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Media out in force for N.H. leg of Pawlenty’s World Tour

PLUS: “Bipartisanship” issue breaks out everywhere, Jesse quote makes Top 10, and pilots are off-course and off-frequency.

It’s all about “bipartisanship.” The Tim Pawlenty World Tour ’09 made its debut in New Hampshire Wednesday and the governor apparently rocked the house. MPR’s Tom Scheck, one of several Twin Cities reporters on hand there, finds Pawlenty playing most of the conservatives’ greatest hits. ” ‘The federal government is running a Ponzi scheme, the Ponzi scheme on the Potomac. And it needs to come to an end,’ Pawlenty said.” He re-ignited outrage over the federal debt (dormant for so much of the past decade) and matched his exasperation to theirs over President Obama’s lack of bipartisanship during the health care debate. There’s an audio link to the whole speech. But Pawlenty’s money line may be this one, referring to health insurance reform: ” … [H]ere we are in New Hampshire and now what we see is a monstrosity being jammed down our throats on almost a purely partisan basis and maybe entirely partisan basis.” And his party had so many constructive solutions to offer.

The Union Leader, New Hampshire’s rock-ribbed conservative paper, covers the visit in depth. It has Pawlenty explaining how you succeed like he has in a Democratic state like Minnesota: ” ‘You have to be true to your values and principles’ instead of trying to be ‘Democrat light.’ He suggested applying conservative values and principles to ‘make a real and positive difference in people’s lives and emphasize the bread and butter issues,’ such as keeping taxes low, improving schools, make health care and college education more affordable. ‘There are solutions to that that Republicans and conservatives can be addressing, not by having the government take everything over, but by using our principles and values.’  ” Apparently no one asked for any actual details on “improving schools” or unallotment.

Meanwhile, back here in Minnesota, the Pawlenty administration has its hand up again for another helping of that out-of-control, reckless, deficit-busting stimulus money, this time $200 million to prop up holes in education funding caused in large part by the lack of bipartisanship in state fiscal matters. Tom Weber of MPR reports on Education Minnesota’s displeasure with taking the federal money with all its rules. “Education Minnesota president Tom Dooher said the union can’t support Minnesota’s current application. ‘We believe the state’s application is focusing on Gov. Pawlenty’s programs that he failed to get through legislatively and now is seeing an opportunity to get some of those things put in place to get a federal grant,’ Dooher said.”

For a laugh, check out the Pawlenty-inspired poetry on the Bluestem Prairie blog. Those two bratty liberal gals, Robin Marty and Sally Jo Sorenson, don’t seem very bipartisan at all, in a Robert Frost variation, “Stopping by New Hampshire on a Snowy Evening.” They write:

“The pothole’s looming, dark and deep
And Tim has promises to keep,
And miles to go until he’s Veep
And miles to go until he’s Veep.”

No one says “bipartisan” like Jesse Ventura
. And now he’s made the Yale Book of Quotes’ list of the Top 10 Quotes of 2009. The big guy’s winner?  “You give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.” Others include, “The governor is hiking the Appalachian Trail.” (No citation necessary, right?) And the winner? “Keep your government hands off my Medicare,” from a speaker at a South Carolina anti-(well, almost anti-everything) rally.

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Still watching shockingly wasteful, pork-barrel  government spending, Brian Johnson at Finance and Commerce has a piece on Minnesota’s D.C. transportation guru, Rep. Jim Oberstar talking about that $75 billion jobs bill starting to work its way through … bipartisanship … in Congress. The bill is transportation project-heavy.”Oberstar’s office cited a survey from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials … which indicates that Minnesota has a backlog of 116 transportation projects valued at $513 million that could start within 120 days if money is available. Through October, the Minnesota Department of Transportation completed 46 stimulus-funded projects and construction started on another 121 projects. The work has resulted in 1,087 “full-time-equivalent” jobs to date, according to MnDOT.” Minnesota’s cut of this new bill would be about $360 million, unless somehow unalloted.

“Bipartisanship” in the context of Denny Hecker has more to do with Denny and his legions of lenders, now all more or less united in trying to squeeze pennies on the dollar out of him as he works his way through bankruptcy court. But wait! According to the PiPress’s Hecker-watcher, Mary Jo Webster, the suspicion that Denny has been misleading the bankruptcy trustee (and other authorities) and that some of his, uh, assets may have come about via chicanery has the former wheels dealer facing “bankruptcy hell,” which is defined as totally bankrupt WITHOUT the relief of having his $700-plus million in debt actually discharged. (Although, Chrysler Financial, his biggest lender, isn’t part of this latest action.) Writes Webster, “In a highly unusual move, seven of the eight creditors that have accused Hecker of fraudulently obtaining funds joined Hecker in asking that their lawsuits be put on hold. The creditors told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel that it would be a waste of time and money to continue the cases because they anticipate the bankruptcy trustee will soon file a lawsuit asking that none of Hecker’s remaining debt be discharged. ‘It’s a death sentence,’ said Roseville bankruptcy attorney Barbara May. ‘Once you’ve been denied a right to discharge your debts, there’s nothing. You’re done’.”

If you ask, “What chicanery?”, Denny Hecker numbers guy Steve Leach might be able to explain, if he can’t take the Fifth to avoid digging his own grave in a civil suit. Dee DePass writes in the Strib, “While refusing to testify cannot be held against a criminal defendant, doing so could potentially imply some form of guilt during a civil proceeding, argued Robert Hennessey, Leach’s attorney. The Hecker bankruptcy case, in which Hecker claimed $767 million of debt and $18.5 million in assets in June, is a civil matter. Leach’s request “should be granted to protect Leach’s ability to defend himself in the imminent criminal proceeding,” Hennessey said in court documents.” The judge didn’t buy Leach’s sales pitch, so he will be deposed.

“What’s the frequency, Captain?” That’s the upshot from Wednesday’s data dump on the notorious Oct. 21 fly-over by two Northwest pilots in their Airbus. Wrong radio frequency. They weren’t dialed in. The Strib story, reported by Paul Walsh and Suzanne Ziegler, “said [flight attendant Barbara Logan] was expecting an 8:01 p.m. Twin Cities time arrival and called the cockpit about 15 minutes later to ask, ‘Are we going to get there any time before midnight’? The response from the captain was that they would arrive by 12 midnight Greenwich time. Logan responded that she didn’t know what that meant, and then [Capt. Tim] Cheney joked that ‘she was in trouble.’ “

John Welbes’ story in the PiPress says, “The pilots described to safety investigators being caught completely by surprise when a flight attendant called them to ask when the plane would be landing. The captain of Flight 188 said he looked up from his laptop to discover there was no longer any flight information programmed into the Airbus A320’s computer. He said his navigation system showed Duluth, Minn., off to his left and Eau Claire, Wis., ahead on the right.”

A CBS story on WCCO’s website tries to explain how the pilots were dialed in to Winnipeg instead of Mimnneapolis: ” ‘You reach down, you dial in, and perhaps you didn’t turn the knob one more click and suddenly, you find yourself on a completely different frequency than the one you were assigned,’ aviation safety consultant Steve Cowell told CBS News.” The network’s aviation correspondent is skeptical. “But, at the same time, if the pilots had been monitoring their instruments, they would have known that they were approaching Minneapolis and that it was time to land. They don’t need an air traffic controller to tell them that. And the fact that they overshot their destination without ever trying to descend indicates that, not only were they not monitoring their radios, but they weren’t monitoring their instruments, as well.”

But the most thorough (and plausible-sounding) explanation yet is on the Dallas Morning News’ Airline Biz blog. An email from a friend of pilot Tim Cheney — who spoke with Cheney the day after the incident — lays out a nearly moment-by-moment chain of small events, from Cheney’s meal being ready, to him stepping out to use the rest room, to co-pilot Cole changing the radio frequency and not telling Cheney when he got back. A 115-mph tail wind also pushed them eastward much faster than normal. (According to the e-mail, even with the overflight they landed in Minnesota only 15 minutes late, despite leaving San Diego 35 minutes late.) The comment section — full of pilot jabber — is pretty good, too.