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This LTE is mostly BS, starting with the first paragraph:

Why I, a fiscal conservative, vote Democrat:

Opposition to minimum wage: I believe that prior to passing the increase in the minimum wage, it was frozen for 10 years. This means that every year an employee stuck with a minimum-wage job, that person received a reduction in purchasing power equal to the rise in the consumer price index.

This clown isn’t a fiscal conservative anymore than I’m a social moderate. The assumption that people are stuck “with a minimum-wage job” year after year is preposterous. I’ve lived 58 years and I’ve yet to meet a single person that’s been stuck with a minimum-wage job for more than 2 years. The thought that a person would be stuck with a minimum wage job for 10 straight years is a dishonest construct, not a bit of reality.

That isn’t the only evidence that this gentleman is a liberal. Here’s another bit of proof:

Wanting to shrink government employment to nothing. I have worked in both the public and private sector. If the function being performed is necessary, why is it so terrible if government employees are paid more generously for the same type of work? Some people dislike this because they are simply jealous.

It might be worth questioning whether this gentleman went to the Barack Hussein Obama School of Strawman Arguments. That’s a distinct possibility. I’ve yet to hear of a single TEA Party activist, much less an establishment Republican, who wanted to eliminate government.

The fact that he’s putting this dishonest argument into an LTE makes me question whether he’s stupid or if he’s just dishonest. I’m betting on him being dishonest.

Opposition to Obamacare: While I would have chosen a system like Canada’s, I find the total opposition to Obamacare to be misguided. A friend of mine had a daughter who took a clerical job paying $14 per hour with a private-sector employer. That employer gave her an insurance policy requiring her to pay out $7,000 before insurance would kick in. How many $14-per-hour employees have $7,000 lying around? She applied for Obamacare and although she has co-pays, her insurance payments are triggered immediately.

If this young lady doesn’t have a deductible, then she bought a gold- or platinum-level plan. Bronze- and silver-level plans have high deductibles. I wrote this post to highlight this problem. Here’s what Robert Laszewski said about the Affordable Care Act:

If an entrepreneur had crafted Obamacare he would’ve gone to a middle class family. A family of four make(s) $54,000 a year has to pay $400 in premiums net of subsidy and for that the standard silver plan has an average deductible around $2,500 and a narrow network. They’re going to pay almost $5,000 for that? So the entrepreneur would say I’ve got $5,000 in premium and all this deductible, what do they want for that? And they probably would’ve said we want office visits and lab tests because the kids need to go in occasionally and then we want catastrophic care. The problem with Obamacare is it’s product driven, not market driven. They didn’t ask the customer what they wanted.

The ACA’s bronze- and silver-level plans have high deductibles. That’s statistically verifiable:

Her insurer, Kaiser Permanente, is terminating policies for 160,000 people in California and presenting them with new plans that comply with the healthcare law.

“Before I had a plan that I had a $1,500 deductible,” she said. “I paid $199 dollars a month. The most similar plan that I would have available to me would be $278 a month. My deductible would be $6,500 dollars and all of my care after that point would only be covered 70 percent.”

This self-proclaimed fiscal conservative is nothing of the sort. He’s a liberal. Period. More than anything else, this is proof that liberals can convince themselves that they’re damn near anything. Their ability to self-delude aside, the truth is that they aren’t in touch with reality.

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One of the things that Rick Perry hasn’t gotten credit for is his moving 1,000 National Guardsmen to the Tex-Mex border. It isn’t that people haven’t commented on Gov. Perry’s decision. It’s that there’s been too much second guessing of his decision:

The governor is simply trying to grab headlines, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest replied.

He said the administration hopes “Gov. Perry will not just take these kinds of steps that are generating the kind of headlines I suspect he intended, but will actually take the kinds of steps that will be constructive to solving the problem over the long term.”

Like most of the stuff coming from this administration, Earnest’s comments are BS. It isn’t that Gov. Perry is trying to grab cheesy headlines. It’s that he’s trying to fix a problem created by the federal government that’s spilled into his lap:

Deploying 1,000 Guardsmen “has nothing to do with unaccompanied minors or children crossing the border,” Perry said, because data show “only 20 percent of those apprehended crossing the border illegally are children.”

The Texas Department of Safety found that 203,000 illegal immigrants were arrested and charged with more than 640,000 crimes since 2008, Perry told the Trib. “Of those crimes, 3,000 were homicides and nearly 8,000 were sexual assaults,” he said. “Thousands of lives have been shattered forever, that shouldn’t have (been), if the federal government had done its job.”

Thanks to President Obama’s indifference to protecting Americans, literally thousands of Texans’ lives have been ruined. The Texas Department of Safety’s statistics are irrefutable. The children flooding in are just part of the crisis. The biggest part of the crisis, though, is that thousands of illegal immigrants have committed heinous crimes that’ve ruined people’s lives.

Border Patrol data show that the number of children entering Texas illegally has grown from about 5,000 in 2012 to more than 50,000 this year. “Inaction encourages other minors to place themselves in extremely dangerous situations,” Perry wrote in his letter to the president. “…Every day of delay risks more lives. Every child allowed to remain encourages hundreds more to attempt the journey.”

President Obama doesn’t see this as a humanitarian crisis as much as he sees it as a political opportunity. He wanted tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to flood into the US in the hopes of forcing Republicans to pass “comprehensive immigration reform.” President Obama’s problem is that the crisis got tons of press, which made it look like a) the administration tried manufacturing this crisis and b) this administration and other Democrats don’t care about consistently enforcing the border.

Republicans have repeatedly said that they won’t pass immigration reform until enforcing the border becomes a high priority for this administration. That isn’t something pro-open borders organizations like La Raza or pro-open borders legislators like Luis Guttierez are interested in.

That’s their problem. The overwhelming majority of people polled demand that the border be secured before talking about legalizing the illegal immigrants already in the country.

It’s gotten to the point that Republicans get better grades on immigration than Democrats get. Gov. Perry might run for president in 2016. At this point, he should because he’s getting high marks for taking border security seriously. He’s taking his law enforcement responsibilities seriously, too, which is more than they think about President Obama.

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Then-Sen. Obama and then-Sen. Hillary Clinton both railed against President Bush’s confrontation of terrorists where they lived. They both preached the gospel of “smart diplomacy.” Six years later, we now know that “smart diplomacy” is just a euphemism for appeasement and retreat, if not outright isolationim.

Nowhere is the failure of the Obama-Clinton “smart diplomacy” foreign policy more apparent than in Libya. Walter Russell Mead’s article highlights that failure succinctly by quoting a State Department travel advisory:

The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable. The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security following the 2011 revolution. Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including antiaircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation. Crime levels remain high in many parts of the country. In addition to the threat of crime, various groups have called for attacks against U.S. citizens and U.S. interests in Libya. Extremist groups in Libya have made several specific threats this year against U.S. government officials, citizens, and interests in Libya. Because of the presumption that foreigners, especially U.S. citizens, in Libya may be associated with the U.S. government or U.S. NGOs, travelers should be aware that they may be targeted for kidnapping, violent attacks, or death. U.S. citizens currently in Libya should exercise extreme caution and depart immediately.

Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have occurred throughout the country and attacks by armed groups can occur in many different areas; hotels frequented by westerners have been caught in the crossfire. Armed clashes have occurred in the areas near Tripoli International Airport, Airport Road, and Swani Road. Checkpoints controlled by militias are common outside of Tripoli, and at times inside the capital. Closures or threats of closures of international airports occur regularly, whether for maintenance, labor, or security-related incidents. Along with airports, seaports and roads can close with little or no warning. U.S. citizens should closely monitor news and check with airlines to try to travel out of Libya as quickly and safely as possible.

The status of the country’s interim government remains uncertain. The newly elected Council of Representatives is scheduled to convene by August 4, but political jockeying continues over where and when to seat the parliament. Heavy clashes between rival factions erupted in May 2014 in Benghazi and other eastern cities. In Tripoli, armed groups have contested territory near Tripoli International Airport since July 13, rendering the airport non-operational. State security institutions lack basic capabilities to prevent conflict, and there remains a possibility of further escalation.

TRANSLATION: Libya is a disaster. Contrary to President Obama’s statement that al-Qa’ida is on the run, terrorist organizations, aka militias, control Libya. In September, 2012, Benghazi was a hot spot. These days, the entire country is a hot spot.

“Smart diplomacy” has become a punch line, and the dream Team Obama had of making Democrats the go-to national security party is as dead as the passenger pigeon.

President Obama is in way over his head. He’s never been interested in learning about the different actors on the world stage. That can’t be said about Hillary. She’s been interested in the different actors on the world stage. She just hasn’t been that bright. She could’ve stood up to President Obama but she didn’t. She acquiesced in the name of political considerations.

Libya isn’t a fight that needed to be fought, though it definitely needed monitoring. Killing militias would’ve been much more advisable than killing Khadaffi.

President Obama’s favorite foreign policy straw man is that there are only 2 options: all out war or isolationism. That’s either proof that he’s a liar or that he doesn’t have a clue. It might be proof of both.

Taking out Khadaffi was stupid. Not confronting Putin is equally foolish. Smart diplomacy isn’t as smart as arming people who would love to fight for their own freedom. Why President Obama prefers giving Putin free run of eastern Europe but insists on killing north African dictators is beyond me.

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Jeff Johnson’s interview with Bill Hanna, the editor of the Mesabi Daily News, provided Johnson’s sharpest attack on Gov. Dayton yet. Here’s the heart of Johnson’s criticism:

“I believe strongly that if Dayton wins, PolyMet will not happen. He is getting and responding to great, great pressure from environmentalists. Saw it at the DFL Convention when they got a resolution on copper/nickel tabled,” Johnson said.

I think that’s accurate. Gov. Dayton’s silence is deafening, especially considering the fact that he’s called himself the “jobs governor.” It’s more like he’s the jobs governor as long as it doesn’t interfere with the environmental activists’ anti-mining agenda.

Ken Martin breathed a big sigh of relief when a watered-down pro-mining resolution to the DFL Party Platform was tabled before it came up for debate. Martin was happy because he kept the lid on the major differences between Range Democrats and the Twin Cities ‘Metrocrats’.

In siding with Twin Cities Metrocrats, Gov. Dayton sided with people whose median household income is $63,559. What’s Gov. Dayton’s justification for siding with the Metrocrats rather than siding with people whose median household income is $46,231? There was a time when Democrats stood up for the less fortunate. In this instance, Republicans are fighting for lower income people and the Democrats are fighting for Twin Cities elitists.

Those thinking that that’s just a political cheap shot should notice who serve as Conservation Minnesota’s strategic advisors. There’s no more anti-mining organization than Conservation Minnesota. Most of the people on that list are Twin Cities elitists. That’s who Gov. Dayton has fought for.

“I will do everything I can to get PolyMet and other copper/nickel projects open up here. This has been delayed far too long and the governor helping those delays by being silent. A governor’s silence on a major project like this with so many jobs is deadly.

Gov. Dayton’s leadership on this issue hasn’t existed. He’s hidden in his little cubicle and said nothing about PolyMet. Meanwhile, Gov. Dayton has fought hard for projects like Rochester’s Destination Medical Center and the Vikings stadium in Minneapolis.

Gov. Dayton didn’t hesitate about pushing for those projects. Why hasn’t he shown the same enthusiasm in fighting for the PolyMet project? Is it because the Vikings stadium and DMC were high priorities but PolyMet isn’t one of his priorities? If that’s the case, Gov. Dayton should just admit that jobs in northern Minnesota just aren’t the high priority for him that Twin Cities jobs are.

That’s political suicide but it’s the honest thing to do. Unfortunately, doing the right thing isn’t a priority with Gov. Dayton or the DFL. They’re worried about doing what will keep them in office. Doing what’s right for all of Minnesota isn’t a priority with Gov. Dayton or the DFL.

This was Jeff Johnson’s stiffest attack on Gov. Dayton yet. He’s been the candidate who’s put together a statewide organization. He’s leveled the sharpest criticism against Gov. Dayton. That’s why he was the GOP candidate who did the best against Gov. Dayton in the latest KSTP-SurveyUSA poll.

In this interview, Jeff Johnson didn’t shy from criticizing Gov. Dayton on an important issue. Republicans are looking for a candidate that will take the fight to Gov. Dayton. Jeff Johnson certainly fits that requirement. If miners are paying attention, they’ll know that he’s fighting for them. If they’ve paid attention, they know that Gov. Dayton hasn’t fought for them.

The evidence is clear. Gov. Dayton has been silent on PolyMet. He’s shown that he’ll fight for Twin Cities projects but he won’t fight for the biggest jobs project on the Range. If the Range wants 4 more years of getting ignored, they should vote for Gov. Dayton. If they want high paying jobs, their only choice is Jeff Johnson.

It’s that simple.

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Over the past couple of years, one thing that’s become apparent is that student fees are being levied to pay for some questionable things. This article highlights something outrageous that student fees paid for:

Samantha Hedwall, the Women’s Center Assistant Director at MSUM, told Campus Reform that the program is a “sex education class for the college age student” as “it combines sex education with laughter.”

The university is bringing in two speakers from the organization Sex Discussed Here! to speak to college students about sex and sell their merchandise. The lecture is aimed at freshman, though some are still minors when they enter in the fall. In Minnesota, being a minor and engaging in certain sexual acts could lead to a charge of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree.

However, according to Hedwall, “You don’t have to be 18 to learn about sex.”

Hedwall explained that the program touches on the issues such as consent, female orgasms, sexual decisions, tips for partners, as well as “being a man, being a woman, [and] being in a safe sex, same gender identity group.”

While the lecture itself is optional, the fees in order to pay for this event—and others like it—are mandatory. Every student at MSUM must pay $453.60 in activity fees each year in order to fund these programs. The Women’s Center received a subsidy for 2013-2014 totaling $33,114 from student activity fees, while the LGBT Center received $16,304.

While I won’t be shocked to find out that students voted for these fees, I’d be surprised if they thought their fees paid for BS like this. Further, I’m betting that the people running the Women’s Center and the LGBT Center weren’t lobbying for these subsidies from student fees.

Simply put, this is a ripoff to students. They shouldn’t have to pay for any events sponsored by their university’s Women’s Center or LGBT Center. For that matter, taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for these centers’ budgets. If universitiess want either or both of these centers, let’s see if they can find sponsors who are willing to pay for their activities.

In the past, universities have pushed for higher student fees. In fact, that’s happened twice in the last 5 years at St. Cloud State. The first time, the Potter administration said that they’d have to shut the football program if student fees weren’t raised. This year, the Potter administration made a similar, though not as dramatic, pitch.

Student fees are just one way that universities rip off students. Unfortunately, it isn’t the only way they rip off students.

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When superPACs and other special interest organizations make a major ad buy in a formerly safe congressional district, it’s usually proof that the incumbent is in trouble. When that major ad buy happens months before the election, it’s a guarantee that he’s in trouble. That’s why this ad is proof, at minimum, that Rick Nolan, Nancy Pelosi and AFSCME are worried about Stewart Mills flipping this seat this November:

What’s interesting, and predictable, is that Nolan’s special interest allies are lying through their teeth about Mills supporting “tax breaks for the rich.” Let’s look at Mill’s issues page for the truth:

The Eighth District is a Main Street economy and job growth here comes from the ground up. That means we need tax reform that’s geared toward small business growth. Stewart doesn’t believe that Washington creates jobs- entrepreneurs and business owners create jobs.

When Republicans talk about tax reform, they’re talking mostly about tax simplification. That’s because tax compliance hurts small businesses far more than it hurts big corporations. Big corporations have tons of lobbyists to get favorable tax breaks and tons of accountants that stay on top of the ever-changing tax code.

Meanwhile, an entrepreneur might be the chief salesman of the product, the guy who does payroll and fills in when someone’s missing. He’s also the guy who has to stay on top of the onslaught of regulations and changes in the tax code. In short, tax compliance hurts small businesses far more than it hurts big corporations.

In other words, the AFSCME/House Majority PAC ad is BS.

Another important part of the AFSCME/House Majority PAC ad says that Stewart Mills opposes the minimum wage. I’ve paid a ton of attention to the Mills campaign. I’ve yet to hear him talk about the minimum wage. His stump speech is mostly about a) starting over and getting health care reform right, b) making PolyMet and job creation in Minnesota’s Eighth District a reality and c) standing up for the Second Amendment.

There’s nothing in there that’s about “tax cuts for the rich” or the minimum wage. Those mining jobs are anything but about the minimum wage. Those future miners certainly aren’t “the rich.” That’s who Stewart Mills will fight for if he’s elected, mostly because it’s the right thing to do.

After the DFL convention, Rick Nolan railed that Stewart Mills was the personification of the one-percent:

Nolan started off the campaign with a shot the Republican contender Stewart Mills. “He is, no mistake about it, a one percenter who is there to represent the 1 percent not the 99 percent,” Nolan said.

I said then what I’ll repeat now: Mills Fleet Farm is one of the most blue collar retail chains in the nation. They have lots of auto parts, lawn care products, sporting goods and a smattering of clothing, ranging from blue jeans to flannel shirts. What they don’t have are products that might be found in Macy’s or Nieman Marcus.

According to University of Wisconsin Superior Political Science Professor Alison Von Hagel, “I guess one could say it could be seen as putting words in his (Mills) mouth.” That’s understatement.

I’d argue that it’s filled with assumptions based mostly on ideology, not fact. In that sense, it’s what I expect from far left liberals like the DFL and Nancy Pelosi. Their relationship with the truth is minimal at best.

Stewart Mills is a salt-of-the-earth type of guy. He’s totally comfortable hanging out at the Mills family hunting shack. That isn’t to say he’s uncomfortable running the Mills Fleet Farm benefits program. He knows that pretty well, too, which is why he wants to start over on health care reform so that it’s affordable for everyone.

Right now, thanks to the ACA, it isn’t affordable for many.

That, of course, isn’t part of the AFSCME/House Majority PAC ad. That truth doesn’t fit with the Democrats’ storyline. If it doesn’t fit with the Democrats’ smear campaign, it’s ignored.

High-ranking people in DC thinks Nolan’s in trouble. That’s why he was put on the DCCC’s equivalent of the ‘Endangered Incumbents List.’ That’s why the House Majority PAC and AFSCME paid for this ad this early. If they thought Nolan wasn’t in trouble, they would’ve saved their money until the stretch run.

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It’s difficult to call Rolf Westgard’s submission to MinnPost a true LTE. Read this stuff, then ask yourself if you’ve heard it somewhere else before:

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) program is working in Minnesota and across the country. A June release of MNsure facts shows that more than 95 percent of Minnesotans are now insured. From September 2013 to May 2014, “The number of uninsured Minnesotans fell by 180,500, a reduction of 40.6 percent. To date, 236,745 Minnesotans have enrolled in quality, affordable coverage through MNsure. 136,303 enrolled in Medical Assistance, 48,942 in MinnesotaCare and 51,500 in a Qualified Health Plan.”

In April, President Obama announced that more than 7 million Americans had signed up for health insurance. The Affordable Care Act should continue to improve as more uninsured people who have been hesitant will enroll.

The statistics are accurate so that’s beyond dispute. What they don’t tell you is important, though. What they don’t tell you is that a) 93% of Minnesotans were insured before the ACA was enacted and b) 50% of those who weren’t insured were eligible for a taxpayer-subsidized health insurance policy.

Another thing that Dr. Westgard isn’t telling you is that Minnesota spent $160,000,000 to build MNsure, the website that didn’t work last year and won’t work this year. A third thing Dr. Westgard didn’t tell you is that 16,000 people who applied for MinnesotaCare through MNsure still haven’t been accepted because the Minnesota Department of Human Services didn’t send out the letters telling them that DHS needed additional information.

The unfortunate thing for Minnesotans is that that list is only a partial list of MNsure failures. I certainly could add this fact to the mix:

The Minnesota Department of Human Services sent 3,000 letters to homes of MinnesotaCare recipients who may have received incorrect monthly billing statements after they applied for health coverage through MNsure, the state’s new health care exchange. The letter tells those recipients the bills may have been wrong for several months, but they encouraged those clients to keep paying the bills anyway.

I could also include this information:

The recent revelation that the state failed to send out letters to 16,000 low-income Minnesotans seeking medical assistance to let them know their applications had not been processed and they were not covered does not surprise Olmsted County Community Services Director Paul Fleissner.

“Every county has been screaming that we didn’t think notices were going out, and the state kept saying yes, yes, yes, people are just forgetting this. We had a really strong sense that they weren’t and finally it’s been confirmed that they weren’t going to our people,” Fleissner said.

Dr. Westgard isn’t stupid. I’ve read his op-eds on energy and found them to be quite informative. Rather, I think Dr. Westgard a) just believes in the ACA and b) was willing to use the DFL’s talking points in writing his LTE.

It’s a shame he didn’t dig into the subject more. It would’ve made for a more authoritative LTE.

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Lefties went apoplectic this week after the DC Circuit issued its ruling in the Halbig v. Burwell lawsuit. Their initial spin was that it was “a drafting error.” Sean Davis’ article laid out the foolishness of their spin. While Davis’ article buried the administration’s spin with irrefutable facts, something that Jonathan Gruber said might hurt them in a court of law even more. Here’s what Gruber said that’s so damning:

What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges.

Gruber isn’t an outsider:

Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who helped design the Massachusetts health law that was the model for Obamacare, was a key influence on the creation of the federal health law. He was widely quoted in the media. During the crafting of the law, the Obama administration brought him on for consultation because of his expertise. He was paid almost $400,000 to consult with the administration on the law. And he has claimed to have written part of the legislation, the section dealing with small business tax credits.

In other words, Gruber admitted, after working on the ACA, that the subsidies were made available for people who bought their insurance through state-established exchanges to put political pressure on reluctant governors and legislators to establish state-run exchanges.

That’s supported by the legislative language of the ACA:

The statutory authority for state-based exchanges comes in section 1311 of Obamacare. The statutory authority for a federal exchange in the event that a state chose not to establish one comes from section 1321(c) of Obamacare. Right off the bat, we have two discrete sections pertaining to two discrete types of health exchange. Was that a “drafting error”?

Then we have the specific construction of section 1321(c), which allows for the creation of a federal exchange. Nowhere does this section say that an exchange created under its authority will have the same treatment as a state-based exchange created under section 1311. At no point does it say that section 1321 plans are equivalent. Why, it’s almost as though the exchanges and the plans offered by them were not intended to receive the same treatment. Was that another “drafting error”?

Most important, we have the sections of the law providing for tax credits to help offset the cost of Obamacare’s health care plans: sections 1401, 1402, 1411, 1412, 1413, 1414, and 1415. And how do those sections establish authority to provide those tax credits? Why, they specifically state ten separate times that tax credits are available to offset the costs of state health exchange plans authorized by section 1311. And how many times are section 1321 federal exchange plans mentioned? Zero.

I’ll repeat myself. Gruber’s quote matches up with the legislative language of the ACA. The good news is that there’s a legislative fix for this problem. Congress can pass legislation that makes the subsidies available to anyone making less than 400% of the federal poverty level, aka FPL.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that House Republicans won’t include things like repealing the medical device manufacturers tax and the individual and employer mandates.

Therein lies the Democrats’ real problem. They’ve gotten their way on every single item in the bill thus far. They aren’t interested in compromising with Republicans on a single provision in the ACA. That’s tough. It’s time for them to stop acting like spoiled brats. It’s time for Democrats to implement some of the Republicans’ good ideas.

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It’s beginning to look like the Democrats are giving Tom Harkin’s Senate seat away. First, Bruce Braley insulted Iowans by criticizing Chuck Grassley for being a hog farmer. Now Braley is fighting for his political life for ignoring his committee assignment on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee:

Over a two-year period, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley missed 75 percent of meetings for a committee that provides oversight over the Veterans Administration, including one meeting on a day he attended three fundraisers for his 2012 campaign.

A few months later, news reports exposed systemic problems in patient care that have since resulted in the resignation head of the federal department of veterans affairs.

Of course, Democrats were quick to defend Braley:

Democrats who back Braley, a trial lawyer and seven-year congressman who is now running for U.S. Senate, say he has been an outspoken voice for veterans and it’s wrong for his GOP rival, Joni Ernst, to “try to inject partisan politics into veterans issues.” He missed the veterans affairs meeting on the day of the three fundraisers because he went to another congressional hearing, his aides said.

Veterans don’t need someone who’s all talk. What they need most is someone who’s committed to solving the VA crisis. Clearly, Rep. Braley doesn’t fit that description. By comparison, Ms. Ernst does. In fact, she’s currently away from the campaign trail so she can fulfill her commitment in the Iowa National Guard:

Republicans are appealing to Iowans to help campaign for Joni Ernst while she’s on leave for two weeks for active duty training.

Ernst, a candidate for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat and a battalion commander in the Iowa Army National Guard, leaves Friday for Fort McCoy for annual training.

“During this time, she will not be able to fund-raise, walk in parades, door knock or do other political activity,” Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in a letter posted on the party’s website this afternoon. “We know Bruce Braley and his liberal D.C. pals will continue their slash-and-burn campaign against Joni while she’s on duty, so anything you can do to help us until Joni returns is greatly appreciated.”

If Braley continues making major mistake after major mistake, he’ll be Ms. Ernst’s best weapon against Bruce Braley. That seems likely considering the fact that he wasn’t where he said he was:

Braley’s aides said he skipped it to attend a 9:36 a.m. Oversight and Government Reform Committee meeting on the “Fast and Furious” gun trafficking scandal. The congressional record marked Braley “present,” but reveals that he offered no testimony during the three-hour hearing, which ran until 12:45 p.m.

Video caught no sight of Braley. His seat isn’t always visible, but the multiple times it’s within camera view during the window the Veterans Affairs committee was in session (10:19 a.m. to 11:54 a.m.), Braley wasn’t seated, a Register review of C-SPAN 3 and committee footage found.

Skipping a House VA Committee hearing for a trio of fundraisers is bad enough. Saying that you’re participating in another commitee hearing might get you off the hook…if you’re where you said you were. Apparently, he couldn’t even manage that.

This race isn’t over by a long shot. Still, it won’t help Democrats if Braley continues his litany of major mistakes. Insulting hog farmers in Iowa is as foolish as insulting Packers fans in Wisconsin. Attending a trio of fundraisers while saying you’re in a committee hearing is foolish, too.

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This afternoon, I got this email from the Sivarajah for Congress campaign:

Friends,

I am honored to have received an AQ rating from the National Rifle Association. An AQ rating as explained on the NRA website means the following:

“A pro-gun candidate whose rating is based solely on the candidate’s responses to the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire and who does not have a voting record on Second Amendment issues.”

I look forward to the opportunity to prove my commitment to our 2nd Amendment rights with my vote in the United States Congress.

The highest grade a candidate can receive from the NRA is an A+. It will be my personal goal to be “a legislator with not only an excellent voting record on all critical NRA issues, but who has also made a vigorous effort to promote and defend the Second Amendment.”

My message to Ms. Sivarajah is simple. Talk is cheap. Anyone can fill in the right answers on a questionnaire. Here’s what matters:

U.S. House of Representatives District 6 Republican Primary

Tom Emmer (R) Grade: A
Status: Candidate

Rhonda Sivarajah (R) Grade: AQ
Status: Candidate

It’s nice that Ms. Sivarajah got a nice grade but the NRA endorsed Tom Emmer. Here’s what the grades mean:

A: Solidly pro-gun candidate. A candidate who has supported NRA positions on key votes in elective office or a candidate with a demonstrated record of support on Second Amendment issues.

AQ A pro-gun candidate whose rating is based solely on the candidate’s responses to the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire and who does not have a voting record on Second Amendment issues.

In the Sixth District, we insist that our candidates walk the walk on the Second Amendment. Just talking the talk isn’t good enough. Tom Emmer’s consistently walked the walk. Thus far, Rhonda Sivarajah has only talked the talk.

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