What to Read on Tim Pawlenty

Pawlenty Stands Against Clean Air — Raj Salhotra & Stephen Lacey

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty doesn’t seem to like any sort of regulation: “We need less EPA monitoring of our economy. And more monitoring of EPA’s affects on our freedom. I will require sunsetting of all federal regulations. Unless specifically sustained by a vote of Congress.”

According to a 2010 EPA progress report: “An analysis estimates annual public health benefits of the program in 2010 alone at more than $120 billion, about 40 times the estimated cost. Power plants have decreased emissions of SO2, a precursor to acid rain, to 5.7 million tons in 2009, a 67 percent decrease from 1980 levels and a 64 percent decrease from 1990 levels.”

A Contender to Reshape GOP’s 2012 Image — Dan Balz

He argued strongly for a stay-the-course policy in Afghanistan. He opposed President Obama’s July 2011 deadline for the start of a drawdown of forces and said more troops might even be necessary to assure eventual success.

On fiscal issues, he said the administration has spent too much for too little on the economy and that, if…the president’s debt and deficit commission then offers recommendations that include any new taxes, “it’s going to be a non-starter.”

He called the new health-care law misguided and said he and most Republicans still want to repeal it and replace it with something else. He said Arizona’s new immigration law has been “wildly and irresponsibly and recklessly mischaracterized” by government officials including the president.

Is He Too Nice for His Own Good? — Michael Crowley

Ventura had left behind a $4.5 billion deficit, which Pawlenty closed not by raising taxes (which he would slash by $800 million over the course of his term) but by dramatically slowing spending. He vetoed dozens of Democratic tax-hike bills, and in 2005 he allowed a nine-day state-government shutdown rather than give in to the Democrats’ budget demands.

In 2005, Pawlenty set out to cut the generous pension benefits of the state’s mass-transit workers’ union, triggering a 44-day strike before the union cried uncle. […] On social issues, Pawlenty approved tough new abortion restrictions and gave local school boards the freedom to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution.

Critics say Pawlenty used accounting shortcuts, like postponing spending and accelerating revenue collection, to balance budgets. Today, Minnesota is struggling with a projected budget deficit of $5 billion, which some blame on Pawlenty. “I don’t think any governor has left behind a worse financial mess than he has,” says Arne Carlson, a Republican who was Minnesota’s governor from 1991 to 1999.

But he tends not to mention the help he got from nonconservative sources — including more than $2 billion from an Obama stimulus bill that he has trashed as “largely wasted” and a 75 cents cigarette-tax hike he swallowed to end that 2005 budget shutdown.

Pawlenty will also have to explain to conservatives his stint of activism on global warming, which in 2007 he called “one of the most important [issues] of our time.” He signed bills promoting clean energy and a cap-and-trade system of carbon limits similar to the model envisioned by Obama. He toured the state with the Minnesota-based Arctic explorer Will Steger to “convince the skeptics,” as he put it, and even considered visiting the Arctic. He made a 2008 radio ad urging Congress to “cap greenhouse-gas pollution now!” But he now takes it all back, saying the human impact on climate change is unproven. “It was a mistake, and I’m sorry,” Pawlenty said…

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What to Read on Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann’s Holy War — Matt Taibbi

Bachmann was mentored by a crackpot Christian extremist professor named John Eidsmoe, a frequent contributor to John Birch Society publications who once opined that he could imagine Jesus carrying an M16 and who spent considerable space in one of his books musing about the feasibility of criminalizing blasphemy.

She was soon mobilizing against an educational-standards program called Profile of Learning, an early precursor to No Child Left Behind. Under the program, state educators and local businesses teamed up to craft a curriculum that would help young people prepare for the work force — but Bachmann saw through their devious scheme. “She thought it was a socialist plot to turn our children into little worker-automatons…”
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Bachmann likewise rejected AmeriCorps as an attempt to build “re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward,” and blasted a schools program started by Bill Clinton for trying to brainwash kids into accepting “government central planning of our economy and our way of life.”

[Bachmann] railed against various dystopian indoctrination plans, including the U.N.-inspired International Baccalaureate program, offered in some American high schools. Bachmannites despise IB because its “universal” curriculum refuses to recognize the superiority of Christianity to other religions. You and I might have thought William Butler Yeats, for example, was a great poet who died half a century before the Age of Aquarius, but [Bachmann] calls him a “New-Age Pantheism Guru” who was aggressively “undermining Christianity.”

In 2009, after she saw a news story about the Chinese calling on the world to abandon the dollar as its reserve currency, Bachmann somehow took this to mean that the Obama administration might force ordinary Americans to abandon their familiar green dollar bills for some international and no doubt atheist currency. To combat this possibility, Bachmann introduced a resolution to “bar the dollar from being replaced by any foreign currency.”

Bachmann’s anti-gay crusade in Minnesota…trying to outlaw an already outlawed practice. “This is probably the biggest issue that will impact our state and our nation in, at least, the last 30 years,” she said. She called gay marriage an “earthquake issue,” insisting that failure to pass her proposal would mean that “sex curriculum would essentially be taught by the gay community” and that “little K-12 children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal, natural, and perhaps they should try it.”

Bachmann’s Unrivaled Extremism — Michelle Goldberg

Speaking to a Christian radio station about gay teenagers last year, [Michele Bachmann’s husband] said, “Barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined, and just because someone feels this or thinks this, doesn’t mean that we’re supposed to go down that road.”

In 2004, Bachmann gave a speech warning that gay marriage would lead to schoolchildren being indoctrinated into homosexuality. She wanted everyone to know, though, that she doesn’t hate gay people. “Any of you who have members of your family in the lifestyle, we have a member of our family that is,” she said. “This is not funny. It’s a very sad life. It’s part of Satan, I think, to say that this is gay.”

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The “Kahn-man”

by Ian Kollar

Is New T’Wolves President Making Magic Happen in his First Draft?

One new President of Basketball Operations.
One success-starved franchise.
One weak draft.
What to do?
The Minnesota Timberwolves newest man in charge, President of Basketball Operations David Kahn, is doing his best to make a big splash at one of the most volatile times of the NBA year – Draft Week. The former Indiana Pacers general manager was hired just a month ago, but in that span, he’s made his presence felt. Longtime Timberwolves front office pariah Kevin McHale – somehow hated and revered at the same time by many basketball fans – parted ways with the franchise after coaching the T’Wolves last year and running things for over a decade before that. McHale was the man who made a gamble and drafted Kevin Garnett, failed to find any consistent help for him and “gift-wrapped” and sent him to the Boston Celtics, McHale’s former team, just two years ago.
An NBA title followed suit.
Kahn is certainly under pressure from his new employer, but should be quite aware that expectations will not be all that high for a few years. Shortly after being named PBO on May 22, Kahn  spoke out, touting the Timberwolves front office, saying, “I promise that nobody will outwork or outthink us as we build one of the best front offices in the league and a team that begins a climb to the top.” He also let it be known that there would be a “two year plan” that had Minnesota becoming a championship-contending squad by 2012. In sports years, that’s about three years too late.
Much like McHale went swinging for the fences 14 years ago when he drafted Kevin Garnett, Kahn is looking like he’ll do the same. The Wolves had three first round picks – Nos. 6, 18 and 28. They traded guards Mike Miller and Randy Foye to the Washington Wizards for the 5th pick Tuesday afternoon, and supposedly sold off the 28th pick to the New York Knicks some time Wednesday. They’re still standing pat with three first-round selections, but now two are in the midst of the lottery.
One problem: insiders are warning that the 2009 NBA Draft may be one of the worst in recent memory, ranking with 2006 and 2000 as the worst in the past decade. 2006 still has a few years to shake out, but 2000 was full of “upside” picks that never panned out.
2009 is a year in danger of duplicating it.
1. Kenyon Martin, the top overall pick nine years ago, seems eerily similar to Blake Griffin – that is, of course, before Martin suffered a knee injury. A prime Martin was an All-Star averaging 17 points and nine rebounds per contest; he was nothing to slouch at.
Take a look closer at the rest of the lottery:
2. Stromile Swift – “an unfinished product with maturing skills and great athleticism.” Jordan Hill, anyone?
3. Darius Miles – “athletic wing with potential point forward skills.” Tyreke Evans, how are you?
5. Mike Miller – “crafty swingman who makes up for average athleticism with great basketball IQ.” James Harden, ladies and gentlemen.
6. DerMarr Johnson – “a mismatch at the two, potentially could be a top-flight shooting guard for years to come.” DeMar Derozan…could it get any eerier?
(On a side note, Johnson wasn’t having a terrible career until a car accident sidelined him for a few years and he was never the same.)
8. Jamal Crawford – “undersized two who could fill it up in bunches and get his shot off with ease.” Stephen Curry, everyone!
In fact, the best player who was selected in the draft was a second rounder: Michael Redd. That tells you how much of a crapshoot a draft can be when the number of “sure things” ends at one.
Kahn has high hopes, of course; he has a young core, led by borderline All-Star center Al Jefferson and sophomore forward Kevin Love. There is truly some legitimate talent on his roster, with a few interesting players such as athletic wing Rodney Carney and do-it-all forward Ryan Gomes. Kahn also has a ton of chips in his hand for tonight’s draft. How he chooses to spend them is entirely up to him: he could try and package some of the picks and move as far up as No. 2, currently held by the Memphis Grizzlies, in order to take 18-year old Spanish point guard and Youtube sensation Ricky Rubio. If they feel he could slip to No. 5, they could take Harden. Curry and Evans are also possibilities at the 5 and 6 picks. But if Kahn really wants to go for the home run – one that could potentially be a grand slam (as long as we’re mixing sports terms here) – he should do anything and everything in his power to take Rubio.
Any knowledgable basketball fan knows the Rubio situation fairly well by now: he has a pricy buyout from his former team, DKV Joventut, that team’s can only pay a portion of. Anything out of the early lottery and he may not be able to afford to come over. He spurned Memphis, heeding advice of fellow Spaniards Pau Gasol and Juan Carlos Navarro who recalled similarly bad situations there. He made it known early that he wished to play in a big market, but the biggest in the top 6 is Sacramento, and the Kings have recently soured on him due to his age, lack of polish and communication issues that may come with a foreign point guard trying to lead an American team. Oklahoma City may take him, but they aren’t sure if he and Russell Westbrook can play well alongside one another. The New York Knicks have been trying to find a way to nab him as well; that’d be the biggest market this side of L.A. with plenty of endorsements and notoriety, but they don’t seem to have the pieces to move up at all.
That leaves Minnesota. Rubio casually remarked Wednesday at a press conference that his mother, who would likely be moving in with him, doesn’t like cold weather. But that shouldn’t stop the Timberwolves from selecting Rubio if they can. If they strike out with him, they could possibly have a combination of Evans, Curry and Harden falling in their laps, but I’d go for gold and grab an influential, game-changing point guard. At worst, he’s a poor man’s Jason Williams: lots of flair but little substance, yet still good enough to merit a long and decent NBA career. His middle ground could be as an Andre Miller-type point: a cleverly quick slasher and master of the lob pass. His ceiling, despite what some say, is not Pete Maravich, but rather Jason Kidd. Tough, defensive-minded and able to see plays develop long before they happen, he could be a mainstay in the league’s upper echelon of point guards if all goes well. If he doesn’t work out, hey (and the T’Wolves should be used to this), there’s always next year, where the draft looks a good bit deeper.
What to do?
If you’re David Kahn, a man of NBA experience but with a fresh new start and impressions to make in a brand new city, you need to make a tough choice. Do you throw caution to the wind, make a splash straight into the deep end of the pool and select a Jason Kidd-like leader to lift your team into title contention in a few years? Or do you barely cause a ripple in the water, select a Darius Miles clon and a Jamal Crawford-esque tweener while hoping for the best?
We’ll see what kind of basketball mind Kahn possesses in just a matter of hours.

One new President of Basketball Operations.

One success-starved franchise.

One weak draft.

What to do?

Continue reading “The “Kahn-man””