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Bill Hanna, the editor for the Mesabi Daily News, is one of the most fair-minded people I’ve found in media these days. The thing that sets him apart is that he consistently sides with the people who read his newspaper. That sets him apart, in my opinion.

Each week, the MDN awards verbal orchids to people who did the right thing and onions to those who didn’t. This week, Hanna ‘awarded’ some onions to Sen. Franken for voting against the Keystone XL Pipeline project:

Onions: To Al Franken for voting “NO” to approving the Keystone XL Pipeline. The vote came in the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee meeting. The measure passed 12-10 with Franken voting against. It just goes to show how out of touch Franken is with people in his state, especially those in rural areas and small towns where the cost of gasoline and fuel oil are killing people in the pocketbook.

Sen. Franken is doing everything possible to not say anything to upset Iron Rangers on the PolyMet mining project issue. In his acceptance speech at the DFL State Convention in Duluth, Sen. Franken spoke for 26:39. He didn’t mention mining or the environment a single time during that speech.

Speaking in the shadow of the Iron Range, Sen. Franken didn’t utter a peep about mining. That’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, though. The issues page for Sen. Franken’s campaign website doesn’t talk about the environment or mining.

Clearly, though, Sen. Franken still supports the environmental activists. Sen. Franken’s vote against the Keystone XL Pipeline project is proof of that. Approving the Keystone XL Pipeline has bipartisan support. Sen. Franken sided with the environmental activists.

That’s disgusting because Sen. Franken’s vote hurts people in rural Minnesota through higher gas prices. With the median household income, aka MHI, in Eveleth being a paltry $35,500, every dollar counts. Minnesota’s MHI is $59,126. That’s a difference of $23,626. That’s a difference of 40%.

Theoretically, US senators serve the entire state. In Minnesota, that isn’t reality. Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar essentially represent the Twin Cities and Duluth while periodically representing St. Cloud and Rochester. Based on their actions, the rest of Minnesota might as well be located in North Dakota.

For someone who supposedly supports “working families” throughout the state, Sen. Franken doesn’t have much proof of supporting the industries that employ union workers. That isn’t surprising because Sen. Franken’s support of actual miners is theoretical. It isn’t actual. That’s because Sen. Franken supports the environmental activists’ agenda, not the miners’ agenda.

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Sen. Franken finally responded to the VA scandal:

Here’s what Sens. Franken and Klobuchar are really thinking:

Franken hasn’t yet called for Shinseki’s resignation, but he is among those pressing for more information. “It’s outrageous and disgraceful if there has been a cover up of that, and a secret list. I think we need to get to the bottom of this, and people need to be held accountable,” Franken told KARE.

Similarly, Klobuchar wants to know more about what actually happened before passing judgment on Shinseki. “I’m a prosecutor. I like to see the evidence. And as much as we love the news, we can’t base everything on news reports. We actually have to look at the facts on the ground,” she explained.

Ms. Prosecutor, here’s some evidence to consider. The VA has the authority to send veterans to private hospitals if VA hospitals can’t treat patients quickly enough. Under Gen. Shinseki’s administration, that wasn’t done. That’s proof he didn’t use the options available to him.

That’s reason enough to terminate Gen. Shinseki.

As for Sen. Klobuchar’s statement that “we can’t base everything on news reports”, I’d tell her to pass that word along to President Obama and Jay Carney. Apparently, President Obama hasn’t gotten briefed by the Treasury Secretary about the IRS scanda. Apparently, he didn’t get briefed by Hillary Clinton about the Benghazi cover-up. Now, he apparently didn’t get briefed by Gen. Shinseki about the VA crisis.

After all, Jay Carney said that President Obama learned about those things through the news.

Sen. Franken, if you don’t know what happened, how can you say that what happened is “outrageous and disgraceful”? Also, Sen. Franken, you say “if this happened” as though we don’t have proof. Dr. Foote is a whistleblower who came forward and told Congress that they’re cooking the books. Since then, more people have stepped forward with their stories. How much more eyewitness testimony is required before we admit that these are verified facts?

The truth is that Sen. Franken is trying to play this both ways. He’s expressing outrage while pretending that the allegations might not check out. Sen. Franken knows that the allegations have checked out. More than a dozen whistleblowers have stepped forward attesting to the VA’s practices.

It’s time for Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar to admit that the federal government is terrible at providing health care. It’s time to change directions. It’s time to privatize the VA system.

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Based on Sen. Klobuchar’s and Sen. Franken’s statements in this MinnPost article, it’s safe to say that Minnesota’s DFL US senators just flipped the Iron Range’s DFL legislative delegation the proverbial finger. When pushed about mining, here’s Sen. Klobuchar’s statement:

“While every project must undergo a thorough environmental evaluation, I am concerned about adding this additional impact statement when there is already a process in place,” she said. “I will continue to work with the Forest Service on this issue.”

It sounds like Sen. Klobuchar’s statement was written in coordination with Sen. Franken’s statement:

“Mining is a great Minnesota tradition, and so is protection of our environment and natural resources,” he said. “There’s no question that we need to take into account the environmental impact of any proposed project, but Minnesota and the federal government already have rigorous processes in place to make sure that happens. There’s no reason to have an overly burdensome process. I’ve been talking with the Forest Service about this issue and I will continue to engage them.”

Apparently, these DFL senators don’t give a rip about miners or their families. If they did, they’d raise holy hell with the EPA and the Wildlife Service.

If Sens. Franken and Klobuchar cared about miners, they would’ve introduced legislation to push the approval process. They would’ve made the fight public. Instead, they’re keeping the issue on the back burner. Frankly, they sound like annoyed politicians who’d rather ignore the issue.

That’s important because this is isn’t just any issue. The prosperity of the Iron Range for the next 30 years hinges on whether precious metal mining is approved. If it isn’t, Iron Range families will drop further behind the rest of the state in terms of median household income and percentage of people living in poverty.

The time for urgency on precious metals mining is now. All public signs, though, indicate that the DFL isn’t treating this issue with the urgency it deserves. In the past, if an issue was important to the DFL leadership, they’d start a high-profile media campaign to highlight their cause du jour. Within a week, everyone would know about the DFL’s cause du jour because they’d fire up their media operations.

During the push for higher taxes in 2009, the DFL pushed their misery tour. Within a month, the DFL held high profile meetings in every part of the state. Each meeting was held in the city with that region’s biggest newspaper and biggest city.

When Friends of the Boundary Waters and Conservation first opposed the PolyMet and Twin Metals projects, they launched a high profile website to trash precious metal mining. By comparison, Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar responded to the Iron Range legislative delegation with a document that essentially said ‘Whatever.’

That certainly doesn’t tell Iron Rangers that this is a priority with Sens. Franken and Klobuchar. Apparently, Sens. Franken and Klobuchar only believe in the “fierce urgency of now” when it pertains to Obamacare. Apparently, that isn’t their mindset on trivial things like Iron Rangers making a good living for their families.

It’s time for the Iron Range to flip the DFL the bird. The DFL, especially the Metrocrats, have been flipping the blue collar workers of the Iron Range the bird for 10 years on precious metal mining. It’s time the hardworking people of the Iron Range got their mines, not the shaft from the Metrocrat DFL.

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During an interview with KSNV-TV, Harry Reid made specific accusations that are unfounded. Here’s the video:

One of the accusations Sen. Reid made was that Cliven Bundy has “decimated the land.” Here’s another thing Sen. Reid said:

SEN. REID: Bundy doesn’t believe that the American government is valid. He believes that the American government is a foreign government. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t follow the law. He doesn’t pay his fees. And if anyone things by a figment of their imagination that what happened up there last week was just people rallying to someone who was oppressed, 600 people came in, armed. They had practiced. They had maneuvered. They knew what they were doing. They set up snipers in strategic locations with sniper rifles. They had assault weapons. They had automatic weapons.

Sen. Reid made 12 accusations in that short paragraph, most of them totally false. Unfortunately, that isn’t surprising for Sen. Reid. Lying through his teeth has become Sen. Reid’s habit. It’s what’s expected from him.

Another thing that’s expected is Senate Democrats to either say nothing about Sen. Reid’s despicable, dishonest rants or to defend him as being “effective.” This is proof of the moral bankruptcy of the Democratic Party. It’s proof that they’re more worried about maintaining political power than they’re worried about the integrity of what once was the greatest deliberative body in the world.

Sen. Reid’s diastribes aren’t about winning an argument over which policy offers the best solution for our nation’s ills. They’re about what’s the best way to dishonestly smear people Sen. Reid, President Obama and the Senate Democrats disagree with.

There was a time when being right was the only thing that mattered. Senate Democrats don’t care about being right. Their chief concern is about maintaining their majority. If that means supporting a despicable, immoral man as their majority leader, then that’s what they’ll do.

Here in Minnesota, Sens. Franken and Klobuchar haven’t said a thing about Sen. Reid’s dishonest diatribes. That’s because it’s impossible to find a Democrat with the spine to criticize Sen. Reid. The Democrats’ silence is proof that they won’t do the right thing. They’re only interested in things that’ll give them a political advantage.

That isn’t the type of leadership America needs. Democrats have shown themselves to be utterly corrupt and untrustworthy. That’s why the American people don’t trust anyone in DC. With despots like Harry Reid making dishonest accusations on an almost daily basis, why would the American people trust DC?

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It isn’t likely that Sen. Ortman wants delegates to the GOP State Convention to hear this audio:
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Here’s the transcript from that brief exchange:

Sen. Tom Bakk: “Senator Ortman.”
Sen. Ortman: “Good morning Mr. Chair and members. Thank you for hearing this bill. This bill proposes a new tax. It’s the first time I’ve ever proposed a new tax, and so-“
Sen. Bakk: “How’s it feel?”
[LAUGHTER]
Sen. Ortman: “I definitely feel like I’m in the hot seat, but that’s alright. I’ve been a lightening rod before and I probably will be again. I’m back in a zone of comfort.”

The first post I wrote about Sen. Ortman highlighted how she isn’t a full repeal person with regards to Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act. In her attempt to curry favor with unprincipled moderates, Sen. Ortman essentially sounded like Al Franken. I wrote this post to highlight Sen. Ortman’s ‘flexibility’ on raising taxes. This post isn’t about highlighting Sen. Ortman’s flexibility on raising taxes. It’s to highlight the fact that she’s got a history of proposing tax increases.

I don’t want a senator in DC that I have to worry about raising taxes because she’s ‘flexible’ on the issue. For some reason, the thought of GOP lawmakers being ‘flexible’ on raising taxes reminds me of this nightmare:
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Here’s my ‘read my lips’ statement to Sen. Ortman: Sen. Ortman, read my lips. I say no to Republicans who want to raise taxes.

We’re taxed enough already. The federal government spends money recklessly. The last thing we need is a senator who’s flexible on raising taxes. We already have 2 senators that support raising taxes. We don’t need to replace one tax-raising senator with another tax-raising senator.

In fact, that’s the last thing we need. We already have 2 too many tax-raising senators. If Sen. Ortman stands before the delegates at this year’s State Convention and explain why she’s been flexible on raising taxes, the endorsement fight won’t last long.

Sen. Ortman’s policy positions keep raising questions about how conservative she is. At this point, I’d argue that she isn’t that conservative. I’d argue that because raising taxes and not wanting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, sounds kinda liberal to me. I suspect lots of delegates agree with me.

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Saturday night, a faithful reader of LFR tried logging onto the MnSure website. This is the message this reader got:

Seriously? I just tried to login to the site to view and apply for plans at 10:33 pm on Saturday, Nov 9, 2013 and I got this message:

the system is available monday through saturday, 6 am to 10 pm

please visit us during those hours to apply and enroll

Thank you for your interest in MNsure

Gov. Dayton, Sen. Klobuchar, Sen. Franken and other prominent Democrats have touted how fantastic the MnSure portal is. This information is proof that MnSure’s website isn’t like Kayak’s or Amazon’s websites. In fact, I’d argue that MnSure’s motto is ‘close enough for government work’. Further, I’d argue that the government version of customer service is nothing like the customer service at Amazon or Target.

All kidding aside, MnSure isn’t meeting people’s needs. This can’t be viewed in isolation. It must be viewed from the perspective that people who’ve had their policies canceled are depending on MnSure being operational at their convenience, not at the government’s convenience.

That MnSure isn’t open 24/7 is additional proof that government customer service stinks because it lacks a profit motive. Whether the job is done poorly or whether it’s done exceptionally, the pay is the same. There’s virtually no chance that the people staffing MnSure will get fired or take a pay cut.

That’s the biggest fallacy exposed by the Affordable Care Act. Government shouldn’t be in the business of telling clinics, doctors or hospitals how to care for patients. Having government telling doctors, hospitals and clinics how to care for patients is like having Bernie Sanders explain capitalism to Art Laffer.

The disgraceful part of this is that Gov. Dayton, Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar have pretended like the MnSure website is running perfectly. Clearly, that isn’t the case. In fact, it’s clear that the website’s approach to customer service is mostly about doing what the government wants, not fulfilling the customers’ needs.

Gov. Dayton, Sen. Franken, Sen. Klobuchar and the DFL legislature should be ashamed of themselves for constructing this disaster.

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According to this Weekly Standard article, Amy Klobuchar had a deer-in-the-headlights moment when asked about people losing the health insurance that they liked. Here’s what Ms. Klobuchar said:

Others blamed the insurance companies.

“Insurance companies cancel insurance policies. That’s what they do,” said Reid.

“You should talk to the insurance companies if they’re dropping people,” said Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. “The idea here is to have affordable insurance to people that don’t have it.”

Sen. Klobuchar’s statement is pathetic. She’s pretending that the Affordable Care Act’s regulations didn’t force insurance companies to drop people’s policies because the ACA made the policies illegal.

Sen. Klobuchar, Why don’t you and your Democratic colleagues admit that the Affordable Care Act, the bill you voted for, forced insurance companies to drop plans? Why can’t you admit that the insurance companies aren’t the villains here? Why don’t you admit that the villains are the politicians that voted for the Affordable Care Act (that includes you) and the bureaucrats that gutted the provision that grandfathered in policies (that’s Kathleen Sebelius)?

The regulations signed off on by Secretary Sebelius made the vast majority of grandfathered-in policies illegal. The insurance companies didn’t have a choice in the matter of whether they’d continue offering the policies that are getting canceled. That’s because Sebelius’ rule made them illegal. If the insurance companies tried to continue selling the product, they would’ve opened themselves up to a lawsuit by HHS and possibly the Justice Department.

The fact that Sen. Klobuchar attempted to blame insurance companies shows that she understands that the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is a disaster far beyond a website that’s constantly crashing.

Insurance premiums are going up for hundreds of thousands of people across the country. They’re increasing for people who had the policy they liked canceled. That’s happening as a direct result of politicians like Sen. Klobuchar passing a God-awful bill. It’s happening because bureaucrats like Secretary Sebelius have made a terrible bill worse with God-awful regulations designed to push people into the health insurance exchanges.

UPDATE: Paul Mirengoff live-blogged this morning’s hearing. Here’s the key part of this morning’s hearing:

11:39: But wait! Rep. Lance (R.NJ) asks a very telling question on the issue of what changes in policies will negate “grandfathering” of old plans. He asks about a report that a $5 change in a co-pay would cause a plan to lose its protection and cause someone to lose that plan. Sebelius can’t deny this. Instead, she bobs and weaves.

11:42: Rep. Cassidy (R.La.) follows up on Lance’s line of questioning. He says that a $1 dollar change in co-insurance would negate grandfathering. Sebelius now admits that Rep. Lance’s $5 increase in co-pay is accurate.

This isn’t the type of news the administration wanted. Conservative websites will highlight this as proof the administration wrote the regulations to push people onto the exchanges.

That means President Obama did nothing to make sure his administration did nothing to keep his promise that “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Period.” By pushing people into the exchanges, this administration guaranteed health insurance prices would increase significantly, thus breaking the administration’s promise that families’ health care costs would drop by $2,500 a year.

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In his most recent e-letter update, Keith Ellison suggested that the United States is just as bigoted now as it was in the 1960s:

Senator Klobuchar and I called on Congress to protect voting rights after the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act that protected voters in states with a history of voter suppression. The action of the Court was a step back for voting rights in the country.

With people like Sen. Klobuchar and Rep. Ellison, bigotry never disappears. The Supreme Court sees things differently:

(3) Nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically.Largely because of the Voting Rights Act, “[v]oter turnout and registration rates” in covered jurisdictions “now approach parity. Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.” Northwest Austin, supra, at 202. The tests and devices that blocked ballot access have been forbidden nationwide for over 40 years. Yet the Act has not eased §5’s restrictions or narrowed the scope of §4’s coverage formula along the way. Instead those extraordinary and unprecedented features have been reauthorized as if nothing has changed, and they have grown even stronger. Because §5 applies only to those jurisdictions singled out by §4, the Court turns to consider that provision.Pp. 13–17.

Sen. Klobuchar and Rep. Ellison insist that the extraordinary circumstances that temporarily justified the federal government’s intervention in state-run elections in 1965 still exist. Moreover, they insist that the remedies implemented in 1965 haven’t worked.

They’re entitled to their partisan opinions but the facts don’t support their opinions.

Though he’s an attorney, it’s apparent that Rep. Ellison doesn’t respect the Constitution much:

The right to vote should be guaranteed and that’s why I’ve introduced a constitutional amendment with Rep. Mark Pocan to do just that. The Pocan-Ellison Right to Vote Amendment would amend the Constitution to provide all Americans the affirmative right to vote and empower Congress to protect this right.

First, this proposed constitutional amendment won’t get a hearing because it’s at odds with the Ninth and Tenth amendments. States administer elections through counties. The federal government isn’t equipped to enforce election laws. That means Ellison’s talk about empowering “Congress to protect this right” is just that — talk.

Second, this is political grandstanding meant to fire up minority voters. This doesn’t have anything to do with good governance. It has everything to do with Ellison and other Democrats playing the race card right before the 2014 election.

Third, this is the Democrats’ war on election integrity. Klobuchar’s and Ellison’s proposal has everything to do with preventing Photo ID from becoming more popular. In Minnesota, Democrats know how to undermine election integrity. They’ve undermined election integrity by refusing to promptly updating the Statewide Voter Registration System, aka SVRS, which HAVA, the Help America Vote Act, requires.

We know this because hundreds of felons, both those still in prison and those who haven’t had their rights restored, are still on Minnesota’s SVRS. We know this because registrations that were submitted in 2008 had addresses that turned into empty lots. Six years after the fact, those ‘empty lot voters’ are still on the SVRS.

How likely is it that the federal government would be even slightly interested in maintaining the integrity of the SVRS’s for 50 states, especially considering how disinterested they’ve been in this since 2003?

Ellison is a race hustler on a par with Sharpton, Jackson and Michael-Eric Dyson. His agenda is focused mostly on stirring up racial hostilities where they don’t exist.

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In a stunning, disappointing development, Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar voted against restarting the White House tours:

Democrats objected, saying it was a show vote that was not going to accomplish what Mr. Coburn said it would. They also said canceling park service heritage money would hurt their home states.

They defeated Mr. Coburn’s amendment on a 54-45 vote, with nearly every Republican voting to reopen the White House and with almost all Democrats voting to back Mr. Obama’s decision.

It’s appalling that Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar voted against opening the People’s House (that’s Michelle Obama’s term for the White House) to public tours. It’s disgusting that Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar hid behind their ‘leadership’ in saying that Sen. Coburn’s amendment was a gimmick.

If anyone in the Senate has shown themselves to having solutions to DC’s spending addiction, it’s been Sen. Coburn. He’s literally found hundreds of billions of dollars of wasteful spending in the last 6 months. He’s put together charts showing duplicative federal programs worth $364.5 billion of spending. Some of the spending is justified. Most of it isn’t.

This is just another vote that shows Sen. Klobuchar is Ms. Bipartisanship. She’s a popular political partisan hack. People didn’t think that Sen. Franken was Mr. Bipartisanship. Still, Minnesotans had the right to expect him to protect them against this arrogant administration’s mishandling of sequestration.

This video shows how partisan Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar are:

Rather than fighting for saving hundreds of millions of dollars, Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar fought to keep White House tours closed. Why would they do that if they genuinely cared about the middle class? Some of these families that aren’t being permitted to take a White House tour might be on their first trip to DC. Perhaps some of them won’t have another opportunity to tour the White House.

That’s what Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar voted against. They voted with the elitists in the White House. They voted against the working families who wanted to take a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the White House.

Based on Wednesday’s vote and their votes for the middle class tax increases in the PPACA, why shouldn’t people think that these senators don’t care about the middle class the way they say they do?

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In less than a week, the federal government will start cutting defense spending across the board rather than setting intelligent priorities.

Sequestration is the Obama administration’s faux solution to the Obama administration’s reckless spending. Cutting the Pentagon’s budget is a major part of sequestration. Senate Democrats have helped paint the administration into this corner.

On top of the $500 billion Defense Department that’s already been cut, sequestration would cut another $500 billion from the Pentagon’s budget. The F-35 program offers the perfect illustration of the foolishness of sequestration. Under sequestration, the Defense Department budget would be automatically cut across the board by 10% every year for 10 years. That’s on top of the $487 billion that’s already been cut from the Defense Department budget.

If the full sequestration were to take effect, “we’re going to have to look completely at the [F-35] programme,” US Air Force chief of staff Gen Mark Welsh told the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 12. “It’s going to be impossible to modernize.” Under sequestration, it’s likely that our young pilots will fly fighters older than they are while our potential enemies continued to build their 5th generation capabilities.

The bottom line is simple. Sequestration will hurt the military. If sequestration is implemented, the US Air Force will be more vulnerable than it should be.

Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar have been invisible in this fight. Similarly, the US Senate has been completely absent in the budget debate. Real people are about to get hurt by these indiscriminate cuts. True American patriots will needlessly be put in harms way if these are fully implemented.

Cutting the F-35 program would cost Minnesota high paying jobs at a time when creating high paying jobs should be Sen. Franken’s and Sen. Klobuchar’s highest priority. Minnesota suppliers would be directly affected. Suppliers aren’t the only Minnesota companies that would be affected, either.

It’s important that people remember that these cuts come on top of other cuts to the military. Those cuts affect both jobs and the military’s ability to protect our nation.

It’s time for Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar to fight for Minnesota jobs. It’s time for Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar to demand the Senate do its job and put together budget cuts that don’t kill Minnesota jobs or weaken military readiness. It’s time that Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar actually made decisions based on doing what’s right for America.

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