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I’ve had tons of justification for being hypercritical of the St. Cloud Times over the years. What I’m about to share with you is proof that the Times isn’t just unprofessional. It’s proof that they’re either corrupt or totally clueless. This graphic contains the results of the Great Place to Work Institute’s survey conducted at St. Cloud State:

Look at that. When asked if “management’s words match its actions”, only 24% of respondents said yes. When asked if “management is competent”, only 32% said yes. When asked if “management makes sound financial decisions”, only 28% said they did.

I’ve been writing about these issues for over a year. These results aren’t surprising to me. They’re what I expected. What’s disheartening is that the St. Cloud Times, the supposedly professional journalists in town, hasn’t seen fit to write a single critical article about the University.

The reality is that they opened a recent Our View editorial with this quote:

The level of trust that exists between the faculty, staff and administration is not what it needs to be to be among the very best.”

That the Times didn’t even think about challenging President Potter’s statement indicates that the Times either sees itself as SCSU’s off-campus PR staff or they’re totally unaware of what’s happening on campus. Newspapers have an affirmative responsibility to inform their readers. The Times has repeatedly failed in that responsibility when it comes to SCSU.

At best, they’re unreliable because they aren’t interested in the truth. At worst, they’re unreliable because they’ve been corrupted by President Potter’s charms.

I’ve proudly published Silence Dogood’s articles on LFR. In all that time, the Times didn’t attempt to identify Silence. That’s disturbing because Silence’s articles have brought to light unpleasant truths about President Potter’s questionable financial decisions or grade corruption by improperly removing students’ participation in classes they failed.

A professional newsgathering organization should get interested in these corrupt activities. That the Times wasn’t interested in these thoroughly documented scandals is the journalistic equivalent of indicting the Times of a series of A-level felonies. How can you serve the public good when you aren’t interested in getting even basic facts published?

If you get your information from the Times, I hope you’re satisfied with getting a tiny bit of what’s important to you. If you’d like more than just bits and pieces of news, please consider dropping money in my tip jar. Better yet, consider making a monthly contribution so this important reporting can continue. Rest assured that any contributions are appreciated.

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Ron Fournier’s article about Wednesday’s IRS hearing is sloppily written. It doesn’t show he’s interested in accuracy:

Conservatives are applauding Issa for shutting down a Democrat. Without evidence, the Right has convicted Lerner, the IRS, the White House, and President Obama of abuse of power.

Conservatives like me applaud Chairman Issa for shutting off Rep. Cummings’ microphone in the middle of a political stunt aimed at deflecting attention from the latest Lerner emails:

I might be crazy but I’ll bet most judges would admit that as evidence. That’s Mr. Fournier’s accusation of convicting Lerner without proof just disappeared. That’s before talking about how Ms. Lerner said something that sounded like a motive for targeting TEA Party organizations.

BTW, that dismisses the Democrats’ protestations that progressive c(4)’s were targeted with equal vigor. Prior to the Citizens United ruling, progressive organizations had applied for and been granted c(4) status. They’d been operating under that part of the Internal Revenue Code for decades. The biggest influx of c(4) applications came from TEA Party organizations and organizations like True the Vote.

That’s before talking about the fact that no progressive organizations have filed a lawsuit demanding that the IRS hadn’t approved or rejected their application for c(4) status. If Lerner and the IRS had applied the same policies equally to both parties, shouldn’t these progressive organizations be complaining about inaction on their applications, too?

The dog that isn’t barking often speaks loudest.

The kid that cries wolf the loudest often isn’t credible. In this instance, Mr. Fournier is crying wolf. Clearly, he isn’t paying attention to the proof that Chairman Issa asked Ms. Lerner about. While Ms. Lerner took the Fifth, Chairman Issa read into the record emails showing Ms. Lerner expressing her worries that she didn’t want Cincinnati working on the TEA Party organizations’ c(4) applications. Additionally, she didn’t want it to look too political while DC fiddled with the TEA Party organizations’ c(4) applications.

That’s what I’d call getting trapped in God’s little acre — east of the rock, west of the hard place. At this point, I’d certainly take the Fifth if I were in Ms. Lerner’s predicament. Thankfully, I’m not foolish enough to put myself in such a difficult position.

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Would You Call This A Thorough Investigation?
by Silence Dogood

After it was announced that the aviation program at SCSU would be closing, five aviation majors requested a meeting with SCSU President Earl Potter Jr. to discuss the closure. The meeting took place on August 31, 2011. One of the students attending the meeting sent an email on October 5, 2011 to a faculty member in the aviation department informing him of how the meeting went.

The following text is quoted exactly from the student’s email and reproduced with his permission:

I never felt so embarrassed knowing we have a university president who acts like this. As soon as we sat down in the conference room (his office) we were told that and I quote, “I just have this to say about the aviation program being closed, the decision has been made, the chancellor signed off on that decision, and Dr. Johnson has been reluctant to accept that decision and I have held back from filing insubordination charges, because I find his actions to be insubordinate…”

Furthermore, later as the meeting progressed President Potter yelled at myself, as well as another student. He raised his voice at me and mentioned, “do not take that tone with me…” while he leaned over the table with both hands on the table. At this point I literally shut down as the other 4 individuals resumed the meeting. He also yelled at another student with the same tone and words.

On October 24, 2011, Dr. Jeff Johnson, a professor in the Aviation Department, emailed Vice Chancellor Lori Lamb a copy of the student’s email that he had received along with a student’s email granting permission to share his original email and requested that a formal investigation be conducted by the MnSCU central office regarding President Potter’s behavior.

A university president yelling at students may be bad form and makes a university president look pretty petty but discussing taking possible personnel actions against a faculty member with a group of students is something that, if true, clearly violates the data practices act.

http://www.mmb.state.mn.us/doc/hr/tennessen/datapractices.pdf

Basically, the relevant part of this eighty page document is that state employees (let alone university presidents) cannot talk about private personnel matters regarding other state employees to unauthorized third parties; that includes students, until after the disciplinary process has been concluded.

Lori Lamb responded on October 26, 2011 “Thank you for the information. I have received the same and will follow up as appropriate.”

On January 5, 2012, Dr. Johnson received the following email from Sheila Reger, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources (she replaced Lori Lamb):

In conducting an investigation, you would expect that the students directly involved in the incident as well as the faculty member submitting the complaint be contacted as part of an investigation, if for no other reason than to decide “if a release of private information” occurred or not.

When Dr. Johnson again inquired how an investigation could have been completed without talking to the students, he received the following reply from Mark Carlson (he replaced Sheila Reger):

From: Mark Carlson [mailto: Mark.Carlson@so.mnscu.edu]
Sent: Friday, January 18, 2013 1:28 pm
To: J Johnson
Subject: RE: Complaint Follow up

Dr. Johnson, This is in response to a complaint you sent to Vice Chancellor Lori Lamb on October 24, 2011 and subsequent emails to Ms. Reger and myself. As you were previously advised, the allegations against President Potter were unsubstantiated. In a further investigation of the records, we believe that the initial review of the matter was sufficiently comprehensive and appropriately concluded; no further action will be undertaken.

Mark Carlson

The revolving door in the human resources office at MnSCU is perhaps an issue all by itself. However, the best that can be surmised is that the sum total of the ‘investigation’ conducted by MnSCU was perhaps a phone call to the person whom the complaint was filed against. No interviews were conducted with the students who were present in the room at the time of the incident nor the faculty member who filed the complaint. Is this what qualifies at “sufficiently comprehensive?” Without a real investigation being done, it seems that MnSCU is more concerned about protecting its presidents than seeing that MnSCU policies and State Law are followed.

This only follows a pattern that is quite clear on the part of the SCSU administration and apparently tolerated by MnSCU. The administration can say anything it wants and then make up the data later. Case in point: In the aftermath following the announced closing of the Aviation Program at SCSU, many reasons were given for the decision to close the program. Besides the argument that the aviation program was losing money, the single biggest reasons given for the closure were “serious curriculum deficiencies” that had been unresolved for more than two years and the need to “hone the message.” Part of a freedom of information request that was made by a former faculty member to the SCSU administration is reproduced:

All reports, memos, email, minutes and/or correspondence (COSE, university and Aviation Department) from June 1, 2006 to the present date that shows the steps, processes and efforts you took to help the Aviation Department in the effort to “hone the message” and respond to “serious curriculum deficiencies”…

No correspondence, email or reports listing any curriculum deficiencies was returned to the requestor and the response from Judith Siminoe, Special Advisor to the President, stated: “Previously I have advised that Dean DeGroote’s efforts to help the Aviation Department hone the message were verbal rather than conveyed in written documents.”

So there were no curriculum “deficiencies” as cited in the justification for closing the aviation program and all of the other information was given orally!

Excuse me! And to think SCSU, a $210 million dollar a year enterprise, is closing the only accredited four-year program in the state, losing five faculty members and an office manager without documentation of any kind for key pieces of the data used to justify closing the program is almost unbelievable. I think I’m becoming as embarrassed as the student who sent the original email. We deserve better from our university and system administrators.

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The chief message from Greta van Susteren’s post is that FNC’s reporters just wanted the administration to tell us the truth about Benghazi. Greta put together quite a compelling case, starting with this:

So let’s take a little walk in history…just a sample of how the Obama Administration tried to shut Fox News Channel’s reporting down:

In the early days after Benghazi, the State Department omitted only Fox News Channel from its conference call to all the media when it claimed to be answering questions about Benghazi for the media. Our friends in other media outlets were scandalized that Fox was not included and told us all about it. They were suspicious of State Department forgetting us/Fox and courageous to tip us off. The State Department claimed it was accident and not intentional.

And then shortly thereafter, there was the CIA briefing about Benghazi at the CIA for all the networks except one: Fox News Channel. The CIA would not let Fox News Channel attend.

Leftist apologists for this administration insist that Fox News isn’t really a news organization, that they’re just a front for the RNC. While there’s no doubt that FNC has more conservative pundits on its staff, there’s equally no doubt that their straight news people are straight shooters.

Let’s start with Greta. I suspect, though it’s just a hunch, that she used to be a liberal. These days, again it’s just a hunch, I’d bet that she’s an independent. She questions Republicans just as Democrats. Nobody is let off the hook when they try slipping a question. Megyn Kelly is the same way.

FNC’s correspondents fit that same mold. It’s impossible to tell what James Rosen’s politics are. Ditto with Jennifer Griffin and Catherine Herridge, the chief Pentagon correspondent and chief Intelligence correspondent, respectively. These women have outclassed the other networks’ reporters about Benghazi for the most part. The exception to that has been CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson.

These 3 women have uncovered piles of government documents telling people in the government what happened the night 4 American patriots were assassinated. In short, if liberals want to discredit FNC’s reporters, they’d best be prepared to explain why a) emails within the administration verify what FNC’s reporters have reported and b) why the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report verifies FNC’s reporting. Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s treachery and threats against Fox don’t stop there:

And then as I was sitting at my desk thinking about the reporting since September 2012, I thought about the weirdest of all and the worst of all for me personally! I remembered a disturbing phone call from a good friend in the Obama Administration. I have known this friend for years. The call was a short time after 9/11 (maybe Oct. 2012?) In the call, my friend told me that my colleague Jennifer Griffin, who was reporting on Benghazi, was wrong and that, as a favor to me, my friend in the Administration was telling me so that I could tell Jennifer so that she did not ruin her career. My friend was telling me to tell Jennifer to stop her reporting. Ruin her career?

In 20 plus years, I have never received a call to try and shut down a colleague, not that I even could; this was a first. Here is what I know: Jennifer is a class act, experienced and a very responsible journalist. One of the absolute best in the business, no axe to grind, she just wants the facts.

I told my friend before I go to Jennifer telling her she is wrong, I need proof she is wrong, strong proof and you need to be specific; what are you saying she is getting wrong? We went around and around, including the statement again that this was just a call as a favor to Jennifer and me to save Jennifer’s career from reporting incorrect information. I got no proof. Zero. I smelled a rat. Favor to me? Hardly. My friend was trying to use me. I feel bad that a friend did that to me, tried to use me for a dirty reason. I knew then, and it is now confirmed by BIPARTISAN Senate Intelligence Committee, Jennifer was getting her facts right. I think it is really low for the Administration to stoop this low.

That’s despicable. Then again, that’s what I’d expect from this administration. They’re more despicable than the Nixon administration when it comes to dealing with the press.

If the administration is interested in the truth, they shouldn’t have a trash-the-reporters strategy. Thankfully, they tried getting Greta to bite on their spin. That wasn’t just stupid. It was counterproductive.

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David Ignatius’s latest article is one of the most blatantly partisan and intellectually dishonest articles I’ve read about Benghazi. Here’s one of Mr. Ignatius’s most ridiculous claims:

Driving the Republican jihad was a claim, first reported in October 2012 by Fox News, that CIA personnel had wanted to respond more quickly to the Benghazi attack but were ordered to “stand down,” perhaps by political higher-ups. Although this claim was promptly rebutted by CIA officials, it was repeated by Fox at least 85 times, according to a review by the liberal advocacy group Media Matters. This barrage fueled Republican charges that the Democrats were engaging in a cover-up.

What’s wrong with that paragraph is that the charge wasn’t refuted. It was substantiated by Gregory Hicks’ testimony:

Here’s the transcript of the relevant portion of Mr. Hicks’ testimony:

REP. CHAFFETZ: How did the personnel react to being told to stand down?
MR. HICKS: They were furious. I can only say…well, I will quote Lt. Col. Gibson, who said “This is the first time in my career where a diplomat had more balls than someone in the military.

First, let’s question Mr. Ignatius’s methodology. Why would people think that the CIA would know about AFRICOM’s decision? AFRICOM is part of the military, not part of the CIA. Second, Ignatius’ article totally ignores Mr. Hicks’ testimony. Is Mr. Ignatius willing to call Mr. Hick and Lt. Col. Gibson liars or just mistaken?

If I’m given the option of trusting someone on the ground in Libya who talked with Ambassador Stevens or trusting Media Matters, that isn’t a difficult decision. Media Matters are paid liars. That’s what they do. Unfortunately, that isn’t the only questionable statement from Mr. Ignatius’ article:

The Obama administration’s supposed cover-up on Benghazi became a crusade for leading Republicans. A low point came when Issa’s Committee on Oversight and Reform issued a report last September questioning “the independence and integrity of the review” by the Mullen-Pickering group. These were extraordinary charges to make against a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former ambassador to six countries — especially since Issa didn’t present any conclusive evidence to back up his allegations.

The ARB report wasn’t an investigation. It didn’t talk to any State Department personnel on the ground that night in Benghazi. They didn’t talk with Greg Hicks. They didn’t talk with Hillary Clinton or or Leon Panetta. The report’s chief conclusion was that there was a system failure or, as Charles Krauthammer put it, the State Department building failed Christopher Stevens that night.

That isn’t an investigative report. That’s a whitewashing. Why didn’t the ARB affix blame on Mr. Panetta for not pre-positioning military forces to respond to hot spots in northern Africa? Why didn’t the ARB affix blame on Mrs. Clinton for going AWOL while the terrorist attack was raging? Had the ARB done either of those things, it would’ve been a credible report. Had they done both of those things, it would’ve rocked Washington.

Therein lies the problem. Pickering is a diplomat trained in downplaying things. The last thing a diplomat wants to do is ruffle people’s feathers. The ARB report was predictably flawed before it started. What was needed was someone who didn’t mind ruffling feathers, someone who wouldn’t hesitate in asking tough questions and including tough criticism of leaders when they didn’t act to rescue the American patriots who were needlessly assassinated that night in Benghazi.

Finally, there’s this BS:

Perhaps the silliest aspect of the Benghazi affair was the focus on the errant “talking points” prepared for Congress, which cited incorrect intelligence about “spontaneous demonstrations” in Benghazi that wasn’t corrected by the CIA until a week after the points were delivered on Sunday talk shows by Susan Rice, then U.N. ambassador. Rice is still under a cloud because she repeated the CIA’s “points” prepared at Congress’ insistence.

Calling them CIA talking points is wrong. The original document drafted by the CIA was accurate. It wasn’t until Victoria Nuland got involved that the document changed dramatically:

In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned …”

It’s clear that Nuland’s first concern was political. She wasn’t worried about the accuracy of the CIA’s initial document.

Greg Hicks’ testimony dalt with a) things Amb. Stevens told him directly before being assassinated and b) things Lt. Col. Gibson told him directly. Ms. Nuland’s part in the administration’s cover-up dealt with ‘sanitizing’ Gen. Petraeus’ document outlining what happened that night in Benghazi. That’s quite a stark contrast.

That’s why I’ll passionately argue that Mr. Ignatius’ article isn’t a serious refutation of what happened in Benghaz. The first hint that this was a hit piece came early when Ignatius talked about the “Republicans’ jihad”. That alone speaks volumes about Ignatius’ motivation.

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On Thursday, Sen. Feinstein tried selling the spin that Hillary wasn’t responsible for not preventing the Benghazi terrorist attack:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., noted that the bipartisan report released this week on the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in Libya did not mention Clinton even once.

“I regret that the ‘Additional Views’ of the report adopted solely by six members of the Republican minority unfairly criticizes Secretary Clinton,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I want the record to be clear: I condemn any effort to use this report for political purposes.

Nothing in the bipartisan report, Feinstein said, assigned any blame for the attacks to Clinton, who was secretary of State at the time.

“Ultimately… the final responsibility for security at diplomatic facilities lies with the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton,” said the “Additional Views” approved only by Republicans. “We believe there should be a full examination of her role in these events, including on the night of the attacks.”

Technically, Sen. Feinstein is right. There’s nothing in the report that blames Hillary for not taking actions that might’ve prevented the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2012. There should be plenty in the report criticizing Hillary for not acting on urgent requests from Christopher Stevens, the assassinated US ambassador to Libya. As usual, the All-Star Panel didn’t pull punches:

Andrew Napolitano nailed it when he said that “This report raises more questions than it answers.” He later opined that “the people who were responsible for this were the ones who did the investigating.” Charles Krauthammer ridiculed Sen. Feinstein, saying “the weakness of the Senate report is that it blames buildings. It blames the State Department. It blames the CIA. It blames the military, these bureaucracies. In the end, it doesn’t blame anybody. No human is held accountable.”

Let’s turn this around on Sen. Feinstein. Let’s use her logic against her. If Hillary wasn’t responsible for protecting Christopher Stevens, then Rumsfeld wasn’t responsible for Abu Ghraib and President Bush wasn’t responsible for waterboarding KSM.

Using Sen. Feinstein’s logic, Langley (the building) caused KSM’s waterboarding and the Pentagon (the building itself) was responsible for Abu Ghraib.

This paragraph is exceptionally telling:

“Our responsibility throughout this review was to focus on the intelligence,” Feinstein said. “The report finds the attacks were preventable, based on extensive intelligence reporting on terrorist activity in Eastern Libya and given known security shortfalls at the U.S. Mission.”

That’s a different way of saying that their committee would do a rehash of the Accountability Review Board’s report. In the real world, where people attempt to connect the terrorists’ dots, people would ask a) who’s responsible for embassy and consulate security, b) what procedures were in place to make sure urgent requests got the Secretary of State’s attention, c) why military assets weren’t pre-positioned and placed on alert to respond to crises and d) why President Obama and Hillary Clinton were nowhere to be found during the terrorist attacks.

Sen. Feinstein accused Republicans of using the report to hurt Hillary Clinton politically. The reality is that Hillary Clinton’s decisions hurt Hillary politically. I’d further argue that political figures should take a political hit for making terrible decisions that got American patriots needlessly murdered.

Returning to reality, let’s admit that Hillary a) ran in 2008 on the claim that she was the only candidate prepared to properly handle a 3:00 am phone call, b) didn’t take action to prevent the needless assassinations of American patriots and c) took the Secretary of State’s job to check off the ‘national security box’ for when she runs for president in 2016.

Finally, let’s admit that, based on what she’s done, Hillary was a mediocre Secretary of State.

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FNC’s James Rosen has looked through newly declassified documents that say senior Pentagon officials briefed President Obama that Benghazi was a terrorist attack:

Minutes after the American consulate in Benghazi came under assault on Sept. 11, 2012, the nation’s top civilian and uniformed defense officials, headed for a previously scheduled Oval Office session with President Obama, were informed that the event was a “terrorist attack,” declassified documents show. The new evidence raises the question of why the top military men, one of whom was a member of the president’s Cabinet, allowed him and other senior Obama administration officials to press a false narrative of the Benghazi for two weeks afterward.

That’s frightening. Gen. Carter Ham, then the leader of AFRICOM, told then Defense Secretary Panetta that Benghazi had been attacked and that it was a terrorist attack:

Ham’s account of that fateful day was included in some 450 pages of testimony given by senior Pentagon officials in classified, closed-door hearings conducted last year by the Armed Services subcommittee. The testimony, given under “Top Secret” clearance and only declassified this month, presents a rare glimpse into how information during a crisis travels at the top echelons of America’s national security apparatus, all the way up to the president.

Also among those whose secret testimony was declassified was Dempsey, the first person Ham briefed about Benghazi. Ham told lawmakers he considered it a fortuitous “happenstance” that he was able to rope Dempsey and Panetta into one meeting, so that, as Ham put it, “they had the basic information as they headed across for the meeting at the White House.” Ham also told lawmakers he met with Panetta and Dempsey when they returned from their 30-minute session with President Obama on Sept. 11.

Despite Gen. Ham’s briefing, President Obama insisted that we didn’t know what happened in Benghazi, telling Joy Behar of the View that they were still conducting an investigation into what happened that terrible night in Benghazi.

What’s worse is that Secretary Panetta and Gen. Dempsey didn’t speak out immediately. They were briefed by Gen. Ham that the consulate had been attacked by terrorists. Gen. Ham didn’t talk about a demonstration that got hijacked by terrorists. He talked about a co-ordinated terrorist attack.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, a first-term lawmaker with experience as an Iraq war veteran and Army reserve officer, pressed Ham further on the point, prodding the 29-year Army veteran to admit that “the nature of the conversation” he had with Panetta and Dempsey was that “this was a terrorist attack.”

The transcript reads as follows:

WENSTRUP: “As a military person, I am concerned that someone in the military would be advising that this was a demonstration. I would hope that our military leadership would be advising that this was a terrorist attack.”

HAM: “Again, sir, I think, you know, there was some preliminary discussion about, you know, maybe there was a demonstration. But I think at the command, I personally and I think the command very quickly got to the point that this was not a demonstration, this was a terrorist attack.”

WENSTRUP: “And you would have advised as such if asked. Would that be correct?”

HAM: “Well, and with General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta, that is the nature of the conversation we had, yes, sir.”

Minutes before they met with President Obama, Gen. Dempsey and Secretary Panetta were told that terrorists had attacked the Benghazi consulate and that Ambassador Stevens was unaccounted for. It’s inconceivable that Panetta and Dempsey didn’t brief President Obama that a terrorist attack was underway.

For the first time since the attacks, a timeline of events and briefings is emerging. That’s especially important because the timeline involves briefings by the top people in the White House and at the Pentagon. These aren’t low-level staffers sharing gossip. These are the top echelons of President Obama’s national security cabinet. This especially stings the President:

Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February of last year that it was him who informed the president that “there was an apparent attack going on in Benghazi.” “Secretary Panetta, do you believe that unequivocally at that time we knew that this was a terrorist attack?” asked Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. “There was no question in my mind that this was a terrorist attack,” Panetta replied.

Based on this testimony, there’s no question that President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Ambassor Rice lied about the importance of the anti-Muslim video. They knew within minutes that this was a precision terrorist attack. Then they told America that a video made the terrorists resort to violence.

President Obama’s credibility took a major hit for lying to the American people about keeping the health insurance plan they liked. His credibility will take another major hit for lying about the terrorist attack that got 4 American patriots murdered in Benghazi. Frankly, there isn’t a justification for trusting President Obama after all the whoppers he’s told.

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James Nord’s post for MinnPost is the most damning indictment of the Dayton administration yet. This bombshell information is contained in Nord’s post:

Newly released contract documents suggest the state and MNsure leaders had a more direct role in the health exchange’s many missteps than they have publicly acknowledged.

In recent weeks, Gov Mark Dayton and MNsure officials have increased their criticism of vendors, blaming the private technology companies for some of the underlying problems and glitches with the health exchange’s operation.

However, in early May, the state of Minnesota in effect took over responsibility from its lead contractor, Maximus Inc., for constructing MNsure’s technical infrastructure, according to contract amendments released to MinnPost by MNsure.

The new documents show that the exchange staff quietly made a signifcant change to its key contract for building MNsure, just months after making major revisions to the timeframe and size of the project.

If MinnPost has the documentation it says it has, then the Dayton administration, not to mention his hand-picked MNsure board, have serious problems. Further, Gov. Dayton can’t say that this isn’t his fault because he appointed the people on the MNsure board.

What’s worse about those appointments is that these board members aren’t subject to legislative confirmation. What’s worst is that they’re part of an independent board. They aren’t part of the Department of Human Services. Last night, in a conversation with Rex from Speed Gibson, Rex raised the question about why the MNsure board was set up this way.

But I digress. Back to MNsure’s troubles.

If MNsure essentially told the contractor how to do their job, then it’s on the MNsure board’s head if things go wrong. It’s something that Jim Nobles intends to find out more about:

“I think it’s been one of the confounding and unnecessary complications of all this … that [MNsure has] created an environment in which transparency and accountability have suffered,” Jim Nobles, the legislative auditor, told MinnPost.

He said he also wants to examine whether officials withheld critical information from the public. “Even credibility, because they haven’t been open and straightforward with people.”

Nobles also said he would look into the effects of the May contract amendments. “It’s certainly something that I will pursue very vigorously to find out what triggered that decision,” Nobles said when the amendment was brought to his attention. “What exactly did it mean? Who exactly was … doing the project management?”

What this means is that MNsure doesn’t know what it’s doing. The entire board should be terminated ASAP. If they’re so arrogant that they think they know more than the experts they’ve hired to do this job, then that’s a stinging indictment on their managerial skills.

This isn’t surprising. Let’s remember Ms. Todd-Malmlov’s decision to start the advertising campaign before locking down data security. It was Ms. Todd-Malmlov’s decision to start the advertising campaign before starting training the people who would work with the exchange, too.

That’s what happens when Minnesotans elect someone who’s well known but underqualified. The biggest things Gov. Dayton campaigned on were raising taxes and creating the exchange. Both have turned into unmitigated disasters. What’s worst is that things won’t get better anytime without firing the current governor and the MNsure board.

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Jim Nobles is a pretty even-keel kind of guy. He’s a ‘just the facts’ type of person, which is what’s required in investigating things. Now that Mr. Nobles has announced that he’s auditing MNsure, Gov. Dayton has said that he welcomes the audit:

Gov. Mark Dayton and other state agency leaders say they welcome a deeper investigation into MNsure, the new agency that built and operates the new online health insurance exchange.

“I have the highest regard for Mr. Nobles and agree that a full, independent examination of MNsure is highly appropriate,” Dayton said in an e-mailed statement.

That sounds like Gov. Dayton is trying to tell Mr. Nobles how to do his job. At minimum, it sounds like he’s trying to direct Mr. Nobles’ attention towards the contractors.

Mr. Nobles’ response is cause for heartburn for Gov. Dayton and the DFL co-chairs of the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee:

“It’s fine to question the performance of the contractor,” Nobles said about the sweep of his audit. “We’ll do that. But one of the worst things you can do in managing these contracts is to stand on the sidelines with the hope that things will go well. You’ve got to be actively managing and verifying.”

In other words, Mr. Nobles isn’t just interested in finding out if the contractors did their job. He’s interested in finding out whether the MNsure board and staff did their jobs and whether the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee paid attention to MNsure’s post-launch problems.

Here’s what stood out in this article:

Gov. Mark Dayton has strongly criticized one major vendor and publicly demanded improvement since the bumpy rollout of the website in October. The state legislative auditor launched a review Tuesday to determine to what degree vendors and state officials are responsible for the problems. And a committee of state legislators will convene Thursday demanding answers for a program envisioned as a gateway to health insurance for more than 800,000 Minnesotans this year.

During the September 24th meeting, Sen. Sean Nienow raised questions about data security. Sen. Nienow’s questions didn’t get answered. At that meeting, Sen. Michelle Benson questioned the prioritization of projects within the MNsure project at that same meeting. That’s the last time the committee met.

It’s certain that the DFL will do plenty of grandstanding at this morning’s meeting. It’s important to remember that it’s been 107 days and an executive director resignation since their last meeting. The question that the DFL won’t answer is why they didn’t hold a hearing while MNsure dealt with one crisis after another.

It isn’t a stretch to think that Sen. Lourey and Rep. Atkins, the co-chairs of the Oversight Committee, chose not to hold another hearing because their chief goal was to run political interference for Gov. Dayton. That isn’t leadership.

Whenever a political party puts a higher priority on protecting their politicians than it puts on doing what’s right for the state, that’s a sign that that political party is morally bankrupt. Right now, it’s apparent that the DFL is morally bankrupt. That’s why they should be fired en masse next November.

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This morning on At Issue With Tom Hauser, Mr. Hauser raised the question about the DFL getting fined $100,000 for coordinating campaign activities between the candidates and DFL campaign committees. Hauser pointed out that “the DFL paid the fine without admitting wrongdoing.” (That’s fine. They don’t have to admit it. Everyone knows what they did was illegal.)

For his part, Andy Brehm nailed it by saying that this is Campaign 101, that everyone who’s ever been involved in a campaign knows that it’s illegal for candidates to coordinate their efforts with outside expenditure organizations, PACs or with a party’s campaign committee.

When it was Ember Reichgott-Junge’s turn, she said that “campaign finance laws are too complicated” before launching into the rules governing independent expenditure organizations, superPACs and other special interest efforts.

Saying it was a wimpy, insulting answer is understatement. While there’s many rules and regulations about reporting requirements, transparency requirements and other considerations, that’s irrelevant to this discussion. The only thing that’s relevant to this discussion is that DFL campaign committees knowingly violated campaign finance law by coordinating advertising with a dozen DFL state senatorial campaigns.

What’s also insulting about Reichgott-Junge’s statement is that it played into the ruling that the DFL campaign committees didn’t admit to wrongdoing. Like I wrote earlier, they didn’t need to. What they did has been illegal since Watergate. Reichgott-Junge knows this. She’s run for election. She can draw on her own experience.

She knows that the DFL was willing to do anything, legal or illegal, to have a DFL governor and DFL majorities in the House and Senate. They’re perfectly happy paying this fine. That’s a tiny price for ramming the entire DFL special interest wish list down Minnesota’s throats.

Does anyone think Tom Bakk lost sleep over this? Is it more likely that he laughed when he heard the ruling?

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