And today is also a good day to read (or re-read) King's great essay, Letter from Birmingham Jail.
Bruce Springsteen sang this song with some friends in Washington, DC yesterday. In the clip below, he performedit in LA in 1985.
And today is also a good day to read (or re-read) King's great essay, Letter from Birmingham Jail.
Bruce Springsteen sang this song with some friends in Washington, DC yesterday. In the clip below, he performedit in LA in 1985.
Update #2: The article has been corrected in a timely fashion. The statement incorrectly attributed to Congressman Walz actually slithered out from between the lips of Second District Congressman John Kline, who indeed voted against the bill.
We preserved the original copy in the screen shot to the right, so our readers understand what the original flaw was in the article..[end update #2].
Mr. Google's handy news alert just sent us this item, Equal Pay May Be One Vote Away. In the article, CBN's Jennifer Mishon gets it very wrong about Congressman Walz's position on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
Update: Congressman Walz's district director confirms the inaccuracy of the CBN report. [end update]
The House passed The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act last week despite warnings from critics that the bill has unintended consequences.
Rep. Tim Walz , who opposes the bill argued, "Especially in this economic climate we cannot afford to enable endless litigation of potentially staggering record keeping requirements on employers."
As we noted last week in Walz votes to give workers more power in the workplace, Walz voted for the bill, and thus we're puzzled exactly which Representative said that. We've contacted the CBN informing the network of its error. Somewhere out there, a Republican is missing his inglorious 15 seconds for that statement.
Photo: Screenshot of the CBN blooper from its website.
Millions of Minnesotans voted on November 4, 2008.
The survivors of the U.S. Senate race called the recount
%#$%& drawn out. They lived only to face a new
nightmare, the war against the Machines
in a state senate committee hearing room....
Update: Tild has a different take on the Termindaytor. [end update]
Senator Day's recent defense of the ability of machines to read a voter's marks on a ballot, versus the citizen's right to have his or her vote counted in an election, was caught in an alarming video posted at the Uptake, embeded below.
With a group of friends, we speculated over the weekend about the source of Day's spirited partisanship on behalf of voting machines. Soon, we concluded that Day himself might indeed be a machine. After all, we'd seen this sort of machination in theaters and on television.
The group's next line of inquiry was identifying which sort of machine. Since the Cyclons* Cylons are frequently smoking hot babes, we quickly ruled out that android culture. Nor could Day be a Decepticon, regardless of his dreams of bringing NASCAR to the state, since his eyes aren't red.
No, in siding with the voting machines, Senator Day revealed himself as a terminator, and not one of the nice ones played by that handsome Governor Schwarzenegger, either. Our artistically inclined friend Tild created the photoshopped image which exposes the allegiances wired beneath Senator Day's skin.
The Uptake clip that started it all:
*A kind police officer gave us a verbal warning about the correct spelling of this word. We are grateful for his humane professionalism, since fines in Minnesota's Spelling Court have risened dramatically in the age of no new taxes.
The Mankato Free Press reports in House passes worker/wage lawsuit bills:
Local members of Congress voted with their parties on two bills this week that would give workers more power to sue their employers in wage discrimination cases.
In one other vote on disclosure of donations to presidential libraries, local members of Congress agreed.
Voting 247 for and 151 against, the House on Friday sent the Senate a bill (HR 11) giving plaintiffs greater standing to file suits alleging pay discrimination. The bill would permit claims to be filed within 180 days of the latest infraction. This would nullify a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, in Ledbetter vs. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., which requires pay-bias suits to be filed within 180 days of the first infraction.
Representatives Tim Walz, D-1st District, and Collin Peterson, D-7th District, voted in favor of the bill. Rep. John Kline, R-2nd District, voted against the bill.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said: “Fathers of daughters know their daughters are capable of doing anything they set out to do, and the value placed on them in the workplace should be the same value that is placed on” male co-workers. . . .
. . .In another vote, the
House passed a bill 256-163 (HR 12) to strengthen the federal law that
bans pay discrimination based on gender. The bill empowers women
alleging pay bias to sue for recovery of back pay and receive punitive
and compensatory damages, bans employer retaliation against those who
share salary data with co-workers, and establishes a grant program to
teach negotiating skills to girls and women. . . . . . . .John Kline, R-2nd District, called the bill
“yet another attempt to harm our nation’s businesses by limiting their
ability to make decisions based on the merits of their individual
employees.” Democrats Walz and Peterson voted in favor of the bill. Republican Kline voted against the bill.
. . . .John Kline, R-2nd District, called the bill “yet another attempt to harm our nation’s businesses by limiting their ability to make decisions based on the merits of their individual employees.”
Democrats Walz and Peterson voted in favor of the bill. Republican Kline voted against the bill.
Did John Kline get his talking points from Stephen Colbert's writers? A discussion of the Lilly Ledbbetter legislation begins around 1:20 in. It's worth sitting through the ad:
The Winona Daily News reports in Rocked by the vote? Winona DFL headquarters vandalized early Wednesday:
Winona DFL party headquarters was vandalized early Wednesday when three rocks were thrown through its street-front windows.
Two of the rocks pierced a poster of President-elect Barack Obama, who was projected the winner of Tuesday’s presidential election just hours before the incident. . . .
. . .“It’s a very overtly aggressive act, and it’s not how this country can move forward,” said Anne Morse, chairwoman of the Winona County DFL party. “It’s more than a shame, it’s a sign of a very troubled individual.”
Morse suspects the vandalism was planned, because the rocks were large and did not likely come from the sidewalk or street nearby the headquarters, 685 W. Fifth St. No one was in the building at the time.
Police responded to the headquarters about 2:25 a.m., when someone noticed the broken windows. Officers suspected the incident happened about 2 a.m., and they have no suspects, according to police reports.
DFL officials replaced the glass early Wednesday, but Morse kept the rocks as a reminder of the incident.
Our friend Max Hailperin, a mathematics prof at Gustavus, left a comment about another measure of the enormity of Congressman Walz's victory on Tuesday:
It was certainly a sweeping victory. By my count, Rep. Walz lost only 71 precincts out of 749.
Additional context for the win can be gained by looking at the last few elections in the district. With re-districting, the First lost counties like Dakota, Goodhue, and Rice to the new Second (Luther/Kline), while southwestern counties formerly in the old Second (Minge/Kennedy) were added. The re-alignment led to two lop-sided victories for Gutknecht.
In 2002, Gutknecht received 61.5 percent to Steve Andreasen's 34.65 percent, with then Green Party candidate Greg Mikkelson garnering 3.75 percent of the ballots cast.
In 2004, Gutknecht was the choice of 59.60 percent of voters, while DFLer Leigh Pomeroy received 35.52 percent of the vote, with Greg Mikkelson, carrying the IP standard, bringing up the rear with 4.80 percent.
Walz won in 2006 with 52.74 percent to Gutknecht's 47.12 percent.
Because of post-2000 redistricting, results from 2000 and earlier are more difficult to apply, since counties now in the western part of the district were in the old Second. Nonetheless, however different the candidates, political climate and campaign dynamics of the contest between Blue Dog incumbent David MInge and challenger Mark Kennedy, a look at those western counties can also help in understanding Walz's win. Minge had won the part of Nicollet County that was in the old Second, along with Cottonwood, Jackson, Nobles, Murray, Pipestone, Rock and Watonwan Counties. Kennedy had won Martin and Brown Counties.
Walz's win Tuesday returns the western counties to the DFL fold on the congressional level; these are what Walz himself might consider "pragmatic" districts that look for problem solvers, regardless of party. In the state legislature, DFL State Senator Jim Vickerman and GOP Representive Rod Hamilton (one of the so-called Transportation Six so scorned by anti-tax ideologues for he supported on the gas tax override) are fair illustrations of this tendency.
So what explains the flip from Gutknecht's glory years to Walz's dominance on Tuesday? The biggest long-term shift seems to be happening in the eastern part of the district, which is trending blue on both the federal and state level. However, our personal sense is that the shift is influenced more by cultural, economic and technological changes than by a wholesale adoption of the DFL platform.
The rapid acceptance of the Internet, the growth of bioscience and tourism as industries, Land Stewardship's hand in developing a vital sustainable and organic agriculture coupled with the local food movement, and other developments have made Southeastern Minnesotans less patient with a Republican party that seeks platform purists on conservative social issues and free market ideologues. It's down-home cultural creativity, or creative capitalism gone country, and it's comfortable with the prairie pragmatism found to the west.
Throw in a team-builder like coach, sergeant, and now Congressman Walz whose leadership style involves listening and respect, a political tail wind, strong fundraising and great grassroots organizing, and Tuesday happens.
The lead in the LaCrosse Tribune article, Reps. Kind, Walz call for cooperation as Dems increase control of Congress:
Democratic Congressmen Ron Kind and Tim Walz weren’t gloating over their re-elections Wednesday, or the prospect of a strengthened majority working with a Democratic administration.
Calling for “a dose of humility,” Kind said Democrats must work with Republicans to govern effectively. . . .
Walz on Work Ahead on KEYC-TV.
The Owatonna Peoples Press reports in Steele County sees more DFL support:
Democratic Congressman Tim Walz won a lopsided victory against his Republican opponent Dr. Brian Davis. Walz collected 11,994 votes in Steele County compared to Davis’ 6,144. Independence Party candidate Greg Mikkelson picked up 1,004 votes.
That result is huge contrasted with Walz’s 2006 finish in Steele County. That year, Walz captured 7,006 votes while then-Congressman Gil Gutknecht, a Republican from Rochester, captured 8,166 votes.
McGuire said Walz has benefited from what he called the “Tim Penny effect” — making an effort to be at as many places in the district as possible, including Steele County. . . .
. . .Kath’s victory, along with state Rep. Patti Fritz’s re-election to a third term, now leaves state Sen. Dick Day as the lone Republican from District 26 serving in St. Paul — something that the Owatonnan Republican has never known in his near 18 years in the Legislature. And though he plans to work with Democrats, Day said on Wednesday there will still be at least one conservative voice for the county. . . .
More on Kory Kath's win in A lesson in civics. Great story about an under-the-radar win. We'd been hearing great anecdotes about Kath from people volunteering to door knock in Owatonna. Kath won the seat opened by Connie Ruth's retirement.
CQPolitics looks at Congressman Walz's new colleagues. The Worthington Globe, which had endorsed Coleman, editorializes that Turnout merits Senate recount. We agree, and Coleman's whining about the cost of the automatic recount, when fewer than 500 votes seperate the top two candidates, speaks to the man's unquenchable opportunism.
There's a fine feature in this morning's Mankato Free Press about those who gave their all for candidates on both sides, Campaigns leave volunteers spent. The lead:
Amanda Barr donated hundreds of hours to Barack Obama’s Mankato field office and worked tirelessly Monday and Tuesday to get out the vote at Minnesota State University. But in the end, Barr decided not to spend election night with her fellow volunteers on the victorious night they’d all been working toward for weeks.
“I talked to my kids. They said, ‘We miss you Mommy,’” said Barr, a 23-year-old graduate student at MSU. “I told my supervisor I had to go home — they’re why I started this.”
We met Barr after the Debate Minnesota forum at MSU-M, an impressive, energetic and witty young woman. The article sensitively balances the perspectives of those who worked for winners and losers.
The Repede Family blog writes Yes We Did!
The Strib reports in Sleepovers coming to the White House:
. . .As first lady, Michelle Obama has said, she plans to make herself an advocate for working parents, particularly military families, urging better access to child care for all. As a first lady trying to juggle public duties with two young children, she will be a living illustration of the very issue she describes. . . .
We recently read a profile of Michelle Obama in More magazine, which related an anecdote from the beginning of the First Lady's freshman year at Princeton. The family of her assigned roommate complained to the administration that their daughter would have to share living space with a black woman. Now that shunned student will move into the White House as the President's best friend, love, and "his rock."
Summons an image from a very old song, and this newer adaptation by Bob Marley. The Good Book often draws these sorts of domestic analogies to explain far more unfathomable things than marriages or building projects--or elections, for that matter:
As a former student of Tim Walz, I would easily and accurately have characterized myself as a fervent “fan-boy” during his first run for Congress. Two years of college and interaction with students much smarter than I have moderated my political views and left me quite disaffected with the ways of Washington. Though my hope in and respect for the current character of American politics has waned, my faith in my former geography teacher has not.
Walz and I have likely parted ways on not a small number of held opinions, but one thing I will vehemently vouch for is this (and one must forgive what seems a contrite remark): Walz is who he is: An independent thinker who will never displace his hopes and cares for southern Minnesota with the political positioning and do-nothing spirit that now plagues our federal government.
His past conduct in Congress inspires great confidence in his current and future ability to effectively parse through the hot air in Washington and to strongly advocate those issues, which he fervently believes to be in the best interest of those he stands for as a representative.
The Pelosis and Obamas of the politics of today can stand aside. Walz will continue to fight for us and us, alone. As far as I am concerned this distinction has earned him another two years in Congress.
Oops! In the Mountain Lake Observer/Butterfield Advocate, yet another GOP letter writer lip syncs the Brian Davis and NRCC song about that Chinese-Cuban drilling urban legend. It's like doing karaoke of the Milli Vanilli of energy policy.
The writer also doesn't seem to get it that while no new refineries have been built, refinery capacity is up 20 percent, with the equivalent of four new refineries coming on line by 2010, or so those commies at the American Petroleum Institute tell me.The link also leads to an interesting discussion in a separate letter of former GOP leader Dave Jennings' recent remarks at a DFL fundraiser in Morton.
MPR reports that Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston and Mower Counties sustained enough damage in recent flooding to receive FEMA assistance. Congressman Walz, Senators Klobuchar and Coleman pressed for the effort after Governor Pawlenty requested help.
The Faribault County Register reports a federal $95,000 grant put on hold:
A group trying to fix the roof of the old Delavan High School is finding out it’s not quite that easy.
DHS, Inc. volunteers have held numerous fundraisers for the project, raising about $2,000 earlier this year.
The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development recently came to the aid and awarded a “conditional grant” of $95,000 to help pay for repairs.
All was progressing well until the USDA determined the school is a historical building. Then, as required by law, the Minnesota State Historical Preservation Office stepped in.
“It’s been a major struggle,” says Steve Scheid, past president of DHS, Inc. “We just want to fix the leaky roof....
Congressman Walz, State Senator Julie Rosen, and State Rep. Tony Cornoish are trying to help get the project moving forward again..
The Hawaii Reporters notes that Walz is the House author of the companion bill in Welcome Progress on [Senator] Akaka's Pain Care Legislation for veterans.
The Post Bulletin is running a multi-part special report on child abuse. The work of the National Child Protection Training Center, is noted. The refusal of a highly-scored, peer reviewed NCPTC grant application to a DOJ program recently led to a House oversight hearing upon Walz's request.
A letter writer in the Spring Grove Herald notes Tim Walz shows common sense in wanting to devise a energy strategy, since drilling in closed areas will do little to lower gas prices, government reports show. Americablog notes the link between high oil prices and the return on offshore drilling.
In our comments section about Walz's FISA Bill blog, our friend McPherson Hall noted that comments are allowed. Interesting responses from Minnesotans. At Corner House Comment, the parent of an Iraq War veteran laments the human of passing the new GI Bill in New GI Bill A Reality?.
And now, for those who missed the lip syncing brilliance of the 1980s, here's Milli Vanilli's classic, "Girl, You Know It's True" going out to the GOP base.
In FISA Compromise Bill Undermines Law, the Hill Blog has published Congressman Walz's statement about his no vote on FISA. It's worth repeating here, since some of our readers might have missed it at the end of last week:
There are many parts of this bill that I support. It reaffirms that FISA is the exclusive means for electronic surveillance, and it strengthens protections for Americans at home and abroad. If this was all that this bill included, I could support it.
Unfortunately, the bill also contains an unprecedented free pass for the Bush Administration’s past actions. It does not allow judicial review of the Administration’s use of warrantless wiretaps, and the process it puts in place to review the telecommunications companies’ participation in that illegal program has a predetermined outcome – immunity.
Incredibly, this bill actually says that as long as the telecommunications companies can prove that the Bush Administration told them this action was legal, they can get off scot-free. Today, my colleague Roy Blunt called the process of granting immunity to these telecoms “a formality.”
When Richard Nixon said that “when the President does it, that means it’s not illegal,” many Americans were horrified that any President would consider himself above the law. This legislation is even worse, because it essentially says ‘if the President tells you do so something, it’s not illegal,’ even if it violates the plain letter of the law. The process set out in this bill to rubberstamp the actions of the Bush Administration is contradictory to the rule of law in this country.
This free pass for the phone companies isn’t needed to protect Americans – in fact, it protects only those in the Bush Administration who knowingly broke the law. We can protect our security while protecting our shared values and our freedoms. Unfortunately, this bill does not do that, and I have no choice but to oppose it.
I have repeatedly said that I could not support a bill that provides a free pass for illegal behavior, no matter who committed it. Our laws matter, and they should be applied equally and fairly to the President, Congress, telecommunications companies, and every other citizen.
We're also reposted our response to a statement issued on Friday by RPM Chair Ron Carey about the vote. It began:
"By voting against this bipartisan compromise on FISA legislation, Tim Walz has made clear he will side with national liberals and special interest groups....
. . . Ron Carey, chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, is seething--and very confused as well. Chairman Carey seems to have forgotten the special interests that paid real money to run those fearmongering ads that got severely ripped by Factcheck.org in Fear and False Claims. Special interests opposed Walz's position--and spent thousands to trash him. The citizens in the First were appalled by the ads. Wow, Mr. Carey needs to get a firmer grip. Really.
Photos: Richard Nixon (top) and RPM Chair Ron Carey (bottom).
Reading around the netroots, we see that Chris Bowers at Open Left has moved Tim Walz off the "Bush Dogs" list because of his "no" vote yesterday against giving retroactive immunity to telecoms.
We don't believe that Walz's change of heart on FISA--which began last year with his votes for the RESTORE Act in November--is a consequence of being put on a list with a vile-sounding name by the netroots.
Instead, Walz was schooled, sometimes harshly though justly, by people in his district, and he responded accordingly. Walz kept the promise about reactive immunity that he made at his Iraq Town Hall meetings last fall, at the Rochester caucus last February, and at dozens of other encounters across the district. We hope this experience will encourage First district voters to continue to let Tim Walz know what's on their minds.
And perhaps volunteer or chip in some coin to his re-election.
Update: Recovering Republican Ron Amundson gets it in Way cool on Tim Walz on voting against HR6304.
It's a risk he is taking, yet it is also a risk he must take to uphold his office, irrespective of the consequences. Thats a whole lot of courage he has to take such a stand, and I applaud him for it. I also know, should this come back on him during election time, he won’t back down, and likely any mud thrown, is going to come back at the thrower in a huge way, if not from Tim, by a bunch of us supporters who will not stand for those who throw the constitution under the bus for expediencies sake.
Amundson, who heads a product development company, hadn't updated his blog since March; he resumed a couple of days ago with a truly original post about the nuclear power industry from the perspective of someone who has actually worked with engineers in this century. A great read at McCain Sees Need for More Nuclear Power - WSJ.com.
Also back from long silence was the Minnesota First blog, who once once more aroused by the spectre of a bad FISA bill. Fortunately, Apollo was pleased by Walz's vote, though disappointed with the outcome overall.
The Rochester Democrat also praises Walz.
On the other hand, Ron Carey, chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, is seething--and very confused as well. Chairman Carey seems to have forgotten the special interests that paid real money to run those fearmongering ads that got severely ripped by Factcheck.org in Fear and False Claims. Special interests opposed Walz's position--and spent thousands to trash him. The citizens in the First were appalled by the ads. Wow, Mr. Carey needs to get a firmer grip. Really. [end update]
The headline says it all: House immunizes telecoms from lawsuits:
The House has approved a compromise eavesdropping bill that, in effect, shields telecommunications companies from civil lawsuits for their alleged participation in the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program.
The House's passage of the FISA Amendment bill marks an apparent end to a monthslong standoff between Democrats and Republicans about the rules for government wiretapping in the United States in the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks. It's an attempt to balance privacy rights with the government's need to protect the country by spying on foreign agents and terrorists. The Senate is expected to easily pass the bill as soon as next week — before Congress' Fourth of July vacation.
Walz voted no. In the Minnesota delegation, the DFLers voted no, with the exception of Collin Peterson, who joined all three Republicans in voting yes.
His office has issued a statement on the vote:
Today, Congressman Tim Walz voted against H.R. 6304, legislation which makes changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA):
"There are many parts of this bill that I support. It reaffirms that FISA is the exclusive means for electronic surveillance, and it strengthens protections for Americans at home and abroad. If this was all that this bill included, I could support it.
"Unfortunately, the bill also contains an unprecedented free pass for the Bush Administration's past actions. It does not allow judicial review of the Administration's use of warrantless wiretaps, and the process it puts in place to review the telecommunications companies' participation in that illegal program has a predetermined outcome -immunity.
"Incredibly, this bill actually says that as long as the telecommunications companies can prove that the Bush Administration told them this action was legal, they can get off scott-free. Today, my colleague Roy Blunt called the process of granting immunity to these telecoms 'a formality.'
"When Richard Nixon said that "when the President does it, that means it's not illegal," many Americans were horrified that any President would consider himself above the law. This legislation is even worse, because it essentially says 'if the President tells you do so something, it's not illegal,' even if it violates the plain letter of the law. The process set out in this bill to rubberstamp the actions of the Bush Administration is contradictory to the rule of law in this country.
"This free pass for the phone companies isn't needed to protect Americans - in fact, it protects only those in the Bush Administration who knowingly broke the law. We can protect our security while protecting our shared values and our freedoms. Unfortunately, this bill does not do that, and I have no choice but to oppose it.
"I have repeatedly said that I could not support a bill that provides a free pass for illegal behavior, no matter who committed it. Our laws matter, and they should be applied equally and fairly to the President, Congress, telecommunications companies, and every other citizen."
Thank you, Congressman Walz.
As much as Steny Hoyer and other Democratic leaders have tried to spin the new version of the bill up for a vote today in the House, the New York Times is right when it writes Congress Makes a Bad Deal on Wiretapping:
As we expected, and feared, Democratic and Republican leaders in the House of Representatives announced a deal today on a new bill that will expand the president’s powers to spy on Americans without bothering to get a warrant.
It will also give retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that participated in President Bush’s unlawful wiretapping program after Sept. 11, 2001.
As we also expected, those who negotiated this bad deal are saying it strikes a balance between the needs of the intelligence community and Americans’ civil liberties.
Balance? Only if you consider it balance to tip the scales heavily toward letting the government spy on its citizens whenever it wants and away from the public’s privacy rights.
“It is the result of compromise, and like any compromise is not perfect,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in a rather strained press release that tried to explain why he agreed to this bad deal. . . .
Go read the rest there. The new bill includes supposed cover for those representatives who have said that they oppose telecom immunity, but the "bad deal" is just that: political cover.
Tim Walz had a bad vote last August on the PAA, was justly criticized for that vote, and by the fall voted for the RESTORE Act. Though under an onslaught of an expensive television ad buy by the Defense of Democracies this February, he voted against allowing telecom immunity in the roll call vote taken on March 14, 2008.
He should stick to those guns and show the same political courage again. Call and email Tim Walz's offices and ask him to vote no on this bad deal. Constituents should call 1-800-TIM-WALZ; the Washington DC number is (202) 225-2472. Constituents can email Congressman Walz here.
For more on the not-so-grand compromise, read the ACLU's This Spade is a Spade: FISA Deal Is Bunk, McJoan at FISA Fight: Capitulation Reached, Think Progress's New wiretapping bill dubbed ‘repugnant’ and ‘a capitulation, and Glenn Greenwald's George Bush's Latest Powers, Courtesy of the Demcoratic Congress.
Update: A reader calls our attention to the WaPo's pro-bill editorial A Better Surveillance Law. We're not buying it.
And a note to readers: Emailing us with questions directed to Tim Walz will not get the Congressman's ear, since Bluestem Prairie is an independent blog kept by an individual.
We're neither on the congressional payroll nor an employee of or consultant to the campaign, and we won't act as your personal messenger service to either office. Direct your queries to the staff at the appropriate offices.
Several kind readers gave us the heads-up yesterday about a fundraising email that the Walz campaign sent out. Like Kristin Gillibrand before him, Tim Walz has been hit by robocalls to his constituents asking him to support retroactive immunity for telecoms.
The appeal began:
A group calling themselves “Frontiers of Freedom” is calling voters in southern Minnesota. . . .
The group is telling voters to urge me to support retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the President’s illegal wiretapping program. They want me to cave in to the President’s demands.
Despite the pressure, I refuse to give these phone companies a free pass. I won’t let President Bush decide when he can break the law. . . .
Readers asked us to look into the Frontiers of Freedom Foundation (FOFF) to see what the group was about. Posting has been light here on the Prairie while we combed through news articles and reports about the group.
While one interest of FOFF founder chair Malcolm Wallop placed him near the heart of one of former House Majority Leader Tom Delay's less excellent adventures in Malaysia,this post will focus on FOFF's recent work for telecoms, since the calls brought up immunity.
Common Cause wrote about FOF when it was carrying telecoms' water as they sought to break into the cable market:
Frontiers of Freedom is a think tank that advocates a free market, deregulatory approach to public policy. It operates six policy groups, including a Center for Economic Liberty and Property Rights which handles telecommunications policy.
Frontiers of Freedom does not disclose its financial backers, but the Wall Street Journal reported in 2001 that the organization's main contributors were corporations such as Philip Morris, ExxonMobil and RJ Reynolds Tobacco. At the time, Frontiers of Freedom lobbied heavily against environmental regulations designed to reduce global warming, and also railed against plaintiffs who sued the tobacco companies after contracting lung cancer from smoking.
More recently, the Larstan Business Group accused Frontiers of Freedom of engaging in Astroturf lobbying on behalf of the telephone companies. Larstan's report, it should be noted, was commissioned by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the main trade association for the cable television industry.
The report points out that Frontiers of Freedom has flip-flopped from being a critic of the telephone industry, to being one of its champions. According to Larstan, in 2004, Frontiers of Freedom lambasted "the Bell monopolies" for not "do[ing] any of the heavy-lifting normally associated with a free market," and instead relying on government regulation to build their business. But in 2005, the organization praised the merger of AT&T and SBC Communications - two of the telephone industries biggest players - and also endorsed the Bell-backed regulations designed to ease their entry into the cable television business. Qwest Communications has alleged that Frontiers of Freedom accepts contributions from AT&T.
And then there's the FOFF's involvement in opposing net neutrality as a partner in the Hands off the Internet campaign. PRWatch gave the industry and its shills (including FOFF) a Bronze Falsie for Neutralizing Net Neutrality:
In two reports, Common Cause exposed more than a dozen front groups for telephone and cable companies. These groups hide their industry ties and often "claim to represent huge numbers of citizens, but in reality their public support is minimal or nonexistent," Common Cause wrote. Such campaigns "deliberately mislead citizens, and they deliberately mislead our lawmakers, who are already charged with the difficult task of making sense of complex telecommunications policies."
A frequent target of the telecom front groups is net neutrality, the principle that Internet providers should not favor some content and applications over others. Industry-funded groups with nice-sounding names like Hands Off the Internet, FreedomWorks, Consumers for Cable Choice, Progress and Freedom Foundation and Frontiers of Freedom claim that net neutrality would increase costs and reduce choices for consumers. Verizon Communications hired pollsters to conduct a misleading opinion survey purporting to show that consumers oppose net neutrality. One leading poll question asked respondents which is more important: "the benefits of new TV and video choice" and "lower prices for cable TV," or "barring high speed internet providers from offering specialized services ... for a fee"? The National Journal reported that telecom companies were spending $850,000 per week to attack net neutrality in advertisements placed "anywhere a congressional staffer is likely to be — including the Washington area transit system" and "at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport."
Oh boy! FOFF is so worried about freedom for
telecoms Internet users. Just to remind everybody about Net Neutrality, we're swiping a YouTube from the Save the Internet Coalition:
Closer to home, on April 8, Andy Birkey at the Minnesota Monitor wrote about yet another coalition FOFF was working on in Phony 'grassroots' telecom industry group pushes back against cell phone reforms.
Birkey reported Mywireless.org was a blended brew of industry:
Though dominated by CTIA, the Mywireless.org coalition comprises more than 30 organizations that include 16 chambers of commerce along with sharply right-wing organizations such as the American Conservative Union, Center for Individual Freedom and Frontiers of Freedom. Mywireless.org has also spread its coins generously among some of the pillars of the anti-tax, anti-regulation right through its "grants." . . .
It's hard to separate the wires of ideological and corporate interest here, but FOFF's concern for national security has tended more toward pimping missile shield defenses over wiretapping. In fact, in the 1990s, the group fought against President Clinton's attempt to expand the government's powers to wiretap following the first World Trade Center bombings and Oklahoma City (see the text below the fold).
Sourcewatch and ExxonSecrets have more on FOFF. Why, it looks like another center of interest for FOFF is denying the link between human activity and climate change; The Science and Public Policy Institute (formerly the Center for Science and Public Policy) also takes on those who think mercury being released into the environment might be a bad thing. We could swear we've seen these cats cited already in First District energy policy discussions.
Telecom and oil company money being used to influence public opinion in Southern Minnesota? Who'd have thunk it? Isn't this debate supposed to be about the global war on terrorism? Or trial lawyers? Or....maybe this what congressman Walz means when he's says he's been representing his constituents rather than outside special interests.
Maybe the calls are simply about telecom immunity.
Note: 4/23: Brian Wise of Defense of Democracies has written to say that the ad has never run in Ron Paul's district and only ran in nine congressional districts, rather than eleven as the Raw Story article claimed. Duly noted. [end update note]
Note: we've edited this post to reflect changes in the Raw Story article.
We appreciate the traffic from being mentioned in an article in Raw Story. Somehow, we don't think that Ron Paul supporters who caucused with the Republican Party in the First back in February will be listening much to what Defense of Democracies has to say.
New radio ads are running in districts of several Democratic members of Congress, as well as Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul, targeting the lawmakers for their opposition to a White House-backed surveillance bill. The ads play on national security fears in an attempt to spur these lawmakers to give in to the administration's demands.
Critics of the administration-backed bill say it does not guarantee enough civil liberties protections and would eliminate oversight of President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.
Meanwhile, Politico reports that Democrats, Republicans and administration officials have met to discuss the stalled bill in question. It's the first time since February parties on all sides of the issue have met.
The ads come from the ostensibly nonpartisan group Defense of Democracies, following up on an earlier campaign from the group targeting many of the same lawmakers. The organization is urging the House to pass a Bush-approved update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that would provide legal immunity to phone companies that may have violated the law in facilitating the warrantless wiretapping of Americans after 9/11. Civil libertarians and privacy advocates say the White House version of the bill, which already has been approved in the Senate, also does not provide enough judicial and congressional oversight for the administration's proposed surveillance program.
Defense of Democracies is running ads in a dozen districts across the country, targeting 11 Democrats and Paul who voted for an alternative FISA bill that passed the House last month. . . .
. . . The group claims to be bipartisan, but its earlier effort caused several Democrats to jump ship, and May told the Washington Post he has discussed conservatives' lagging fundraising efforts with former Bush strategist Karl Rove. . . .
. . .The Defense of Democracies ad also claims that vital intelligence was lost because of the delay in passing a new law, citing claims from administration officials. The Los Angeles Times reported the administration backtracked form this claim soon after it was made.
Looks like the group is up to its old tricks of simply not being straight with citizens. If it wants bogus, it should try the local funhouse mirrors. See the Newsweek/Factcheck.org article to see the way the group twisted the facts the first time around: Fear and False Claims--Playing the terrorism card, a GOP-linked group twists facts about a controversial electronic surveillance bill.
Update: Welcome Raw Story readers. We welcome the mention and the visit. [end update]
Brian Wise, communications director for the Defense of Democracies, wrote yesterday to let us know that the group would be running a new radio ad in the First. He kindly sent us the following transcript this morning:
Since 9/11, the terrorist threat to America has increased.
But since February 16th…our ability to stop that threat has been interrupted.
The law allowing us to intercept communications from new terrorist groups has expired – risking vital intelligence that could prevent future attacks.
Senate Democrats and Republicans voted overwhelmingly for a bipartisan compromise to extend terrorist surveillance.
And twenty-one House Democrats signed a letter supporting the Senate’s plan -- because failing to pass it, quote “could place our national security at undue risk.”
But two months later Nancy Pelosi and some House Democrats still refuse to bring the Senate’s bill to a vote.
Instead, they passed a sham bill that fails to restore the authority our intelligence agencies need.
Tell Representative Tim Walz and the House to do their job – and pass the Senate’s Terror Surveillance Bill.
The disclaimer notes that the Defense of Democracies Action Fund paid for the ad.
We'll have more on this later, but at first glance, we remember that a number of the "twenty-one House Democrats [who] signed a letter supporting the Senate’s plan" changed their mind after they actually saw the legislation brought before them in the House.
Update: We're a little late in our reading of the Washington Post article, Leading GOP Donors Push To Catch Up to Liberal Groups.
Fearless Leader Clifford May, president of Defense of Democracies, shows up in the second paragraph [emphasis ours]:
With Sen. John McCain facing the prospect of being dramatically outspent in the race for the White House, a collection of major Republican donors and party leaders that includes former Bush strategist Karl Rove is scrambling to catch up with the efforts of liberal groups aiming to influence the outcome in November.
"The folks on the right may have a rude awakening when they see how sophisticated the infrastructure is that's been built up on the left," said Clifford May, who heads the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which could figure into the Republican effort. May, who said he has discussed the imbalance with Rove, added: "We're the little leagues compared to them."
So this ad campaign isn't just about scaring the heck out of everybody? Who knew? May a Republican donor? Heavens to Betsy!
Note: this post has been revised to reflect corrections in Raw Story article.
In Our View: Do not regulate political bloggers, the Mankato Free Press stands up for political free speech in the blogosphere:
Congress, regulators and the courts still aren’t sure how to treat the Internet and those who use it. From protecting kids from pornography to deciding if Internet sales should be taxed, the complexities, rapid changes and sheer size of the Web create complexities for government.
Such is the case before Congress relating to whether government can oversee some of what political bloggers can do.
The Federal Elections Commission — which ensures political campaigns are run within the law — has so far ruled that Internet users are protected from the strictures of campaign laws, the same way newspapers, broadcasters and other more traditional media outlets are exempted.
But many worry that future FEC boards, or judges, will remove that protection.
The problem grows from campaign laws that authorize the FEC to regulate “anything of value used to influence an election,” including “public communications.”
That language has led some judges to ponder whether a blogger who links to a politician’s Web site or writes things in support or in opposition to a candidate, should fall under FEC regulation.
The Blogger Protection Act now before Congress would ensure that political speech from bloggers has the same First Amendment protection as the writer of this newspaper editorial.
The Act should be passed.
When political bloggers — or any other Internet users — want to write about candidates’ issues, make fun of them, support them or deride them, they deserve protection from federal campaign laws. (Those compensated by a political party or candidate would — and should — still fall under campaign law oversight under the Act.)
While the Internet provides a different vehicle for public discourse, it should not bring new restrictions on people’s ability to voice their opinions. Whether someone starts a newspaper, a blog, or speaks in the town square, they have the right to espouse their political ideals without interference from the government.
This editorial hits the central issue right on the head: independent political bloggers should enjoy the same rights as the rest of the free press. We bloggers can be as demure or as insolent as we wish, but so long as we're not compensated for our writing by candidates or political parties, the FEC and state-level regulators should just butt out.
Things get a bit murkier when a blogger gets paid by a campaign or political party to do work other than posting on one's personal blog, but self-disclosure, combined with exposure by other bloggers when disclosure isn't forthcoming, prompts most bloggers to be open about compensation, whether for blogging or for other work.
The author (and despite our annoying use of the editorial first person plural, there's only one of us) at Bluestem Prairie doesn't get compensated by a candidate or party for anything, much less the opinions on this blog. Should that change, we'll let you know.
Over at Politico, Ari Melber notes that ‘Terrorism card' is trademark Republican play. And perhaps even more interesting, he observes how the public has figured out how that deck is stacked. They're asking for not just a new deck, but a new dealer.
Some choice nuggets:
President Bush is playing the terror card again, but this time it’s hurting Republicans.. . .
. . .Despite attack ads, irresponsible rhetoric from the administration and a veto threat for any spying bills that do not include retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that allegedly broke intelligence law, House Democrats are standing strong. If anything, the GOP terror card is boomeranging.
A conservative group run by Cliff May, a former RNC official, recently launched a $3 million advertising campaign to hit 16 Democratic members of Congress on spying. Targets included freshman Reps. Timothy J. Walz (Minn.), Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.), Ron Klein (Fla.), Tim Mahoney (Fla.), Christopher Murphy (Conn.) and Joseph Courtney (Conn.). And the message is classic terror card: lies and fear mongering.
First, the group’s ad falsely claims that the immunity stalemate prevented the U.S. from “intercept[ing] Al Qaeda communications.” In fact, surveillance continues today, separate from the immunity debate. The 30-second ad crammed in “several misleading claims,” according to the nonpartisan Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. . .
. . .To bring the point home, the House Republican conference is also circulating an ad claiming that the immunity impasse puts “America at risk.” It’s another odd angle for the GOP, since Bush is the one obstructing the underlying spying bill with veto threats.
The attacks not only failed to pass the bill, however, they may have also backfired.
The terror card angered conservative Democrats who were backing Bush’s spying agenda. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), a mild-mannered supporter of Bush’s immunity provision, responded to Republican scare tactics by accusing the administration of “political terrorism.”
For uncommitted Democrats, the premature attacks served to calcify their backbones. It was another reminder that their security credentials will be smeared no matter how they vote — or even before they’ve made up their mind. . . .
. . . Finally, as both sides aver, this battle is ultimately bigger than the politics of telecom immunity. Substantively, it is a test of how our society responds to terrorism. Will we maintain accountability, oversight and the rule of law while aggressively pursuing terrorists, or will we allow incumbent politicians to trade away our rights to increase their own power?
Procedurally, it is a contest over whether security imperatives can still pre-empt public debates — with veto threats cast as ticking time bombs — or if the electorate will reward strong leadership that rebuffs false choices in favor of a more cogent and sustainable counterterrorism policy.
Go read the whole thing.
One interesting development here at Bluestem: over the weekend, a commenter representing himself as Brian Wise, the spokesman for Defense of Democracies, left a note in the comments section following an old post about the group from February. Before posting the comment (we moderate comments), we attempted to contact Mr. Wise at the email address left with the remark. Our email was returned by DOD as undeliverable since there was no such mailbox.
We've contacted the group via the email address on its website to see if Mr. Wise indeed wrote the comment. If it is genuine, we'll be posting it in a new post to draw attention to the arguments made. If the comment is a fake, it simply won't see the light of day.
Education Week reporter David Hoff notes Walz's letter in NCLB: Act II: Lawmakers on Left and Right Criticize Pilot Project:
The response to the "differentiated accountability" project shows one truth about NCLB: It's hard to please everybody. Looking at reaction from the left and the right on Capitol Hill, you see tepid endorsements for the plan, followed by criticism of the law itself. . . .
. . .From the left, Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., calls the plan a "long overdue step" in a letter to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who announced the plan last week. But Walz indicates that the announcement won't change his stance on the law: "NCLB is a deeply flawed mandate that is badly in need of significant reform and overhaul," he writes. . . .
These reactions will mean little in the implementation of the latest pilot project. But they show how difficult it will be to gather the votes for NCLB reauthorization—whether it happens this year or next.
P.S. A letter to the editor of The New York Times gave a headline writer the chance to create the latest word play on the NCLB name: No Cynic Left Behind
WIZM Radio reports Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz Discusses Future US Role In Iraq.
In the netroots, Minnesota Central looks at franking privileges in How much is that Prebate Check Worth ? and contrasts between two Minnesota freshman representatives in NBL Walz –vs- OOS Bachmann on Freedom. Bachmann's in favor of the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, while Walz is meeting with veterans and other constituents.
Down in Southwestern Minnesota, the Corner House Comments tells an ICE tale:
In a recent conversation with a friend and coworker of mine I found out that “targeting specific individuals” must mean that if you don’t look like you just came off the farm and are not saying ” you betcha” a lot, it must mean that you are undocumented. He had went to pick up some items from a local retail store and was leaving the store when two men approached him and asked for his identification. Being a good union brother that respects but likes to challenge authority, he asked them who the hell they were and did not produce any ID. They replied that they were with Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and again asked for his identification. He asked for identification from them and they finally produced it. After verifying their id’s my friend offered them his driver’s license. The ICE agents apparently were not satisfied with that and asked to see his Green Card. Well, after telling them that he did not have a Green Card because he is a citizen, they took his drivers license to a van where they have all their secret Homeland Security electronic gizmo’s and checked it out. Returning a few minutes later they told him he was free to go. Before leaving he asked why he was stopped and was told ” he didn’t need to know”.
I often hear people say that if you are here legally that you do not have anything to fear from the government. Fortunately for my coworker, the verification process worked this time. If their data was inaccurate or incomplete what would have happened? What is disturbing is that he was chosen at random because he did not fit the profile of a SW Minnesota native. ICE officials say they do not randomly pick up people. Apparently the agents in the field did not get the memo.
In the Albert Lea Tribune, editor Tim Engstrom writes about how Economic policies only making things worse. Definitely worth a click and a read.
On Tuesday, Congressman Walz held an education and workforce summit to talk about the education needed for the jobs in Southern Minnesota's burgeoning bioscience and "green" economy. We found this picture online of Walz with several labor leaders. From left to right, Laura Askelin, President of the SE MN Area Labor Council; Congressman Walz; David Foster, Executive Director of The Blue Green Alliance; Russ Hess, President, Rochester Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. No doubt about it; she's short.
Walz attended to other discussions of green economic development this week. The University of Minnesota's Ag School reports Congressmen visit CFANS labs.The story:
The congressmen and their staff toured labs of the Center for Biorefining, which is headed by Dr. Roger Ruan. In a prepared statement for the press, Congressman Walz said “Growing green collar jobs takes more than money for research—it takes capital to build facilities, vocational training programs to produce a skilled workforce, and a commitment that our government will make energy development a top priority.” Congressman Emanuel said “I’m impressed with the work of the University of Minnesota is doing to expand our 10-, 20- and 30-year outlook for renewable fuels.
Also attending the meeting were representatives from the Minnesota Corn Growers, Minnesota Soybean Growers, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the Blue-Green Alliance and other renewable energy leaders.
Think it's a pipe dream? This week's Jackson County Pilot reports Jackson manufacturers 'scrambling' to address mounting job openings. Where are the openings? The article says:
The manufacturing and industry-related job market in Jackson is red hot, despite a slowing state and national economy and news of recent big-city layoffs.
The city’s largest industrial park employers are scrambling to fill vacancies in positions ranging from hourly general labor-type posts to skilled salaried and professional-type positions.. . .
. . .AGCO’s difficulty in recruiting also stems from the company’s recent rapid growth and expansion. Bill Kaltenberg, director of operations for AGCO-Jackson, said the growth and associated job openings at his company have much to do with the biofuel boom.
“Our company is providing ag equipment for a field and a market that are rapidly expanding due primarily to the growth in the biofuel industry and associated high commodity prices,” he said. “We’re offering a good opportunity to grow in an organization that’s growing and expanding.” . . .
KEYC-TV reports Auto Emissions Laboratory Planned at MSU :
Plans are underway for a new auto emissions laboratory at MSU.The Minnesota Corn Growers Association and Minnesota Corn and Research Promotion Council approved a 250 thousand dollar grant last month.News 12's Amber Malusky explains what this grant means and why it's important for the school and the community.Ethanol is becoming a major source of energy across the country.Which is why a 250 thousand dollar grant was approved to build a new emissions laboratory at MSU.
The Illinois Legal Record's News Bulletin notes that Representative Walz is working on the improvement of the upper Mississippi lock and dam system:
Corn growers from Illinois and Indiana lobbied their strong support for lock and dam appropriations in Washington, D.C. earlier this month, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) reported. They're asking for million for the Army Corps of Engineers' Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) and an additional million for the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) Environmental Management Program. "We need to integrate the restoration of the river ecosystem with the modernization of the navigation system to reduce barge traffic delays," said Art Bunting, Illinois Corn Growers Association president. NCGA is working closely with Tim Walz (D-Minn.) and Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.) of the UMR Basin Task Force to seek funding for lock construction and the NESP. NCGA has posted an action alert on their website (www.ncga.com) in order for farmers and others to urge Congress to fund lock construction on the UMR and Illinois River.
Nancy Adams of Leroy (disclosure: we were both trained to be grassroots citzens lobbyists by the Audubon Society last June) writes to the Rochester Post Bulletin to complain of the Defense of Democracies' ad in Swift-boat type ads attacking Walz are lies. Newsweek and Factcheck.org agreed in Fear and False Claims.
The HRC reports in Courage and Pride in the face of Harassment in St. Peter, Minnesota, that the documentary "For the Bible Tells Me So" was shown at Gustavus Adolphus to a crowd of over 300 people. Congressman Walz was in the audience with his wife Gwen, who is a GAC alum.
A March 14 article by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., made several errors in decrying House inaction on electronic surveillance legislation.
First, on the very day her note was published, the House passed legislation that would grant new authority for electronic surveillance. This bill, which represents a collaborative effort between the House and Senate, would give intelligence agencies stronger tools to track terrorist communications while preserving important constitutional rights for Americans.
Second, the expiration of the so-called "Protect America Act" (PAA) has not degraded our nation's intelligence collection capability. Bachmann chose to quote the director of national intelligence in his Feb. 5 testimony to support her argument, but on Feb. 23 the administration had to issue a retraction of those statements, stating that the government is now getting full cooperation from telecommunications companies and that the authorities of the PAA remain in full effect.
I find it troubling that the congresswoman chose to use a subsequently retracted statement in lobbying on a matter of such importance. Unfortunately, this is consistent with the scare tactics we have seen from Republicans in Congress and in the administration on this issue.
Fortunately some in the administration have tried to set the record straight. In an interview with the New York Times, Ken Wainstein, the assistant attorney general for national security, said intelligence officials would still be able to continue eavesdropping under the PAA for a year past its expiration.
Third, while Bachmann complains about the expiration of the PAA, she voted against a 21-day extension that House Democrats offered on Feb. 13 to keep the law in place pending our work on a new law.
The congresswoman suggests that Democrats should simply pass the bill the Senate approved. But the people have elected us not simply to rubber-stamp the actions of the Senate, but to exercise our judgment and pass bills that are in the best interests of the American people.
House Democrats have been working hard to find an effective solution to what is, admittedly, a challenging problem, and the bill we passed last Friday gives the intelligence community all the tools it needs to conduct surveillance on terrorists. Despite that, the Republicans have attempted to thwart our efforts, insisting that we have only two choices: Take their legislation or leave it. The House of Representatives is not in the take-it-or-leave-it business.
I resent Bachmann's suggestion that we are shirking our responsibility to the American people. As the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I am committed to taking this fight to the terrorists, but I remain convinced that we can do that while stopping this administration -- or any administration -- from conducting warrantless spying on Americans. Our responsibility includes not only the safety of the American people but also the safety and sanctity of the American Constitution. We must protect both.
Congressman Walz is a supporter of gun rights. Back in February, we noted his position on Heller:
"Now the Star Tribune reports in Controversial gun law is now a target that Walz, along with rural DFL congressmen Peterson and Oberstar, have signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief in the case of District of Columbia (D.C.) and Mayor Adrian Fenty v. Dick Anthony Heller. While many of our progressive friends disagree, we too support gun rights."
Those who want to learn more about the case and today's hearings should check out this site, which provides links to audio feed of the arguments and other resources. Court will probably not issue its decision for three months.
Talk radio WIZM in LaCrosse says Kind And Walz Rated Moderate Compared To Other Members Of Congress. The text is in radio script format:
FOR A COUPLE OF DEMOCRATS, RON KIND AND TIM WALZ ARE A BIT ON THE CONSERVATIVE SIDE...
THAT'S HOW THE NATIONAL JOURNAL MAGAZINE RATES TWO AREA CONGRESSMEN, BASED ON SELECTED VOTES IN THE HOUSE. . . .
The Strib reports US House rejects immunity in wiretap measure. Beta News quotes Walz in House passes revised FISA reform bill minus telco immunity.
The Albert Lea Tribune reports that the Glenville, MN SoyMor stops producing biodiesel because the price of soybeans is too high for the plant to be profitable. Meanwhile, the Wind turbines are spinning at the Corn Plus ethanol plant, according to the Fairmont Sentinel. John Deere owns the great part of the turbines for now, but the plant will gain majority ownership in eleven years.
Carimona Township has raised its gopher bounty to $3 per pair of front paws. Such are the consequences to rodents of higher gas prices in Fillmore County.
The Ag Connection notes that Farm Bureau Members Travel to Washington.
The Political Party blog at the Rochester Post Bulletin says FISA Surveillance Bill passes House on narrow vote and Earmark changes put off, for now. The idea went to the Senate to die:
Over in the Senate, support for a one-year moratorium by the three major presidential candidates did not sway many senators. Minnesota Sens. Norm Coleman, R, and Amy Klobuchar, D, helped kill a budget amendment on a 29-71 roll call vote. This week, Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y, and Barack Obama, D-Ill., announced their support for the moratorium, just in time to get on the same page as Republican nominee-in-waiting Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Rep. Tim Walz, D-Mankato, (who has turned over the rotating freshman class presidency to Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky.), said Thursday that he's still open to a moratorium, under specific conditions. "If they want to talk about this and they're really making sure that we're going to use this on national priorities, whether it be paying down the debt or focusing on issues we all agree are priority issues, that's one thing.
"Sending it back to the bureaucracy and letting the president earmark it, which is exactly what it amounts to, or letting the president's designees, I'm nervous about that. It seems like political theatrics."
The Faribault Daily News has published a short "Saturday Starter" opinion on one of Dick day's legislative proposals:
State Sen. Dick Day (R-Owatonna) wants to revive the concept of allowing for racinos - a combination horse race track and casino - in Minnesota. A good reason to be against this plan? The word "racino" simply sounds silly.
In the netroots, Cube Zoo reacts to Brian Davis's tax proposals here. His lead:
Brian Davis is a fool.
Find out why below the fold.