Minnesota Legislators Turn To GoFundMe To Pay Bills

Saint Paul. MN — Ronald “Bud” Carlson, a 68-year old veteran of the Minnesota Senate (R-Lake City), desperately needed a new power tie for an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) annual meeting at a Trump Hotel in Las Vegas last week. But he didn’t have the money to pay for the Stefano Ricci one he needed.

“A lobbyist asked if it was the same red power tie I wore last year,” said Carlson. “It was obviously one of the most profoundly humiliating moments of my life.”

Meanwhile, Becca Nowakowski-Alexopoulos, a 38-year old member of the Minnesota House (DLF-Minneapolis), is weeks behind in her regular contributions to a climate change nonprofit organization, donations which she makes to offset the carbon emitted during her regular plane trips to climate change conferences.

“It’s certainly not a coincidence that hurricanes started devastating vulnerable socioeconomic populations after my carbon offset contributions had to stop,” noted an emotional Nowakowski-Alexopoulos.

Carlson and Nowakowski-Alexopoulos are just two of the many legislators courageously struggling to continue their public service careers in the wake of Governor Mark Dayton’s controversial line-item veto of funding for the Minnesota Legislature. The State Supreme Court recently issued a convoluted non-ruling ruling to avoid resolving the constitutional crisis, instead ordering the Governor and Legislature to work with a mediator and “figure it out yourself.”

But in a heartwarming moment of bipartisan cooperation, Carlson and Nowakowski-Alexopoulos, who are often bitter enemies during legislative debates, have been collaborating to solicit contributions via the crowdfunding website GoFundMe.com.

Their hope is that crowdfunding, the raising of small donations from large numbers of people via the Internet, will help them and their colleagues survive until the bitter impasse with Governor Dayton can be resolved.  An estimated $34 billion was raised via crowdfunding in 2015.

“Minnesotans have been truly amazing, sharing their stories of our legislative heroism at #MNlegStrong and digging deep to prove how much they value us,” said Nowakowski-Alexopoulos.

Over the past month, $200,035.73 has been raised, including $100,000 from ALEC and $100,000 from the AFL-CIO. Carlson and Nowakowski-Alexopoulos have recently brought in a second Minnesota Supreme Court-appointed mediator to resolve irreconcilable differences about how to distribute the funds among the 201 legislators and their staffs.

Difficult Time of Year for Decision Deficit Disorder (DDD) Sufferers

cursor_and_custom_ribbon__decision_deficit_disorderWashington, DC — Just as the holiday season can be difficult for those who have recently lost loved ones, election time is a horrific time for those suffering from a little discussed condition known as Decision Deficit Disorder (DDD).

During the election season, DDD sufferers get overwhelmed with anxiety and confusion as they are asked to take 18 months worth of campaign-generated information to make a final decision about which candidate they will support.

“DDD can be extremely, oh gosh I just don’t what the right word would be,” said Jonah Wildarsky, who suffers from DDD and is the Executive Director of the Decision Deficit Disorder Foundation.

As a defense mechanism, those with DDD frequently accuse all candidates of being equally poor, rather than deciding who is the better one, as other voters do.

“Clinton or Trump, Trump or Clinton, it’s just not fair to ask us to decide, because they’re just so identically bad,” screamed Wildarsky. “The pressure during the last month of the campaign is immense. I’ve personally had to suffer through 127 news interviews this year, because there are just so few DDD survivors left for reporters to interview.”

The Foundation works to create awareness of DDD. For instance, Wildarsky says the Foundation hopes some day to distribute ribbons, if a color choice can be finalized.

“Golly, I don’t know, is yellow or pink or some other color best,” asked Wildarsky. “The colors all  seem equally bad to me.  Why in the world can’t we have better colors?”

The Five Anthropological Certainties of Minnesota Legislative Hearings

hearing_room_2Now that state legislators are creating better public spaces for visitors in the new Senate Office Building and renovated State Capitol Building, here’s hoping there will be more ordinary citizens coming to legislative proceedings. The Minnesota Legislature is extremely insular and clubby, so it could benefit from fresh observers and participants.

When I’m traveling to an unfamiliar new place, I like to do research into the inhabitants’ culture, so I’m at least somewhat familiar with their ways.  In that spirit, I’m offering a few amateur anthropological observations about what visitors to the new Capitol campus digs can expect to see during legislative hearings.

Outsiders will observe at least five repetitive behavior patterns characteristic of the native inhabitants of the State Capitol campus:

#1.  The 75% Rule.  During the first witness of the hearing, legislators serving on the committee will, in rapid succession, launch a long series of rhetorical questions, speeches, irrelevant personal stories, and/or “jokes.”  Remember That Kid in school who always needed to be heard?  Well, there are about a dozen of Those Kids in this classroom, they all have a desperate need to be heard, and there is no teacher present to restrain them.

Therefore, the legislator-centric grandstanding during the first witness typically takes roughly 75% of the allotted hearing time.  During the remaining 25% of the time, the legislators who have been talking ad nauseam will shift to scolding the long list of scheduled testifiers about the need to be brief.  After all, busy legislators don’t have time to waste.

cultural_anthropology_quotes_-_Google_Search#2. The iPhone Prayer.  The reason legislators continually have their heads bowed is not because they are prayerful or otherwise contemplative. It’s because of smart phones.

The hearing observer will quickly notice that legislators much prefer their smart phone to their smart constituents. Therefore, visitors should expect to mostly see the crowns of legislators’ heads, as they stare down smirking at their latest epic text or tweet.

You see, the State Legislature is like high school, with its complex network of cliques constantly angling to mistreat each other. But the environment is actually much more toxic than high school, because unlike high school, unlimited smart phone use is permitted in class.

#3. The Extras. Visitors will notice that the least relevant person in the committee room is the lowly testifier. The person delivering testimony is an extra, a volunteer who is cast by legislators to create the illusion of information gathering and democratic participation.

Seemingly unaware of the ruse, many testifiers spend hours earnestly preparing their thoughtful, fact-filled remarks.  But they quickly discover that committee members have much more pressing needs to attend to, such as epic texts and tweets.

#4.  The Mind-Melding.  The confident looking people in the hearing room who dress like they earn significantly more than $31,141 per year are not legislators. They are lobbyists.

This native species will be furiously scribbling, typing, texting, hand signaling and whispering. This elaborate display is to justify spending 99% of their work day sitting through legislative testimony that is being 99% ignored by the legislators.

Interesting side note: Lobbyists have mind-melding powers, derived from their political action committees (PACs).

#5. The Civil Sandwiches. Hearing tourists will also notice that legislators have a very peculiar and predictable speech pattern, which linguists have dubbed The Civil Sandwich.

Here’s how it goes:  Legislators begin and end statements by saying something superficially civil. Then sandwiched between the civilities is a juicy layer of petty savagery. For instance, a typical Civil Sandwich might sound like this:

“I greatly appreciate the fine work of my good friend, and thank him for bringing forward these ideas.

However, moron, your bill would obviously lead to the collapse of Minnesota’s economy, the moral decay of society and, very possibly, leprosy. This proposal proves you are even more stupid and corrupt than I suspected, and are clearly doing the bidding of evil-doers intent on world domination. And by the way, the fiscal note for this bill is as nauseating as your very homely spouse.

But again, Representative Jensen-Carlson, I sincerely appreciate and respect the hard work you have done on this issue.  I look forward to collaborating with you to improve on it, because that’s just the kind of fella I am.”

Yes, I’m exaggerating for effect.  It’s the satirists’ disease.  The truth is, many individual legislators are bright, thoughtful, and decent people who sincerely care about Minnesota. In fact, I’ve often made the case that legislators should be paid much more than $31,141 per year, because their job is important, time-consuming and difficult.

But individuals aside, when it comes to the collective culture of legislative hearings, my level of exaggeration here is not as extreme as you might hope.  But by all means, go judge for yourself.  Enjoy your excursion to an upcoming hearing in legislators’ spacious new habitat.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Note:  This post was also featured by MinnPost’s Blog Cabin.

Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Tea Boys

When I watch coverage of the 2015 Republican presidential rallies and look out into the audiences roaring their approval of every outrageous statement, I sometimes hear an old tune going through my head.  With  apologies to Waylon and Willie:

Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be tea boys.
Don’t let ‘em blame brown folks and new immigrants.
Let ‘em be learned and lucid and such.
Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be tea boys.
‘Cuz they’ll always be bitter and troll us on Twitter,
even with someone they love.


Tea boys ain’t easy to love, if you’ve ever been trolled.
He’d rather cut taxes for Koch bros than help your household.
Grim, grey, and grumpy: “Get offa my lawn, boys!”
Keepin’ his weaponry near.
We can’t understand him, conspiracy delusions.
He’s gotta heart full of fear.

Tea_party_racistMamas don’t let your babies grow up to be tea boys.
Don’t let ‘em blame brown folks and new immigrants.
Let ‘em be learned and lucid and such.
Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be tea boys.
‘Cuz they’ll always be bitter and troll us on Twitter,
even with someone they love.


Tea boys like Rush rantin’ mornings and Fox Newsin’ evenins,
whole lotta snake flags and tea bags and black machine guns.
Them that don’t “ditto” won’t like him, and them that do
sometimes look awesome in tricorns.
He’s quite well-intentioned, but his angst won’t let him,
resist the extreme far right.

Tea_Party_guns_2Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be tea boys.
Don’t let ‘em blame brown folks and new immigrants.
Let ‘em be learned and lucid and such.
Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be tea boys.
‘Cuz they’ll always be bitter and troll us on Twitter,
even with someone they love.


BREAKING: Perham Is A Beautiful, Friendly Little Lake Town

WCCO-TV_Going_To_The_LakePerham, Minnesota — Investigative reporters at WCCO-TV are rumored to be about to air a major exposé involving Perham, Minnesota, a town of roughly 3,000 residents in west central Minnesota’s Otter Tail County.

WCCO’s Goin’ To The Lake Investigative Unit apparently has learned that Perham is a “beautiful, friendly little lake town up north” that WCCO-TV would highly recommend to anyone.

Moreover, WCCO-TV has reportedly learned that Perhamites and their Chamber of Commerce representatives “couldn’t be nicer,” and that neighboring Little Pine Lake and Big Pine Lake are both “absolutely lovely.”

Finally, unnamed sources familiar with the situation indicated that several of the local food offerings were “quite tasty,” so much so that they could prove to be fattening if not enjoyed in moderation.

WCOO-TV officials refused to confirm or deny the reports, instead urging viewers to tune in Friday evening.

MN GOP: Bribe Seniors To Stop Them From Fleeing Best State In America

crabby_old_manMinnesota has the best quality of life of in the nation, and we must bribe seniors to stop them from escaping it, say two stories from today’s news coverage.

First, we have Politico doing a comprehensive meta-analysis of a variety of quality-of-life analyses. The St. Paul Pioneer Press summarizes Politico’s sunny assessment of our little Minne:

Politico ranked Minnesota as the best state of the union.  Among Minnesota’s neighbors, Wisconsin ranked No. 17. Iowa was No. 7 while North Dakota was 15th and South Dakota was 21st.

The rankings are based on 14 criteria: Per capita income: Minnesota is seventh, at $30,913. Lowest unemployment: eighth, at 3.7 percent. Percent above poverty level: ninth, at 89.5 percent. Homeownership: second, at 72.5 percent. Percent of high school graduates: second, at 92.1 percent. Life expectancy: second, at 81.1 years. (Fewest) infant deaths per 1000 births: fifth, at 4.49. Percent of obese residents: fifth, at 22 percent. Average eighth-grade math score: fourth, at 295. Average eighth-grade reading score: 10th, at 271. GINI index (income inequality): 11th, at 0. Lowest violent crime rate per 100,000: ninth, at 223.2. Percent employed in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) jobs: 13th, at 6.1 percent. “Wellbeing” score: fourth, at 69.7.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the same edition of the Pioneer Press, we learn that Minnesota Republicans have announced a new tax code bribe for seniors who agree to stay in the best state in the nation:

(Senator David Henjem’s) “Retire in Minnesota Act” would phase out Minnesota’s Social Security tax over 10 years, at a cost of $127 million for the first two years.

Republicans said the tax could help Minnesota by encouraging retirees to stay here instead of relocating to one of 38 states that don’t tax Social Security income.

The Retire in Minnesota Act aims to stem the flood of Best State residents escaping to sunbelt states, such as Arizona, South Carolina, New Mexico, North Carolina, Florida, and Texas, all of which have a low tax/low service approach to governance that leaves them ranked in the bottom 15 in the quality-of-life rankings.

Daytonomics Drags MN to Disastrous 3.7% Unemployment Rate

DaytonomicsOver the last several years, Minnesota business leaders and conservatives like Tom Emmer and Jeff Johnson have predicted that Governor Dayton’s combination of 1) asking the wealthiest citizens to pay their fair share of taxes, 2) increasing the minimum wage and 3) refusing to enact Pawlenty-style government spending cuts would lead to disaster for the state’s economy.  This has been their war cry for years.

Minnesota business leaders are now here to tell us that their prediction has proven correct.

Following Dayton’s implementation of those three pillars of Datyonomics, Minnesota currently has a 3.7 percent unemployment rate.  Meanwhile, the Twin Cities metropolitan area has a 3.2 percent unemployment rate.

Minnesota’s 3.7 percent unemployment rate compares very favorably to the nation’s 5.8 percent rate.  It also looks strong next to the 6.0 percent unemployment rate corporate darling Mitt Romney boasted he could achieve by the end of 2016 if Romnomics polcies were enacted.  Conservative Romnomics –tax cuts for the wealthy, no mininum wage increase and massive government spending cuts — essentially would have been the polar opposite of Daytonomics.

While a 3.7 percent unemployment rate in the wake off Daytonomics may look like proof that conservatives and business leaders were incorrect about the destructive impacts of progressive policies, Twin Cities Business reports that Minnesota business leaders disagree. While they acknowledge that high unemployment under Daytonomics would have been bad news for the economy, they now stress that low unemployment under Daytonomics is also bad news for the economy.

“…some business leaders around the state had previously expressed worries about a cooling economy this winter, citing a potential labor shortage as the unemployment rate drops.”

To summarize, if the unemployement rate under the DFL Governor’s progressive policies would have remained at Pawlenty-era peaks (8.3 percent), that would have been proof that Daytonomics was hurting the state economy.  But now that unemployment under Dayton policies is low (3.7 percent), that is also evidence that Daytonomics is hurting the economy.

In other words, progressive Daytonomics simply cannot be considered a success. Just ask Minnesota business leaders and conservatives.

– Loveland

MN Loses A Treasure: Reporter Jim Ragsdale

Jim_RagsdaleVeteran Twin Cities political reporter Jim Ragsdale was smart, decent, savvy, warm, and oh-so witty. Pancreatic fucking cancer got him today at 64 years old, and I’m going to miss him like mad.

Great musicians get their most heartfelt ovations when they come out to present one of their masterpieces as an encore.  So, the best way I can think of to honor my pal Rags is to feature one of his many masterpieces as an encore:

Minnesota — broke, a little bloated, and now looking for a new love

By Jim Ragsdale

Updated: 05/20/2010 05:58:46 PM CDT

He goes on long trips without explanation. He comes home and criticizes my appearance, even as he pays greater attention to his own image. Where there once was fondness and love, now all I get is, ‘Your taxes are too high! You’re spending too much! You have to cut back!’

I hate to say it after seven wonderful years, but I, Minnesota, can avoid the truth no longer. My governor, Tim Pawlenty, is seeing someone else.

Am I the last to figure this out? My neighbors, particularly, Iowa, said he has been seen there often, giving their presidential voters the affection I once received. Bigshot pundits who are on the make for a new star delight when he trashes me. But I thought that was, you know, just business, and not really serious.

I admit I have problems. My taxes and spending are on the heavy side — although I’m not as bulky as he likes to say. But hey, I’m Minnesota. I think I carry the weight well. And he knew all this going in back in ’03, when all was kisses and hugs. Why is he dumping me now for slimmer, sexier states?

Sorry — my bitterness occasionally gets the best of me. Deep breaths — in, out. Now, let me give you the whole sad story.

Gov. Tim was born and raised in Minnesota. He has lived and studied and worked here his whole life and he seemed to really care about me. We both knew there were things he didn’t like. He’s “red” and I always go “blue” in presidential years. He’s a fiscal conservative and I have a long tradition of high taxes and generous services.

But he was so cute back when he became governor in 2003. He had a charming way of saying he would try to nudge me in his direction, understanding that I was Minnesota, after all, and would never be, say, Texas or Mississippi. And he did just that. He pushed and prodded and battled and got me shaped up pretty good.

He said he loved my forests and lakes and trees and blue skies, and he was very protective and passionate. Green — good heavens the man was green!

That’s why I loved him back then, despite our differences, and why voters put him back in office for a second term, beginning in 2007. We were pretty happy for a while longer, at least as far as I knew. I never failed to deliver the goods on walleye opener — how ’bout that 22-incher at Kabetogama on Saturday? — and I know he appreciated that.

Then, almost overnight, everything changed.

That bigshot John McCain put him on the V.P. shortlist in 2008, getting him around the nation to red-hot audiences. And right after that, Jan. 20, 2009, happened. A new president — a blue president — took office. Gov. Tim began talking more about national politics and about running for president himself.

He began wandering. First to Iowa. Then New Hampshire. The South. Even the West. States that were trimmer and more red-hot than me.

I saw it but I didn’t see it — know what I mean?

Those floozy states were filling his head with ideas about how great he is, how good-looking and smart and presidential. I couldn’t compete with that. I was broke and a little bloated — just trying to keep home and hearth together — and when he came back, I could tell he no longer had that gleam in his eye.

I’d display my woods and waters and he’d be on the cell-phone with someone in South Carolina. We’d run into our usual budget problems and all he do is scold me to reduce eligibility here, cut benefits there, slim down all over. “Stop snacking on Local Government Aid!” he’d say. “They’re just empty calories!

I am so tired of hearing that.I thought of hiring a private investigator. But then I saw the evidence in black and white, from Eastern pundits. They said the only way he can get love from them is to withdraw it from me. It’s right here in the Wall Street Journal — every time he calls me fat and ugly, he wins points with them.

And trust me, the verbal abuse makes it worse, because when I’m stressed, I tend to binge on the K-12 funding formula.

Well, I may be dowdy and past my prime. I will always suffer through seasonal cold and hot flashes. But I’m not ignorant. The last thing I need, in the middle of a severe bout of economic recession, is my governor trashing me.

So I hereby free him to transfer his affections to those red-state red-hots, those governor-grabbing gigolos, those low-tax lovergirls who have turned his head.

As for me, I’ll survive. I’m getting my budget balanced and I’m having some work done on the out-biennium. But like I said, I’m Minnesota. I’ll always have big bones.

There are a lot of fish in the political sea, of the blue and red and even purplish variety, who will be darn proud to be seen with me. I wish him well in his quest for national stardom. And I hereby issue this request for proposals: I’m looking for a new Gov to be my true love.

No one will ever do “politics on wry” quite like Jim Ragsdale.  Rest in peace JImbo.


Minnesota Senate Candidate Mike McFadden Wins Another Blockbuster Endorsement

Molly_McFadden_adSaint Paul, Minnesota – In news that could shake up Minnesota’s previously sleepy U.S. Senate contest, Republican candidate Mike McFadden announced today that he has landed the endorsement of his young daughter Molly McFadden.

“With just two weeks left in the campaign, we decided to launch our October Surprise,” said McFadden, a CEO of an investment banking company from Sunfish Lake.

Ms. McFadden’s announcement was made through a new television ad produced by the McFadden campaign.  The transcript of Ms. McFadden’s ad follows:

My dad, Mike McFadden, is running for Senate.  He really tries.  But he’s not very good at this political stuff.

Problem is, dad’s super honest.  He works hard.  And he’d rather help people than attack them.

Dad’s been all over Minnesota telling people about his plan.

But I can tell you this:  He’s a good guy, with a great heart, and he’ll give everything for Minnesota.”

The announcement continues a red hot streak for the McFadden campaign, having secured the endorsement of the candidate’s Obamacare-hating peewee football players, fiscal analyzing son Conor, and now his political analyst daughter Molly.

“Amazingly, Mike is on the verge of getting endorsed by every one of his offspring, while liberal Al Franken hasn’t been endorsed by a single McFadden child,” said McFadden campaign spokesperson I.O. Koch.

In a rare moment of political harmony, the Franken campaign released a statement agreeing with Ms. McFadden:  “While we dispute the ad assertions that Mike is honest, doesn’t attack people, and has a plan that he is sharing,  we cannot disagree with the ad’s observation that Mike “is not very good at this political stuff.”

Note:  This post is satire.  Though Mike really did release a series of sappy ads featuring endorsements from his young players, son, and daughter, the reaction quotes are fabricated for my own amusement.

New Poll Shows Secret of GOP Candidate Jeff Johnson’s Early Political Strength

A new survey released today finds that Minnesota Republican gubernatorial nominee Jeff Johnson now trails incumbent DFL Governor Mark Dayton by just nine points, 39% to 48%.  Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner, has never won a statewide race before.

Map_of_popular_surnamesWhile the findings are a surprise to some veteran political observers, a closer look provides a clue why the relative political newcomer may be showing so strongly.  About 78 percent of likely Minnesota voters who say they are supporting Johnson believe that he is either their co-worker (26 percent), neighbor (21 percent), business associate (17 percent), or relative (14 percent).

According to U.S. Census data, Johnson is the most common surname in Minnesota, surpassing the ubiquitous Andersons, Olsons, Petersons, and Nelsons in Minnesota’s top five.

Asked of 800 likely Minnesota voters, the survey’s margin of error is minus or plus 3.9 percent.

Note:  This post is satirical, false, and not-to-believed, but somehow also feels plausible.

Minnesota Senate Candidate McFadden Releases New Humorous Ad

Mike_McFadden_groin_hilaritySaint Paul, Minn. — Minnesota U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden (R-Sunfish Lake) followed an earlier campaign television ad that ended with a child-inflicted injury to his groin with a new  television ad that uses thinly veiled flatulence-based humor to further make his case for election to the U.S. Senate.

“We’re just trying to have some good clean fun, while making a very serious point about Al Franken’s big government, job-killing stuff,” said McFadden.

The ad opens with a fog rolling over a grainy black-and-white photo of a frowning Senator Al Franken. Ominous music drones throughout the spot, and two 10-year old boys on a playground chime in in a sign-songy tone.

Male adult announcer: “Something is very, very rotten in Washington.”

Male child actor #1: “Al Franken says the Iraq War and Great Recesssion  are not his fault. But he who smelt it, dealt it.” (giggle)

Announcer: “Death panels.  IRSgate. Benghazi. Al Franken wants to keep it silent. But we all know, they’re silent but DEADLY.”

Male child actor #2: “Whoever rebuts it, cuts it.” (giggle)

Mike McFadden: (Giggling and holding his nose ) “I’m Mike McFadden, and I declare it, so Al can no longer blare it.”

(McFadden then sits on whoopee cushion. McFadden and kids giggle in unison.)

Mike McFadden:  “Oh no, not again, Al!”

The ad began running across Minnesota today. Like the groin ad, it was created by Washington-based Sophmoric Productions.

– Loveland

Note:  This post is satire and the featured ad doesn’t exist, for now.

Billionaire Purchases Naming Rights To Uninsured South Dakotans

Sioux Falls, South Dakota — South Dakota billionaire banker and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford announced today that he will fund free health coverage for 48,000 uninsured, low-income South Dakotans.  The announcement comes in the wake of Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard’s continued refusal to accept $224 million in federal funding to cover the same group of citizens.

In recent years, Sanford has been lauded for donating large amounts of money to South Dakota health facilities, sports complexes, and other popular projects.   The high interest banker often has his projects named after him, such as Sanford Health™, Sanford Children’s™, Sanford Heart™,  Sanford Medical School™, Sanford Pentagon™, Sanford Sports Complex™, and Denny Sanford Premier Center™.

Sanford’s latest donation comes in the midst of a bitter political debate that has been intensifying in South Dakota for several years.

As part of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), sometimes called Obamacare, about 48,000 low income South Dakotans are eligible for Medicaid coverage.  By the year 2020, South Dakota was to have received a massive influx of $224 million due to this expansion of coverage.

Medicaid_ExpansionHowever Governor Daugaard has refused the $224 million to cover uninsured poor people, citing his  personal opposition to Obamacare and the cost of the expansion that would be paid by South Dakota.  The federal government is paying 100 percent of the total costs through 2016, and 90 percent after that.

The neighboring states of Iowa, North Dakota, and Minnesota are all expanding Medicaid coverage to uninsured citizens, while Nebraska, Montana and Wyoming are not.  States that are opting out of the program will leave over 5 million of the poorest Americans without basic health benefits, or shifting their health care costs to other citizens.

Under pressure from South Dakota physicians and 63% of South Dakotans who support the Medicaid expansion, Daugaard recently asked the federal government to cover a little over half of the eligible citizens, but deny coverage to the rest of eligible citizens. The federal government rejected Daugaard’s proposal, leaving all 48,000 South Dakotans without coverage.  The Legislature  refused to allow the Medicaid expansion question to be posed to South Dakota voters at the ballot box.

But Sanford stepped into the fray today, announcing that he is creating a new Medicaid-like health plan, which he is calling SanfordCare™.  Any South Dakota citizen who would have been eligible for the Obamacare expansion would be eligible for the free SandfordCare™ coverage, provided they agree to legally change their surnames to Sanford™.  Any children born while under the health coverage would also have to adopt the first name Denny™ or Denita™.

Note:  This post is, to the best of our knowledge, satire.  There is no SanfordCare proposal, but there are 48,000 South Dakotans being denied health coverage.

Franken Opponent McFadden Refuses To Confirm Own Existence

invisible_manSaint Paul, Minnesota — Minnesota U.S.  Senate candidate Mike McFadden held a news conference today to announce that he would be announcing nothing.

“Minnesota is great, and I’ll do lots of great stuff in the Senate to make it even greater,” said McFadden, to roaring applause from his supporters.  “Beyond that, I promise that I will not do wasteful ungreat things that keep Minnesota from becoming greater.”

Under questioning from reporters, the wealthy businessman running to replace U.S. Senator Al Franken refused to provide positions  on the national policy issues that are debated in the U.S. Senate.   For example, McFadden declined to state his position on the minimum wage, the Paycheck Fairness Act and a “personhood” anti-birth control measure.

MinnPost reporter Eric Black recently attempted to profile the stealth Senate candidate, but struggled to find anything to profile beyond the over $2 million the former businessman has raised from enthusiastic conservative donors.  Black characterized the McFadden record like this:

I’m not sure what the record is for seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate without disclosing issue positions, but McFadden, who declared his candidacy nine months ago, may be giving it a run.

There is no “issues” section on his campaign website. He skipped the first three opportunities to debate his Republican opponents for the nomination.  On Monday, he appeared at the fourth debate, but that one was closed to the press and public.

The McFadden campaign maintains that the candidate has taken many position stands, such as his desire to “name way more awesome things after Ronald Reagan” and “repeal and replace” the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).

When pressed for details about what he would replace the ACA with, McFadden said that announcement would need to wait until he begins his six-year term in office.

“We will help, not hurt Americans,” McFadden  explained.

The campaign did release a 12-page single spaced list of things McFadden would rename after Ronald Reagan.

When asked to name political role models McFadden listed Ronald Reagan, several Reagan impersonators and Chauncey Gardiner.

“By standing for no one, and Mike is appealing to everyone,” said Saul Loes, a conservative political consultant advising the McFadden campaign. “He just might be the most brilliant politician of our generation, if he exists, which we are neither confirming nor denying.”

Note:  This post is satire.

MN GOPers Offer Bill To Insure More Families and Ban Preexisting Condition Exclusions

Saint Paul, Minnesota (April 1, 2014) —  Republicans legislators in the Minnesota House of Representatives today released detailed legislation that would extend health insurance to 489,000 uninsured Minnesotans, and guarantee that Minneostans will never again be denied health coverage because of a preexisting health condition.

“Democrats have put their detailed health care plan out there to be analyzed by Minnesota citizens, so we decided that we should develop our own detailed proposal,” said Minnesota House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown).

republican_alternative_to_obamacare_GingrichThe Democrats’ Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made it illegal for private insurance companies to deny coverage due to pre-existing health conditions, something that impacts many of the 2.3 million Minnesotans who have some type of pre-existing health condition, and others who could develop one in the future.

The ACA also successfully helped 95,000 of Minnesota’s most vulnerable citizens get efficiently covered in Medicaid, including about 12,000 uninsured Minnesotans whose medical expenses were being shifted to insured Minnesotans.  In addition, the ACA covers 35,000 Minnesota young adults, many of whom otherwise would have been uninsured, but now are able to stay on their parents’ health policy until age 26.  Finally, over 150,000 Minnesotans recently enrolled into health insurance plans via the MNsure online insurance selection and comparison tool, in part because the plans offered on MNsure carried the lowest premiums in the nation.

Despite those findings, Republicans gathered at a news conference at the State Capitol today to declare the Democratic effort a “train wreck,” and to release their detailed legislative alternative  They note that their legislation will achieve more results at a fraction of the cost of the ACA.

“We’re proud of our party’s health reform ideas, and have no problem setting our detailed proposal alongside the Democrats’ detailed proposal,” said Daubt.  “In fact, we have already asked for a non-partisan third party analysis of our legislation, so that Minnesotans can see precisely how our bill compares with the ACA in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and affordability.”

In other April 1 news, a large group of boars was reported to be flying through a brutal polar vortex over the frozen southeastern Michigan town of Hell.  The soaring swine seemed to be disoriented by a blinding morning sunrise on the western horizon.

Note:  This satirical post was featured in Politics in Minnesota’s Best of the Blogs.

Minnesota Law Enforcement Lobbyists Move To Criminalize Abused Prescription Pain Drugs

prescription_pain_killer_bustSaint Paul, Minn. —  A coalition of Minnesota law enforcement officials announced today that it will push to ban Minnesota patients from using a long list of dangerous prescription pain killers being sold on the streets by criminals.

At a news conference at the State Capitol today, the  Minnesota Law Enforcement Coalition (MLEC) called for legislation to ban codeine, morphine, methadone, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, bitartrate, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, meperidine, and propoxyphene.  Law enforcement officials stressed that these prescription pain medicines all are dangerous when not used as prescribed, and are currently being sold by criminals on the streets, often to young people.

MLEC has taken the same stand against legislation to make marijuana available to Minnesota patients.  Because many seriously ill patients find that marijuana relieves pain and nausea, it has been legalized for medical use in 20 states.  But MLEC opposes making marijuana available to Minnesota patients, since it  can be harmful when abused, and is being sold illegally on the streets.

“We must do whatever we can to eliminate the abuse and criminal activity associated with these dangerous prescription pain killers,” said Wayne Krupke, Executive Director of MLEC.  “For the same reasons marijuana shouldn’t be given to patients, these prescription pain killers shouldn’t be given to patients.”

The advocacy organization Patients for Effective Pain Management (PEPM) maintains that drugs like marijuana, morphine and oxycodone relieve the pain of seriously ill patients, and the good that comes from that outweighs the harm caused by abusers of those drugs.

morphine_pump“It’s inhumane to deny a proven pain reliever to suffering patients, simply because abuse is possible,” said Mary Ann Wakefield, PEPM’s Executive Director.  “Many of the most effective pain meds can be abused or sold on the black market, but that doesn’t mean that we should turn our backs on patients helped by those drugs.”

However, Krupke maintains that the medical community has many other pain killers at their disposal, such as aspirin, acupuncture and meditation.  At the same time, he points out that the National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that approximately 16 million Americans reported using a prescription drug for nonmedical reasons in 2010.

“As with marijuana, no one can guarantee that drugs like morphine and oxycodone won’t be sold by drug dealers and abused by kids,” said Krupke.  “Until and unless they can provide such a guarantee, those pain killers must be outlawed for all, including patients.”

Meanwhile, Governor Mark Dayton pledged to support whatever the law enforcement lobby recommends.

“I will not compromise on this issue unless someone can convince the law enforcement lobby to compromise on it,” said Dayton.  “When it comes to what is best for patients in pain, I put my full confidence in the law enforcement lobby.”

Note:  This post is satire, and not an actual news story.  It was featured in Politics in Minnesota’s Best of the Blogs.

GOP Senators Offer Compromise Design For New Senate Office Building

Saint Paul, MN — Minnesota Republicans today revealed an alternative design for a new office building to serve as home to state senators and their staffs.

Minnesota_Senate_Office_Building-2Republicans have been critical of a $63 million building design backed by Senate DFLers and Goverrnor Dayton.  They say the design is too lavish, such as plans for a reflecting pool and more space than senators currently occupy in the State Capitol Building.

Today Senate Republicans put forward a compromise design.   Senator Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) said she was aware that some citizens have come to believe that GOP legislators only criticize others’ proposals, without offering constructive alternatives of their own.

“This is a great example of Republicans being reasonable, constructive, and innovative,” said Fischbach.

Fischbach said she and her colleagues retained King Oscar Designs, an architectural firm in Monterey, California that is known worldwide for making efficient use of space.  An artist’s rendering of the alternative office building was released today by Senate Republicans at a State Capitol news conference.

Strom_Senate_Office_Building_rendering-2“We removed the elitist elements from the DFL-backed design, such as windows, space not being occupied by bodies, and ventilation systems,” said Oscar Pilchards, Chief Architectural Officer at King Oscar.  “It’s a classic design that is much more streamlined, sustainable and efficient than the previous design.”

Fischbach stressed that the alternative plan represented a sincere effort to meet Senate DFLers half way.

“In the spirit of compromise, we did include a modified version of the skylight that our Democrat friends wanted, and are heating the structure with 100% body heat, a renewable energy source,” said Fischbach.

The Republican caucus proposed to name the building after David Strom, a former Taxpayer’s League of Minnesota lobbyist who has been named by City Pages as Minnesota’s “Best Villain” for his stanch conservative advocacy.  However, several members of the Senate Republican caucus were said to be outraged by that decision, noting that they believed Strom was too liberal for such an honor.

For their part, DFL Senate leaders were not impressed with King Oscar’s alternative plans.

“Frankly, it stinks,” concluded Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Duluth).

Note:   This post is absurdist satire, I think.

Note:  This post was also featured in Politics in Minnesota’s Best of the Blogs.

Rep. Ellison’s Ultimatum: Single Payer or Government Shutdown

SatireSaint Paul, Minn. –U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)  announced today that he is leading a progressive effort to shut down the federal government until a single payer health insurance system replaces the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010, further complicating the federal budget impasse.

“The private insurance exchanges used in the ACA were never what progressives wanted, so ‘we the people’ have decided to make a principled stand against them,” said Ellison, Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.  The Caucus has long advocated for a single payer system in which the government would fund and operate a single insurance pool for all Americans, similar to how Medicare has long been structured for older Americans.

Rep. Ellison’s rhetoric was eerily similar to that of his fellow House Republicans, who have pushed for replacing the Affordable Care Act with the status quo system.  Under the current system, 48 million Americans are uninsured and health costs are among the highest in the industrialized world.

Rep. Ellison said his caucus is pushing legislation authored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) to essentially build on and expand the federal Medicare program.  Under the bill, all Americans would be guaranteed access to health care regardless of an ability to pay or pre-existing health conditions.

Just as Tea Party-backed House conservatives advocated in 2009 for preserving the status quo private health insurance system, House progressives pushed for a single payer approach in 2009. But neither side was able to muster sufficient votes to enact their preferred policy.

Still Ellison points to an Associated Press poll finding that 65% of Americans agree that “the United States should adopt a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers.”  Ellison also noted an NPR poll shows that 93 percent of Americans believe that the number of uninsured under the status quo system that the Republicans are fighting to preserve is a “serious problem.”

“When House Republicans finally agree to open up the government again, we’re going to shut it down if they don’t support our single payer approach,” Ellison said.  “House Republicans shut down the government to maintain a status quo insurance system that almost all Americans believe is a serious problem, so progressives can damn sure shut it down over something that two-thirds of Americans support.”

Rep. Ellison said he has offered to compromise with Republicans by offering to delay the implementation of the single payer system by a year.  Ellison has also offered to allow private insurers to sell Medigap-like supplemental health insurance plans.  However, Ellison says Republicans are refusing to even discuss compromise.

In a related development, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced that he would move to re-shut down the federal government if House Republican lawmakers didn’t pass his legislation to require background checks on people buying guns at gun shows or online.  A Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that 86% of Americans support such background checks.  Despite this overwhelming public support, Manchin’s bill was rejected by House Republicans in April 2013.  Manchin also demanded a new credenza for his office.

NOTE:  If it is not obvious to you, THIS IS SATIRE.  IT IS NOT A TRUE STORY. Representatives Ellison, Conyers, and Manchin are much too responsible to shutdown the government when they don’t get their way in the democratic process.

This post was featured in Politics in Minnesota’s Best of the Blogs and in MinnPost’s Blog Cabin.

Related post:  Bachmann Vindicated:  Industrialized Nations Continue Rush to Replicate U.S. Health Care System

– Loveland

Mullet Brotherhood Starts Draft Shelby Drive

Bloomington, Minn., July 31, 2013 — A national hair style advocacy group called the Mullet Brotherhood announced today that it was organizing a drive to draft legendary WCCO-TV anchorman Don Shelby to run for Congress against Minnesota 3rd Congressional District Representative Erik Paulsen.

After retiring from the anchor desk, Shelby became a cause celebre in the mullet-American advocacy community when he let his hair down, the hind half of it.  News reports that Shelby may run for Congress have caused a buzz among mullet activists anxious to see one of their own representing them in Washington.

“Former Governor Pawlenty had a chance become the first mulleted President, but unfortunately he dumped us for a Super PAC-approved cut,” said Floyd “Flow Joe” Joyner, President of the Mullet Brotherhood.  “We’ve long admired Mr. Shelby’s silver cascade, and would dearly love to see that bad boy in the Capitol Building.”

Joyner admitted that the road will be long for Shelby.  Protesters outside the news conference mocked Shelby and the group with various forms of hate speech, such as hockey hair, ten ninety, helmet hair, coupe Longueuil, haircut o’ death, neckwarmer, shorty longback, the 10-90, the Kentucky waterfall, the bi-level, the faded glory, the Ben Franklin, the Missouri Compromise, the Louisiana Purchase, the Camaro crash helmut, the business cut (business in front, party in the back), the LPGA, the soccer flip, the convertible, the Tennessee top hat, the Canadian passport, the New Jersey neckwarmer, the Chattanooga choo choo, and the neck blanket and the Wisconsin waterfall.

“If that ‘Wisconsin waterfall’ label sticks, that could be the end for Shelby,” said Dr. Harold Cloister, political science professor at St. Thomas University.  “I’d look for Shelby’s handlers to spin it as more of a Minnesota Mudflap.”

With the exception of a few short-lived fads, hind heavy hair has been slow to be accepted in contemporary mainstream society.  Though fossil records indicate that homo sapiens with primitive mullets have walked the Earth for at least 130,000 years, it was 2001 before the word “mullet” even appeared in dictionaries.  Mullet activists see a Shelby candidacy as a historic opportunity to normalize the oppressed mulleted minority.

“We did have Governor Ventura in the State Capitol a few years back, but to be honest there is a rather ugly debate within our community about whether a skullet should be considered to be in the mullet family,” said Joyner.  “Naturally, we value all forms of unbridled neck hair, but many feel that crown-based flow is a necessary element of the art form.  But dandy Don’s ape drape, dude, we all get goose bumps about that mofo.”

Joyner announced the launch of a Draft Shelby website www.DonsDo4u.com.  Along with a draft petition, the site also is selling “Don’s Do 4U” trucker’s hats, with a faux silver mullet flowing from the back.

Mr. Shelby refused to comment for this story.  However, in previous news reports he has indicated that he has not yet ruled out becoming “a terrible congressman.”