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Monday, October 26, 2009
I Thought We Were Broke?

Just over a week ago the federal government officially announced an annual deficit for 2009 of $1.4 TRILLION dollars.

To be clear, that doesn't mean they are merely spending the preposterous, hyper gluttonous sum of $1.4 trillion in one year. If that were the case, we'd be in Fat City in terms of the ledger, since the government has arranged to take in $2.1 trillion in 2009. Nearly all of that from taxation of we the people. Unfortunately, that's not nearly enough for our elected representatives. They blew right past that inconceivable sum by an extra 68%, for a one year spending total of $3.52 trillion.

And it doesn't end there. The 2009 deficit of $1.4 trillion is but a morsel of the government's current plan to spend a total of $9 to $10 trillion more than it takes in over the next decade. (And that doesn't even include additional costs possible for health care reform or cap and trade).

An article in The Nation recently talked about the "oh, sh*t" moment liberals have when reading persuasive global warming propaganda:

They say that everyone who finally gets it about climate change has an "Oh, sh*t" moment--an instant when the full scientific implications become clear and they suddenly realize what a horrifically dangerous situation humanity has created for itself.

My question is, when do politicians have the "oh, sh*t" moment when it comes to the deficit? (Incidentally, a problem they happen to have complete control over. Unlike, say, regulating the temperature of the planet.) How many multiple trillions more than we produce do they have to spend before they suddenly realize what a horrifically dangerous situation they have created for the country?

I don't know at what point that is. But a sign to look out for is that they stop proposing brand new multi-million dollar spending initiatives and think about maybe cutting expenses and trying to run a surplus to pay the debt down.

Rep. Betty McCollum of St. Paul - not quite there yet. From her latest celebratory press release:
Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04) has introduced H.R. 3701, the More Books for Africa Act of 2009. The bill establishes the More Books for Africa Program to facilitate the donation, processing, shipping, and distribution of text and library books to African schools, libraries, community centers, and other centers of learning in partnership with United States-based entities.

"Ensuring access to and availability of textbooks and library books in countries on the continent of Africa is a critical component of our nation's public diplomacy. The More Books for Africa Program will be a powerful cross cultural initiative to help create a more educated global community," Congresswoman McCollum said.

Conveniently not mentioned in her press release was the price tag. For that we have the Thomas Search Engine. From the text of HR 3701, The More Books for Africa Act:

Authorization of Appropriations - There is authorized to be appropriated to the Administrator of USAID $3,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014 for purposes of establishing and implementing the Program.

A cool $15 million of brand new spending. And who knows how much more once it becomes embedded as an entitlement and the lobbyists start working the problem in future Congresses.

As previously noted, Betty McCollum views herself less as St. Paul's representative in the Federal government than as the At Large Congresswoman for the Saving the World. This is just another example. I suppose it would be nice to supply an entire continent thousands of miles away with library and text books. (Although it would be even nicer to make sure our country was set in this regard first. Heck, just a few years ago right in St. Paul "our schools were burning!" due to a lack of books.) But in an atmosphere of already spending trillions of dollars more per year than we have, it is highly irresponsible.

These politicians see no need to set any priorities in spending, everything is critical, everything can be funded, nothing needs to be sacrificed, and they think there is no limit to the amount of your money they have available to fund it. That's how you get a $1.4 trillion one year deficit.

Tweaking the campaign slogan I proposed a couple of months ago:

We're out of money. She's out of control. This country cannot afford Betty McCollum any longer.

Feel free to customize that for just about any incumbent in the county.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009
Maxine on the Mississippi

The Hill reports that notoriously erratic US Congressperson Maxine Waters was spouting off again, this time about the attendees at recent rallies protesting the Obama health care reforms and government spending:

"I want those people talked to; I want them interviewed," Waters told the liberal Bill Press Radio show in a podcast. "I want journalists to be all over those rallies and the marches with the birthers and the teabaggers."
A government official summoning the media to investigate her political opponents? To, dare I say, put them on the hot seat?

If that call to arms sounds familiar, it should. Our own distinguished Representative from St. Paul was alleged to be doing the same thing by a radio show host from KFAI:

I got a call today from Representative McCollum's office in St. Paul. Tomorrow the so-called tea party guys are supposed to show up at 11 AM tomorrow. And they're trying to get the media to come in and put these guys on the hot seat.
Here's another remarkable similarity, in that same statement by Waters, going out of her way to mock the protestors with the crude sexual innuendo of "teabagger" and this recent statement by Rep. McCollum:

"[Joe Wilson] crossed a line of protocol and decency that may be acceptable for angry 'tea baggers' at a rally, but is completely unacceptable for a Member of Congress in the House Chambers."

Striking coincidences wouldn't you say? Either this is a case of great progressive minds thinking alike or these two are reading out of the same play book.

Any chance the local media will cover the fact McCollum is wading knee-deep into these disturbed Waters?

N'ah. It's not like they've shown any interest in trying to make a member of our House contingent look crazy or anything.


Friday, September 11, 2009
On Dissent Crushing

Rep. Betty McCollum, taking a breather from spending billions of US tax dollars on "empowering the ignored and alienated in every corner of our planet", briefly turns her attention to domestic issues:

The Minnesota Democrat, taking aim at instantly-famous Republican Joe Wilson, said his outburst "crossed a line of protocol and decency that may be acceptable for angry 'tea baggers' at a rally, but is completely unacceptable for a member of Congress."

Her personal political action committee (Betty PAC) is also giving $1,000 of its hard-earned donations to whoever is running against Wilson.

McCollum's stated motivation, of grave concern about the decorum required during political speeches, is absurd. As we've been told by them repeatedly, the Democrat party is in the business of dissent, speaking truth to power, getting in people's faces, etc. The difference with this situation is that these very same tactics were directed at the One who shall not be criticized and that will not be tolerated.

Her belief in this is so strong that she's willing to give a grand of her precious political donations to see this critic lose his job and be silenced (at least from speaking in an official capacity). And by the way, you citizens in Betty McCollum's district who attended protest rallies opposing Obama health care reform, you're not off the hook either. In case you didn't notice, you have been officially smeared by your Representative, using crude sexual innuendo against you. I guess the "lines of protocol and decency" don't extend to the common people. Remember that next time you think you have the right to speak out against what the government is planning for you.

UPDATE: According to Open Secrets, the Betty PAC has raised over $27,000 for the 2010 election cycle, already over twice as much as for the entire 2008 cycle. I don't know why that would be.

Biggest donors are: The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ($5,000), The Teamsters ($2,500), and, incongruously in this company, 3M ($1,000).

UPDATE: Speaking of crossing lines of protocol and decency, McCollum claims Joe Wilson did it by calling the President a liar. Those lines must have been redrawn since 2008, when Rep. McCollum said from that same House chamber regarding a different President:
"At a time when America is facing tremendous challenges at home and around the world, this is the best budget that the worst President in American history will agree to."
The protocol! The decency! Oh, the humanity!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009
We Can't Afford Betty McCollum

From the Heritage Foundation, staggering facts about the size of the federal government's budget deficit. Excerpts:
  • This year, Washington will spend $30,958 per household, tax $17,576 per household, and borrow $13,392 per household. The federal government will increase spending 22 percent this year to a peacetime-record 26 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
  • The 2009 budget deficit will be larger than all budget deficits from 2002 through 2007 combined. More than 43 cents of every dollar Washington spends in 2009 will have been borrowed.
  • President Obama's budget includes $1.4 trillion in tax increases, all of which would go toward new spending rather than deficit reduction.
  • The White House projects $10.6 trillion in new deficits between 2009 and 2019--nearly $80,000 per household in new borrowing.
  • The public national debt--$5.8 trillion as of 2008--is projected to double by 2012 and nearly triple by 2019. Thus, America would accumulate more government debt under President Obama than under every President in American history from George Washington to George W. Bush combined.
  • The coming tsunami of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid costs are projected to push the federal public debt to 320 percent of GDP by 2050 and over 750 percent by 2083.
Rather demoralizing proof that we as a nation are tapped out. We've already spent the nation's wealth far beyond our ability to pay it back during this generation, and increasing that rate of spending at every opportunity.

Assumptions that we will EVER be able to pay it back rest upon the belief that far more responsible government leaders will be in charge decades hence and they will curtail their spending appetites enough to bail out the bankrupt US Treasury. In addition, the voters in the future will be gracious enough to slash their standards of living far beneath what we have now, in order to funnel the vast majority of their incomes to the government in order to pay down our debt while receiving fewer services.

In other words, we're counting on the entire American voting public being replaced by fiscally conservative alien body snatchers in the next 30 - 50 years. Yes, that's a long shot, but moderately more likely than Obama's public health care option being budget neutral. As such, let me be the first to say, Zoltan Xtropcazard of Remulus 12 in 2058.

Until that glorious day, we're stuck with the politicians we elected and who created the fiscal apocalypse cited above. People like Rep. Betty McCollum. She's been in Congress for 8 years, never met a spending increase she didn't like, and certainly should be aware of the kinds of financial information from OMB posted above. And how does she react?

From her speech last week at a Democrat party rally for Obama care:

There are opponents of health care reform. There are people who say that the richest most powerful country on Earth cannot afford to provide health care for all of its citizens. There are opponents who want to protect profits before they protect the right of people to access health care in this country.

Richest country on Earth? Tens of trillions of dollars in debt with no means to pay it off and we're still considered rich? Maybe she means rich in sense of the 7th definition of the word in Merriam-Webster: laughable.

No, I believe McCollum means rich as in we have all the money we need to add yet another trillion dollar spending commitment. This extends a habit I noted back in March when reviewing her legislative spending priorities like:

Can our faith, our values, and our tax dollars be combined into an American "tzedakah" to increase our commitment to feeding the hunger, healing the sick, educating all girls and boys, empowering the ignored and alienated, and inspiring hope in every corner of our planet? I say yes.

She combines the beliefs that she is called on to save the world and that the well of US tax dollars available to pay for her plans is inexhaustible.

Another example, from a speech she gave just one month ago, when the full extent of our fiscal catastrophe was already well known. In the context of already budgeting $7.8 billion in 2010 for her global health initiative, she has this to say about our financial contribution to health care in other countries:

So what are we - the richest nation and other donor nations - doing to significantly reducing child and maternal mortality while investing in building sustainable health systems? Unfortunately, not enough in my opinion.

The government is broke, the politicians have got the citizens at each others' throats over taking on crushing new debt for even more domestic spending, and McCollum is lobbying for untold billions more to save the world, all because we're the "richest nation."

Maybe Betty McCollum is a relic from a different time, when we were the richest nation and had money to throw at any brainstorm any Congress person wanted to pursue. But those days are over, McCollum and her fellow relics sure took care of that.

We cannot afford Betty McCollum in Congress any longer.

That is my proposal for Congressional campaign ads in 2010. It would work against any big spending incumbent (of either party). Present the facts about the deficit, as provided by OMB or CBO. Then get some excerpts/sound clips of the incumbent sketching out their Utopian dreams with your dollars. Something like this:

"It is my belief that the United States has the ability, the resources, and the moral obligation to work in partnership with other wealthy nations, and make the investments to reduce global poverty."

Or this:

The President also recognizes that as the world's superpower we also need to be a "super partner" and I will work to support his agenda of expanded engagement and his efforts to increase the foreign assistance budget.

Let us start with investments in successful birth outcomes for moms and newborns and keep going by focusing on nutrition, water and sanitation, education, and delayed childbearing.

As girls transition to adulthood there must be an economic foundation for them to use their education, earn income, and stay healthy and productive -- an adult continuum.

To unleash the full potential and power women have to contribute greater efforts are needed to promote violence free homes, to expand access to reproductive healthcare, and to increase participation in political decision making.

Whether or not the tape is slowed down to distort it into monster-like intonation is optional.

Then end the spot with something like "Out of money, out of control. This country cannot afford [Congressperson X] any longer." Followed by 5 seconds of black screen and silence.

Then, when the challenger wins on election day, pray they are one of those fiscally responsible pod people I mentioned earlier.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The Award for Best Orchestration Goes to .....

Andy Driscoll of KFAI is a veteran broadcaster, public affairs specialist, award-
winning documentarian, and investigative journalist. (If you don't believe me,
just read his bio.) I think he's worthy of another award for this direct, first-hand
evidence of the orchestration and media manipulation associated with the
Obama health care plan protest rallies.

I got a call today from Representative McCollum's office in St. Paul.
Tomorrow the so-called tea party guys are supposed to show up at
11 AM tomorrow. And they're trying to get the media to come in and
put these guys on the hot seat.

That's a blockbuster. Government officials arranging for journalists to show up at rallies
to put citizens "on the hot seat" for exercising their First Amendment rights. Is
that legal for Congress people and their staffs to do?

Regardless, I can only imagine the convulsions of rage this would inspire among
local Demcrats (in and out of the media) if Michele Bachmann tried something like
this. She was mocked, scorned, and nearly run out office by these same people
for her far less inflammatory suggestion that perhaps the media should investigate
her fellow members of Congress.

Never fear, being an award-winning member of the media, I assume Mr. Driscoll
laughed at the notion that he would even consider obeying a government official's
request to participate in a coordinated effort to investigate her political opponents.

Well, there was some laughter involved. Unfortunately, it was laughing along with
these governnment officials instead of at their highly inappropriate suggestion.
Andy Driscoll, from the comment section of a MinnPost article by Doug Grow
about this rally:

I was present for this melee, and the growing hysteria that consumes
the worst of the teabaggers also set the mob in motion and led to an amazing
string of vitriolic anti-government claims of fascist takeover of our lives.

It was difficult not to laugh out loud at the outlandish claims-cum-
slogans that came rolling out of the angriest of them. Heath care was the front
issue for a much deeper set of complaints about "government takeover of our
lives." This betrayed a set of platitudes obviously spouted by conservative talk
radio and cable news. All attempts to extract reason from individual conversation
inevitably led to an insistence, among other thing, that not everyone in this
country deserves access to health care.

Doug Grow's outstanding coverage above barely touches the depth of disgust
and disingenuousness of this crowd's mental set.

Nice job, Doug. Enjoyed laughing together.

If an actual riot didn't break out at this rally, at least the media had their own
laugh riot, at the protestors' expense.

There is no mention of whether Doug Grow was called by Rep. McCollum's office
and tipped off to attend and put the protestors "on the hot seat." But his
reporting included this exchange (excerpts):

After the meeting, I approached an older woman who had made strong
statements in opposition to "government-run programs." (....)

"Could I have your name, please?" I asked.

"Who are you?" she said.

I re-introduced myself as a reporter from MinnPost.

"I'm not going to give you my name,'' she said. "It may end up on an
enemies list."

By design or not, hot seat applied Twin Cities media. Mission accomplished.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Stop Encouraging Her

The federal budget deficit for FY 2009 has now been projected at $1.85 trillion dollars. Four times larger than it has ever been in US history. An economic disaster of unprecedented proportions, throwing into question our ability to meet our national financial commitments in the near and long term.

Voters across the country might be wondering, where their Congressional Representatives are during this critical time. For those in St. Paul, the answer is their Representative has been accepting an award for her generosity with your money.

Rep. Betty McCollum Honored as Champion for Children at Capitol Hill Event This Week

"I am grateful to Save the Children for honoring me with the distinction of Congressional Champion for Real and Lasting Change. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress and President Obama's administration to prioritize programs that will improve the quality of life for children around the world as our nation works to fight global poverty, disease, and hunger," Rep. McCollum said.
We're already spending multiple trillions per year of money we don't have and she's calling for us to "prioritize" welfare spending on other countries in the sum of additional untold millions. Or maybe billions? Her bill doesn't stipulate and doesn't much care:


(a) In General- There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act, and the amendments made by this Act, such sums as may be necessary for each of the fiscal years 2010 through 2014.

(b) Availability of Funds- Amounts appropriated pursuant to the authorization of appropriations under subsection (a) are authorized to remain available until expended.
Even now, it's business as usual for Betty McCollum. At what size does the annual deficit need to grow to before she stops spending your money to fight such things as "global poverty"? $5 trillion? $10 trillion? $100 trillion?

I get the sense only two things would be sufficient to stop this run-away train of fiscal excess:
1) The United States spends so much we join the ranks of the globally impoverished or
2) The beneficiaries of her generosity with your money stop giving her awards.

Unfortunately, I think the former is more likely than the latter.

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Saturday, April 04, 2009
Still More McCollum

Thanks to Mitch Berg and the First Ringer for their support of my Congressperson Ridicule Parity Initiative. It is clear that my fellow bloggers have a fever for curious comments by our local Representatives and the only cure is more Betty McCollum. Their wish is my command.

Once again, all of these statements are available to mainstream media members wishing to apply the Bachmann treatment of context stripping and out of proportion blowing.

Following on the last episode's pattern of absurdly grandiose plans and irresponsible treatment of tax dollars, we get more from McCollum on what she thinks should be a PRIORITY in spending of our money.

It is the power of women and their work that must be made a priority of the United States in not only in speeches and congressional resolutions, but our policies and the dollars we put behind those policies.
Not something that would be nice in a perfect world. Not something to get to if and when all the Constitutionally mandated responsibilities are adequately addressed. Not something to do only after we get our economic heads above water again, or even when we manage to plug the deluge surging into our lower decks. No, the power of women and their work across the world gets put to the front of the line.

Until our sisters around the world are made a priority, our foreign policy goals of fighting poverty, disease, and hunger, and promoting democracy, economic opportunity, and human rights will not be achieved. Maximizing the enormous potential of women and girls to transform societies and economies will, I hope, become a top priority for the Obama Administration.

Our prospects for success in saving the world are dependent on achieving a feminist utopia. And you thought merely fighting poverty, disease, and hunger, promoting democracy, economic opportunity and human rights across the globe was going to be easy!

The President also recognizes that as the world's superpower we also need to be a "super partner" and I will work to support his agenda of expanded engagement and his efforts to increase the foreign assistance budget.

Note, this speech was made on March 10, when all of our government leaders were painfully aware of the economic crisis we face. And she continues to write out more blank checks for this utopian agenda.

In case you thought the responsibilities of being a "super partner" might still be reasonable, abandon all hope by reading these details:

So what should be done? How about a long-term strategy, a generational strategy? Let us focus on girls from birth to 20 years and women between 20 to 40 years old. Let's dedicate a continuum of investments which can yield success for individuals, families, communities, and entire countries.

Let us start with investments in successful birth outcomes for moms and newborns and keep going by focusing on nutrition, water and sanitation, education, and delayed childbearing.

As girls transition to adulthood there must be an economic foundation for them to use their education, earn income, and stay healthy and productive -- an adult continuum.

To unleash the full potential and power women have to contribute greater efforts are needed to promote violence free homes, to expand access to reproductive healthcare, and to increase participation in political decision making.

To summarize, she's pledging our tax dollars to yield success for entire countries by feeding, watering, cleaning up after, educating and providing condoms and abortion services to women from birth to age 40 across the globe. Oh yeah, and provide violence free homes, don't forget that. Not bad for a day's work. But her neglect of the needs of women for premium cable TV packages and a decent manicure tells me there is still room for something in next year's budget increase proposal.

Amid the cash register ringing, note her emphasis on "delayed childbearing" and "reproductive healthcare." I suppose the inclusion of these items in an economic and foreign aid bill isn't surprising for a liberal feminist. They are virtual sacraments for them. In fact, she might be willing to compromise on the feeding and health care stuff, as long as those other important items gets funded.

Her record on the life issues is clear. Unyielding, unwavering, unrepentant support for the contrary positions. A short summary from the non-partisan web site, On the Issues:

Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines.

Voted YES on allowing human embryonic stem cell research.

Voted NO on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions.

Voted NO on making it a crime to harm a fetus during another crime.

Voted NO on banning partial-birth abortion except to save mother's life.

Voted NO on forbidding human cloning for reproduction & medical research.

Voted NO on funding for health providers who don't provide abortion info.

Voted NO on banning Family Planning funding in US aid abroad.

Recommended by EMILY's List of pro-choice women.

Rated 100% by NARAL, indicating a pro-choice voting record.

Starting to see a pattern here?

Betty McCollum is also a Catholic. I don't know to what extent she practices the Faith and I don't care. She may be ardent and practicing. She may be ardent and practicing in the Nancy Pelosi sense. Either way, she has a right to privacy in her exercise of her personal religious beliefs.

The problem, fellow citizens, is that she doesn't keep her faith private or separate from her public responsibilities. She wraps herself in Catholicism when convenient, and advertises it for the purpose of furthering her political career. For example, this "Statement of Principles" she signed on to, which begins:

As Catholic Democrats in Congress, we are proud to be part of the living Catholic tradition ...
Apologies to Archbishop Nienstedt and his now sodden computer screen if he happened to be drinking a cup of coffee while reading this.

Another example, her promotion of attending Mass and Catholic shrines on her official Web site.

McCollum will also attend Palm Sunday Mass at the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Final example, this jaw-dropping statement released during the Pope's visit last summer:

McCollum expressed hope that Pope Benedict would speak out about his moral
opposition to capital punishment in meetings with high-level U.S. officials and during public appearances around the country. "The Supreme Court's decision
today was painful for those of us who believe the death penalty is immoral. No one can respond with greater moral authority or spiritual wisdom on this subject than His Holiness."
To be clear, that would be this subject and this subject ONLY. On embryonic stem cells, abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, artificial contraception, etc. please ignore the man beneath the white mitre.

They hypocrisy evident in using the Pope's moral authority in support of one of her pet causes while stridently rejecting his views on a multitude of others is astounding. The positions are irreconcilable. If the press is paying attention to anything this woman says, and believes they have a responsibility to hold our public officials accountable for their logical and policy related inconsistencies, this issue should play some role in press conferences, media interviews, and debates.

Speaking of accountability, St. Paul, and the rest of her district, is full of Catholics. She couldn't be elected without their support. Yet she gets huge majorities all the while making a mockery of Church beliefs on these issues. How does this happen? Archbishop Chaput of Denver recently addressed this, with regard to Obama's election:

"Some Catholics in both political parties are deeply troubled by these issues. But too many Catholics just don't really care. That's the truth of it. If they cared, our political environment would be different. If 65 million Catholics really cared about their faith and cared about what it teaches, neither political party could ignore what we believe about justice for the poor, or the homeless, or immigrants, or the unborn child. If 65 million American Catholics really understood their faith, we wouldn't need to waste each other's time arguing about whether the legalized killing of an unborn child is somehow 'balanced out' or excused by three other good social policies."
The point being, if politicians like Betty McCollum knew there would be electoral consequences for such lockstep adherence to anti-Catholic policies, most probably wouldn't bother with it. They value their cushy jobs and power even more than advancing their vision of world wide "delayed child bearing" and "reproductive health". And even if they didn't and still wanted to push it, a Catholic electorate which cared would never allow them access to power in the first place.

Those reviewing McCollum's margins of victory may despair that it's too late now to do anything. But Chaput provides some additional words of wisdom:

After listing the ways to be a more faithful Catholic in the public life, the archbishop reminded his audience that even if they haven't adhered to the Church's teachings in the past, "every breath we take is an opportunity for conversion and a new beginning."


"Catholics in America, at least the many good Catholics who yearn to live their faith honestly and deeply, can easily feel tempted to hopelessness," he concluded. "It becomes very burdensome to watch so many persons who call themselves Catholic compromise their faith and submit their hearts and consciences to the Caesars of our day."

But Archbishop Chaput closed by encouraging Christians to remember the words of Jesus:

"In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

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Saturday, March 28, 2009
Even More McCollum

Betty McCollum Week continues on Fraters Libertas with Part III of this series investigating the public statements of Betty Mac. (Parts I and II.) Once again, all of these are available for context stripping and out of proportion blowing by media members wishing to give her the Bachmann treatment.

Following her "send the Republicans to Guantanamo Bay" remark, we have this further evidence that she's in need of some better comedy writers:
After questioning current and former executives of Standard & Poor's, Moody's Corporation, and Fitch Ratings, Congresswoman McCollum said, "We have heard stories of culpability, incompetence and, in my opinion, corruption. This Member of Congress has downgraded your AAA rating!"
If she ever leaves Congress, she definitely has a future as a Member of the Jerry Springer audience.

Another theme in the rhetoric and record of Rep. McCollum is the advocacy of grandiose plans and absurdly unrealistic objectives. Along with this is no concern for the financial consequences to the US taxpayer or even understanding of the concept of scarce resources. Maybe that's the case with every liberal in Congress, but it seems especially egregious with her.

First some empty grandstanding:

Last night, in a show of overwhelming support for Congresswoman Betty McCollum's (D-MN) efforts to preserve the Mississippi River, the U.S. House of
Representatives voted 326 - 79 to pass the America's Historical and Natural Legacy Study Act.
I understand the Mississippi River was *this* close to evaporating until that critical bill, to study something, passed. Thank you Betty McCollum for saving America's largest river system.

Lest you think she's only worried about saving things for her fellow Americans, be aware she has a more global perspective for use of your tax dollars:

"Eradicating polio is within our reach if we have the political will and financial commitment to make it happen," McCollum said today.

Rep. McCollum is the Chair and Co-Founder of the Congressional Global Health Caucus, which emphasizes U.S. action to foster basic health and quality of life across the globe.
I didn't realize polio was still out there. According to Wikipedia, it is, although eradicated in most of the world and considered to be endemic in only four countries. I suppose its not the worst use of tax dollars I've ever heard to attempt to end this dread disease once and for all. But it's that description of the "Global Health Caucus" (to foster quality of life across the globe) and McCollum's volunteering of our "financial commitment" that raises warning flags.

Further public statements confirm, she ain't stopping with polio. Next up for the US taxpayer:

In her speech, McCollum called on the U.S. government to commit to ending global poverty.

"Every year 8 million people die because they are too poor to get the basics they need to stay alive," said McCollum. "It is my belief that the United States has the ability, the resources, and the moral obligation to work in partnership with other wealthy nations, and make the investments to reduce global poverty."

The US government ending global poverty? And you taxpayers thought multi-trillion dollar bailouts, stimulus packages, nationalized health care, carbon taxes, and exploding Social Security and Medicare obligations were going to be expensive.

More on what Betty McCollum believes you should be paying for:
Can our faith, our values, and our tax dollars be combined into an American "tzedakah" to increase our commitment to feeding the hunger, healing the sick, educating all girls and boys, empowering the ignored and alienated, and inspiring hope in every corner of our planet?
Drum roll please ...
I say yes.
I think she wrestled with that question about as much as Barack Obama did about using human embryos for experimentation.

Keeping the tally going, beyond ending global poverty, we now have as US government goals curing sickness around the globe, educating all girls and boys around the globe, and empowering the ignored and alienated. (I think she just secured the Atomizer's support with that one).

It is frankly unbelievable that taxpayers would continue to send to Congress a woman holding these beliefs about what to do with their money. But they do in MN CD-5, with increasing majorities. In that her understanding of economics and the proper role of government reflects that of her fellow Congressmen, the source of our national economic quagmire is understandable.

Not as clear is how these people can become so out of touch with reality. How does someone elected for the purpose of representing the interests of the people in St. Paul start creating spending plans to end global poverty? How does someone start concocting open-ended billion dollar spending obligations for the taxpayers who are already on the hook for untold trillions in debt obligations for other government "stuff"?

Some insight from Rep. McCollum herself:
When I was elected to Congress in 2000 I had never had a passport and only once had I traveled outside the U.S., it was a trip to Canada. But following the events of September 2001, I knew I needed to become a student of international relations.

(...) My journey into international relations has been shaped by a war in Afghanistan which I supported, and a war in Iraq which I opposed. I have had the opportunity to meet kings and queens and presidents and prime ministers. But, the experiences that have left the biggest mark on me are the faces, words, and courage of the people I've met in the poorest corners of the globe. What I have come to realize is that their future and their fate is in part in my hands, and yours.
Everybody sing: She's got the whole world in her hands. She's got the whole wide world in her hands.

And she's got a Messiah Complex in her head.

The combination of the belief that she is called on to save the world and her control over US taxpayer dollars, which she believes to be unlimited, is a toxic asset and a prescription for disaster. Maybe voters don't care about this when economic times are good and the free ride looks like it will last forever. But during the worst down turn since the Great Depression, can we still afford people like Betty McCollum in Congress? Does the bubble ever pop on these people?

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Friday, March 27, 2009
No One Knows What It's Like

The President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, on the culprit behind the current global economic troubles:
"This is a crisis that was caused by white people with blue eyes."
OK, we're getting to the bottom of this. I've been wondering at whom to aim my wrath. Thanks to our man Lula, I can narrow this down to a few hundred million people. (And I'm one of them!) But that's not quite enough information to properly direct a lynch mob.

Into the breach steps another helpful resource, our own Rep. Betty McCollum, from earlier this month:
"The global food security and economic crises are two disasters - man made and ... both made primarily by men."
Boom! That cuts the suspect list in half right there. White, blue-eyed, males. Now we're getting somewhere.

Slight problem, I'm still on the hook. And, er, ah, your eminence, I have no recollection of making either the global food security or economic crisis. I was in my basement, blogging in my underwear at the time, I swear.

Looks like we're going to need at least a couple more demagogues ascribing negative behavior to groups based on personal characteristics. Before we can string anybody up with confidence, a little more discrimination based on, say, creed, religion, national origin, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, disability, sexual orientation, and age would helpful. Thank you.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009
More McCollum

My foray into the public statement jungle of Rep. Betty McCollum yesterday yields a few more observations. All of these are available for context stripping and out of proportion blowing by media members wishing to give her the Michelle Bachmann treatment.

One consistent theme is McCollum's tendency to use unnecessary, dramatic adjectives. Example, her comments on the never ending Coleman-Franken election recount:
"Now that the state Canvassing Board has certified Mr. Franken as the winner of Minnesota's Senate seat, following an exceptionally transparent, bipartisan, and meticulous recount process, it is time for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to immediately seat Mr. Franken to ensure that Minnesotans have full representation in the U.S. Senate."
Betty McCollum's hierarchy of transparency:

-- buttered slice of 7-grain bread: slightly transparent
---- jar of Vaseline: moderately transparent
------ pane of glass: very transparent
-------- Minnesota's election recount process: exceptionally transparent

Next, her comments on the state of Minnesota's budget:
"The announcement that the State of Minnesota is facing a massive budget disaster means Governor Pawlenty has some tough choices to make. He can go it alone and eviscerate the safety net an ever growing number of Minnesota families depend upon for their daily needs. Or, the governor can reach out in a spirit of partnership to the Minnesota Congressional delegation to work collaboratively, along with legislative leaders, to responsibly find solutions to the state?s fiscal mess."
It's true, we could probably skate over a medium-sized budget disaster. Maybe even clear a large budget disaster without sweating. But these massive budget disasters are going to force some tough choices.

From this description, I get the sense that being in Congress for 8 years gets one intimately familiar with "budget disasters". Eskimos have 144 words for snow. Congress people have 144 words for budget disasters.

Incidentally, McCollum has been happily sitting around in Congress for nearly a decade while the federal budget disaster has ballooned to staggering, unprecedented levels of massiveness. I'm praying Tim Pawlenty can find more credible sources for advice on how to handle a budget disaster than Betty McCollum.

We continue, her comments on the violence in Israel:

"The war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip is the final blow to any Middle East peace process. Palestinians are being killed in alarming numbers while Hamas continues to fire rockets at Israel.

What is Betty McCollum's threshold for killing Palestinians? What ever it may be, it has now been exceeded, because only recent numbers have alarmed her. But before then, what, she was fine with it? Doesn't sound very peace-loving to me.

Please note, all of these statements were from her own press releases. Comments subject to layers of staff editorial control and with the time necessary for calm reflection and syntactic precision. I can only imagine the things she might say while speaking extemporaneously, let alone while being hectored by a conniving, hyper partisan media personality during a live broadcast.

BTW, the Northern Alliance Radio Network has availability for a guest this week.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009
That's News to Me

It is not longer a surprise when the media tries to gin up a controversy over something Michele Bachmann allegedly said or did. After the many false alarms, I think most savvy news consumers, and the majority of her 6th district constituents, have taken to applying the "boy who cried wolf" standard to these reports. Ironically, the media's zeal to "get" Michele Bachmann tends to inure her to any criticism, even that which might be legitimate.

Legitimate is certainly is not the description of the current kerfuffle, summarized in all of its glorious distortion by this headline:
Bachmann urges "armed" revolt over climate plan
And this one in the Star Tribune:
Obama's energy cap-and-trade plan has Bachmann talking about a revolution
Typically it takes some time and effort to unpack the real facts behind these flash mob controversies. (I went through the exercise during the last election, debunking the panicked shrieking about Sarah Palin.) However, this case is easier in that I happened to have been on the other end of the phone line from Michelle Bachmann when she made her comments on NARN, First Team last Saturday.

To say the least, I was surprised that this interview made the Star Tribune and quasi-national news. Michele's comments didn't even merit a raised eyebrow among those in the studio. (And we have a very low standard these things. For example, during the commercial break, every brow in the room looked like the Gateway Arch when I announced I was considering Taco Bell for lunch.)

Taken in context, her comments were unremarkable. Certainly colorful and enthusiastic, but unremarkable for a conservative representative of a conservative district. I suspect that orientation is enough to put any of your comments on the wrong side of most reporters. But to help sell the story to the less jaundiced, they helpfully stripped all context from these remarks:

"I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us 'having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,' and the people - we the people - are going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States."
Restoring the context, surrounding this statement (and her entire point for being on the show) was her promotion of two public forums she's hosting with a researcher on the consequences of the upcoming Obama energy tax schemes. It was obvious that her comments about "arming" related to arming oneself with information and the "revolt" was about citizens opposing this legislation through normal channels (petition for redress of grievances, right to assembly, make known you're willing to force the bums who vote for it to look for other career opportunities, etc.)

Add context and you lose the story, of course. So, instead, the tactic employed is to play dumb about the full story, throw out a fragment of her words, get a defensive reaction from her staff, then print that in a skeptical "they say she meant this" fashion. Her reputation sufficiently harmed in the public mind, mission accomplished.

Compounding this unfair treatment is the inconsistency. If you gave this level of microscopic scrutiny (often provided by the local Dump blogs) and used the same reporting tactics on any politician, you could gin up just as many controversies and headlines and Bachmann has endured.

Let's give it a shot. Let's pick, oh I don't know . . . . Rep. Betty McCollum. The woman rated as the most liberal congressperson in the US House. (Does that sound at all representative of the people in St. Paul and Ramsey county? I digress).

Scanning through her public statements over the past few years, picking an average, garden-variety statement. Let's see, here's one about the GOP convention in St. Paul. What does she have to say?

OMG! Brace yourselves:

"The Republicans can take their convention to Guantanamo Bay where security won't be a problem"
Suggested headlines for our friends in the media:

McCollum Suggests Waterboarding of Republican Delegates


Republican convention has McCollum talking about terrorists

Go get 'em boys.

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Friday, May 30, 2008
The Right to Be Offended

More fall out from the mocking of Hillary. This from the cleric who preceded the Rev. Pfleger on the stage at Trinity United:

As a woman, I was offended by Pfleger's mocking of Senator Clinton for showing emotion.

Oh, boo hoo. Leave it to a woman to get all emotional over the mocking of someone else's emotions.

All right, cheap shot there. But the Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite leaves herself open to that kind of criticism by shoving her gender in our faces. If it is an intolerable offense to stereotype one's behavior based on gender, why is she brandishing her gender as a special qualification to be offended? If you can produce the evidence that emotional response does not vary by gender, it doesn't matter who is delivering the message. Your gender confers no special status on assertions of the truth or the permission to be offended.

I take Thistethwaite's words as a variation of the logical fallacy known as Appeal to Authority:

the type of argument in logic consisting on basing the truth value of an assertion on the authority, knowledge, expertise, or position of the person asserting it. It is also known as argument from authority, argumentum ad verecundiam (Latin: argument to respect) or ipse dixit (Latin: he himself said it). It is one method of obtaining propositional knowledge, but a fallacy in regard to logic, because the validity of a claim does not follow from the credibility of the source.

Democrats in particular are fond of this tactic. It can be used to elevate identity politics, or a perceived victim status, as the absolute moral authority on any issue and it can be used to silence rational debate in favor of emotionalism (see usage of "shut up you Chickenhawk").

My understanding of the rules of logic cannot confirm whether you can properly use yourself, or the presence of your two X chromosomes, as an appeal to authority. Perhaps Thistlethwaite's "as a woman" qualification can more properly be defined as an Appeal to Gynecology.

Coincidentally, this particular logical fallacy is being used right here in Minnesota on another burning issue for the 2008 election. This from Rep. Betty McCollum (DFL-St. Paul):

As a woman, a mother, a former teacher, and an elected official, I find this material completely unacceptable," McCollum said of Franken's piece, published in 2000 under the headline "Porn-O-Rama!"

Wow, a quadruple play of special offense qualifications! It's the rare Appeal to Gynecology, Maternity, Pedagogy, and Democracy.

I take her remarks to mean that since I'm not a women, mother, teacher or elected official, I have no right to be offended at Porn-O-Rama! Duly noted. We bow down before her well earned offense and make a note to review Chad the Elder's archives of old Playboy's for a guilt free reading of that article. (He assures me he only reads Playboy Magazine for the Al Franken articles).

Breaking news, Rep. McCollum released another statement on this issue:

"As a parent and an aunt, and talking to other parents, people are very concerned about the type of Internet use that's out there, and how it has a potentially harmful effect on children"

As an aunt? Yes, it's the Appeal to Sibling Fertility! I qualify for that one! And I look forward to proudly standing next to Betty McCollum in the upcoming March of the Righteously Offended to Condemn Al Franken.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007
You've Come a Long Way, Baby

Separated at Birth, Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-St. Paul):

And some well-known, devout Muslim woman:

Actually, that's Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). She's not a devout Muslim woman. She only plays one on TV. I can't think of any actual well-known, devout Muslim women. I wonder why that is?

To be fair, I don't think there is necessarily anything wrong with visitors to a foreign country being respectful of the local customs. An occasional Republican has done the same. But there is something amusing about feminists like Pelosi and McCollum merrily donning the hijab, which has the primary purpose of hiding one's femaleness, lest you enflame the attentions of men. If that's what they want to do, fine. When in a patriarchy, do as the patriarchs tell you, I guess.

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We are the wind beneath the right wing.

Listen to the Northern Alliance Radio Network on Saturdays from 11am 'til 3pm on AM 1280-The Patriot:

* The First Team 11am-1pm
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Podcast Archives

This week on The First Team:

Brian and John continue to voice their heated rhetoric and troublesome vitriol.

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3/20--Rick Perriello
3/13--Nancy Pelosi
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