Dr. Spin

pawlenty time coverJust because you have the opportunity to get lots of media attention doesn’t always mean it’s a good idea to get lots of media attention.

Case in point: With the President coming to Minnesota tomorrow, Governor Pawlenty could lay low for one day, but that would leave him out of the limelight. Or he could promote his health record, which will get him loads of press attention, maybe even national attention.

Governor Pawlenty has chosen the path of least diffidence. Upon hearing that the President was coming to his state to promote health care reform, he issued a cutesy Top 10 list designed to bring attention to his own health achievements.

It worked, in the sense of getting him media attention. But does Pawlenty really want to the national media to look into the brutal cost shifting effects of his cuts in health care for the state’s most vulnerable citizens?

“We try to pass those costs on to our commercial payers,” says Lawrence Massa, president of the Minnesota Hospitals Association.

“We eat as much of it as we can, but we have our own bills to pay. The commercial market”–meaning non-government health insurers–“generally is where the costs are absorbed, which results in higher premiums for everybody.”

In addition, some “safety net” hospitals, such as Hennepin County Medical Center, have already had to be bailed out by county taxpayers, which represents another cost shift.

Does he really want to tell a nation worried sick about their future access to health care that cutting access is preferable to expanding access?

- Loveland

One Brief Shining Moment

“Don’t let it be forgot

That once there was a spot,

For one brief, shining moment

That was known as Unallot.”

Governor Pawlenty claims that he has the power to unallot billions of public dollars absent an unexpected emergency.  If that is true, Minnesota effectively has a democratic monarchy. That is, we have an elected head-of-state with no fiscal check from the other elected branch of government.

“Unallot! Unallot!

I know it gives a person pause,

But in Unallot, Unallot

Those are the legal laws.”

Camelot movie posterConservatives don’t seem to be given pause by Pawlenty’s unprecedented, unconstitutional application of unallotment powers. But before they get too giddy, they should think ahead a bit. How would they feel about:

  • … a Governor Bakk or Rybak unilaterally unalloting billions from Republican districts to save funding for DFL districts?
  • … a Governor Kelliher holding unallotment threats over Republican legislators’ heads to secure swing votes to pass her legislative agenda?
  • … a Governor Thiessen unalloting funding for conservative-backed projects he considers wasteful, such as abstinence education, subsidies for businesses, or freeway improvements to serve the Republican exurbs?

“In short, there’s simply not

A more congenial spot

For happily-ever-aftering than here

in Unallot!”

Indeed, during this one shining moment Unallot is a pretty glorious place for House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, GOP Chair Tony Sutton and their merry band. But if they were capable of true vision, they would cease happily-ever-aftering and join the legal challenge to Governor Pawlenty’s unallotment power grab.

Though Pawlenty is their guy for a few more months, they should remember he is a disinterested lame duck busily packing his UHaul for Iowa. He won’t have their back much longer. Moreover, Minnesota’s demographic trends make it possible that even the lame DFL Party may seat a governor one of these years.

And something tells me that a Governor Marty with unallotment powers would be every bit as bloodcurdling to Republicans as a Governor Pawlenty with unallotment powers is to the 52% of us who didn’t vote for him in 2006.

- Joe Loveland (Guest Post)

Pawlenty Courts Lite Beer and Fat-Free Pizza Vote

Tim Pawlenty was burnishing his national reputation for folksiness on Sean Hannity’s Fox show yesterday. Yeah, he said the same stuff about not knowing if he’ll run for president, but then he ran. About not trying for a third term as governor, Hannity quoted him saying it’s better to leave a little too early than stay a little too long. Pawlenty said he’d talked to other govs who told him their third term wasn’t their best effort.

Then the sweet boy smiled his sweet-boy smile and delivered this little parable:

“I learned long ago in the blue-collar town of South St. Paul where I grew up, a meat-packing town, that there’s less joy and more trouble in that last slice of pizza or that last glass of beer.” (The line is about two-thirds of the way through this clip.)

It was cute. Mitt Romney would butcher the line and look about as authentic as an atheist in a communion line. Sarah Palin would give the line OK but would spoil it with a wink. Newt Gingrich would make of it a pronouncement with orotund polysyllabic resonances, and everybody would clear the room, stifling laughter in case he actually became president.

Tim? He always comes across on TV as kind of a nice guy. But this line seemed practiced — Pawlenty always seems to be trying just a little too hard, the kid in the front row with his arm straight up wanting to be called on — and it felt like the tidbit came from Tim’s head not his gut. Beer and pizza come from the gut, Tim, not from a message point. Gov. Pawlenty seems a little too lightweight to grab the beer mug convincingly.

Maybe with a Harley jacket…

And are there any Republicans left who drink beer? Or just vitriol?

BTW, it is correct that Pawlenty was born in a log cabin in SSPaul.

– Bruce Benidt

Pawlenty’s Fiscal Mullet

pawlenty-mullet-2-300c397379-pixelsIs it possible for Governor Pawlenty to raise “fees” by about 21% while continuing to brag about keeping a no new “taxes” pledge?

As Minnesota 2020 notes: “While some fee increases may be necessary to pay for increased costs, it is clear that fee increases are also being used to back fill a hole in the state budget.”

Call it a fiscal mullet. Cosmetic constraint in the front, unrestrained growth in the back.

- Loveland

A Mirror in the Crowd

mirrorAbout six months ago I posted a reflection on who was coming to the Crowd and what they were looking for (porn as it turns out).  With the election behind us and year-end being a time for looking back and summing up, I thought I’d take another look at our traffic patterns and the search terms that most often bring people to our doors.

Politics, politics, politics.

As the graph below most clearly illustrates, the Crowd was way into the election and tended to follow its twists and turns day-by-day.  We saw steadily increasing traffic throughout the summer and fall, culminating on election day, and then a big fall off in site visits, back to the levels we saw at the start of the summer.

12-2-2008-9-25-52-am

I suspect a lot of us are just a little burned out and need a little break from the subject (not that I don’t appreciate those frequent personal e-mails from David Plouffe).

The traffic patterns also are a reflection of how much the authors are posting; prior to the election, we were posting much more frequently than after (on 10/29 alone, for example, we posted 9 items).

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Helmet Hair Homecoming?

With it, he was a popular Governor.

Without it, he was passed over in order to select the worst vice presidential candidate in memory.

Could the good luck Mississippi mudflap be coming back?

From an interview on Fox News, November 16, 2008.

From an interview on Fox News, November 16, 2008.

- Loveland

 

Mullet-Americans Rally Around Pawlenty

Mullet-Americans are “cautiously optimistic” about rumors that mulleted Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty may soon be named Senator John McCain’s vice presidential running mate.

“It would obviously be historic, and it could really balance the ticket, what with McCain’s embarassing lack of hair below the cervical vertebrae,” said mullet-American activist Billy Rae Cyrus.

Still reeling from the political demise of skullet-American Jesse Ventura and fem-mullet-American Hillary Clinton, mulleteers continue to claim Pawlenty as one of their own, despite allegations that he has recently scaled back on the party side of his do.

“Look, we understand that candidates have to ‘run to the middle’ in the general election,” said actress Florence Henderson. “Even I’ve had to moderate under pressure from the mainstream manes running the major studios. But we know Pawlenty will do the right thing once he gets in the White House.”

Mullet-Americans were once a proud and influential group in the 1980s, led by the likes of Ziggy Stardust, MacGyver, Michael Bolton, and Luke from General Hospital. But more recently, an ugly wave of mulletism pushed them into the margins of society.

“Great Clips has actually refused me service, and the ACLU just laughed about it,” said one mullet-American, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, due to fear for his safety. “It’s very emotional to think that some day I might see someone who looks like me attending obscure funerals and being appointed to toothless commissions.”

To understand the tremendous obstacles Pawlenty faces as he attempts to break through what many say is the highest and hardest glass ceiling, consider the hate speech directed at the mulleted minority: “Hockey hair, ten ninety, helmet hair, coupe Longueuil, haircut o’ death, neckwarmer, shorty longback, the 10-90, the Kentucky waterfall, the bi-level, the faded glory, the Ben Franklin, the Missouri Compromise, the Louisiana Purchase, the Camaro crash helmut, the business cut (business in front, party in the back), the LPGA, the soccer flip, the convertible, the Tennessee top hat, the Mississippi mudflap, the Canadian passport, the New Jersey neckwarmer, the Chattanooga choo choo, and the neck blanket.” In perhaps the ultimate insult to Minnesota’s Governor, the proud mullet is sometimes even referred to as “the Wisconsin waterfall.”

Though fossil records prove that homo sapiens with primative mullets have walked the Earth for at least 130,000 years, it was 2001 before the word “mullet” even appeared in dictionaries. The historical implications of a Pawlenty candidacy are not lost on beleaguered ape drape advocates.

“I do get emotional about it,” said Cyrus, whose own hind-heavy tresses have been referred to by mulletist hate groups as The Achy-Breaky Mistakie. “They can call us what they want, but come January, let’s just say there is going to be Pawlenty of hair facing east on the inaugural stage.”

- Loveland

Another Data Point…Or Four

Quinnipiac, along with the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, has today released head-to-head survey results from four battleground states:

  • COLORADO: Obama 49 – McCain 44
  • MICHIGAN: Obama 48 – McCain 42
  • MINNESOTA: Obama 54 – McCain 37
  • WISCONSIN: Obama 52 – McCain 39

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, President Bush’s approve/disapprove ratings in those states are abysmal:

  • 31 – 63 percent in Colorado
  • 26 – 67 percent in Michigan
  • 24 – 70 percent in Minnesota
  • 27 – 67 percent in Wisconsin

And are particularly telling because Senator McCain’s fav/unfav ratings are roughly on par with Senator Obama’s (albeit a bit lower).

And, as a data point for the “will it or won’t it” discussion on Senator Obama’s decision to reject public financing, the surveys were conducted June 17-24 so there should be some reflection of the impact of that decision in those numbers.

In the Minnesota breakouts, there are some interesting nuggets as well, including the news that Senator Coleman is leading Mr. Franken, 51-41, and that Minnesotans would be slightly less likely to vote Republican if Governor Pawlenty joins the ticket.

Let’s hope Team Franken is reading Brother Loveland’s prescriptions for how to close the gap.

The link to the survey results is worth checking out for you polling junkies because it contains lots and lots of data including the actual questions and results plus some crosstabs (do they still call them “crosstabs”?).  Margin of error in each state was under 3%.

- Austin new business loans fine

Pawlenty and the veepstakes

Minnesota's Governor Tim PawlentyI’m pretty sure I dislike the word “veepstakes.” But anyway…

The New Republic has an interesting piece that dissects what makes Gov. Pawlenty tick and what his chances might be for becoming Sen. McCain’s running mate.

I love the lead of this article, and I learned some things about Pawlenty I didn’t know. The piece seems to give a level-headed approach to the debate about whether Pawlenty will get the nod.

Apparent conclusion: Maybe, but probably not. But maybe. tax relief specialists fine

Pawlenty Shows His Chops as VP Hatchetman

Gov. Tim Pawlenty is auditioning for the traditional role of VP nominee — the guy with the hatchet. In the Strib this morning he’s quoted saying this: “He said Obama ‘is someone who continues to show a lack of experience and judgment’ and belittled his resume as including ‘a professor of some type and a community organizer.’”

A professor of some type. Obama was a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School — in constitutional law. Our guv shows his qualifications to be Republican VP by scorning constitutional law. The United States Constitution: that inconvenient document that the Bush administration — they’re patriots, remember — has treated like Kleenex.

I.F. Stone, the great journalist who dug in the record and reported more than sound bites, said politicians always reveal who they really are — all you have to do is listen to them. Gov. Pawlenty shows, by also scorning community organizing, what he really thinks about grass roots, about regular people, about democracy.

Obama as a college teacher also showed who he is. He did something unusual that carries through his career — he listened.

One of Obama’s students was quoted in a Feb. 12, 2007 Chicago Sun Times article: “Classes were often just a forum for the professor to express his or her opinion about these issues and for the students to agree with everything the professor says. But his (Obama’s) wasn’t that kind of class. He is much more interested in hearing what the students have to say,” said Thomas Fitzgibbon, an ’04 grad working as a litigator at McGuire Woods in Chicago.

A nice side note: another “professor of some type” who taught at the University of Chicago Law School — Antonin Scalia.

You got the chops, Tim. Swing that hatchet. Careful it doesn’t clip off your own grasping fingers.

– Bruce Benidt

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Pawlenty Avoids the Cattle Call

“After twelve years in the minor leagues, I don’t try out,” says Crash Davis to Annie Savoy in Bull Durham.

That’s pretty good advice for front-leading VP candidates as well and explains why neither Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty or Mike Huckabee made it to Senator McCain’s ribfest this weekend (yes, yes, yes, I know they both had prior commitments but c’mon, people, do you really think if they’d thought it was important to be there they wouldn’t have made the trip?)

A basic rule of politics is , “If given the choice to be Snow White or one of the seven dwarves, put on the dress.” In this context, that means biding your time and waiting for the invitation for your own one-on-one weekend and skipping the opportunity to be written up as one of a group of possible VP contenders. Six-to-five says the polite, “Thanks, but no thanks” was orchestrated with the McCain folks so as to avoid the – slight I think – possibility of the message being misunderstood.

- Austin free invoice template word fine

Where’s Tim?

U.S. News and World Report’s James Pethokoukis has posted today a single-sourced report that former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is at the top of a short list of potential VP candidates. The article, which appears to be based on the anonymous comments of “a top McCain fundraiser and longtime Republican moneyman who has spoken to McCain’s inner circle,” says the logic for Governor Huckabee’s pole position is based on three factors:

1) He is a great campaigner and communicator who could both shore up support in the South among social conservatives (Huckabee is a former Baptist minister) and appeal to working-class voters in the critical “Big 10″ states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

2) As any pollster knows, voters search for candidates who “care about people like me,” and Huckabee would probably score a lot higher on that quality than millionaire investor Mitt Romney. Plus, given all the turmoil on Wall Street, 2008 would seem to be a bad year to pick a former investment banker for veep.

3) Economic conservatives and supply-siders may balk, but the threat of four years of Obamanomics and higher investment, income, and corporate taxes might be enough to keep them on board.

Leaks are dangerous things, of course. Is this a McCain trial balloon to test Huckabee’s acceptability? An anti-Huckabee leak to rouse opposition? An anti-McCain leak to make moderates and independents nervous about voting for a ticket with such strong ties to the social conservative wing? A guy trying to impress USNWR with his insider knowledge?

Regardless, the most interesting thing to me about the leak is, “Where’s Tim?” As in Governor Tim Pawlenty, the man many think is McCain’s true favorite choice? Nowhere in the article, that’s for sure. Where’s his bid for a shot at the ticket? Only McCain knows for sure. fine

Strib Gets Bent

The Star Tribune’s Tony Kennedy deserves some love for his story pointing out the bent I35W bridge gusset plates in photos that apparently were in the hands of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) five years prior to the I35W bridge collapse.

In mid-January of this year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that flawed gusset plates were to blame for the collapse. The news that day read:

In a Washington news conference, NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker also said there were no indications that Minnesota’s upkeep of the bridge played any role in its collapse — a statement that immediately unleashed political debate, with Gov. Tim Pawlenty scolding critics for leaping to conclusions and DFLers insisting that the full cause has yet to be found.”

The fact that these bent gusset plate photos were in state officials’ hands in 2005 seems to suggest that the bridge safety inspection could have been better.

Journalists have more digging to do, because we need to know what happened with these photos. Did inspectors not see the bending? Did they see them, but conclude it wasn’t a serious problem? Did inspectors conclude it was serious problem, but conclude that all potential fixes were more dangerous than the problem itself? Or did the safety inspectors recommend a solution that was shot down higher up the food chain? If so, did the leadership forgo repairs because of technical concerns or budgetary concerns?

For me, this kind of dispassionate questioning isn’t about blaming Pawlenty, Molnau or committed MnDOT employees. This is about learning from any mistakes, so we can build a better safety oversight system that keeps Minnesota bridges upright in the future.

The rest of us don’t have the time to schlep through hundreds of photos with straight edge rulers up against gusset plates. I’m grateful at least one newsroom in town does.

- Loveland

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Do I detect a strategy here?

Could it be that Minnesota’s Democrats in the legislature are actually following a plan? How unlike us.

Today’s Minnposting by Sharon Schmickle on the upcoming stem cell debate certainly suggests that the Dems are trying to bring up a series of politically volatile issues that either 1) split the Republican party (the transportation bill); 2) embarrass Governor Pawlenty (the Molnau ouster), or; 3) force our VP-Wannabe-in-Chief to make unpopular vetoes (stem cells).

In the latter case, there’s unlikely to be enough votes in the legislature to override a veto but there is consistent support for such research among the general population (as high as 2-to-1 depending on the poll) and particularly among those oh-so-important “moderates” that Senator McCain is going to need to have a chance at winning in November. That might make it harder for Mr. Early Endorser to remain on the Veep short list.

Of course, in the topsy-turvy world of 2008 politics (to steal Loveland’s line), a stand against stem cell research probably makes the Guv more attractive to Senator McCain as a way to appease the right side of his party (which is putting a pretty good press on him to backtrack from previous positions). That way he could stick to his current moderate-pleasing positions while signaling to the right that their views would be represented at the table.

- Austin education funding kind

More Barriers Crashing Down

The atmosphere over Minnesota’s own Governor Tim Pawlenty becoming Senator John McCain’s running mate is absolutely electric.

pawlenty-mullet-pics.jpg

And why not? Imagine at long last breaking through America’s highest and hardest glass ceiling by making Pawlenty the first mullted American in the White House!

- Loveland

investment services kind

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