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Archive for May, 2010

It’s becoming a tradition. If At Issue, Almanac and Esme Murphy’s shows have interesting guest, then I’ll be watching them, then recapping them here. This week proved more profitable than others, thanks to Robyne Robinson’s gaffe-filled debut. Remember that the political definition of a gaff is when you accidently let slip a truth you’d rather not have out there for public consumption.

Here’s an exchange between WCCO’s Esme Murphy and Robinson:

Murphy: Tell us what you’ve been doing the past couple days because you’ve been traveling a lot.

ROBINSON: We’ve been criss-crossing the state. Matt and I have gone up north to the Range, downstate to the southeastern part of the state, all the way from Duluth to Rochester and Winona, just getting to talk to constituents out there. We believe that the other DFL candidates haven’t really been out talking with the people outstate & they sense that. They really feel sometimes like it’s just a race that happens in the Twin Cities and in Duluth. We want to bring everyone in….We really believe like we’ve got to shake up the old paradigms. We’ve got to bring everybody in.

You know, we’ve got a $5.5 billion deficit. We’ve got so many people who have been cut from so many different services. They need help & we need to do it…and we can’t do it by cutting & we can’t do it by taxing. We have to do it by growing & we have to grow our government as much as possible.

WHOA!!! Robyne Robinson just admitted that the Entenza-Robinson ticket plans on growing government “as much as possible.” Let’s be clear about this: Discovering that Democrats want to grow government isn’t surprising. Getting them to publicly admit that they want to “grow government as much as possible” is plain surprising because it’s sloppy.

In 2007, Speaker Kelliher told reporters that the newly-installed DFL majority in the House was “a fiscally moderate caucus“, not because she believed it but because that’s what the public wanted to hear. At a time when the public is resenting trillion dollar deficits and Washington’s reckless spending, willfully admitting that you’re planning on growing government “as much as possible” is political suicide in a general election.

What’s more is that Ms. Robinson said essentially the same thing during Tom Hauser’s interview with Matt Entenza and Ms. Robinson:

ROBINSON: It’s not working at the Capitol. We need a 21st century government for a 21st century state.

By itself, Ms. Robinson’s statement early Sunday morning seems relatively harmless. Coupled wih her restating it with greater emphasis during a later interview with WCCO’s Esme Murphy simply verifies as fact that the Entenza and Robinson don’t share Minnesota’s priorities.

Implied in Ms. Robinson’s statement is that we need big government to have a prosperous state. I don’t think Minnesotans will agree with that opinion.

Following his interview of Entenza and Robinson, Hauser then spoke with former DFL state senator Ember Reichgott-Junge and Sarah Janacek. Here’s what Sarah said about whether there was a frontrunner as of right now:

SARAH: I do not think there is a frontrunner but I think in the end, and I’m glad that Tom Emmer didn’t take the no new taxes pledge, people are feeling taxed enough and so you have Horner and the Democrats who are on the record wanting to increase taxes and you’ve got Emmer, who doesn’t want to raise taxes and I don’t see how he doesn’t win.

Based on Minnesotans’ oft-stated support for no tax increases, I’d say Sarah’s prediction is exactly right. Here’s what Reichgott-Junge said:

EMBER REICHGOTT-JUNGE: I think those numbers are going to change, Tom, as people define Tom Emmer and talk about his record and his comments on the floor.

That’s what the Alliance for a Better Minnesota is already doing with their Tom Emmer’s Minnesota website. One read of ABM’s blog will prove that this organization’s intentions are anything but honorable. It’s essential that Republicans counter ABM’s lies and distortions.

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From the minute the White House issued their statement on the Sestak Scandal, people have been questioning the White House’s version of events. (Notice I didn’t imply that it was the truth.) With each passing minute, more questions are being raised. What’s worse (for Sestak and the Obama administration) is that information is surfacing that says Rep. Sestak, as an elected official, wasn’t eligible to serve on this board:

According to the Board’s official Web site:

The Board consists of not more than 16 members appointed by the President from among individuals who are not employed by the Federal Government. Members are distinguished citizens selected from the national security, political, academic, and private sectors.

Rich Lowry has 3 important questions that need answering:

Since when is a former three-star admiral going to be impressed by an offer of a position on an advisory board?

If Sestak was exaggerating all along, why didn’t the White House expose him months ago when it would have embarrassed him and perhaps help drag Specter over the finish line?

Does Rahm Emanuel give up so easily that after making Sestak an insulting offer of an advisory board slot he would have stopped trying to entice Sestak out of the race?

Compare those insightful questions with the Washington Post’s kid glove treatment of the Sestak Scandal. Here’s the opening paragraph of their editorial:

OKAY, if all the facts are out, then we would agree: Nothing inappropriate happened. On the basis of the memorandum issued Friday by White House Counsel Robert F. Bauer, the Joe Sestak job-for-dropping-out-of-Senate-race scandal is a non-scandal, except for the White House’s bungling of the episode. The unnecessary coverup, it turns out, is always worse than the non-crime.

It’s disheartening that the genuflectors at the Washington Post give the White House memo that much credibility. They shouldn’t trust that statement that quickly or without asking a ton of questions (like Rich Lowry’s) first. Here’s the final paragraph of the Washington Post editorial:

Of course, Mr. Clinton’s involvement inevitably makes any story juicier, but still: The administration could have disclosed these facts in February, when the matter first came up. Instead, it stonewalled with assurances that nothing inappropriate happened, but offered no facts to support that high-handed assertion. It continued this tactic after Mr. Sestak won the primary this month. A little transparency early on would have gone a long way to making this story die down before it became a conflagration.

The Washington Post editorial board actually hits on something worth questioning. They’ve essentially admitted that they believe Bauer’s statement. For the sake of discussion, let’s stipulated that Bauer’s statement is accurate. Why would this administration not turn Rep. Sestak’s works against him? It would’ve ended his senatorial campaign instantly.

Had Mr. Emanuel granted an interview to a Jake Tapper or a Major Garrett on the subject of Sestak, he could’ve used the interview to categorically deny that the administration offering Sestak the Navy Secretary position. Had they done that, Sestak’s senatorial campaign would’ve been over.

Since the Obama administration’s goal was to support Sen. Specter, why wouldn’t they pounce on the opportunity to stop Specter’s opponent’s campaign dead in its tracks?

As for the Washington Post’s asking why there wasn’t more “transparency” on this issue, didn’t it dawn on them that the reason why there wasn’t greater transparency might’ve been because there’s more to this story than this administration is admitting? During the Nixon years, Bob Woodward certainly didn’t accept such self-serving statements at face value.

Salena Zito’s and Mike Wereschagin’s reporting in this morning’s Pittsburgh Tribune Review highlights something most people have brushed over. Here’s what I’m refering to:

White House Counsel Robert Bauer, who wrote the Obama administration’s report on the offer, denied that a crime occurred.

“Efforts were made in June and July of 2009 to determine whether Congressman Sestak would be interested in service on a presidential or other senior executive branch advisory board, which would avoid a divisive Senate primary, allow him to retain his seat in the House, and provide him with an opportunity for additional service to the public in a high-level advisory capacity for which he was highly qualified,” Bauer wrote.

Sestak declined the offer.

“The former president said he knew I’d say that, and the conversation moved on to other subjects,” said Sestak, who served as an adviser to Clinton during his administration, when Sestak was an admiral in the Navy.

Notice the difference in the paragraphs between the use of singular and plural nouns. The Obama administration’s statement said that “efforts (plural) were made in June and July of 2009″ but Sestak’s comment was that President Clinton talked to him about the advisory position, that Sestak refused and “the conversation (singular) moved on to other subjects.”

This is important, I believe, because we’re talking about different principles in this incident saying different things. It’s quite possible that Rep. Sestak had a single conversation with President Clinton about the Senate race. Bauer’s statement might accurately reflect the White House’s involvement in the Sen. Specter/Rep. Sestak primary campaign.

If the White House used President Clinton just once to talk with Rep. Sestak, which we can’t rule out based on the principles’ statements, which person or people made other offers to Rep. Sestak after President Clinton made initial contact with Rep. Sestak? I’m wondering what other offers were made to Rep. Sestak, too.

This paragraph is filled with sanctimonious statements:

“I felt for my own personal accountability I needed to be honest, and I said yes,” Sestak said. “I mean, I didn’t try to parse the word there. And then I said after that ‘no comment’ to the follow-on questions that were asked, because I talked about my role in the matter, and I thought that was important for me to do.”

Really? There’s no parsing of words? Let’s accept that as truth. If President Clinton did make a single call to persuade Rep. Sestak to drop out of the race, which high-ranking administration official or officials made other offers to Rep. Sestak? It’s important we remember that Bauer’s statement said that multiple contacts were made in June and July, 2009. Surely, they didn’t call Rep. Sestak to make him the same offer that President Clinton made, right?

At this point, it’s apparent that this isn’t the last statement that the Obama administration will have to make. People will persist in asking whether other offers were made and who made them. Doing this document dump on the Friday before Memmorial Day weekend was meant to bury the information when nobody was paying attention. This administration has attempted this multiple times. Thus far, it hasn’t buried anything because people persist in asking additional questions when people return from long holiday weekends.

If a senior administration official offered Rep. Sestak a job like Secretary of the Navy or something similar, then that official had better hire a good attorney because he’ll need it.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

This morning, the White House Counsel’s office issued this statement in an attempt to explain what did and didn’t happen with regards to Rep. Sestak. Here’s the text of the statement:

MEMORANDUM FROM ROBERT F. BAUER, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL

SUBJECT: Review of Discussion Relating to Congressman Sestak

Recent press reports have reflected questions and speculation about discussions between White House staff and Congressman Joe Sestak in relation to his plans to run for the United States Senate. Our office has reviewed those discussions and claims made about them, focusing in particular on the suggestion that government positions may have been improperly offered to the Congressman to dissuade him from pursing a Senate candidacy.

We have concluded that allegations of improper conduct rest on factual errors and lack a basis in the law.

Secretary of the Navy. It has been suggested that the administration may have offered Congressman Sestak the position of Secretary of the Navy in the hope that he would accept the offer and abandon a Senate candidacy. This is false. The President announced his intent to nominate Ray Mabus to be Secretary of the Navy on March 26, 2009, over a month before Senator Specter announced that he was becoming a member of the Democratic Party in late April. Mabus was confirmed in May. At no time was Congressman Sestak offered, nor did he seek, the position of Secretary of the Navy.

Uncompensated Advisory Board Options. We found that Congressman has publicly and accurately stated, options for Executive Branch service were raised with him. Efforts were made in June and July of 2009 to determine whether Congressman Sestak would be interested in service on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board, which would avoid a divisive Senate primary, allow him to retain his seat in the House, and provide him with an opportunity for additional service to the public in a high-level advisory capacity for which he was highly qualified. The advisory positions discussed with Congressman Sestak, while important to the work of the Administration, would have been uncompensated.

White House staff did not discuss these options with Congressman Sestak. The White House Chief of Staff enlisted the support of former President Clinton who agreed to raise with Congressman Sestak options of service on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board. Congressman Sestak declined the suggested alternatives, remaining committed to his Senate candidacy.

Relationship to Senate Campaign. It has been suggested that discussion of alternatives to the Senate campaign were improperly raised with the Congressman. There was no such impropriety. The Democratic Party leadership had a legitimate interest in averting a divisive primary fight and a similarly legitimate concern about the Congressman vacating his seat in the House. By virtue of his career in public service, including distinguished military service, Congressman Sestak was viewed to be highly qualified to hold a range of advisory positions in which he could, while holding his House seat, have additional responsibilities of considerable potential interest to him and value to the Executive Branch.

There have been numerous, reported instances in the past when prior Administrations, both Democratic and Republican, and motivated by the same goals, discussed alternative paths to service for qualified individuals also considering campaigns for public office. Such discussions are fully consistent with the relevant law and ethical requirements.

Does this administration expect us to believe that they thought there was a good chance of persuading Rep. Sestak of dropping out of the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania by offering him “a high-level advisory” job that wasn’t compensated? Here’s what the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes tweeted minutes ago:

Did WH seriously think that Sestak would have accepted “unpaid” spot in admin? The more you think about that, the more implausible it seems.

Hayes later tweeted this:

So a seat on a “presidential board” is the same as a high-ranking administration job, the description Sestak previously agreed to? Ummm, no.

It’s insulting that this administration thinks we’re that gullible. Either that or these guys are exceptionally stupid in their political calculations. (HINT: I don’t think they’re “exceptionally stupid.”)

As usual, Ed asks the right question, then gives us the right answer. First, here’s Sestak’s statement:

Last summer, I received a phone call from President Clinton. During the course of the conversation, he expressed concern over my prospects if I were to enter the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and the value of having me stay in the House of Representatives because of my military background. He said that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had spoken with him about my being on a Presidential Board while remaining in the House of Representatives. I said no. I told President Clinton that my only consideration in getting into the Senate race or not was whether it was the right thing to do for Pennsylvania working families and not any offer. The former President said he knew I’d say that, and the conversation moved on to other subjects.

There are many important challenges facing Pennsylvania and the rest of the country. I intend to remain focused on those issues and continue my fight on behalf of working families.

Here’s Ed’s Q and A:

Excuse me, but a position on a Presidential Board is not a “job” in any sense of the word. Sestak has repeatedly insisted that the White House offered him a job to get him to withdraw from the race. Now we’re at the who’s-lying stage, and it may well be everyone.

Ed, I couldn’t agree more. The White House explanation isn’t persuasive, to put it politely. Rep. Sestak’s statement of agreement doesn’t pass the straight face test either. The bottom line is this: It’s now apparent that Rep. Sestak has backtracked from his oft-repeated story that he was offered a job.

I hope Pat Toomey replays this over and over and over again to remind people that Rep. Sestak is, first and foremost, just another corrupt yes man that’ll do whatever President Obama tells him to. Rep. Sestak dramatically changed his story the minute the White House told him to.

Pennsylvania, is that the type of representation you want?

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

After reading Scott Johnson’s post titled “A Thug Too Far, Part 5“, I started thinking about something from his post. In his post, Scott quoted Big Government’s Mike Flynn. Here’s what Flynn wrote:

First, the DC police official says emphatically that their police officers did not cross into Maryland…except when they did. It seems one of their officers, according to their official, made a wrong turn and didn’t fully understand the DC/Maryland border and may have ‘briefly’ been inside Maryland. A wrong turn and a brief excursion through the Maryland suburbs is hardly worth mentioning if that is all that really happened. No one would notice, nor remark on, an errant 30 second diversion through Maryland streets. This story has the classic feel of a diversion; a pat, simple excuse to cover up any other behavior that comes to light. Any future eyewitness accounts of DC police cars at the scene? Yeah, that was that one cop who didn’t know her jurisdiction’s borders and was ‘lost’.

Second, the Maryland police official says, contrary to other statements made by his department, that they were immediately notified by DC police that the protesters were entering their jurisdiction. According to the official, Maryland police met with DC police at the border to get a situation report and then proceeded to the protest. When they arrived, the official claims, the protesters were already dispersing.

Remember that the official says that the site of the protest is “one or two blocks from the DC border.” Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot…

Fourteen buses start crossing the Maryland border (at which point we’re supposed to believe the Maryland police were immediately notified), they find parking on residential streets, unload their protesters, assemble 500 people on a private lawn, engage in threatening verbal abuse long enough to force a 14 year old boy to lock himself into a bathroom…and the Maryland police get there as they are dispersing? Is their police headquarters in Delaware.

Thankfully, I don’t live in Montgomery County. This is the kind of public safety and police protection for which they pay ridiculously high property taxes? They get a ‘situation report’ that 500 protesters are targeting a private citizen’s home and they send 3 police officers? Really? They could only spare 3 officers on a Sunday in Montgomery County?

That information set off some red flags for me. Here’s what I found:

The Montgomery County Chief of Police is J. Thomas Munger. According to his bio, Chief Munger is a member of PERF, which stands for Police Executive Research Forum. According to PERF’s webpage, here’s what they stand for:

The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) is a national membership organization of progressive police executives from the largest city, county and state law enforcement agencies.

Being a progressive police chief doesn’t mean that they’re corrupt. It just informs me what his political beliefs are. What I don’t know is whether his political beliefs would lead to a different response to this event involving SEIU thugs as opposed to a different group with different political leanings.

What’s worth noting is that PERF supplied the police chiefs for Eric Holder’s event earlier this week in which he criticized Arizona’s immigration/law enforcement law. A number of PERF’s police chiefs criticized Arizona’s immigration/law enforcement law from the podium, too.

I’m perfectly willing to reserve judgment on that subject and let the facts speak for themselves.

When I watched Megyn Kelly interview the two police chiefs, I knew something didn’t add up. After it was reported that Nina Easton was the next door neighbor to BofA deputy general Greg Baer and that she called the Montgomery County Police Department, I knew that we’d learn what really happened.

During his interview with Megyn Kelly, Montgomery Police Department Captain Paul Stark admitted that their police officers met with DC police “along the DC line and shared information”. He then said that the 3 Montgomery County police officers who met with DC police then went to the protest and that, by that time, the crowd was dispersing. He later said that it was a peaceful protest. Does this look like a peaceful protest?
Seeing that picture raises more questions for me. If the police weren’t there, which Capt. Stark admitted they weren’t, how would they know that the protest was peaceful? Are they taking the SEIU thugs’ word on it? Further complicating that answer is the fact that he was shown the video of the unruly protest during his interview with Megyn Kelly. SEIU’s actions on that video say that the ‘protest’ was anything but peaceful in nature.

Frankly, it bothers me that Capt. Stark would call it a protest. What I saw looked more like an act of intimidation, a warning to executives of financial institutions like BofA and AIG wherever they live. This act of intimidation was, I believe, a message to executives that SEIU won’t hesitate in using barbaric tactics and threats of intimidation to achieve their goal.

It’s time that the Montgomery County Police Department launched an investigation into what happened that day on Greg Baer’s property. As Ms. Kelly notes, while SEIU’s actions don’t rise to a felony, they certainly rise to the level of misdemeanor crimes.

The other thing that Capt. Stark said that I find troubling was that they couldn’t do anything because they weren’t there to witness SEIU’s actions. That’s absurd in the extreme. Using that logic, police wouldn’t be able to prosecute violent criminals because violent criminals rarely notify the police that they’re going to commit an act of violence.

There’s just too many questions that still are unanswered for this act of intimidation to disappear. Unless the Montgomery County Police conduct a thorough investigation into SEIU’s acts of intimidation, this incident will cement in Americans’ minds that one of President Obama’s key allies is corrupt and potentially menacing.

Chief Munger and Capt. Stark need to know that they’re being held accountable for conducting an exhaustive investigation. SEIU needs to know that their thuggish behavior will be prosecuted each time their actions warrant it.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

I’ve never doubted that politics is a contact sport. People seeking political office should expect their opponents taking shots at them from time to time. The higher the office, the more candidates should expect to be a target.

That said, I’ve noticed that the unions aren’t even slightly concerned with telling the truth about Tom Emmer. Their latest post at Tom Emmer’s Minnesota is no more in touch with reality than any of the others but it’s a perfect example of what the unions are willing to say about Tom Emmer:

Settle in high flying corporate executives, because Tom Emmer’s Minnesota is going to be more fun than your last trip in a golden parachute. Here in Tom Emmer’s Minnesota, we believe that paying for good schools and hospitals is the job of the unwashed masses. That’s why the slightly regressive taxes of the past have been replaced by a massively regressive tax code in Tom Emmer’s Minnesota.

In Tom Emmer’s Minnesota, we don’t even care if you have your interns set up post office boxes all over the world to avoid paying your taxes. Even if those funds would go to fund nursing homes and other medical facilities, in Tom Emmer’s Minnesota we want nothing to get in the way of the gobs and gobs of money coming your way, not even fair play.

Rest assured, my very rich friend. This isn’t just a one-time deal. You can trust that in Tom Emmer’s Minnesota, solid investment in good schools, nursing home facilities, clean lakes, fixing roads or health care for “regular folk” will never get in the way of your extreme wealth and stealthy tax maneuvering.

That these unions are that hostile towards the people who write the checks isn’t surprising. It’s just sickening.

It isn’t surprising because we’ve already learned that the NEA opposed the DC Opportunity Scholarship program and got the program killed:

House and Senate Appropriators this week ignored the wishes of D.C.’s mayor, D.C.’s public schools chancellor, a majority of D.C.’s city council, and more than 70 percent of D.C. residents and have mandated the slow death of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. This successful school voucher program “for D.C.’s poorest familie” has allowed more than 3,300 children to attend the best schools they have ever known.

The decision to end the program, a decision buried in a thousand-page spending bill and announced right before the holidays, destroys the hopes and dreams of thousands of D.C. families. Parents and children have rallied countless times over the past year in support of reauthorization and in favor of strengthening the OSP.

Here’s what the NEA had said previously about the OSP:

The Opportunity Scholarship Program was established as a five-year pilot under the Bush Administration. It was imposed on the residents of the District of Columbia over the objections of numerous pro-public education Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and the residents of the District of Columbia. Congress has never imposed a federal voucher program on any other jurisdiction in the nation, but chose to implement this experiment in the District of Columbia, whose residents have no vote in Congress, despite opposition from a majority of the City Council.

This is important to know because the NEA is one of the organizations included in ABM’s ‘family of organizations’. The Alliance for a Better Minnesota isn’t a stranger to outrageous accusations. Here’s one of their golden oldies:

What do I mean? I mean drastic cuts to school budgets, essentials services like road plowing in the winter, and Minnesotans having to hold out their tin cup begging for a charity check-up from their doctor.

This is the first set of dishonest accusations I read that Alliance for a Better Minnesota made against Tom Emmer.

The fact that Tom wants to reform government that’s more responsive to the people scares the unions because they’ve taken decades to build a system of resisting change. The fact that Tom wants to upset their racket is forcing them to respond. Their responses have been erratic, over the top and not even loosely associated with the truth.

The Alliance for a Better Minnesota isn’t building a reputation for telling the truth. Frankly, their scare tactics aren’t working in defining Tom Emmer. Anyone with half a brain knows that their accusations are either dishonest or the rantings of a paranoid person. And I’m fairly certain that few voters think that paranoid people get the funding for this type of website.

It’s time to expose the Alliance for a Better Minnesota for what it is: an organization created to distort and destroy candidates it doesn’t agree with. I haven’t seen proof that they hesitate in making things up.

Based on their organizational pedigree, I’m not holding my breath on that happening.

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According to Scott Rasmussen’s polling, President Obama’s approval rating is tanking:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows that 23% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty-five percent (45%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -22. That’s the lowest Approval Index rating yet measured for this president.

Enthusiasm for the president among Democrats, which bounced following passage of the health care law, has faded again. Just 48% of those in the president’s party now Strongly Approve of Obama’s performance. That’s down from 65% earlier.

It doesn’t get much worse than when party loyalists stop enthusiastically supporting a president. That’s a splash of cold water to the face. The news that the strongly approve number dropped 17 points amongst Democrats is the ultimate slap in the face.

Here’s another tidbit of information that’s likely causing heartburn at the White House:

The number who give the president good or excellent marks for handling the economy has fallen to 35%.

That isn’t good news when the economy, the $1,000,000,000,000+ annual deficits and jobs are the most important issues to voters.

Combine that with the fact that people are increasingly uneasy because of the stock market’s wild fluctuations and Europe’s debt crisis and you’ve got alot of people worried about their current lot in life and about their children’s future.

That’s before we factor in that the first stimulus bill has been a total failure to this point. Now they’re having to craft new stimulus bills. This new stimulus bill, which won’t be called a stimulus bill for obvious reasons, won’t do much to trigger a widespread, sustained economic recovery.

Factor in things like the Democrats’ lack of support for Arizona’s immigration/law enforcement law and the crisis in the Gulf and you’ve got the fixings of a difficult year for Democrats.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

The Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s Xavier Lopez’s recent post calls for their activists to call Sens. Klobuchar and Franken to Speak Up For Education and Kids:

As a Minnesotan, I take pride in our state’s education system.

But Republican Governor Candidate Tom Emmer, and his support for Tim Pawlenty’s cuts to K-12 education, are putting Minnesota on the wrong track.

Our state’s economy is closely tied with the success of our schools. Without enough funding, our schools have crowded classrooms, little or no music, arts and physical education programs and some schools are even being forced to move to a four day school week.

We can’t succeed in a global economy if we’re cheating our kids out of the quality education that they deserve.

Instead of addressing these problems, Republicans like Emmer and Pawlenty are playing partisan games with our children’s education by not applying for free federal money money that could fill part of the budget hole.

You have an opportunity to reverse the mistake of Republicans and secure funding to protect teacher jobs around the state.

Please call Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken at at 1-866-608-6355 to urge them to support the Keep Our Educators Working Act. This legislation will help Minnesota provide desperately needed money to school districts that will save or create 5,200 jobs across the state.

What’s odd about this is that David Obey wrote language into the Omnibus Spending Bill to kill the DC Opportunity Scholarship program. The leaders of D.C.’s school choice movement, Kevin P. Chavous (former D.C. Councilman) and Virginia Walden Ford (executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice issued this statement criticizing Obey’s bill:

“House and Senate Appropriators this week ignored the wishes of D.C.’s mayor, D.C.’s public schools chancellor, a majority of D.C.’s city council, and more than 70 percent of D.C. residents and have mandated the slow death of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. This successful school voucher program “for D.C.’s poorest families” has allowed more than 3,300 children to attend the best schools they have ever known.

The decision to end the program, a decision buried in a thousand-page spending bill and announced right before the holidays, destroys the hopes and dreams of thousands of D.C. families. Parents and children have rallied countless times over the past year in support of reauthorization and in favor of strengthening the OSP.

Yet, despite the clearly positive results and the proven success of this program, Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Jose Serrano, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Secretary Arne Duncan worked together to kill the OSP. Funding the program only for existing children shrinks the program each year, compromises the federal evaluation of the program, denies entry to the siblings of existing participants, and punishes those children waiting in line by sentencing them to failing and often unsafe schools.

What is incredibly disappointing to low-income families in Washington, D.C. has been the silence of President Barack Obama. The President, who benefited from K-12 scholarships himself, worked on behalf of low-income families in Chicago, and exercises school choice as a parent, has stood silently on the sidelines while his Secretary of Education belittled the importance of helping such a small number of children in the nation’s capital.

Now, the fate of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and the low-income children it serves and could serve depends on the willingness of Congressional supporters to insist that the FY 2010 budget allows additional children to participate in the OSP. We call on President Obama and Senator Durbin to stand up and do the right thing. Stand with the children of low-income families in Washington, D.C. who deserve access to a quality education right now “not five years from now” but right now. These children deserve that opportunity.”

The Democrats keep talking like they’re for the children. At the time, I wrote a post titled “The Lobbyists vs. the Children“, in which I scolded the Democrats for putting a higher priority on what the unions want than on what’s best for children.

According to this lengthy policy paper, the NEA opposed the OSP:

NEA opposes any extension of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program beyond what is currently provided for under current law. This voucher program, designed as a five-year pilot, has already been extended for one additional year specifically to allow participating students and schools to adjust to the program’s termination and make the necessary transitions. The program has not been proven to increase student achievement. There is no reason to continue to divert scarce resources to a pilot program that has been proven ineffective.

Vouchers are not real education reform. Pulling 1,700 children out of a system that serves 65,000 doesn’t solve problems; it ignores them. Real reform will put a qualified teacher in every classroom, keep their skills up to date with continuing education, and raise pay to attract and retain the best teachers. Rather than offering a chance for a few, we should be ensuring that every child has access to a great public school.

The premise of their statement is wrong. Parents should be given the widest range of educational opportunities possible. Saying that “1,700 children are pulled out of” public schools is backwards thinking. The public schools aren’t entitled to the money regardless of what the NEA or EdMinn says.

I’d also take issue with the statement that the DC public school system serves 65,000 students. I’ll agree that there are 65,000 students currently attending public schools but I refuse to agree that the schools are serving them. I’d argue that the NEA did underprivileged DC children a disservice by opposing the DC Opportunity Scholarship program.

It’s the height of chutzpah for the Alliance for a Better Minnesota to criticize Tom Emmer’s education policies simply because he wants to give parents the biggest set of education options rather than giving EdMinn the funding that they want. After a certain point, it’s about the educational outcomes, not the dollars.

It’s time for the Alliance for a Better Minnesota to get called on their advocacy for union policies rather than advocating for children. They should be ashamed of themselves.

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This morning, I interviewed Rep. Bishop, (R-UT). Rep. Bishop said that America Speaking Out was designed to solicit the public’s input on a range of issues, including making known their priorities and specific policy ideas. Rep. Bishop also said that there would be a two-way dialogue between legislators and constituents.

During the interview, Rep. Bishop said that there would be a series of townhall meetings after enough data had been collected. The goal is to give people a voice in their future.

Rep. Bishop said that Republicans will gather information from a number of different sources in determining what the people’s priorities are. He then added that they’d also use this information when talking with their governors and with the various governor’s associations.

Rep. Bishop also said he was part of the Tenth Amendment Task Force, with Marsha Blackburn and Randy Neugebauer, Jason Chaffetz, Michael Conaway, John Culberson, Scott Garrett, Doug Lamborn, Cynthia Lummis and Tom McClintock.

Rep. Bishop said that the purpose of this task force was to work hand-in-hand with America Speaking Out, with America Speaking Out gathering information that the Tenth Amendment Task Force could use.

When I said that America Speaking Out seems like an online version of the TEA Party movement, Rep. Bishop said that the description seemed like a good fit.

I’d like to thank Rep. Bishop for his leadership in getting the House GOP Tenth Amendment Task Force going and for this interview. It’s this type of thing that will help Republicans earn the trust of the American people.

Rep. Bishop said that we’d likely be in better financial shape had President Obama signed the Republican stimulus plan rather than signing the Democrats’ bill.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Already this morning, I had the privilege of interviewing Rep. Jeb Hensarling, (R-TX), about the GOP’s addition of a new tool to their online toolbox. I’m referring to America Speaking Out.

My first question for Rep. Hensarling was whether he thought that America Speaking Out was an online version of the TEA Party movement. Rep. Hensarling said that he “hadn’t thought of it that way” but that “it certainly could be thought of that way.”

Rep. Hensarling said that the health care debate showed people that Democrats weren’t listening to them. He later said that that’s what got people who were nominally involved in politics to get actively involved in politics for the first time in their lives. According to Rep. Hensarling, these people clearly want to return the country to its first principles of personal liberty and limited government.

I then mentioned that I’m one of Michele Bachmann’s constituents. Rep. Hensarling’s response was quick and filled with enthusiasm. “I am a big fan of Michele Bachmann’s. You are so lucky to have her as your representative. She’s done so much to energize the Republican Party.”

My reply was that “the guy living in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. hadn’t done too bad a job of that, too.” Rep. Hensarling’s response was that he agreed, adding that “Who would’ve thought that Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan would be the two presidents that energized the Republican Party the most?”

I strongly encourage this blog’s readers to visit America Speaking Out. Once you’re there, you can create your own login ID. My limited experience with the website is that it’s extremely user friendly.

Finally, I asked Rep. Hensarling about the YouTube video with Kevin McCarthy’s face on it meant that this website was about a new Contract with America. He said that it isn’t, that it’s about stemming the 111th Congress’s strong leftward turn.

I’d like to thank Rep. Hensarling for taking the time for the interview. It’s part of the GOP’s effort to promote its new website. I’m actively involved in that effort, with another interview coming later today with Rep. Rob Bishop, (R-UT), and with a blogger conference call with House Chief Deputy Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, Chairman for the America Speaking Out project, Congressman Peter Roskam, Co-Chairman of the project, and Republican Conference Vice Chair Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

When Sen. Pogemiller and Sen. Berglin visited St. Cloud last week during the DFL post-session flyaround, she talked repeatedly about how Minnesota would get $7.45 back for every Minnesota dollar spent on Medicaid expansion. Meanwhile, the Rochester Post Bulletin criticized Republicans for not accepting that money:

Clinic lobbyist Frank Iossi said Mayo Clinic and Mayo Health System stand to lose $20 million to $25 million a year because lawmakers chose not to enroll in an expanded Medicaid program available at the federal level. On top of that, he said hospitals had agreed to a 2-percent rate cut and to delay rebasing, which reassesses Medicaid rates, in order to get the Medicaid expansion. But while those additional cuts went through, the Medicaid expansion got bogged down in political wrangling.

“Hospitals paid for the state’s share of early enrollment in Medicaid but didn’t get it,” Iossi said.

In total, Iossi said the 2-percent cut will cost hospitals statewide $44 million, and roughly a $6.6 million cut for Mayo Clinic and Mayo Health System. The rebasing delay also amounts to an estimated $100 million loss for hospitals statewide.

What the Mayo Clinic isn’t mentioning is that there are some expensive strings attached to that money. Since the article ran, I’ve done some digging into what’s attached to the fed’s money. Here’s just a few things attached:

First off, ObamaCare doesn’t guarantee that the federal money will be there after 2014. That means the states might be left with the entire cost of MA or having to kick people off health care coverage.

Even with the federal government paying a larger share, there is still an increased cost to the state for moving more people onto MA (in Minnesota, we’d have to come up with another $1 billion next biennium as we push 100,000 people into the program). If you’re like Minnesota, your state doesn’t have the extra cash laying around!

The early MA provision imposes NO residency requirement: if you’re income eligible, all you need to do is indicate you “intend” to live in the state. So, if your state gets into this before neighboring states, you can imagine the flood of welfare recipients who will come looking for ObamaCare in your state at your taxpayers’ expense.

It’s time the MNGOP started telling people that we can’t afford the ‘free money’ from Obamacare. There’s no such thing as free money. It always comes with strings attached. Except with this administration, there aren’t strings attached, there’s cables attached.

When Sen. Berglin made it sound too good to be true, red flags went off. It turns out I was right. It was too good to be true. Now I know what parts were too good to be believed.

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