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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

2011 The Top 10 Worst Political Persons in Minnesota

Category: GOP Politics
Posted: 12/30/11 23:30

by Dave Mindeman

Over the course of the past 5 years, mnpACT has ended the year with a Keith Olbermann like Top 10 Worst Persons list. It has become kind of a tradition -- so I have to do it now, your objections are overruled. The last 5 lists have had a pretty consistent cast of characters.....

2006 - 4. Mary Kiffmeyer, 3. Local Media, 2. Norm Coleman, 1. Michael Brodkorb

2007 - 4. Tim Pawlenty, 3. Michael Brodkorb, T-1. Carol Molnau, T-1. Michele Bachmann

2008 - 4. Norm Coleman, 3. Michael Brodkorb, 2. Tim Pawlenty, 1. Michele Bachmann

2009 - 4. Katherin Kersten, 3. John Kline, 2. Tim Pawlenty, 1. Michele Bachmann

2010 - 4. Tony Sutton, 3. MN Chamber, 2. Tim Pawlenty, 1. Michele Bachmann

Notice a pattern? Well, not to spoil anything, but Bachmann does not get to #1 this year, and I'll explain later. Tim Pawlenty's short lived presidential bid kept him out of Minnesota so much that he doesn't even make the list at all (besides why add insult to injury?). Even perennial contender Michael Brodkorb is no longer Top 10 material. His fall from grace is a good story, but most of the damage was kind of self inflicted No need to dwell on it -- all will be revealed in due time.

So, let's get to the substance of this sordid array. Here is the Top 10 Worst Political Persons in Minnesota.

10. Sen. Geoff Michel. I have to agree with Sen. Bakk on this one. We need some answers and those answers start with Michel. What was the process that ultimately led to Amy Koch's resignation as Majority Leadaer? Since Michel was the first informed...by Cullen Sheehan, what was the thought process? and why did it take 3 months to get to finality? Was the rest of the caucus really kept in the dark? Why did Sen. Senjem replace Sen. Robling at the press conference? Why "mislead" about the timeline rather than just not comment? New Majority Leader Senjem may say he wants to "move on", but seriously -- there are just too many unanswered questions.

9. State Sen. & 1st District Congressional Candidate Mike Parry. Parry thinks of himself as some rising star in the GOP. He has bullied his way to the front of the line in a lot of ways. Hard to believe that he began his career in the legislature less than 2 years ago in a special election. Yet, he chairs a committee and now fancies himself as a Congressional candidate to take on Tim Walz. Parry is fresh off a less than collegial exchange with Governor Dayton.. (At least it got him a breakfast). He is a hard core partisan and I doubt the First District appreciates that sort of thing.

8. Zygi Wilf. I know you have to wonder why a pro football owner would be on a political worst persons list. And my answer is, he shouldn't be. He shouldn't be anywhere near a political list of any kind. But he pushed and forced and demanded his way in. Determined to add to his billions by extorting the State of Minnesota to partially finance his stadium, Zygi has become as much a fixture at the Capitol as the legislators themselves. He threatens to pick up his football toys and move to California if he doesn't get his way....and all of this goes on while the State of Minnesota deals with enormous debt and budget issues. God forbid we should ever think about raising his taxes.

7. Dan McGrath and MN Majority. On the Minnesota Majority website, the banner slogan is "Standing Together for Traditional Values". Apparently, MN Majority has decided that traditional values includes pushing for Voter ID legislation. A big headline they have pushed in the past says, "MN Leads the Nation in Voter Fraud Convictions".... yet when you dig deeper you find the actual number of convictions in the entire state is 113. And that number represents exhaustive legal expense for district and county attorneys, pushed by MN Majority via their own expensive investigation into every aspect of Minnesota's elections after the Franken-Coleman 2008 election. All that money. All that court time. It all equals 113 convictions. Pretty much all of them from felons voting. And all of this hoopla is being used to push an agenda to make it more difficult for actual bona fide legal voters to vote. How many hundreds, perhaps thousands of Minnesotans will be turned away in future elections because Dan McGrath and MN Majority think the biggest problem in Minnesota is "voter fraud". Students, seniors, and the poor are the targets. Yet, in the Iowa caucuses, the GOP will not ask for ID. And in Minnesota, think there will be elaborate restrictions on proof of residence for our own caucuses? Yet another GOP solution in frantic search of a problem.

6. Michele Bachmann (Iowa Presidential Candidate). Bachmann is not first on this Minnesota list because she is now the country's problem. At least for the time being. This ego driven Presidential campaign has been imploding recently. Bachmann is having just as much trouble holding onto staff people in her campaign as she did in her Congressional office. All the distorted facts. All the media driven statements. All the evangelical pandering. It's all still there. But it is almost all done outside of Minnesota's borders. Heck she doesn't even cast Minnesota votes on the House floor anymore. She's never in Minnesota. She's never in Washington. Really, she has pretty much wrecked any Presidential possiblity. She is out of money. She is out of credibility. She has even lost those social conservatives that she has pandered to for years. Michele Bachmann may still come back to Minnesota, but she will be limping her way back. The question is rapidly becoming....Does anybody want her back at all?

5. Minnesota for Marriage Coalition. This coalition of groups supports the Marriage Discrimination Amendment. We know religious organizations like the Minnesota Family Council and the Minnesota Catholic Conference are involved. These groups have badgered the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board about donor disclosure rules and the Finance Board has adjusted with an extraordinarily complex set of rules that will allow loopholes a mile wide. All of this maneuvering is meant to keep donor names secret and free them from taking any responsibility for their stance against gay marriage. The coalition plays a coy expectation game...saying they will be heavily outspent by GLBT groups. But the reality is that during the previous 5 years up to the legislature's vote to put the amendment on the ballot, the pro-amendment coalition members were the ones funnelling the big money at the legislature. Via PAC donations, the supporters of this blight on the Constitution of Minnesota outspent the GLBT community 3 to 1.

Marriage should not be a complicated issue. It is about a commitment between two people, pure and simple. It is not about religion; it is not about tradition; it is not about values. It is about individual rights.... and no one should have the right to mold and embed the Constitution to reflect one individual's rights over another.

4. Tony Sutton. Rather than face the music, Tony Sutton ran away. He resigned his position as Chair of the MN Republican Party. In his wake is a flat out mess. The IOU's are still being counted as we speak. Lawyers will argue with other lawyers and some day we may actually get a picture of how the party of fiscal responsibility actually did the books. Sutton was quick with the one-liners. Always confident. Always dismissive. Yet, underneath that facade was the heart of a genuine con man. The Republican Party kept entrusting their financial stability to this man. A man with FEC fines in his background and constant editing of party financial statements. Under his watch, the GOP won control of the legislature.....but it looks like they did it with "funny money". Sutton is gone and somebody else is left to deal with the mess. Thank heavens he wasn't a legislator on the Finance Committee.

3. Rep. Pat Garofalo (Chair of Education Committee). Garofalo likes to give us the impression that he is always helping education. He will be glad to tell you that education got an increase in funding this year. Except his increases are like advances on a credit card. The cash is visible...the costs are not. Garofalo is at war with teachers. He has criticized Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher from the floor of the House. He wants to break teacher tenure. He wants the urban schools to take cuts and redistribute the money. To him, integration funding is a scam. Minnesota education is struggling to maintain its excellence, but apparently Pat Garofalo wants us to be satisfied with "good enough". His stranglehold on education funding in the legislature hasn't satisfied him either -- Rep. Garofalo decided to render his opinion on local levies as well, telling them when funds weren't needed. Funding for education is always a struggle, but in recent years with school shifts and crumbling infrastucture, as well as adapting to an information age, districts are left strapped for cash and cutting back opportunities. Our kids deserve better than this. Education has to be our solution - not another item on the chopping block.

2. Cong. John Kline. John Kline doesn't give a lot of red meat speeches. He sticks to talking points when doing interviews. But John Kline is probably doing more damage to Minnesota than the all the people on this list combined. He gives lip service to changing NCLB (No Child Left Behind), yet does nothing of substance about it and criticizes and blocks anything the Obama administration tries. As Chairman on Education and the Workforce Committee, Kline has a broad reach. He deals with health care or at least what he can do to damage programs. He has become a public enemy for unions and continues to dismantle the work of the National Labor Relations Board. But above all, he has done nothing for the 2nd District of Minnesota. He works on nothing, contributes nothing, and almost ignores his constituents. He uses appearances in the 2nd as photo-ops for his national policy initiatives....or just plain try to embarrass any government agency that happens to cross paths with him. Kline used to rail against Washington power, but now relishes the idea that he is now part of it all. Kline can do all of this without reservation. He is safe in his district. Democrats are hesitant to challenge him or don't have the resources to produce a viable campaign. It is really time for that to seriously change.

1. Sen. Amy Koch/ Rep. Kurt Zellers and the Entire GOP Legislative Caucus. I realize this is a little unorthodox but I just couldn't leave out anybody. Senator Koch is included, not because of any sexual impropriety, but because she led a GOP Senate caucus through the worst legislative agenda we have seen in a long time. Kurt Zellers let his freshmen push the House as far right as possible and what was supposed to be...and promised to be...a jobs, jobs, jobs legislature, turned into an anything and everything else legislature. Insisting on a draconian all cuts budget, they led us into government shutdown territory and when they finally decided to work a compromise (so to speak), the leadership team saddled the State of Minnesota with IOUs and debt. IOUs in education shifts and debt in the form of tobacco bonding. Methods that will only cost Minnesota more in the future. Adding insult to injury, we were subjected to a potential travesty and blight upon our most sacred governing document - the Minnesota Constitution. The legislature wants the voters of Minnesota to ingrain discrimination into that founding keystone for this generation and for future, potentially unpersuaded, generations. And yet, they pat themselves on the back, because they believe that the projected surplus is their reward. A credit card reward at best, that was propelled by newly acquired Federal budget funds and reductions in health and human services. They still believe that they protected what was, and is, most important to them. No new revenue in the form of taxes for the wealthy. To maintain that foolish covenant, the legislative GOP delivered lost wages for government employees during the shutdown. They took education funding to new IOU levels and forced districts to borrow money for current budgeting. They reduced the numbers on state health services. They were willing to add debt to the next generation's budget burden. And they were willing to break an implied contract with Minnesota's property tax payers that their homestead would get a priority tax break. More taxes for property owners. More cutbacks at schools. Less money for cities. Less policeman. Less firefighters. All of this....all of it, to maintain the profits and disposable income of those who have profited most during the worst recession in 4 generations. They did all of this together. All for one and one for all. The worst of politics in Minnesota for 2011.
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2011 Top Ten Best Political Persons In Minnesota

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 12/29/11 23:12, Edited: 12/29/11 23:21

by Dave Mindeman

Hey, its the end of the year...time for the mnpACT Top 10 Political Persons List. Today is the Top 10 BEST Political Persons in Minnesota. Remember it is not a contest; there are no awards; and it is totally subjective. And also remember this is from a Progressive perspective. Disagree? Agree? Comment at will....

10. Cong. Tim Walz, 1st District. Tim Walz isn't always a guaranteed progressive vote in Congress, but he is an honest broker. He tends to vote his district....as any good representative should. Each cycle, Walz is the target for a GOP turnover, and each cycle he turns it back. One of Walz's initiatives (which has actually been around for about 6 years) is to get Congress out of the stock market insider information business. It would seem reasonable to stop Congressional individuals from profiting from how laws affect the stock market, but just as he starts to make headway, GOP leadership pulls the rug. Tim Walz is one of those quiet fighters who do the right thing. Minnesota is lucky to have him.

9. Mark Ritchie, Sec. of State. As Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie looks out for Minnesota's voting system. Although Minnesota has one of the best participation rates in the nation and even though over the last two cycles the MN system has been tested and fullly exonerated, the state GOP has put the system under constant attack. There is a good chance that the GOP legislature in Minnesota will put an amendment on the 2012 ballot to require Voter ID. This voter suppression bill is an overt attempt to hinder seniors, students and the poor from their right to participate in Minnesota elections. Mark has fought for Minnesota voters during these close elections and he will defend a system that has proven its integrity time and time again. I shudder to think where Minnesota would be without his presence at SOS.

8. Cong. Keith Ellison, 5th District. Keith is one of the Progressive Caucus leaders in Washington and answers the call to defend progressive principles time and time again. He doesn't get a lot of recognition or awards for this defense, but he never shies away from direct debate with his GOP colleagues. Each cycle, Ellison has to take attacks from GOP opponents about his religion (he is Muslim) or his bold emphasis on progressive solutions. He represents a liberal district and he represents it well. I hope that he gets opportunities to move up in Washington's Democratic leadership team. We always know where he stands.

7. State Sen. John Marty. I like to think of John Marty as the conscience of the State Senate. On just about every progressive cause, John leads the way. He is a relentless watchdog on state involvement with the Vikings stadium. He has Minnesota poised to take advantage of any single payer option in health care. He takes on corporate welfare at every turn. And when Pawlenty pushed his agenda through, John Marty wasn't afraid to say the Democrats caved. He ran unscuccessfully for Governor in 2010, but he gave voice to issues that needed a hearing.

6. GOP Rep. John Kriesel, District 57A. Since this is a progressive site, it isn't often that a Republican will make the "best" list. It happens sometimes and this is one of them. Kriesel isn't going to follow any progressive talking points when it comes to legislation but he did follow his conscience on one issue....and that is why he makes this list. He was a Republican who voted against putting the Marriage Discrimination Amendment on the ballot in 2012. He bucked his party and spoke passionately against this infringement on the House floor. But he has also followed through on his decision beyond the legislature. He has supported the anti-amendment coalition and has become a spokesman on the issue. In today's politics, this is a rare act of personal courage. He won't win too many other progressive awards for his other votes, but on this one, we salute this courageous war veteran.

5. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen. Paul has done a yeoman's job keeping his caucus together under less than ideal circustances. He has kept the House GOP as honest as he could and gives voice for his opposition caucus. He was invaluable in supporting Dayton during the tough end of session negotiations and worked hard to make sure the truth about what played out during the end game, was truthfully told. Paul has a difficult task in 2012. He will have to make sure the voters understand where responsibility lies for school shifts and tobacco bonds. Progressives can only hope we have Speaker of the House Thissen in 2013.

4. Occupy MN. Occupy MN has carried the local mantle for Occupy Wall Street and has worked hard to draw attention to their causes. A diverse leadership team and a number of issues to address have diffused the focus, but they continue to draw media attention. The methods have changed but the evolution has become their strength. When forced out of their Occupy location they moved to block foreclosures and bring attention to the housing crisis in a real and visual way. This movement shows no signs of going away and its strength will continue to grow.

3. MN United For All Families. As the GOP dominated legislature worked their will to put the Marriage Discrimination Amendment on the ballot, this organization quietly moved to organize and meet the challenge. This will be a huge undertaking and will need a huge volunteer base and massive fundraising. It appears that MN United is meeting their own high expectations. (by the way the website is -- mnunited.org). The defeat of this amendment is not only an individual rights priority, but it is also needed to avoid staining our state Constitution. This challenge is a focal point for progressive action and the right organization has stepped up to move on it.

2. Sen. Al Franken. Al Franken became a Minnesota Senator via one of the most controversial elections in Minnesota history. But since then, Franken has become the consummate progressive voice for Minnesota. Whether tackling net neutrality or the Verizon/AT&T merger or even hosting the Secret Santa for the Senate, Franken keeps making his mark on becoming a Democratic and Progressive leader. His advocate work for his constituents is exemplary and although Republicans keep trying to point to a partisan agenda, Franken continues to find ways to work with everybody. Al is just a consummate leader.

1. Governor Mark Dayton. If you wonder why Mark Dayton tops this list you need only look to the east and compare what's happened in Wisconsin. That could be us. Mark has been a tempering force for a GOP dominated legislature. He has pushed for health care exchanges, forced education increases (that were nixed by school shifts), moved on unions for child care, gained a Race to the Top Grant, and helped Minnesota assimilate Federal health care dollars. Dayton stood strong with a government shutdown looming and found a way to compromise that met ultimate goals, although the means to get there was not his preference by any stretch of the imagination. The truth of the matter is that we needed a champion in 2011. In Mark Dayton, we absolutely got it. Thank you Governor Dayton.


Next up...2011 Top 10 Worst Political Persons in Minnesota....
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The Weirdness of Iowa

Category: GOP Politics
Posted: 12/29/11 01:35, Edited: 12/29/11 10:21

by Dave Mindeman

Honest...Rick Perry said this....(really, he did):

"Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil that we don't have to buy from a foreign source."

Mitt Romney on PBS funding....

?We?re not going to kill Big Bird,? Romney said. ?Big Bird?s going to have advertisements, alright??

Gingrich strategist on Gingrich's chances in Iowa...

"Oh I think anywhere in the top five would be surviving Iowa," DiSantis told CNN.

The newest Bachmann embarrassment....

Michele Bachmann's struggling presidential campaign saw her Iowa chairman defect Wednesday to rival Ron Paul's side.... Hours after appearing with Bachmann at an event, state Sen. Kent Sorenson gave his endorsement to the Texas congressman at a Des Moines rally. Sorenson said he resigned from Bachmann's campaign to back Paul, whom he called the most conservative of the top-tier candidates.

Arizona super sheriff Joe Arpaio "helped" Rick Perry out....

Introducing Perry at a Republican breakfast outside of Des Moines this morning, Arpaio referred to the state's Buckeyes.

(It's Hawkeyes, Joe. Hawkeyes)

And yet ANOTHER embarrassment for Bachmann....

The Daily is reporting that Citizens for a Working America, which had said it would back Michele Bachmann, recently made a $475,000 ad buy in Iowa on behalf of rival Mitt Romney, according to an FEC filing on Wednesday.

And, yes, people, Rick Santorum...yes, that Rick Santorum has 16% and is in third place in the latest poll.

Ya gotta love Iowa.
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