Like him or not, Norm Coleman is a sure-footed politician, but the Wall Street meltdown has thrown him off his game. Last weekend, he bewilderingly claimed a bailout could return taxpayer profits of 1000 to 2000 percent. Now, the Morris Sun Tribune’s Tom Larson reports this gem: “We have our quarterbacks in there — Henry Paulson and Bernanke — and they’re calling the play. And we have to run the play.” Not great when you’re being attacked for lack of oversight.
Speaking of oversight: Al Franken and Coleman called out the big guns as they spar over Norm’s tenure as Senate investigations subcommittee chair. Franken has criticized Coleman for not holding hearings into Iraq War contractor abuses. The PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger says former Democratic Vice President Walter Mondale backed up Franken — and former Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman buttressed Coleman’s claim that contracting oversight lay elsewhere.
More oversight: Stassen-Berger says the Franken campaign produced a Lieberman-signed letter calling for more oversight. However, the letter seems to support Norm: it praises his subcommittee for looking into a contaminated-water case affecting soldiers, noting the full Homeland Security committee should follow that lead. But wait! If Coleman’s subcommittee looked into one Iraq War abuse, doesn’t that upend the “oversight lay elsewhere” argument? Isn’t it then fair to ask why the subcommittee ignored bigger problems?
Still more oversight: The clever Stassen-Berger blogs that the Coleman campaign Minnesota GOP attacked Mondale in a way that could boomerang on John McCain.
What the heck is going on at Tom Petters’ home and headquarters? The FBI staged dual raids Wednesday on the Wayzata entrepreneur. The investigation is focused on Petters Co., but the raid didn’t involve “Sun Country, Polaroid, uBid, Fingerhut or Great Waters Media, the magazine group Petters recently acquired,” the Strib reports, based on a company statement. No charges have been filed, but that $50 million bailout Sun Country has requested probably wasn’t helped. The airline’s HQ wasn’t searched.
Lotsa copy on the post-RNC policing forum yesterday. Sheriff Bob Fletcher accused the host — St. Paul Council Member Dave “Puking Republicans” Thune — of anarchist sympathies for merely holding the meeting, the Strib writes. That’s absurd; business boosters and decidedly un-anarchistic demonstrators spoke, though the PiPress’s Tad Vezner writes that “45 minutes in, the event had largely become a protest rally.” One arrestee spoke of being “tortured,” but Fletcher says the man’s family has not returned an Internal Affairs complaint packet.
More RNC forum: Fletcher’s stagecraft earned this PiPress headline: “‘This town would have been destroyed.'” Reporter Mara Gottfried writes that Fletcher placed the anarchist count at 500; over 80 percent of the arrestees were from outside Minnesota, the Strib notes. Fletcher used “maps, photos and video recordings” to detail anarchist activities, noting their plan caused “significant problems.” (Can the media get a look at raw surveillance video to make an independent judgment?)
Still more RNC forum: Nick Coleman waxes acerbic, noting the “militarization” cloaked a rousting of legitimate dissidents. “That was a disgrace,” he writes. Coleman says the mass-arrest reason Thursday — overstaying a permit — “ranks right up there with letting your parking meter expire.” (Police say they found guns and fence-ripping winches on arrestees.) MPR’s Laura Yuen says some demonstrators called for understanding of the police. Fox9 video of what was said here.
The PiPress is making a strong bid to dominate the RNC aftermath; Jason Hoppin takes a long look at the mysterious pre-convention raid that activists say targeted independent journalists. The warrant targeted such items as guns and weapons, nothing was taken from the St. Paul home and no charges have been filed. “It’s all bull—-,” says one defense lawyer.
Back to the Senate race: The Strib’s Pat Doyle says Norm Coleman’s ads “mislead and omit key facts” about Al Franken’s tax troubles. Despite the “dog-bites-man” dynamic, Doyle reminds us that Franken says he underpaid in 17 states but overpaid where he lived. However, Franken still hasn’t released tax returns to document the claim. Other GOP ads saying Franken “hasn’t paid taxes” are misleading because he did, just to the wrong places.
Big turnaround for alleged music pirate Jammie Thomas: A judge admitted his instructions “substantially prejudiced” jurors toward the original conviction. Thomas gets a new trial, the Strib’s Larry Oakes writes. Turns out it’s not illegal to post songs if no one downloads them; so far, music industry investigators are the only ones who grabbed them. Judge Michael Davis also said Congress should reduce “oppressive” awards in cases like this. Even after the conviction, Thomas never settled, and that looks pretty smart right now.
Finance & Commerce’s Mark Anderson details how the mortgage-led meltdown will hurt affordable housing: “Mortgage-focused financial enterprises” often relied on tax credits, but those aren’t a factor when you’re not making money. Developers must pay more to sell their credits, and now have 15 percent less to build housing. Do we need a bigger supply right now? The story doesn’t really say. Minnesota’s state housing-finance program will cushion developers somewhat, but there’s a big budget shortfall coming.
Nort spews: Did White Sox losing pitcher and longtime Minnesota antagonish Mark Buehrle really call the Twins “s—heads” after yesterday’s 3-2 loss? Yes! That’s the Sorest Loser ever! We’re down to one game left between the White Sox and the Twins; a win puts Minnesota in first; a loss, and they’re back behind the 8-ball. Other Sore Losers here, here and a Chicagoland shoutout to the Twins here.