Yeow, were the pitchforks out at the Jim Oberstar-Chip Cravaack debate Tuesday? The Duluth News-Tribune story by John Meyers tells of the usual sorts yelling, “Liar!” at Oberstar and accusing him of being “Obama Junior” and, of course, delighting to Cravaack’s promise to repeal “Obamacare.”
“The differences on health care reform were pretty stark,” Meyers reports. ” ‘It’s going to be a job killer,’ Cravaack said. ‘It’s going to put a bureaucrat between us and our doctor.’ But Oberstar said the health reform package ‘that I proudly voted for’ will guarantee coverage despite pre-existing conditions, guarantee coverage won’t be cut off, end caps on benefits and, eventually, reduce the cost of health insurance while covering more people. Oberstar countered that ‘health insurance company bureaucrats’ already are standing between patients and doctors, denying coverage and looking after corporate ‘bottom lines’ rather than patient care.”
KSTP’s Tom Hauser offers some video. The incumbent does not look pleased.
Hauser’s “Truth Test” on election ads very generously grades Michele Bachmann’s latest “Jim the Election Guy” spot a “B-.” This is the one where he refers to the “Truth Test” that gave a Tarryl Clark ad an “F.” Hauser does note Bachmann’s exaggerations. A “B-”? Dang. Why couldn’t I get a guy like Hauser for a Chemistry TA in college?
I read Abby Simons’ Strib piece on a retired Henderson principal and coach and I’m still incredulous. This is a guy — very bad mug shot, by the way — who, after first being scammed by one of those “you just won a lottery, but first you gotta pay us a tax” cons, turned around and collected “tax money” from other victims for the same faceless crowd that ripped him off, police say. Simons writes: “Authorities allege that Murphy, a widower with two master’s degrees and no criminal record, eventually helped bilk elderly strangers out of more than $800,000. He worked at it for more than a year, and when police came to arrest him, he had $10,000 in his freezer, according to case documents.”
He wires the loot to an account in the Philippines … . How many movies start with a guy like the old coach saying, “[Bleep] you, I’m keeping this,” and taking off?
The problem, you see, is ADHD. It affects a lot of people. Not all of them owe $767 million, or ate regularly at Manny’s while claiming to be so broke taxpayers had to pay for their legal defense. But then no one else is Denny Hecker, who could be cooling his fuel injectors in jail for quite a while, according to Dee DePass’s latest installment in the Hecker saga. She writes: “[A] federal judge Tuesday ordered the former Minnesota auto mogul to remain in jail until he is sentenced early next year on fraud and conspiracy charges. Hecker was initially jailed after a hearing Monday when he was given a Wednesday deadline to disclose all his spending and assets. Now, however, he could remain incarcerated for a long time. He faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty on Sept 7 to two counts of bankruptcy fraud and defrauding Chrysler Financial out of more than $13.8 million in loans.”
MaryJo Webster’s PiPress story delivers a bit of pathos: “Hecker said he’s been living ‘hand-to-mouth’ and that most of the payments were for outstanding debts, including to two country clubs and a Minneapolis steakhouse. ‘There was no extreme living,’ he said. At one point, Davis asked him why he was paying for his children to attend a private school while he’s using public funds for his defense. ‘I wanted to give them a safe and familiar place,’ Hecker said, noting he still owes the school more than $20,000. Davis asked Hecker what money he’s going to live on. Hecker said he’s been living on donations or loans from friends. ‘I’m unemployable right now,’ Hecker said. ‘My financial position is bleak. I’ve had friends give me money, and I’m at the end of that road.’ ” That road is littered with the bones of Manny’s double porterhouses.
WCCO’s Reg Chapman files a report on Hastings pastor/radio host Brad Brandon, who has taunted the IRS to stop him from endorsing political candidates from his (tax-exempt) pulpit. “The 11 candidates he endorsed are listed on the church’s website. The list includes Republican Tom Emmer for Governor, eight other Republicans, an independent and a constitution candidate.” The Berean Bible Baptist man of God takes the attitude that “ ‘I’d love to see the IRS do something. I’d love to fight this in court and I would love to see a judge look me in the eye and say that the Johnson Amendment is constitutional,’ said Brandon. Brandon says he did this to draw attention to a system he believes is taking away the freedoms of U.S. citizens. Americans United [for Separtation of Church and State] has filed more than 100 of these complaints this year alone. The IRS has dropped all of them, but has not said why.” What do you think your chancres would be of taunting the IRS with a flagrant violation and getting away with it?
Tad Veznor of the PiPress had a story Monday quoting the head of Americans United saying, “ ‘If a pastor feels strongly about it and wants to be partisan, he can always forgo tax-exempt status. I get the impression a lot of these guys want the lucrative benefits of tax exemption without meeting any of the conditions that come with it. All nonprofits across the country are required to follow this. I don’t see why churches alone should be exempt.” He adds: “For two years, [Pastor Brandon] has been broadcasting the ‘Word of Truth’ online radio show, whose Web site describes him as a ‘highly respected community leader and unwavering patriot’ and ‘a conservative Christian who stands for Judeo-Christian morals and values.’ ” Wow, anyone care to translate all the coded wedge jargon in that?
Speaking of Americans United, the group pops up in the Daily Beast’s mostly mushy story on Michele Bachmann poised to become the leader of the Tea Party movement post-election. The story reminds readers that “Recently Bachmann & Associates [her husband’s counseling business] came under fire when Americans United for the Separation of Church and State started to investigate them because they were receiving state funds. While under investigation in 2008, the state ended a contract they had with the center, but Americans United plans to keep looking into Bachmann & Associates because they believe it is a ‘clear constitutional violation for an organization that engages in proselytizing and religious counseling to receive any public funds for such programming. ‘ ”
Lori Sturdevant, the Strib Op-Ed’s Capitol seer, takes a modestly upbeat view of the next Legislature, based mainly, I guess, on committee chairs with more experience than any of the three gubernatorial candidates (and the fact they’ll no longer be cowing to a governor with presidential ambitions?). She writes: “It will still matter — a lot — who sits in the governor’s office. But the 2011 Legislature should stand a better change than its recent predecessors to bend state policy its way. What might that mean? Well, a Gov. Dayton likely wouldn’t see an income tax increase as large as he’s proposing. His plan would be a hard sell even to today’s big DFL majorities. A Gov. Horner, conversely, might feel compelled to sign a bill tilted more toward income taxes than to the sales tax expansion he prefers. And a Gov. Emmer? His talk of ‘redesigning government’ so far seems to be code for ‘whack the legs out from under government and see if it can still walk.’ “
Delta is a very big company, and in keeping with its bigness, it generates very big fees in … well, fees … for bags and changing your plans. The Business Journal’s Jacques Couret reports: “The Atlanta-based carrier, the largest at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, was the top revenue earner for reservation cancellation/change fees in the second quarter, collecting $181.8 million. It’s nearest competition was American Airlines, which collected $121 million. Through half the year, Delta was also No. 1 with $347.1 million in change fee revenue.” I gotta check, but I don’t think Delta is 50 percent bigger than American.
If you catch one muskie — any muskie — it’s pictures-and-bragging time. But a 51-inch albino muskie? Come on! The AP says: “[Paul] Parise, of Ladysmith, Wis., snagged a 51-inch inch albino muskie on Oct. 6 on the lower Flambeau River in Rusk County. The fish is the second albino muskie caught in Wisconsin waters over the last five years. A Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries crew caught one in their nets during population surveys in 2005. That fish was far smaller at 32.7 inches long.” Nothing against Mr. Parise, but I know guys who’d carry a can of white spray paint on the chance they’d catch an ordinary muskie.