Archive for August, 2014

President Potter’s spin is non-stop. Maura Lerner’s article is just the latest edition of President Potter’s spin:

He said that colleges across the nation are struggling with similar challenges, including declining numbers of high school seniors. “The whole country is going through this,” he said. “Enrollments are down across the country.”

President Potter, name another university that’s seen its FYE (Full Year Equivalent) enrollment shrink by one-fourth over the past 5 years. While you might find another university or two who’ve seen that type of drop, it certainly isn’t common like President Potter insists.

This statement is frightening:

“What we’re trying to do is right-size and figure out what’s the appropriate size for St. Cloud State University,” he said. “It does not mean getting bigger and bigger. That’s not our future.”

Think about that. SCSU is trying to “right-size” but they’re still trying to “figure out what’s the appropriate size” for SCSU? Whether it’s a major corporation or a major university, major changes require thoughtful planning. Saying that SCSU is “right-sizing” isn’t credible without them first stating what a right-sized university looks like. It’s like saying you have a goal, which you’ll announce when you’ve achieved that goal.

The idea behind announcing a major plan is that it gives people a sense of direction and purpose. Saying that ‘we’re changing’ without giving details of how you’re changing is like inviting people to your house without giving them your address or directions.

What corporation could survive with that type of leadership? What board of directors would accept that type of rudderless direction?

Here’s more of President Potter’s spin:

This week, President Earl Potter sent out an all-campus e-mail saying that the school is projecting a 4 to 5 percent drop in enrollment this fall. That follows a 10 percent decline over the previous four years.

I don’t think Earl realizes he’s mixed headcount enrollment with FYE enrollment. I don’t think he cares that he’s mixing them. What he’s done, however, is said that the trend is getting worse. If enrollment has dropped by 10% over 4 years, that’s a per year drop of 2.5%. This year, however, that drop, according to President Potter’s admission, will be 5%, twice the rate of the previous 4 years.

Admitting that you don’t know what a right-sized SCSU looks like is frightening. Admitting that enrollment is dropping at a higher rate now than when enrollment started dropping and that you don’t know what a right-sized SCSU looks like is essentially admitting you don’t know what your goal is.

That isn’t leadership. That’s what flying by the seat of your pants looks like.

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At a DNC fundraiser in New York last night, President Obama said that the world isn’t falling apart, it’s just that social media is making him look bad:

President Obama on Friday said social media and the nightly news are partly to blame for the sense that “the world is falling apart.”

“I can see why a lot of folks are troubled,” Obama told a group of donors gathered at a Democratic National Committee barbecue in Purchase, N.Y. But the president said that current foreign policy crises across the world are not comparable to the challenges the U.S. faced during the Cold War.

There’s no question that social media spreads the news around quickly. That doesn’t explain away the multitude of crises that’ve started during President Obama’s administration or the threat posed by ISIL.

President Putin doesn’t take him seriously. At best, the Obama administration is an afterthought to Putin. America’s allies don’t trust us because of amateurish moves like dissing allies like Egypt in attempting to broker a cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians.

Egypt and the UAE hit Libyan targets without informing the Obama administration:

CAIRO — Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly launched airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation of a regional power struggle set off by Arab Spring revolts.

The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied to American diplomats that their military played any role in the operation, the officials said, in what appeared a new blow to already strained relations between Washington and Cairo.

America’s enemies don’t fear us. Iran and Russia laugh at the Obama administration. Putin keeps trying to rebuild the former Soviet empire and Iran continues on its path to a nuclear weapon.

Worst of all, ISIL is the biggest terrorist threat in history. They’re exceptionally well-financed. They have a military capable of dominating the Arabian Peninsula. They’re training fighters who have European and/or American passports.

No, Mr. President, it isn’t that social media is spotlighting the usual things. It’s that they’re highlighting your administration’s multitude of mistakes. Mr. President, there’s wide consensus that your administration is the worst foreign policy/national security administration since WWII.

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Former DFL legislators on Friday night’s Almanac Roundtable panel exemplified the best definition of DFL shovel-ready jobs. I’m betting they didn’t notice but Ember Reichgott-Junge and Mindy Greiling talked themselves into circles, thanks in large part to Amy Koch’s spot on analysis of the state of Minnesota’s economy.

Sen. Koch rightly highlighted the fact that, while Minnesota’s unemployment rate was low, Minnesota’s economy was still underperforming. Prior to her observation, Ms. Reichgott-Junge talked about how Minnesota’s economy was strong and that the unemployment rate was lower than the national average.

That’s when Sen. Koch said that, despite the low unemployment rate, people aren’t feeling good about the recovery because many Minnesotans are working 2 jobs and their wages don’t equal what they used to make. Sen. Koch then talked about the woman with an MBA working “as a barista at Starbucks” isn’t feeling the recovery. She said that, “while being a barista is a fine job”, the woman with the MBA would rather be working in her area of expertise.

At that moment, Rep. Greiling jumped in, saying that “that’s why I think Democrats will get credit for raising the minimum wage.” She explained that people will be grateful for getting a pay raise so they can pay their bills.

Summarizing this exchange up, Ms. Reichgott-Junge insisted that Minnesota’s economy is going gangbusters even though women with MBAs are working a part-time job at half the wages they made when they were working in their career path. Never fear, said Rep. Greiling. Those women should be greatful that these women with MBAs who used to make $25/hr. who had to accept a job paying $7.25/hr. are now making $8.00/hr.

Nothing says recovery like getting a 75-cent/hr. pay hike at a part-time job after making $25/hr. in a full-time job in your career field.

Sen. Reichgott-Junge insists that Minnesota’s economy is a source of pride for the DFL, then Rep. Greiling chips in by saying that people that got displaced from their high-paying, full-time jobs can now find part-time work that pays them the new minimum wage.

Give these DFLers credit. They brought their shovels to the set Friday night. They were prepared to spread the DFL’s bullshit of economic prosperity no matter how many circles they talked themselves into.

The reality is that the Dayton-DFL economy is flailing and failing. It’s ‘working’ in the Twin Cities because 21,523 new government jobs are mostly located there. It’s failing in outstate Minnesota, where job creation has been minimal, if not non-existent.

Why shouldn’t voters in Alexandria, Brainerd, Willmar, Redwood Falls, Park Rapids, Bemidji, Thief River Falls, Moorhead and the Iron Range vote against the DFL? They aren’t better off now than they were 4 years ago. In fact, Iron Rangers are significantly worse off now, thanks mostly to the environmental activist wing of the DFL.

It’s time for Republicans to start talking about the DFL’s economic failures. It’s time they started highlighting the fact that Minnesota’s economy is stagnating. The Dayton-DFL deficit is a matter of when, not if.

The Dayton-DFL policies are hurting private sector, outstate job creation. The Twin Cities are doing ok but the rest of the state is hurting. Apparently, that’s how Gov. Dayton and the DFL measure success.

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Dave Unze’s article about SCSU’s looming budget cuts raises a few questions with me, starting with this information:

St. Cloud State University is facing a budget deficit of as much as $10 million after another year of declining enrollment.

St. Cloud State President Earl H. Potter III announced Thursday that the university will implement a “flexible hiring freeze” as part of its response to the deficit. The university is working on a two- to three-year plan to close that budget gap that could include using reserve dollars and holding back 5 percent of all non-personnel budgets.

The university’s enrollment decline could be as much as 5 percent when fall enrollment numbers are released after the 30th day of classes. All but one institution in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is anticipating enrollment declines.

This summer, (June 23 to be precise) SCSU announced that they’d need to cut their operating budget by $3,600,000. That’s based on FYE (Full Year Equivalents) enrollment being down 3.2% from last year’s enrollment.

The reason why people use FYE enrollment for creating budgets is because it gives them a reliable tuition revenue figure to work with. Head count enrollment tells people how many students are enrolled at a university but it doesn’t tell people if they’re mostly full-time students, mostly part-time students or a 50-50 mix. An FYE ‘student’ is based on that ‘student’ taking a full load of classes that year.

If SCSU had to cut $3,600,000 when FYE enrollment is down 3.2%, shouldn’t they need to cut $5,400,000 if FYE enrollment is down 4.8%? It doesn’t make sense to cut the operating budget by $10,000,000 if SCSU’s FYE enrollment is down 4.8%-5%. The only thing that makes sense is if SCSU anticipates FYE enrollment being down more than 5%.

I question this information:

Budget cuts alone will not get the university out of the deficit, he said. Future fiscal health is tied closely to enrollment growth through strategic academic program development, he said, as well as student retention.

It isn’t that I think significant enrollment growth won’t contribute to SCSU’s financial health. It’s that some of President Potter’s spending decisions have significantly hurt SCSU’s financial health, starting with the contract he signed with the J.A. Wedum Foundation. SCSU has lost $6,400,000 on that initiative alone. They’ve spent $150,000 a year on the Confucius Institute and another $240,000 on police officers that the City of St. Cloud should pay for or do without.

Insiders at SCSU could probably identify other spending that should be trimmed besides the thing I’ve listed. It wouldn’t hurt taxpayers’ feelings if SCSU did a better job of spending money wisely.

These budget cuts are a big thing. They’re the result of foolish spending decisions and a 4-year (and counting) enrollment decline. President Potter can’t dismiss the enrollment decline as SCSU right-sizing. It’s the result of SCSU not putting out a high quality product in students’ and parents’ eyes.

This is a real crisis. Let’s hope President Potter rises to the challenge. If he doesn’t, well…

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This afternoon at 1:38 pm, SCSU President Earl Potter sent this email to “FacultyStaffAll”:

From: President’s Office
Sent: Thursday, August 28, 2014 1:38 PM
To: FacultyStaffAll
Subject: University budget update

August 28, 2014

To the campus community,

As we’ve all gathered for the initial events of the new academic year, I hope you have been as inspired as I have been to hear the stories of our new and returning students who seek to advance their educations with St. Cloud State. Their stories about why they chose St. Cloud State or their outstanding summer internships make my day and I hope yours. We continue to be diligent in advancing our mission and vision!

Mixed with the enthusiasm over the start of school has been the serious work of analyzing our financial challenges, work that has been ongoing throughout the spring and summer. Over the summer, the size of the financial gap we have briefly discussed at convocation and elsewhere has become much clearer. Vice President for Finance and Administration Tammy McGee has shared with employee bargaining units and other constituent groups that there is a shortfall in our FY ’15 budget estimated between $8-$10 million.

To effectively address the shortfall, we are developing a two-to three-year work out plan in which we will consider all financial strategies available to us as we seek to balance our budget and right our financial situation.

There are several reasons for the shortfall, but the primary driver behind the structural imbalance and financial results is due to the last three years of lower enrollment. In addition, during the same period, the number of faculty and staff on the payroll has remained constant. As I write this, we anticipate a tuition revenue decrease with a projected decline in enrollment of between 4 and 5% this fall.

Thus, today we are announcing the implementation of a flexible hiring freeze as one financial management tool to bring our income and expenditures into alignment. We anticipate that this flexible hiring freeze will last at least through this fiscal year and perhaps beyond. In addition, 5% of all non-personnel budgets will be held back until the spring semester enrollment numbers are known; and use of potential FY ’14 carry-forward balances will be confirmed upon the completion of our fiscal year-end audit scheduled to be done by the end of October.

The flexible hiring freeze will apply to all positions except for those positions that are fully externally funded by contracts and grants. The freeze also does not include student employment or graduate assistantships at this time. We are calling it a “flexible” hiring freeze because we recognize that there are some positions that absolutely must be filled. We will consider the following guiding principles when determining which vacancies may be filled:

How directly does the position impact our core mission?
How does the position contribute to:

  1. Enrollment growth, student persistence and/or student success?
  2. Strategic cultivation of new programs?
  3. Fundraising and revenue generation?
  4. Ensuring compliance with applicable laws, policies, accreditation standards and bargaining agreements?
  5. Ensuring the health and safety of faculty, staff and students?
  6. What is the potential for significant disruption of an essential administrative/support function if the position is not filled?
  7. What alternative solutions have been considered?

More information about the flexible hiring freeze process is available on the Human Resources website at

I understand that there may be feelings of anxiety and uncertainty over this information. I want to assure you that we will engage you throughout this process seeking input relative to potential cost savings or revenue growth ideas. We will communicate regularly and transparently about steps that we are taking to reduce our expenses while also investing in growth opportunities. It is clear we need to realign our university’s cost structure. All budget management strategies will be exhausted before considering layoffs and retrenchment. We are not considering layoffs or retrenchment at this time.

Together we must work to meet the challenges facing SCSU. We are committed to the following:

  1. Work with bargaining unit leadership to identify different ways of doing our work so that we can meet our commitments to our students, our community and each other, while functioning at a staffing level that is consistent with our funding;
  2. Work with our academic programs on new program development, including certificate and non-degree programs, and fast track development so that we can introduce them into the student marketplace as quickly as possible;
  3. Continue to consult with student leaders about budget issues and ways in which we can minimize the impact on students;
  4. Work with our faculty to develop approaches for rapid new program development that maintains our academic integrity and governance processes but at the same time continues to promote the creativity of our faculty colleagues and provides them space to experiment and be responsive to the dynamic workforce needs of our state and region.

While there is agreement that we need to implement a flexible hiring freeze, it is also clear that we cannot cut our way out of this situation. Our future viability lies in enrollment growth through strategic academic program development. We will aggressively pursue new program opportunities and expansions where strong student and market demand exists and that align with our current academic program strengths. In addition, we will continue to invest in student recruitment and retention strategies to build strategic enrollment growth over time. Student recruitment and student success is everyone’s business. As these growth strategies become clearer and begin to take root, it is imperative that during this time we continue to remain vigilant and exercise fiscal discipline to ensure our forward progress.

On a final note, I have been incredibly encouraged over the last two weeks, as we have shared our financial reality, in how you have responded to this news. So many of you have essentially said, “OK, good to know … time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We can figure this one out.” St. Cloud State University is a strong organization with talented faculty and staff dedicated to providing an incredible education and experiences to our students. It is with that spirit we will work together to determine how we live into the future. Thank you all for your commitment and dedication.

Earl H. Potter

This email must’ve surprised the faculty. I wouldn’t be surprised if it surprised the entire campus. I wrote this post in late June about the announced budget cuts at the time. Here’s what I wrote:

St. Cloud State just announced that they’ll have to cut their operating budget by $3,600,000. That’s due in part to their declining enrollment and the glut of empty dorm rooms. According to SCSU’s own budget documents, they’ll be over 1,000 students short of full capacity. In fact, they’re mothballing one dormitory entirely.

In today’s email to the campus, President Potter announced “that there is a shortfall in our FY ’15 budget estimated between $8-$10 million.” It’s important to note that that’s based on “a projected decline in enrollment of between 4 and 5% this fall.”

It’s important to note that the administration’s initial projection for enrollment during the spring semester was for a 3.3% decline. If the enrollment decline is 5%, that means the University’s initial projection was off by 50%. (3.3% X 1.5 = 4.95%)

If the shortfall is $10,000,000, not $3,600,000, then the administration’s initial estimation was off by more than 175%.

This is worth inspecting:

All budget management strategies will be exhausted before considering layoffs and retrenchment. We are not considering layoffs or retrenchment at this time.

St. Cloud State wouldn’t be in this predicament if they hadn’t made some serious financial mistakes, starting with the contract with the Wedum Foundation. SCSU has lost $6,400,000 in the 4 years since the apartments have opened. It’s quite the coincidence that that’s the size of the gap between the initial shortfall projection and the shortfall projection that President Potter announced this afternoon.

Last spring, President Potter told the St. Cloud Times Editorial Board that he considered the contract with the Wedum Foundation as a great success. Based on these numbers, it’s impossible to think that SCSU won’t attempt to renegotiate that contract.

I’ve got to think that the thing that the faculty is most worried about are retrenchments. It’s likely that they’re upset with SCSU’s declining enrollment, too.

Two years ago, then-Provost Devinder Malhotra brushed off SCSU’s enrollment declines as part of the University’s “right-sizing”. Last spring, the St. Cloud Times wrote that SCSU’s enrollment had dropped by 1.3%. Obviously, that 1.3% decline wasn’t calculated in terms of FYE enrollment, which is the type of enrollment that’s used for budgeting.
President Potter tried painting the rosiest picture imaginable last year. This year, he doesn’t have a choice. Enrollment has dropped too far. The revenue shortfalls have lasted too long. Now it’s time to pay the piper.
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Based on his article, I’d say that Josh Kraushaar got a glimpse at the real Al Franken:

ST. PAUL, Minn.—I flew to Minnesota with high hopes of talking with Sen. Al Franken, and his staff said I’d get my chance during a “media availability” following a speech on the 50th anniversary of the Job Corps. But when I arrived at the Hubert H. Humphrey Job Corps Center, I discovered I was the only reporter there, and Franken’s deputy communications director—one of three of his staffers working the event—said that the senator was in a rush. Could I walk and talk on the way out?

So as we walked through the gymnasium outside toward the campus’s small parking lot, I asked Franken a perfunctory question about his work with job-training programs, and a minute later, as we approached his car, how he rated President Obama’s handling of the economy. “I can’t do that briefly, we have to run,” Franken said.

Then he got in his car and left.

Welcome to Minnesota’s junior senator, Josh. Now multiply that by 6 and you’ll know what it’s like to be an average Minnesotan. If you aren’t at a DFL convention or a carefully picked union hall, you won’t find Sen. Franken. He’s Minnesota’s version of the Invisible Man.

When I asked about the political mood in Minnesota, Franken said, “I’m not sure if people are completely pinpoint exactly why [they’re upset at Washington], and that’s going to be part of the campaign. We can do better. Even though we have a lower unemployment rate than the rest of the country, people are still feeling squeezed in the middle class, and so many of the new jobs aren’t high-paying jobs.” Franken said he had some “disagreements” with President Obama over how to best approach the economy, but he praised the president’s stimulus and proposed 2011 jobs package. And he emphasized he was focused on “middle-class jobs” and infrastructure spending, while also supporting unnamed “smart cuts.”

What’s interesting is Sen. Franken’s statement that he’s “had some ‘disagreements’ with President Obama. Let’s scrutinize that against this:

But unlike other Democratic senators in swing states, Franken hasn’t done anything, even symbolically, to distance himself from the unpopular president. A National Journal vote analysis conducted this month showed that, in the past two years, Franken has cast only two votes against party leadership out of 161—a 99 percent record that beats Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

It takes some doing to out-progressive Elizabeth Warren but Franken’s done that. He’s crazier than she is. Wow.

What’s apparent is that Franken doesn’t want to talk about his voting for the ACA, which is a disaster both in Minnesota and nationally. The Affordable Care Act wouldn’t have gotten to a final vote if Sen. Franken had the cajones to say that the ACA would make Minnesota’s health care worse and more expensive.

Sen. Franken won’t grant extensive interviews with real journalists like Josh Kraushaar. That’s because he isn’t too bright on the issues. Just watch Franken question Sonia Sotomayor at her confirmation hearing:

What’s frightening is that that’s the DFL’s definition of a serious senator. With performances like that, it isn’t surprising that DFL operatives are keeping Franken under wraps as much as possible. The last thing Franken’s consultants can afford is for the ‘real Franken’ to reappear.

Mike McFadden is right about this:

His toughest jibe against Franken? “Al Franken had a background in entertainment. I don’t think that’s a background that’s allowed him to be effective,” McFadden said. “I think he has no idea how the economy works. He’s voted part and parcel with the president, and has overseen the slowest rebound from a recession in the history of the United States.”

Al Franken’s history is simple. First, he was a mediocre comedian. Next, he was a mean-spirited talk radio host. Then he graduated to being Harry Reid’s puppet. There’s nothing in that history that says he understands that the Affordable Care Act has created 49ers and 29ers. There’s nothing in Franken’s history that says he’s got a clue how much the EPA’s regulations have crippled job creation.

In short, it’s pretty understandable that he’s being kept under wraps. If Franken were asked by a competent journalist about his economic philosophy, he’d quickly be reduced to platitudes and cliches. He’d quickly be exposed as the empty suit that he is.

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Where Did They Get the Data?
by Silence Dogood

On Tuesday, February 11, 2014, Provost Devinder Malhotra presented financial information about SCSU and other MnSCU universities to the Faculty Senate that was supposed to allay fears of the impending financial doom of SCSU as a result of the declining enrollments. SCSU’s FYE enrollment has dropped 17.9% over the past four years (FY10-FY14). Almost anyone involved with higher education knows that enrollment (i.e., tuition) is what drives the university because tuition accounts for as much as 2/3rds or more of the revenue.

Provost Malhotra’s presentation focused on the “Composite Financial Index,” which “offers insights regarding finaNCIAL (sic) STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES. The composite is calculated from 4 component measures: return on net assets, operating margin, primary reserve, and viability. The calculation of CFI from these compoents (sic) involves certain “strength factors” and “weighting factors” applied to the 4 components.”

Without a lecture on accounting, just remember that bigger is better! The image shows Provost Malhotra in front of his slide of the FY13 Composite Index for the MnSCU universities.

During his presentation, Provost Malhotra was happy to point out that SCSU was above the MnSCU average and that we were higher than our biggest rival MSU—Mankato. The data from the background of the slide is reproduced in the table below:

Several in the Faculty Senate pointed out that there was at least one serious problem with this analysis: the university on the list with the highest Composite Financial Index was Moorhead at 3.48, which should indicate a strong financial position. However, for those living under a rock and who are not aware, last fall Moorhead announced plans for a 10% reduction in workforce to alleviate their budget crisis as a result of recent drops in enrollment. How can anyone believe that this Composite Financial Index has anything to do with reality in terms of the financial health if the university with the largest number for the CFI is facing a major financial crisis and retrenching 10% of its faculty and staff???

The answer is quite simple. The data shown by Provost Malhotra is possibly just made up. The CFI data for all of MnSCU is shown in the following table (data from the MnSCU website):

This data is current as of August 23, 2014. Also, please note that this is data for FY13, which ended on June 30, 2013. The books on the audits were closed in the fall of 2013 so these are the ‘real numbers’ and not estimates.

Since the numbers may be hard to read, the bottom portion of the chart is enlarged and reproduced in the table below.

Where the numbers presented by the Provost actually came from is anyone’s guess. The following table shows just look at how far they are off from MnSCU’s numbers.

Some of the numbers are only slightly smaller than MnSCU’s numbers but others differ by as much as 40%! How can there be such a difference between MnSCU’s numbers and the numbers presented by Provost Malhotra in February of this year (at least two months after the audits for FY13 had been accepted by the Board of Trustees)?

Another important concern is when will the data for the CFI for FY’14 be available? I think I’d just about bet the house that the CFI for SCSU will be substantially lower for FY’14—enough so that it might be said to reside in the toilet.

If the enrollment is down 6.0% for FY15, the drop in enrollment from FY10 will be 22.8% in five years. Coborn’s Plaza has lost $6,400,000 in the first four years of operations and is slated to lose nearly another $1,000,000 this year. Dorm occupancy is running around 70% on campus and two entire dorms have been mothballed. Budget cuts rumored to be over $8,000,000 are being talked about. Confidence in the administration, as independently measured by the Great Place to Work Survey taken last November, is so low, it is embarrassing. Clearly, there are serious problems at SCSU!

Additionally, with the nearly complete turnover of senior administrators during President Potter’s seven-year tenure (only Dean Burgeson [Dean Center of Continuing Studies] and Wanda Overland [VP Student Life and Development] predate President Potter), the collective “institutional memory” of SCSU beyond ten years is gone.

Will someone finally say “The sky is falling?” Or perhaps more importantly, is anyone listening?

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When I wrote this post, I wrote it to highlight the tactics Democrats use to steal elections. In the first post, I focused on the things the local Democratic Party is doing.

Unfortunately, this isn’t just happening at the state level. It’s happening at the federal level, too:

NOM said that an investigation revealed that its 2008 tax return and list of major donors was released to Matthew Meisel, a gay activist in Boston, MA. Email correspondence from Meisel revealed that he told a colleague that he had “a conduit” to obtain NOM’s confidential information. While testifying under oath in a deposition in the litigation, Meisel invoked the 5th Amendment against self-incrimination and refused to disclose the identity of his conduit. Documents obtained during the litigation prove that Meisel then provided NOM’s tax data to the Human Rights Campaign (whose president was a national Co-Chair of the Obama Reelection Campaign). The information was also published by the Huffington Post.

The weaponization of government by Democrats can’t be denied. In Wisconsin, John Chisholm, the Milwaukee County Attorney, opened a John Doe investigation into something that isn’t a crime in a blatant political move to scuff up Scott Walker in the hope that he’d either lose his re-election bid or that he’d be damaged goods if he wanted to run for governor.

In Minnesota, 13 DFL candidates for the Minnesota state senate coordinated their mailings with the DFL Senate Campaign Committee in an attempt to steal the Senate majority. When 11 DFL candidates got elected, the DFL Senate Caucus wrote a $100,000 check.

Nationally, the IRS sent the Human Rights Council, an issue advocacy organization, confidential IRS filings from the National Organization for Marriage, aka NOM, that listed NOM’s contributors. That’s been prohibited since the US Supreme Court issued its ruling on the NAACP v. Alabama lawsuit on June 30, 1958.

The point of this is to show the Democrats’ disdain for the rule of law, long-settled Supreme Court rulings and the Bill of Rights. If these things are standing between Democrats and election victories, then it’s predictable that Democrats will ignore the rule of law, the Bill of Rights and US Supreme Court rulings.

If I wanted to summarize this with a bit of snark, I’d say that the Democrats’ method of operation is this: Win if you can, lose if you must but always cheat. In the Democrats’ minds, it isn’t really cheating if its for the greater good.

I know that lefties’ heads will explode when they hear this but that’s their problem. These are just some of the most recent incidents when the left just threw the rules out the window. This isn’t a comprehensive list by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it’s barely the tip of the iceberg.

These days, the Democrats’ defining priority is winning at all cost. If that means lying, fine. If that means breaking well-established laws, that’s ok. If that means intimidating people out of participating in the political process, Democrats don’t have a problem with that.

Democrats won’t hesitate in cheating if it helps them win elections. The only question I have is this: when did Democrats stop caring about the rule of law?

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Few apolitical people know that the Democratic Party has put in place a system that chills political involvement and that buys elections. I have proof that both statements are true. Starting with buying elections, this story proves that the DFL broke Minnesota’s campaign lawss and bought 11 Senate seats:

The Republican Party of Minnesota began filing complaints in October 2012, charging that DFL campaign materials were wrongfully listed as independent expenditures, but the materials were not because the candidates were actively engaged in photo shoots in producing the print ads, thereby breaching the legal wall between candidates and independent expenditures.

For those that want to argue that this is just Republican sour grapes, I’d ask them to explain this:

The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board Tuesday, Dec. 17, fined the Minnesota DFL Senate Caucus $100,000 for wrongfully working with 13 of its candidates in the 2012 election.

The $100,000 civil penalty is among the biggest in state history.

These sitting senators should be kicked out of the Senate for their actions. Further, they should be fined for their actions, as should the DFL Senate Caucus for their actions. Finally, there should be a special election to replace Democrats that broke the law.

If it’s a financial hardship for these Democrats, good. I’m not interested in making their lives comfortable. I’m interested in making examples of them. They’ve lost the right to be called public servants. They’ve earned the right to be called lawbreakers. These Democrats have earned the right to be considered unethical politicians.

While buying elections is a serious thing, it’s trivial compared with the political witch hunt that’s happening in Wisconsin:

MADISON, Wis. – Conservative targets of a Democrat-launched John Doe investigation have described the secret probe as a witch hunt.

That might not be a big enough descriptor, based on records released Friday by a federal appeals court as part of a massive document dump.

Attorneys for conservative activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth point to subpoenas requested by John Doe prosecutors that sought records from “at least eight phone companies” believed to serve the targets of the investigation. O’Keefe and the club have filed a civil rights lawsuit against John Doe prosecutors, alleging they violated conservatives’ First Amendment rights.

While there’s no doubt Democrats will deny a connection between the IRS-TEA Party scandal and this witch hunt, they’re too similar in intent to ignore. Here’s what John Chisholm, the Milwaukee County prosecutor leading this witch hunt, obtained through his pre-dawn paramilitary raids:

Court documents show the extraordinary breadth of the prosecutors’ subpoena requests.

They sought phone records for a year-and-a-half period, “which happened to be the most contentious period in political politics,” the conservatives note. They note that prosecutors did not pursue the same tactics with left-leaning organizations that pumped tens of millions of dollars into Wisconsin’s recall elections, in what certainly appeared to be a well-coordinated effort.

Among other documents, prosecutors sought “all call detail records including incoming and outgoing calls,” “billing name and information,” “subscriber name and information including any application for service,” according to the conservatives’ court filing.

In other words, these Democrat prosecutors wanted to intimidate people they didn’t agree with. They used tactics third world dictators use to intimidate the citizenry:

Chisholm, a Democrat, launched the dragnet two years ago, and, according to court documents, with the help of the state Government Accountability Board, the probe was expanded to five counties. The John Doe proceeding compelled scores of witnesses to testify, and a gag order compelled them to keep their mouths shut or face jail time. Sources have described predawn “paramilitary-style” raids in which their posessions were rifled through and seized by law enforcement officers.

This isn’t just a fishing expedition. It’s a message from Democrats to Republicans that they’ll use their offices to intimidate their political enemies. It’s a message from Democrats that they’re weaponizing government agencies.

This isn’t just happening in Wisconsin. It’s happened in Texas, too, where a Democrat with a penchant for getting highly intoxicated abused her office to indict Gov. Rick Perry for doing what other governors have done since the founding of their respective states. She indicted him because he vetoed a bill cutting off funding for her office.

It isn’t coincidence that Scott Walker and Rick Perry are considered potential presidential candidates. In fact, I’d argue that Chisholm launched his fishing expedition into Gov. Walker to defeat him so he can’t run for president.

Check back later today for Part II of this series.

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Bill Burton’s op-ed about President Obama’s frequent golf outings is a nice attempt to distract from Americans’ chief complaint:

I thought that going on vacation with the president would be a real perk of serving as deputy press secretary in the Obama White House.

Don’t get me wrong: Some elements of it are amazing. When you do find some down time, you can find yourself in one of the most beautiful places on Earth enjoying its splendor with the leader of the free world and your buddies.

That is—when you can find some down time.

As Washington chews over yet another presidential “vacation,” and that most Washington of words—“optics”—let me take you behind the scenes of the last time President Obama took flack for supposedly being “disengaged” while world events marched on around him.

First, let’s dispatch with the word optics. It’s mostly used by liberal journalists who then ignore the problem. Yes, the optics are terrible when the supposed leader of the free world talks somberly about the beheading of an American journalist, then is seen joking and fist-pumping an hour later.

When those things happen, it’s natural for people to question President Obama’s sincerity and his commitment to ridding the Middle East of terrorists.

What actions did President Obama put into action from the sand trap on the 9th hole? Did he finally figure it out that ISIL is a real threat to the American homeland while putting on the 15th hole? If he didn’t figure that out on the 15th, did he get word of Gen. Dempsey’s statement that we’d need to take out ISIL’s command-and-control while driving up to the 18th green? By the time he got back to his compound, had he called Gen. Dempsey and told him to stop talking about ISIL as a threat more dangerous than al-Qa’ida?

It was Christmas Day 2009. Osama bin Laden was still at large. A 23-year-old Nigerian man was caught trying to bring down a passenger airliner headed for Detroit—which would have been the most devastating terrorist attack since 9/11. The day of, and the days that followed, the botched bombing saw the president and his staff, in Hawaii, at the White House and scattered across the country on their own family vacations – snap to attention and drop everything else to make sure we were doing all we could to keep Americans safe.

The president was not a passive bystander. He led America’s response to the apparent terrorist attack, soaking up new information as it came in, running meetings and issuing orders. As a regular matter of course, vacation or not, the president is briefed on intelligence every day. In this instance, he was receiving twice-daily updates on the situation in Detroit as well as three-times-daily updates on matters around the world from the Situation Room. As events developed, the president was directing his national security team—cabinet secretaries, intelligence officials and the military. He was awash in reports from the government and from the media.

Thank God for the Obama administration snapping to immediate attention. If only they hadn’t told law enforcement to read the failed bomber his Miranda rights.

While it’s true the optics have stunk all summer, the truth is that President Obama’s policies have been disastrous. That, Mr. Burton, is what Americans are most worried about. Russia annexes Crimea. President Obama proposes limited sanctions on a handful of Russian billionaires. When ISIL captured Fallujah, President Obama called ISIL a jayvee team. When ISIL threatened to capture Baghdad, President Obama talked about the need for Iraq to sing kumbayah.

When Hamas killed Israelis, President Obama criticized Israel for not being gentle enough on terrorists who then hid behind 5-year-old human shields otherwise known as children. When missiles were found in a UN-run school, he dispatched John Kerry to the region, where Kerry’s plan was immediately rejected by the responsible nations of the region.

Just once, it’d be nice if the administration would get a policy decision right.

Unfortunately for America, it’s more likely that President Obama will hit a hole-in-one on his next vacation than he’s likely to make a solid policy decision.

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