In the Washington Times, Dave Boyer sees President Obama’s trip to town today as a “risky” test of his recent conversion to supporting gay marriage: “[H]e’ll be campaigning in another key state where his recent conversion to support of gay marriage could carry political risk. Minnesota voters will decide in November whether to approve a gay-marriage ban similar to those adopted in 30 other states. Although a majority of voters in nationwide polls say they support same-sex marriage, voters consistently have rejected gay marriage in state referendums since 2004. While Minnesota’s 10 electoral votes are considered fairly safe for Mr. Obama, his May 9 announcement in support of same-sex marriage has produced a backlash. Catholic churches in Minnesota have donated more than $350,000 to Minnesota for Marriage, a group that supports the proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage. There are undercurrents of opposition in other communities. In St. Paul, the black pastor of Grace Community United Church of Christ is about to lose his church to foreclosure, primarily because of his seven-year-long support of same-sex marriage.” The Times knows what its audience wants to be fed.
All political eyes are swinging toward Wisconsin, at least for the next five days. In the New York Times, Monica Davey writes: “With more than $30 million raised from conservative donors, many of them from other states, and visits from a who’s who of high-profile Republican governors, Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign to survive a recall vote has the feel, the money and the stakes of a national race. And in many ways it is. The outcome of the election Tuesday will not just decide the state’s leanings on matters of budget, taxes and policy, as well as the ultimate trajectory of Walker’s fast-rising political prospects. It also will send a message about a larger fight over labor across the country, and about whether voters are likely to reject those who cut collective bargaining rights, as Walker did here last year for most of the state’s public workers, setting off this battle in the first place.”
About 31,000 state employees have a new two-year contract. The AP reports: “The deal was negotiated by the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. According to a letter sent to union members, the tentative agreement includes a 2 percent wage increase starting in January 2013. Under the tentative agreement, union members would also pay a larger share of their health insurance costs.”
Sorry Amy, they’re not buying any of that … Abby Simons of the Strib writes: “A judge Thursday afternoon denied defense motions to acquit Amy Senser or grant her a new trial. Sentencing, set for July 9, is expected to continue as scheduled. … Her attorney, Eric Nelson, argued in support of his motion filed earlier this month to throw out the verdicts or grant Senser a new trial. He contended that the jury convicted Senser based on flawed jury instructions. Nelson also requested a hearing to determine whether Hennepin County District Judge Daniel Mabley committed misconduct when he withheld a note the jurors gave him just before verdicts were read. Mabley on Thursday called the note ‘a complete non-issue’ because it was given to him after the verdicts were reached and signed.”
A small-business owner responds to talk radio host Jason Lewis’ recent paean to libertarianism. Says Ben Kyriagis in the Strib: “[T]he soul of the Republican Party now seems to be, according to Lewis, that ‘free-market capitalism is its own reward because it embraces the morality of freedom.’ Ayn Rand, the atheist philosopher that Republicans love, said the same thing probably a thousand different ways, but according to Lewis, this is a recent event brought about by Ron Paul and his supporters. It seems to me that when their party is doing something unpopular or when the current Republican candidate for president is not inspiring, many Republicans turn to libertarianism. … Nobody has ever proven the notion that limited government is the highest good for the majority of the citizens. Most citizens will agree, however, that we need the amount of government that will serve the needs of the majority of the people in the most efficient and effective way given the resources available.”
Target had a good May. The AP reports: “Discount retailer Target Corp. said Thursday that a key sales figure rose 4.4 percent in May as shoppers spent more on food and its cheap-chic fashions. The results beat analysts’ expectations tracked by Thomson Reuters for a 3.5 percent increase in stores open at least a year, a key measure of a retailer’s health. They were also at the high end of Target’s own expectations for the four weeks ended May 26. The strong monthly results follow the discount chain’s first-quarter earnings report earlier this month that was better than Wall Street expected. Target, which mixes stylish clothes and trendy decor under the same roof as toothpaste and cereal, recently has had success drawing customers into stores with two growth initiatives.”
Erik Paulsen didn’t forget why he was sent to Congress. Brett Neely of MPR writes: “A committee hearing over legislation introduced by 3rd District Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen to repeal a tax on medical devices turned heated Thursday as Republicans and Democrats took turns re-litigating the fight over the 2010 health care law. While many Democrats on the panel said they were uncomfortable with the tax and would be happy to see it reduced or eliminated, in the end only Democratic Reps. Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Shelley Berkley of Nevada joined all of the Republicans present to vote 23-11 in favor of eliminating the tax. Repealing the tax, which goes into effect next year, has been Paulsen’s biggest legislative goal since 2010, when he introduced his first bill to repeal the tax not long after President Obama signed the measure into law. Minnesota is home to a number of medical device companies, including Medtronic, and Paulsen has become their strongest advocate in Congress. … Republicans did not offer a plan to pay for the estimated $29 billion cost of eliminating the tax, a move that prompted intense criticism from Democrats.”
Also at MPR, in a commentary, Pam Fickenscher says: “In his recent commentary (“Why the definition of marriage matters,” May 18), B. Gehling makes the stunning claim that the “definition of marriage” has been stable and fixed for most of history. Therefore, he argues, the definition currently upheld by the Roman Catholic Church should be enshrined in the Constitution. We should accept his claims neither on historical or religious grounds. Marriage has taken a number of shapes through history, many of which would not be supported by Minnesota law, as any child carefully reading the Old Testament will discover. … Gehling makes vague reference to stepparenting as problematic for children. But a constitutional amendment defining marriage would do nothing to prevent divorce, remarriage, single parenting or stepparenting. He further asserts that ‘real’ marriage is about bodily union open to the possibility of procreation, but neither Minnesota law nor, I would venture, most Minnesotans support forbidding marriage to those who are disabled or past the age of procreation.”
Very interesting story by Sally Jo Sorensen on her Bluestem Prairie blog. It concerns a home-schooling mother of three who now wants to run for the local school board. The piece is a fine example of “reported blogging.” On the mom — Peggy Ployhar’s — campaign blog, Sorensen finds her saying:
” ‘The dynamics of who we are as a community have changed over the years. In order for our schools to keep up with those changes and still provide quality education to our increasingly diverse student population, adjustments need to be made. Putting more revenue into a school structure which no longer works for the majority of our children in District 656 is something we can no longer afford, fiscally or socially. I am willing to work hard to see those changes made so the quality of our public education in Faribault is consistent and relevant to the needs we are encountering now and in the future.‘ “
… Elsewhere on the site: “Ployhar calls the school system ‘an ugly festering cancerous growth’ that ‘any amount of money’ couldn’t rectify without ‘changing the core of our educational system,’ while proposing a ‘complete quality assurance audit’ and staffing cuts. Why cuts can solve the local schools’ problems while no increased revenues can’t isn’t really explained. She does propose a system where classrooms are open for intense scrutiny:
‘Classrooms need to be visited, monitored and reviewed frequently, not only by school administration but also by school board members, parents, and concerned citizens. Through this process, problems in the schools will no longer just be heard about or by word of mouth be told they were resolved, but instead they will be seen, realized, documented, followed up on, and eliminated.’ ”
… And then there’s the part with the foreign exchange student living with the Ployhars.