation Committee because I want to build more roads all across the 6th district."

AP:

Michele Bachmann, the only new Republican in the Minnesota delegation, who defeated Democrat Patty Wetterling, said she will focus on extending President Bush's tax cuts.

But as a freshman member of the minority, Bachmann conceded that pursuing that would be a tall order.

"It's very ambitious," she said. "But that doesn't dissuade me from pursuing tax cuts at every turn."

Bachmann will replace GOP Rep. Mark Kennedy, who lost his Senate bid Tuesday. She said she will try to land assignments on two committees that Kennedy now serves on -- Financial Services and Transportation.

Bachmann said she wants a spot on the transportation panel to help get funding for roads in the 6th Congressional District.

She said she wasn't concerned that being in the minority would limit her effectiveness.

"On a majority of issues, we'll find common ground," she said.

So, can we expect Congresswoman Bachmann to attach some sort of tax cut to every transportation bill? It's a big goal, but I think Michele can do it! Deficit spending--it's the American Way!

I also love the poetic flavor of her victory speech (now with 2x the "life"!):

[I]n her victory speech, Bachmann said she would fight for "life, marriage and family life" and would cut taxes

It's gonna be a looooooong two years.

November 6, 2006

Bachmann, Repubs: Cheat to win!

If you need another reason to vote Patty Wetterling, consider the despicable tactics the Republicans are resorting to in the final hours of the campaign in a desperate attempt to eke out a win. The Wetterling campaign says Bachmann and her buddies are robo-calling households in the Sixth District. These calls are masquerading as information about Patty Wetterling; when the voter picks up the phone, the hope is, he or she will think it's a call from the Wetterling campaign.

Massive numbers of pre-recorded 'robo' calls are going into the homes of voters from Bachmann and her friends.

Reports are coming in that households are receiving phone calls in rapid succession with the false impression they are from our campaign.

We are even receiving reports of calls from special interest groups on the East and West Coasts; people who can't even properly pronounce "Wetterling" but who can, nonetheless, spew forth their venom of lies and false accusations about Patty.

The Bachmann goal is to create anger and confusion.

The release doesn't give specifics, but this account of the robocall fits the description of a despicable GOP campaign tactic that has been afflicting races around the country. People are getting tons of these calls at this time of year, so most of the time they just hang up. The trouble with these GOP phone calls is, if the voter hangs up, the robodialer immediately calls them back--up to seven or eight times, according to reports from other parts of the country. There have even been reports that these robodialers will make calls very early in the morning or very late at night, waking people up. The hope is that those receiving the calls will become angry and direct their blame at the Democratic candidate (in this case, Wetterling). Only when you make it to the end of the message (which contains negative slurs against Wetterling) do you find out who the call is really from (a company contracted by the candidate or the national party.) Josh Marshall & Co. over at TPM have been covering the GOP robo-call story extensively for the past few days; head over there for new developments. Here's a great summary:

Both parties deliver millions of robocalls during election season. You've probably gotten the calls from both parties and many outside groups. It happens every cycle.

Only one party has a nationwide campaign to deliver millions of intentionally-harassing calls disguised to appear that they're from the opposite party. That party is the Republican party. And the calls are funded by the NRCC -- the House GOP election committee.

It's the party of election subversion. Deal with it.

The Bachmann campaign and anyone else associated with them ought to be ashamed of themselves for utilizing such a dishonest, repulsive tactic. This campaign has been rough and both sides are guilty of exaggerating or distorting the facts, but this has to be the most despicable tactic of the race so far. Tellingly, they waited until the bitter end to pull this scam, so voters won't have time to dig up all the facts--the GOP's hope is that voters will go to the polls angry at Wetterling. You should be angry when you go to the polls tomorrow--angry that the Republican Party thinks so little of you that they are willing to cheat, deceive, and lie to win. VOTE PATTY WETTERLING.

Be on the lookout for calls like this, or any suspicious-sounding calls that might be dirty tricks. The Republicans will stop at nothing to win this election.

October 31, 2006

Fun with the media

Polinaut today linked to one of the funniest things I've ever seen on the 'net. I wonder if this is Michele Bachmann's picture of the New York Times?

->The Right Wing New York Times: what right-wingers see when they reads the New York Times. (WARNING: this page contains some bad language and semi-explicit imagery.)

Ken Avidor points out that a Star Trib article about Michele Bachmann's church's views that the Pope is the Antichrist was, for a time, the number one most-emailed story on the Strib website.

The title of the article? "Antichrist buzz brings Bachmann camp denials." Double meaning? You decide.

October 25, 2006

Stay the course - part deux!

As a reminder,

Michele Bachmann, 10/5/06:

In taking editorial board questions, Bachmann explained while the reasoning behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq might be debated, America is there.

"And I do believe we need to stay the course," she said.

Now watch this great DNC ad.

Uhhhh.... Custard it is, then!

bushbachmannyogurt.JPG

October 23, 2006

Stay the course?

What to do when even your most steadfast friends are abandoning their cherished, time-worn "stay the course" frame on Iraq?

Michele Bachmann, 10/5/06:

In taking editorial board questions, Bachmann explained while the reasoning behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq might be debated, America is there.

"And I do believe we need to stay the course," she said.


George W. Bush, 10/22/06
:

STEPHANOPOULOS: James Baker says that he’s looking for something between “cut and run? and “stay the course.?

BUSH: Well, hey, listen, we’ve never been “stay the course,? George. We have been — we will complete the mission, we will do our job, and help achieve the goal, but we’re constantly adjusting to tactics. Constantly.

Uhhh... Custard, anyone?

bushbachmannyogurt.JPG

October 20, 2006

Bachmann's sweet tooth

I found an amusing juxtaposition in Michele Bachmann's FEC reports. Check it out!

sweettooth.gif

timmytooth.jpg

Timmy the Tooth asks, Michele, whose side are you on?

October 19, 2006

More corrupt money for Bachmann

Michele Bachmann on 9/29/2006 received a $1,000 contribution from John Doolittle's Superior California Federal Leadership PAC. Doolittle is a representative from California, and has been named one of the "most corrupt members of Congress" by CREW. His alleged misdealings:

-tied to Abramoff scandal:

In 1999, Rep. Doolittle also assisted Jack Abramoff in securing a lucrative lobbying contract with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, helped Mr. Abramoff stave off legislation protecting workers in the CNMI and wrote letters on behalf of some of Mr. Abramoff’s tribal casinos. In return, Rep. Doolittle, an alleged gambling foe, has received $130,000 from gambling tribes with ties to Mr. Abramoff. If Rep. Doolittle has received contributions from Mr. Abramoff in return for legislative assistance he may have violated prohibitions against bribery, honest services fraud and House rules.

-employed his wife as a fundraiser, paying her over $215,000 since 2001 to raise money for his campaign.

-connection to defense contractor Brent Wilkes and the bribery scandal surrounding Duke Cunnningham; he earmarked $37 million for one of Wilkes' companies after receiving over $100,000 in campaign contributions from Wilkes' employees, associates, and lobbyists for the company, and their families.

-Along with Richard Pombo (another big Bachmann donor and fellow "most corrupt" member with Doolittle), used his influence on the House Resources Committee to protect Houston millionaire Charles Hurwitz from an investigation by the FDIC.

In her latest filing, Bachmann also accepted another $2,000 from corrupt congressman Pete Sessions, from his campaign fund. She had already received $10,000 from his PETE PAC leadership PAC.

Sessions is also in trouble for alleged misdeeds involving defense contracts, and for his role in the Abramoff scandal helping out one of Abramoff's Indian gambling clients in exchange for campaign donations.

This brings the amount of money Bachmann has received from CREW's Most Corrupt Members of Congress to at least $49,000. I previously posted on Bachmann's ties to this corruption here. You can also access my Excel spreadsheet listing Bachmann's contributions from members of Congress (it is not yet updated for the most recent FEC filing.)

How can we trust Michele Bachmann, if elected, to hold her fellows in the House responsible for their unethical and corrupt behavior when she has depended on their dirty money to fund her campaign?

October 14, 2006

Would Michele Bachmann use her "visions" as a basis for deciding national policy?

Now Ken Avidor has posted the first half of Bachmann's "testimony" in Brooklyn Park.

This is utterly astonishing. Watch the entire 10-minute "testimony." This is Michele Bachmann as you've never seen her before. This is the real Michele Bachmann, the one that her campaign has done a very good job of hiding from the voting public at large (with the aid of a complicit, docile news media who refuse to examine this side of her.)

This is a Michele Bachmann who talks about having "visions," and basing life decisions on those "visions." To those who haven't watched the video, these are the self-identified facts of Bachmann's narrative of her marriage:

1. Michele and her "girlfriend" study the Bible at college.
2. Michele begins to have "visions" of her future wedding with Marcus Bachmann at his parents' farm in Wisconsin.
3. Marcus Bachmann has similar visions.
4. They decide to get married on the basis of these visions, not because they want to, but because God wants them to.
5. The romantic side of their relationship takes a further two years to develop. (It is unclear if this is before or after their vision-ordained marriage.)

Questions raised by this narrative:

1. Does Michele Bachmann still have "visions"?
2. Would she use these "visions" to make policy decisions, if elected to Congress?

The thought of electing this woman to Congress is truly terrifying. What if she has a "vision" of nuclear warheads raining down on Tehran? Will she do everything in her power to make that "vision" a reality?

Before you object, I don't think this is all too unlikely. Remember when God "spoke" to George Bush and told him to invade Iraq?

"President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God,' " said Nabil Shaath, who was the Palestinian foreign minister at the time of a top-level meeting with Bush in June 2003. Mahmoud Abbas, then Palestinian prime minister and now the Palestinian Authority president, was also present for the conversation with Bush.

"God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq ...' And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.' And by God I'm gonna do it," Shaath quotes the president as saying in the three-part series.

Do you remember how that turned out?

Nearly 3000 Coalition soldiers dead. Thousands more maimed and wounded, not to mention those psychologically scarred for life.
An estimated 655,000 Iraqi civillians killed by Coalition bombs and bullets, terrorists, insurgents, and sectarian death squads. 2.5% of the population of Iraq.

Keep Michele Bachmann and her "visions" out of Congress.

Does God speak to Michele Bachmann? Is she a "fool for Christ"?

Wow. You absolutely need to watch this video at DumpBachmann. This is hot off the presses, Michele Bachmann speaking today at a church politics-fest in Brooklyn Park.

In this video, Michele Bachmann claims that God spoke to her and told her to run, that she "fasted and prayed" for three days prior to making her decision. She also claims that God is "focusing in like a laser beam on this race," apparently because of the media coverage on the Foley scandal.

Most Christians would not be comfortable with Bachmann's self-aggrandizing language. The voters need to be informed that this is how their Republican candidate for the U.S. House thinks of herself.

Patty Wetterling should run this entire 4-minute Bachmann speech as a campaign ad. Seriously. Just run it once on WCCO or KSTP or KARE. The rest will take care of itself. Or edit the most ridiculous parts into a 30-second ad.

People deserve to know about the extreme views of this self-described "fool for Christ."

Those who don't know much about the Russian Orthodox religion might be interested to learn the meaning behind the term "fool for Christ." Here's a brief summary:

One form of the ascetic Christian life is called foolishness for the sake of Christ. The fool-for-Christ set for himself the task of battling within himself the root of all sin, pride. In order to accomplish this he took on an unusual style of life, appearing as someone bereft of his mental faculties, thus bringing upon himself the ridicule of others. In addition he exposed the evil in the world through metaphorical and symbolic words and actions. He took this ascetic endeavor upon himself in order to humble himself and to also more effectively influence others, since most people respond to the usual ordinary sermon with indifference. The spiritual feat of foolishness for Christ was especially widespread in Russia. --(Excerpted from The Law of God, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY: 1993)

The most famous of these "holy fools" is probably St. Basil, an important religious figure in Russian Orthodoxy.

Saint Basil or Vasily (known also as Vasily Blazhenny, Basil Fool for Christ or Basil the Blessed; Russian: Ва?илий Блаженный) is a Russian Orthodox saint born to serfs in 1469 in Yelokhov, near Moscow. He is thought to have died in 1552 or 1557 and was canonised around 1580.

Basil is considered a yurodivy or holy fool. Originally an apprentice shoemaker in Moscow, he adopted an eccentric lifestyle of shoplifting and giving to the poor. He went naked and weighed himself down with chains. He rebuked Ivan the Terrible for not paying attention in church.

He is buried in St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, which was commissioned by Ivan and is named after the saint.

Michele Bachmann, the "fool for Christ." WOW.

It is interesting to note that the website for the Living Word Christian Center promotes Bachmann's "testimony" thusly:

Guest Speaker Michele Bachmann
When: Oct 14 - 15
Time: During all weekend services
Location: Sanctuary
Description: Minnesota Senator Michele Bachmann is a national speaker on education, tax, and pro-family issues, and the Chief Senate author of the Defense of Marriage Amendment.

No mention of her status as a candidate for the U.S. House. Yet the pastor mentions in the video that "voter guides" will be available following the service. Sounds like the IRS would be interested.

I am personally offended by the pastor's statement:

"Now, I don't want any more letters about how church and politics don't mix. If that's your opinion, then you need to get saved."

We don't need anyone representing us who truly believes that, if you don't share her views, you are going to Hell. Isn't that what this pastor is saying?

October 12, 2006

Michele Bachmann: scientist, doctor, and lawyer!

Michele Bachmann has gotten some unwanted national exposure the last couple of days on YouTube.

In this video (linked to by Daily Kos and Wonkette at least, and probably others), Michele Bachmann denies the existence of global warming and says we need to "look at the science."

Gee, those scientists have sure dropped the ball on this one! Wonder what they've been doing for the past few decades? Why haven't they been looking at the science, trying to reach a scientific consensus?

In a video from last night's debate in Stillwater, Bachmann says she would have voted to "protect the life of Terri Schiavo," and claims that Schiavo was "healthy" and "not terminally ill."

Thanks, Dr. Bachmann! Good to see you've been consulting with fellow doctor Bill Frist and his amazing video diagnosis techniques.

Thanks to reader Lisa for the tip.

Warning: There are some nasty comments and personal attacks on Bachmann in these threads, which I do not condone. I do like this comment, from "astron1000":

Bachman[n] is really a victim of muddied thinking. Listen very carefully! Her comments subtley [sic] cast doubt on science in general, implying that science first thinks one way, then another. Her brand of conservatism assumes that truth is universal and unchanging. Her touchstone is the [B]ible, which she argues is the ultimate truth and is unchanging. She's one of many, many conservatives in this country who are maliciously undermining rational and skeptical thought.

New poll shows Wetterling up 5!

A new poll is out from RT Strategies/Constituent Dynamics, the firm that released the first Sixth District poll back at the end of August. The August poll did not use candidates' names, but instead used their party affiliations. That poll found the Republican candidate up by a margin of 53-42.

Now, things have reversed. The candidates are named, and Wetterling is up 50-45 with an MOE of 3.09%. It's still within the margin of error, so it's like I've been saying all along: this race is going down to the wire.

Neither poll included IP candidate John Binkowski, but the option "other" gets 3% in this poll. Polls that included Binkowski showed him at about 6-7 points.

See the poll results in a nifty graphical format here. The wonks out there can check out the crosstabs in this pdf.

I'm going to try to create a graph of all the polls released to date. I will post that later, along with further analysis of this encouraging poll.

October 9, 2006

More extreme rhetoric from Michele Bachmann: Democratic Congress would put American culture "at stake"

I didn't have a chance to read Hugh Hewitt's interview with Michele Bachmann until just now. It contains some gems, such as this one:

And if you have Patty Wetterling win this seat, and Congress flips and goes Democrat, I'm just going to tell you this. Our country is at stake. Our security, our tax policy, our culture and morals. And we just have so much at stake, that at this point, everybody had to get up, get in gear, volunteer, write checks, do what you have to do for the next 33 days. But let's not lose these elections.

It reminds me of Bachmann's fundraising pal Denny Hastert, who had this to say about why, if he resigns over the Foley cover-up, the terrorists win:

But, you know, this is a political issue in itself, too, and what we’ve tried to do as the Republican Party is make a better economy, protect this country against terrorism — and we’ve worked at it ever since 9/11, worked with the president on it — and there are some people that try to tear us down. We are the insulation to protect this country, and if they get to me it looks like they could affect our election as well.

Folks, if the Democrats win Congress, the country is not at stake, as Bachmann would have you believe. What a crazy, extreme statement. Really? "Our security, our tax policy, our culture and morals." All of them will be wiped out by a Democratic Congress. Riiiiiiiiiight.

Our security will be better, because our troops will be at home protecting our country, not engaged in wars in the Middle East, and that will free up resources to improve our transit security, port security, and all the other security-related items that will be the focus of a Democratic Congress. This is a return to the sane--but not weak-- foreign and domestic security policy that was practiced before the Bush administration by both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Michele Bachmann likes to claim that Patty Wetterling will raise taxes by repealing the Bush tax cuts, but this. is. a. LIE. She has proposed additional tax breaks for the vast majority of the middle class, who have been squeezed by rising tuition, property taxes, and wage stagnation under the Bush "tax cuts." The only people who will pay more taxes under a Democratic plan are the wealthy, who disproportionately benefit from the Bush tax cuts. This seems to be a return to a sane tax policy, the one that existed before Bush came into office, not a complete destruction of our nation's tax policy. (BTW, which is the only candidate that would not consider the insane national sales tax proposal, that truly would be a radical change to our nation's tax policy? Patty Wetterling. So who's the flaming radical?)

And, most ridiculous of all, our "culture and morals" will be wiped out by a Democratic Congress? That's ridiculous. Leaving aside the question of whether there truly ever can be a homogenous, unchanging American culture and set of moral values, the premise itself is ridiculous. I guess she means that the values that she believes in, the heteronormative evangelical Christian moral and cultural code, will be destroyed if Patty Wetterling is elected. But Democrats believe that everyone has a right to practice their own religion and their own set of values; Bachmann and her friends in the WELS can practice their lives and their religion in whatever way they wish. On the culture front, it would take more than two years to destroy American culture, a worldwide phenomenon that has been profoundly influential to cultures and nations around the world. Though it can be influenced by what the government does, it is a largely separate entity, and changes naturally of its own accord in response to current events, trends, personalities, and technologies. So to say that a Democratic Congress would "destroy American culture" is just ridiculous.

Does Michele Bachmann believe her own rhetoric? If so, we should be extremely concerned if this conspiracy theorist is elected to Congress.

If this is mere rhetoric, we should be concerned that this woman would say something this extreme to get votes. It would make it clear that she would be a divisive figure, cutting off at least half (if not more) of her constituents from having any voice in Washington.

Either way, these comments are alarming.

October 5, 2006

Bachmann's violent rhetoric

In the MPR article about the Foley dust-up yesterday, I saw this Michele Bachmann quote, and thought it a little strange:

"The unfortunate thing is that it seems like Patty Wetterling is saying, 'A bad thing happened so let's shoot everybody.' We can't do that. We can't take everyone out because a horrible occurrence happened to an individual," Bachmann said.

Then I saw more violent language in a new piece on the KARE 11 website:

Wetterling's campaign launched an ad calling for the expulsion of house leaders who may have ignored or covered up reports of Foley's behavior. An ad her opponent found surprising, "It just struck me as ironic that Patty Wetterling would rush to have an ad on television calling for lopping off Republican heads before we even know what's happened on this issue," said Michele Bachmann.

What to make of this? This isn't the Crusades or the Inquisition or the Soviet purges, Senator Bachmann. Patty Wetterling hasn't proposed "shoot[ing] everybody," "tak[ing] everyone out," or "lopping off" anyone's heads. All I see is a proposal for an investigation and a call for resignations of anyone culpable in the cover-up once all the evidence is sorted through.

So what's wrong with Michele Bachmann? I thought she looked a little angry in this KSTP interview... is it just a bad week for Michele? I would completely understand... you've got the Foley thing and the accompanying national attention for Patty, then you had the City Pages article raising unwelcome questions (that article has now hit the national 'sphere, btw)... it would be enough to make anyone angry.

There's a psychological phenomenon called projection, in which unacceptable or unwanted impulses are unconsciously assigned to another person. Are Michele's violent impulses reassigning themselves in her unconscious to her opponent, Patty?

I remember Bachmann saying she was the "tip of the spear" at some point, though about what I don't remember. It also brings back memories of Marcus Bachmann's... interesting statements at the Republican nominating convention:

"I don't think it's going to be a Republican blood bath," said Marcus Bachmann, husband of Sen. Michele Bachmann. Observing that his wife has represented more Sixth congressional district voters than anyone else in the race, he added that Bachmann would "eat up" Democratic frontrunner Patty Wetterling.

"She's pro-life, pro-family and knows the values of the district," he said, contrasting his wife to Wetterling. "Whatever's left, she'll eat for dessert," he continued, eliciting hoots and hollers from the crowd.

I'm sensing a pattern here.

I wonder what the discussion is like around the Bachmann family dinner table. Post your suggestions in the comments.

Also post any other examples of Michele's & Marcus' violent language.

October 3, 2006

City Pages takes a real look at Bachmann

G.R. Anderson has an article about Michele Bachmann that is the cover piece in the new issue of the City Pages. Go read it. That's some great reporting, far and away the best piece done about Bachmann so far by our local media, which stubbornly refuses to examine Bachmann's past and her record of being associated with extreme causes.

I hope this will spur some discussion about Bachmann in the other local media outlets.

Once again, go read the article. It's great.

Michele Bachmann accepts $46,000 from the "Most Corrupt Members of Congress"

Michele Bachmann likes to talk tough about holding government accountable and "changing the culture" in Washington. The announcement of her campaign for Congress touts her "Reform Platform for Change in Congress," and her "Issues" page states,

I will work tirelessly to put hard earned money back in taxpayers' pockets - where it belongs - not in the hands of Washington bureaucrats.

If Michele Bachmann is so dedicated to change in Washington, why, one might ask, has she received so much money from the central figures of the Washington "culture of corruption?"

On September 20th, Citizens Responsible for Ethics in Washington, a non-partisan ethics watchdog group released its 2006 list of the most corrupt members of Congress. The list

documents the egregious, unethical and possibly illegal activities of the most tainted members of Congress. CREW has compiled the members’ transgressions and analyzed them in light of federal laws and congressional rules.

It seems that Michele Bachmann has taken a whopping $46,000 in campaign contributions directly from these most corrupt members of Congress, either from their re-election campaign warchests or from "leadership PACs" established in their names.

Michele Bachmann has accepted money from the following members of this hall of shame:

Ken Calvert EUREKA PAC $1,000.00 Dennis Hastert * $2,000.00 Dennis Hastert Keep Our Majority PAC $10,000.00 Tom Feeney House Conservatives Fund $5,000.00 Tom Feeney Together Our Majority PAC $10,000.00 Tom Feeney * $1,000.00 Pete Sessions PETE PAC $10,000.00 Roy Blunt Rely on Your Beliefs Fund $5,000.00 Richard Pombo RICH PAC $2,000.00

The grand total of this haul? A whopping $46,000.

In all, Michele Bachmann has taken $152,000 in contributions from current members of Congress.

The CREW website states that

An August 2006 Harris poll shows that 77% of Americans have a negative view of Congress and a May 2006 Gallup poll indicates that 83% of Americans consider corruption a serious issue.

Michele Bachmann should explain why she has accepted contributions from these key players in the Washington culture of corruption, and what she intends to do to separate herself from this culture of corruption.

Can Michele Bachmann be trusted to carry out the people's business in Congress? Or will she owe favors to those who paid for her election and be sucked into the web of corruption in Washington?

Please see my Excel spreadsheet detailing Bachmann's campaign contributions from members of Congress.

I'll be back with more on each of these corrupt donors and their connections to candidate Bachmann.

October 2, 2006

Connect the dots: Bachmann's contributions from politicians

As a Republican candidate for a hotly-contested seat, Michele Bachmann has been the recipient of a huge amount of money from the war chests of incumbents who want to see her join their team. She has received thousands from the re-election campaigns of Republican incumbents, and much more from individual leaders' "leadership PACs." I figured that it would be useful to be able to connect the dots between Bachmann and these incumbents.

But paging through FEC filings can be an arduous process. PACs are not always listed by the name of the politician who runs them. I decided to sit down and go through Michele Bachmann's FEC filings to see who she's been getting money from.

The document is compiled in a Microsoft Excel .xls format. If anyone has trouble reading this format, let me know and we can try to convert it somehow. Download it here:

Bachmann contributors.xls

Please feel free to modify this document, or to send me corrections or additional information.

I hope this is useful to those of you doing the work the media outside the blogs won't do. Let's connect the dots, people!

I will have the first connect-the-dots post up shortly, exposing Bachmann's ties to some of the most corrupt members of Congress.

September 26, 2006

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.

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.

September 24, 2006

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.

Ummm...

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.

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

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!

September 18, 2006

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.

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 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!

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.

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?

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

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 13, 2006

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

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.

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, 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.

July 29, 2006

More questions on the Bachmann mailing

Since I posted about the Michele Bachmann mailing a few days back, I've learned more about both the claims made in the brochure, and the questionable ethics behind it. As previously stated, this flyer was paid for by the Bachmann Re-Election Committee, which is Michele Bachmann's state campaign committee. I speculated in the original piece that the reason this piece was paid for by the state committee was because the FEC does not allow candidates to transfer money from a state account to a federal one. Turns out I was right:

Federal law prohibits congressional candidates who are state officials from transferring campaign money from their local accounts to their federal accounts. When a candidate receives a contribution to a federal account and reimburses the contributor from a separate state account, it is akin to a transfer, the Federal Election Commission has said in an advisory opinion. [...]

Federal law allows state campaign committees to donate up to $1,000 to a federal race. [...]

In 1996, the FEC said in an advisory opinion that ... transfers of money between state and federal accounts [are] "impermissible."

It also appears to be illegal under state law:

Minn. Stat. §10A.27 Subd. 9(b). Contributions to and from other candidates. (b) A candidate's principal campaign committee must not accept a contribution from, or make a contribution to, a committee associated with a person who seeks nomination or election to the office of President, Senator, or Representative in Congress of the United States.

Thus, the runaround. Now, we come to the question of whether this "stealth" campaign literature is legal. From everything I've seen, it appears to be within the letter of the law. Although it is obviously intended to sway Bachmann's constituents to vote for her Congressional bid, state representatives are allowed to communicate with their constituents and count them as "non-campaign disbursements." One legal question would be, is Michele Bachmann still considered a state representative? She has retired from service and is not seeking re-election. Is she still allowed to make these "non-campaign disbursements"?

Possible answers to this question are contained in Minnesota Campaign Finance Board Advisory Opinion 313, which states that mailings to constituents are counted as "non-campaign disbursements," and cites the relevant Minnesota statute:

Subd. 10c. Noncampaign disbursement. "Noncampaign disbursement" means a purchase or payment of money or anything of value made, or an advance of credit incurred, by a political committee, political fund, or principal campaign committee for any of the following purposes: [...] (f) services for a constituent by a member of the legislature or a constitutional officer in the executive branch, performed from the beginning of the term of office to adjournment sine die of the legislature in the election year for the office held, and half the cost of services for a constituent by a member of the legislature or a constitutional officer in the executive branch performed from adjournment sine die to 60 days after adjournment sine die;

The legislature adjourned on May 21st, 2006. That means that this mailing is cutting it close-- depending on when it was mailed. My source received it on Monday, July 24th. The mailing does not contain a date or postmark, and was mailed from St. Paul. Given the recent problem with Keith Ellison's mailing that did not arrive until several days after the event it referred to had passed, it is possible, and even probable, that it was mailed within the 60-day mark. I am not very familiar with Minnesota campaign finance law, but it seems to me that it remains an open question how this mailing would legally work, with Michele Bachmann no longer a candidate for state office.

Another relevant statute would seem to allow this type of mailing for a candidate:

211B.12 Legal expenditures. Use of money collected for political purposes is prohibited unless the use is reasonably related to the conduct of election campaigns, or is a noncampaign disbursement as defined in section 10A.01, subdivision 10c. The following are permitted expenditures when made for political purposes: (1) salaries, wages, and fees; (2) communications, mailing, transportation, and travel; (3) campaign advertising; (4) printing; (5) office and other space and necessary equipment, furnishings, and incidental supplies; (6) charitable contributions of not more than $50 to any charity annually; and (7) other expenses, not included in clauses (1) to (6), that are reasonably related to the conduct of election campaigns. In addition, expenditures made for the purpose of providing information to constituents, whether or not related to the conduct of an election, are permitted expenses.

She's providing (slanted) information to constituents, but, as a retired state senator, is she still allowed to do so? I can find nothing on the question of retirement on the CFB website.

Over at a DB comment thread, MNCR observes that:

Technically, Bachmann still is a State Senator until January of next year, when her replacement is sworn in, so her State Senate office is still hers until then.


If anyone has any insight into this question, or any other possible opinions or statutes to look at, please let me know in the comments or by e-mail.

A second legal question is, would this mailing count as a merely informative service to the constituency, thus a "noncampaign disbursement," or would it count as a disbursement "on behalf of a candidate for federal office"? Minnesota Campaign Finance Board Advisory Opinion 323 states,

A principal campaign committee may not use its funds to make approved or independent expenditures on behalf of a candidate for federal office.

Would a Finance Board hearing determine this mailing to be truly "informational," coming as it does after the candidate has retired and is seeking election to a federal office? Or would it could as an expenditure on behalf of Bachmann's campaign for U.S. Congress, the election on which it is really meant to have an impact?

Eva Young over at DB has thoughtfully posted a nice full-color scan of the document, for those who dislike reading straight text.

July 28, 2006

Bachmann campaign in hot water with FEC?

When news of the Bachmann campaign's acquisition of an "all-star lineup" of GOP campaign veterans, Dump Bachmann did a little research into her new treasurer, Keith Davis, and a second campaign committee that was set up in Bachmann's name, called the Bachmann Victory Fund. Today, an AP article notifies us that Davis and his practice of setting up these "Victory Funds" is under scrutiny by the FCC:

Note to political candidates: The Federal Election Commission doesn't want fundraisers using your name in vain. Even if you're the one getting the cash.

At stake are joint political fundraisers, a common practice for politicians and their party organizations to cast a wider net for campaign dollars. To do that, they must register a joint fundraising committee with the FEC to account for their contributions and their spending. The word "victory" or something equally upbeat is usually in the committee name, so is the year of the election as in "Victory 2006."

To distinguish themselves from other "Victory 2006" committees, fundraisers have been attaching the candidate's name. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., raised money through the "Chafee-Rhode Island Victory 2006." Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., relied on the "Santorum Victory Committee." Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, tapped the "Mike DeWine Victory 2006." And so on.

Not so fast, says the FEC. In letters to the Chafee, Santorum and DeWine joint fundraising committees and a handful of other candidate-related groups, the FEC warned that such eponymous organizations violate federal election regulations. The letters have been addressed to the same Republican campaign finance veteran, Keith Davis of Arlington, Va., the treasurer of more than 20 joint fundraising committees.

"We don't understand the FEC's argument," Davis said. "These are indeed committees that are authorized by the candidates. We have full confidence that they have the right to use the candidate's name."

Davis is hardly alone. The FEC has been demanding that joint fundraising committees eliminate candidates' names for some time, to no avail. Whenever the FEC cites one section of election law to make their case, treasurers for the committees respond by citing another section that upholds their argument. With no resolution, the committees ignore the admonitions.

Bachmann is not mentioned in the article, but two facts lead me to believe that the Bachmann is an FEC target: first, that Keith Davis is her treasurer; and second, that it is named the "Bachmann Victory Fund," fitting with the pattern of the other examples.

Watch local media coverage in the upcoming days to see if this gets any play. From that last paragraph quoted above, it seems like this might not be too big of a deal, but who knows?

July 25, 2006

Bachmann falsely claims to be a lawyer

This was lost in the weekend shuffle, but it is a bombshell. This seems to have the potential to get the Bachmann campaign into some very hot water.

Dump Bachmann blogger Eric Zaetsch has uncovered some shocking information: despite numerous claims made in e-mails and posts to her website, Michele Bachmann is not legally allowed to practice law in the state of Minnesota. As recently as July 19th, Bachmann represented herself as a lawyer:

Bachmann is a federal tax litigation attorney and is the state senator from Minnesota's Senate District 52.

Check out Eric's great, meaty post. It's long, but completely worth it... especially when you get to the end, and he's examining the prospect that this constitutes wire fraud, a federal offense:

Factually, I do not know how many emailings were made [with each recipient representing a separate mailing], for the above referenced item, or others, but I presume they all were emailed intending that they be believed, and those sent within the Sixth District presumably were intended to bear on and influence the outcome of an in-state election, for a federal office.

I would hope a mere hand-waving response from the Bachmann campaign would not be tolerated by those having enforcement jurisdiction; the attorney general and the county attorneys of each county in which the representation of current status was made.

Certainly the press should sieze the question, as they did in the case of candidate Entenza.

Now, the mailing I recently posted about does describe Bachmann as "a former tax litigation attorney." But, on at least two separate occasions (as Eric documents), her campaign materials omit the "former" qualifier.

Bachmann campaign mailing

Yesterday, a family member gave me a mailing she had recently received from Michele Bachmann. I don't have the capability at this point to scan and upload the document, and a google search failed to turn up an internet copy. (If anyone does have an electronic copy of the mailing, please contact me using the e-mail in the upper right.) I am thus reduced to copying the (thankfully brief) mailing by keyboard.

The mailing is paid for by the "Bachmann Re-Election Committee." A search of the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board's website revealed that this is Michele Bachmann's campaign committee for her State Senate runs. Even though she has retired from the Minnesota Senate, Bachmann's campaign committee is apparently still running. This committee's 2005 year-end report (available here) reports a balance of $37,518.47 on-hand at the end of 2005. Apparently this is the money that was used for the mailing-- I haven't checked the FEC rules, but I'm willing to bet that the Bachmann campaign is unable to transfer that state campaign money to her congressional campaign committee.

Here is the text of the mailing. If you know of any discrepancies or misleading claims, please post them in the comments, or email me. I've been trying to use the "Minnesota Votes" website to see how Michele actually voted on these bills, but it doesn't include information on the 2006 session. Here is a list of the bills that Bachmann has sponsored. If you know of an alternative source, please let me know.

Page 1 (Front Page):

State Senator Michele Bachmann
Legislative Report

Dear Friend,

I wanted to take this opportunity to tahnk you for allowing me to serve you in the State Legislatures. I am honored and humbled that you chose me to represent you and your family and I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am to have been your State Senator.

We have accomplished so much together in the past 6 years. We have boosted K-12 spending to record levels, while at the same time holding the line on taxes. We fought to defend traditional family values, and to put our transportation system back on track.

It has been a true pleasure to work for you and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to meet with and hear from many of you throughout my service in the Legislature. Thank you again for the honor of serving you.

Sincerely,
Michele Bachmann
State Senator

Page 2:

Leader on Education Reform
Michele worked tirelessly to ensure that our children received a first class education. The following are Michele's academic accomplishments [?!] in the 2006 Legislative session:
*$800 million per-pupil funding increase, the largest boost in more than a decade
*New aid for preschool and early childhood programs
*Pay-for-performance programs to reward teachers for results linked to academic achievement.
*Raised high school math and science standards.
[Picture w/ caption: "Senator Bachmann showing students around the capitol."]

Taxpayer Advocate
As a former tax litigator, Michele has been dedicated to reforming our tax code. Michele worked to:
*Eliminate the marriage penalty.
*Provide relief for middle income earners from the Alternative Minimum Tax.
*Defeat more than $1 billion in new taxes on individuals and businesses.
*Authored legislation to eliminate the death tax.
[Picture w/ caption: "Bachmann fighting for lower taxes in the Senate"]

Standing Up for Our Veterans
Michele chief authored legislation to protect the Disabled Veterans Rest Camp on Big Marine Lake. The bill will preserve this rest camp for those who bravely served our nation. Her efforts kept the camp from closure due to eminent domain. She was honored by the veterans at a special Memorial Day service.
[Picture w/ caption: "Senator Bachmann at a committee hearing for the Disabled Veterans Rest Camp bill"]

Page 3:

Supporting Our Peace Officers
Michele has been dedicated to giving our law enforcement what they need to keep us safe. To honor the service of a fallen hero, Michele was the chief Senate author of legislation to dedicate a portion of I-35 to Shawn Silvera, a Lino Lakes police officer killed in the line of duty.

[Fake newspaper-style article]
Bachmann Retires from State Senate after 6 Years of Dedicated Service
State Senator Michele Bachmann will be stepping down from the State Senate seat she has held for the past 6 years. Bachmann leaves behind a record of accomplishing what she has promised her constituents, and never backing down from a challenge. Bachmann was proud to represent Senate District 52 and will miss all those who made her service at the capitol a success.

{inset}
[Picture w/ caption: Bachmann thanked for her service by the Senate Leadership.]
"You allowed me to serve as your voice and advocate in St. Paul. I will never forget the high honor it has been to serve as your State Senator."
-Michele Bachmann.

Page 4: back cover

This page lists Michele's contact info, contains the title "State Senator Michele Bachmann Legislative Report" again, and contains the legal information about the flyer:

Prepared and paid for by the Bachmann Re-Election Committee, PO Box 608, Stillwater, MN 55082. Not printed at government expense.

Let's work together and take down some of the claims made in this mailing.

July 24, 2006

The new Tom DeLay raises ca$h for Bachmann

Via Bachmann v. Wetterling, we learn that Michele Bachmann was among the beneficiaries of a July 19th fundraiser held by House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who took over Tom DeLay's old position when DeLay's many ethics violations and federal offenses caught up with him. The new dog still knows the old dog's tricks, though. A July 15th NYT article tells the story:

Representative John A. Boehner won the job of House majority leader amid a post-Abramoff clamor for an overhaul of lobbying and ethics rules. But nearly six months later, the changes are still tied up in Congress.

And far from trying to put the brakes on lobbyists and the money they channel into Republican coffers, Mr. Boehner, who has portrayed his ties to Washington lobbyists as something to be proud of, has stepped on the gas.

He has been holding fund-raisers at lobbyists’ offices, flying to political events on corporate planes and staying at a golf resort with a business group that has a direct stake in issues before Congress.

Tapping a rich vein of longstanding relationships with lobbyists and their corporate clients, Mr. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, has raised campaign contributions at a rate of about $10,000 a day since February, surpassing the pace set by former Representative Tom DeLay after he became majority leader in 2002, a review of federal filings shows.

The Times followed up on this article with an editorial (reprinted in the Pioneer Press today) attacking Boehner's lack of leadership on ethics issues:


The true talents of the new House majority leader, John Boehner, are becoming appallingly evident when it comes to the top item on Congress’s real agenda: the need to raise lots and lots of political money. Mr. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, is setting a fund-raising pace with powerful special-interest groups that already is challenging the achievements of his predecessor, Tom DeLay, the Texas Republican who quit Congress after he was indicted on charges of political money laundering.

Mr. DeLay made the symbiosis of lobbyist and lawmaker an unabashed money machine that scandalized Congress. Mr. Boehner took over with vows to reform Congress. But he’s busier beating Mr. DeLay’s game at extracting contributions from power lobbyists and their corporate clients. He’s averaged $10,000 a day since February, according to an article in The Times by Mike McIntire, with banks, health insurers and drug, oil and cigarette corporations among the biggest donors. As for golf junkets and other “educational? freebies, Mr. DeLay scored 18 trips financed by private interests since 2000; Mr. Boehner has racked up 39 in that time.

In one outing to a gathering of commodities traders at a Florida golf resort, Mr. Boehner assured his hosts that Congress was not likely to approve a tax on futures transactions. Mr. Boehner was doing nothing illicit with this insider schmoozing, not by the sorry rules of Congress. He is merely the latest example of the crass fact that money is the stuff of leadership in Washington.

It’s all too clear that nothing serious can come of the vows of Mr. Boehner and other Congressional leaders to rein in ethical lapses so long as members remain addicted to lobbyist-generated campaign money.

If elected to Congress, will Michele Bachmann attempt to reform the GOP Culture of Corruption? Holding a fundraiser with its new number one man is not a good sign. But hey, as long as it brings in the dough...

[UPDATE] The Hill has a new article on Boehner's fundraiser with Bachmann. Apparently it raised about $1 million for the "Retain Our Majority Program" (ROMP), which was founded by Tom DeLay himself. Assuming the cash is split equally among the 10 candidates (and I'm not sure how it works), that means Michele Bachmann stands to pull in $100,000 from Boehner and his cronies. If Bachmann is elected, she's going to owe some people some favors... and that's not good for democracy, or for Minnesota.

Here's the Hill's brief, not very helpful description of the race in the 6th:

Bachmann’s Democratic opponent, children’s advocate Patty Wetterling, was also recently added to the Red to Blue program. The two are running for the open seat left by senatorial candidate Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Minn.). Bachmann faced a tough primary and trails in cash on hand by nearly $200,000.

Notice the apologia for Bachmann: she "faced a tough primary" and that's why she trails Wetterling. It couldn't be that she was outraised, could it?

July 23, 2006

Coverage of Bachmann's Rove event

Several blogs have covered the Bachmann campaign's fundraiser with Karl Rove, which took place Friday during the day (probably so that fewer people could show up to protest). As usual, Dump Bachmann has the best coverage, including some classic photos. Interestingly enough, only about 60 donors were willing to pony up the $250-$1,000 required to attend. News sources said that "several dozen" protestors were present. Depending on your interpretation of "several," that means protestors may have outnumbered the donors at this event.

DB also asks a relevant question: who paid for the security at this event? Check out the pictures and see if you agree with the police chief's statement:

Stillwater Police Chief Larry Dauffenbach was on the scene. When asked if Bachmann and Rove were paying for all the extra security around the Water Street Inn, he replied: "Security? There's no extra security down here," as at least five Stillwater police officers patrolled the block.

That is a classic quote. It reminds me of Vikings running back Mewelde Moore, speaking after the so-called "Love Boat" incident last year:

"Sex? What are you talking about, is that what? Man, what are you talking about? That's crazy. Sex?"

Check back for updates from the Stillwater Lumberjack Days parade. (Hopefully.)

Bachmann patrons privately profiting from public pesos

Dump Bachmann has been doing some great work on Michele Bachmann's connections to wealthy developers who support the use of eminent domain, accepting their big-dollar campaign contributions even while she protests against the practice on her website.

One of these wealthy contributors is David Frauenshuh, who (along with his wife) has given nearly $9,000 to Bachmann's campaign. A recent post at MN Publius linked to a post last year from Three Way News, which gives some background on Frauenshuh Companies' shady business deals with Norm Coleman and the city of St. Paul:

It looks like a major campaign contributor made $30 million in 5 years on a real estate deal involving Norm Coleman and rewarded him with $50,000 in campaign contributions.

This looks a lot like Duke Cunnigham in reverse. Duke -- not Richie's nearly mute lost brother, by the way -- sold his home above market value, then oversaw contracts that benefited the purchaser. Smilin' Norm, as mayor, sold commercial property below market value, then received large campaign contributions from the purchaser. Republicans violate ethics rules both coming and going.

Basically, the City of St. Paul paid over $100 million to build the Lawson Software building downtown, then sold the property to Frauenshuh Companies just three years later for $54.5 million. In 2005, Frauenshuh sold the property to a Dallas developer for a $30 million profit, and has been rewarding then-mayor, current U.S. Senator Norm Coleman with campaign contributions ever since.

Dump Bachmann also commented on this story when it broke, examining Bachmann's connections to Norm Coleman, pointing out Coleman's support for Bachmann in her first campaign for the state Senate and speculating on why she received a key endorsement from the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce:

I've always wondered why the St Paul Chamber of Commerce would endorse Bachmann in 2002, while the Greater Stillwater Chamber stayed out of the race. My guess: Norm Coleman helped with that one.

Can we expect the same type of antics (i.e., rewarding campaign contributors with sweetheart deals) from Bachmann if she is elected to Congress?

July 18, 2006

Bachmann accepts extremists' money, Part III: more anti-education sentiments from Bachmann donors

Michele Bachmann has accepted a total of $5,000 from the Eagle Forum PAC, a group that was founded by arch-conservative Phyllis Schlafly, who still serves as its president. She seems to hold some out-of-the-mainstream views on education:

“The teachers unions are more eager to expand job opportunities for the remedial reading bureaucracy, and for servicing the social problems caused by illiteracy, than they are in teaching the basics.? – website essay, “How to Make America Better?

“Abolishing the Department of Education was one of Ronald Reagan's campaign promises when he ran for President in 1980. Fulfilling that promise is long overdue, and the time to do it is now…The goal [in public schools] is clearly to infuse (i.e., cause to penetrate) the gay/lesbian propaganda into every level of school: every grade K through 12, every academic subject, and every school and social activity. “
-The Phyllis Schlafly Report, September 1995

...and another one...

"Many years ago Christian pioneers had to fight savage Indians. Today missionaries of these former cultures are being sent via the public schools to heathenize our children.? (Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum)

What do Sixth District teachers, students, and parents think of these radical views?

Side note: It seems that Michele Bachmann, with her outcast lesbian stepsister, shares that history with Mrs. Schlafly:

This mother of six and grandmother of 14 was mortified when her son John was outed by gay activist Michelangelo Signorile in 1992. As outspoken as she is on the topic of homosexuality, she refuses to talk about John. When Signorile asked her at the ‘96 Republican Convention how she could both love her son and support a hideously anti-gay national platform, [Schlafly] responded: "Go! Shoo! I’m not putting up with this, I’m just not! Why can’t you people just leave me alone?? – a hypocritical plea for privacy from a woman who devoted her career to telling others how to live their lives.

Bachmann accepts extremists' money, Part II: Does Michele Bachmann support the trophy hunting of endangered animals?

Wow, this is too easy. Like shooting fish in a barrel. Or going "canned hunting" like Dick Cheney and John Cornyn (R-TX) did a couple of years back, shooting nearly 500 domesticated quail in a matter of minutes. Yes, folks, it's that easy to find extremist sentiments behind Michele Bachmann's campaign contributions.

In her most recent FEC filing, we find a $2000.00 donation to Bachmann from the Safari Club International PAC, received on June 14th. What does this organization support? It's described in this article as "a big-game hunting club that pays huge fees to hunt exotic animals around the globe." What does that mean? Among other things, the hunting of endangered animals, which this editorial from HSUS decries:

The administration's most outrageous proposal is its plan to allow trophy hunters to shoot endangered species in other countries and import the trophies and hides into the United States. The administration first floated the proposal a few months ago, with formal proposals subsequently published in the Federal Register, and President Bush is expected to make a final decision soon on the plan, which originated with his U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For 30 years, the Endangered Species Act has provided critical protections for species near extinction in the United States. The act also protects species in foreign nations, by barring pet traders, circuses, trophy hunters, and others from importing live or dead endangered species. While we can't prevent the shooting or capture of endangered species overseas, we can prevent imports—thus eliminating the incentive for American hunters and others to shoot or trap the animals in the first place.

But with this plan the administration is seeking to punch gaping holes in the prohibitions, under the assumption that generating revenue through the sale of hunting licenses will aid on-the-ground conservation in foreign lands.

The plan is transparent on its face. It's not aimed to help species, but to aid special interests who want to profit from the exploitation of wildlife. No group is more centrally involved in this miserable plan than Safari Club International, the world's leading trophy hunting organization and an entity with close ties to the Bush Administration.

The 40,000 member organization of rich trophy collectors has doled out close to $600,000 in campaign contributions among GOP candidates in the past six years. President Bush appointed a former top lobbyist of the Safari Club to be the deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—again, the very agency promoting the plan to allow the selling off of endangered species to private interests.

This reminds me of the LTE written a while back claiming that Michele Bachmann supports hunters. Really? Do Sixth District hunters really support the killing of endangered species in the developing world by a bunch of thrill-seeking fat cats? Somehow, I just don't think so.

Does Michele Bachmann support the Safari Club's extremist agenda?

Bachmann accepts extremists' money

Nice catch by Karl Bremer over at Dump Bachmann: does Michele Bachmann favor "ending government involvement in education"? Apparently one of her extremist out-of-state contributors does-- and he and his wife have given $13,400 to Michele Bachmann's campaign.

Karl asks all the right questions:

Is abolishing ALL public education in the mainstream of political thought these days? Is that what Minnesotans in the 6th Congressional Districts believe? Are they ready to send someone to Congress to work to abolish public education? That sounds like the position of an extremist to me, but watch the Republicans and their editorial mouthpieces like Westover howl when Bachmann is called an extremist.

Why aren't reporters asking these questions of Bachmann? Why aren't reporters digging into the backgrounds of all the wealthy out-of-state and out-of-district contributors to Bachmann's campaign--both in her regular campaign fund and the latest rump group formed to funnel big bucks into her campaign under the radar. Don't they think voters would want to know why people like the Conners, or William Hawks, who advocates using eminent domain to take public property, are shoveling money into Bachmann's campaign coffers? Why do they have to come to DumpBachmann.com to hear about this stuff?

You know what they say: "birds of a feather flock together."

Dump Bachmann also reports on the second Bachmann campaign committee, called the "Bachmann Victory Committee," and some of its donors.

When I have more time, I'll be looking into Bachmann's most recent FEC filing and seeing what other skeletons lurk in the closet...

July 15, 2006

On Veterans' Issues: Wetterling or Bachmann?

IQ test, question #1: can you spot a pattern in these numbers?

* Rep. Jim Oberstar (DFL): 100
* Rep. Betty McCollum (DFL): 100
* Rep. Martin Sabo (DFL): 100
* Sen. Mark Dayton (DFL): 92
* Rep. Collin Peterson (DFL): 60
* Sen. Norm Coleman (GOP): 50
* Rep. Gil Gutknecht (GOP): 20
* Rep. Jim Ramstad (GOP): 20
* Rep. Mark Kennedy (GOP): 20
* Rep. John Kline (GOP): 0

Those would be the % ratings of the Minnesota delegation on veterans' issues for the year 2005, as assigned by the non-partisan Disabled American Veterans. The ratings are based on the general principle that "this nation’s first duty to veterans is the rehabilitation and welfare of its wartime disabled" -- the organization's overarching mission statement. (You can read about more of their policy concerns here.)

So, back to the IQ test-- do I need to spell it out for you? Obviously, judging from this list (as well as the national ratings), the party with the best record is the Democrats. Where would Michele Bachmann fit on this list? Would she follow her Republican brethren (and they are overwhelmingly brethren) in voting against the interests of American veterans? Or would she break the trend?

We know where Patty Wetterling stands on these issues:

We must do better for those who serve. If we can spend billions of dollars to rebuild Iraq, we can find the money to protect the lives and livelihoods of the Americans we send to do it: they should never have to worry about losing their pay, their health insurance, or their homes.

As long as American lives are at risk, Congress must do everything it can to support our armed forces and see that our soldiers have the equipment and supplies that they need to do their jobs.

...and, specifically, on disabled veterans' issues:


Disabled veterans have sacrificed greatly for this country and we owe them a debt that we can never hope to repay, yet current law is shortchanging them. Disabled military veterans must be allowed to receive their full retirement benefits and I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to see that that inequity is corrected.

July 10, 2006

Parade of Drones, part 1

As you can see, I'm back from my trip. :) Canada was great, but it's nice to be back in the good ol' U.S. of A.

Anyway, it's parade season, and I'm concerned about the image and conduct of the Bachmann campaign in these parades. Today, Dump Bachmann alerts us to this letter in the St. Cloud Times, which has been a good source of CD6 news and LTEs recently. These are disturbing allegations about the conduct of the Bachmann campaign and its supporters:

Letter: Bachmann’s conduct at parade was inappropriate Published: July 10. 2006 12:30AM

In the recent Avon parade, congressional candidate Michele Bachmann and her crew walked like a phalanx along both curbs of candidate Patty Wetterling’s group.

Bachmann and one or two of her crew crossed through the Wetterling group to alternate sides of the street and shook hands with the crowd. ...

I learned later that their entry previously had finished the parade.

At least one of Bachmann’s staff people yelled at the crowd to shake hands with their next congresswoman, while others were yelling her name and/or carrying her signs.

I told one of her self-identified staff that I thought this conduct was inappropriate and probably violated the usual parade rules, or at least etiquette.

This person talked to Bachmann, returned to me and said in a very belligerent tone, “Michele said sue us!?

To me, Michele Bachmann and her crew’s conduct indicates a character flaw that I do not want to have in my next congresswoman.

I have been a parade participant in the St. Cloud area for more than 20 years with both political and charitable/community groups. I have never seen such poor conduct.

Ed Lalor

St. Cloud

These are the disturbing strong-arm tactics of a group who believes that their agenda trumps basic ettiquette and the rights of an opposing viewpoint to be heard. It seems more suited to a different time and place, not here, today, in Minnesota-- perhaps the 50's and 60's in the South, where hate-filled mobs intimidated civil rights protestors, or in modern Russia, where groups of thugs loyal to Vladimir Putin strike fear into the opposition. If these are the acts of a few overenthusiastic "bad apples" in the Bachmann campaign, Michele Bachmann must repudiate these tactics at once. But the letter seems to imply that Bachmann embraced these actions, participated in them herself, and, rather than apologize when confronted, defended herself by telling opponents to "sue us."

Is this the type of behavior that citizens of the Sixth District expect from their next congressperson?

An upcoming post will explore what we can learn about Michele Bachmann from her parade-related activities.

June 28, 2006

Scary thoughts

First of all... I liked the old Michele better than the new one.

Second of all... let's hope this nightmare scenario never occurs.

Wingman adds: I really like that first photo. There’s something about Michele Bachmann giving a speech with the Seal of the Vice President of the United States in front of her that seems so right.

Andy Adds:
One race at a time there Wingman.

Wingman responds: Point taken.

*shudder*

The Onion makes a serious point relevant to Bachmann

"America's Finest News Source" runs an article this week that I think Michele Bachmann should take a look at if she's really serious about "defending marriage." Take a look:

Government To Defend Marriage From Dashing Reginald St. Croix, Esq.

June 28, 2006 | Issue 42•26

WASHINGTON, DC—Amid clamor from thousands of cuckolded husbands nationwide, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has drafted legislation designed to safeguard the institution of marriage, the moral cornerstone of American society, from the greatest threat to its sanctity: suave master-seducer Reginald St. Croix, Esq.

[...]

Although little is known of St. Croix's parentage, provenance, or means of support, he is known to be an unusually well-formed man in his mid-to-late 30s, possessed of pellucid blue eyes, dark wavy hair, a silver tongue, and an all-encompassing appetite for the company of attached womanhood.

Tax records and divorce statistics, as well as hundreds of signed affidavits, demonstrate that the charismatic roué has been the cause of over 1,300 American divorces since January 2001.

"I was as a fawn mesmerized before a serpent, helpless before its untoward advances," said Mrs. C. Clemmons Burroughs, estranged and disgraced wife of the noted industrial magnate, now cloistered in the Philadelphia Home For The Ruined Woman, run by Carmelite nuns. "I considered myself as sworn to my mate as any wife, secure in my devotion, until I granted a single dance to Reginald at the Industrialists' New Year's Ball. One dance, and I was enraptured; one week, and my reputation ruined; one month, my marriage followed suit. I urge our leaders to take any action, invoke whatever power possible, pass whatever law necessary to stop the predations of Reginald St. Croix, Esquire!"

"Yet I love him still!" added Mrs. Burroughs, who collapsed on a nearby divan, quite inconsolable.

The Defense Of Marriage From Reginald St. Croix Bill, expected to easily pass both houses of Congress before the summer recess, will include legal measures against St. Croix, as well as a number of punishments, ranging from banishment to a chemically derived form of gelding.

The picture that accompanies the article is pretty funny, too:

To those who missed the point of the satire here: there are many real threats to the "sanctity of marriage" that Michele Bachmann is doing nothing to combat. Divorce, abuse, philandering, and any number of real concerns are of greater importance than Senator Bachmann's favorite straw man, marriage for gays. So why the concern with gays when there are much more pressing issues that Michele could be dealing with? Eric Zaetsch left an insightful comment at Dump Bachmann a while back. I'll quote a relevant snippet, but please do read the rest-- it's fantastic.


The bigger picture I see - it is a tactic to press the "gay-lever" and a low cost one. 7-10% of voters, alienated, turned-off, hostile, depending on whose unreliable statistics you like.

[...]

As soon as you talk about marriage, and legitimately defined perils to marriage, you get into divorce - it is unavoidable that you must do so, if you are at all intellectually honest about anything you are talking about.

Bachmann's website bio admits she was a child of a difficult divorce situation. So why the deafening silence following that admission?

Face up to divorce as a modern trend in families, and you get into the real and actual family dynamics; the nitty gritty, not a problem in demonizing gay people wanting respect for their rights.

The affected critizized, turned-off bloc shifts from under ten percent to well over fifty percent and you say to yourself, "My god, I could lose an election going there." So you don't.

So it is original sin from the get-go to take the Bachmann dump-on-gay-people path. The low road.

Exactly. This isn't about morality or protecting marriage at all. This is about winning elections using the most disappointing, divisive, and silly tactics available. Let's make sure it doesn't work this time for Michele Bachmann.

June 26, 2006

Beyond the blogosphere...

Eva Young "gets a word in wedgewise" in today's Pioneer Press:


Bachmann needs to clarify views

Craig Westover's June 21 column discussing how contraception is being used as a wedge issue against 6th District candidate Michele Bachmann misses the point ("Getting a word in wedgewise — 'Contraception' "). If you look at the "on the issues" section of Bachmann's Web site, it says "Michele believes that human life must be protected from conception to a natural death." Some argue that birth control pills and emergency contraception are abortefacients that prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. Since Bachmann has stated this position, it's certainly fair to ask for clarification on this issue.

Bachmann should also be asked her position on federal funding for stem cell research. If she opposes that, does she also oppose in vitro fertilization? After all, the embryos used in stem cell research come from discarded embryos used for in vitro fertilization.

EVA YOUNG

Minneapolis

The writer has a "Dump Michele Bachmann" blog.

Wetterling hits Bachmann on minimum wage

Last Thursday, the Patty Wetterling campaign released this statement questioning Michele Bachmann's anti-worker, anti-family stance on raising the minimum wage:

Patty Wetterling to Michele Bachmann: Would You Vote to Give Minnesota Families a Raise?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2006

(Anoka, MN) — With Republican leaders announcing in news reports today that Congress will vote on a minimum wage increase this summer, Democratic Congressional candidate Patty Wetterling pointed to her opponent's dismal record on the minimum wage in St. Paul and demanded to know whether she would vote against working Minnesota families in Washington, DC, too.

"Families in Minnesota need a Representative in Congress who will fight for them," Wetterling said. "Given Michele Bachmann's past record of voting against working families, Minnesotans deserve to know if they can expect more of the same from her in Congress. No parent should work full-time, year-round and not be able to afford the basic food, shelter and healthcare for his or her family, yet that is the situation hardworking Minnesotans across the state face every single day. We can do better than the Bachmann status quo that puts a partisan agenda ahead of the best interests of Minnesota families."

As a state Senator, Michele Bachmann voted at least twice against a raise for working Minnesotans. It has been nine years since the last increase in the federal minimum wage, the second longest period since it was enacted. In 2003 there were 3.7 million Americans who worked full-time, year-round, and still lived in poverty.

Bachmann Voted Twice Against a Raise for Working Families

Bachmann Voted Against Increasing the Minimum Wage in 2005. In 2005, Bachmann voted against increasing the minimum wage. The Minnesota Senate voted on the legislation SF 3/HF 48, that increased the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour-the lowest amount allowed by federal law-to $6.15 per hour. It is estimated that $100 million will go into the pockets of low-income workers as a result of the increase, which went into effect August 1, 2005.

The bill passed 44 to 22.

Bachmann Voted Against Increasing the Minimum Wage in 2004. In 2004, Bachmann voted against increasing the minimum wage. SF 3 authored by Senator Ellen Anderson increases the state's minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.40 an hour.

The bill passed 36-30.

I like the phrasing of this press release. Framing the minimum wage as a "family values" issue lets voters see that, despite Michele Bachmann's claim to the "values" voter, she does not have the best interest of the working families of the Sixth District in mind.

However, the Wetterling campaign could have gone further in attacking Bachmann's record on the minimum wage. During her time in the MN Senate, Bachmann has made some pretty extraordinary statements regarding this issue. For instance, there's this doozy, stated during testimony on January 26, 2005, to the Jobs, Energy and Community Development Committee:

"I was wondering, if most employers are already doing this anyway, isn’t minimum wage really just superfluous? Why do we even have one?"

Did Michele Bachmann really advocate abolishing the minimum wage? Does she still hold this out-of-the-mainstream position? Well, wait 'til you hear some of her other plans regarding worker compensation...

"Many teenagers that come in should be paying the employer because of broken dishes or whatever occurs during that period of time. But you know what? After six months, that teenager is going to be a fabulous employee and is going to go on a trajectory where he's going to be making so much money, we'll be borrowing money from him." —Michele Bachmann, 1/26/05, explaining why teenagers should pay employers for the privilege of working instead of receiving minimum wage.

(All quotations taken from the "Quotes" page at Dump Bachmann)

How can we take Michele Bachmann seriously when she suggests that, not only should we abolish the minimum wage, but that some employees should not be compensated for their labor at all, and should even pay the employer to work?

In an era where the average American CEO earns 262 times the pay of the average American worker, the minimum wage has been stuck at a miserable $5.15 since 1997; in that same time, Congress has voted to raise its own pay at least 7 times. Earning minimum wage, a full-time worker will earn just $10,700 a year, leaving a family of three more than $5,000 below the poverty line. Minnesota needs a leader who can take charge on this issue and help working people everywhere. As we can see from Michele Bachmann's record, she is not that leader. Patty Wetterling is, and 86% of Americans agree with her: the minimum wage must be raised.

D-Day

Today is the day... Dick Cheney arrives to do a fundraiser "private reception" for Michele Bachmann in Minnetonka. (Hmm... when did Minnetonka get added to the Sixth District?) Her campaign released this statement on Friday:

"We are truly honored to have the Vice President of the United States here in Minnesota in support of Senator Bachmann's campaign. They share a common vision when it comes to lower taxes, securing our borders and fighting for the people of the Sixth District. Vice President Cheney's visit is a sign of the importance that the White House places on electing a common sense, experienced leader like Michele to the United States Congress, and holding this seat for the Republican Party," said campaign manager Andy Parrish.

I wonder how many of Michele Bachmann's constituents are able to afford the $250/person price tag on this event, let alone $1,000 for a Polaroid with Bachmann and Cheney? And, uh, Michele? It's probably not great politics to boast about sharing a "common vision" with Dick Cheney. If that's true, someone's liable to get shot in the face. We know that Michele Bachmann is packing heat... are Bachmann staffers required to wear orange clothing around the workplace?

Meanwhile, since American capitalism is based on getting the most "bang for your buck" (no, not your buckshot, Dick), it seems a better deal can be had at the Wetterling campaign's fundraiser tonight in Woodbury. Pictures there are only a dollar.

Here's Patty Wetterling's statement on the Cheney event:

Michele Bachmann should realize that regardless of who she chooses to bring in to our state to campaign with her, this race will be decided on who best represents the needs and concerns of Minnesota families. Unfortunately, Michele's priorities here in Minnesota have been just as mistaken as the Vice President's. All the surrogates in the world can't change Michele's record of voting against families and children.

Right on.

June 22, 2006

Once again:

What is Michele Bachmann's position on contraception?

For another day, Bachmann and her supporters are refusing to answer the question and changing the subject. According to Craig Westover himself, Michele Bachmann claims that she has no position on the question of contraception.

Michele Bachmann's website proudly touts the endorsement of a pro-life group, the Concerned Women for America. It seems that the CWA has taken a pretty definite position against emergency contraception, otherwise known as "Plan B" or the "morning-after pill." Their spokeswoman goes so far as to call the pill "human pesticide." The organization's Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) even opposed the bipartisan Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies (CARE) Act, which is currently stuck in committee. The bill would require that hospitals receiving federal dollars provide information on and access to emergency contraception for victims of rape.

Michele Bachmann has received the endorsement of this anti-contraception group and its PAC, and doubtless will be receiving money from CWPAC (as Mark Kennedy did in the 2004 election cycle.) Sixth District voters deserve to know if Senator Bachmann takes the extreme stance of this organization. They deserve a straight answer.

June 21, 2006

Straight Talk Express?

I see today in the Pioneer Press that Craig Westover (a.k.a. "Captain Fishsticks") is trying to follow up on the flap he created over Dean Johnson's inappropriate Supreme Court comments by attacking Blois Olson, publisher of the "Politics in Minnesota" newsletter. I am not a subscriber, but Westover claims that Olson maliciously lumps Michele Bachmann into the "contraception-is-evil" crowd with no evidence of her position. Dump Bachmann beats me to the punch in asking: What is Michele Bachmann's position on contraception? Though interviewed in Westover's column, Michele Bachmann does not clarify her position at all. Here's what she has to say:

Hearing that she'd supposedly "signed on" to an anti-birth-control caucus that she had never heard of and couldn't join unless she's elected, Bachmann was more than a bit perplexed.

"I don't know what it is, " she said. "But Republicans never seem to challenge the false things Democrats say about us. That just gives them permission to keep doing it."

But she's not about to let the Democrats get even as far as first base on the contraceptive issue. Bachmann is taking prophylactic action. She called Olson directly to ask him what he said — before publicly responding.

"He said he was just stating his opinion of my position and that people would know that," Bachmann said. "He said that I was a 'radical, right-wing, extremist Christian,' and that 'radical, right-wing, extremist Christians would hold that position.' "

All I see in her response is a diversion: the ridiculous claim that Republicans are somehow the perpetual innocent victims of vicious Democratic smears, to which they never respond. Umm... Michele? Ever heard of Karl Rove? Michele Malkin? Rush Limbaugh? Ann Coulter?

Anyway, Westover lets Senator Bachmann get away with dodging the question, and it's more than a little hypocritical. He rightfully criticizes Blois Olson, because it truly was "unfair... when Olson culled from the Times to create an impression of candidate Bachmann that has no connection to reality." But it's similarly unfair for Mr. Westover to "create an impression of candidate Bachmann that has no connection to reality"-- namely, that she is not against the right to contraception. He implies that this is the case in his article, but never forces Bachmann to give readers a straight answer. Neither in this article nor on "candidate Bachmann's" website is a position clearly articulated on the issue of contraception.

To be fair, the "Issues" section of Patty Wetterling's website does not give Patty's position on this issue, either.

[UPDATE]: I was not able to find a Minnesota- or CD6-specific poll, but here is some general information on the public's perception of emergency contraceptives:

According to a national survey, over 80 percent of Americans believe that hospitals should not be allowed to deny emergency contraception to rape victims. Additionally, voters overwhelmingly oppose so-called “conscience clauses? that permit pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions—85 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans oppose pharmacist refusals. [source]
Research indicates that once people understand what emergency contraception is, the overwhelming majority are supportive and believe that couples should be told about the method. According to a July 2002 survey conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates on behalf of RHTP, two-thirds of voters think that government involvement, as a way of reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, is a good idea. In addition, three-fourths favor legislation aimed at expanding public health information about emergency contraception (see chart). When asked why they favor government involvement, over 70% of voters reported that they consider the 72-hour window of effectiveness a compelling reason for women to know about the back-up option in advance of an emergency situation. [source]

Is Michele Bachmann "out of the mainstream" on this issue?

June 15, 2006

Doom and gloom

File this one away for future notice... say, November 7th, as the election results roll in.

"This doom-and-gloom crowd, I am just here to tell you, they see failure for Republicans everywhere this fall," said state Sen. Michele Bachmann, who's running for Congress in the 6th District, in a speech Friday. "We see victory this fall everywhere we go."
Source: Duluth News Tribune, 06/04/06

June 14, 2006

Values Republicans

Bachmann v Wetterling posts about a fundraiser that Michele Bachmann attended last night in New York City. Held by erstwhile NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, it raised a cool $2 million for Giuliani's PAC, Solutions America. Is Senator Bachmann taking sides already in the contest for the '08 GOP presidential nomination? Is she trying to bask in the glow of "America's Mayor"? Or is she merely trying to bum a handout for her own campaign?

Many blogs have already posted about the apparent hypocrisy of Bachmann's upcoming fundraiser with Dick Cheney-- to quote MN Publius:

Michelle [sic] Bachmann screams from the mountaintops for years about how gay marriage is so important that she's willing ot bring the legislature to a grinding halt. One of her arguments is that the traditional family is under attack. I wonder, what does she think of Vice-President Cheney's family? She'll gladly keep her mouth shut, I imagine, as long as he brings in $250/head [$1K for an 'intimate reception with a picture] at a swanky fundraiser on Lake Minnetonka on June 26th.


originally posted at Dump Bachmann

I believe Michele Bachmann sends a similar hypocritical message by pandering to Rudy Giuliani for money and attention to her campaign. Many of Bachmann's conservative followers may be concerned with Giuliani's "liberal" stances on issues like abortion and gay marriage, and perhaps even more offended by his philandering past. This paragraph from Wikipedia sums things up neatly:

Even if Giuliani can overcome his liberal record on social issues such as gun control, gay marriage, and abortion, other aspects of his past are certain to be major issues in a presidential campaign. Giuliani's relationship with Judith Nathan, later to become his third wife, was well-publicized by local media, as it appears to have begun before the divorce of his second wife was legally finalized. Mr. Giuliani, before his divorce, called Judith Nathan, his "very good friend." On May 10, 2000 Mr. Giuliani announced at a press conference that he was seeking a separation from his wife, Donna Hanover -- without first informing her of his decision. Mr. Giuliani went out of his way to praise Judith Nathan as a "very, very fine woman," and said about his marriage with Donna Hanover: "Over the course of some period of time in many ways, we've grown to live independent and separate lives." The mayor's assertion was contradicted three hours later by his emotionally distraught wife, who said, "I had hoped that we could keep this marriage together. For several years, it was difficult to participate in Rudy's public life because of his relationship with one staff member." Ms. Hanover was referring to Cristyne Lategano-Nicholas, the mayor's former communications director. The mayor and Ms. Lategano-Nicholas denied those allegations in the past, and continue to deny them now.

I'm sure I could find juicier stuff in the tabloids, but this excerpt proves my point. In short, Mr. Giuliani's not exactly the epitome of a "family values" candidate. Yet Michele Bachmann is more than willing to prostrate herself before Giuliani's throne, hoping he'll toss a few bucks and maybe even a ray of celebrity sunshine her way. Now, I'm not one to judge someone's personal life-- if Mr. Giuliani can live with his past, it doesn't really concern me. I'm sure if I were someone affected by this behavior, I would feel differently. As Michele Bachmann has proven in the past, these types of things do concern her. She's been perfectly willing to step into other people's personal lives in the past-- even going so far as to ignore the existence of her lesbian stepsister in order to pursue her extremist anti-gay agenda. If Michele Bachmann was really interested in defending "traditional marriage"-- as I understand it, one woman + one man, no divorce, and no cheating-- she'd refuse to associate with someone who, obviously, did not share those same values. But for Senator Bachmann, money trumps values-- every time.

By the way, for those who are interested, this new film takes a critical look at the "deification" of Rudy Giuliani. It looks interesting, and should become extremely relevant as 2008 approaches.

[UPDATE]: Over at the HuffPost, Gene Stone rips Mary Cheney for her refusal to speak out about her father's fundraiser with Michele Bachmann, and her perceived lack of interest in gay rights unless it stands to benefit her personally. I don't know how fair this column is to Mary Cheney, but it's crazy to see the news of the Cheney/Bachmann alliance go national-- it's been featured on AmericaBlog, Pandagon, and probably others. Pretty soon, everyone in the 6th is going to know about Dick and Michele.

June 12, 2006

Cheney to appear with Bachmann at fundraiser

Duck and cover! Everyone's favorite gun-safety expert, Dick Cheney, will appear with self-proclaimed "sportsman's advocate" and proud "conceal-and-carry" permit-holder Michele Bachmann at a fundraiser this month.

The invitation says Cheney will appear at the home of William and Karen Hawks on the shore of Lake Minnetonka. It gives guests the choice between a $250 per person reception or a more intimate reception and photo opportunity with Cheney for $1,000.

Only $1,000 for a Polaroid? What a bargain. Of course, it's worth it if Michele and Dick can hook you up with a no-bid contract for "reconstructing" Iraq. I hope Michele will be taking a few pictures with the veep... I'd love to see them spread around the 'net, and used in some campaign ads. Looks like Cheney's approval is back up from the 18% rating in February after "the incident," but it's still in the Danger Zone at 31%. The public ought to know what types of people Michele chooses to identify her campaign with-- guilt by association and all that. Didn't she learn in Sunday School that it's not all about the money? Character matters, Senator Bachmann.

BONUS: Classic Cheney Moments, #1 (first in a series of ...?)

Great Moments in Political Correctness: Dick Cheney's Adventures at Auschwitz

Wonder what he'll wear to the fundraiser? Will Michele wear her "little pink dress"?

May 20, 2006

A Stillwater perspective on Bachmann

Reading the blogs, I noticed a couple of great posts from fellow Stillwater resident William Pendergast. In these entries, he explodes the myth of Michele Bachmann as a run-of-the-mill "social conservative" that has been propagated by the submissive media that is unwilling to paint her as she truly is:

[I]f our political reporters really had a clue, they would not be describing Bachmann as a “social conservative?—they would describe her instead as “Christian fundamentalist politician Michele Bachmann.? Because that is what she is—she is not just another “social conservative?; she is a politicking fundamentalist who is actively promoted by powerful Christian fundamentalist commercial media. These fundamentalists’ agenda is to transform their religious beliefs into our laws.

There is nothing wrong or objectionable about telling readers about this—it’s demonstrable, and it’s the truth. But for whatever reason—unconsciousness, fear of reprisal, secret sympathy for the cause, or sheer density—the major players in Minnesota’s political media won’t identify Bachmann for what she is. Not to their readers, anyway.


[link]

He also extends a warning to Patty Wetterling about the vicious smears that are going to come her way:

[B]eware this time around, Patty. Michele Bachmann is no Mark Kennedy. All means--fair or foul or in between--will be employed to destroy your good name and reputation, so long as Bachmann and her paranoid, pre-apocalyptic followers feel you represent any threat to MB. The way the national and local media characterized the late Terry Schiavo's husband and his motives for their listening audiences--that's the way that the Bachmann campaign is going to characterize YOU!
[link]

William Pendergast recognizes the truth of this campaign: the Republican smear machine is already ramping up against Patty, and the "liberal media," as it's proved so often in the past, will not do anything to stop it. That's why this site exists. We will expose Michele Bachmann's true character and ideology, defend Patty Wetterling against her campaign's attacks, and, above all, spread the hopeful message of Patty's campaign. By doing so, we will help elect Patty Wetterling as the next great Representative from Minnesota.

May 18, 2006

A unified front?

Some local conservatives have their doubts about Michelle Bachmann...

From Always Right, Usually Correct:

I have been saying for a long time that the enemy of our enemy is not our friend. I believe that. Look at what it has done for us over the decades in foreign policy matters.

I believe that and I also believe that character matters. I will not support any candidate whose character is worse than mine. That is a pretty low bar. In my heart of hearts I believe Michele Bachmann has shown in many areas to be below that bar. There is too much that I know about her to prove otherwise...and sadly most of what she has done will get swept under the carpet because people have decided to put their party above it all.


[link]

Seriously, this woman is so bad for the state and the country that I see less danger in electing Patty Wetterling than in electing Michele Bachmann. And expect that to be something I repeat often during the election cycle. "I'm a hard-line conservative, but Michele Bachmann is more of a danger to this country than Patty Wetterling...vote Wetterling."
[link]

Well, obviously. Patty Wetterling is no danger to this country at all. In fact, she is a candidate that can help this great nation get back on the right track. A vote for Michele Bachmann is a vote for the wrong track the Republicans have steered us on since the "Revolution" of 1994.

Warning to the GOP...you will lose big this year in 2006. The paths you have set upon are not very appealing to the moderate, they are not warm to the "principled Republicans" and they are not displaying any optimism.

You will energized your opposition (you are giving them far too much fodder) and supress enough of the conservative base to damage not just your Governor's race, but the Senate race and the state houses, too.

Just keep going and come November I will just sit back and say, I told you so. And curse you jackasses for being so obtuse that you screwed the state just to protect the "R" behind your politicians names.


[link]

From Residual Forces:

The fumbling of getting the amendment through the MN Senate was just the last straw with me. Added on top of that all the other bungling from her campaign, the negative attacks, the lies and misstatements about her own and others’ records [...] I do not want some one to represent me in Congress who is willing to do and say anything to get elected. How can you trust someone like that?
[link]

And, of course, there's always the folks over at Dump Michele Bachmann, some of whom are actually Republicans (of the Log Cabin variety) appalled that their party would nominate such a homophobic candidate. I particularly like this story about how Michele's been charging her cable TV bills to the taxpayers... fiscal conservatism at its finest, my friends.

May 16, 2006

Worth a thousand words

via Dump Michele Bachmann, caption this picture. (Not here... do it there. It was their idea.)

I think there are two pictures that really capture the essence of Michele Bachmann:

Michele Bachmann, crouching in the bushes at a gay rights rally

The money race

In a recent post, Bachmann v Wetterling mocks Patty's campaign accounts:

Patty Wetterling proclaimed this weekend during her endorsement that she wouldn’t have to spend a dime getting her name out in the District this weekend. That’s good for her since she will have to work on getting her ‘message’ out there. She had better hope she can do it cheap.

Patty Wetterling

Total Receipts: $244,986 Latest Cash On Hand: $168,402

Now if she could only remember what that ‘message’ thing is.

This is kind of ironic criticism, considering the piles of money backing the "Wetterling" side of the Bachmann v Wetterling logo-- it seems to imply there is a wealthy liberal machine (an unholy alliance of the Star Tribune, the DFL, OutFront Minnesota, and the DCCC) showering money on Wetterling.

Irony aside, in that CQ article that everyone's linking to, an observant reader finds this:

As of March 31, Wetterling had net receipts in her House account of $197,406 and $168,000 on hand, both rather modest totals. But she still had $1.2 million sitting in the campaign account she had set up for her planned Senate bid, which she is allowed to transfer to the House account. Wetterling predicted her fundraising would surpass the $1.9 million her campaign spent on her 2004 challenge to Kennedy.

So by my count, that's almost $1.4 million that Patty's got available. Now that she's got the endorsement, watch for those numbers to increase substantially. And remember that, at least initially, El Tinklenberg had the backing of the DCCC and the labor unions--thus the surprising number of PAC contributions in Tinklenberg's fundraising. [side note: Why isn't Patty listed on opensecrets.org? She's not in the CD6 section or the Senate section.]

Compare that to Bachmann's FEC totals:

Total Receipts: $396,347 Total Disbursements: $200,114 Latest Cash On Hand: $196,232

So, unless she's got some money stashed away somewhere (in the bushes, perhaps?), Republicans "better hope she can do it cheap."