Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Real Problem Revealed by Hoffman's Tweet

The verdict is in. The Minnesota Senate Ethics Committee  decided that Sen. Hoffman (R-Vergas) needs to apologize for  a blatantly false tweet about statements made by Sen. Goodwin (D-Columbia Heights).

In case you missed it, the complaint originated during Senate floor debate on May 18 regarding potential cuts to health and human services. Sen. Goodwin was talking about the history of the treatment of people with mental illness and how far we've come since then.

In response to this speech, Sen. Hoffman took to the Twittersphere:

Goodwin was obviously upset, and an ethics complaint was later filed. Hoffman stuck to her guns claiming that she was very sensitive to calling people those names, completely ignoring the fact that Sen Goodwin did not call people those names at all. 

This is politics at its worst. The claim Hoffman made shows her own ignorance at best and blatant deception to appease the GOP base at worst. I'm glad she needs to apologize. She should. But there's a bigger issue that is revealed by this controversy.

What do legislators think is the purpose of floor debate? To Hoffman it seems to be a time to tune out anyone you assume you will disagree with anyway and putz around online. The point of debate is to discuss the aspects of proposed legislation and their impact on constituents so that you can make the best decision for the state of Minnesota. The above tweet reveals that as Goodwin took the floor, Hoffman didn't pay attention long enough to be able to comprehend even a few simple and clear sentences. Worse than that, even if she truly believed that Goodwin had called people such awful names, isn't that why she also, as a state senator, has the opportunity to speak from the Senate floor? Debate between the two should have never ended up online. That was juvenile and unprofessional. Hoffman should have expressed her concern on the Senate floor and given Goodwin the chance to clarify.

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Rep. Hackbarth

What is going on with Rep. Hackbarth? This week he has come under fire after a constituent received an email from him in which he compares unions to Hitler and Castro. The union in question has requested clarification but has so far received no response. I'm beginning to think that any congressional orientation should include the reminder that you don't always have to say everything your thinking. Why would you send such an e-mail? Even if that is your opinion, why would you treat your constituents so harshly? But there was something else about this story that bothered me.

Take a look at the final paragraph of the above link.

"He lost his committee chair in December after he was spotted carrying a loaded handgun in a Planned Parenthood parking lot in St. Paul. Hackbarth said he was checking up on a woman he was dating. Hackbarth had a permit to carry a handgun. No charges were filed."

That's right, this is the same legislator who was found with a loaded gun in a Planned Parenthood parking lot in St. Paul. Obviously, this was a big story initially given the history of violence at such facilities. When it was discovered that his presence there had nothing to do with Planned Parenthood, many people dropped the story. Yet some of us, found the real reason he gave for being there even more disturbing.

"Hackbarth explained to police, as well as KSTP-TV, that he was checking up on a woman he was dating.
'I had a feeling she was lying to me about some different things, Hackbarth said. 'You meet somebody online like that, you want to find out what this person is all about.'

So, we're supposed to feel just fine about a man being out with a handgun because he was just "checking up on" a woman he's dating because he thinks she lied to him?? That's seriously disturbing. Now we have this tirade comparing unions to murderous tyrants. I don't know what is going on with Rep Hackbarth, but I find it troubling.

Good Grief!

To expand on yesterday's post, I wanted to present my theory that Tim Pawlenty is the Charlie Brown of the 2012 GOP presidential candidate field. Both are from Minnesota, usually mild mannered and seem rather likable overall. Yet they have trouble gaining close friends/support. Both are constantly trying to prove their abilities, but falling just short and every time they think they've gained some ground, something unexpected happens to undermine them. For Charlie Brown this came in the form of a kite eating tree, a dismal baseball season which he struggled to manage, and a "friend" that always yanked that football away at the last minute. For Tim Pawlenty this has come in the form of a drunk campaign staffer in a major primary state and an official campaign announcement that was greatly overshadowed here in his home state by a massive tornado that hit North Minneapolis. Now just when he has the chance to make a name for himself and set himself apart from the rest of the contenders at a CNN televised debate, his spotlight is stolen by Minnesota's most infamous Congresswoman. Pawlenty just can't win. He is the Charlie Brown of the 2012 GOP field.