N.D. archbishop indirectly urges candidate support

And in the vast annals of separation of church and state/religion and politics we have this, via Marino Eccher of the Forum papers: “North Dakota Sen. Tim Mathern is taking the state’s top Catholic official to task over a letter sent to priests statewide that Mathern says crosses the line into partisan political speech. … The letter makes specific reference to abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research and same-sex marriage as key issues ‘that are never acceptable and should not be made so by law.’ It does not name any candidates, but says ‘the positions of the two political parties and the positions of their candidates are well known.’ Churches and other tax-exempt organizations are barred by law from advocating for or against specific candidates. Mathern said one line in the letter ‘Please do not vote for the candidate who is most likable’ — is dangerously close to political advertisements attacking U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp as likable but wrong on the issues.” What danger? Recreational pot laws are enforced more often than laws separating the tax exempt from politics.

They may soon be down to the archbishop and Sen. Warren Limmer. Don Davis at the Forum papers says: “ ‘While different faiths may choose not to perform or recognize same-sex marriage, the government has no business deciding who should be allowed to marry,’ said Gary Johnson, a former New Mexico governor who spent part of his youth in Minot, N.D. Johnson said that as a former governor he strongly favors states’ rights, but ‘the states have no right to discriminate. I do not agree with President Obama that the federal government should defer to states, allowing them to choose to deny their residents the equal right to marry.’ The marriage amendment is the most-discussed issue in this year’s Minnesota campaigns and both sides are buying television commercials that probably will make the campaign one of Minnesota’s most expensive ever.”

At the Mankato Free Press, Robb Murray reports: “In a talk Tuesday at St. Peter’s River’s Edge Hospital, Minnesota Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger’s message was simple: Minnesota is slipping when it comes to national health rankings, and he thinks it’s time the state gets back on top. For years Minnesota was ranked No. 1 or No. 2. Now we’re No. 6 in rankings that compare overall health across dozens of measures. … State expenditures for public health, he said, are 46th in the nation. In the category of getting rid of binge drinking, the state ranks 44th. In the vaunted Kids Count annual survey, Minnesota slipped from No. 1 to No. 5. Ehlinger said one of the reasons the state’s rankings are slipping is diversity. ‘By itself, that’s not a bad thing. It’s actually a good thing,’ he said. ‘But the problem is we have not addressed the racial and ethnic disparities that go along with it.’ ”

The Strib’s Jim Ragsdale has a piece drawing a finer line between racial issues and the Voter ID crusade: “The linkage between Selma and St. Paul and between Jim Crow and photo ID has emerged as one of the hottest buttons in the debate over proposed changes in state election laws. Minnesota has become a flashpoint for this national debate, which has involved the Voting Rights Act of 1965, anti-fraud billboards in inner-city neighborhoods and a determined effort to link the ID fight to the civil rights movement. ID supporters argue that requiring a card widely used for even the simplest transactions cannot be compared with the real, violent, racist voter suppression of the old South.”

The GleanDave Shaffer at the Strib has a story about an ownership battle over a southwest Minnesota wind farm: “The Big Blue Wind Farm under construction in southwest Minnesota is generating litigation and confusion over who owns it. Fagen Inc., a Granite Falls, Minn., contractor that is erecting 18 turbines west of the city of Blue Earth, has asked a judge to declare it the owner of the project. In court papers, Fagen alleged that the original developer of the project, Exergy Development Group of Idaho, didn’t repay $11 million it borrowed from Fagen, causing the wind farm’s ownership to transfer to Fagen under a February agreement. Fagen contends that Exergy, a Boise, Idaho-based wind developer that has faced recent financial difficulties, is still acting like it’s in charge of the Minnesota project by sending progress reports to Xcel Energy, the Minneapolis-based utility that would purchase the power.” Expect someone to make a connection to Solyndra by the end of the business day.

CNN’s Wayne Drash found his way to the 6th District to assess Our Favorite Congrssswoman’s chances: “If America is polarized like never before, few congressional races represent this divide more than the battle going on here. I don’t typically cover politics, but this one was too good to resist: a businessman who made millions by accommodating guests at his hotels versus a politician who Fox News host Sean Hannity has described as one of the women most feared by liberals in America. … About 20 [Michele] Bachmann supporters — ranging in age from College Republicans to retirees — crowd an office in Blaine to place about 1,100 calls around the district every night, Monday through Thursday. They fill out bubble sheets that are then fed through a computer for instant voter analysis. Every time a Bachmann supporter is reached, volunteers ring a bell. Ding. Ding. Ding. ‘I honestly believe this woman’s a saint,’ said Pamela Larson, a Bachmann volunteer with the Christian Motorcycle Association. ‘I just think she’s the most wonderful, selfless servant as far as working for the government and taking our concerns to Washington.’ ” Ringy, dingy, dingalingy.

Up in the 8th District, the Rick Nolan campaign is standing by its ad that has the candidate asserting directly that Chip Cravaack “doesn’t live here,” while the DFL ad saying the same thing has been booted off a Duluth TV station. Mark Zdechlik of MPR reports: “Republicans are complaining about two TV ads for Democrat Rick Nolan that claim Republican incumbent Congressman Chip Cravaack doesn’t live in Minnesota’s 8th District. One of the ads comes from the Nolan campaign and features Nolan making the claim directly. ‘My opponent’s response has been a smear campaign. That’s just not the Minnesota way. But maybe he doesn’t know that because he’s not from here and he doesn’t live here anymore,’ says Nolan into the camera. … The Nolan campaign is not indicating that it plans to pull its ad. The campaign’s Michael Misterek said the ad highlights clear differences between the candidates. ‘Chip Cravaack may technically own a piece of property in North Branch, but that doesn’t mean he lives here or has any roots here — it doesn’t mean he’s a Minnesotan,’ said Misterek.”

So do we all get a ride in it? Joseph Lindberg of the PiPress says: “The U.S. Navy’s newest fighting vessel, the USS Minnesota, will be christened Saturday, Oct. 27, nearly five years after construction began on the nuclear-powered submarine. The 7,800-ton behemoth will have a bottle of champagne smashed across its hull in Newport News, Va., at which point it will officially be christened the ‘Minnesota,’ according to the ship’s website.” Thank god we’re catching up to the Navy of 1916.

News flash: Ol’ Sooch is old school about voting early. In his PiPress column, Joe Soucheray says: “I know where I will be on Nov. 6. I don’t anticipate a hard-starting car or an autumn cold or even an overflowing toilet — three reasons Michelle Obama gave in Wisconsin a few days ago when she urged an audience to vote early. She might as well have said, ‘Hurry up and vote for my man before you see the third debate,’ although I am not sure the third debate would have changed anyone’s already-made-up mind. Neither fellow landed a particularly striking blow Monday night, except that after three debates I am left with my conclusion. Barack Obama is very passionate — about being president. Mitt Romney is very passionate about fixing the country. … There is a link between early voting and the Obama presidency. They are both bolstered by the conviction that you just leave everything to us and we’ll take care of it for you. I’d prefer to be asked something, to participate. That’s not paying more taxes, by the way.” That sounds more like Stan’s Tap than Garage Logic.

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/24/2012 - 04:56 pm.

    For fans of nautical arcana

    The submarine will be the third USS Minnesota, but only the second one named after the state. The first Minnesota was a steam frigate, and according to naval convention, named for the Minnesota River.

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 10/24/2012 - 05:52 pm.

    Well, Joe,

    you could always volunteer to teach children and immigrants to read and write. If that doesn’t suit you, how about a trip overseas as a Peace Corps volunteer?

    The opportunities are endless.

  3. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 10/24/2012 - 07:55 pm.

    Where does Chip live?

    He spends time in DC, his family lives in what, New Hampshire or wherever, so how many days out of the year does he spend in his “district?”

  4. Submitted by tim johnson on 10/24/2012 - 10:07 pm.

    polar-iced my bear ask

    “CNN’s Wayne Drash found his way to the 6th District to assess Our Favorite Congressswoman’s chances: “If America is polarized like never before, . . ‘. ”
    Good Gads…..

    Can’t we all just get along, little doggies, to remember America had a bloody Revolutionary War that had Americans scalping Americans, a bloodier Civil War, and lots of other times that were much more “polarized”. with Americans kicking the bloody hell out of each other, lynchings, riots race and otherwise, troops and cops in the street…. gads., people,
    But what can a poor boy do,’cept to play in a rocknroll band?
    The reality is that we’ve got, say, Ellison and Bachman acting and speaking pretty dang civilly to each other, despite their many differences and we don’t expect them to start duking it out on the floor of the House of Reps anytime soon….(despite Ellison coming close recently in a radio studio to turning on his challenger.)
    The sooner we stop referring to our time as so filled with flying polar bears on ice, or whatever the heck “polar-iced” is supposed to mean….. the smarter we all would look..
    and if you even DARE to disagree with me I will seriously, like, clench my face toward you, like, seriously.
    AND tweet.

  5. Submitted by Fred Grittner on 10/24/2012 - 11:31 pm.


    I anticipate Soucheray will someday be the Mauer Chevrolet Endowed Chair of Corporate Ignorance at the University of St. Thomas.

  6. Submitted by Michael O'Connor on 10/24/2012 - 11:43 pm.

    Free Speech also is accorded to churches and clergy

    Brian Lambert, your eagerness to restrict the Archbishop’s right to express himself on moral issues and to urge others to do so is ill-founded. Note:

    The Supreme Court has noted in upholding tax exemptions for churches:

    Adherents of particular faiths and individual churches frequently take strong positions on public issues including, . . . vigorous advocacy of legal or constitutional positions. Of course, churches as much as secular bodies and private citizens have that right.

    Walz v. Tax Comm’n of N.Y., 397 U.S. 664, 670 (1969). (As quoted from ACLJ website.)

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 10/25/2012 - 04:01 pm.

      Treading the line

      From the IRS website:


      “Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.”

      From Brian’s column above:

      “North Dakota Sen. Tim Mathern . . . . said one line in the letter — ‘Please do not vote for the candidate who is most likable’ — is dangerously close to political advertisements attacking U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp as likable but wrong on the issues.”

      The point is that the letter skates dangerously close to the line of advocating against a specific candidate which is prohibited. The wording of the letter makes it quite clear (to me, anyway) that its author was well aware of how close he was to running afoul of that prohibition but “went there” anyway. Sort of like “Let’s see how much we can get away with.”

      Is that an honest and honorable way for a good Christian to behave?

  7. Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 10/25/2012 - 02:06 am.

    Hannity Has It Wrong – Again!

    We liberals do not fear Ms. Bachmann. We may pity her or dismiss her, or even loathe her, but we most certainly don’t fear her. What we fear I suspect, is the coursening of American political discourse that she encourages and her never ending penchant for making stuff up to suit her personal goals. Most recently, her TV ads accuse her opponent Jim Graves of being a “big spender” despite never having served in public office!

  8. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 10/25/2012 - 08:38 am.

    I really, really need Sooch….

    ….cuz apparently he CAN anticipate when my toilet will overflow. I’ve e-mailed him my phone number so he can call me a day in advance. of course, if he can’t, then it makes him and his entire argument look pretty darn childish and stupid.

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