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T-Paw: Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage?

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: Franken at FarmFest; alleged fake sports jerseys; controversial Duluth mural; and more.Read Thurs. Morning Edition


T-Paw chatted up the Miami Herald and the takeaway, via Marc Caputo is this:

Q: Some of the increased spending happened in the Bush years, when two wars, a new Medicare prescription drug entitlement program and tax cuts were approved. Why not scale back all of that, including the tax cuts?

Pawlenty:You have to look back at what got us into the mess. And, again, revenues kept up with the private economy. It’s the government spending that went way beyond that. … When President Bush left office, the deficit was approximately $500 billion. It is now approximately now $1.5 trillion. In other words, President Obama has essentially tripled the deficit. To make matters worse, he promised in the first few months of his presidency that he would cut the deficit in half during his first term.”

Q: Part of the Obama deficit was the stimulus, but a number of Republican governors such as yourself both bashed it and took the money at the same time. How do you explain that?

Pawlenty: “There’s a lot of reasons for it. If the federal government is dumb enough to give it to us, we’ll be smart enough to take it. In Minnesota’s case, we are not a net taker of money from the federal government …”

Q: How about gay marriage?

Pawlenty: “When I was in the Minnesota Legislature, I was a co-author of the Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as between a man and a woman. I support a state and federal amendment to the constitutions defining amendments as such.”

Q: How do you support being a small-government conservative, yet favor this government limitation on private individuals?

Pawlenty: “The Constitution and our statutes and laws more broadly grant or prohibit all kinds of behaviors or rights. So I don’t think it’s out of bounds in that regard. … We have courts who have demonstrated they think they know better than the people on our statutes. And they feel that they should insert their personal or political views into these matters. And the only way to limit court excesses in that regard is to put it in our statutes and our Constitution.”

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The West Central Tribune covers Al Franken at FarmFest. “The Democratic senator, back in Minnesota while Congress is in recess for a month, said he was not pleased with how the negotiations went to keep the country from defaulting on its obligations. ‘We got it done; I wish we would have gotten the FAA done though,’ Franken said, referring to the 74,000 Federal Aviation Administration and construction workers unemployed because Congress did not pass the FAA Authorization Bill. ‘But the big news is we didn’t default on our debt and we got a deal done that nobody is happy with.’ …  ‘I understand why folks pressed it and that’s what we got,’ he said. Although the debt-ceiling bill was rushed, Franken said some good came out of it. A bipartisan committee consisting of members of the House of Representatives and Senate must create a plan to exceed $1.2 trillion in savings by Dec. 23. ‘We have had some luck with bipartisan committees, but none of them had power to do something, so some good could come out of it,’ Franken said.” I’m sorry, Senator, I’m not tracking there.

Amy Forliti of the AP reports on a Minnesota guy nailed at a sports collectibles show in Chicago. “The head of a sports memorabilia company in Minnesota has been arrested at a convention in the Chicago area for allegedly selling fake jerseys that his company says were worn by athletes during games. Authorities say the jerseys were not authentic. Forty-year-old Steven Jensen of Osseo was arrested Thursday by U.S. postal inspectors. He was arrested at his booth at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Rosemont. Jensen is head of Minnesota-based Vintage Sports Authentics. Postal inspectors are also searching the company’s warehouse in Plymouth, Minn., looking for other merchandise that could be phony.”

Per Peterson of The Marshall Independent notes the first MinnPost poll, and goes on to say, “District 21A Republican Rep. Chris Swedzinski of Ghent said it’s too early to project how this year’s session will affect next year’s election. He acknowledged, however, that people have plenty of concerns when it comes to state government. ‘Everyone’s lives were affected by the shutdown,’ he said. ‘As far as what their thoughts are going to be in how many months, who knows? The ultimate goal is not to have a shutdown or at least to have a lights-on bill.’ … Swedzinski, one of 33 Republican freshmen in the House this year, hasn’t decided if he’ll run again in 2012. For now, he’s taking a wait-and-see approach.”

Joe Loveland at The Same Rowdy Crowd applauds our poll and says, “Last week, MinnPost released its inaugural public opinion poll, another step in it’s maturation as an increasingly central part of the Minnesota news landscape. I maintain polls are an important part of news coverage in a democracy, and MinnPost proved it last week when it was the first to tell the story of the public blaming Republicans, by a 2-to-1 margin, for the bitterly debated government shutdown. After months of wonky budget debate coverage, it was interesting to read about the public verdict, as measured by a random sample survey. Our little MinnPost is growing up. … Getting at the ‘whys’ of the horse-race poll questions is as important as getting at the ‘whats.’ Is Dayton getting lower approval ratings because he is perceived to be compromising too little or too much? Is he considered too liberal or not liberal enough? Do most of Dayton’s detractors think he didn’t cut enough spending enough or do they think he should have spent more to create jobs? Is he losing approval because of his ideology or his leadership style? This kind of probing delivers a much richer level of understanding than simple ‘approval/disapproval’ style questions. And that kind of news media polling would certainly be in keeping with the MinnPost motto, ‘a thoughtful approach to news.’ ” Thanks, Joe. I think.

GOP Sen. Carla Nelson defends her votes in a commentary for the Rochester Post-Bulletin. After noting the thunderstorms in Olmstead County, she writes, “While storms can be damaging, they also have a renewing effect. Our agreement, showing true compromise, has aspects I agreed to but don’t agree with. While I disagreed with the school shift, initially suggested by Gov. Dayton on June 30, and the funds from the tobacco bonds, I couldn’t vote against the significant reforms in our agreement. … A critical part of making Minnesota more business friendly to promote a jobs renaissance was to avoid Gov. Dayton’s $4.1 billion proposed tax increases. Our final budget doesn’t include any tax increases. What’s more? We included tax relief for small businesses, farms and homeowners. Minnesota schools will also be revitalized under our budget.” Yeah. Aren’t you “revitalized” every time you’re overdrawn at the bank.

An Alabama woman who engaged in an extortion scheme that ended with a Minnesota man killing himself is getting … 90 days in jail. Dave Hanners of the PiPress reports, “[Shannon] Gura, who now lives in Alabama, had pleaded guilty in October to a single count of coercion in a plot to extort $500,000 from Dan Kreye, one of the founders of High Five Erectors Inc., a steel-construction company in Shakopee. She had met Kreye through Alcoholics Anonymous, and Gura said he had expressed an interest in helping her and had even given her money to help her buy a Jeep. She testified at an earlier hearing that when she told a friend of hers, Rickey Pouncil, of Rosemount, about Kreye, Pouncil figured the businessman was wealthy and came up with a scheme to extort money from him. At Pouncil’s direction, Gura sent sexually explicit texts to Kreye in August 2009. The businessman replied in kind, even sending her a graphic sexual photo of himself. Later, over a steak dinner, Gura presented Kreye with printouts of his texts and photo and told him that she’d give them to his wife and kids unless he paid $65,000. Pouncil and another woman allegedly continued the extortion over the next few months. On May 10, 2010, Kreye, 57, took his life in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.”

A graffiti-style wall mural has become a point of controversy in Duluth. Christa Lawler of the News Tribune writes, “Work has been stalled on a mural in Cascade Park in Duluth that has some Central Hillside neighbors concerned about its artistic merit. ‘It’s the same kind of things that they arrest people for,’ said Dan Williams, who owns rental property across the street from Cascade Park, where work on the mural began last week. ‘It’s graffiti. It’s not a craft. It’s not art. If it was a mural of quality I wouldn’t say anything about it.’ Artists involved with the ‘Unity in Community’ mural are scheduled to meet with city officials and Neighborhood Housing Services today to talk about the direction of the project and to come up with a sketch of the final concept, according to NHS executive director Cliff Knettel. … The mural is based on a similar technique employed by St. Paul artist Ta-Coumba Aiken, who painted a mural that way in the student union at the College of St. Scholastica this winter. But that doesn’t satisfy Williams. ‘It’s going to affect my property value,’ Williams said. ‘It’s going to look like inner-city crap.’ “

I’m a couple days late finding this one: An MPR commentary, by Tom Prichard of the Minnesota Family Council says, among other things, “ … the debate over welfare policy is just beginning. I think there are a few things worthy of consideration in the debate. First, as our state government shutdown was ending, an interesting report was issued by the Heritage Foundation analyzing Census Bureau data on how the average poor person, as defined by the federal government, actually lives. I think the results would surprise most people. I suspect when many people think of the ‘poor’ they think of homelessness, hunger and other significant hardships. The Heritage study found that the average ‘poor’ person has air conditioning, cable TV and a family car. Poor people are likely to have two color televisions, a DVD player and video games like Xbox. They also have a microwave, refrigerator, an oven, a stove, clothes dryer and washer, ceiling fans and cordless phones. This picture confirms the observation made several years ago by noted political scientist James Q. Wilson, who said, ‘The poorest Americans today live a better life than all but the richest persons a hundred years ago.’ Certainly, some people truly are homeless and hungry, and face severe hardships; they deserve our concern and support. Yet charges that any cuts or changes in welfare spending will devastate the poor are highly questionable when the very definition of ‘poor’ is flawed.” So the Heritage Foundation suggests people with an air conditioner and an Xbox are not really “poor.” Why am I not surprised?

Finally, my apologies to Brady Gervais (female) of the PiPress who probably has had enough of being misspelled as “Bradley.”