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Archive for February, 2008

Leo & I attended a fundraiser for Gov. Pawlenty last night. I was fortunate enough to talk with him for the better part of 10 minutes, which is a long time at an event of this nature.

One of the things that we talked about was the nature of Minnesota’s tax structure, which Gov. Pawlenty essentially said was antiquated & needed a massive overhaul in its thinking. One of the things he stressed was that ‘Minnesota companies’ were choosing to expand outside the state, specifically mentioning 3M as an example of that. He said that 3M wasn’t moving, just that they wouldn’t pick Minnesota when they expanded.

Following that theme, I asked Gov. Pawlenty if I was wrong thinking that “Anytime I hear the DFL talking about a jobs bill, we should expect a tax increase & for it to be all about public works projects.” He said that that’s exactly what to expect. I then followed up, asking what longterm stability these jobs bring & whether they helped people amass wealth. His reply was that they don’t bring longterm economic stability (no shock there, right King?) & that they aren’t an opportunity to create wealth.

During his speech, Gov. Pawlenty impressed me with his talk about not getting rid of the public school system but supplementing that system with online learning opportunities to challenge ambitious students. He said that the days of relying solely on hard-covered books as the main source of information were essentially over.

When he talked about the Omnibus Transportation Bill, he mentioned that gas tax revenues were flat-lining & that they’d soon drop sharply as more people buy “plug-in hybrids” such as the one I talked about here:

The Minnesota legislature is about to take up a “comprehensive transportation bill” which naturally includes billions of dollars in tax increases. I’ve had several conversations recently that have convinced me that this legislation is a stopgap measure at best. At worst, it’s a total waste of time. One reason why it’s a stopgap measure at best is because of the vehicles being built by Tesla Motors. Their sales pitch on the homepage of their website brags that the car is 100 percent electric, goes from 0 to 60 in less than 4 seconds, gets the equivalent of 135mpg, can go 220 miles on a single charge and costs .02 per mile to operate.

Considering that that’s just one such ‘vehicle of the future’, shouldn’t we be asking the DFL how it’ll fund road & bridge repairs once these vehicles become the rule rather than the exception? That day is coming, most likely sooner than people think.

The DFL doesn’t have an answer to that question, instead retreating to imposing another tax designed in the last century. Their approach is a ‘Well that’s the way we’ve always done it’ approach rather than thinking about a forward-thinking solution.

One of the things that was perfectly clear is that Gov. Pawlenty enjoyed the retail politicking, having conversations with the various people. He was very comfortable talking with people on a wide range of topics.

Another thing that’s obvious is that he’s a big fan of blogs. When I introduced Leo, I told Gov. Pawlenty that Leo, King & I were the first members of the SCBA. His first reaction after greeting Leo was to ask if it isn’t a little different thinking of blogs in terms of them belonging to associations. He then asked if we were solely a center-right association or if we let other political persuasions into the organization.

The other tidbit of news from the event came from St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis, who told Leo & I that he’d ordered a hiring freeze for the time being, saying that he was determined to not raise property taxes. Thanks Mayor.

Finally, Thanks to Gov. Pawlenty for taking the time to talk with us. It’s obvious that he’s fighting for his agenda in a more public way this year than in the past. That’s good news because he’s an appealing advocate for the conservative cause.

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Those three people don’t have alot in common but they were linked together during President Bush’s Thursday morning news conference. Here’s how President Bush tied Obama and Castro together:

Bush was particularly hard on Obama for saying that, as president, he would meet with the leaders of Cuba, Iran and North Korea.

“What’s lost by embracing a tyrant who puts his people in prison because of their political beliefs? What’s lost is it’ll send the wrong message,” Bush said. “I’m not suggesting there’s never a time to talk, but I’m suggesting now is not the time” to talk with new Cuban President Raul Castro.

Sen. McCain is thanking President Bush for this slapdown because it plays into McCain’s strength and Obama’s weakness. Obama saying that he’ll meet with despots without preconditions is irresponsible. We gain nothing from it while they’d gain international credibility.

I’m certain that this is part of Obama’s playbook to say that Democrats have to occupy the White House in order to restore America’s good name around the world. That’s the Democrats’ fatal flaw. They’re so enamored with being seen as good guys that they don’t play the bully when it’s appropriate.

Obama better get used to this type of slapdown because it’s likely that this is the pattern Sen. McCain is likely to use in contrasting Obama’s inexperience with Sen. McCain’s experience. Hillary tried making the experience argument against Obama. That tactic didn’t work because she wasn’t that experienced and she didn’t do anything to distinguish herself in her brief time in office.

Mara Liasson made an astute observation during Wednesday night’s roundtable:

LIASSON: Yes, but here’s the thing: last night, against Senator Clinton, Obama said, look, once we’ve driven into the ditch, there is only so many ways we can get out. The question is, who made the initial decision?
That is actually not going to be the debate anymore. The debate is going to be now what are the options? There are many of them.
He is actually wrong that there are only a few. There are many of them. McCain has a different one. And for Obama to say, look, I would be willing to go back in if al-Qaeda has a base, well, that’s exactly what the surge is doing now.
And I just think the debate will get much more complicated for whoever is the Democratic nominee.

I think she nailed it with that opinion. I definitely think that foreign policy will become a serious problem for Obama in the general election because he hasn’t been tested in the Democratic nominating process. The only thing that’s been discussed during the nominating process is who wanted to get out of Iraq fastest. That worked in a field of pacifists but it won’t work against John McCain.

The Democrats will have to adjust to McCain after beating up on President Bush. They could beat up on President Bush because he made some glaring mistakes in Iraq. That work against McCain because he’s the guy who pushed for the surge, which is now working well.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Captain Ed has posted this YouTube of Sen. Bob Casey probably saying too much:

Here’s the transcript:

Mr. CASEY: “We want to do a couple of things with this legislation, which we know is the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008. Our Majority Leader, Senator Reid, and our leadership and the members of the Democratic Caucus set it out fairly specifically. A couple of basic things this legislation would have done: first of all, it would have continued what we started in the end of last year, foreclosure prevention counseling dollars, to give money to organizations around the country that are certifiably expert at this, organizations like La Raza. I know the presiding officer knows that group. We know also the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now, known by the acronym ‘ACORN.’ They’re headquartered in Philadelphia. These are organizations which understand what a lender has to deal with but more importantly deal with borrowers when they’re borrowing money, when they’re dealing with the difficulty and complexity of borrowing money. These organizations would have helped even more so than they’re helping now with $200 million more of counseling money. That’s not going to happen right now because of what the other side did; they blocked that money by blocking this legislation.”

I wrote extensively about ACORN in 2006. What I wrote wasn’t flattering to their image. Here’s some things I wrote then:

ACORN Voter Registration Fraud Allegations Are Just The Tip of The Iceberg
Illegalities, Fraud and Contradictions Detailed in Report on Lead Organizer of Florida’s Amendment 5

A Florida state attorney is investigating thousands of potentially fraudulent voter registrations associated with the leading organizer of Florida’s Amendment 5 ballot initiative. But this is just the tip of an iceberg of illegalities, fraud and contradictions connected to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). In recent days, ACORN has been at the epicenter of reports on thousands of potentially fraudulent voter registrations across the nation, including many by ex-felons, submitted by ACORN employees in the presidential swing states of Ohio, Colorado, Missouri Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Minnesota.

ACORN has paid workers for every voter registration card collected, a felony in Florida and also illegal in Missouri and Pennsylvania. ACORN also routinely accepted signatures for Amendment 5 from individuals who were not currently registered to vote, a requirement under Florida law. Voter registration and petition fraud is just the latest chapter in ACORN’s long sordid history.

In the late 1990s, ACORN’s Project Vote was involved in an $850,000 embezzling scheme, where union funds and kickbacks were used to illegally aid the 1996 re-election bid of then-Teamsters President Ron Carey. A New York federal jury found the Teamsters political director guilty of the conspiracy.

In 1996, the Inspector General of the AmeriCorps program stripped a $1 million grant from the ACORN Housing Corporation (AHC). When applying, AHC had denied any connections to ACORN, since the grant was not intended for political advocacy organizations. Evidence later uncovered by the Inspector General found that not only was AHC created by ACORN, engaged in numerous transactions with one another, and sharing staff and office space, but it utilized the AmeriCorps grant to increase ACORN membership, a violation of federal guidelines.

This is startling. Sen. Casey admitted that the Democrats’ stimulus package sends money to a corrupt organization like ACORN during a speech on the floor of the United States Senate.

It’s good knowing that Reid’s Democrats don’t discriminate on the basis of race, creed or corruption level.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Last night, Rep. Michele Bachmann was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly about the tragedy in Cottonwood, MN where an illegal immigrant from Central America killed 4 school children.

At the outset of the interview, Rep. Bachmann said that she had contacted ICE to see “where in the chain of communication” things went awry between law enforcement & ICE. She also said that this tragedy “was completely preventable.”

This morning, Bob Olson issued this statement on the interview:

ANOKA—Bob Olson, a DFL candidate in the 6th Congressional District, released the following statement regarding Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Wednesday night appearance on the O’Reilly Factor:

“In the wake of the tragic accident in Cottonwood, Minnesotans had a right to expect smart and compassionate leadership from those in power. That Michele Bachmann chose instead to go on the O’Reilly Factor and play along with O’Reilly’s fear mongering is absolutely disgusting.

“It’s true that we need comprehensive immigration reform, but it’s important to remember, as John McCain reminded us recently, that we’re all children of God. This serious debate must be handled in a manner consistent with the human decency that has defined our great state for 150 years.

“Countless number of lives were forever changed after that crash. Instead of scape-goating an entire class of people, it’s time Mrs. Bachmann demonstrate leadership worthy of her office and the people of Minnesota.”

I just called Bob Olson’s office to find out what they specifically thought scape-goated “an entire class of people.” Christopher Truscott said that bringing up the English only drivers license test was playing politics. I reminded him that that isn’t the same as scape-goating. Here’s the definition for scape-goat:

a person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place.

If Olson’s campaign thinks that that’s a politically motivated statement, then that’s what they should say. For them to say that she tried scape-goating people with that statement is over the top. Mr. Truscott said that there was a hint of politicking to the statement, which I rebutted by saying that it’s a political issue that couldn’t be extricated from a political context.

Frankly, this statement was all about tying Rep. Bachmann with Mr. O’Reilly on immigration. It’s obvious that Olson’s campaign wants to cast Mr. O’Reilly as a big, bad boogeyman & Rep. Bachmann as his lackey. The sad part is that a vast majority of people agree with Mr. O’Reilly’s & Rep. Bachmann’s position on immigration.

Mr. Truscott said that all of the presidential candidates had put forth proposals that moved the ball forward. I agree that they’ve put forth proposals but I’d strongly disagree that they move the ball forward. Sen. McCain’s attempt at immigration ‘reform’ got rejected because people saw it for what it was: an attempt for illegal immigrants to buy a pathway to citizenship.

Here’s a transcript of the interview:

O’REILLY: Feds say that they are rounding up illegal aliens at a record pace. About 200,000 are expected to be removed this year alone. But that’s too late to save 4 Minnesota kids. This woman, Olga Franco, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, slammed her car into a school bus, killing four children, ages 9 to 13. She broke her leg in the process. Now Ms. Franco has two previous traffic beefs. Police say that she produced false identification.

It should be noted that Minneapolis & St. Paul are both sanctuary cities and the kids were killed in Cottonwood, about a hundred miles away. Joining us now from Washington is Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a Republican from Minnesota.

Okay, what have you found out about this case, Congresswoman?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, that this was completely preventable & that it never should’ve happened. We’re just devastated by what we’ve seen, Bill, & what we’re trying to do right now is we’re writing a letter to ICE to see what happened, to find out where in the chain of communication between local law enforcement & ICE. We want to make certain that this never happens again so we want to know from ICE how this can be prevented.

O’REILLY: Because this woman was driving on sidewalks and she was caught with phony ID’s before but the small town police officers in the county & in the city of Cottonwood basically said ‘It’s not a big deal if you have a phony ID & we didn’t really do anything about it’. The locals didn’t tell ICE. I think that’s what happened.

REP. BACHMANN: Well, I think there’s a real problem, Bill, because in 2006, she drove up on someone’s yard & was given a $180 fine for not having a drivers license. No one seemed to ask why she didn’t have a drivers license. At any rate, all we know is that nothing happened. No information went up to ICE & that, just as recently as a month ago, she & her boyfriend were in a car. They were picked up & again, no
information went up to ICE. Only now is…

O’REILLY: This is the third beef on this woman.

REP. BACHMANN: This is the third beef on this woman.

O’REILLY: But Congresswoman, you know that this happens every day all across the country. You have a sympathetic…In the big cities of Minneapolis & St. Paul, they’re sanctuary cities. Their cops won’t ask, okay? Now in Cottonwood, they say they will ask if there’s a reason to ask but apparently they didn’t think that some woman driving around without a license & producing a phony ID was enough to ask about her immigration status.

Doesn’t Minnesota need a law to that says that if anybody is involved with the police, that the police have the right to check on their citizenship? Isn’t that the solution to the problem?

REP. BACHMANN: Clearly, you’re absolutely right. That needs to be done. And just as recently as Monday, Bill, the Minnesota legislature passed a $7 billion tax increase. One amendment was offered that said that drivers license tests should be in English only. And just think, this is just days after this Cottonwood accident occured and that amendment wasn’t passed. That amendment failed. It’s an outrage. it’s unthinkable. I don’t know when people are finally going to wake up

O’REILLY: Minnesota is a split state. You’re half conservative, half really far left. I mean Al Franken is running for the Senate in Minnesota. I mean, that’s insane. That guy shouldn’t be elected to run a dog kennel.

REP. BACHMANN: Bill, we’re the people that elected Jesse Ventura as governor so we’re…

O’REILLY: But Ventura is different. They were sending a message, the voters there. But there in Minnesota, there is no urgency to solve this illegal immigration problem, the crime problem.

REP. BACHMANN: Yes, this is a crime problem. This is an issue of anarchy vs. the rule of law. and the question is ‘When are we going to get serious about this & stop tinkering around the edges’? If we can get about four innocent kids, one of which will be buried tomorrow, then I don’t know what it’s gonna take, Bill.

O’REILLY: Yeah, I just want everyone around the world to look at these kids, killed on a school bus, woman never should’ve been in the country, never should’ve been driving an automobile. Three beefs before this happened.

REP. BACHMANN: That’s right. It’s tragic.

O’REILLY: Alright, thanks for coming on, Congresswoman. We appreciate it.

Let’s dissect Olson’s statement. Let’s start with this statement:

That Michele Bachmann chose instead to go on the O’Reilly Factor and play along with O’Reilly’s fear mongering is absolutely disgusting.

Where’s this supposed fearmongering? Isn’t it more accurate to say that O’Reilly is simply pointing out the tragic consequences of not dealing with enforcing immigration laws. Olson’s statement then goes from that accusation to this admonition:

This serious debate must be handled in a manner consistent with the human decency that has defined our great state for 150 years.

Since when did Minnesotans respond with “human decency” in reacting to a convicted criminal after that criminal had taken the lives of innocent children? In the few times that we’ve faced the taking of you innocent lives, most recently the taking of Dru Sjodin’s life, we didn’t respond with human decency towards the criminal. We expressed outrage with that criminal just like we’re expressing our outrage with Olga Franco right now.

Yes, we’ve responded with the utmost in compassion towards the victims, which is what we’re doing right now. That shouldn’t preclude us from expressing our righteous indignation with the criminal that ended those children’s lives.

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Neil Peterson is one of the Wayward Six that crossed over to the dark side on the transportation bill. Today, the Strib ran his op-ed explaining why he voted for the bill & for overriding Gov. Pawleny’s veto. It’d be a stretch to call it convincing. Here’s one part that doesn’t pass the laugh test:

In the bill is municipal state aid, with $11 million for Bloomington, $4.8 million for Edina and $150 million for Hennepin County. This money will be available for street repair and improvements over the next 10 years.

While that’s true in theory, it isn’t always true in practice. I’m sick & tired of hearing that cities ran deficits because they got shorted on their LGA. While that’s probably happened occasionally, it’s often the case that cities ran deficits because they made poor spending decisions, then relied on LGA to pay for goodies instead of necessities.

Here’s another part of his op-ed that makes assumptions that shouldn’t be made:

If these dollars do not come to our county and cities through this allocation, residents in my district will eventually pay for the improvements through increased real-estate taxes. That is the bottom line. The cities and the county will have no other choice but to go to their primary source of funding, our real estate taxes, to get transportation needs met. With this bill, I voted to avoid higher property taxes.

This statement assumes that every dollar spent is spent efficiently. I’m totally unwilling to cede that point. I don’t buy into that. I don’t think any conservatives buy into that, either. How often do cities vote to build a new library or fire department, then go to the voters with a new levy request? I know St. Cloud’s done that. In fact, it’s currently doing that.

This paragraph is especially egregious:

What is the remedy for a slowing economy? Jobs. We need these dollars in Minnesota. Our way of life here and our future depend on a strong economic base. We bemoan the loss of 900 jobs at Macy’s downtown, but we are losing many times that number in our construction industry alone. Think of the positive effect of thousands of Minnesota jobs in the next decade. With this bill, I voted for a stronger economy.

While it can’t be argued that we need to create jobs, it’s equally inarguable that those jobs should be created by the private sector. Whenever the DFL talks about a jobs bill, it’s guaranteed that they’re talking public works projects paid for with a tax increase. It’s never dawned on them that they need to cut marginal tax rates, especially capitol gains & corporate tax rates, to create a business-friendly environment. It’s never dawned on them that doing that would free up money to be re-invested in Minnesota’s economy. In fact, I can’t picture a DFL legislator who wouldn’t think that that’s heresy.

The proof is available. NWA is likely moving to Georgia because their tax climate is superior to Minnesota’s. I’d love seeing how many small businesses either got started in South Dakota or Colorado because of their business-friendly environment or that left Minnesota because of our tax system.

I know that retirees are leaving Minnesota in droves because I’ve talked with several retirees that tell me that their friends have left for Florida or Arizona or Texas. A number of these people have told me that they’ll soon leave, too.

Finally there’s this paragraph:

I supported the bill and was encouraged to do so by the endorsement of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota League of Cities, the Environmental Partnership and the president of the University of Minnesota, plus countless other organizations and, believe it or not, constituents.

Here’s what the LMC does:

The League of Minnesota Cities promotes excellence in local government through effective advocacy, expert analysis, and trusted guidance for all Minnesota cities. The League represents more than 800 Minnesota cities. We envision a future for Minnesota and the League where all cities are thriving, taking advantage of new opportunities, and successfully meeting ongoing challenges. The League continues to provide premier service to its members, and is recognized as the trusted, authoritative and unified voice on issues affecting cities.

We work in the interest of cities and the communities they serve, achieving our mission through the expertise, involvement, and cooperation of our members, Board, Ambassadors, staff, and sponsors.

Simply put, they’re a taxpayer-funded lobbyist group that lobbies for more money for their member cities. That means that Rep. Peterson just admitted that part of the reason he voted for this bill was because he voted the way a lobbyist group wanted him to vote.

It’s one thing to vote on principle that happens to coincide with a lobbyist. It’s quite another to vote that way because that lobbyist told you to.

This is a flimsy attempt to spin his casting a indefnsible vote. It clearly failed to accomplish its mission.

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This Times Editorial Board editorial is essentially a criticism of the GOP sticking with their convictions, rather than selling out their constituents. Here’s the part that first touched a nerve:

The Legislature’s passage of a $6.6 billion, 10-year statewide transportation bill was never going to be portrayed as a high point in Minnesota history.

But little did we expect it to spur a decidedly low point in party politics for this state.

Low point in party politics? What criteria did the editorialist use in determining this? Is the editorialist saying that believing in & remaining steadfast to a solid set of principles is wrong? Or are they just saying that remaining steadfast to the wrong set of principles is wrong? Furthermore, since when is it wrong to tell government to tighten its belt first instead of imposing a higher tax burden on its citizens?

It’s one thing to to expect the DFL to reflexively increase taxes anytime they don’t want to prioritize their spending. It’s quite another to see Republicans vote for a tax increase that fixes nothing.

The Times’ editorial is a bunch of crap. Here’s more of their manure:

Within hours of the override, it became clear the party expects to punish Heidgerken and the other five House members for breaking ranks with the party and instead voting for what they believed was best for their constituents and all Minnesotans.

TRANSLATION: Minority Leader Seifert showed the Wayward Six that their actions have consequences, especially when they violate the first principle of conservative governance, which is “First, do no harm to the folks.” Let’s also notice that the editorialist said that the Wayward Six were punished for breaking ranks with their party. While that’s what it probably looks like from the outside, what really happened was that Abeler, Erhardt, Heidgerken, Hamilton, Peterson & Tinglestad voted against the will, & benefit, of the people of the state of Minnesota.

Here’s the Times’ parting shot:

The Pioneer Press quoted Pawlenty as follows on this issue: “If you are going to be a team, you know, then there are going to be some team rules and team expectations, and I’ll leave that up to the caucus leaders how they are going to address this further.”

We expected a lot of things in the wake of this transportation bill passing — safer bridges, higher taxes and, yes, some Election Day changes. We didn’t expect our governor and his political party to take such a low road in response to six votes cast for Team Minnesota, for once, instead of Team GOP.

First of all, sticking with your beliefs shouldn’t have to be defended. As long as they’re well thought out & logical, that should be applauded, not criticized. Secondly, the expectation of getting safer roads won’t be realized because this bill doesn’t fund that nearly as much as the GOP alternative does. This bill focuses mostly on transit, though there’s a ton of pork mixed in to buy enough votes.

One thing that this bill will do is change the House’s makeup next November. That’s what happens when a bunch of politicians repeatedly ignore We The People.

Finally, saying that the Wayward Six voted for “Team Minnesota…instead of Team GOP” is laughable. Considering the fact that Minnesota’s taxpayers are hurting from the subprime mortgage crisis & the rising cost of gas & groceries, isn’t it reasonable to expect government to prioritize spending & start making the difficult decisions instead of dumping billions of dollars of taxes on “Teeam Minnesota” to pay for pork & transit?

With all due respect to the Times, this editorial is a joke.

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Last night, I had the privilege of being one of Minnesota bloggers that participated in a blogger conference call with Sen. Norm Coleman.

The first thing that Sen. Coleman mentioned was the House letting the Protect America Act lapse. He said in very strong terms that this was dangerous & inexcusable. According to Sen. Coleman, the biggest reason it lapsed was because of the trial attorneys. He said they’re holding it up with John Conyers’ help because they want to file big money lawsuits against the telecommunications companies. To say that Sen. Coleman was agitated by their inaction is slightly understating his reaction.

Sen. Coleman said that it was odd that Mike Ciresi & Al Franken hadn’t said a word about this important surveillance tool lapsing. Frankly, I’d think that the word appalling is more apt.

SIDENOTE: I suspect that Ciresi & Franken don’t want to go on the record with this because they can’t afford to say that they’re against aggressive surveillance techniques for fear that they’d drive sane thinking individuals away. Likewise,they can’t afford to say what they really think because it’s so far out of the mainstream.

Drew from Wright County Republican asked if the tragedy in Cottonwood had gotten Washington’s attention so that they’d do something about immigration.

Sen. Coleman first mentioned that he’d visited the area & was moved by what he saw there. The next thing he talked about was the need to break down silo’s that prevent the IRS from communicating with ICE. He said that the Social Security people have lists of people whose names don’t match their social security numbers. In fact, Sen. Coleman said that some SS #’s are used multiple times in different states.

He also clearly stated that employers getting caught willfully hiring illegal immigrants should be prosecuted, something that I wholeheartedly agree with.

I said that that sounded alot like the Gorelick Wall that prevented the CIA and other intelligence agencies from getting their intelligence into the hands of law enforcement agencies like the FBI. I then asked if he intended to put together legislation that would destroy these silo’s.

Sen. Coleman said that he’d already sat down with DHS Secretary Chertoff and Sens. Cornyn, Allard and several others to put together such a bill. I liked hearing that because that’s what leaders do.

I’d like to thank Sen. Coleman for sitting down with us. I’d also like to thank Tom Erickson & Davin Fischer for putting it together. I’m already looking forward to the next opportunity to talk with Sen. Coleman.

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Ruben Navarrette has just written a column in which he accuses the Democratic Party as being the “Anti-Competition Party.” Far be it from me to argue, especially when he puts forth such a compelling arguments as this:

It’s true in education where Democrats, with their slavish devotion to teachers unions, oppose vouchers even for constituencies they pretend to champion such as minorities and the disadvantaged. Vouchers would force public schools into competition.

How’s a self-respecting conservative supposed to argue with that? I’ve argued that vouchers are exactly what’s needed to force true reform in public schools. Here’s another of Mr. Navarrette’s compelling arguments:

And it’s certainly true in the area of trade, where Democrats do the bidding of organized labor by fighting trade agreements and advocating protectionism. Trade, by its very nature, encourages competition by opening up markets across borders and seas.

Bill Clinton pushed hard for NAFTA. His party refused to join to any great extent, though some were brought along kicking and screaming. Today, there isn’t a chance that Hillary or Obama would push for NAFTA because they wouldn’t risk alienating the various unions because they rely on them for GOTV ‘volunteers’ and campaign contributions.

It’s time to retake the House & Senate so we can become free traders again. BTW, part of getting companies to not move to Mexico, India and other countries is to not overtax and overregulate them like we’re currently doing. God knows I’ve had my differences with John McCain but I strongly agreed with his declaration at CPAC that he’d cut the corporate tax from 35 percent to 25 percent.

Now is the time for people to step forward and get conservatives elected. Otherwise, we’ll be stuck with the Anti-Competition Party’s policies. We can’t have that.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

That Gov. Pawlenty is predicting a taxpayer revolt is fantastic news for someone who created a blog called Taxpayer Revolt: We Are Not ATM’s. Here’s how Gov. Pawlenty made that prediction:

Gov. Tim Pawlenty today predicted Minnesota taxpayers would revolt against the gas and other tax increases that Democrats in the Legislature imposed on them Monday by overriding his veto of the transportation bill.

“Yesterday the DFL had their day raising taxes,” Pawlwenty said at a Capitol news conference. “Now the taxpayers of Minnesota will have their days between now and when they get to decide how they want this Legislature to run in the future and who’s going run it.

“Yesterday will be the day that began a tax revolt in Minnesota,” he said with uncharacteristic passion.

Consider that the opening salvo of the 2008 campaign to return GOP to majority status in the Minnesota House of Representatives. I’ve seen people react with a white hot passion to this tax increase. Outstate Democrats & Republicans should be worried this fall if they voted for the transit tax increase.

The first indicator of people’s disgust with tax increases came in November when Minnesotan rejected a significant number of school board levy requests. Another indicator nationally came when Oregon rejected an 85 cent per pack cigarette tax increase. By itself, that would’ve been newsworthy. That they rejected that tax even though every penny of that increase would’ve gone to pay for a children’s health care program is startling.

This week & weekend, county & district BPOU’s will hold their endorsing conventions. It’s a formality that Ron Erhardt won’t get endorsed. Other BPOU’s might send a similar message to the Wayward 6.

Here’s another ‘reminder’ from Gov. Pawlenty:

“The Republican brand, the Republican credibility depends on keeping a lid on and reducing taxes,” he said. “That’s who we are. That’s what we do.” He hinted that he would pay back legislators for overturning his veto.

“I guess the announcement over the loudspeaker on the airplane will be: ‘Please
buckle your seat belts because there may be some unexpected turbulence,’” he said.

Personally, I’d love finding out that Gov. Pawlenty’s staff had compiled a list of all the unjustifiable spending items being considered for inclusion into the bonding bill. Once it passed, I’d use the line item veto to cancel out anything that’s wasteful. Like say this item:

$18,197,000, this appropriation is to the commissioner of administration for repair and renovation of the exterior of the Department of Transportation Building

or this:

$23,983,000 for design, construction, furnishing, and equipping a new Department of Transportation district headquarters facility in Mankato

or this:

$4,299,000 for predesign, design, construction, and restoration of historic roadside properties on the Great River Road

Unfortunately, these items can’t be vetoed because they were in the Transportation Bill. That said, there won’t be a shortage of targets in the bonding bill. If there’s anything guaranteed other than death & taxes, it’s that politicians seeking re-election won’t run out of ideas to waste taxpayer’s money.

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That’s the best way to describe this op-ed in the WSJ by Kit Bond, Peter Hoekstra and Lamar Smith. Their op-ed is in response to the Washington Post op-ed that I posted about here. Here’s what Mssrs. Leahy, Rockefeller, Conyers and Reyes said about the PAA lapsing:

First, our country did not “go dark” on Feb. 16 when the Protect America Act (PAA) expired. Despite President Bush’s overheated rhetoric on this issue, the government’s orders under that act will last until at least August. These orders could cover every known terrorist group and foreign target. No surveillance stopped. If a new member of a known group, a new phone number or a new e-mail address is identified, U.S. intelligence can add it to the existing orders, and surveillance can begin immediately.

Here’s the rebuttal from Mssrs. Bond, Hoekstra and Smith:

We are less safe today and will remain so until Congress clears up the legal uncertainty for companies that assist in collecting intelligence for the government, and until it gives explicit permission to our intelligence agencies to intercept, without a warrant, foreign communications that pass through the U.S. Here’s why:

- Intercepting terrorist communications requires the cooperation of our telecommunications companies. They’re already being sued for having cooperated with the government after 9/11. So without explicit protection for future actions (and civil liability protection for the help they provided in the past), those companies critical to collecting actionable intelligence could be sidelined in the fight.

It has already happened, briefly. “[W]e have lost intelligence information this past week as a direct result of the uncertainty created by Congress’ failure to act,” Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and Attorney General Michael Mukasey wrote in a letter dated Feb. 22 to Mr. Reyes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

- The old FISA law does not adequately protect the U.S., which is why it was revised by the Protect America Act last summer. The problem is that, although it has a few work-around-provisions, such as allowing intelligence agencies to conduct surveillance for up to 72 hours without a warrant, FISA ultimately requires those agencies to jump through too many legal hurdles. Those include the Fourth Amendment’s “probable cause” requirements, protections never intended for suspected terrorists’ communications that are routed through the U.S.

It’s accurate to say that Mssrs. Bond, Hoekstra and Smith rebutted each of the points made in the D’s op-ed the previous day.

One thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is that trial attorneys are suing telecommunications companies for assisting the NSA immediately after 9/11. How disgusting is that? If ever there was a time when people should cut others some slack, it’s right after 9/11 when the telecommunications companies were doing their best to prevent other terrorist attacks.

Normally, I’d say that it’s just another target for attorneys looking for deep-pocketed companies to sue but I don’t think that that’s their motivation this time. Yes, I think that’s part of their motivation but I think the biggest motivation is to cripple the NSA’s ability to surveil. I suspect that this is Plan B, with Plan A being ACLU v. NSA. This paragraph tells me that that’s the case:

Telecommunications companies are for now, after intense negotiations, cooperating with the government under the assumption that protections granted to them under the Protect America Act will be upheld in court, even though the law is now defunct. But there is no guarantee that the courts will do any such thing. There is also no guarantee that corporate executives, under pressure from their legal counsels and shareholders to limit liabilities, will continue to cooperate.

That last sentence says everything, doesn’t it? I wouldn’t blame these executives if they chose not to cooperate. Instead, I’d blame the ACLU for crippling our intelligence gathering capabilities. If, God forbid, there was another terrorist attack because of that, I’d blast them mercilessly.

In the final analysis, this bill hasn’t become law because the Democrats are pandering to the trial lawyers so they keep the campaign contributions flowing freely and because the ACLU wing of the Democratic Party wants to cripple our intelligence gathering capability.

This November, let’s remind voters that Democrats placed a higher priority on pandering to the ACLU and trial attorneys instead of protecting America from terrorist attacks.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative