Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Your Blogger Responds

Recently I've been calling attention to the fact that Erik Paulsen is an extremely active and devout participant in his Missouri Synod Lutheran church. That church has a number of stupefyingly bigoted beliefs. And so I've called upon Erik Paulsen to clarify his point of view on some of his church's most odious positions.

In so doing, I emphasize that I have no quarrel with Lutherans; I wish them well and have never participated in any institution which accuses them of devil worship. That said, a commenter today attacked my patriotism for my previous blogpost, due to my supposed use of religion to divide people. (My inner North Korean was a bit on edge, for a moment there.)

In other words, Erik Paulsen can--for decades--happily participate in an institution which proudly proclaims the most buck-toothed hatred of the Catholic church--but I am an America-hater for arguing on behalf of tolerance and moderation. The commenter elsewhere quotes President Reagan: In all quarters and at all times, we must teach tolerance and denounce racism, anti-Semitism, and all ethnic or religious bigotry wherever they exist as unacceptable evils. But a commenter here left a clear statement of ethnic bigotry just the other day--and no Republican commenter issued a peep of condemnation.

What if Erik Paulsen had for many years shown passionate commitment to a non-religious institution committed (in its self-assessment) to improving America, and that among that organization's many commitments, it called for gay people to apologize and for adamantly rejecting the discoveries of evolutionary theory. Were this the case, my criticism of Paulsen--and my request for clarification from the candidate--would be unchanged. Religion is an incidental, irrelevant aspect of this dispute. Some commenters seem to be arguing 'Of course Paulsen doesn't believe this rubbish--it's his friggin' religion ferchrisakes!' And they're angry at me for treating his religious convictions just as I would any other belief of his. That makes no sense to me.

The United States Congress makes many important decisions on the funding of scientific research, the treatment of gay Americans, etc. Were we to learn that one candidate in this race believes in the lunacy of creationism, such a revelation should be considered disqualifying, imho. That's why engaged citizens should press Erik Paulsen for clarification on whether he supports or opposes some of his church's most bizarre errors.

Paulsen has a deep and abiding commitment to an institution that--to provide just one example--despises the Catholic church. Ashwin Madia has expressed no such disturbing commitment. So of course the follow-up questions get directed to Erik Paulsen. No candidate is required to announce a religious affiliation, and I've been clear in stating my own view that I assess the candidate, not the religion. If I ask a candidate her religion and she balks, I can sincerely respect that. (I don't believe morality comes from religion, in any case.) If a candidate does express fealty to some specific religion, I'm going to ask follow-up questions if I learn the candidate's church has wacky views. (That's not a double-standard.) It puzzles me that my Republican readers have such difficulty digesting this point.


Anonymous said...

"Paulsen has a deep and abiding commitment to an institution that--to provide just one example--despises the Catholic church. Ashwin Madia has expressed no such disturbing commitment"

Really? So you know that Paulsen despises the catholic church, but Madia doesn't? I get the little word games and the fact you are transitively linking Paulsen to this. But let's ask Paulsen point blank what he thinks about the Catholic church, and then LET'S ASK MADIA.

Here we have a case where neither candidate has commented on the Catholic Church, yet you are drawing inferences or even conclusions.

You can spin all you want in follow-up posts, but you are holding these two candidates to a VERY different standard. It is plain to see.

Sheila said...

I merited an entire blog post- I feel so flattered.

Do you despise the Catholic Church? You refer to us as "papists"?

Anonymous said...


"Paulsen has a deep and abiding commitment to an institution that"

You have just supported Gavin's blogs for the last few days. If Erik Paulsen (I will quote your words) has a deep and abiding commitment to his church, therefore he would support the churches beliefs. Quite frankly, that scares me. If these religious beliefs are not the way he believes then lets hear Erik speak out against them. This is about issues and Erik has not stated his issues on many important topics...May I say Irag is one issue that is in the front of America above all issues. Still today there is no issue posted (webpage) on his views with the Irag war. I have sent two different emails to Paulsen and have still yet to get a response. This tells me he has no position on the war. If you are a candidate you should be straight forward with the voters lay your issues out, answer questions from both parties (bipartisan) and let the chips fall. We as voters deserve both parties to answer our questions.

Anonymous said...


I agree 100%.

Paulsen and Ashwin should respond to constituent questions and requests. They're auditioning for a job (Congressman) and we're seeing how they will act as a member.

Yet, this blog and others give Madia a complete pass for not speaking out on what HIS religion or source of beliefs are NOR is he asked to speak out on issues facing the Indian-American community - even though his campaign has been FUNDED and MANAGED by members of this community.

He not only blows off this blogger, he even REFUSES to respond to Minnesota Public Radio requests.


Good job; keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...


"He not only blows off this blogger, he even REFUSES to respond to Minnesota Public Radio requests."

I would like to read where he refuses to respond to MPR. Can you post it here for me?

Anonymous said...


"even though his campaign has been FUNDED and MANAGED by members of this community."

That comment is racist!

Why should it matter what race contributes?

Should we then evaluate Erik Paulson's contributors?

The Simple Fact is that we are America -the land of the melting pot. We as Americans have the right to support who we want and for whatever reason we chose.

Anonymous said...


Curtis Gilbert said...

I recently asked Madia's press secretary by e-mail to clarify this point, too, but got no response. I was working on a story about the role Indian Americans have played in his fundraising success.

On the religion question, the only thing I've seen in print is what Doug Grow wrote on MinnPost earlier this year: "Madia is Indian-American, a bachelor, his parents are Hindu (he's less religious than they are) and he's making his first run for elective office."

Doug is a good reporter. So I assume his information is correct.

-Curtis Gilbert
MPR News

July 27, 2008 3:17 PM

Anonymous said...

Madia has spoken for months about the source of his beliefs, among them his family and their values of working very hard to make it here and always giving back to the community; the Marine Corps, and its values of service, sacrifice, leadership, and honor; and America, with its overarching principle that anyone can do anything they put their mind and their effort to.

So cut the nonsense that Madia hasn't spoken about the source of his beliefs.

Also, where are you getting the info that Indian-Americans have managed Madia's campaign? His campaign manager is named Stu Rosenberg. Not exactly Indian. His finance director is named Krista Haagenstad. Not exactly Indian.

Anonymous said...


Based on the last commenter, it sounds like your trip to the Hindu Temple of Minnesota is back on!

The commenter seems to be very knowledgeable about Madia. He also said that Madia gets his beliefs from his family. Since we know that Madia's parents are devout Hindu's, the Hindu religion is relevant again.

I honestly know so little about the Hindu faith, and would love to learn more. I also see you're good at analyzing Religions so I would love to see your report after you visit the Temple.

Anonymous said...

I'm the 1st "anonymous" that posted on this thread. The 2nd "anonymous" who posted things I was saying Paulsen had the deep and abiding commitment, etc.

I was merely quoting Gavin. So sorry, but I didn't prove your point.

Paul said...

So if we are going to let Madia tell us that the source of his beliefs comes from his parents, hard work, the Marines, and America (which makes for a fantastic soundbyte, by the way), shouldn't we allow Erik the opportunity to state for us where his beliefs come from?

Or are we instead going to 1) Ask Madia to tell us where his beliefs come from in soundbyte fashion but 2) Tell the world that Paulsen's beliefs come from a church which has [gasp] some beliefs which may fall outside the mainstream.

What is to say that Erik Paulsen hasn't been influenced by 1) America, as he grew up here just as Madia did, 2) His parents, who may have also been very hard workers, 3) St. Olaf College, one of the shining starts of Liberal Arts colleges in our state, and 4) Our state legislature, as he has had the opportunity to interact with top citizen-legislators from around our great state.

Or is it just so much easier to say that everything he does, he does because his church tells him to?

Anonymous said...


"shouldn't we allow Erik the opportunity to state for us where his beliefs come from?"

Why doesn't Erik Paulsen speak out against this if his views are different than those that Gavin is stating?

Paul, I give you the challenge to get any answers from Paulsen. Either it be on women rights, Irag war or his personal beliefs. Erik just doesn't respond to the public. When he does respond, like WCCO, he leaves the voters more confused. I would be very surprised if you come back with any answer from Paulsen. Throw him an email and see what you get...I have and still no response.

Anonymous said...

I see Madia has been dodging Gavin's e-mails too.

Anonymous said...

Madia is the worst, he claims to be open and responsive, then he won't even repond to a simple question from Gavin.

Paul said...

Actually, if both candidates choose to make this not about their religion (or lack thereof), I'm completely fine with it. In fact, I'd prefer it.

But if we are going to get into the weeds of one candidate's religious beliefs, we need to get into the weeds with both (or all, there are technically three major party) candidates.

Anonymous said...

Grrrrr.... you're right.... Madia *is* the worst. He served his country honorably in Iraq, walked away from a high-paying job to campaign relentlessly for a year for the chance to represent his community, and out of nowhere has energized Democrats, Independents, and moderate Republicans across the Third District. Good thing we don't have more politicians like *him.*

Paul said...

Regarding the suggestion that I should try to get email answers from Erik on this topic -- In the words of one of my least-favorite ex-employees, "It's not my job."

I have a couple issues near and dear to my heart. On those issues, I've emailed Erik (who I had no prior relationship with) and received satisfactory answers within a short period of time.

I'm not sure why Gavin doesn't get the same courtesy, but that is between him and Erik, not me and Erik.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous person that thinks Madia is energizing Independents and Moderates.

You really think we need more politicians who are lawyers, who leave their job, move to a new district because there is an open seat. Then run for public office for the first time at the congressional level???

He's exactly what we don't need in Washington.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Madia is exactly what a career politician would do. Quite his job, move into a new district, and run for office for the first time.

Anonymous said...

You're forgetting the whole "served in the Marines" thing.

He was a lawyer in private practice for just one year.

Otherwise, he worked to build the rule of law in Iraq and upheld the military justice system while stationed in Okinawa.

Sure, he ran for U.S. Congress rather than the MN legislature because he has something to say on national issues. The DFL voters in the endorsement thoroughly considered Madia and his opponents (a mayor and a state senator) and decided that Madia was the best candidate.

So you may not like his politics (i.e. moderate Democrat who wants to reduce the deficit, end Iraq war smartly, and develop the green economy), but you can't argue with his abilities.

As for "moving to a new district," you don't know your facts. It's not a new district for him. He went to Osseo High School. His parents have lived in the district since they moved here from out-of-state.

As for "thinking" that he's energizing moderates and independents- I don't just think it. I know it. Just watch....

Anonymous said...

A previous anonymous said:

'As for "moving to a new district," you don't know your facts. It's not a new district for him. He went to Osseo High School. His parents have lived in the district since they moved here from out-of-state.'

Whoever said that is the one that doesn't know his or her facts. Madia lived in Minneapolis before Ramstad retired, then he decided to move to a new district so he could run for congress. That is an opportunist, and a career politician wannabe.

Anonymous said...

As for the comment "Madia moved into a new district" He lived in the district...moved out...and moved back in. So when he moved back it was not a new district it was an old district. I will give you my situation...I lived in Coon Rapids...moved to Minneapolis and just recently moved back to Coon Rapids. Maybe I moved back To Coon Rapids just so I could vote for think so?

Deb said...

Whatever the reason for Madia moving back to CD3 (which, by the way, is a huge district, and a very desirable place to live), I'm glad he did. Having gotten to know his politics over the last six months or so -- the way he's willing to take a stand on civil rights issues, the need for progressive environmentalism, and certainly his informed approach to exiting Iraq -- I can't imagine voting for anyone else.

Paulsen's inability and/or unwillingness to take a clear stand on...well...much of anything (except that he's the more "experienced" candidate) suggests that I can't count on him to represent the views and needs of my neighbors and me (his would-be constituents) in Washington.

Madia is pointedly clear about his positions on issues relevant to CD3'ers, Minnesotans, Americans; Paulsen is pointedly clear about precious little. In fact, the posted discussions of the issues on Paulsen's web site are so new and brief that, when a reader (read: actual and/or potential constituent) clicks on the 'Read more...' link on any one of his "sound-byte" style quips to learn more about what Paulsen stands for, there is, quite literally, *nothing* more to read on any one of the issues. There are, on one sub-page, a few pictures of Paulsen shaking hands with a diplomat.

By way of contrast, Madia's detailed issues pages are longer than many of my college essays, detailing not only positions, but plans for accomplishing his clear goals. As a voter and a conscientious citizen, I intend to make an informed decision about the candidate I select. Paulsen makes that a remarkably difficult task.

sheila said...

What exactly is "progressive environmentalism"?

Anonymous said...

Progressive environmentalism is the kind that has no bearing in reality or the economy.

Deb said...

Sheila, Anon:

While Progressive Environmentalism (with a capital P and a capital E) is a technical term, referring to the idea that environmentalism can effectively be promoted by finding ways to assure that achieving environmental goals is in the self-interest of individuals (see Goodman & Stroup, "Progressive Environmentalism:
A Pro-Human, Pro-Science, Pro-Free Enterprise Agenda for Change,", 1991), in *my* post I was merely indicating that Madia is progressive in his environmentalism (little p, little e).

Madia's politics encourage residential and commercial growth that is sustainable, minimizes sprawl, and offers balanced transportation options. He'll actively work to rebuild our ailing/failing economy and to protect our environment in Congress by supporting the work of businesses that develop and employ the use of green technologies.

From a quick read of Erik Paulsen's issues page (that's all that's available), even he
agrees that we need to work to develop renewable energies and create "an industry of green innovation and technology for the future."

I'm not sure the candidates would agree about the extent of the damage or the direction a "fix" would take, but both clearly agree we have a problem on our hands in the environment and that we need to find a solution that is (ahem, Anon) based in both reality and the economy.

sheila said...

Got it- what are "balanced transportation options"?

Everything sounds so good- but what on earth does it mean?