Archive for June, 2010

It’s apparent, putting it charitably, that Mark Dayton is mathematically challenged. Based on Eric Black’s reporting, Mark Dayton is about to start running two new 30-second ads:

The Mark Dayton for guv campaign is about to start airing two new 30-second TV ads, which will presumably replace the 60-second biographical spot that’s been running the last few weeks. The new ads have different scripts and footage from one another but nearly identical in their basic pitch, which is to keep hitting Dayton’s central campaign promise to tax the rich.

Here’s the part where the fuzzy math comes in:

Dayton continues to cite his favorite fact, which is that if the wealthiest 10 percent of Minnesotans paid the same share of their incomes in state and local taxes, it would raise $4 billion in additional revenue. In the ads, he says he would get that revenue and use it for schools and the deficit.

What’s missing from that paragraph is the fact that Minnesota is projected to experience a $5,800,000,000 deficit. If we take Sen. Dayton at his word, which I think is the right decision, and if we accept the projected deficit as the likely outcome, and if we accept as fact that part of this money won’t hit the state’s general fund, you’re still left with a huge deficit.

That’s before talking about Sen. Dayton’s promise to use part of this money to increase education funding. That’s before considering the fact that raising taxes on Minnesota’s small businesses will likely drive more small businesses out of state, meaning less-than-projected revenues from this tax hike.

Several times during this year’s session, Rep. Steve Gottwalt said that Minnesota politicians had to stop trying to “kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.” During a recent conversation with Rep. Gottwalt, I said that it isn’t that we’re killing the goose that lays the golden eggs as much as we’re chasing it away into North and South Dakota, Texas, Colorado and Utah.

With the DFL hell-bent on feeding their spending habits by raising taxes, there’s little wonder why businesses are leaving the state. Sen. Dayton’s tax-the-rich scheme won’t do anything to slow the rate of capital flight. If anything, his tax scheme will accelerate it.

There’s a model that we can look at if we want to know what would happen if we let the DFL have its way. Actually, we have 3 models: California, New York and Michigan. Each of those states is a fiscal disaster. If that’s what Minnesotans aspire to, they should vote DFL and Dayton.

If they’d rather avoid that fate, they’d be wise to vote in GOP majorities in the House and Senate and Tom Emmer as governor.

To be clear, wealthy Minnesotans do not pay a lower state income tax rate than others, they pay a higher rate. But the official tax incidence study, which studies the impact of all taxes, including sales and property taxes, finds that the wealthiest Minnesotans pay a smaller share of their come than the share paid by average Minnesotans. Dayton hasn’t given all the details on how he would raise taxes on the rich, but a couple of components would be new top brackets (he hasn’t specified what the rates would be on those brackets) and extra property taxes on very expensive homes.

Last session’s $435,000,000 tax increase would’ve still left Minnesota with a deficit of more than $2,500,000,000. If Sen. Dayton’s tax increase brought in an additional $1,000,000,000, that would leave Minnesota with a deficit of almost $5,000,000,000.

PS- The fiscal note attached to Rep. Lenczewski’s and Sen. Bakk’s tax increase bill said that 57 percent of the people affected by this new higher income tax bracket would be small businesses and family farm.

That essentially leaves Minnesota with two options: either making the Pawlenty unallotments/spending shift permanent or raising taxes on Minnesota’s middle class.

If Sen. Dayton wants to raise taxes, then spend a significant portion of those projected additional revenues to increase education spending, then there isn’t much choice but to accept as fact that middle class families will experience a more onerous tax burden if Sen. Dayton is elected than they currently experience.

Forgive me if I don’t consider that as a viable option for returning Minnesota to sustained prosperity. Rather, I see that as a recipe for turning Minnesota into a colder California.


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Janet Napolitano, the most inept DHS secretary thus far, is essentially throwing in the towel on securing the U.S.-Mexico border:

Napolitano spoke and answered questions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on “Securing the Border: A Smarter Law Enforcement Approach,” on Wednesday.

When asked if she could give a timeline on when the border would be secured, Napolitano said, “The plain fact of the matter is the border is as secure now as it has ever been, but we know we can always do more. And that will always be the case.

“It’s a big border,” she said. “It’s 1,960 miles across that Southwest border. It’s some of the roughest, toughest geographical terrain in the world across that border. And so, the notion that you’re going to seal that border somehow is something that anybody who’s been involved in the actual doing of law enforcement, the front office work or the front line work of the law enforcement, would say, ‘You’re never going to totally seal that border.’”

Arizonans aren’t expecting it to be 100 percent sealed. I suspect that they’d be thrilled having the federal government go after the drug cartels that are waging war where killing, kidnapping and intimidating people, including law enforcement officials, is commonplace.

Apparently, it’s asking too much of Ms. Napolitano to aggressively go on the offensive against the drug cartels’ campaign of violence and intimidation. What’s particularly aggravating is that the Obama administration isn’t putting any sort of high priority on stopping the violence against Arizonans. Apparently, they think that fulfilling their responsibilities isn’t part of their job description.

Napolitano was also asked if she thought that Republicans withholding support for comprehensive immigration reform until the border is secured was political posturing.

“The notion that you’re gonna’ somehow seal the border, and only at that point will you discuss immigration reform, that is not an answer to the problem,” she said.

If we apply that logic to the Gulf oil spill, then Ms. Napolitano’s question would read like this:

“The notion that you’re gonna somehow cap the well and stop the environmental damage first and that only then will you talk about putting a new energy policy together, that isn’t an answer to the problem.”

This notion that the federal government doesn’t have the wherewithal to stop the violence the drug cartels are visiting upon Arizonans is disturbing and absurd. If this administration stopped pussyfooting around on this issue and went on the offensive against the drug cartels, this issue would show significant improvement in a relatively short period of time.

What’s particularly aggravating is that Napolitano sees this solely as an immigration issue. That’s wrong-headed thinking. It’s also a public safety/law enforcement issue. Certainly, it isn’t illegal for Arizona’s law enforcement officials to protect Arizonans. If the Obama administration wants to try making that case, they’re in for a difficult fight.

What Ms. Napolitano and others in the Obama administration have done is they’ve talked about Arizona’s crisis in merely immigration terms. People are getting kidnapped, murdered and threatened by invading drug cartels. If people started focusing on the fact that this isn’t just about immigration, the Obama administration would lose this fight in a heartbeat.

It’s time that people understood the impact the coyotes are having on Arizona’s safety. It’s long past time that President stepped up and did his job of protecting all United States citizens. If he isn’t willing to do that, then it’s important that we remove him in 2012.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

When President Obama gave his speech about the BP oil spill, much was made of his using war terminology. Weeks later, it appears that, like everything else Obama, it was just talk. Actually, it’s pretty obvious that the only war he’s waging in the Gulf is with Gulf state governors, fishermen and environmentalists. Rep. Dan Burton’s op-ed in Human Events highlights some things that the American people need to know about:

On the 65th day of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the crisis continued unmitigated, with hardly any talk of capping, containing, or cleaning the spill. Rather, the headlines on day 65 were about the federal court’s rejection of the Obama Administration’s moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

While the President’s legal team mounts their appeal and drafts a new explanation for why we need a “pause” in drilling across the gulf, they should include a chapter about Brazil. Specifically, why the “pause” excludes a multi-billion dollar, U.S. taxpayer-funded loan program designed to assist Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras, in drilling off the coast of Brazil in waters deeper than the Gulf of Mexico.

As you might expect, Brazil and Petrobras will benefit substantially from the U.S.-government loans, but the real boondoggle lies within President Obama’s gulf drilling moratorium. If the gulf becomes off-limits, much of its $124 billion offshore drilling industry, and the jobs and technology that come with it, will transfer from the Gulf of Mexico to Brazil. In fact, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation is already making plans to relocate its rigs to Brazil if they are idled by the U.S. drilling ban.

President Obama is helping the economy. Unfortunately, the economy he’s helping with his inaction is Brazil’s. It’s unconscienable that President Obama has declared war on the economies of Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama. Tourism was already floundering before the oil spill. It’s essentially nonexistent now.

What’s worse is that the Obama administration has done everything in its power to prevent Gulf coast governors from protecting their states’ natural resources by insisting on scuttling Louisiana’s plans to build berms to protect their fragile wetlands. They’ve also grounded skimmers because the Obama administration beached them to make sure they had the requisite number of lifejackets onboard:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has spent the past week and half fighting to get working barges to begin vacuuming crude oil out of his state’s oil-soaked waters. By Thursday morning, against the governor’s wishes, those barges still were sitting idle, even as more oil flowed toward the Louisiana shore.

“It’s the most frustrating thing,” the Republican governor told ABC News while visiting Buras, La. “Literally, [Wednesday] morning we found out that they were halting all of these barges.”

Watch “World News” for David Muir’s report from Louisiana tonight.

Sixteen barges sat stationary Thursday, although they had been sucking up thousands of gallons of BP’s oil as recently as Tuesday. Workers in hazmat suits and gas masks pumped the oil out of the Louisiana waters and into steel tanks. It was a homegrown idea that seemed to be effective at collecting the thick gunk.

Experienced executives know that the first thing you do in a crisis is you waive certain rules if they’re getting in the way of a swift response. Unfortunately, we didn’t elect an experienced executive. For that matter, we didn’t elect any type of executive. We elected Barack Obama instead.

What’s become painfully obvious throughout this crisis is that President Obama didn’t take charge, he didn’t waive the Jones Act, he didn’t accept help from the countries that offered to help skim the oil and protect the environment. In short, he failed to live up to his responsibilities.

Just like President Obama can’t plug the well, BP can’t waive the Jones Act or accept help from other nations. If I was BP, I’d file a lawsuit against the federal government for failing to live up to its responsibilities. Had the Obama administration done what other administrations would’ve done, the widespread environmental damage wouldn’t have happened, at least not to this extent.

I empathize with President Obama’s environmental allies. He’s let them down in a big way. They understand that his inaction significantly contributed to the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history.

What’s worse is that, if the moratorium is granted by the courts, the rigs will be shipped to Brazil’s coastal waters, Gulf state workers will lose their jobs and the Gulf states’ economies will be ruined for a decade.

Instead of meeeting with lawyers to soak BP, President Obama should’ve been meeting with engineers and people with solutions to the then-impending environmental catastrophe:

“The Coast Guard came and shut them down,” Jindal said. “You got men on the barges in the oil, and they have been told by the Coast Guard, ‘Cease and desist. Stop sucking up that oil.'”

A Coast Guard representative told ABC News that it shares the same goal as the governor. “We are all in this together. The enemy is the oil,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Dan Lauer.

But the Coast Guard ordered the stoppage because of reasons that Jindal found frustrating. The Coast Guard needed to confirm that there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board, and then it had trouble contacting the people who built the barges.

The governor said he didn’t have the authority to overrule the Coast Guard’s decision, though he said he tried to reach the White House to raise his concerns.

“They promised us they were going to get it done as quickly as possible,” he said. But “every time you talk to someone different at the Coast Guard, you get a different answer.”

This is a catastrophe in search for a point person. Thus far, the Obama administration has failed miserably in that respect. Naming Adm. Thad Allen hasn’t improved emergency operations by any significant amount. The Jones Act still hasn’t been waived. Foreign skimmers still haven’t been invited in to any meaningful extent. The Coast Guard still is doing more harm than good.

I haven’t seen proof that the Obama administration will get these things done anytime soon. Each day that his administration’s response to the crisis is found lacking, the less likely it becomes that voters will grant President Obama a second term.

In fact, the longer the Obama administration mishandles this catastrophe, the more likely it is that President Obama will be seen as a failure. It’s also more likely that congressional Democrats will get hurt by his plummeting job approval ratings.

In Alabama Thursday, Gov. Bob Riley said that he’s had problems with the Coast Guard, too. Riley, R-Ala., asked the Coast Guard to find ocean boom tall enough to handle strong waves and protect his shoreline.

The Coast Guard went all the way to Bahrain to find it, but when it came time to deploy it? “It was picked up and moved to Louisiana,” Riley said.

The governor said the problem is there’s still no single person giving a “yes” or “no.” While the Gulf Coast governors have developed plans with the Coast Guard’s command center in the Gulf, things begin to shift when other agencies start weighing in, like the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“It’s like this huge committee down there,” Riley said, “and every decision that we try to implement, any one person on that committee has absolute veto power.”

I wrote in this post about President Obama’s speech to the nation from the Oval Office. Here’s what President Obama said then:

But make no mistake: We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes.

From the very beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge of the largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation’s history, an effort led by Admiral Thad Allen, who has almost 40 years of experience responding to disasters. We now have nearly 30,000 personnel who are working across four states to contain and clean up the oil. Thousands of ships and other vessels are responding in the Gulf.

Adm. Allen hasn’t pulled the agencies and bureaucracies together, possibly because President Obama didn’t give him that authority. The EPA and Coast Guard are still operating as though this wasn’t a crisis situation.

If this were an indictment of President Obama’s crisis management, we’d be at the point where President Obama pleads guilty to gross mismanagement and throws himself on the mercy of the court.

This won’t be the last crisis we’ll see before 2016. Based on President Obama’s mismanagement of this crisis and the economic crisis, part of which he’s responsible for creating, I don’t see any rationalization or justifification for his re-election.

He’s in way over his head. What’s worse is that I don’t see him learning from the experience.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

With the Kagan hearings scheduled for this week, Al Franken’s lack of understanding of the Constitution will be on full display. Prior to his asking Kagan a single question, Franken’s lack of understanding or his willingness to ignore the Constitution are already on display, thanks in large part to State Rep. Ryan Winkler’s op-ed:

Franken said in his speech that the Roberts court has a judicial-activist majority that does not respect precedent or defer to the people’s elected leaders to make policy. He discussed the granddaddy of all corporate judicial-activist decisions: Citizens United vs. FEC. We have all heard about this case, the one in which the Roberts court overturned nearly 100 years of precedent on corporations’ supposed free-speech rights, struck down restrictions on corporate political money and gave corporations new First Amendment protections that the vast majority of Americans oppose.

What Rep. Winkler obviously didn’t consider is that the supposedly 100 years of precedent stood in opposition to the Constitution. It’s obvious that Rep. Winkler hasn’t figured out that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights trumps precedents.

The only thing that precedents mean is that SCOTUS has ruled on similar issues before. It doesn’t guarantee that those rulings upheld the Constitution. If the current set of justices determine that the precedents reflect prior courts’ policy preferences instead of the Constitution, it’s their responsibility to correct prior court’s mistakes.

These unaccountable, lifetime judges were making law in Citizens United. Franken pointed out that Roberts had promised Congress that he would be an umpire on the Supreme Court, calling balls and strikes, not making policy. Given the judicial activism practiced in Citizens United, Franken was right to question whether Roberts is a mere umpire.

First, Rep. Winkler’s balls and strikes metaphor is a misstatement. Bloviating Joe Biden, in his 9-minute speech before he started asking then-Judge Roberts questions, used the balls and strikes analogy.

Second, the Roberts Court didn’t make new law. It just reset things to what the Constitution called for. Here’s what the First Amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Noticeably absent from the text of the First Amendment is mention that corporations didn’t enjoy the same First Amendment rights as John Q. Public enjoys. Given the fact that the Founding Fathers clearly wanted to err on the side of more speech, not less, it isn’t likely that they would’ve wanted to restrict anyone’s or anything’s ability to speak out on the political issues of the day.

Of all the foolish things Rep. Winkler said in his op-ed, this is easily the most foolish:

Contrary to Gerson’s claim, Franken is no ideologue. He’s telling the truth. It’s just that Gerson, and the corporate interests he favors in his columns, don’t like it.

Al Franken isn’t an ideologue? What rock has Rep. Winkler been hiding under? Sen. Franken is nothing if not an ideologue. Here’s proof that Sen. Franken is an ideologue:

Republicans are shameless d**ks. No, that’s not fair. Republican politicians are shameless d**ks.
Minnesota Republican Norman Coleman is one of the administration’s leading butt boys.
I’m Al Franken. I hate you, and you hate me. How Franken said he introduced himself to Karl Rove, Newsweek, March 29, 2004

Do those sound like the things that an open-minded statesman would say? I didn’t think so.

The next time Rep. Winkler writes an op-ed, he should reconsider. I’ve enjoyed fisking this factually-challenged missive. Fisks this easy don’t happen that often.

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Over the weekend, people across the internet have said that there shouldn’t be a problem having Kenneth Feinberg administer the funds from BP, citing his work as administrator of the 9/11 funds. From the outset, I’ve thought that comparing the two responsibilities as comparing apples with oranges. Thanks to this op-ed, I can now illustrate the difference:

9/11 Fund: Once Was Enough
By Kenneth R. Feinberg
Thursday, September 11, 2008

As we reflect on the awful events that took place seven years ago today, it is inevitable that we will think about the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. Congress passed the act creating the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund just 11 days after the attacks, and President Bush quickly signed it into law. This bipartisan statute was the first of its kind, providing generous tax-free public compensation to the physically injured and to the families of the dead.

Over the next 33 months, the fund paid out more than $7 billion to 5,560 people; the average award for a death claim was just over $2 million, and the average award for a physical injury claim was more than $400,000. (Sadly, there were few injury claims resulting from the attacks; people either escaped from the World Trade Center towers or the Pentagon, or they didn’t.) Never before in American history has there been an example of such taxpayer generosity.

Since the 9/11 fund was created by an act of Congress, there was never a lawsuit brought so that a court could appoint someone to administer to the paying of settlements. Instead, the legislation had a provision in it that required the appointment of someone to authorize settlements to the victims of 9/11.

By the time President Obama burst onto the settlement scene to ‘negotiate’ on behalf of the victims, BP had already started paying settlements to 20,000 victims. We know this thanks to Michele Bachmann’s interview with CNN’s John King:

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: They say, the administration says this process with Ken Feinberg, who did this for 9/11 victims will be faster. They hope more efficient than any court system would be. You disagree?

BACHMANN: Well, I don’t know. I hope that that’s true. I will give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt that I agree with them, that I hope that’s what it will be. A lot of people don’t realize that BP already had, I was curious on this, they had 600 people who were already paying out claims. There were 43,000 claims filed. 20,000 claims had already been paid off. It was in BP’s best interests to make sure the claimants were satisfied otherwise the claimants could go into a court system which is far more expensive. So as long as people are getting their claims paid, everyone is happy. We want that to happen, because as you showed earlier on your tape, real people with real lives and real livelihoods are at risk right now.

There was no legal need to name Kenneth Feinberg to oversee the settlement payments. There was a political need for it, however. Let’s remember that President Obama was getting hammered for his disappointingly lackluster speech. If he hadn’t done something, anything, he’d still be getting hammered as doing nothing about the BP-caused crisis.

President Obama still hasn’t given us proof that he’s doing anything to clean up the Gulf Coast’s beaches and wetlands. There’s no proof that he’s getting all the skimmers they need down there. There is proof that he won’t support the waiving of the Jones Act, thanks to this letter:

America needs a strong and vibrant U.S.-Flag Merchant Marine. That is why you and your members can continue to count on me to support the Jones Act (which also includes the Passenger Vessel Services Act) and the continued exclusion of maritime services in international trade agreements. American Merchant Mariners always have answered the nation’s call from the first days of the Revolutionary War to today. In peace and in war, our Mariners have stood with us and my Administration will stand with them.

To make sure our Armed Forces have the equipment and ammunition they need at the time the materiel are required, my Administration will solidly support the continuation of the Maritime Security Program. The MSP has proven itself since being enacted in 1996, making sure our troops deployed overseas have no worries about when their supplies will be delivered.

President Obama is repeatedly highlighting the fact that he’s siding with the mariners, not the victims of this environmental catastrophe.

The bottom line is this: When Kenneth Feinberg worked to administer the 9/11 funds, he stepped into a role created by an act of Congress to alleviate the pain of the greatest terrorist attack in our nation’s history.

That’s a stark contrast to his administering the BP funds, where he’s responding to a political crisis of President Obama’s making. There can be no other explanation because BP was already paying out settlements. With that fact established, there isn’t a BP payout crisis.

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The bloggers at Crooks and Liars hosted Tarryl Clark for a townhall Sunday afternoon. Their questions and Tarryl’s answers speak volumes about Tarryl’s campaign style and her priorities. This exchange is a great indicator of what’s in Tarryl’s stump speech:

DIGBY: Sorry I’m late. I’ve been avidly watching the Pete Peterson Deficit Scold Scam all morning, riveted by what a billion dollars can buy when you really want to convince people that debt 30 years from now is more important than millions of people unemployed today.

What’s your sense of people’s thoughts on all this deficit talk?

TARRYL: This is another place where Washington is not working for us. Michele Bachmann voted for the bloated Bush budgets and has voted against every real reform put in front of her. When it came down to it, she voted for higher taxes for 95% of Americans.

Congreswoman Bachmann likes to talk about fiscal responsibility, but in tough times, she has expanded her office, spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on campaign-style mailings, held a $14,000 rally at our expense, and even did radio ads on our dime.

I walk the walk of fiscal responsibility. When the economy tanked here in Minnesota, I cut my own compensation and my office expenses including gutting my stamp allowance. In Minnesota, I’ve advocated for real fiscal responsibility. I’ve championed accountability and transparency in our budget and will do so in Congress.

On the first day of the 2009 session, Sen. Amy Koch introduced an amendment that would’ve cut each senator’s stamp allowance from 5,500 stamps per biennium to 3,500 per biennium:

Each member of the Senate shall receipt to the Secretary of the Senate for the postage received.
Senator Koch moved to amend Senate Resolution No. 5 as follows:
Page 1, line 5, delete “5,500” and insert “3,500”
The question was taken on the adoption of the amendment.
The roll was called, and there were yeas 27 and nays 38.

One of the 38 people voting against cutting the stamp allowance was Tarryl Clark. In 2010, Tarryl didn’t vote for gutting her stamp allowance. She voted to maintain it:

Senate Resolution No. 141: A Senate resolution relating to postage.
For the 2010 session of the 86th Legislature, the Secretary of the Senate may purchase postage to furnish each member of the Senate 2,750 stamps. Each member named as chair of a standing committee in the Senate resolution designating committee assignments may be furnished with an additional 1,000 stamps for the necessary business of the committee.
The roll was called, and there were yeas 66 and nays 0.

It’s possible that Tarryl made the decision to cut her own postal usage but there’s no indication that she voted to cut her postal allowance or the allowances of any of her colleagues.

Tarryl is great at talking the talk but the information shows, in this instance, that she didn’t walk the walk.

That’s before talking about this statement:

When it came down to it, she voted for higher taxes for 95% of Americans.

This is the same lame line that she used in her interview with Esme Murphy:

During one of her answers, Tarryl said that “she voted for higher taxes for 95 percent of Americans when she voted against the Recovery Act.”

I can’t believe Tarryl’s repeating that discredited line. Michele Bachmann proudly voted against ARRA because it was $787,000,000,000 worth of pork. While it’s true there was a provision that gave taxpayers a $600 check, voting against the bill isn’t the same as voting for a tax increase.

For it to qualify as a tax increase, legislators would actually have to vote for a tax increase. It’s impossible to raise taxes by voting against a bill. Tarryl knows that.

Here’s another telling exchange between Howie Klein and Tarryl:

KLEIN: Tarryl, this is a kind of bipartisan question, since members of both parties are guilty. Most of the work in Congress takes place in committees, as I’m sure you’ll well aware. Do you think it’s right, or should be legal, for Members of Congress to take “donations” from executives and lobbyists whose business is the work of the committee the Member is on. In other words, if someone is on Financial Services, should they be taking money from banking lobbyists? If someone is on Agriculture, should they be taking money from Con-Agra?

I noticed that Bachmann took money from Joe Barton’s sleazy money laundering operation, the so-called Texas Freedom Fund, which allows Big Oil to donate to corrupt politicians without being tied directly to them. I also noticed she voted against the DISCLOSE Act Thursday. Would you have supported it?

TARRYL: Congresswoman Bachmann has proven time and again that she sides with special interests. Wall Street, big insurance, and big business are Congresswoman Bachmann’s constituents.

Michele Bachmann voted to keep our elections shrouded in secrecy, I would have voted to shine the light on who is influencing our elections. I would have voted for the DISCLOSE Act, despite some concerning loopholes. In light of the Supreme Court’s decision, something needed to be done now. However, more action will be needed to keep our elections fair in the future.

In Minnesota, we have very strong campaign finance laws. We signifcanly limit the amount that individuals and groups can give to candidates. We also limit how much a candidate can spend. We restrict PAC, lobbiests, and “big donors” to 20% of what we spend on a campaign. I would support a similar federal system.

I will always vote in favor of transparency and for fair and clean elections.

For all her talk about siding with the people and being an advocate for transparency, the DISCLOSE Act sides with the unions, carving out huge disclosure loopholes for unions. With all of her support from unions, of course, Tarryl could be counted on to give them preferential treatment. Here’s a comprehensive list of the unions that have endorsed her:

Greater Minnesota AFSCME, Council 65
Teamsters Joint Council 32
Minnesota Nurses Association
Minnesota Association of Professional Employees
SEIU Minnesota State Council
Minnesota AFL-CIO
Council 5 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
Education Minnesota

While Tarryl’s talking about siding with the people, she’s quietly siding with special interests of her own liking. That isn’t siding with the people. That’s just siding with a different set of special interests.

Did Tarryl side with small businesses and family farmers when she cast the 34th and deciding vote to raise their taxes? Did Tarryl side with the working poor when she voted for a list of regressive tax increases?

If that’s Tarryl’s idea of siding with ‘the people’, I’m fairly certain that they’d rather not have her on their side. This November, we’ll find out whether people bought Tarryl’s schtick.

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The New Black Panther Election Day Intimidation story isn’t new. It’s literally been in the press since Election Day, 2008. This weekend, the story took a new twist, thanks to J. Christian Adams’s op-ed. Here’s what will infuriate fair-minded Americans:

On the day President Obama was elected, armed men wearing the black berets and jackboots of the New Black Panther Party were stationed at the entrance to a polling place in Philadelphia. They brandished a weapon and intimidated voters and poll watchers. After the election, the Justice Department brought a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and those armed thugs. I and other Justice attorneys diligently pursued the case and obtained an entry of default after the defendants ignored the charges. Before a final judgment could be entered in May 2009, our superiors ordered us to dismiss the case.

The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career. Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, this month I resigned my position as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney.

We’ve known that the New Black Panthers didn’t bother to put up a legal fight. There’s no defending something with that much visual evidence. That’s a case even I could win. The facts speak for themselves.

That part isn’t new.

What’s new is that a prosecutor working the case has stepped forward to accuse the assistant attorney general for civil rights, Tom Perez, of testifying that the “facts and law” did not support this case. Here’s something else that’s new:

Most corrupt of all, the lawyers who ordered the dismissal, Loretta King, the Obama-appointed acting head of the Civil Rights Division, and Steve Rosenbaum, did not even read the internal Justice Department memorandums supporting the case and investigation. Just as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. admitted that he did not read the Arizona immigration law before he condemned it, Mr. Rosenbaum admitted that he had not bothered to read the most important department documents detailing the investigative facts and applicable law in the New Black Panther case. Christopher Coates, the former Voting Section chief, was so outraged at this dereliction of responsibility that he actually threw the memos at Mr. Rosenbaum in the meeting where they were discussing the dismissal of the case. The department subsequently removed all of Mr. Coates’ responsibilities and sent him to South Carolina.

Let’s swap out the New Black Panthers Party and insert white supremacists. Let’s swap out the white voters and insert black voters. Is there any doubt but that the white supremacists would’ve been prosecuted, convicted and received the maximum sentence? Of course there isn’t. The facts speak for themselves. It’s that obvious.

Most disgusting is this information:

Some of my co-workers argued that the law should not be used against black wrongdoers because of the long history of slavery and segregation. Less charitable individuals called it “payback time.” Incredibly, after the case was dismissed, instructions were given that no more cases against racial minorities like the Black Panther case would be brought by the Voting Section.

If this information is the truth, then it’s time to start cleaning out the Obama Injustice Department. It’s corrupt to the point that Loretta King, Steve Rosenbaum and Tom Perez should probably be brought up on ethics charges, if not criminal charges.

If the law isn’t applied equally to everyone, then it’s worthless.

I’d love seeing a reporter at Monday’s White House Briefing ask Robert Gibbs why this case was dropped. Further, I’d love seeing the White House press corps pepper him with question after question on this subject.

If the media won’t question these actions, then that should be the final nail in the Agenda Media’s coffin. If the Agenda Media won’t ask questions about such a vile potential scandal, then they’re complicit in any potential scandal.

With the exception of the Nixon administration, I haven’t read about this type of corruption since I started following politics. If the NBPP isn’t held accountable for their acts of intimidation, then this administration needs to be swept into the dustbin of history during the 2012 elections.

There’s no excusing this, though the bloggers at MainJustice attempt to do just that in this post:

When the George W. Bush Justice Department filed a civil complaint against members of the New Black Panther Party in January, it invoked a rarely used provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act to allege voter intimidation.

It was the second time the Bush DOJ filed suit under Section 11 (b) of the landmark civil rights legislation, both times targeting black defendants.

The common denominator in these unusual applications of Section 11 (b) is J. Christian Adams, a line attorney at the Justice Department who compiled the Black Panthers case and also worked on a 2005 federal lawsuit against black officials in Mississippi accused of discriminating against whites.

Adams is a career Voting Section lawyer. He is also a foot soldier in the conservative movement, hired into the Justice Department during the Bush administration under a process the department’s Inspector General concluded was improperly politicized.

Adams’s background helps explain how a relatively minor incident in Philadelphia during the 2008 presidential election involving two members of an anti-white fringe group blossomed into a political controversy for the Obama administration.

“Adams’ background helps explain how a relatively minor incident in Philadelphia…blossomed into a political controversy“? Excuse me? This wasn’t an isolated incident like these bloggers would have you believe:

Some have called the actions in Philadelphia an isolated incident, not worthy of federal attention. To the contrary, the Black Panthers in October 2008 announced a nationwide deployment for the election. We had indications that polling-place thugs were deployed elsewhere, not only in November 2008, but also during the Democratic primaries, where they targeted white Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters. In any event, the law clearly prohibits even isolated incidents of voter intimidation.

Let these lefty bloggers whine all they want about Adams’ political affiliation. They’re utterly irrelevant to this story. What’s relevant is that the New Black Panther Party was caught on tape committing acts of voter intimidation. Res ipsa loquitur. The facts speak for themselves.

It’s that simple.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

It’s apparent that it isn’t the DISCLOSE Act’s goal to usher in a new era of transparency. It’s apparent that its goal is to stifle free speech. If transparency were this legislation’s goal, you could write that on a sheet of paper. Instead, the DISCLOSE Act contains some rather egregious exceptions. Here’s what Politico is reporting:

The DISCLOSE — Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Election — Act will require corporations, labor unions, trade associations and advocacy groups to publicly declare their role in TV ads or mass mailings during the closing months of a political campaign, including where the money is coming from to pay for such activities. Foreign-controlled corporations and big government contractors would also be barred from paying for such political activities.

But the House bill exempts the National Rifle Association, unions and other special interests from all or part of the legislation, which Republicans charged was the product of “backroom deals” and Democrats said was necessary to get the bill passed. Floor debate over the bill was heated, with each side accusing the other of acting in bad faith and using the fight to advance its own partisan agenda.

If the legislation’s goal is transparency, why are all the progressives’ political allies exempted from the new regulations? Consider me skeptical of the legislation’s intent, especially since Sen. Schumer, the former chair of the DSCC, and Rep. van Hollen, the chair of the DCCC, wrote the bill.

Here’s the criteria Democrats used to carve out these exceptions:

They believed the bill would not pass without support from more conservative Democrats fearful of being targeted by the NRA. So they exempted the group, amending the bill to eliminate disclosure requirements for organizations that have more than 1 million members, have been in existence for more than 10 years, have members in all 50 states and raise 15 percent or less of their funds from corporations.

Again, if transparency is important, why isn’t everyone held to the same standards?

Mike Pence rightly attacked the Democrats’ legislation as their latest attempt at censorship:

Democrats suggest that the bill deals with corporations and unions even-handedly. That is false. In the interest of full disclosure, the American people should know that this legislation is sponsored by the two Democrats who are chiefly responsible for the election of Democrats to the House and Senate this fall.

Perhaps that explains why this bill’s provisions include enormous exclusions for union expenditures but place extraordinary limits on corporations to hinder their ability to participate in the political process, despite the clear directive of the Citizens United case.

Corporations will have to make burdensome new identifying disclaimers.

Companies that are government contractors or that received TARP bailout money will be banned from political speech. And this bill will suppress speech by those who choose to speak out through associations, a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution.

This legislation is nothing more than an attempt to bring confusion to the political process and to discourage millions of Americans and thousands of organizations from becoming involved in the political debate.

I agree with most of Rep. Pence’s statement with this exception: It isn’t that “this legislation is nothing more than an attempt to bring confusion to the political process”; it’s that this legislation’s intent is to silence organizations that aren’t sufficiently left-leaning.

Since the Citizens United v. FEC ruling was announced, Democrats haven’t hidden that they intend to pass legislation that would essentially gut the ruling:

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and third-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, said he would hold hearings to explore ways to limit corporate spending on elections.

Sen. Schumer didn’t stop there, adding this statement:

“The bottom line is this: The Supreme Court has just pre-determined the winners of next November’s elections,” Schumer said. “It won’t be Republicans, it won’t be Democrats, it will be corporate America.”

Sen. Schumer didn’t attempt to hide his intent. He intended to write legislation that would limit corporate America’s impact on elections. Based on Politico’s reporting, it’s apparent that Sen. Schumer intended the legislation to still allow progressive-leaning organizations maximum impact on elections.

It’s really nothing more complicated than that.

Sen. Schumer, Rep. van Hollen and other like-minded extremists should be flushed from the House and Senate this year for cherrypicking which Supreme Court rulings and which parts of the Constitution they’ll obey. Either laws apply to everyone or they shouldn’t exist. If politicians like Mssrs. Schumer or van Hallen don’t obey every article and amendment in the Constitution, they will have violated their oath of office.

I pity the Democrats this fall. We’ve seen how independents have abandoned them by the results in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts. We’ve seen the polls showing conservatives winning independents by a 2:1 margin. If Mssrs. Obama, Schumer and van Hollen continue with their attempt to villify corporations while protecting the Democrats’ special interest groups, the American people will make them pay this November.

Based on Speaker Pelosi’s statement, Democrats don’t understand that the Constitution trumps legislation. Either that or they’re willing to ignore the Constitution:

And Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she would work with administration to get legislation passed.

“We will review the decision, work with the Obama Administration, and explore legislative options available to mitigate the impact of this disappointing decision,” she said in a statement.

Talk about hubris. The first thing that Democrats considered after the Supreme Court handed down a ruling on the First Amendment was to craft legislation that would gut their ruling. The Democrats’ disrespect for rule of law is breathtaking. (Follow this link to read Victor Davis Hanson’s column for more on that.)

This Democratic Congress and this Democratic administration has stopped pretending that they’re for people who work hard and play by the rules. It’s stunningly apparent that they don’t care about people if they don’t enthusiastically support this Democratic administration and this Democratic Congress.

That’s why this bill is going nowhere. That’s why the American people will strip Democrats of their gavels.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

If you’d believe Tarryl Clark’s latest ad, you’d think that Michele Bachmann had nominated BP and their executives for sainthood and British knighthood. Ever since Michele criticized President Obama’s gangster tactics, Tarryl’s been telling anyone willing to listen that Michele was BP’s shill. This interview with CNN’s John King should put to rest the whoppers that Tarryl’s been telling:

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Well first of all, I’m not here to shill (ph) for BP. That’s not the goal. BP clearly is at fault here. They need to pay every last dime of damage and that’s what needs to be done. But at the same time, we don’t want these payouts to become political. We don’t think it’s a good idea for the federal government to see private industry as essentially a piggy bank for the federal government. So every claim needs to be paid out. And we actually had a process set up through the court system. That’s why this was kind of an unusual process. We already had a system set up to deal with claims in the case of oil spills where a court independently without any political implications would pay out legitimate claims. Now we don’t have that situation. This is an appointee from the Obama administration who will be doing the payouts. And it’s the pay czar dealing with the administration. So this is very different from what we’ve done in the past. And while it’s important that all the claims get paid, let’s just make sure that this isn’t a permanent ATM card.

Tarryl, does that sound like BP’s shill? Does that sound like Michele is standing with BP?

This information makes me wonder why the $20,000,000,000 fund was needed:

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: They say, the administration says this process with Ken Feinberg, who did this for 9/11 victims will be faster. They hope more efficient than any court system would be. You disagree?

BACHMANN: Well, I don’t know. I hope that that’s true. I will give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt that I agree with them, that I hope that’s what it will be. A lot of people don’t realize that BP already had, I was curious on this, they had 600 people who were already paying out claims. There were 43,000 claims filed. 20,000 claims had already been paid off. It was in BP’s best interests to make sure the claimants were satisfied otherwise the claimants could go into a court system which is far more expensive. So as long as people are getting their claims paid, everyone is happy. We want that to happen, because as you showed earlier on your tape, real people with real lives and real livelihoods are at risk right now. And it’s a tragedy on a number of levels, not only personally and economically, but the environmental disaster is real and it has to be accounted for.

Since settlements were already being paid, what purpose is the trust fund serving? I could justify it if BP was being obstinant. With them settling the claims quickly, though, what purpose is it serving?

The bottom line is this: Tarryl’s ad was based on her intentionally taking Michele’s words out of context, then twisting them to portray Michele as BP’s cheerleader.

That’s what candidates do when they’re a bad fit for the district, which Tarryl is. They know that they face an uphill fight so they start slinging mud in the hopes that something sticks. That’s the only way Tarryl can gain any traction this cycle.

Right now, I’m betting that Michele’s ad highlighting Tarryl’s vote to raise taxes has done more damage to Tarryl than Tarryl’s deceptive ad has had on Michele. Combine that with Tarryl starting out facing an uphill climb and I think that what we’re looking at is Tarryl trailing Michele by 7-10 points at this moment.

I think that’s why Tarryl went this negative this fast. Things won’t get easier for Tarryl after this, either, because I’d expect Michele to outwork Tarryl from now through Election Day.

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I’d like to thank the people at Uptake for this video:

Frankly, I didn’t think a lawyer could be this ignorant about the Constitution. Here’s Matt Entenza’s reply to a question about Tom Emmer’s defense of the Tenth Amendment:

Well, I think that Tom Emmer’s effort to pick up what the Confederacy failed to pick up in the 1860’s. It’s just wrong. We wouldn’t have civil rights laws in most of this country if states could just opt out of them and it’s a good example of why if the states can pick and choose which civil rights laws, which equality laws, which health care laws they want to pick and choose is wrong.

We are the United States of America but we are united. And my ancestors fought in the Civil War for a reason, which is they believed we were a federal government, we weren’t a collection of disperate states.

While Mr. Entenza complains, incorrectly, that Tom Emmer wants to “pick and choose” which laws he’d obey, he apparently doesn’t have any problems picking and choosing which parts of the Constitution he’ll ignore and which parts of the Constitution he’ll pay attention to.

It isn’t that Mr. Entenza didn’t attend a qualified law school:

In 1984, Matt married Lois Quam. After they married, the couple moved to England, where Lois attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. While in England, Matt studied law at Oxford and taught law and politics to high school students. After returning to Minnesota, Matt enrolled at the University of Minnesota Law School and worked at the Hennepin County Public Defender’s office as a law clerk, where he successfully organized the clerks as an AFSCME branch.

The only explanation for Mr. Entenza’s spotty understanding of the Constitution can only be blamed on his choosing to ignore the Tenth Amendment. Actually, that isn’t true. There is another explanation for Mr. Entenza’s ignoring of the Tenth Amendment. The other explanation is that Mr. Entenza is a typical progressive who views people who look at the Constitution en toto as wierd, demented people.

That perspective is in full display in Dave Mindeman’s post about Kurt Bills:

As you might expect, the Minnesota version of the RLC is loosely affiliated with the Tea Party. But out of curiousity, I checked the “Statement of Principles” for the group, which I assume Kurt Bills has espoused.

It’s an interesting mix.

The Tenth Amendment properly reserves all other powers to the states or to the people. We support these limits on government powers and a phase out of all programs and departments that violate these principles, including:

Department of Education
Departments of Commerce and Agriculture
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Housing and Urban Development
National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities

Unless Kurt Bills wants to repudiate that, I would classify him as a “Tenther”. Also, if I were Bills, I’m not sure I would classify the MN RLC as part of the “broader electorate”. They may be technically part of it….if you include the outer fringe.

Notice Mindeman’s emphasizing “Tenthers.” Unless I miss my guess, Mr. Mindeman is attempting ot lump people who view the Tenth Amendment in with Birthers and Truthers. It’s telling that Mr. Mindeman is attempting to lump people with the correct view of the Constitution in with conspiracy theorists.

But I digress.

Let’s return to teaching Mr. Entenza about the Constitution as it pertains to civil rights and health care. Specifically, let’s differentiate between human rights and public policy.

Regarding the subject of civil rights, it’s rather simple. The rights conferred on people are universal because they’re given to them from “Nature’s God”, not from the government.

Regarding health care, that’s a states’ rights issue since it isn’t a federal issue according to the Tenth Amendment, which reads as follows:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Mr. Entenza, what part of the Tenth Amendment suggests that the scope of the federal government is unlimited? If taken literally, the Tenth Amendment says that the federal government is supposed to be limited.

Conservatives, Tenthers if you will, believe that the best level of accountability happens when decisions are made at the local level, not by some faceless bureaucrat in DC. That’s because federal programs are automatically of the one-size-fits-all variety whereas programs run at the state level can be customized to best fit the needs of the local citizenry.

Perhaps that’s why Mr. Entenza prefers the federal government should make all the decisions. Is it that he doesn’t want increased accountability? I can’t say definitely yes but I can’t rule it out either.

By comparison, Tom Emmer embraces the concept of greater local accountability. Tom understands that that’s the only way that you’ll get government that is responsive to the people’s needs.

If explained to people properly, I’ll bet that most people would prefer Tom Emmer’s vision of government that relies on the greater accountability of local governments making most of the decisions.

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