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Archive for January, 2011

Now that Florida Judge Vinson has declared O’Care unconstitutional, is O’Care essentially a ‘dead man walking’? At minimum, it’s bringing confusion to the health insurance industry. OTR’s Greta van Susteren encapsulates the situation perfectly in this post:

The states and insurance companies and individuals have begun making plans about health care in light of the national health care law…so now that the law is declared unconstitutional in Florida, should they stop? reverse? what if the US Supreme Court reverses the trial court? or upholds it???

BOTTOM LINE: THE SUPREME COURT, PURSUANT TO ITS RULE 11, HAS THE ABILITY TO DECIDE THIS CASE NOW (AND BYPASS THE DELAY OF THE APPEALS COURT.) IT WOULD BE EFFICIENT, CHEAPER, RIGHT AND JUST.

Let’s get this decided ASAP!!! Everyone’s known for months that this will be settled in the Supreme Court. If President Obama’s Justice Department decides to string this out, it’s essentially saying it thinks its case is weak, at least with the current configuration of the Roberts court.

Here’s a key portion of Judge Vinson’s opinion:

“Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications,” Vinson wrote.

He was referring to a key provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and sided with governors and attorneys general from 26 U.S. states, almost all of whom are Republicans, in declaring it unconstitutional. The issue will likely end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution,” the judge ruled.

What’s especially harsh about this ruling is that Judge Vinson used President Obama’s words against him:

“I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that ‘if a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house,’” Judge Vinson wrote in a footnote toward the end of the 78-page ruling Monday.

This is harsh but it isn’t the first time this type of thing has happened. In the Virginia ruling, Judge Hudson talked about how Obama administration officials argued on the Sunday morning talk shows that the penalty wasn’t a tax. President Obama even argued that with George Stephanopoulos. The Justice Department then argued in front of Judge Hudson that it was a tax.

Today’s opinion didn’t just weaken the Obama administration’s case. It cited President Obama’s opinion that mandates like what are in the O’Care legislation are unconstitutional.

The other key finding in this opinion is that the entire bill is unconstitutional:

Judge Vinson, a federal judge in the northern district of Florida, struck down the entire health care law as unconstitutional on Monday, though he is allowing the Obama administration to continue to implement and enforce it while the government appeals his ruling.

Predictably, the administration’s allies lashed out angrily at the ruling:

Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, an influential national advocacy group that pushed for the healthcare overhaul, called Vinson’s decision an example of “radical judicial activism run amok” and predicted it would be reversed on appeal.

“The decision flies in the face of three other decisions, contradicts decades of legal precedent, and could jeopardize families’ health care security,” he said in a statement.

Pollack’s statement is predictable but nonsense. In his ruling, Judge Hudson noted that he couldn’t find any precedents to base his ruling on, just his understanding of the Constitution. Pollack’s statement indicates that he’s willing to argue with Judge Hudson and his law clerks who’ve researched the case history on these types of issue before issuing his opinion.

Does Pollack really think that’s a fight he can win? Or is this just the best he can do while tap-dancing as fast as he can? I suspect it’s the latter.

Powerline’s John Hinderaker’s post is quite instructive:

It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting, as was done in the Act, that compelling the actual transaction is itself ?”commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce?” [see Act § 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted…If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be “difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power” [Lopez, supra, 514 U.S. at 564], and we would have a Constitution in name only.

The key sentence in this part of the ruling is the part that says the government could compel individuals to do anything. The part that says “the enumeration of powers in the Constitution” would essentially say that the powers of the federal government are unlimited.

Again, I can’t state this emphatically enough: This isn’t just another ruling, one that evens the score at 2-2. This is setting the stage for ruling O’Care unconstitutional.

Obama’s allies’ claims notwithstanding, this isn’t judicial activism. This is about the proper application of the Constitution.

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After Friday’s joint Senate hearing at Hibbing Junior College, the next question is whether this will motivate senators to reform the permitting process, including litigation reform.

Without reforming the litigation system, all the administrative reforms won’t have much impact. Organizations like MCEA will still be able to tie important projects up in courts for years.

Gov. Dayton’s PR stunt last Monday wasn’t a serious proposal because of what wasn’t in his EO.

One of the issues talked on by several of the speakers was the need to speed up the permitting process in the state of Minnesota.

“If we have an organization that wants to hire people and they’re waiting five years for answers; that is too long. We need to find a way to shorten that. That doesn’t mean we always say yes; that means let’s get the answers that we can on a more consistent basis,” said Vice Chair of the Jobs and Economic Growth Committee, Ted Lillie.

Polymet has been in the environmental review process for their proposed open pit mine for several years now.

Once open it looks to bring several hundred jobs to the range area.

“We don’t just have a budget deficit, we have a jobs deficit so we need to get this part of Minnesota thriving and growing again; this could be a great economic engine,” said Michel.

Environmental groups are determined to prevent job creation anywhere they deem pristine. They’re famous for making wild claims about the destruction that surely will happen if projects are approved.

To be certain, many of their claims are valid. The unfortunate part is weeding through the tons of wild allegations contained in their lawsuits. It’s much like the story of the kid who cried wolf 2,859 times too often. After awhile, you just tune those cries out.

The bad part is that families are hurt while environmental organizations like MCEA file lawsuit after lawsuit. MCEA has tacitly admitted that their lawsuits are frivolous:

We kept losing, but a funny thing happened. With each passing year, it became clearer that we were right. In 2007, two of the Minnesota utilities dropped out, citing some of the same points we had been making. The remaining utilities had to go through the process again with a scaled-down 580-megawatt plant.

Even though MCEA kept losing, their attrition litigation kept hundreds of construction workers unemployed. Had MCEA not kept filing frivolous lawsuits, Big Stone II would’ve provided a year’s worth of work for construction workers. It also would’ve created a couple hundred high paying permanent jobs for people running the plant. Those jobs, which MCEA prevented through its attrition litigation, would’ve stabilized Minnesota’s economy.

Because Paul Aasen spearheaded MCEA’s attrition litigation agenda, he’s personally responsible for killing hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs. Mr. Aasen hasn’t shown any concern for jobs, nor has MCEA. The good news is that Rangers, like Tony Sertich, are fighting for jobs:

As the hearing began, former state Rep. Tony Sertich, now commissioner of Iron Range Resources, asked those in the room to raise their hands if they, their spouses, parents or grandparents worked in the mines. Nearly everyone in the audience had an arm raised.

“This is our life up here,” Sertich said, as he thanked the legislators for moving the hearing north for the day. “We’re a resource-based economy.”

Saying that their economy is “a resource-based economy” lays things out for MCEA. They’re either sympathetic to the plight of Iron Rangers or they’re more inclined to damage the Range’s economy. It doesn’t help that Aasen hasn’t publicly disagreed with his former organization.

Should senators who have the responsibility of either confirming or rejecting his nomination take that to mean that he won’t be a neutral arbiter of Minnesota environmental law? We haven’t seen proof that he isn’t still a strong-willed environmental activist.

That likely means he won’t faithfully fulfill his responsibilities as commissioner of the MPCA.

If Gov. Dayton wants to be a jobs governor, then he must get everyone moving quickly in the right direction. Mr. Aasen doesn’t fit that mold. In his position, he can thwart all the great work these legislators might accomplish. That isn’t acceptable.

The Red Wing Republican-Eagle knows what’s at stake:

The goal is to speed up a business’s ability to expand or build a new facility. Dayton rightly states: “Time is money.”

And that’s not just money for businesses. Ask around in any community, especially border cities like ours, and you’ll hear stories about lost opportunities and therefore lost jobs because a manufacturer or business found expansion easier and quicker elsewhere.

Gov. Dayton has said a number of things about creating jobs. Now let’s see if he lives up to what he’s said. The jury is still out on that, just like it’s still out on a possible Commissioner Aasen.

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When I learned of King’s vote on HF130, I figured it a fait accompli that lefties like Dave Mindeman and Doug Grow wouldn’t grasp the principle behind King’s vote. I was right that they don’t. The best commentary on Grow’s post was written by Mitch. Check his post out on that. Meanwhile, I’ll gladly respond to Mr. Mindeman’s post. Check out this commentary from Mr. Mindeman:

Banaian works at St. Cloud State as an economics professor and represents St. Cloud and the surrounding area. The kicker here is that he won his legislative race by a 10 vote margin. Which means that, unlike Senator Newman and his selective constituent recognition, Mr. Banaian is probably wise to consider all comers.

Except I had assumed that Banaian was one of those true believer, first principle guys. He generally talks of government spending with utter disdain and one would think that this particular bill would certainly meet those first principle ideals.

After all, it hits that unnecessary Local Government Aid and outrageously out of control Higher Ed spending…as well as all of the Commission offices in the executive branch. Would have assumed that to be a no-brainer for Banaian.

The best thing I can say about Mr. Mindeman’s post is that he spelled King’s last name right all the time. After that, it gets pretty dicey.

I’ll now attempt to explain why King’s vote was the right vote, not just for his district, which I’m privileged to be a resident of, but for the state.

1) Back in the last century, a goal was made that there should be a technical school, junior college, community college or university within 30 miles of every Minnesotan. The goal was questionable then. It’s foolish now, especially with the growing popularity of online schools that don’t need a campus, just a server and some teachers.

Why are we funding schools whose impact is minimal or questionable? Furthermore, why would the chief author of the priority-based budgeting bill vote for legislation that funds questionable priorities?

I’d argue that that’s a far more compelling priority than all others combined.

2) Let’s remember that SCSU has already taken a number of budget hits, which has forced SCSU to close some departments. Let’s remember that SCSU has contributed mightily to the economic expansion to the Greater St. Cloud area.

Why on God’s green earth would King vote to kill an engine of economic growth at a time when Minnesota needs all the engines of economic growth it can find while funding schools that have had minimal economic impact? I’d argue that that’d be the definition of foolish.

3) King’s vote against this legislation doesn’t mean he’s any less of a budget hawk. Without speaking for him, I wouldn’t be surprised if King votes for the conference report if this bill’s priorities get straightened out in conference.

4) King’s vote is a vote for reforming the MnSCU system. God bless him for that. King isn’t there to be a reliable vote. He’s there to have an impact. He’s there to make the case for setting the smartest priorities possible.

King’s vote was a principled vote as were the votes cast by other Republicans. They were voting to reduce spending, which is absolutely needed. The question isn’t whether we need to live within our means; it’s a question of what cuts make the most sense, both in terms of balancing the budget while still ensuring economic growth.

Hopefully this helps the Mindemans of the world make sense of the world of setting intelligent spending priorities. If it doesn’t, however, that’s his problem.

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If you’re a progressive protected by the vast majority of Twin Cities reporters, it’s likely that you’ll never get challenged for saying some of the most assinine things imaginable.

Gov. Dayton calling himself the “jobs governor” is proof that words don’t mean things anymore. For instance, he’s called for raising the top tax bracket from 7.85 percent to 11 percent, a 40 percent increase in the top tax bracket. I’ve yet to talk with a businessman who thinks that’s going to do anything except kill jobs.

He’s appointed Paul Aasen, the biggest job killer in recent Minnesota history, to be his MPCA commissioner. Gov. Dayton said that he wants to work with the GOP majorities to streamline the permitting process. After a couple committee hearings on Rep. Fabian’s bill, Gov. Dayton issued an EO that conspicuously omitted litigation reform and that watered down the key provisions in Rep. Fabian’s reform legislation.

Without litigation reform, the administrative reforms to the permitting process are miniscule.

Another example of words not meaning anything with the DFL came Sunday morning when Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak appeared on Esme Murphy’s show. R.T. said that Gov. Dayton had campaigned on tax fairness, that Gov. Dayton said that we’d have to “raise taxes on the richest Minnesotans only a little bit” and “the state overwhelmingly supported him.”

That’s insulting. Gov. Dayton’s latest proposal during the campaign was to raise the top income tax bracket from 7.85 percent to 11 percent. That’s a 40 percent increase in the top income tax bracket. I’d love hearing Mayor Rybak give me a list of people who think that raising the top income tax bracket 40 percent is “a little bit.”

I’d bet the proverbial ranch that he couldn’t name 5 people who would agree with that characterization.

Is it any wonder why, in a TEA Party world, people opted for GOP majorities in the legislature? These activists don’t fall for the DFL’s latest smooth-sounding slogans. They’re looking for straightforward people with solutions.

At the moment, the DFL appears to be out of problem-solvers. The bad news for the DFL is that, at the moment, they’ve got an overabundance of people who only appeal to their shrinking base.

People have lost faith in them because they don’t live up to their focus-grouped mantras. Their words lost their impact because We The People started insisting on solutions-oriented people.

President Obama is at the heart of the DFL’s problem. He’s talked and talked and talked and talked about health care, pivoting to jobs, back to passing health care, then pivoting back to jobs, etc., ad infinitum.

Long before the time President Obama delivered his 3,859th speach on passing health care, people had tuned him out. It’s like the story of the little kid who cried wolf 2,759 times too often: when the wolf arrived, people reacted by saying ‘yeah, so what’?

In 2007, then-Speaker Kelliher told the Strib that her’s was a “fiscally moderate caucus.” Prior to that DFL gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch said that they could increase spending without raising taxes. I said then that nobody believed they wouldn’t attempt to raise taxes.

By the time the summer of 2010 rolled around, most people had stopped believing the things the DFL said because they’d heard the focus-grouped chanting points a gazillion times before.

The only thing that will change the DFL’s election luck is by ridding their party of the mindless mantra-chanting activists that seem to have overrun the party lately. I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

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This weekend, my representative and friend King Banaian has been taken to the proverbial woodshed for a vote he cast on HF130. I’ve carefully weighed whether to write something about this or not but with people spewing their opinions, it’s now apparent that some conservative allies won’t let this issue die.

Shame on them.

The reality is that King voted the right way on this bill. SCSU has helped strengthen St. Cloud’s economy to the point that we’ve grown from a population of 12,000 when I entered high school to our present population of almost 70,000 people. That’s before counting the massive growth in the Greater St. Cloud area. In some cities, populations have tripled or quadrupled.

What does that have to do with King’s vote? EVERYTHING!!! SCSU’s funding has already gotten slashed to the point where SCSU had to close 3 departments, including the Aviation department. Meanwhile, other community colleges are still getting funding while not contributing a lick to Minnesota’s economy.

How stupid is that? That type of prioritizing certainly wouldn’t fit with King’s priority-based budgeting system in HF2. Damaging universities that contribute to Minnesota’s economic health while colleges that produce little or nothing are held harmless is boneheaded.

Meanwhile, there’s this little thing about King representing his district while setting smart priorities. King’s vote did both. For that, he’s getting raked over the coals??? What are these allies’ priorities? Are they solely tied to ideological purity? It appears so.

As King’s most vocal constituent, I’ll praise King’s vote. I’ll also praise King for being a great conservative. PERIOD. THERE’S NO DISPUTING THAT!!!

Does anyone think that King will now start voting for excessive spending increases? Of course they won’t if they’ve got a lick of common sense. (At this point, it’s still debatable whether some of these whiner have a lick of common sense but that’s another story for another day.)

So some people disagree with King’s vote. Whatever. I couldn’t care less at this point. The complaints are coming from 50 or more miles away. What do they know about what it takes to strengthen St. Cloud’s economy? I suspect little or nothing.

It’s important to remind peole King didn’t oppose cutting budget. King simply fought for cutting things that brought less value to the state. After all, he’s the guy who authored the priority-based budgeting bill. Why cut something that adds value to St. Cloud’s and Minnesota’s economy when you can cut things that add little to nothing to Minnesota’s economy?

That leads to another important consideration, which is credibility. If King supported a budget plan that cut high value things but kept harmless things that weren’t high value, how could he then credibly argue on the House floor or in conference committee for legislation that potentially, if passed, would change Minnesota budgeting for a decade to a generation?

I’d rather have King’s credibility intact for important fights like that rather than worrying about what his critics say. It’s time to understand, and prioritize, the fights that we’ll be having during this legislative session. I’m betting that the vast majority of conservatives would rate putting in place a system that all but eliminates budgeting abuses as a higher priority than a single vote on a bill that passed and that, unfortunately, will likely be vetoed by Gov. Dayton.

This is really two stories. One story is about setting smart priorities that strengthen Minnesota’s economy for a decade. The other is about voting to represent the district. Serious people can’t argue that King didn’t accomplish both things this week.

At this point, people that want to play the ideological purity card are a waste of my time. As I’ve explained, we’ve got bigger fish to fry and bigger goals to accomplish.

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Earlier tonight, I wrote about the WCTrib’s DFL Chanting Points editorial. In their in-kind campaign contribution to the DFL (just kidding…sorta), they said that voter fraud isn’t a problem:

Some legislators sponsoring a voter identification bill appear to be promoting a solution that is looking for a problem, as well as attempting to create another expensive state mandate.

Solution, meet problem:

After being brought into a Rensselaer County courtroom in handcuffs, Councilman Michael LoPorto and Democratic Election Commissioner Edward McDonough pleaded not guilty Friday to a combined 116 felony counts alleging they falsified dozens of absentee votes.

The men were released on their own recognizance after being arraigned on an indictment handed up Friday morning. It charges McDonough, 47, with 38 counts of second-degree forgery and 36 counts of second-degree possession of a forged instrument; LoPorto, 58, faces 13 second-degree forgery counts and 29 counts of second-degree possession of a forged instrument.

The DFL chanting points will undoubtedly change to ‘That’s got nothing to do with Minnesota.’ They’re right, it doesn’t…yet. With voter fraud indictments popping up all over the United States, do we really want to wait until after there’s a major voter fraud scandal? I’d also ask the DFL if they think corrupt organizations wouldn’t attempt to take advantage of Minnesota’s vouching system to tip the scales in close races.

The charges against them surround some 50 voters who were allegedly deprived of their vote in the Sept. 15, 2009 Working Families Party primary election in Troy. Many were residents of the city’s housing projects.

In case the name Working Families Party doesn’t ring a bell, Here’s a little refresher:

The Working Families Party (WFP) is a minor political party in the United States founded in New York in 1998. There are “sister” parties to the New York WFP in Connecticut, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Delaware, Vermont and Oregon, but there is as yet no national WFP. It seems likely that the state WFPs will form a federation of sorts before 2012, but nothing definitive has been announced.

New York’s Working Families Party was first organized in 1998 by a coalition of labor unions, ACORN and other community organizations, members of the now-inactive national New Party, and a variety of public interest groups such as Citizen Action of New York. The party blends a culture of political organizing with unionism, 1960s idealism, and tactical pragmatism. The party’s main issue concerns are jobs, health care, education and energy/environment. It has usually cross-endorsed Democratic or Republican candidates through fusion voting, but has occasionally run its own candidates.

In other words, whether you call them ACORN or something else, whether they’re operating in New York or Nevada, Seattle or St. Louis, the script remains the same. The playbook doesn’t change.

Corruption is corruption and these guys are experts at it.

If the WCTrib and the DFL (PTR) want to argue that this couldn’t happen in Minnesota, I welcome them making that argument. That’s a fight I’ll take anytime.

Frankly, I’m betting that most nonideological people wouldn’t buy into the DFL’s ‘Minnesotans aren’t corrupt’ argument. Everyone breathing is corruptible. I’ll grant the DFL that most of their members aren’t this corrupt:

At a press conference later Friday, Special Prosecutor Trey Smith said many of the alleged victims are the county’s “less fortunate.” Many do not speak English well, he said, while one is deaf and can communicate only in sign language.

“Those who believed that the victims would never complain about the misappropriation of their voting rights were wrong,” Smith said. “The victims spoke, and now the grand jury has spoken with this indictment.”

At least 16 of those voters testified before the grand jury, which was terminated Friday by Pulver.

That’s pretty despicable. Disenfranchising “the county’s ‘less fortunate'” is beyond contemptible. If these officials are convicted, I’d hope they’d get sent to prison for the maximum. And I’d hope the maximum was 20+ years.

This also shows that the far left doesn’t give a damn about the least fortunate in society. If they cared, they wouldn’t have disenfranchised them just to win a primary election. By disenfranchising the downtrodden, the machine sent a clear signal that corruption is part of their handbook if it’s done ‘for the greater good’.

Smith brought the State Police into the case on Oct. 14, 2009 and worked closely with investigators John Ogden and Albro Fancher to interview voters, witnesses and suspects before eventually taking that evidence to a grand jury beginning on Dec. 7.

Smith secured a court order to obtain DNA samples from LoPorto, McDonough and seven others: Council President Clement Campana; Councilmen Gary Galuski, Kevin McGrath and John Brown City Clerk William McInerney; former Troy Housing Authority clerk Anthony DeFiglio and operative Daniel Brown, the councilman’s brother.

This is pretty widespread corruption. If the DFL wants to argue that ABM is willing to lie without hesitating but isn’t willing to engage in other forms of corruption, good luck with that.

This isn’t an indictment against the average rank-and-file DFL activist. It’s just an indictment against the corrupt machine wing of the DFL.

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I can repeat the DFL’s mantra in my sleep. In fact, I might’ve without knowing. To the beginning political activists reading this, just beware that the DFL has a ready-made set of chanting points for each issue each session. What’s really interesting is that their chanting points have suddenly drifted into the media’s vocabulary. In this case, they’ve infiltrated the WCTrib’s vocabulary:

Some legislators sponsoring a voter identification bill appear to be promoting a solution that is looking for a problem, as well as attempting to create another expensive state mandate.

Republican legislators Wednesday introduced a bill that would require Minnesotans to show a driver’s photo ID, state-issued photo ID or a tribal-issued ID that would be instantly scanned to determine if the voter was eligible to vote and was attempting to vote in the correct precinct.

The DFL and their accomplices in the media have been lying to people by saying that Photo ID is “a solution that is looking for a problem.” Had they done their research, they’d know that voter fraud exists and that it’s been attempted in the state as recently as this October:

On Friday, October 30, 2010, a member of the Minnesota Freedom Council witnessed apparent voter fraud occurring at the Crow Wing County Courthouse in Brainerd, Minnesota. Upwards of 100 residents from a local group home for mentally disadvantaged individuals were brought into the County Courthouse to cast absentee ballots. The witness reported that supervisors were telling voters to cast a straight Democratic ticket. There was even a report of a voter prematurely leaving the voting both and a supervisor casting the ballot for the voter. Essentially, the people in-charge were taking advantage of the mentally disabled in order to bolster the vote for their candidates of choice. These individuals involved can be charged with a felony under Minnesota election laws.

The DFL insists that, because Minnesota’s election laws are clearly written, there can be no fraud. That’s a non sequitur argument; one has nothing to do with the other.

It’s true that Minnesota’s election laws are clearly written. I’ve written that they’re the gold standard that every state’s election laws should be modeled. Saying, though, that that guarantees clean elections doesn’t fit.

  • Will clearly written election laws prevent felons from voting? They didn’t in 2008.
  • Will clearly written election laws prevent a national organization from putting together a plan to have out-of-state ‘volunteers’ meet up with Minnesotans who would vouch for them? It didn’t in 2004.
  • Will clearly written election laws guarantee that a corrupt SecState will clean the registered voter lists? It didn’t in 2008.

That isn’t the only chanting point the DFL trots out when talking about Photo ID. Here’s another part of their chanting points:

In addition, this proposal would simply make it harder for Minnesotans to vote, especially elderly, disabled, young and minority voters.

Only liberals would argue that getting a photo ID card is a terrible burden on anyone. By that argument, having to travel 6 blocks on a snowy day to vote would be a terrible imposition according to the DFL. Yes, there will be a minimal effort required to get these photo ID’s but can we say it’s a terrible, insurmountable burden which will lead to lower voter turnout? Based on real evidence from Indiana, the answer is a resounding NO!!!

This statement is particularly irritating:

Minnesota should be encouraging voters to participate in the voting process, not making it harder and more difficult to vote.

That statement implies that Minnesota’s current system is difficult. It isn’t. This year, I voted midmorning at my precinct. From the time I left the house, walked 5 blocks to the polling station and cast my vote, I’d consumed all of about 10 minutes. Let’s remember that I’m not a fast walker.

This statement must be smacked down ASAP:

The bill sponsors Wednesday would not estimate the cost of this bill. Some media reports indicate the cost would be between $20 million and $40 million. Even at the lower estimate, the cost would be significant to local government.

I contacted Rep. Kiffmeyer’s office about that specific provision. Here’s Rep. Kiffmeyer’s reply:

Kiffmeyer said there are few drawbacks to using an electronic system. She said it is a “cost-neutral” system. While there is an upfront cost for the equipment, it is offset by money saved by counties in postal verification and data entry costs.

What’s more, election officials like the system:

The city of Minnetonka used this kind of system in the 2010 election in a pilot program that was hailed as success.

“Election workers at all levels responded favorably. It truly made everyone’s job easier and it resulted in improved voter satisfaction,” said David Maeda, city clerk for Minnetonka, said at the time. “This pilot proved to us that we can process voters easily and accurately on Election Day.”

The WCTrib then trotted out the ‘Republicans are hypocrites” mantra:

Many members of the Legislature’s Republican majority campaigned on a promise to reduce state mandates and lower the cost of government in Minnesota. However, one of their first steps is to propose a new state mandate where the cost is more than $500,000 per case of voter fraud.

I stayed tuned to alot of races this cycle but I don’t recall any candidates who campaigned on the rallying cry of reducing state mandates. That said, I know most candidates like reducing mandates. This paragraph is just false:

The worst part of this proposal is it would make the voting process harder and discourage many voters from voting. Minnesota has traditionally had high voter participation and this proposal would only decrease voter participation.

According to Mr. Maeda, things went smoother in Minnetonka. It made the election officials’ jobs easier and it made voting a breeze. In other words, the WCTrib’s editorial is BS. If the DFL and their media accomplices want to argue that we shouldn’t make voting easier and make it more difficult for voter fraud, I’ll welcome them making that argument.

It’s important to remember that this wasn’t written by a named DFL activist. It was written by the WCTrib editorial staff. While it’s apparent that they’re DFL activists, it isn’t accurate to say that they attached their names to this flimsy, poorly researched document. Finally, let’s finish with this misstatement:

This Republican proposal is a high-cost solution looking to address a minimal problem solely for the political purpose of preventing Minnesotans from voting.

While it’s true that the initial cost is substantial, it’s for something that should be one of Minnesota’s highest priorities, namely election integrity. If it prevents voter fraud, which it will, while making the process smoother for election officials while getting high grades from voters, I’d argue that it’s a system worth implementing.

If the DFL wants to argue in a post-ACORN world that voter registration fraud and voter fraud don’t exist, that’s their option. If Gov. Dayton wants to stick up for his corrupt allies by vetoing this bill, that’s his option.

Just don’t expect Minnesota voters to not take those decisions out on DFL legislators in 2012 or on Gov. Dayton in 2014.

Finally, this is another instance of the DFL siding with their special interest allies instead of siding with Minnesotans. The DFL shouldn’t think Minnesotans won’t notice. They’ll notice because I’ll remind them that the DFL sided with the special interests instead of with 70+ percent of Minnesotans. (That’s how popular Photo ID is.)

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The message coming from the DFL is that cutting spending is impossible. Take this article/spin piece in the WCTrib. The entire things feels like a giant public ‘we can’t cut because those cuts will have impacts.’

Rep. Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock, said in a written statement that the bill “hop-scotched through the committee process with little opportunity for public input” and was passed “even though legislators didn’t fully understand the impact it will have on our schools, communities and economy.”

Let’s remember the Misery Tour of 2009. Back then, we were told one endless tale of woe after another. We also know that alot of these tales of woe were manufactured at the request of DFL leadership:

We would ask you to focus your comments on the impact of the Governor’s budget including what is the harm to your area of government or program. Please be as precise as possible using facts such as number of lay offs, increases in property taxes, cuts in services, increases in tuition, elimination of programs.

Testimony isn’t worth much if it’s people repeating what their lobbyist told them to say. Anyone that thinks EdMinn isn’t coaching the testifiers at Sondra Erickson’s Education Reform committee is kidding themselves. Look what they did when Sen. Thompson tried contacting teachers in his district. Don Sinner sent each of the teachers scripted answers so they’d be singing from the approved EdMinn hymnal rather than letting the teachers speak for themselves.

This budget session will be painful. Some difficult decisions will have to be made. Thanks to the screwed up economy, which President Obama hasn’t fixed with his trillion dollar stimulus, some difficult decisions will have to be made.

Thankfully, my representative King Banaian is advocating for, and is finding substantial support for, intelligent budgeting in the form of priority-based budgeting. Thanks to King’s priority-based budgeting system, people will have to explain why the money they’re requesting is essential.

Legislators like Rep. Falk have operated under the premise of government is entitled to full funding. Legislators like Rep. Banaian approach funding from the standpoint that people must prove why the money shouldn’t stay with the taxpayers who earned it in the first place.

There will be a substantial fight this session over the competing philosophies. It’s a fight the DFL should expect to lose. They’ll lose the fight because, despite their massive media arsenal and their willingness to spin reality, their position isn’t the majority opinion.

That’s why the DFL’s veto-proof majority in the Senate turned into a GOP majority and why the DFL’s supermajority in the House turned into a GOP majority.

Let’s hope the DFL, led by Gov. Dayton, doesn’t unnecessarily plunge us into a special session or government shutdown. Let’s hope, instead, that they come to their senses and side with the majority of Minnesotans in cutting spending in a rational way.

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Comparing Bob Shrum’s column with Charles Krauthammer’s op-ed is a comparison between someone playing tiddly winks (Shrum) vs. someone playing grand master’s chess (Krauthammer). Here’s part of Shrum’s article:

In his speech, the President, who for his first two years was the great legislator, was, as he had been in 2008 and again in Tucson, the great communicator. He articulated a powerful narrative, rooted in America’s instinctive view of itself as a nation and a people who “do big things.” The call to “win the future” was aspirational and challenging, an appeal beyond partisanship that echoed JFK and Ronald Reagan. The Kennedy comparisons were inevitable; but there was also a striking parallel with Reagan’s summons in his first inaugural to “believe in ourselves and in our capacity to perform great deeds… And, after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.”

Shrum is so far off base it’s silly. After each time President Obama spoke about American exceptionalism and how we’re a nation that does great things, he’d seemingly follow it up by saying how much we need government to get those great things done.

President Obama’s expansion of government to unprecedented, unimaginable levels has kept unemployment high, the economy struggling while exploding the deficits. President Obama’s claims that he had to do this to clean up the mess left by the Bush administration are rejected for their silliness.

Next, let’s compare Shrum’s babble with Charles’ wisdom:

The November election sent a clear message to Washington: less government, less debt, less spending. President Obama certainly heard it, but judging from his State of the Union address, he doesn’t believe a word of it. The people say they want cuts? Sure they do – in the abstract. But any party that actually dares carry them out will be punished severely. On that, Obama stakes his reelection.

No other conclusion can be drawn from a speech that didn’t even address the debt issue until 35 minutes in. And then what did he offer? A freeze on domestic discretionary spending that he himself admitted would affect a mere one-eighth of the budget.

Obama seemed impressed, however, that it would produce $400 billion in savings over 10 years. That’s an average of $40 billion a year. The deficit for last year alone was more than 30 times as much. And total federal spending was more than 85 times that amount. A $40 billion annual savings for a government that just racked up $3 trillion in new debt over the past two years is deeply unserious. It’s spillage, a rounding error.

President Obama’s speech was uplifting if you don’t care about the details. If you think policies matter, President Obama’s speech was utterly unimpressive. It was ‘Hope and Change’ redux. Except that this time, we’ve seen the effectiveness of his policies. We’re no longer dazzled by his soaring rhetoric.

We’re now a nation demanding results. Instead of giving us a blueprint for a new America, President Obama gave us a polished-up version of more-of-the-same.

President Obama’s worshipers, of which Shrum is certainly one, swooned and undoubtedly said that he’d gotten his mojo back. Rational people asked “Where’s the beef”? A healthy majority of the American people know we have to seriously cut spending. Obama’s supporters understand that in the abstract but don’t seem to grasp it

To his supporters, President Obama offered a set of unserious budget cuts. To the American people, he offered them unseriousness at a time of crisis.

I’ve been voting for presidents since 1976. I’ve never seen a president who’s seemingly this out of touch with the American people, not even Jimmy Carter. I don’t think he’s actually out of touch. It’s that I think he’s confident he can keep implementing his ideological agenda, then win the American people back for re-election.

Twenty-five years from now, President Obama will be rated as the worst president of that half-century. His is an administration that is driven by ideology, fueled by his over-sized ego and that’s failed miserably, especially economically.

This paragraph from Charles’s op-ed sums President Obama’s silliness up perfectly:

It’s as if Obama is daring the voters, and the Republicans, to prove they really want smaller government. He’s manning the barricades for Obamacare, and he’s here with yet another spending, excuse me, investment, spree. To face down those overachieving Asians, Obama wants to sink yet more monies into yet more road and bridge repair, more federally subsidized teachers, with a bit of high-speed rail tossed in for style. That will show the Chinese.

Why should anyone take President Obama’s administration seriously? His deficits are sucking all the capital out of the economy. His solution: higher deficits that suck even more capital from the system. Health care is a mess. His solution: implement hundreds of rules, policies that drive costs up, not down, and that takes away options while eliminating or stifling competition.

Those aren’t solutions.

Back when the Twins were terrible, they had a closer named Ron Davis. One year, he had a great year and came close to winning the Fireman of the Year award as the best closer in the game. It didn’t take long before he snapped & started giving up lots of runs in the ninth inning. He became known for “starting more fires than he put out” in the words of one Twin Cities sportswriter.

President Obama is to federal governance what Ron Davis was to late inning relief: he’s the guy who’s started more fires than he puts out.

How that’s inspiring in anyone’s mind, even Bob Shrum’s mind, is beyond me.

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Based on what I’ve heard inside the district and based on this post, it’s apparent that Tarryl isn’t ready to return to her former life as a lobbyist:

Minnesota Democrat Tarryl Clark continues to show signs of preparing for another run against Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).

In an e-mail to supporters Wednesday, Clark criticized Bachmann’s recent trip to Iowa and her response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.

“Even with Bachmann working harder than ever to increase her own fame, and push the agenda of her wealthiest supporters, last night’s speech was more than a little strange,” Clark wrote.

In her speech Tuesday Bachmann criticized the president for overspending and credited the Tea Party movement for shifting the balance of power in Washington.

“She repeated many of her usual false claims,” said Clark, citing Bachmann’s mention of the federal government hiring 16,500 new IRS agent as one example.

“Michele Bachmann is wrong on the facts, and wrong on the issues,” Clark continued. “We need honest debate, and civil discourse. We need to speak up. We need to get active, and stay active.”

If O’Care isn’t ruled unconstitutional, the IRS will have to find out if everyone is insured in compliance with the individual mandate. Does Tarryl think that the IRS will just accept on good faith the fact that everyone is complying or is it likely that they’ll need additional IRS agents to verify compliance? These people aren’t going to just pop out of thin air.

This is Tarryl’s fatal flaw: she’s fond of telling whoppers while accusing others of telling whoppers. This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed this trait. It’s just the first time I’ve written about it.

As for civil discourse, it’s rather difficult when your opponent is telling whoppers. Nonetheless, that’s what Michele did during their St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce debate. Tarryl attacked Michele relentlessly to no avail. Talking with a variety of journalists afterwards, they told me that the biggest thing to them was how Michele stayed composed while Tarryl attacked.

It wasn’t that Michele was a shrinking violet in responding to Tarryl’s attacks. It’s just that she responded sharply but under control. Tarryl left the Civic Center that day a very frustrated lady.

What’s worse for Tarryl was that people throughout the audience didn’t believe her wild accusations. She argued that Michele’s vote against the stimulus was “a vote to raise taxes”. It would’ve been credible if Tarryl had said that voting for the stimulus would’ve provided a tax cut. That’s an accurate, albeit incomplete, statement.

Tarryl insisted, after accepting a plethora of union endorsements and contributions from their PACs, that she wouldn’t have voted for Card Check. Again, Tarryl was exposed as just another whopper-teller pleading for votes.

If Tarryl runs again, her agenda of raising taxes & spending will crucify her. Her credibility is shot, too. Yes, she’ll have a robust fundraising operation but so will Michele.

Barring a major change in the nation’s mood, which isn’t likely, Tarryl will be running in another anti-Democrat cycle again against a superior candidate who fits the district infinitely better.

That said, I pray that Tarryl runs again. She’ll suck up tons of contributions that might otherwise be used to win races that are actually competitive. If Tarryl thinks that she’ll be competitive after getting defeated by 13 points, that’s her right. It’s just that she’s delusional if she thinks it’ll be a close race.

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