Archive for January, 2010

She’s No Lady, She’s a Member of Congress

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

I couldn’t let any more time pass before the Truth Detector comments on the bruhaha from last week’s joint radio appearance by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R –  Minnesota) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D – Pennsylvania) in Pennsylvania.

As you may recall, Specter was a moderate Republican Senator until after the 2008 election that swept Barack H. Obama and a near filibuster-proof majority for the Democrats in the Senate. Specter’s re-election was coming up in 2010, and, seemingly reading the tea leaves at the time, he decided to change parties with the hopes of grabbing a plumb committee chairmanship while increasing his chances of re-election.

But how quickly the political winds change. Merely a year later, Democratic fortunes have reversed, and Specter, who historically gets re-elected by comfortable margins, is in the re-election fight of his life. Last week’s radio appearance with Bachmann may not have helped his chances.

Bachmann and Specter were vigorously debating the Democrats’ health care proposal. Specter asked Bachmann what she voted in favor of. When Bachmann answered in generalities, without naming a specific bill, Specter was not satisfied. The moderator called on Specter to respond, while Bachmann continued to press her point. Specter, frustrated by being interrupted, told Bachmann to “act like a lady.” “I’m treating you like a lady, so act like one.”

Bachmann later said she felt like she was being treated like a child.

 While Bachmann is no stranger to fallout from making erratic statements, the political fallout this time, fair or unfair, will fall on Specter. Specter has since apologized directly to Bachmann, which may limit the political fallout as far as he’s concerned. Let’s face it. Specter’s comments had shades of sexism. Had he been paired with a Congressman (Mike) Pence, a Congressman (Jeff) Flake, a Congressman (John) Kline or any other male member of Congress, does anyone believe Specter would have asked any of them to “act like a gentleman”?

Now, whenever two or more politicians are gathered in one place and asked to express their opinions, interruptions can be expected. But whether Specter realized it at the time, his insinuation that Bachmann is not a lady has a ring of truth to it. I’ve written on this blog before about people close to me who have been trampled on by Bachmann’s stilettos. Figuratively, of course, but the fact is Bachmann is capable of being downright rude and tacky, especially when it comes to promoting her own political  career. (BTW, if she were a man, I would give the words, “rude”, “tacky” or even “ungentlemanly” equal time here.)

So while the Truth Detector says Specter couldn’t have said what he said to a more deserving person, the Truth Detector also says whatever political fallout Specter suffers because of it also couldn’t happen to a more deserving person. He may pay the ultimate price for switching parties out of political opportunism this November. Because of his comments last week, female voters in Pennsylvania just might make sure of it.

CPT Ben Wiener Urges Participation in Precinct Caucuses

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Another letter from CPT Ben Wiener has been added to the “Letters from a Soldier” page. Click on the link, if you dare to be challenged to attend precinct caucuses and township elections!

Can Scott Brown Pull off a Massachusetts Miracle?

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown

Election Day in Massachusetts is still a couple days away. Anything could happen. But all indications are pointing to Republican State Senator Scott Brown shocking the world with a “Massachusetts Mriacle“.

Not more than a couple weeks ago, it was still assumed that the Democrat would win the special election to fill, what even Fox News is still calling, “Ted Kennedy’s seat”. Massachusetts Democrat attorney general Martha Coakley had a double-digit lead in the polls in this bluest of blue states. Among registered voters who affiliate with a major party, Democrats outnumber Republicans three to one. The people of Massachusetts haven’t sent a Republican to the U. S. Senate since, well, no one can remember when.

Then the perfect storm started to happen. Coakley apparently had thought that it was enough to be the Democrat on the ballot. And in Massachusetts, it usually is. But this is 2010. She was aloof, staying out of the public, not wanting to shake hands and look voters in the eye.

Then came the debate moderated by David Gergen. In the context of the U. S. Senate about to vote on federal health care “reform”, about Gergen asked Brown how he could go to the Senate and vote against it in the Kennedy’s seat. Brown shot back and stated, with all due respect, of course, that the seat does not belong to the Kennedys, nor does it belong to the Democrats. It’s the people’s seat. Whether by accident or by design, Brown was able say in a few seconds what people have been trying to say at town meetings all across the nation since last summer. 

Only time will tell whether Brown’s response will be as memorable as vice-presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen’s “You’re no Jack Kennedy” to Dan Quayle. The sidebar that no one mentions is that Bentsen and presidential candidate Michael Dukakis lost that election. As I write this, that 1988 presidential election and that quote by Bentsen had both Kennedy ties and Massachusetts ties (Dukakis was a former Massachusetts governor).

As Coakley and her campaign saw the race getting uncomfortably close, she had to start going negative in her messaging in an attempt to reduce public favor with Brown. But it didn’t help when someone’s spell-checker broke down when producing an attack ad against Brown. The Coakley campaign misspelled “Massachusetts”. (If nothing else good comes out of this special election, amateur bloggers like me will have learned how to spell “Massachusetts”.

Brown clearly has the mojo at this point in the race. Prior to January 5th, Coakley generally had double-digit leads in the polls. However, four of the last six polls (since january 7th)  released publicly have Brown leading (one of the two polls that have Coakley leading was conducted by a Democrat-leaning organization). 

How did Brown, a Republican in an extremely blue state, capture so much support? I’ll borrow a couple sentences from this Time article, as I think they stated it well:

“Given the often contrived and polarizing conflict that dominates the cable-TV landscape, it would be easy, on the outside looking in, to slap a Tea Party label on Brown’s supporters. But most of those lunging for his hand were not lunatics from the fringe, merely Democrats and Independents feeling bruised, ignored and taken for granted by people in power.”

Coakley is now calling in the big guns to campaign for her – a far cry from just getting her name on the ballot as a Democrat and coasting to Washington. Former President Bill Clinton has visited Massachusetts, and Barack H. Obama is scheduled to visit today. (Word was Obama’s advisers carefully calculated the risks and rewards of campaigning for Coakley – can he afford to show up for a candidate who might lose? In the end, they chose to send him there on a Sunday, a notoriously slow news day.)

Win or lose, Brown has already pulled of something that most people just a few weeks ago thought not possible: a competitive race in Massachusetts. Again, as Time puts it:

But, in a sense, Scott Brown has already won; not simply for his party, Republican, but for any candidate across the landscape who looks toward a volatile November with the message, “It’s our turn.”

In a couple days well know whether Scott Brown just won, or really won.

Things Heard at “Simply Right” Thursday Night

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

First let me say that the “tea party” movement has done some good things over the past year. Most significantly, the movement has captured the frustration of conservatives and libertarian-minded people and put that frustration into action, especially at demonstrations and town hall meetings across the nation. This action has been successful in pointing out that the “hope and change” promised to the American people during the 2008 presidential campaign was not the “hope and change” people expected. The overreach and lurch to the left led by Barack H. Obama and Congressional Democrats is unacceptable to the majority of Americans, and the tea party movement has done a good job of shining the light of truth on this fact.

Locally, a group called “Simply Right” has been meeting regularly. I’m not sure whether this group is officially related to the tea party movement, but many of the same people are involved in organizing and attending both events. Simply right is billed as a  group open to Republicans, Democrats and Independents. One of the promoters of Simply Right wrote in a letter to the editor in August that “[t]his is a gathering where everyone can speak their views and no one is shouted down.”

I attended a “Simply Right” meeting for the first time Thursday night in Hinckley. There were very good presentations by gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, State Auditor Candidate Pat Anderson, and State Senator Chris Gerlach (R – Apple Valley). However, as much as I like the purpose of the tea party movement, I’m afraid some of the locals involved with the tea party movement and Simply Right get fast and loose with the facts their exuberance. And since this is the East Central Truth Detector, here are some observations that should be pointed out and corrected.

  • “Oberstar gives his money to Tim Faust and Tony Lourey.”  The Truth Detector grades this one “probably bull”. This was spoken by a local Simply Right organizer, and intended to be a slam against one or two unnamed local Republicans who allegedly have contributed to the campaign of Congressmand Jim Oberstar in the past. I hope the person who said this has proof, because co-mingling federal campaign money with campaign money for state offices is illegal. If the proof is there, a complaint should be filed with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, and I would be more than happy to help with that process. However, if one can’t prove that Oberstar gives money directly to the Faust and Lourey Campaigns, then it’s probably best to avoid making up stuff like that in a desparate attempt to disparage other individuals.
  • “Life experience. I’m 48 and my [main Republican] opponent is 37.” – Spoken by gubernaotrial candidate Rep. Tom Emmer. He said this shortly after a 21-year-old candidate for State Representative downplayed the importance of expsrience. The Truth Detector will go with Rep. Emmer on this one.
  • “I wouldn’t give money to a political party if my life depended on it.” Spoken by the First Vice Chair of the Pine County Republican Party.  With this in mind, the Truth Detector can’t wait for the campaign finance reports to be released the end of this month. And the person who said it probably shouldn’t be an officer of any political party.
  • “Let’s limit this to questions, not comments, and no more than twenty seconds.” Spoken by the moderator of the Simply Right meeting after trying to ignore, then finally calling on an audience member who the moderator apparently perceived as antagonistic. The Truth Detector grades this as hypocritical, based on the previously stated principal of Simply Right being a “gathering where everyone can speak their views and no one is shouted down.” By the way, the audience member simply wanted to ask about precinct caucus locations, since the subject had been neglected in a previous discussion about caucuses.

The local tea party movement and “Simply Right” has an opportunity to do some good things. But if the leaders of these movements are willing to be hypocritical and deceptive in their rush to belittle others and put them down, it will diminish the significance of their group in a hurry.

Minnesotans Have Limited Role on Franken’s Staff

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
“If he’s representing Minnesotans,” Wilson said, “why aren’t there Minnesotans there?”

Disagreements among political staff occur often. Way more often than the public realizes. But it’s rare for those disagreements to become public. However, when it comes to Senator* Al Franken, disagreements have become commonplace. Open and public arguments with Senate colleagues, committee testifiers, and republican staff.

Now, however, the friction has manifested itself among Franken’s own staff. A recent dispute ended in a Franken staffer being ushered out of his office by Capitol police. According to this Minneapolis Star Tribune article, Franken staffer Mark Wilson resigned over it. Wilson, a Minnesotan expressed his frustration that Washington insiders were calling the shots, and Minnesotans on the staff were being shortchanged and underrepresented on Franken’s Capitol Hill staff. The article quoted Wilson as saying, “If he’s representing Minnesotans,why aren’t there Minnesotans there?”

The article stated that Wilson was Franken’s top admistrative aide on farm issues, and had worked closely with Minnesota’s agricultural community. Wilson was upset to learn that the composition of a speech on agricultural issues would be farmed out to Jeff Nussbaum, a Washington speechwriter for former Vice President Al Gore.

Now, there may be many issues that a Senator from the Midwest can get away with assigning to a D. C. insider. But agriculture shouldn’t be one of those issues. One would think that even Franken should know that.

I recall that the issue of filling staff with D. C. insiders was an criticism leveled at former Senator Rod Grams when he served in the Senate. Constituents who visited him in his Washington office reportedly came back and told tales of how they were treated as an inconvenience, rather than the reason staffers had jobs in Grams’ office. The theory goes that staff made up of Minnesotans would more likely be a staff more attentive to Minnesotans’ issues and concerns. While it may not be the reason, it is plausible that is was one of the reasons for Grams’ failed reelection bid in 2000.

Here’s hoping Senator* Al Franken meets the same fate when he runs for reelection in 2014.

It’s Only Racist if a Republican Says it

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

It seems one couldn’t turn on the TV or radio, or search the Internet in the last few days without accusations of racism over comments that one politician or another uttered. Most notable, of course, is the quote attributed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D – NV). According to the soon-to-be released book Game Change by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. Reid said during the 2008 campaign that then candidate Barack H. Obama that he is a “light skinned” African American had has “no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.”

Once the authors’ revelations came to light, Reid quickly apologized and Obama quickly accepted his apology. Must move on. Too much work to be done to get hung up over a silly little statement like that. Of course, Reid’s chief responsibility is to shepard Obama’s chief agenda item, government takeover of health care through the Senate, while holding together his fragile 60-vote supermajority.

But it was a different story back in 2002 when Sen. Trent Lott (R – MS) inferred at the 100th birthday party of Sen Strom Thurmond (R – SC) that had Thurmond been elected president when he ran back in the 1940s “we wouldn’t have had all these problems” over the years. What problems? Well you see Thurmond was Democrat and a noted segregationist when he and other Southern Democrats walked out of their national convention in protest over northerners’ integration agenda.  Thurmond then took his segregationist issues and ran for president on a new “Dixiecrat” ticket. (Thurmond later denounced his old segregationist views and became a Republican.) It was read into Lott’s comments that Lott believed racial integration had caused many problems for the nation over the years. Lott was forced to resign his position under the firestrom (yes, I spelled that correctly, firestrom) in the aftermath of his comments.

The double standard and the hypocrisy from the left rears its ugly head again.

Then there was Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele who took some heat over uttering the phrase “honest Injun”, and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich who, in the wake of the revelation of Reid’s comments, claimed that he, Blagogevich is “blacker than Barack Obama.”

The White House’s response to Blago? “Refuse to comment” was the word from on high. Alghough Blago is a Democrat, he was put out to pasture last year for attempting to sell the Senate seat in Illinois formerly occupied by Obama to the highest bidder. It’s noteworthy here that Democrats were comfortable in putting Blago out to pasture because Illinois is a heavy Democratic state, and it was assumed that there was little danger of Democrats losing hold on the Governor’s seat or the U. S. Senate seat. But this is 2010, and Republicans now have a chance in the most Democrat states – more commentary coming on the special election for U. S. Senate in Massachusetts. But anyway, back to the point. The White House had no need to forgive Blago as it did Harry Reid, because Blago is in no position to do anything for the White House.

Think of how much outrage there would be from the left if Reid’s comments had instead been uttered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R – KY). When it gets down to it, it’s only racist if a Republican says it.

The media, the left and the party of “tolerance and diversity” need to either 1) lighten up, or 2) apply the same standard to everyone regardless of party affiliation or position of power.

Where’s the Check and Balance on Judicial Overreach?

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Last week, Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin issued a temporary restraining order on a portion of Governor Tim Pawlenty’s unallotments (executive decision to cut spending without legislative approval). The basis of this decision was that the Governor used his unallotment authority in a way not used before by announcing his intention to unallot prior to the start of the fiscal year.

In other words it’s the timing. The statute gives the executive branch unallotment powers when the revenues are less than anticipated. Judge Gearin’s argument is that the budget shortfall was not unanticipated when he announced his intention to unallot at the end of 2009 Legislative session, therefore the Governor overreached his constitutional authority. Presumably, Judge Gearin is acting as a “check and balance” on the Executive Branch.

But let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Legislature and the Governor were never going to come to an agreement on the overall budget. The Democrat controlled Legislature continued to send spending bills to the Governor that would require tax increases to pay for them. The Governor is staunchly opposed to tax increases. Unallotment was the last mechanism to balance the budget and end the session on time, which by the way is also in the constitution.

So Judge Gearin stepped in the middle of a dispute between the Legislative Branch and Executive Branch and made the decision for them. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher (a DFL candidate for Governor) immiedately went to the press to hail udge Gearin’s decision and denounce the Governor’s overreach. Likewise, DFL candidate for Governor Matt Entenza called the Governor’s unallotment action “hatchet tactics” (Interesting choice of words, considering the opposition research he authorized on fellow DFLer Mike Hatch in a power struggle between the two leading up to the 2006 election.)  

The question then becomes where is the check and balance on the judicial branch? I’m no lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but it could be just as easily argued that Judge Gearin overreached by issuing a temporary restraining order to reinstate $5.3 million of spending on a dietary program.

When the Legislature and the Governor have a dispute, the people can easily speak through the ballot box to settle the dispute. With judges, it’s not that simple. Yes, I know. In Minnesota we elect our judges. But when can anyone recall an incumbent judge who was ever voted out of office?

Furthermore, those who are in the know will tell you Judge Gearin leans to the left politically and is a DFL sympathizer. Just go back to the Coleman-Franken recount. Judge Gearin was part of the three-judge panel that heard Colman’s case. Norm Coleman did not catch one break during the whole ordeal. Thousands of ballots reviewed, and dozens of rulings issued. One would think that by accident, Coleman would catch one break. Nope.

The good news is that Judge Gearin’s ruling is not the end of the story. Most likely the final decision will lie with the Minnesota Supreme Court. Hopefully, more rational heads will prevail with the final decision.

When Will They Ever Learn?

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

On July 25, 2009, I wrote a post regarding Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s position on the census, and how her position was misrepresented by Senator Amy Klobuchar and some in the mainstream media. Well, if WCCO TV news anchor Esme Murphy were an East Central Truth Detector reader, maybe she wouldn’t have posted this blog that is so factually inaccurate it, well, it corroborates everything we already know about the mainstream media and its so-called “objective” journalists.

The result of Ms. Murphy’s haste to get some humorous irony out there, is that the reader can’t even get past the headline without out being hit between the eyes with a blatant falsehood. The headline, “Bachmann’s Seat Threatened After Census Remarks” reveals left-leaning media hacks almost wetting their pants with excitement before they can blurt out, “It serves her right.” The premise, of course is that if Minnesota loses a congressional seat because of too few people being counted, it could very well be Bachmann’s 6th district that will be eliminated.

Unfortunately, the premise behind the headline is not rooted in fact. Congresswoman Bachmann has never said that she refuses to be counted. In the media’s haste to bash Bachmann, they link her concerns about the invasive questions regarding income commute times, race and home ownership with the possibility of Minnesota losing a congressional seat. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here, in part, is my e-mail to Esme Murphy. I’ll post again if I get a response:

Did you or anyone in your newsroom bother to do any research before you posted “Bachmann’s Seat Threatened after Census Remarks”?
There is nothing about Michele Bachmann’s position on the census that threatens the loss of a congressional district in Minnesota. Not one iota. Bachmann is willing to be counted, with her household.   An accurate count of residents is all that is needed for congressional apportionment. 
Her objection is the questions in the census form that ask residents to provide information that should be none of the federal government’s business. The federal government doesn’t need to know our income, our race, how far we drive to work or whether we own the home we live in.
I know that you probably avoid having to use the bankrupt newspaper in Minneapolis as a reference, but  the Star Tribune did one article on this issue back in June that was fairly accurate. Here is the quote attributed to Bachmann in the article:
“I’m saying, for myself and my family, our comfort level is we will comply with the Constitution Article I Section II,” Bachmann told a Fox News interviewer. “We will give the number of people in our home, and that’s where we’re going to draw the line.” Here is the full article, if you care to take the time to learn her real position and the facts: http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/senate/49104281.html?page=1&c=y.
A July 23, 2009 Los Angeles Times blog, in spite of its misleading headline stated that Bachmann introduced legislation that requires people to provide to the Census Bureau name, date, contact information and the number of people living at the same address. See: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2009/07/minnesota-rep-bachmann-creates-a-stir-refusing-to-fill-our-census-form.html.
I don’t watch WCCO news, so I’m not really concerned whether you go the way of the print media in Minneapolis, but if you care, you might want to be a little more diligent in learning the facts before perpetuating a myth under the guise of journalism.

Letter from CPT Ben Wiener Added

Monday, January 4th, 2010

A New Year Greeting from CPT Ben Wiener was added to the “Letters from a Soldier” link. Please visit the link to find out his thoughts as he nears the end of his deployment.