Viking Coach Priefer Still Doesn’t Get It

Mike_Priefer_nuke_gaysEveryone makes mistakes, but the key is to learn the right lesson from the mistake and move on.  That’s the message being stressed by the Minnesota Vikings leadership in the wake of discovering that their Special Teams Coach Mike Priefer had been lying to them about making breathtakingly ugly anti-gay remarks in an attempt to stop punter Chris Kluwe from championing gay rights off-the-field.

That’s a good message.  Yesterday we learned that Coach Priefer is all about the “move on” part of that message.  But the “learn the right lesson” part?  Not so much.

Priefer did appear to learn some lessons:  If you lie, you might get caught.  And if you lie and get caught, that can embarrass you, your family and your team.

Those are lessons all right.  But are they truly the most important lessons?

Coach Priefer was given the golden opportunity at the news conference to prove that he had learned the most important lessons.  As the Star Tribune reported:

Priefer got emotional when asked what he regretted most about what transpired between him and Kluwe.

The biggest thing I regret is I brought a lot of bad publicity to the Minnesota Vikings and I felt like I let my family down,” Priefer said, choking up as he finished his sentence.

Wrong answer, Coach.

When you say that we should round up a group of human beings, put them on an island to be murdered, your biggest regret should not be that the remark created embarrassing publicity.  Your biggest regret should be that you said something unbelievably hateful and hurtful about your fellow man.  You should regret that you infected the world with verbal violence that, intended or not, really does feed and rationalize actual violence against gays and lesbians.   You should regret that you stood in the way of the cause of equality and freedom of speech when you bullied an employee who championed those uniquely American values.

Those are the right lessons, the more meaningful lessons.

Coach Priefer clearly still thinks everything is all about football.  Human rights?  Sure, whatever.  Hate speech feeding hate crimes?  Shrug.  Freedom of speech?  Whatever.  No, Mike regrets that he got caught slamming Kluwe and the gays because it created a distraction from football and an embarrassment to his football organization.  Football, football, football.

I hope someone is dreaming up an industrial strength sensitivity class for this guy, because it is going to take one kick ass class for him to get it.  In that class, they need to show Priefer how many morons with heads full of Priefer-esque “jokes” humiliate, maim and kill people, solely because of who they love.  They need to show examples of how power-drunk employers throughout history have punished African Americans, women, workers’ rights champions and others courageous enough to stand up for American values.

I also hope they line up a management class for Priefer’s boss, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer who told the Pioneer Press:

“I’ve had a chance to visit with Mike Priefer on numerous occasions, almost every single day, to find out what kind of person he is,” Zimmer said. “I knew his father. I know what kind of family guy he is. He made a mistake. So I just go by what I see; I don’t go by what I hear.”

“I just go by what I see, not by what I hear.”  Are you serious?  This guy just repeatedly lied to you, and you’re still saying that you  just go by what you see when you look at the guy and his background?

With that kind of attitude, Coach Zimmer is poised to sweep all kinds of future personnel problems under the rug.  Allegations of sexual violence, domestic abuse, or criminal activity?  “I just go by what I see, not by what I hear about those allegations, and I don’t see a rapist when I look him in the eye.”

The Vikings organization’s words and actions show that it looks upon Priefer’s “nuke the gays” remark as a PR embarrassment, and little more.  Make it go away with some obligatory spin. But they need to take off their football goggles for a brief second to learn the truly important lessons stemming from this ugly episode.

– Loveland

What Chris Kluwe Should Be Saying

chris_kluweChris Kluwe, the former Minnesota Vikings punter who has been blowing the whistle about Vikings speical teams coach Mike Priefer’s anti-gay remarks, could use some PR help. I’m a PR guy, so I can’t help but want to put words into people’s mouths. These are the words I would advise Kluwe to speak today:

 It’s time for me to shut up. Those who know me know that’s not easy for me. But upon reflection, I’ve decided it’s time.

First, I need to do what I urged Coach Priefer to do when he did something ugly. I want to admit I was wrong and apologize.

I was a moron when I pulled an immature locker room stunt that made light of people being raped by a coach at Penn State. I wasn’t threatening an employee for speaking out about civil rights or advocating violence against a class of people, but I was very wrong in a different kind of way.   I was seeking laughs, but I was doing it at the expense of innocent victims. At the time, I thought I was joking, but it obviously looks very different through victims’ eyes, and I should have realized that. That was wrong, and I sincerely apologize.

It’s also time for me to shut up about Coach Priefer.

I achieved what I most wanted to achieve when I started speaking out against my coach’s anti-gay remarks. I got the truth out, an important piece of it anyway. I’m very proud of that, and that made this all worth the effort. After repeatedly denying it for months, Coach Priefer corroborated my story that he said gays should be rounded up and nuked.

It was gratifying to hear Coach Priefer say that I was not lying, as he had accused me of doing. It was much more gratifying to hear him say that he was wrong to say those hateful things. I sincerely hope he means it, and I hope the training he takes about gay people truly changes his heart.

There are still things I don’t understand about this whole situation. I don’t understand why the Vikings don’t release the whole truth, the full investigative report.   I will never understand that. Truth heals, and covering up the truth causes festering.

I also don’t understand why the Wilf’s sanction isn’t commensurate with the transgression — a boss using violent, hateful speech about a whole class of human beings, and threatening his employee for advocating for civil rights. If Coach Priefer had said the same things about African Americans, or other minority groups,  the punishment obviously would have been much heavier. That makes me think the Vikings don’t give gays and lesbians the same level of respect they give others. That is wrong.

Finally, I don’t understand why the Vikings would release a punter who, according to the statistics, was the best in team history. I don’t understand why they would do this at a time when I was doing everything the coach asked me to do for the sake of the team, including punting shorter and higher, which helped the coverage teams and hurt the statistics upon which I am judged.

I know that money and age are always part of player retention decisions in the NFL, but I also know that my championing of civil rights also was part of that decision.  I know this because Coach Priefer said publicly that “Those distractions are getting old for me, to be quite honest with you.”  No employee should ever be punished by an employer for  speaking out in favor of civil rights.

I knew I would never get my job back. I knew I would never get lost salary, because any money I would have won was promised to LGBT rights groups. But I was still tempted to sue, because I was worried that my employer’s firing of me for speaking out would stifle other NFL players from speaking out for what they feels is right. I still worry about that a lot.

The Vikings are dead wrong about those things. But I’ve decided not to file a lawsuit after all. I got the truth out, and that was my top priority. I hope we all learn the right lessons from this whole ugly chapter. Onward.

Mr. Kluwe is not going to convince the court that age, performance and salary weren’t also part of the Vikings’ decision to release him, so he should reclaim the one thing that is still available to him — the high road.

– Loveland

Photo credit:   Sophia Hantzes, Lavender magazine.

Why Doesn’t Chris Kluwe Just Shut Up?

Kluwe allegations?  Meh.  Why doesn’t former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe just quit all of his blathering about Special Teams Coach Mike Priefer and the gays? Kluwe had his time in the limielight, and it’s time for him to let it go already.  With training camp just around the corner, it’s time to let the home team have a fresh start. The last thing the world needs is another lawsuit.

If you listen to sports talk radio, that’s the dominant vibe from  diehard Vikings fans. Kluwe’s allegations are just a tiresome buzz-kill for them. They’re indifferent about the issue.  For them, it’s all about “let’s play!”

If Kluwe is lying about Priefer, then the fans are right. Kluwe not only should shut up, he probably should get the Jesse Ventura treatment from Priefer.

Truth_to_PowerBut if Kluwe’s boss did ridicule and threaten Kluwe for championing civil rights, and wish genocide on a whole category of human beings, then Kluwe has a moral obligation to sue the Vikings to get the truth out.

At first blush, a Kluwe lawsuit may seem like a money grab.  But Kluwe has said he will donate any lawsuit proceeds to LGBT rights groups.

At second blush, a lawsuit may seem punitive and petulant. But at this point, a lawsuit is really the only way the truth can be revealed. A lawsuit is the only way Kluwe can put former teammates under oath.  It’s the only way he can compel them to tell “nothing but the truth” about what they heard Priefer say. That looks to be necessary, because these are people who would surely be scared to speak out about their current boss.  After all, Priefer could release those players Kluwe-style, costing them millions of dollars. Talk about your inconvenient truths.

What’s the Big Deal?

So before an indifferent Vikings Nation rushes to cry “shut up and let’s play,” let’s step back and reflect for a moment. Here is what Kluwe alleges Priefer said:

Coach Frazier immediately told me that I “needed to be quiet, and stop speaking out on this stuff” (referring to my support for same-sex marriage rights). I told Coach Frazier that I felt it was the right thing to do (what with supporting equality and all), and I also told him that one of his main coaching points to us was to be “good men” and to “do the right thing.” He reiterated his fervent desire for me to cease speaking on the subject, stating that “a wise coach once told me there are two things you don’t talk about in the NFL, politics and religion.” I repeated my stance that this was the right thing to do, that equality is not something to be denied anyone, and that I would not promise to cease speaking out. At that point, Coach Frazier told me in a flat voice, “If that’s what you feel you have to do,” and the meeting ended. The atmosphere was tense as I left the room.

Throughout the months of September, October, and November, Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer would use homophobic language in my presence. He would ask me if I had written any letters defending “the gays” recently and denounce as disgusting the idea that two men would kiss, and he would constantly belittle or demean any idea of acceptance or tolerance.

Mike Priefer also said on multiple occasions that I would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible. He said all this in a semi-joking tone, and I responded in kind, as I felt a yelling match with my coach over human rights would greatly diminish my chances of remaining employed. I felt uncomfortable each time Mike Priefer said these things. After all, he was directly responsible for reviewing my job performance, but I hoped that after the vote concluded in Minnesota his behavior would taper off and eventually stop.

Near the end of November, several teammates and I were walking into a specialist meeting with Coach Priefer. We were laughing over one of the recent articles I had written supporting same-sex marriage rights, and one of my teammates made a joking remark about me leading the Pride parade. As we sat down in our chairs, Mike Priefer, in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing, said: “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.” The room grew intensely quiet, and none of the players said a word for the rest of the meeting. The atmosphere was decidedly tense. I had never had an interaction that hostile with any of my teammates on this issue—some didn’t agree with me, but our conversations were always civil and respectful. Afterward, several told me that what Mike Priefer had said was “messed up.”

After this point, Mike Priefer began saying less and less to me, and our interactions were stilted. I grew increasingly concerned that my job would be in jeopardy.

If that’s true, that’s not just rude or insensitive. It’s dehumanizing, abusive and bigoted.  It’s unbecoming of a team representing Minnesota. More importantly, it’s the kind of verbal violence that, intended or not, feeds and rationalizes actual violence against gays and lesbians.

Double Standard

What if Priefer had ridiculed and threatened an employee who marched to champion equal rights for African Americans, women or Jews?  Society wouldn’t tolerate that.

Imagine Priefer had said we should round up all the African Americans, women or Jews to be nuked.  Again, that would not be met by shrugs from an indifferent news media, NFL and  Vikings organization.

So why are so many seemingly indifferent about these allegations?  We should be standing up against this bigotry, just as most of us would if African Americans, women or Jews were the target.  As Hitler death camp survivor Elie Wiesel observed: “The opposite of hate is not love.  It’s indifference.”

I’m not blind to the possibility that Kluwe could be lying. But if he is lying, I can’t believe he would sue, as he has promised he will do if the Vikings don’t release their internal investigation report.   If Kluwe is lying, I would think he would quietly slink away.   If Kluwe moves forward with a lawsuit, I’m much more inclined to believe he is probably telling the truth about Priefer’s outrageous behavior.  After all, why would he put his former teammates on the stand if he knew the truth they would be compelled to tell — under threat of perjury charges — would show Kluwe to be a liar?

Viking Nation, I want to move on to football too.  I want to see if Teddy can throw, Captain can cover the slot and Mike and Norv can coach.  But as difficult as it may be for the face-painting crowd to grasp, some things are bigger than the game. Getting closure on these extremely ugly allegations is bigger than the game.

– Loveland

True Confession: I Miss The GOP-Controlled Legislature

When it comes to the 2014 legislative elections, I have divided loyalties.

One the one hand, the current DFL-controlled Legislature has delivered a lot of very good things for ordinary Minnesotans.  Compared to the previous GOP-controlled Legislature, the DFL-controlled Legislature has delivered a healthier economy, budget surpluses, more tax fairness, marriage equality, job-creating infrastructure improvement projects, paid back schools, all-day kindergarten, early education scholarships and a long overdue increase in the minimum wage, among other things.

In the most recently concluded session, they even had the earliest adjournment in thirty years, a mark of impressive democratic efficiency. I look at that record and conclude that the DFL Legislature and Governor deserve to be rehired in the upcoming elections.

clown_carOn the other hand, as a blogger interested in the absurd side of politics, I’m pulled mightily in the opposite direction.  Because when it comes to generating a steady stream of blog-worthy absurdity, nothing beats the modern Tea Party-backed Republican Party.  After all, the last time the Republicans controlled the Minnesota Legislature they:

  • No Separation Between Church and Hate.  Found a way to make even the daily ecumenical prayer controversial and divisive;
  • Dehumanizing KidsWarned that supplying food stamps to Minnesota’s most vulnerable children is just as inadvisable as feeding wild animals; and

I get tears of joy just thinking about it. I was never in need of blog topics in those days.  Minnesota’s last GOP-controlled Legislature gave us the golden age of political comedy, and I will forever be grateful to them for that.   Memories, misty water-colored memories.

While a historically low 17% of Minnesotans approved of the GOP-controlled Legislature that was drummed out of office in 2012, Wry Wing Politics has sorely missed having the likes Mary Fransen, Steve Drazkowski,  Mark Buesgens, Tom Emmer, Curt Bills, Kurt Zellers, Dave Thompson, Amy Koch and others in positions of authority, where they had more opportunities to say and do ridiculous things.

The topic-hungry blogger in me pines for the hot mess of a Legislature that Teapublicans  built.  But deep down the responsible citizen in me knows that I need to vote to bring back the DFL’s brand of colorless competence.  Sigh.

– Loveland

Note:  This post was featured as a “best of the best” in MinnPost’s Blog Cabin.

Would Vikings Have Doubled Down On Priefer If Accused Of Racial Slurs?

Al_Campanis_Nightline-2When Los Angles Dodgers General Manager Al Campanis said black players “may not have some of the necessities to be, let’s say, a field manager, or, perhaps, a general manager,” he was quickly fired.

When Minnesota Vikings punting coach Mike Priefer was accused of saying something much more violent and radical about gay people, the Vikings gave him a vote of confidence before the issue was properly investigated.

That’s messed up.

Imagine if a Minnesota Twins pitcher accused pitching coach Rick Anderson of saying the things Priefer is accused of saying:

“Coach Anderson would ask me if I had been defending the black people recently and denounce as disgusting the idea that a mixed race couple would kiss, and he would constantly belittle or demean any idea of acceptance or tolerance.

Another time, Coach Anderson made a joking remark about me leading the Martin Luther King Day parade. As we sat down in our chairs, Coach Anderson, in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing, said: “We should round up all the black people, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.”

Would the Minnesota Twins shrug off such an accusation?  Would they announce him as their guy for next year before an investigation was completed?  Not a chance.

Watching this, you have to conclude that there is an ugly double standard at work here.  It is  much more acceptable to use gay hate speech in the professional sports world than racial hate speech.

To be clear, I’m not concluding that Coach Priefer is guilty.  The matter needs to be fairly investigated.  But giving the accused a professional vote of confidence in the midst of the investigation is a boneheaded PR move. Worse than that, it is an act of its own form of institutional bigotry.

Here is what I keep asking myself:  If Mr. Kluwe made up this story, why wouldn’t he fabricate a story where there are no witnesses and evidence involved, so he wouldn’t be forced to produce witnesses and evidence?  Because there are claims of witnesses and text messages, at this stage Kluwe’s charge can’t be prematurely dismissed as obviously groundless.

Again, there is a double standard at play here.  If Coach Priefer had allegedly castigated Kluwe for marching in a Martin Luther King parade, the Vikings would have taken this much more seriously.   If Priefer were accused of saying that  people with black skin should be murdered en masse, the Vikings would not have announced yesterday that they were doubling down on him.

There was a time when spewing racial hate speech was much more acceptable among professional sports coaches.  No more.  But with gay speech, we clearly have a ways to go.

– Loveland

Vikings Should Investigate Priefer Bigotry Charges Before Making Him Head Coach

Chris_KleweLast year I wrote a blog post asking the question “Is Chris Klewe Getting A Same Sex Divorce?”  I asked whether the Vikings punter, who had the best punting statistics in Vikings history according to KFAN Vikings analyst Paul Allen, was replaced by a Vikings coach who opposes same sex marriage because of his vocal support for same-sex marriage.

But whatever the real reason(s) for Mr. Klewe’s firing, new information shared by Klewe may need to be factored into the Vikings’ pending decision about its next Head Coach.

In a lengthy Huffington Post piece released today, Klewe shared several stories of allegedly disgusting encounters with his Special Teams Coach Mike Priefer, who is reportedly the leading internal candidate to replace Leslie Frazier as Vikings Head Coach.  Klewe claimed Priefer’s tone changed after Klewe starting speaking out for gay rights:

Throughout the months of September, October, and November, Minnesota Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer would use homophobic language in my presence. He had not done so during minicamps or fall camp that year, nor had he done so during the 2011 season. He would ask me if I had written any letters defending “the gays” recently and denounce as disgusting the idea that two men would kiss, and he would constantly belittle or demean any idea of acceptance or tolerance. I tried to laugh these off while also responding with the notion that perhaps they were human beings who deserved to be treated as human beings. Mike Priefer also said on multiple occasions that I would wind up burning in hell with the gays, and that the only truth was Jesus Christ and the Bible. He said all this in a semi-joking tone, and I responded in kind, as I felt a yelling match with my coach over human rights would greatly diminish my chances of remaining employed. I felt uncomfortable each time Mike Priefer said these things. After all, he was directly responsible for reviewing my job performance, but I hoped that after the vote concluded in Minnesota his behavior would taper off and eventually stop.

According to Klewe, all pretenses of joking went away as time went on:

Near the end of November, several teammates and I were walking into a specialist meeting with Coach Priefer. We were laughing over one of the recent articles I had written supporting same-sex marriage rights, and one of my teammates made a joking remark about me leading the Pride parade. As we sat down in our chairs, Mike Priefer, in one of the meanest voices I can ever recall hearing, said: “We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.” The room grew intensely quiet, and none of the players said a word for the rest of the meeting. The atmosphere was decidedly tense. I had never had an interaction that hostile with any of my teammates on this issue—some didn’t agree with me, but our conversations were always civil and respectful. Afterward, several told me that what Mike Priefer had said was “messed up.”

Messed up indeed.  If this account is accurate, Priefer has proven that he can’t separate his personal bigotry from his coaching job.  That’s a huge problem.

It will be very difficult to get players to publicly corroborate Klewe’s version of the stories, because current players obviously have every reason to avoid offending coaches who hold their multi-million dollar careers in their hands.  Special teams players especially tend to be “on the bubble” between being on and off the team.  Therefore, they will be particularly careful about what they say about the people who make decisions about final cuts.

But this is why I’m inclined to believe Mr. Klewe:  If Klewe were making this whole thing up, why he would be citing rants that happened in front of large groups of other players?  Love him or hate him, Klewe is a bright guy, and he could surely fabricate more bulletproof lies, such as tirades that he alone witnessed.

Reasonable football fans can disagree about whether Mr. Klewe should have been replaced as the Vikings punter.  In his piece, Klewe himself acknowledged that his high veteran salary and his age were likely contributory factors, in combination with his outspokenness.

But reasonable people should be able to agree that anyone who rants about killing an entire class of humans because of who they love should not be representing the State of Minnesota as the head coach of our most popular professional sports team, a team that is now being heavily subsidized by Minnesota taxpayers.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf should be able to learn whether Klewe’s accounts are true.  Confidential one-on-one inquiries with other other special players who were at the meetings Klewe references should reveal the truth.  If Wilf finds that Klewe’s accounts about Priefer are true, or even half true, Priefer’s name should be immediately removed from the Vikings’ list of Head Coach candidates.

– Loveland

America Has Gotten Much Better Since 1776, Not Worse

The other day when listening to sports talk radio I was treated to Original Mattress Factory CEO and pitch man Ron Trzcinski wishing me a Happy Independence Day.  In his most recent commercial radio ad, Trzcinksi gets off his box spring and on to his soapbox:

“This is Ron Trzcinski.  Our founders intended this country to be one of limited power, created expressly to protect our rights. As time has progressed, however, it has become less limited in scope and our rights less secure.

This assertion, the same used by Tea Party activists these days, is softer than one of Mr. Trzcinski’s premium mattresses.  Lets get real, Ron.  If you are an American woman, racial minority, religious minority, or gay person, your rights are much more secure now than they were in colonial times.   Quaint little colonial customs like slavery, hanging for sodomy and Native American genocide are, thank goodness, things of the past.  For the most part, state and federal laws no longer treat American women like legal incompetents, akin to children and criminals.  States like Massachusetts no longer ban  non-Christians from holding office, or require Catholic officeholders to formally renounce papal authority.

Does Mr. Trzcinski really want to take us back to those “good old days?”  The truth is, the rights of Americans are much more secure than they were in colonial times.

As for Trzcinksi’s point about limited government, it is true that the United States has more government than it did in the colonial times, just as every industrialized nation on the planet does.  The American government that American citizens have freely chosen, via their representative democracy, has given us dramatically better education, health care, water, homes, national security, food, working conditions, environment, medical research, consumer protection, police and fire protection and a myriad of other things most colonial citizens lacked.  That’s why polls continually show that Americans want more government services, not less.

Does Mr. Trzcinski really want America to take us back to those days of bare bones government?

Rather than comparing the governments of two vastly different historic eras –colonial America versus contemporary America — it is much more sensible to compare the United States with other contemporary industrialized societies.  Making that comparison, it becomes clear that America still has very limited government.  When you look at government revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), Americans pay 27% (includes state, local and federal taxes combined), according to the conservative Heritage Foundation.  (It should be noted that a sizable portion of that 27% is used to fund the largest military and counter-terrorism initiative in the world, a heavy burden that other nations don’t bear. )  Americans’ tax bill is much less than the 29% paid by Mexicans, the 31% paid by Irish and Australians, the 32% paid by Canadians, the 34% paid by Poles, the 35% paid by Brazilians, the 39% paid by British,  the 41% paid by Germans, the 44% paid by Norwegians, the 44% paid by Fins, the 45% paid by the French, or the 46% paid by the Swedes.

It simply is not true that since colonial times Americans have been losing all of their rights and being overrun by a vast government.  America accomplished truly great things on July 4, 1776 that are well worth celebrating.  But we need to celebrate the truth of 1776, not the delusional Tea Party spin.  Most importantly, we need to celebrate how much more true America has gotten to its Declaration of Independence values over the past 237 years.

– Loveland

 

5 Reasons the DFL Will Lose Ground in 2014

Will the DFL lose ground in state legislative elections in 2014?  Following the 2013 legislative session, there are a lot of things swirling around  suggesting that they might.  In no particular order, here are five things to watch:

Freshman Frailty.  Newly elected DFL freshman won in lots of places in 2012 where they were not expected to win.  There was a good reason why they were not expected to win.  Many of these are difficult districts for DFLers to hang onto under the best of circumstances, and the circumstances will be more difficult than they were in 2012 (see below).  That could make many in this large freshman class of DFLers one hit wonders. Continue reading

Legislators Defending Gay Marriage Vote Should Ask “What Would Wellstone Do?”

If I was a DFL state legislator in St. Paul or Minneapolis who supports gay marriage, I’d be elated about today’s Star Tribune Minnesota Poll showing 46% of Minnesotans agreeing with “the Legislature’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.”  After all, two-thirds (66% agree) of residents of Hennepin and Ramsey Counties and even more DFLers (78% agree) are on my side.

But if the majority of my constituents were outside of those core Twin Cities counties  (only 37% agree), over 35 years old (only 41% agree) or earning under $50,000 per year (only 37% agree), I’d be on edge.

A lot of newly elected DFL freshman are in this position.  If I were them, I would be thinking WWWD – What Would Wellstone Do?

The late Senator Paul Wellstone was much more liberal than the majority of his constituents, just as DFLers in Greater Minnesota are on this issue.  Still, Wellstone was widely respected, even by those who disagreed with him, in large part because he was proactive, sincere, respectful, civil, unapologetic and direct about his disagreements with constituents.  When explaining differences, he made values-driven arguments, not politics-driven arguments. Continue reading

Will Target Put Emmer Back In Its Shopping Cart?

Talk radio pundit and former state legislator Tom Emmer is running to become the new Michele Bachmann.  He fits the part.  Remember, this is the guy who sponsored a “nullification” amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that says Minnesota won’t obey any American laws – civil rights protections, interstate commerce rules, banning of health insurance pre-existing condition limitations, etc. – unless the Minnesota Legislature agrees to do so by a two-thirds majority, a threshold that in recent times has proven to be nearly unattainable.

In other words, Mr. Emmer wants to go to Washington to set federal laws, which he wants Minnesotans to ignore.  It makes perfect sense.

If Mr. Emmer can win the GOP nomination, he will become the new Michele, since Bachmann’s district has been custom gerrymandered for GOP domination.  There won’t be a lot of suspense in that general election contest.

But one interesting question that remains is whether Minnesota-based Target Corporation will again back Emmer, and his anti-choice, anti-fair wage, anti-gay rights, anti-tax, anti-contraceptive, and pro-nullification ways.

To be fair, an  Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel vigorously defended its 2010 backing of Emmer by insisting that he was merely purchasing the anti-tax and anti-fair wage portion of Emmer, not the anti-choice, anti-gay rights, anti-contraceptive, pro-nullification portion of him.

Continue reading

The Morning After

After yesterday’s enactment of Minnesota’s gay marriage law, I was pleased to wake up this morning to see that:

1)   The sun rose, Armageddon had not arrived.   Fire, brimstone and locusts appeared to be in short supply;

2)   I was still married, despite the unsuccessful defense of my marriage;

3)   Thousands of Minnesotans had not converted to gayism, as per the alleged “Gay Agenda.”

Continue reading

Symmetrical Couples and Asymmetrical Stadiums

Yesterday was a tough day for traditionalists.  If you like your weddings square and your stadiums oval, it was not your day.

The Minnesota Senate passed a law extending the freedom to marry to gay people.  A few hours later the Minnesota Vikings presented a stadium design that is more likely to be featured in the Hirshorn Museum than the Football Hall of Fame.

I feel for my conservative friends, who are hopelessly nostalgic for the glory days of their youth, when Ward and June were prototypical couples and football was played in Met Stadium’s glorious mud, wind and ice.  Yesterday, they were served a heapin’ helpin’ of contemporary change, and I know it was jarring for them.  As of this post, shrapnel from Joe Soucheray’s head reportedly has been found in three neighboring states. Continue reading

The Real Heroes Of The Gay Marriage Debate

As the Minnesota House debates legislation to extend the freedom to marry to gay people, I’ve been reflecting on my own journey on this issue.  I suspect I’m not alone.

My first exposure to homosexuality was being called a “fag,” “queer,” “homo” or “mo” on the playground of my Catholic elementary school.  Before I alarm people, this isn’t a confession, at least not the kind you may be thinking.

Continue reading

Is Chris Kluwe Getting A Same-Sex Divorce?

Statistically speaking, Chris Kluwe is the best punter in Minnesota Vikings history, according to KFAN Vikings analyst Paul Allen.

Yet this weekend, the Vikings used a high draft pick — high for a punter anyway, a fifth rounder — to potentially replace Kluwe. The Vikings say this move is strictly about Mr. Kluwe’s on-the-field performance, and has nothing to do with any off-the-field issues.

As noted, Kluwe’s punting career statistics just don’t warrant a firing.  Moreover, Kluwe is not trending downward.  He is coming off his best statistical year of his eight year NFL career, averaging a net 39.7 yards per punt.

Continue reading

Norm Coleman To Return To His DFL Roots?

Former St. Paul Mayor and U.S. Senator Norm Coleman is nothing if not flexible.

  • When  leftist radicals were de rigueur in the 1960s, Norm 1.0 was a leftist radical.
  • When Skip Humphrey and Bill Clinton were on top of the political world, Norm 2.0 clung to them and the rest of the Democratic establishment.
  • When the easier path to higher office appeared to be through the GOP, Coleman retrofitted into GOP Norm 3.0.
  • When the Tea Partiers became power brokers, Norm 3.0 dutifully donned a tri-corner hat, formed a Super PAC to fund Tea Party-backed candidates, and endorsed Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann for, I kid you not, Vice President.

Then in 2012,  the going got tough for Senator Coleman and Tea Partiers, so the tough got a poll. In a St. Paul Pioneer Press commentary this week, Coleman advises Minnesotans  that he is in possession of scientific evidence indicating that “Minnesotans are not anti-government.” Continue reading

MN GOP Condemns Colleague for Endorsing Spherical Earth Theory

Saint Paul, MN — In the wake of two Minnesota Republicans’ shocking endorsements of  freedom-to-marry legislation, today Minnesota Representative Orville Nielsen (R-Outing)  further stunned the state’s political establishment by becoming the first member of his caucus to say he now believes that the planet Earth is probably not shaped like a disk.

Conservatives were quick to downplay the Nielsen announcement as an isolated example of a misguided member being bullied by “junk scientists,” and not the beginning of a movement toward a more science-friendly Republican Party.  A few Republican officials who asked not to be identified also expressed concern that Nielsen may be suffering from a mental illness. Continue reading

Is Legalizing Gay Marriage a Minnesota Jobs Program?

Governor Mark Dayton used his State of the State Address last night to endorse legalizing gay marriage in Minnesota.   And right on cue, Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston) took the Republicans’ most predictable jab:

 “He’d rather talk about gays getting married instead of getting Minnesotans jobs that could provide for their families.”

We’re going to be hearing a lot more of that claim from Republicans in the weeks to come, so the argument merits dissection. Continue reading

Franken Opponent Wish List

Minnesota Senator Al Franken doesn’t have a high profile challenger yet in the 2014 U.S. Senate race.  People don’t seem to be flocking to run against Franken at a time when a January 2013 Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey is finding that Senator Franken is leading former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman by 6 points, Congressman John Kline by 8 points, Congressman Erik Paulsen by 11 points and Congresswoman Michele Bachman by 14 points.

Despite these findings, 45% of Minnesota Republicans want to nominate Bachmann to oppose Franken. I would be in Blogger Heaven if a Franken-Bachmann race came to be, but I find it difficult to imagine that I, or Franken, could possibly be so lucky.

Given that the conventional candidates like Coleman looks to be taking a pass at the Senate race, maybe it’s time for the Minnesota GOP brain trust to get unconventional.  These are some of the match-ups that I personally day dream about: Continue reading

The Anti-Amendment Amendment Lives

A little less than a year ago, I blogged at The Same Rowdy Crowd about One Minnesota Ballot Initiative I Could Support.

In said blog, Captain Obvious pointed out that Minnesota is supposed to have a representative democracy, where we elect leaders to make decisions for us, rather than a direct democracy, where elected officials pass the decision-making buck back to the voters who elected them to make decisions.

My specific complaint was about Minnesota conservatives’ rush toward a rash of constitutional amendments as a means of bypassing the normal two-branch lawmaking process, which includes a liberal Governor in possession of a veto pen.

I then proposed, somewhat cheekily, that: Continue reading