Things Heard at “Simply Right” Thursday Night

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

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

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?

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?

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:
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:
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

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.

Something is rotten in Denmark – It’s Lack of Fidel-ity

December 22nd, 2009

I thought I was hearing things when I heard on ABC radio news yesterday that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro called the climate change proceedings in Copenhagen undemocratic. So I did a quick search and lo and behold an article in the Latin American Herald Tribune confirmed what I heard on the radio. Castro said the summit ended with “an anti-democratic and virtually clandestine initiative.” Now, it seems to me that Castro calling this meeting full of hypocrites in Denmark anti-democratic is a little like Tiger Woods lecturing John Edwards on fidelity.

Come to think of it, maybe the U. S. should have sent Tiger to Copenhagen as a delegate. Along with the 1,200 limousines provided by local companies for the delegates that came in on some 140 private jets, the local sex workers’ union offered free “services” to anyone producing a delegates’ pass. This according to the London Telegraph. Just think, had Tiger been occupied in Copenhagen, it might have saved him a three iron to the forehead and spared us all of the continuing saga of mistresses coming out of the Wood-work. And until recently, his skills at covering up the truth, much like the glo-bull warming “scientists”, who also recently got caught with their pants down, were very successful.

Anyway, Castro went on to say, “Obama gave a deceptive and demagogic speech, full of ambiguities, that did not involve any binding commitment . . .” Like a broken clock that’s right twice a day, Castro nailed it. This could be said about every speech Obama gives. Where in the world was Castro during the 2008 presidential campaign when the U. S. mainstream media dropped the ball on this assessment?

What kind of shape are we in as a country when we have to rely on an 83-year-old ailing dictator to tell it like it is?

Buyers’ Remorse Out East

November 8th, 2009

My take on the gubernatorial election results in New Jersey and Virginia is that they cannot be interpreted as anything other than “buyers’ remorse”. Virginia voters, who gave Barack H. Obama a six percent victory in their state, the first for a Democrat since 1964, just a year later elected Republican Bob McDonnel by a whopping 18 percentage points.  That’s a 24-point swing in just a year.

Likewise in New Jersey, normally a state that heavily favors Democrats, Republican Chris Christie defeated the well-funded Democrat incumbent John Corzine by four percentage points, a 19-point swing in favor of Republicans after Obama carried New Jersey by 15 points a year ago.

While these results may not necessarily be a Republican mandate, at the very least, they indicate that voters see that Obama does not have the silver bullet for solving the country’s problems. Just as likely, voters are seeing that Democrats in general, who control our Federal government, are over-reaching with a far left agenda.

The hopeful sign for Republicans is that these New Jersey and Virginia off-year elections have served as early indicators of what’s to come in the following year’s Congressional and gubernatorial elections. This year’s election results could be a good sign if activists on the right of center don’t manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Which brings me to this year’s special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. This race grabbed national attention when local Republican party chairs selected a candidate they thought had the best chance to win. Yes, that candidate is moderate to liberal in her views. Many conservatives put their support behind the Conservative Party candidate, and the Republican dropped out three days before Election Day. As it turns out, Democrats won this seat for the first time in decades.

What bothers me about his race, besides a Democrat winning, is that some conservatives view this result as a victory. Erick Erickson, blogger at Red State, stated, “NY-23 was a huge victory for the conservative base of the GOP,” “The GOP had to lose NY-23 to get the message . . .” and “And we won.” Another example is Susan B. Anthony List (a pro-life group) President Marjorie Dannenfelser, who states, “To be frank this is a win . . .”

Prior to Election Day when Governor Pawlenty endorsed the Conservative Party candidate in NY-23, a local conservative activist stated, “we’re making progress.” I have a feeling, though, had Pawlenty endorsed the Republican, that same activist would have made all kinds of noise about our Governor feeding his presidential ambitions by sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong in a New York Congressional race.

Now, I may be too simplistic in my thinking, but a loss is just that. A loss. When a liberal Democrat wins, especially in this seat (which some say hasn’t been held by a Democrat in 140 years) it’s not a win for anyone on the right side of the aisle. When Nancy Pelosi’s hand is strengthened, it is not a win. When the election results in a liberal pro-choice Democrat winning the seat, it is not a victory for Republicans, conservatives, pro-life people or anyone on the right.

If the 2010 elections will follow through with the early indications New Jersey and Virginia, those of us on the right have to get it right. It is vitally important that we work together and agree on the best possible candidates. And yes that means that I might not get the candidate that agrees with me 100% of the time. But if we simply define victory as knocking someone out of the race, God help us all.

Most, but Not All, Teachers Appreciative

September 21st, 2009

A week ago Sunday the Pine City School district conducted an open house for public tours of the building addition and upgrades at the elementary school. It went from about 2:00 to 4:30, with a short program at 3:00. All in all the school district did a good job of completing what the project approved by the voters in the district.

I hesitate to bring this up, because this is the East Central Truth Detector and some of my information is second-hand. But first I’ll say that most of the faculty and staff seemed appreciative to the public for approving the ballot question and the spending on the addition and upgrades. However, it got back to me that there was some grumbling among some faculty and staff that they had to give of their “personal” time on a Sunday to come in to their workplace. And I did personally witness one teacher who abruptly ended a conversation with a high school student (former student of the teacher) and headed for the exit at exactly 4:30.

Now, it seems I remember going to parent-teacher conferences a few weeks prior to Election Day the year the ballot question appeared. Faculty members were wearing buttons encouraging a “yes” vote – for the kids, of course. Faculty members asked voters to approve of the project. I wouldn’t think it would be too much to ask for faculty and staff to take a couple hours of their “personal” time to show their appreciation to the taxpaying public who will be paying for these upgrades for the next 15-20 years.

Faculty and staff with this kind of attitude has allowed the public employee union mentality dictate their attitudes and behaviors, in that they think it amounts to involuntary servitude if they are asked to work one more minute than they’re contract says they should. (I’ve often said that the most dangerous place to be is between a government worker and the exit at quitting time.) Again, I’ll say that most school employees seemed genuinely appreciative for the upgraded facility. But those who felt personally inconvenienced for being asked to show a little appreciation to the people who pay their salaries should re-examine if they are in their profession for the right reasons.

MN House Republicans Ahead of the Curve on ACORN

September 21st, 2009

The corruption in ACORN that conservatives have long known about is just now becoming general public knowledge, thanks to these undercover videos. Both Houses of Congress overwhelmingly voted on a bipartisan basis to cut off Federal funding of ACORN

However, Minnesota House Republicans were way ahead of the curve during the 2009 Legislative session. Go here (and click on “BLOG”) to learn about three amendments offered by House Republicans and rejected by the DFL majority. One amendment specifically prohibited federal stimulus money for state transportation projects from going to ACORN. One amendment would have prohibited funding of organizations under indictment or convicted of voter fraud from receiving state funding. The other amendment would have prohibited organizations under indictment or its members convicted of voter fraud from conducting voter outreach or registration activities in Minnesota.

On all three of these common sense amendments Democrats “representing” the East Central Minnesota region voted “no”. These DFL House members include Reps. Hilty, Kalin, Faust, and Jackson. The one House member who saw the wisdom in these amendments was Rep. Rob Eastlund (R – Cambridge).

Republicans have known for a long time that ACORN is rife with corruption. Democrats on the federal level who voted to cut off funding have come on board in the last few days because they know the light of truth has been shined on ACORN and exposed it for what it is.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a full time employee of the Minnesota House Republican Caucus. Opinions expressed on this blog are my own and not necessarily those of any political party, legislative caucus, legislator or government entity. This blog is not endorsed, funded or sponsored in any way by any political party, legislative caucus, legislator or government entity.