While the rest of the country caught up with Minnesota in tossing the Republican Party out of power, where does that leave them and what are they doing about it? There's been a lot of discussion of that on the national blogs. I want to examine what it means for Minnesota and MN's Republican Party.
Nationally, the Republicans are trying to rebrand themselves. They want to return to the days when they were considered the champions of small government and fiscal responsibility. Unfortunately, after the last eight years, that's just not realistic.
It's like trying to turn a pickle back into a cucumber.
All the speechifying, marketing, Republican talking points repeated ad nauseam by Fox News, CNN, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and the rest of the Washington media doesn't change what Americans believe any longer. They've had 8 years of proof of what the Republicans will do when they have the power and plenty of compliant Democrats.
Thanks to the brouhaha over Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's latest round of questionable statements before a friendly media audience, the DCCC got in on the game and made a note of one more piece of the interview on which we haven't put to much focus:
As families across the country are struggling to make ends meet and businesses large and small are closing their doors, it has been determined that Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's refusal to support the American Economic Recovery Package may be because she simply didn't understand the simple math behind this necessary and responsible legislation. On KTLK's Chris Baker Show, Michele Bachmann claimed "The amount of money that's been committed by this Democrat government already, the amount of money that they have committed, your tax money to spend, would equal, and I'm not making this up, a check in the amount of $1,430 written to every man, woman, child in the world."
Let's see, Start Button, Applications, Accessories, Calculator....1430 x 6700000000 (approximate population of the world).... that works out to $9.5 trillion. Even if you accept the GOP talking point that "this is a trillion-dollar spending bill" (it's not), that's still a pretty dramatic error on the part of the Congresswoman.
If you're more reality-based than the Republican Party in Washington, then the difference between the $787 billion package of spending and tax cuts recently signed into law by President Obama is even more dramatic -- we're talking "a factor of 12" dramatic.
So what was she talking about? $787 billion divided equally among all the world's people = $117/person. $787 billion / the U.S. population = $2,580/person. Perhaps she was using the GOP talking point that it's closer to a trillion dollars? That works out to $149/person on earth, or $3,278/American.
This $1,430 figure is a mystery.
In MinnPost's brief note about the story, conservative commentator Thomas Swift commented "It's obvious that Bachmann mispoke." That much is certain, but once again we return to what is now an old debate -- what's the difference between "misspeaking" and "lying"?
Is it foreknowledge that what you are saying is false?
Does that make a difference?
Shouldn't a member of Congress know that what they are about to say in public is true, both factually and contextually?
Let's all remember that this is not the first time she has "misspoken" in public -- the Super-Secret Partition Plan for Iraq and her call for an investigation into whether members of Congress are pro-America or anti-America spring to mind. Were those incidents simply misspoken, or was something more important than the truth on her mind?
In any case, if Rep. Bachmann is so upset about the Stimulus bill that she's willing to "misspeak" so brazenly about it, perhaps we should ask Congress and the White House to amend the bill so that the funds intended to make her district the biggest winner in Minnesota in terms of job savings and gains can go somewhere else, where the Congressional representation doesn't "misspeak" as often or consistently.
Peace has to come from new ideas. One simply cannot make peace with soldiers and guns. Even on the local level, at the Republican National Convention, the volunteer Yellow Hat peace teams were far more effective at creating peaceful St Paul streets than the Darth Vader riot clad troops. The Peace Team and other new ideas come from Friends for a Non-violent World (FNVW). This Friday night and Saturday, you have a chance to sample a lecture at "Turning the Tide: Toward a Foreign Policy of Human Dignity" at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Avenue in Minneapolis.
"Just to be clear, I don't know of anyone around City Hall who is even thinking about this. It was a suggestion from a citizen committee but I don't think it has much support. I certainly don't think that's where we should be spending our time. Now people can stop emailing and Facebooking me about it...and I'll get back to the budget where our focus belongs."
That pretty much puts a nail in it as there are other sources within City Hall who echo the Mayors sentiment.
Governor Pawlenty loves to go on national TV. It's one of the best ways to burnish his Presidential ambitions. He was brave enough to go where few conservatives go, The Rachel Maddow Show. Rachel asked him about the stimulus package and why he was taking it despite opposing it.
Watch and listen to Pawlenty do the T-Paw DanceTM around opposing something that feels so good.
Pawlenty thinks the stimulus package could have been done better, but won't specify how. This is probably wise as Rachel would skewer him if he tried to explain how we just need more of the Republican policies that got us into our current mess.
Pawlenty spins MN receiving this dirty, filthy money (that makes him feel so good) because we've paid in SO much. Far more than anyone in the history of mankind. Ever. That makes it okay. Really. He's not weak.
When Rachel asks him about Governors taking the philosophical high road and refusing the stimulus package, watch and listen to the T-Paw DanceTM even faster.
Accepting the stimulus helps him out of a potential budget deficit of $7 billion and will go a long way to creating thousands and thousands of jobs. This is the kind of help that he desperately needs despite his faux protestations. If he were to refuse it, his approval rating would plunge and any chance of reelection would be doomed (providing he doesn't bypass a reelection bid to start early on a Presidential bid).
Why do Republicans always oppose things as bad that make them feel so good?
Since the state is facing a deficit that may climb to as much as $7 billion, Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller (DFL-Mpls) implemented a hiring freeze for state government. Wages are frozen and any Senator can take a pay cut. After all, shouldn't Senators feel everyone else's pain?
The move, which was approved by the Senate Rules Committee, is a body blow to the Senate GOP. That caucus recently released Dan Wolf as Chief of Staff and was reportedly looking to hire Norm Coleman's campaign manager.
GOP Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem was visibly upset and declined comment after the meeting. During the Rules Committee hearing, Senjem asked the DFL majority to delay the freeze until they could fill the chief of staff position next week. He described the move as "disturbing" and "not fair to the minority."
Who is that illustrious campaign manager of former Senator Norm Coleman? I don't seem to remember ... oh yea ... that guy. Cullen Sheehan.
My post from back on February 11th was a little premature. Apparently, the Republicans hadn't gotten around to actually hiring Cullen Sheehan, yet. Too bad they couldn't get their act together.
What were they waiting for?
Maybe it was because they were going to hire him as soon as Norm's campaign finally ran out of money or a court willing to hear his appeals? Will the Senate be deprived of his amazing press conference talents?
Across the years, Nick Coleman has stood as the icon of great journalism. Indeed, I sometimes am in awe. For example, Nick was one of the few reporters who truly understands St Paul culture. Mike McIntee says it best:
Two years ago the Start Tribune nominated columnist Nick Coleman for one of journalism's highest awards- a Pulitzer. His hard hitting and insightful columns have tweaked the powerful and comforted the powerless. I found out last night that his column will no longer be appearing in the Star Tribune. The reason given from Executive Editor Nancy Barnes' office was "a need for new and fresh voices". ... The Star Tribune appears to be keeping this as quiet as possible. A story written about the new columnists replacing Nick Coleman made no mention of his column being pulled.
I believe that Star Tribune has gone beyond bankruptcy and is now committing content suicide. Clearly the Avista oil company owners just want to destroy the paper.
At 5 PM today, the Quick Uptake will have a discussion. Meanwhile, I like Mike's suggestion:
If you are upset about Nick Coleman's column being "launched", I suggest you call the Strib (612) 673-4000 and ask for "Editor" then Executive Editor and register a complaint.
Update: David Brauer did mention this casually in a story on Feb 3.
Van Jones: The Stimulus--A Down Payment on a Green Future
By Van Jones
Pretty soon, Kermit the Frog is going to need a new song to sing. I'm not saying it's easy being green. But it's getting easier.
As part of the $787 billion stimulus package that President Obama just signed, the federal government will be investing about $60 billion in clean energy, environmental projects, and scientific research.
Gene Karpinski, head of the League of Conservation Voters, calls it "by far the biggest investment in new green technologies that we've ever seen from the federal government."
This is a huge step forward for America. The twin crises of economic collapse and ecological devastation have proven that the old, pollution-based economy has failed both the people and the planet. The 'green' money in the stimulus package is a down payment on a clean, green economy that will serve both the people and the planet.
Last October, Michelle Bachmann went on Chris Matthew's "Hardball" show - and as could have been predicted*, said stuff outrageous, and outrageously stupid. She essentially called then-candidate Barack Obama "anti-American." Not content with smearing Obama, Bachmann went on to question the patriotism of Democratic Members of Congress, too. You can watch her screed at YouTube.
Needless to say, and I'm sure most remember, Little Miss Hiding In the Weeds, after accusing a sitting U.S. Senator of anti-Americanism, then went on by calling for the media to launch a McCarthyite expose into the anti-Americanism of her collegues in the US House. Needless to say, her antics on "Hardball" set off a firestorm.
So, Michelle went on Billo's show, on Faux Fox "News", to deliver her Mea Nota Culpa. Just for nostagia's sake, let's watch! (after the break)
Under most circumstances, I wouldn't be promoting a fundraising event like this one -- there are simply too many in any given timeframe to pick favorites. But I'm co-hosting this event along with many other great progressive voices across Minnesota, because Progressive Majority fulfills a vital role in our state -- they don't just support Democrats, they support Progressive Democrats in their efforts to build campaign skills and infrastructure. Their record over the past couple of years is splendid -- just ask State Representatives Paul Rosenthal, Mike Obermueller, and Gail Kulick Jackson what the biggest factors in getting themselves over the top were.
Progressive Majority's work makes sure that we're not just electing more Democrats to office, we're electing better Democrats, and to offices from which we'll draw the Gubernatorial, Senate, and other high-level candidacies of the future.
Tickets to the event are $40 -- not exactly a burger and fries, but it promises to be a tad swankier, a wee bit healthier, and a great deal better for the progressive movement than your regular every-day Burger King fare. If you're interested in attending, check out the link above for more information on how to purchase tickets, and drop me a brief email so I can let PM-MN know I sent you.
Y'all know this was coming. Imagine your craziest relative dropping acid then going on national TV to talk politics. Well ... that's our beloved Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN06). Except this time she's on local radio. She must've thought nobody would record it.