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Tim Pawlenty’s ‘DADT’ stand catching flak right and left

MORNING EDITION ALSO: High-speed rail back on track? Plus medical care gone wrong; Vikes win big in scratch-offs; good news for Sen. Newman; murder trial maneuvering; and Durenberger on health care reform.
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Tim Pawlenty is still catching flak for his latest remarks that he’s in favor of reinstating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” FoxNews’ Jake Gibson writes: “Gay conservative groups immediately accused Pawlenty of pandering to social conservatives in order to make some headlines for his budding presidential campaign. ‘I understand that Pawlenty is trying hard to get people to pay attention to his campaign. It’s certainly a challenge for someone with such little stature in the conservative movement to compete with high profile conservative leaders like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, etc. Unfortunately for Pawlenty, comments like this simply show how totally out-of-touch he is with the issues that rank and file conservatives care about,’ said Christopher R Barron, of GOProud, a group that represents gay and lesbian conservatives.”

On the lefty blog Think Progress, Elon Green serves up a timeline of Pawlenty’s attitude toward gays. He writes: “On Monday, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) doubled down on last month’s promise to reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell if elected president, telling the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky that rescinding the funds necessary to implement the repeal of DADT is a “reasonable step.” This position consigns Pawlenty to the fringe of the Republican Party itself, whose members backed the repeal by a considerable margin.” By “fringe,” does he mean “base”?

There were reassuring words from Transporation Secretary Ray LaHood, as reported Wednesday by MinnPost’s Derek Wallbank: “Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today said Minnesota is ‘absolutely not’ out of the high speed rail equation, despite Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker opting his state out of a proposed Chicago to Twin Cities high speed line. LaHood, in a briefing with regional reporters here in advance of the president’s budget release Monday, told MinnPost: ‘I’ll go back to the illustration I’ve been using for the last 24 months. When President Eisenhower signed the interstate bill, not all the lines were on the map, they weren’t all connected and we didn’t know where all the money was coming from. But if we carry out the president’s vision of connecting 80 percent of America within 25 years, Minnesota will be in the game, because they want to be.”

An AP story by Amy Forliti tells the tale of medical care gone wrong: “Thirty-three-year-old Sarah May Casareto of Forest Lake was charged Wednesday with one count of theft of a controlled substance. She allegedly told officers she was addicted to pain medications. According to the criminal complaint, she told a patient at a Minneapolis hospital who was about to have kidney stones surgically removed that he would have to ‘man up’ because she could not give him a lot of medication. The complaint says she gave the man such a small dose of medication that he was writhing in pain on the operating table.” Not a good sign when the Operating Room nurse tells you to “man up.”

That scratch-off Vikings lottery game “cleared $12 million in total sales,” according to an AP story. “The Minnesota Vikings’ lottery scratch-off game was a resounding success in its first year and now the team hopes to use some of the money generated to help pay for a new stadium.The Vikings partnered with the Minnesota State Lottery and the NFL on a Vikings-themed scratch game just before the team reported to training camp in late July. … Seattle used proceeds from state lottery games to help pay for the Seahawks’ football stadium and the Mariners’ baseball park. Baltimore also used lottery money as part of a stadium finance package that paid for the Ravens’ football stadium.”

Sen. Scott Newman gets some good news. The Senate Ethics panel — two DFLers and two fellow GOP legislators — dismissed the complaint over the e-mail from his office that told a group from the Minnesota Nurses Association the Republican legislator wouldn’t meet with them because they supported his DFL opponent. The AP story says: “The four members of the Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct voted unanimously Wednesday to dismiss the complaint. Their resolution states that the two Democrats and two Republicans on the panel believed Sen. Scott Newman of Hutchinson when he said he didn’t know about the e-mail beforehand and that it didn’t reflect his office’s policy.”

MPR’s Tim Nelson writes: “Newman called it a mistake by a new and inexperienced staff member, his legislative assistant Kim Kelley. ‘I did not author that email. It was without question stupid,’ Newman told the committee. ‘I also want you to understand that I am dealing with a legislative assistant who at that time had two weeks on the job. She is very young. She has never worked down here before. So I find myself in a predicament, where on the one hand, I can’t say I authored or endorsed that email because that’s not true. But at the same time, as soon as I say that, I throw her under the bus… She made a mistake. That’s all it is.’ “

Jens Krogstad of the Des Moines Register reports that 17-year-old Michael Swanson will take the insanity defense route in his trials for killing two women in Iowa last fall: “Charles Kenville, Swanson’s attorney, asked Kossuth County District Judge David Lester to combine the murder trials, scheduled to begin this summer. Prosecutors in both cases said they plan to resist the request by Feb. 18. Kenville also withdrew a motion to transfer the case in Kossuth County to juvenile court. A judge last month denied a request to transfer the case in Humboldt County to juvenile court.”

Former Sen. Dave Durenberger’s commentaries from his perch at The National Institute of Health Policy are always good reading, both on health care reform politics and his old-school insider’s view of the modern GOP (from which he has been famously shunned, Minnesota-wise). In his latest, he talks about the powerful factions “waiting out” so-called “Obamacare,” fully expecting it to go to the Supreme Court. “[I]f you test individual provider leadership around the country, you will find most of them have confidence in their being able to influence the implementation of [the health reform act], and to shape important improvements in the law. Rather than in gambling with the “party of no,” its Tea Party auxiliary, and the partisans’ myopic belief in the ability of insurance consumers to restrain the growth in systemic health system costs. These care providers and plans respect the need for universal insurance coverage and payment reform as a means to re-build the incentives necessary to reward value-driven health system performance. … No segment of American society has more to gain right now from reforming the health care systems they use every day than do the job-creators of America. They can’t compete in a world economy nor in re-building the new American economy, unless they do something about improving the health of their employees and the cost of health care. It makes no difference how much employers contribute to employee health care. The costs of poor health and poor health care are passed on in the costs of products and services they help produce.” The man is obviously an apostate.