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Archive for March, 2012

This afternoon, I got a call from a loyal reader of this blog who was just heading home from the HD-15B endorsing convention.

This loyal reader said that Jim Neuberger had won the endorsement to be the GOP candidate in this fall’s general election. The report I received was that Jim had a substantial lead after the first ballot.

At that point, Joan Parsakalla made a quite magnanimous gesture, dropping out and making a motion that a unanimous ballot be cast for Jim Neuberger. I’ve had the chance to meet Joan. She’s a tireless worker for the party. I have nothing but positives to say about Joan.

Still, I’m happy for Jim because I’ve known Jim since 2008. He’s a great guy with a strong grasp of the issues. That’s why Jim will be part of the State legislature this time next year.

Jim is staunchly pro-life, a major plus in central Minnesota. Jim’s strong on Second Amendment issues, too. In fact, he told the Benton County convention delegates that he and his wife often go shooting at the range.

Jim’s been the Deputy Chair of the 6th Congressional District Executive Board. He’s worked on lots of campaigns, too. That’s why I’m confident Jim will run a strong campaign campaign.

The other thing that’s worth noting from the convention was that alot of the precincts weren’t at 100% strength. From what I was told, there were more than a few precincts that were at 35-50% strength. Apparently, alot of Ron Paul supporters didn’t show up for the convention.

The other thing that this loyal reader said was that there was a little animosity towards the people who didn’t show up. Apparently, the Paul delegates didn’t learn that there’s more to being a delegate than just getting to the state convention and voting for Ron Paul.

Congratulations to Jim for winning the endorsement. He worked hard and got the victory. Joan Parsakalla should be applauded for being a great team player and for her great gesture.

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Gov. Dayton’s statements on LIFO indicate that the DFL version of education reform isn’t about the children. Here’s what he said that enunciates the DFL’s priorities on education reform:

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton today (March 30) indicated he would not sign a Republican marque education initiative, Last In, First Out (LIFO).

Indeed, Dayton styled LIFO, a push for allowing school boards to determine the order of teacher layoffs based on teacher effectiveness rather than seniority, as part of a Republican “onslaught” against teachers and public employees.

Teachers feel “demoralized,” said Dayton.

Rather than celebrating recent accomplishments in education in Minnesota, Republicans focus on “negative stuff,” the wrongheaded premise that the state’s education system is a wreck, Dayton explained.

I don’t give a damn if teachers feel demoralized. My first priority in this is giving school boards the authority to keep the most effective teachers, not those with the most seniority.

What’s so brilliant about a system that, theoretically, has the authority to keep a fossil with 35 years experience but then is force to terminate a teacher of the year?

Admittedly, it’ll take time to establish verifiable, objective, criteria to judge teacher effectiveness. If that’s what’s needed to put together an objective set of criteria for LIFO, then let’s get started with putting that criteria together.

As for Gov. Dayton’s statement that Republicans think that “the state’s education system is a wreck”, Gov. Dayton isn’t telling the truth. Gov. Dayton can’t point to a single statement from GOP leadership that reflects that thought.

Gov. Dayton isn’t attempting to be honest about why he’ll veto the LIFO legislation. This week, he threw another temper tantrum about charities not jumping on board with the Vikings stadium project.

Gov. Dayton will veto LIFO because his union puppeteers told him that it’s his responsibility to protect them. This isn’t for the children. It never has been. It’s always been about protecting EdMinn.

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Secretary of State Ritchie’s website includes a page titled Elections and Voting. Here are a few things posted on the Elections and Voting page:

  • Am I registered to vote?
  • Where do I vote?
  • Registering to Vote
  • Check on your Absentee Ballot

There was something different on Secretary of State Ritchie’s website this visit. At the bottom of the “Voter Information” box was a link titled “OSS Estimates of Registered Voters Lacking Valid or Current ID.”

The link opens to a spreadsheet estimating the number of registered voters lacking “valid or current ID.” The grand total at the bottom of the page is 215,389. Not coincidentally, that’s the figure DFL legislators and outside propagandist organizations have cited throughout this debate.

What’s troubling is that this report doesn’t explain where the Secretary of State’s office got this information from. It doesn’t say who collected the data. It doesn’t say what methodology they used in estimating these figures. The figures in this report aren’t footnoted.

There’s nothing on the spreadsheet that says a major university or other major organization conducted the study. Since the figures aren’t footnoted and the study isn’t accredited to a major university, media outlet or other organization, these numbers might be totally manufactured.

In fact, there’s no way of verifying whether these totals are anything more than propaganda thrown together to scare people into not supporting Photo ID. What’s known about this spreadsheet is that a university didn’t put it together. We know that because a university study would be footnoted. There’d be a note at the bottom of the page stating that ‘this study was conducted by University X.’

Frankly, putting this propaganda on the SoS’s Elections and Voting website at a time when the Photo ID legislation is in conference committee seems like campaigning, not informing. It isn’t informing since the information isn’t verifiable.

This is an electronic anti-Photo ID protest at the Capitol. Instead of the LWV-MN, Common Cause MN or TakeAction Minnesota leading the protest in the Capitol rotunda or Capitol hallways, it’s Secretary of State Ritchie leading a partisan campaign rally on his website.

It’s a partisan campaign rally because Secretary Ritchie didn’t mention in his ‘report’ that each of those mythical 215,389 registered voters would be able to get either a drivers license or a state-issued Photo ID.

If Secretary Ritchie wanted to be nonpartisan and informative, he would’ve noted that the state of Minnesota would do everything possible to make Photo ID available to every eligible voter in the state.

That didn’t happen. Instead, Secretary Ritchie threw together a bunch of statistics that weren’t footnoted or verified. That isn’t a study. It’s pure propaganda.

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This week has been an extraordinary week for constitutional scholars. This week, people of all political stripes heard constitutional arguments from conservatives like Justices Scalia and Alito to liberals like Justices Ginsburg and Breyer.

They heard arguments made by Paul Clement, who represented the 26 states. They heard arguments made by Solicitor General Verilli. Some of the best arguments made in the case, though, were part of the Legal Landmark Foundation’s Amicus brief to the court. LLF’s brief is a history lesson on the Commerce Clause. Here’s part of LLF’s brief:

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were on the brink of civil war over New York’s refusal to allow any ships or other navigational transports access to the state’s ports or harbors other than those owned by New York’s designees. The result was escalating transport fees to neighboring states, confiscation of unlicensed vessels and dangerously heightened tensions between New York and its neighboring states. Gibbons, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) at 184-185.

A national crisis, if not civil war, was averted by the Supreme Court’s application of the Commerce Clause, which was straightforward, logical, and obvious:
All America understands, and has uniformly understood, the word “commerce” to comprehend navigation. It was so understood, and must have been so understood, when the constitution was framed. The power over commerce, including navigation, was one of the primary objects for which the people of America adopted their government, and must have been contemplated in forming it.

The Convention must have used the word in that sense; because all have understood it in that sense, and the attempt to restrict it comes too late.

In other words, the Commerce Clause was codified into the Constitution to give the federal government the authority to resolve trade disputes between the sovereign states. That’s a far cry from giving the federal government the authority to tell people or corporations that they must engage in specific types of commerce of Washington’s choosing.

Here’s another brilliant constitutional argument against Obamacare:

The federal government’s flagship case, Wickard v. Filburn, 311 U.S. 111 (1942) has nothing in common with the PPACA’s individual mandate. In fact, it underscores its unconstitutionality. In that case, the government did not mandate a farmer to grow wheat. It sought to regulate the wheat the farmer, by his own free will, chose to grow. Moreover, the government did not compel the consumer to purchase wheat, whereas in the instant case it compels the consumer to purchase insurance.

It’s impossible not to notice the difference between the ruling in Wickard v. Filburn and the case that the Obama administration is attempting to make supporting Obamacare.

LLF’s brief didn’t just demolish the Obama administration’s argument that the Necessary and Proper Clause gave the federal government the authority to impose Obamacare on people. It, too, taught an important history lesson:

The federal government also invokes the Necessary and Proper Clause to defend what is indeed an unprecedented national police power. The Necessary and Proper Clause, however, does not create any additional congressional power, nor does it expand any enumerated power. See Joseph Story, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 1986), Section 208. The individual mandate is not “a discrete and narrow exercise of authority over a small class of persons
already subject to…federal power.” United States v. Comstock, 130 S.Ct. 1949, 1968 (2010) (Kennedy, J., concurring). Accordingly, the Necessary and Proper Clause does not justify the individual mandate as Congress never has had the authority to compel private parties to engage in private economic activity based solely on the fact of living.

LLF’s brief highlights the Obama administration’s attempt to stretch the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause beyond anything the Founding Fathers would’ve recognized.

LLF’s research into these clauses is detailed and on point.

Here’s the text of the Necessary and Proper Clause:

The Congress shall have Power – To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

It’s apparent that the linchpin to this clause is whether the federal government was vested with the authority to impose its will on people or if there are limits on the federal government’s ability to impose its will on sovereign states and sovereign individuals.

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments say there are limits. Here’s the text of the Ninth Amendment:

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Here’s the text of the Tenth Amendment:

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.

The point is that there’s a purpose behind these clauses and amendments. Each should be seen as applying to specific situations, not as catch-all clauses to be used to justify the federal government’s authority over the nation’s activities.

Thanks to this week’s Supreme Court hearings and LLF’s brief, average citizens are getting taught a great history lesson on the Constitution. How lucky are we for that?

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Earlier this morning, I saw some articles talking about the Senate passing a bonding bill that would spend $496,000,000. When I dug into what the money was going to be spent on, I was outraged. Every taxpayer should be, too. Here’s an example of what they want to spend money on:

Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Coon Rapids Bioscience and Allied Health Addition and Renovation: $980,000

What it’s being spent on: To complete design for the construction of a Bioscience and Allied Health addition and to design, renovate, and equip classrooms and related space.

If that doesn’t get you fired up, this will:

North Hennepin Community College Bioscience and Health Careers Addition: $26,292,000

What it’s being spent on: “To complete design of and to construct, furnish, and equip Bioscience and Health Careers laboratories, classrooms, and related spaces.

That’s $27,000,000 spent on bioscience facilities that are 10 miles apart. Are both of these facilities really needed? I’m betting taxpayers would emphatically say no.

Then there’s this spending request:

Ridgewater College, Willmar Technical Instruction Lab Renovation $13,851,000

What it’s being spent on: To design, renovate, furnish, and equip classroom, student service, instructional lab, and related spaces and to demolish the Administration Building.

Here’s another appropriation for a health center:

St. Paul College Health and Science Alliance Center $1,500,000
What it’s being spent on: To design the Health and Science Alliance Center addition and design, renovate, furnish, and equip, existing health spaces.

First, how many community colleges need “health and science” centers? Next, when it says to design something, it means that the project hasn’t even been started. What’s the need for this health and science center? Is there a need for this health and science center?

Finally, is there a need for this many health and science centers spread across Minnesota?

The Senate bill’s foolishness doesn’t just include MnSCU projects:

MINNESOTA ZOOLOGICAL GARDEN $ 7,000,000
What it’s being spent on: To the Minnesota Zoological Garden for capital asset preservation and betterments to infrastructure and exhibits at the Minnesota Zoo to be spent in accordance with Minnesota Statutes, section 16B.307. This appropriation includes money to rehabilitate the saltwater dolphin tank and exhibit in Discovery Bay.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL is always talking about taxing the rich. Instead of taxing the rich, why aren’t limosine liberals stepping up and paying for these types of spending projects? It would save the state tons of money in terms of interest payments to bondholders.

Wouldn’t that be a great win-win situation, especially for taxpayers?

Next are the things that should never get consideration for any type of state appropriations:

Bemidji Regional Public Television Station $3,000,000
What it’s being spent on: For a grant to the city of Bemidji to construct, furnish, and equip a regional public television station in the city of Bemidji.
This appropriation is not available until the commissioner determines that a 25 percent match has been committed to the project from nonstate sources.

What purpose does a public TV station in Bemidji serve? More importantly, does it serve a purpose?

Here’s a hardy perennial:

Potter Auditorium Remodeling – Chatfield $2,200,000
What it’s being spent on: For a grant to the Chatfield economic development authority to predesign, design, renovate, construct, furnish, and equip the Chatfield Center for the Arts in the city of Chatfield. The center includes the George H. Potter auditorium, the adjacent 1916 school building, and the land surrounding the structures owned by the economic development authority. Money, land and buildings, and in-kind contributions provided to the center before the enactment of this section are considered to be sufficient local match, and no further local match is required.

I’d be interested in finding out how many people visit the George H. Potter auditorium and the adjacent 1916 school building. Projects like this shouldn’t be a priority for the state. They shouldn’t be taken seriously.

While this bonding bill isn’t as irresponsible as Gov. Dayton’s, it’s still irresponsible. There’s tons of pork in the Senate bill that should be eliminated. The scary thing is that these specific projects are from the first 19 pages of the spreadsheet. There’s 38 more pages of projects after these projects.

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When I think of whether Bill Parcells will accept the interim head coaching position with the Saints, my first thought is “Who cares”? In his post-NY Giants career, Bill Parcells’ record has been 95-81. That figures out to being a 54% winning percentage.

While it’s true that some of his teams were at the start of a rebuilding, it’s equally true that he took over the Cowboys at a time when they had the reputation of being a juggernaut, at least with the media.

His last 3 seasons with the Cowboys didn’t produce earth-shattering numbers: 24 wins, 24 losses.

The reality is that the only time Bill Parcells was a great coach was when Phil Simms was his QB and his linebacking crew was LT, Harry Carson and Carl Banks.

When that team was broken up, Bill Parcells returned to being average. He’s got the reputation. I’m just not sure it’s deserved.

It’s never been a secret that President Obama has wanted to kill the coal-mining industry. I wrote here about the furor that then-candidate Obama caused when he said that people could open coal-fired power plants, they’d just go bankrupt doing so:

What I’ve said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else’s out there.

I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

President Obama’s anti-coal agenda will cost him Ohio’s and Pennsylvania’s electoral votes. It’ll cost him Indiana’s electoral votes, too. President Obama won those states in 2008, adding 52 electoral votes in those states. Losing those states alone drops his EV total to 286. President Obama is likely to lose North Carolina and Florida, too, dropping his EV total to 237.

Now he’s pushing the issue again. Here’s what the Sierra Club said about the crippling new regulations:

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, an advocacy group fighting coal-fired power, said in an interview that the regulation shows that President Barack Obama is moving to a cleaner energy future.

“It’s a strong move,” Brune said. “It means there will never be another coal plant built without new technology and it probably means even those won’t be built because they can’t compete.”

TRANSLATION: Coal will eventually go out of business because the EPA’s regulations will artificially drive up the cost of coal-generated electricity. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is subsidizing proven energy failures like Solyndra to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Minnesota voters should notice that their senators, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, aren’t opposing these regulations even though they’ll drive up the cost of heating a home.

The Democrats policies have driven the cost of heating one’s home and putting gas in one’s car through the roof. In short, they’re killing the middle class with excessive regulations driven by their unwillingness to say no to their special interest puppetmasters.

That’s the gentle way of saying they’re gutless politicians who won’t stand up for the middle class.

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When Greta van Susteren interviews Michele Bachmann, the sparks fly in terms of the public learning things they wouldn’t otherwise learn. That’s what happened last night when Greta interviewed Michele Bachmann about Obamacare’s regulations, costs and impacts.

Here’s the transcript of the first outrageous thing we found out about Obamacare:

GRETA: I made a list of things that were sort of promised to them. One was that the cost would go down and that 30,000,000 who weren’t insured would be insured. Right now, those 30,000,000 don’t have health insurance because the mandate hasn’t kicked in yet.

REP. BACHMANN: They don’t have it but here’s worse. Last week, the government, though the Congressional Budget Office, said that at least 20,000,000 people would lose their health care because their employers were going to drop them because their costs are escalating so fast.

GRETA: What would you do? Under your plan, would everyone have a health plan?

REP. BACHMANN: Here’s what I think we should do. I put a bill together a couple of years ago that says this. We should let any American buy any insurance policy they want anywhere in America…

GRETA: You can’t now?

REP. BACHMANN: You can’t. You can only buy health insurance in your state under your state’s mandates.

GRETA: Why not?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, because there’s something called the McCarren-Ferguson Law at the federal level and it creates health insurance monopolies in every single state. We’vev got to knock down these barriers and think about the consumer and let the consumer buy any insurance policy they want anywhere in America with no minimum federal requirements and then…

GRETA: Let me ask you this. The insurance companies are making. Are they making out like bandits like this because of this monopoly?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, they’ve got a monopoly in each state. What does that tell you?

GRETA: That tells me alot.

Rather than let Americans make their own health insurance and health care decisions, the federal government and state governments put in place regulations that created monopolies for the insurance companies and diminished people’s health insurance options.

What’s worse is that the people who wrote this bill are responsible for creating the health insurance companies’ monopolies. Occupy Wall Street should be protesting in front of the Democrats’ offices. They should be staging sit-ins in Leader Pelosi’s offices. They should be criticizing Harry Reid, Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar and Ben Nelson for selling people out.

As awful as that information is, this information will cause people to go vesuvial:

GRETA: I’ll tell you what I find troubling. I find that this 2,500 pages — and Leader Pelosi said that you have to read it to find out what’s in it — the bill is actually incomprehensible. But then those 2,500 pages were then shipped over to HHS and then unelected people created these rules, this complex set of rules were created by unelected people. These unelected people are really writing the health care…

REP. BACHMANN: This is a bill that will never finish being written. The 2,500 pages is chump change. There’s already been over 10,000 pages of regulations that have been written and there’s over 1,200 places in the bill that you know…I remember the night you brought it in here.

GRETA: It was that high (about 18″ tall)…

REP. BACHMANN: That’s just the bill. Then take that by a factor of 10 and you’ll have the beginning of the regulations. It will never end. The employers will never know if they’re a criminal or not a criminal or if they’re in compliance or not.

Every mandate the federal or state government imposes on people through the insurance companies drives costs up. In Minnesota, state government imposes 65 mandates on health insurance companies. As a result, there are few companies competing for the business.

Each mandated coverage is a new risk adding into health insurance premiums.

Thanks to Greta for this interview and to Michele’s detailed understanding of the atrocities in Obamacare, Americans now have a better grasp of what a worthless, dangerous bill this is.

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St. Cloud lost a giant in the history of the city when Larry Haws passed away Tuesday. He was 72. During his short time in the state legislature, Larry was the workhorse who got things done. Tarryl Clark had the higher profile but Larry’s the one who got the work done.

Larry was in his first full term in the House when he submitted a lengthy list of items for that year’s bonding bill. Unlike other legislators, though, Larry’s projects were mostly maintenance items of state buildings, something clearly within the state’s list of responsibilities.

I had a pair of tussles with Larry but it was impossible to not respect his commitment to serving St. Cloud. He was an educator, a sports coach, the leader of St. Cloud’s Park & Recreation Department.

Larry even sat in for conservative talk show host Dan Ochsner occasionally. That’s just who Larry was.

My prayers & sympathies go out to Larry’s family. I can only imagine the pain they’re going through. AFter all, it isn’t easy losing a giant.

The DFL’s phalanx of special interest allies have announced that they’ll be filing a lawsuit to keep a Photo ID constitutional amendment question off this fall’s ballot. When it comes to those lawsuits attempting to keep Photo ID off this fall’s ballot, I’d pay money to watch Common Cause MN attempt to prove voter disenfranchisement:

Dean said his group may also consider a complaint of voter disenfranchisement.

Good luck with that, Mr. Dean. There’s no arguing that requiring a state-issued Photo ID will take extra effort on voters’ behalf. That said, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a) getting Photo ID isn’t unduly burdensome and b) the states have a legitimate interest in preventing voter fraud.

That’s a polite way of saying a) voter fraud is real and b) states have a substantive, legitimate right to take reasonable steps to prevent voter fraud.

The best thing Common Cause MN could decide is to not pursue this. When Common Cause MN and the LWV-MN lose this lawsuit, which they will, they’ll be exposed as political hacks for the DFL. Their reputation, what little is left of it, won’t be worth much.

First, Common Cause MN and the LWV-MN can’t prove that it’s impossible to obtain Photo ID. That’s the first benchmark Common Cause MN and the LWV-MN must meet. If it’s proven that the 715,000 people they’re constantly citing, they will have lost the battle and the war.

The minute that obtaining a state-issued photo ID is deemed possible, it becomes a finding of fact. The minute that finding of fact happens, Common Cause MN’s and the LWV-MN’s reputations will be ruined.

If Photo ID becomes part of Minnesota’s Constitution, voters will have sent the message that the DFL isn’t listening to the will of the people. The DFL will have sent the message that they’ll ignore the will of the people despite verifiable proof that there is a voter fraud problem. Also, the DFL special interests will have said that they don’t take voter fraud seriously.

That’s a terrible message to send in a world riddled with ACORN-caused voter registration fraud. Simply put, it’s a message that says the DFL won’t listen to the will of the people on one of the biggest issues of our time.

I’d wish the DFL good luck defending that on the campaign trail this fall. I’d wish that if I didn’t want them to lose, that is.

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