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Wednesday, October 14, 2009
A Choice Not An Echo

Too often local school board races are a matter of trying to find the least objectionable candidate to vote for. If you come across someone whose calls for increased spending are 10% less than other candidates and is only in lockstep with the teachers' union 80% of the time, you consider yourself lucky and pull the lever for the slighter lesser of the many evils.

Which is why it's such a breathe of fresh air to see someone like Andrew Richter running for school board. Even better, he's running in District 281 so I get a chance to vote for him.

He gets off to a good start with My Pledges to You from his website:

I will not vote to spend one penny of your money on consultants, studies, or search firms. There is no reason for the Board to contract out their job.

I will press our legislature to end the unfunded mandates as well as the Choice Is Yours Program.

I will not come to the taxpayers for a referendum unless is the absolute last resort. The citizens of this district are not an ATM machine.

I will work to end the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program. This program pushes a certain world point of view and is run by world elites who are not accountable to our district.

Our AYP test scores are unacceptable. Fourteen out of sixteen schools failing the test is a joke. Board members need to be outraged at this and demand better, rather than make pathetic excuses.


Even better are some of the bits from a school board candidate profile that appeared in the local community newspaper (and for some inexplicable reason is not available online):

The board should represent everyone, not just the parents or yes voters.

...as a non-parent I think I'll bring the perspective of the common citizen to the board. I also have a great ability to say the word "no," which seems to be a problem in government. I also bring an independent voice, since I am not endorsed by an group or union.

You had me at "no."

I don't look at the area I've lived my whole life in and see groups, victims, race, or national origin. The best thing we can do for every student is to offer equal opportunity; we can't guarantee equal outcome. We need parents and community members to be our partners in this, but the schools are not daycare centers, baby-sitters, parents, or the Cub Scouts.

Amen.

I worry about the curriculum. We need to teach more American history and eliminate indoctrination programs like IB.

More American history, less indoctrination in the public schools? Is this guy for real?

Alas, I fear that Richter's outspoken positions--while eminently sensible and reasonable--will likely result in him not being elected. Unfortunately it seems that the people with the most interest in school board elections are those with a vested and usually economic interest in the outcome. They aren't the kind of folks who take kindly to the word "No."

But at least this time around I'll be able to cast my ballot for a candidate whose views I actually agree with and not simply the least worst choice.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009
Recycling Material

July 31, 2008, Bill Murray, rich and famous Hollywood entertainer, shamelessly begging for a hand out in the heart of a socialist paradise:

Hollywood came to Havana on Thursday as Cuban writers and artists gave an award to Benicio del Toro, star of the 2008 movie "Che," in a ceremony attended
by fellow actors Bill Murray, Robert Duvall and James Caan.

Murray stole the show when he improvised a version of the song "As Time Goes By," then jokingly passed around a hat, asking for money.


Funny stuff. But haven't we seen this routine before. Was it Caddyshack? Stripes? Ghostbusters? No, much more recently than that.

June 25, 2009. Bill Murray, rich and famous Hollywood entertainer, shamelessly begging for a hand out in the heart of ?.. St. Paul, MN.

Leave it to actor-comedian Bill Murray and a descendant of baseball prankster
Bill Veeck to pitch a backward-facing baseball stadium in downtown St. Paul.

Murray, who co-owns the minor league St. Paul Saints with Mike Veeck,
strolled into City Hall on Wednesday to lobby for a new stadium -- and $25
million in public funding -- in Lowertown.


A multi-millionaire asking for $25 million of taxpayer's money for a sports stadium while politicians in St. Paul is claiming they are being forced to slash spending on police, fire, prosecutions, and safety inspections. Now that's comedy! Easily Murray's best work since the Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Blue Dog, I Saw You Standing Alone

An editorial in today's WSJ explains that ObamaCare's provisions to contain costs will almost certainly lead to reduced benefits :

Now Democrats have decided that raiding Medicare and slashing benefits is fine if the larger goal is to nationalize health care. But instead of doing it honestly, they want to shunt off unpopular decisions to an obscure and unelected central committee that will convert medical decisions into five-year plans. The notion is fundamentally undemocratic, especially because its true purpose is to protect politicians when "MedPAC on steroids" inevitably reduces treatment options in order to save money after the costs of government care explode.

And CBO is almost certainly underestimating this future cost explosion. After only three years, the universal health-care experiment in Massachusetts is already breaking that state's budget and its own version of MedPAC is now recommending radical changes, including a "global" health-care budget.


Romney in 2012!

This means that state bureaucrats will decide what the "right" amount is to spend on medicine, and doctors and hospitals will be given some portion of the total and told to make it work for patients. This is supposed to be a kind of Occam's scalpel, forcing providers to cut unnecessary treatments. But under a global budget, payments are likely to be lower than economic costs, squeezing out some beneficial treatments.

There's more than a little poetic justice in a Democratic President telling Democrats in Congress that they can't be trusted to rationally manage their own programs. But if that's really what Mr. Obama thinks, he's crazy to be simultaneously demanding even larger government programs. Health care will always be distorted by politics if government is paying for it. As for the Blue Dogs, they ought to tell the President that ObamaCare is dead unless he goes back to the drawing board.


Ah yes, the Blue Dog Democrats. Those fiscally conservative watchdogs who safeguard the public purse strings by keeping their more liberal spending Democratic brethren at bay. You know, the House Democrats who vote against major increases in public spending and taxes. Democrats like Minnesota's own Collin Peterson.

Let's look at Peterson's recent record of dogged fiscal responsibility.

- The expansion of the SCHIP program to cover families up to 300% of the poverty level? Peterson votes Yes.

- The $787 billion economic stimulus plan? Peterson votes No.

- President Obama's 2010 budget which massively increases spending? Peterson votes Yes.

- The Cap and Trade energy bill? Liberal Dems throw Peterson a bone and he lays down to vote Yes.

So Peterson's voting average as a Blue Dog is .250. Plenty good enough to have him bat second in the Twins lineup, but not exactly what you'd expect from your watchdog.

Merrill Matthews also has a piece in today's WSJ in which he lays out how Blue Dog Democrats Could Make or Break Health-care Reform:

Republicans have long called themselves fiscal conservatives. But after their spending spree in the first six years of the Bush administration, they are widely perceived to have tarnished their brand.

Are the Blue Dogs tarnishing their brand, too? If 80% of them voted for the stimulus bill and nearly 75% voted for the 2010 federal budget, can the group rightfully claim to be fiscally conservative?

The health-care bill will be the final test. The House legislation will cost at least $1 trillion over 10 years, including around $550 billion to $600 billion in new taxes. That doesn't count the employer mandate that will force employers to provide coverage or pay a penalty.

If all House Republicans oppose the bill, which seems likely, the Blue Dogs have enough votes to make or break health care in the House. Blue Dog Mike Ross of Arkansas says the bill can't pass the House. He's right, but only if 40 Blue Dogs or other Democrats vote against the bill.

The Democratic leadership and the president will put enormous pressure on the Blue Dogs to support the legislation. Now we'll see if the Blue Dogs have bite to go along with their bark.


If Blue Dogs like Collin Peterson follow their recent voting pattern, they won't have the teeth to take a bite out of President's Obama's health care plans. In which case they should change the name of their group to something more fitting. Pelosi's Lap Dogs perhaps.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009
Course Correction

The temptation to compare Presidents to their predecessors is one that seems to prove impossible for pundits to resist. Immediately after Barack Obama's election, many fawning media types sought to cast him as a historical figure by linking him to Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. of late, many on the right have tried to portray Obama as the second coming of Jimmy Carter (no Atomizer, that is not a good thing).

While it is still way too early in the game to say which presidency Obama's will most come to resemble, I think you can make a case for the possibility that it parallels that of Bill Clinton. Not that President Obama would approve of being grouped together with Clinton. It's quite clear that he wants an F.D.R. like legacy and is willing to use the L.B.J. like strategies to achieve it. But whether President Obama ends up being labeled as another F.D.R., Carter, or Clinton may have less to do what he wishes than with where political and economic realities push him.

How could Obama's presidency come to resemble Clinton's? Three ways.

Obama has decided that he needs to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the crisis environment and Democratic control of Congress to push his pet programs through as quickly as possible. He realizes that there probably won't be a better time to get what he wants done than the present and he's going to try to make hay while he can. The signature achievement that he most wants to be remembered for is health care reform. But in his haste to get a bill (any bill) passed, he's set himself up for a fall if his health care plans end up getting tripped up.

As Ramesh Ponnuru notes in the July 20th edition of National Review (sub req) losing the health care battle would likely force Obama to take in his sails and tack back to the center:

President Obama has not staked his presidency on health care as overtly as Clinton did in 1993. But no piece of legislation is more important to his claim to have inaugurated a new political era in which Clintonian compromise with conservatism is no longer necessary. If the Democrats cannot enact a liberal bill, Obama will have proven unable to deliver the change liberals have been waiting for. His presidency will, on its own terms, have failed. That does not mean that Obama cannot go on to have a successful presidency--but if he does it will be different, and less liberal, than the one he hopes to have.

It certainly would not be his "Waterloo" as some of Obama's foes have ill-advisedly claimed, but it would change the course of his presidency.

The economy may also have a lot to say about the path the Obama presidency takes. While it's impossible to predict exactly what the economy is going to like a year from now, it sure doesn't look like we're going to be in the midst of a robust recovery. We may be growing again, but that growth is likely to be painfully slow and anemic. And that growth is not going to be driving a significant resurgence in job creation.

Considering how big a factor the economy is in the outcome of elections, that does not bode well for the Democrats in 2010. It's unlikely that the Republicans could take back both the House and the Senate and they make not control either after 2010. But the Democratic majorities in both bodies are likely to reduced, perhaps greatly. This will force President Obama to actually practice some of the bipartisan consensus seeking that he preached during the campaign and move his policies back toward the center. Maybe not as much as Clinton was forced to after 1994, but far more than he would choose to on his own.

Unlike those of a more pessimistic bent, I believe that the U.S. economy will recover sometime. Despite the drags and unnecessary burdens that Obama and the Democrats will place on it, the economy is just to resilient not to bounce back. And while nothing is certain, it seems reasonable to imagine that the bounce will occur before 2012. Which could greatly enhance Obama's chance of reelection.

If the economy starts humming along nicely again sometime in 2011, it will probably be too soon for Congressional Republicans to take any credit for it. So as has usually been the case in the past, the President will reap the rewards whether he deserves to or not. Barring any major foreign blow ups or significant scandals, a good economy would likely be enough for voters to give President Obama a second term. Much as they did Bill Clinton in 1996.

A health care defeat that alters his course. A mid-term election result that forces him to move right. And a growing economy that helps get him reelected. You can see why Barack Obama could end following in Bill Clinton's footsteps. He might not be real happy about such a result, but it almost certainly would be a better one for the country.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009
Who's Laughing Now?

"I confess I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing."
-H.L. Mencken

You'll have to forgive us if we've been lax in commenting on Al Franken officially becoming a United States Senator representing our fair state. I thought that I had already worked my way through the five stages of grief back in January when it was obvious that it would only be a matter of time before Franken took his place in the world's greatest deliberative body. But last week, when I heard the title Senator Al Franken being used and when Franken actually was seated this week, I realized that I had reverted from acceptance back to stage one:

You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.

Or even years. Because that's how long we've already been dealing with the prospect of Al Franken becoming a Senator from Minnesota. As part of the healing process I thought it would interesting to go back and review our views on Franken's candidacy over those years.

But before we go there, I want to make a couple of points about Franken's election which haven't been fully appreciated, especially on the national level.

Firstly, Franken's victory was hardly a ringing endorsement from the people of Minnesota on his candidacy. It was more of a referendum on Norm Coleman and the GOP. Given the dissatisfaction with Bush and Republicans in general and the Democratic resurgence in Minnesota, Coleman was going to be in trouble no matter who his opponent was. Had the Democrats put almost anyone else on the ticket, they likely would have beat Coleman by at least four or five points (Obama won the state by eight) and the whole recount would have been avoided. Franken comes into office as the victor, but his public support has little depth or breadth.

Secondly, Franken's victory would have not been possible without relentless (and usually baseless) attacks against Norm Coleman's integrity and character. His campaign employed the strategy of throwing enough crap up on the wall that eventually some of it stuck and created a public perception of Coleman as a sleazy and possibly corrupt politician. And it was crap too. Just one example was the campaign commercials suggesting that Coleman was in the pocket of the oil industry and other interest groups without offering any evidence to substantiate the charges. Since the campaign ended, we've learned that (surprise, surprise) nearly every one of the accusations against Coleman was without merit and politically motivated. But that doesn't matter now. Enough damage was done to Coleman's character to push enough Minnesotans (just enough) to vote for a man uniquely unqualified for the office. This is a strategy that I expect the DFL to repeat in coming election cycles and it's one that Minnesota Republicans are going to have do a better job countering if they hope to win statewide elections in the future.

Finally, people need to quit carping that the election was "stolen." As I noted way back in January, it wasn't stolen as much as squandered. In that post I used the analogy of an NFL team complaining that a late ticky-tacky pass interference call caused them to lose a game to the Lions. For a seasonal update, you could compare it the Yankees complaining that the way the umpire called balls and strikes cost them a game against the Twins. The old cliché is that good teams beat the teams they're supposed to beat and don't let the referees or umpires decide the outcome. The same goes for good candidates.

Despite all the political headwinds that I referenced in my first point, there is no doubt in my mind that Norm Coleman could and should have defeated Al Franken by a wide enough margin to ensure that a recount was unnecessary. The reason that Al Franken is a U.S. Senator is not because of the Minnesota Supreme Court, Mark Ritchie, or ACORN. It's because Norm Coleman's campaign didn't put him away when it could have. (It also didn't help that Franken's post-election team outworked and outsmarted Coleman's at almost every turn.) To paraphrase another sports cliché, when you've got the clown down, you need to step on his throat.

In hindsight, Coleman's decision to suspend negative campaign ads and go all "Minnesota Nice" late in the campaign was a terrible one. Spare me this pabulum about how voters don't like negative ads or that negative campaigning doesn't work in Minnesota. People may tell you that they don't like negative ads, but the reality is those ads are effective. Negative ads helped Franken chip away at Coleman's public image over the course of the campaign and had an impact at the polls. Coleman should have ignored the media's tut-tutting and gone after Franken hard right up until the eve of the election. Not about all the silly and stupid things Franken said and did in the past. Instead, Coleman should have zeroed in on the fact that nothing in Franken's background, experience, or temperament qualified him to serve in the U.S. Senate. He should have been relentless in attacking Franken on this and never have allowed him breathing room on it.

This election was not as much won by Al Franken or stolen by ACORN as it was lost by Norm Coleman. And that's a shame. A crying shame.

But they tell us that laughter is the best way through the tears. So let's look back at the good ol' days when the idea of Al Franken being a Senator was something to laugh about.

* November 2003 The first mention that I can find is Saint Paul catching Franken himself waffling on his qualifications for higher office:

But that's beside the point. Not 60 days ago Franken said he wouldn't be a serious candidate and that it would be a "sin" for him to run for office, IMPLYING that he's engaged in some deep introspection over the question and presumably arrived at a thoughtful conclusion (i.e., he would be "terrible"). And after saying all of that, he's now telling the press he's considering a run for office?

* November 2003 Later that month, Saint Paul concludes that Franken won't run:

I don't honestly believe Al Franken will run for the Senate. Yes, his massive ego and psychological need for vengeance over those who aborted the Wellstone legacy will compel him to give it serious consideration. But I suspect even Franken has enough sense to understand he'd be a laughingstock as a candidate (and not in a good way). Furthermore, given the petrified political culture of the DFL, it's unlikely he'd ever make it out of a primary election.

* May 2004 I weigh in with a sense of foreboding:

First Paul Wellstone, now Mark Dayton, and in the future Al Franken? How much can one state bear?

* July 2004 Saint Paul begs the Democrats to give us Franken:

Democrats, please, please nominate Al Franken for Senate in '08. There hasn't been a good butt joke in Minnesota politics since Roger Moe retired.

* September 2004 We get to catch Franken in action at the State Fair and are not impressed:

Uninspiring, unfunny, and unprepared. As Saint Paul noted, "I did more prep work for today's show than Franken did for his speech." Now that's saying something.

Before Franken was introduced, Matt Entenza (House DFL minority leader) called Franken and Mike Erlandson (State DFL Chairman) the "twin towers of the Democratic Party in Minnesota". Besides being a bit inappropriate, the remark demonstrates the sorry state of the DFL today. If Franken is one of your towers, you've got a lot of rebuilding to do. And if anyone thinks that this putz can stand on the same stage as Norm Coleman and not get his head handed to him, they're delusional. When it comes to Al Franken running for the Senate, I say, "Bring him on."


* February 2005 Saint Paul says that if Franken were to run it would be the Stupidiest Campaign Ever.

* February 2005 We think the idea of Franken running for the Senate is so appealing that we have a contest to help him come up with campaign material.

* February 2005 Saint Paul greets the announcement that Franken is running with much mirth making

Good times, good times. We could continue with example after example of our dismissive attitude towards Franken's chances in the past. But in the interests of time let's skip ahead to June of 2008 when a couple of local yokels all but guaranteed that Coleman would win when asked about the election by Kathy Shaidle for a piece on Franken that appeared in FrontPage Magazine:

FrontPage asked two well-known Minnesota political bloggers if they thought Franken had any chance of winning the election, given these recent developments. Via email, Ed Morrissey of HotAir.com was blunt: "...he has next to no chance at all. Only a Coleman withdrawal would give Franken the seat. He may not even survive his primary challenge at this rate."

Chad Doughty of Frater Libertas has been blogging about Franken since 2003, when rumors first surfaced that the comedian might challenge Coleman. Doughty says state Democrats are worried that Franken's candidacy might even negatively affect Barack Obama's run for president.

Doughty told FrontPage via email:

Six months ago, [Franken] was probably an even shot to unseat Coleman. Now, he's a long shot despite all the headwinds against Republicans that Coleman has to weather. His ads are becoming increasingly negative and vicious and there's more than a whiff of desperation coming from his campaign. (...) Franken is becoming a national embarrassment for the Dems.

Unless there is a seismic shift on the Senate race battleground between now and November, Norm Coleman should be re-elected relatively easily.
Then again, Minnesota is the same state that elected a shoot-from-the-hip former pro wrestler, Jesse Ventura, to the position of Governor. So presumably anything could happen.


And indeed it did.

Finally, we should note that way back in May of 2004 one pundit read the tea leaves correctly by noting that the idea of Franken winning a Senate seat in Minnesota was not as far-fetched as it seemed at the time:

I'd like to luxuriate in the joys of what Jonah Goldberg calls Frankenfreude as Air America loses executives and misses payrolls. But that's not possible now that Alice is bruiting about the idea of running for the Senate. In any other state, that might be laughable, but not in Minnesota. It's the one state where he could actually win. Do the words "Gov. Jesse Ventura" ring a bell?

First, Minnesota is one of the most reliably leftist states in the country. Second, the Star & Sickle, otherwise known as the Star Tribune, already loves Alice to distraction. Third, never underestimate the desperate Minneapolitan appetite for celebrity. You can't appreciate the meaning of trying too hard until you've read a local columnist hyperventilating over Minneapolis being compared to Des Moines instead of Paris. Fourth, Paul Wellstone. It could happen.


Congratulations to Vox Day for not underestimating the unpredictable nature of the Minnesota electorate. Perhaps he could gaze once again into his crystal ball and tell us what he thinks about Franken's reelection chances in...

...2014. Sigh. There aren't going to be a lot of laughs over the next five-and-a-half years, are there?

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Today's News, Eight Months Ago

Before I got sidetracked with the many moods and nicknames of Jim Oberstar, this was the *important* story I was researching. From the USA Today, a story on the ethically questionable fringe benefits received by members of Congress from companies lobbying them and their committees. It includes this mention of Mr. Aviation:
Minnesota, transportation groups are among the donors to a law school professorship named for Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House transportation committee. Overall, about 20 transportation companies and industry groups are helping to underwrite the James L. Oberstar Professorship of Law and Public Policy, according to a release by the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.
A very suspicious set of circumstances. No less suspicious than when I pointed it out back on October of 2008. I'm not looking for any credit of course, just happy to see the mainstream media finally catching up to the cutting edge journalism taking place at Fraters Libertas. In that post, the next steps in the investigation were outlined:

I cannot locate any listing of the specific corporations funding the Oberstar professorship. Free advice to any political reporters out there doing this job for a living. 1) Acquire that list. 2) Check for earmarks or any special treatment for those corporations coming out of Oberstar's committee in the recent past. 3) If none, wait for the upcoming session and see if any of those corporations have business in front of Oberstar's committee or receive any earmarks or special treatment. 4) Report findings. 5) Write speech for Pulitzer ceremony.
Whaddya know, USA Today has attempted step 1:

Law school spokesman Chato Hazelbaker said more than $475,000 had been raised but would not release a donor list.
Stonewalling at St. Thomas. Strange, I wonder what they have to hide? Whatever it is, it looks like my decision to do absolutely nothing to chase down the story myself was vindicated again!

Some information was uncovered by USA Today in reviewing lobbyist disclosure reports:
The reports show several transportation companies donated last year. Among them: Oldcastle Materials, which makes gravel and concrete and builds roads and bridges, gave $10,000 to the law school in October. Oberstar "is a long-serving member of Congress and has advanced public policy in areas such as the economy, transportation and public works," company spokeswoman Joyce Watson says. "It was a good match for us."
I bet it was. I'm sure donating $10K for a scholarship in the name of a committee chairman the company has no business with would not be so readily approved by accounting. (Sorry, Chairman of the House Animal Husbandry Subcommittee -- aka, "Mr. Horse Inseminator" -- you'll have to keep looking.)

How does the Voice of Bicyclists in the Nation respond to this appearance of impropriety? His staff has a number of excuses for your review, feel free to choose any you like:

John Schadl, Oberstar's spokesman, says the fundraising has been approved by the House ethics committee and has not influenced his policy actions. Oberstar has not solicited contributions, Schadl says.

The congressman did attend a reception organized by the university last October at the Canadian Embassy in Washington where the scholarship was announced, Schadl says. "There were obviously donors there," Schadl says, "but
he really didn't know who they were."

It's the old "Wait a minute, you're telling me the lobbyists in attendance at a party thrown to announce the underwriting of my named scholarship might have given money to underwrite my named scholarship! I didn't see that coming!" excuse.

That sounds plausible. That is, If you've been regularly riding your bicycle into cement walls without wearing a helmet and/or you're a shameless career politician who believes he can get away with virtually anything and his constituency will never, ever vote him out of office.

Incidentally, the USA Today article led off with some anecdotes about another common ethics dodge in Congress, getting lobbyists to help pay for official portraits to be created and to be hung in government offices. Oberstar was not featured in this part of the article. But that doesn't necessarily mean Oberstar didn't get in on this narcissistic bandwagon.

This masterpiece just happens to hang in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Hearing Room.

Who paid for it? Who knows? I can find no mention of the funding source. The revered journalists at Minnpost covered the portrait unveiling in a trio of celebratory stories, but never got around to even broaching the subject of who footed the bill for this powerful DFL stalwart. (And the fact that Democrats were performing like trained seals at a recent Minnpost fundraiser in order to keep them in business? If you asked Jim Oberstar - mere coincidence!)

This community newspaper link has more information on the portrait, but leaves the funding source hazy. The best we get is:

A portrait painter whose work was commissioned by Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar will be teaching portraiture and figure drawing courses starting this week at River Ridge Arts in Burnsville.
Does "commissioned" mean paid for or just that he ordered it? Beats me. But the context of the USA today article on this practice (in this case, for Rep. Jerry Lewis) does not give me assurance:

Nearly three-quarters of the money raised for the portrait came from special-interest groups with business before Congress, federal records show.

Was Oberstar's set-up of a similar nature? Now that I've got the gears going, maybe we'll hear more facts from a professional reporter in the next 6 - 8 months.

We conclude with this final quote from Jim Oberstar, regarding his own portrait and the artist who created it:
She really finds the nature of the character and the meaning of the person and she lets that person speak in the portrait," said Oberstar. "She reminds me of Michelangelo when he completed the sculpture of Moses and struck it with his chisel and said, 'speak!'"
Another nickname born, he's the Moses of Congressional portraits. If he doesn't say so himself.

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Running In The Open Field

The polls have closed and the results are in for the candidate you would like to see on the Republican ticket for Minnesota governor in 2010. The votes were pretty well distributed, but you can see a pretty clear separation between the contenders and the pretenders.

  • Jeff Johnson 13.59%


  • Marty Seifert 11.65%


  • Joe Mauer 10.19%


  • Norm Coleman 7.77%


  • Brian Sullivan 7.28%


  • Rod Grams 7.28%


  • Pat Anderson 6.80%


  • Mark Kennedy 6.31%


  • Laura Brod 5.34%


  • Sue Jeffers 5.34%


  • David Hann 3.88%


  • Steve Sviggum 3.88%


  • Jim Ramstad 3.40%


  • Geoff Michel 2.43%


  • Charlie Weaver 1.94%


  • Paul Kohls 1.46%


  • Carol Molnau 0.97%


  • David Senjem 0.49%


  • When does the "Draft Jeff Johnson" movement get started?

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    Wednesday, June 03, 2009
    Eyes Wide Open

    Be sure to vote in our poll on the side bar to indicate who you'd like to see on the Minnesota Republican gubernatorial ticket in 2010. With Governor Pawlenty's announcement yesterday that he shall not seek (and will not accept) a third term, the GOP field is suddenly wide open and there has already been a great deal of speculation about who might throw their hat in the ring.

    The poll includes most of the names that I've seen circulated so far with the notable exception of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Her absence is intentional as I believe that she can best serve the interests of Minnesota by continuing to represent the Sixth District in Congress. Her passion, energy, and staunchly conservative views are far more needed in D.C. than in St. Paul.

    One name that is included in the poll, but hasn't been mentioned elsewhere (at least as far as I've seen) is Jeff Johnson. In my opinion, Jeff is one of the most promising Republican politicians in the state and he easily makes my short list of possible candidates for governor in 2010.

    He also happens to be scheduled to appear as a guest on this Saturday's NARN First Team show (11am-1pm AM1280 The Patriot). I imagine the boys will be talking a lot about the 2010 governor's race as well as Jeff's new role as Hennepin County Taxpayer Watchdog. Another episode of must-listen radio.

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    Tuesday, June 02, 2009
    Eight Is Enough

    Like many of my fellow Minnesota conservatives I haven't always been a wholehearted supporter of Governor Pawlenty over the years. But as I listened to his press conference this afternoon--where he announced that he will not seek a third term as governor--I was again reminded of some of his finer characteristics.

    He was at times funny, folksy, humble, down-to-earth, witty, and for a politician refreshingly honest (at least except for the details on his future plans). He was also passionate, pragmatic, and even poignant in measured doses. And for the first time that I can recall, he sounded confident in referencing (again with little detail) his vision for the state moving forward in fast-changing times. In brief and broad outlines, he seemed to be hinting at a much different future than what the DFL or even President Obama has in mind.

    The performance demonstrated again the qualities that made Pawlenty such an appealing candidate for governor in the first place, ones that may serve him well if he elects to seek national office. Besides how can you not like a guy who references hockey as much as he does? Even if he does sound like a bit of a puck hog..

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    Wednesday, May 13, 2009
    Mr. Bad Example

    Stu Kreisman is an Emmy award winning writer-producer. It says so right in the byline of his blog at the Huffington Post. Impressive credits too: SCTV, Saturday Night Live, Night Court, Cheers, Newhart. He's also written for Homeboys in Outer Space.

    His work at the HuffPo reveals the man's dynamic range as well. He puts aside the comedy entirely and adopts the very convincing persona of an indignant, uncompromising, seething, retribution seeking zealot in this post about the unforgivable sins of David Feherty. Excerpts:
    David Feherty insulted every person who puts on a uniform to fight for the United States. He cast them all as hate mongers willing to assassinate members of the government that Feherty and his pals don't care for. And for that he must be punished.

    There is no way I can watch Feherty on a CBS golf telecast ever again without thinking of how much he disrespects the political process of his adopted country and slanders the troops. Others have been fired for less. Failure to terminate Feherty's contract will just tar everyone involved in professional golf and at CBS. This was not a slip of the tongue. It was a threat.

    Well, he's certainly entitled to his opinion. And I see it is not an entirely subjective one. For Stu Kreisman doesn't just go around making judgments on other people's actions based on abstract concepts of proper behavior. No, Stu Kreisman bases his judgments on the examples of civilized behavior, morality and rhetorical restraint of others. In particular, this paragon of virtue:
    [Feherty] has defended himself by saying that he supports the troops, made a trip to the Mideast and visits them in hospitals. Well good for him but guess what? Thousands of other people do the same thing without any publicity. I highly doubt any of them engage in a conversation that would cause a soldier to threaten a member of congress. Al Franken has been doing USO shows for years with minimal publicity, but Franken is probably not the type of patriot Feherty or his friends at the PGA cotton to. Visiting the troops does not give you a free pass to smear them.
    I'm sensing Kreisman may not be a daily Fraters Libertas reader. To get him up-to-date, from yesterday's post, the words of Al Franken while on national TV self-promoting his work with the USO in Iraq:
    I actually had an officer who - I obviously won't say who he was - who said to me, listen, George W. Bush is my commander in chief. I have to respect him. But if I got Rumsfeld in my sights, I would not hesitate to squeeze off a couple rounds.

    (LAUGHTER)


    Questions for Mr. Kreisman.

    Stu, bubie, if you had known about his comments in 2005, would you have called for the firing of Al Franken from his Air America radio show?

    Now that you know about them, how about Al Franken's assuming a position in the US Senate? Should he withdraw from the election contest? Should he concede the seat to Norm Coleman?

    By the Kreisman standard, Franken has insulted every person who puts on a uniform to fight for the United States, cast them as hate mongers who would assassinate members of the government Franken and his pals don't care for. Failure to terminate him will tar every Minnesotan. Tar every member of the US Senate (and I didn't think that was possible any more). Visiting the troops does not give Franken a pass to smear them!

    This is an opportunity for a bipartisan profile in courage. The stridently liberal Kreisman has set an objective standard for abhorrent behavior and now he gets a chance to demonstrate that it is not mere political gamesmanship. Be a profile in courage, start the Dump Franken movement at Huff Po now!

    Failure to do so can be interpreted as his Feherty post being in the tradition of most of his work, comedy. Not quite as funny as Homeboys in Outer Space. Then again, his blog doesn't have a laugh track to tell us where the jokes are.

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    Tuesday, May 12, 2009
    When Fragging Government Officials Was Still Funny

    CBS sportscaster David Feherty has visited the troops in Iraq a couple of times. This experience and what he heard from the troops apparently informed his recent controversial comments in D Magazine. Comments which have led to national media outrage, pressure groups calling for his firing, his employers denouncing him, and ultimately an apology and retraction of his comments as inappropriate and unacceptable.

    The full context of his universally reviled comments:
    My own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this, though: despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death.
    Even shock-academic Camile Paglia was taken aback. Her comments in Salon Magazine indicate she thinks this is a new level of public indecency:
    I was utterly horrified to hear Dallas-based talk show host Mark Davis, subbing for Rush Limbaugh, laughingly and approvingly read a passage from a Dallas magazine article by CBS sportscaster David Feherty claiming that "any U.S. soldier," given a gun with two bullets and stuck in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama bin Laden, would use both bullets on Pelosi and strangle the other two.

    How have we come to this pass in America where the assassination of top government officials is fodder for snide jokes on national radio?
    To be sure, she's right about the impropriety of these kinds of gutter level, unfunny jokes being carelessly thrown around in the mass media. But she's dead wrong in assessing this as a new low for national broadcasting. There's nothing new about celebrities in the entertainment business going to Iraq and coming back trying to play soldiers' fragging fantasies for laughs.

    From January of 2005, on MSNBC, Chris Matthews interviewing none other than the presumptive next Senator from the Great state of Minnesota who had these remarkably similar comments to Faherty:

    I actually had an officer who - I obviously won't say who he was - who said to me, listen, George W. Bush is my commander in chief. I have to respect him. But if I got Rumsfeld in my sights, I would not hesitate to squeeze off a couple rounds.

    (LAUGHTER)

    (Originally linked to in this Fraters post in 2005.)

    Not clear is whether it was Franken and/or Matthews who was laughing it up. Only the MSNBC transcriptionist knows for sure.

    Needless to say, there was no controversy over Franken's comments on national TV. He tells his stories about the assassination of top government officials, gets his laughs, gets the unqualified support of liberals and the Democrat party, and merrily goes on his way to (probably) getting elected to the US Senate. What a country!

    If only the media deemed the comments of a liberal US Senate candidate as important as a conservative CBS golf analyst, we might have been spared this whole recount drama. Even in Minnesota, I have to believe that's worth at least 322 votes for Norm Coleman.

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    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:

    SEC. 6. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    (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, 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

    or

    Republican convention has McCollum talking about terrorists

    Go get 'em boys.

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    Monday, March 23, 2009
    It Can Happen Here

    One of the most important political stories of recent years that probably has not gotten quite the attention and discussion it deserves is how Colorado has been flipped from a red to a blue state in a most dramatic fashion. Rarely do you see such sweeping changes in the political make up of a state in such a short period of time. Rob Witwer has the details in the March 23rd edition of National Review (sub req):

    Consider the following. In October 2004, the GOP dominated politics at every level in Colorado. Republicans held both U.S. Senate seats, five of seven congressional seats, the governor's mansion, the secretary of state's and treasurer's offices, and both houses of the state legislature. Four years later, the opposite is true: Replace the word "Republicans" with "Democrats" in the previous sentence, and you have one of the most stunning reversals of fortune in American political history.

    While the Minnesota GOP has been reeling lately from a series of election defeats, the losses here are nothing compared with what's occurred in Colorado. We went from being a state that seemed to turning purple back to pretty solidly blue. Colorado went from red to blue in what in political terms is a blink of an eye.

    Witwer details how the Democrats were able to engineer this amazing turnaround:

    How did it happen? The Colorado story isn't just about changing demographics or an unpopular Bush presidency. Those factors played a part, but they cannot explain why Democrats dominate a state in which Republicans still outnumber them by 9,000 registered voters. Democratic success in Colorado is in large part the result of what Stein calls a "more strategic, more focused, more disciplined, better financed" progressive movement.

    In hindsight, what Colorado Democrats did was as simple as it was effective. First, they built a robust network of nonprofit entities to replace the Colorado Democratic party, which had been rendered obsolete by campaign-finance reform. Second, they raised historic amounts of money from large donors, to fund these entities. Third, they developed a consistent, topical message. Fourth, and most important, they put aside their policy differences to focus on the common goal of winning elections. As former Democratic house majority leader Alice Madden later said, "It's not rocket science."


    No, it's not. And yet Republicans more often than not seem unable to grasp and employ these concepts, especially the fourth one. Instead, we'd rather waste vast amounts of time and energy tearing ourselves apart in internecine battles over issues that in the big picture aren't particularly important in determining election outcomes.

    Witwer's piece also contains a warning message to Republicans across the country that what happened it Colorado can happen to them:

    Soon the conversation turned to something less well known: a quiet little project called the Committee on States, through which Democrats plan to export their Colorado success across the country over the next 20 months. "As we know, 2010 is redistricting, there are 35 governors' races, so it's going to be a critically important year," said Rob Stein, founder of the Democracy Alliance, a national Democratic fundraising group. To prepare for 2010, Stein said last summer, architects of the "Colorado miracle" and a lawyer named Frank Smith would be working hard to get progressives in 18 other states "up to Colorado's level of sophistication and organizational development."

    It wasn't empty talk. In the past 30 months, the Democracy Alliance's donors have put over $110 million into 30 state-level groups. "There are a bunch of states," Stein continued, "where over the next couple of years a lot of development is going to happen." Later in the presentation, Smith named a few: Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

    For Republicans in these states, understanding what happened in Colorado isn't just a matter of curiosity--it's a matter of political survival.


    The Democrats have a tried and true game plan for success that they're ready to roll out across the country. Will Republicans be able to come together and develop an effective strategy to counter? The answer to that question may well determine if Colorado was the first GOP domino to fall or the last.

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    Wednesday, March 18, 2009
    Ready for Some Real Change?

    From the Voice of America (Urdu) documentary series, Muslims' America, an interview with Rep. Keith Ellison.  Transcribed excerpt:
    VOA: Is there any possibility that I might be talking to the future first Muslim-American President of the United States, keeping in view that 2020 is not that far away?

    ELLISON: Only God knows that. But let me just say this, I love the job I'm doing and I believe that my goal is to be the best representative of the 5th Congressional District of Minnesota I can possibly be. And that's all I'm worried about right now.
    VOA: And that means that you might run?

    ELLISON: It means that I'm not making any plans to run. I'm just trying to keep my eye on the ball. Like, do they play cricket there in Pakistan?

    VOA: They love cricket.

    ELLISON: Well, see, if you're going to try and hit that ball with the bat, you've got to watch that ball, right? You don't want to look past the ball, you want to look at the ball, right? So I'm just keeping my eye on the ball.

    VOA: I'll take that as a 'yes'.

    ELLISON: (laughter)
    Either Keith Ellison is trying out for Pakistan's national cricket team or he's considering running for President.   Move over Rod Blagojevich!

    That interview is not positive affirmation perhaps, but the dancing around, avoiding the question, and self aggrandizement is NOT a denial either. If Ellison wanted to douse speculation, the only proper response would have been something like this, from George Costanza, on asking his doctor about a suspicious white spot on his face:
    GEORGE: When I asked him if it was cancer, he didn't give me a "get outta here". That's what I wanted to hear: "Cancer? Get outta here!"

    JERRY: Well, maybe he doesn't have a "get outta here" kind of personality.

    GEORGE: How could you be a doctor and not say "get outta here"? It should be part of the training at medical school: "Cancer? Get outta here!" "Go home! What are you crazy? It's a little test. It's nothing. You're a real nut. You know that?"
    Me, President?  Get outta here!  Go home!  What are you crazy?   Until we hear that from Ellison, I don't want to hear any more lefty journalists in town implying Michele Bachmann is the most delusional member of our Congressional delegation.

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    Wednesday, March 11, 2009
    Coleman's Campaign Hacked

    Strange story from The Hill on how Norm Coleman supporters' private info was likely breached:

    Norm Coleman's Senate campaign said Wednesday that the private information of its supporters has probably been breached and is encouraging them to cancel their credit cards.

    Coleman backers began receiving e-mails Tuesday night from an e-mail address at wikileaks.org stating that it possessed personal information about them and was preparing to post it online.

    The same address stated in an e-mail early Wednesday morning that "we have discovered that all on-line Coleman contributors had their full credit card details released onto the Internet on 28 of [January], 2009, by Coleman's staff."

    Coleman's campaign followed with an e-mail Wednesday morning that said the campaign became worried that its firewalls had been breached in January.

    "We contacted federal authorities at that time, and they reviewed logs from the server in question as well as additional firewall logs," campaign manager Cullen Sheehan said. "They indicated that, after reviewing those logs, they did not find evidence that our database was downloaded by any unauthorized party.

    "Let me be very clear: At this point, we don't know if last evening's e-mail is a political dirty trick or what the objective is of the person who sent the e-mail.

    "What we do know, however, is that there is a strong likelihood that these individuals have found a way to breach private and confidential information."

    Coleman's campaign is encouraging supporters who think they might have contributed to the campaign to cancel their credit cards.


    Since I received said Tuesday e-mail, this story has a personal interest for me. I honestly could not recall if I had donated money on-line to Coleman or not. When the second e-mail arrived with a link to an Excel file with a list of donors and some of their credit card information (which I am not posting a link to for obvious reasons), I was relieved to not find my name.

    Not sure of what the point of all this is or who is behind it. I am sure that's going to cause a lot of headaches for people who did nothing more than exercise their political freedom.

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    Tuesday, March 03, 2009
    Bringing Home the Bacon, and the Cookies

    Sen. Amy Klobuchar on attending the White House Super Bowl party:

    Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, said Obama was very cordial, and he and the first lady made guests feel comfortable. The president talked to everyone before the game started, she said, including a 12-year-old boy who asked Obama where the bathroom was.

    "My favorite part was when he personally served us cookies -- oatmeal raisin --when we were watching the game," she said.
    Not mentioned was her second favorite part, when Obama read her a story, gave her some warm milk, and sent her off to bed.

    The purpose of the White House Super Bowl Party was to help persuade legislators to support the multi-trillion dollar Obama "stimulus" and budget plans. Something tells me Klobuchar didn't need a lot of persuading to help ramrod more liberalism down America's throat. As such, the cookie was entirely superfluous and wasteful spending. Shame on you Barack Obama for throwing our tax dollars away.

    Actually, our Senator got more out of the event and bill than just a cookie. She, like nearly every Democrat in federal office, gets her share of the pork. Case study of a mere droplet in the tsunami of red ink about to hit the taxpayers:

    To help support working families, Sen. Klobuchar fought for and secured $95,000 for the City of St. Paul's Second Shift Initiative. The Second Shift Initiative helps working families by using city libraries, parks and recreation centers to provide daily tutoring, mentoring and organized activities to St. Paul students after school hours, weekends and during the summer, spring and winter breaks.
    Because Lord knows kids are absolutely despondent when they have to be separated from school when they get released each afternoon, on the weekends, during spring and winter breaks, and during the summer. Finally, someone figured out a way to fill the extra school demand gap.

    "As a county prosecutor I saw firsthand the importance of keeping kids off the streets," said Klobuchar. "This innovative program is a great example of Minnesotans creating common sense solutions to give our kids the resources and education they need to achieve success, while also supporting working families in this tough economy."
    If I understand the Senator correctly, these kids are the types that will fall into criminal lifestyles once they are away from the tender oversight of the government. A rather dismal view of humanity, but I'll take her word for it. Yet even with this "innovative, common sense" appropriation of $95K, we're not getting 24 hour control here. So, these little imps will be out on the mean streets at some time. Then its back in the rec center with all they've picked up. I ask you, working families of St. Paul, is that a place you want to send YOUR kids to hang out?

    "This funding provides young people and families with a critical resource," said Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. "The Second Shift Initiative provides young people quality learning opportunities that extend the learning day in a safe, positive atmosphere."
    In my day, if you wanted a safe, positive atmosphere for learning after school, you went home. Where it was safe, anyway. It was assumed that parents wanted their children to learn, so they would make sure it happened, one way or another. No extra government funding required. Our society was based on parents love of, and nurturing of, children. They would get the job done. Are we to believe that's no longer applicable in St. Paul? Human nature has been fundamentally altered? That seems like a big story, I assume one of our local newspapers will be on that soon.

    "This funding will make the difference for thousands of families in Saint Paul -- a difference made possible because of Senator Klobuchar's ability to deliver for Saint Paul kids."
    In other words: This federal use of tax dollars has been brought to you by the Amy Klobuchar campaign committee. Amy Klobuchar 2012, delivering for St. Paul kids.

    One quick calculation check here, $95,000 will help "thousands of families" in St .Paul according to Chris Coleman. Conservatively estimating the plural of "thousand" at two thousand, that comes out to a whopping $47.50 per St. Paul family seeking this desperately needed help. Hmmmm.

    Predicted headline during the next budget cycle: CRISIS IN FUNDING FOR CRITICAL CHILDREN'S PROGRAM

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    Thursday, February 05, 2009
    Klobuchar Kills

    Even if Al Franken wins the recount challenge, he may not be the funniest US Senator from Minnesota. At least if this objective, down-the-middle unbiased report from Politico's Anne Schroder Mullins is accurate:

    It's a tough crowd. No one really wants to be there, but they don't not want to be there either. Dinner is eaten. Planners are thanked for their planning and attendees for their attending, and then Nancy Pelosi, always radiant, takes the mic and gives a couple of corny jokes: "When Secretary Geithner gets a call from the New York Times he doesn't know if it's for a scoop or a bailout." And Barack Obama's email address is I'mAllEars@WhiteHouse.gov, while Rahm's is LeakLeakLeak@WhiteHouse.gov.And then Klobuchar--who told Politico that she wrote half of her own jokes--stepped up, and things got unexpectedly funny.

    "I'd like to make this as short as Bill Richardson's tenure as Commerce Secretary," she opened. "I raised $17,000 from ex-boyfriends--true story! I know that is the record in the Senate, but in the house it's held by Barney Frank." Roars of laughter, even from Frank.

    Then she turned to the "great reporters? in this room--all of whom got scooped on the John Edwards story by the National Enquirer." She promised not to be too rough with them, though, since "I'm all about protecting endangered species." Perhaps best of all: "Typically a Republican and a Democrat speak at this--you could have saved a lot of money by asking Joe Lieberman."


    Hmmm...Doesn't really sound like that tough a crowd. I guess you had to be there.

    (Thanks to Brad C. for bringing this to our attention.)

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    Wednesday, February 04, 2009
    Doubting St. Thomas

    Last week, a DFL state representative was bounced from getting honored by a local Catholic high school due to his public advocacy on behalf of abortion.

    The policy on such things must be different at the Catholic university a few miles up the road. The University of St. Thomas announces an upcoming gala celebration:


    Congressman Keith Ellison, musician Debbie Duncan headline third annual Black History Month Heritage Gala Feb. 21.

    The Office of Institutional Diversity will host the third annual Black History Month Heritage Gala on Saturday, Feb. 21. This year's theme is "Pilgrimage to the Promised Land: A Past to Cherish. A Promise to Fulfill." With the recent historical inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African American president of the United States, Congressman Ellison will deliver an inspiring message about our current realities, hope and change that is coming.
    As a good progressive, Ellison is in lock step with all the Democrat sacraments, such as abortion and gay marriage. On these aspects alone, the decision to celebrate him on campus is suspect. But Keith Ellison has another line item on his resume that one would think the Catholic Church might have a teeny, tiny objection to. He happens to be an APOSTATE!

    Sorry to use such a divisive word on you. But I had no choice. That's what they call members of the flock who leave the Catholic Church to pursue other interests. Keith Ellison was raised as a Catholic and lived as one until he converted to Islam while in college. Like it or not, that is known as apostasy, or more specifically, "apostasy a fide":


    the complete and voluntary abandonment of the Christian religion, whether the apostate embraces another religion such as Paganism, Judaism, Mohammedanism, etc., or merely makes profession of Naturalism, Rationalism, etc. The heretic differs from the apostate in that he only denies one or more of the doctrines of revealed religion. Whereas the apostate denies the religion itself, a sin which has always been looked upon as one of the most grievous.
    I see the punishment for such in the Catholic Church had eased a bit since the fourth century (" Apostates were punished by deprivation of all civil rights. They could not give evidence in a court of law, and could neither bequeath nor inherit property. To induce anyone to apostatize was an offence punishable with death ). And this isn't Riyadh, nobody is going to get their head cut off here. Plus, it may be the case that earning the official scarlet "A" in this day and age needs an official pronouncement from the Pope. But, turning your back on the church is still considered a rather serious mortal sin. Yes, the Church still disapproves of its members renouncing them (the intolerant bigots!)

    Yet, St. Thomas is bringing him in, willing to overlook this issue in the name of . . . . what? Some more important issue? From their press release, an indication of what that might be:


    His experience as a community activist and his message of inclusiveness through democratic participation resonates throughout the Fifth District and Minnesota. His priorities in Congress are promoting peace, prosperity for working families, and promoting civil and human rights.
    What's a little apostasy compared to promoting prosperity for working families? Nothing if you're the local branch of the DFL party. If you happen to think of yourself as an outpost of the One True Faith, I'd think your priorities might be a little different. Which one is St. Thomas supposed to be again?

    That's right, they are Catholic. But bringing up those troublesome "mortal sins" is really the antithesis of Ellison's "message of inclusiveness." If you want him to come, best adopt a hear no evil-see no evil policy on this one.

    Except, these things have consequences. When a well known Catholic university employee in St. Louis was running around spouting politically fashionable liberal sentiments, the local Archbishop remarked:


    I'm concerned that a leader at a Catholic university made these comments. It can lead Catholics astray," Burke said Tuesday.
    That equally applies to honored speakers brought to a Catholic university to push their ideas. Any chance the students in attendance might get the impression the Church is perfectly OK with Ellison's decisions and philosophy? How could they not?

    Truth be told, the average struggling Catholic is always looking for loopholes to the high standards set in the moral code. Anything thought to justify the practice of their favorite sins or moral sloth will be seized upon by some. It is an aspect of human nature. Catholics institutions playing games with their own rules and core beliefs create the biggest loophole of all. If they're not serious about adhering to their moral principles, why should the average slob be?

    For the good of the Church, I call on St. Thomas to cancel Keith Ellison's appearance and celebrate instead with one of the many ardent, practicing, Catholics on the political scene. Like Nancy Pelosi. (D'oh!) Or Joe Biden (Screeeech!) Maybe Betty McCollum. (Oof!). Or Tim Waltz (Gack!)

    You know, I'm starting to feel some compassion for the St. Thomas University booking agent. Maybe Keith Ellison doesn't look so bad after all.

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    Friday, January 23, 2009
    Fresh Face

    The contest for the Chair of the MN GOP promises to be an interesting one. At this point, I have no horse in the race, but I've heard a lot of good things about one Brandon Sawalich. The party definitely needs new blood at the top.

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    Wednesday, January 07, 2009
    Minnesota Meltdown

    The fallout from Franken's apparent victory continues as Ed Anger calls on his readers to BOYCOTT COMMIE-SOTA:

    I'm madder than Jesse Ventura with a busted microphone about that idiot Al Franken. It's bad enough America picked a commie President with a crazy name, but now Minnesota went and made some potty mouth "comedian" a senator.

    Our Founding Fathers didn't die at the Boston Tea Party just so a four-eyed squirt like Franken could get himself elected. If George Washington were alive today, he'd slap every idiot in Minnesota with a cold slab of dried out fish, except they'd probably like it! Those people eat deep fried Snickers bars and build statues out of butter to win prizes.


    As much as it stings, that butter charge is hard to deny. I imagine that Ed would really have his dander up if he saw this:




    That's right ladies and gentlemen. Our future United States Senator in butter. I think I'll just go hit myself with a dried out fish and get it over with.

    [Tuuk tip to Kathy Shaidle.]

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    Squandered Not Stolen

    Scott Johnson has an excellent post at Power Line that seeks to clear up some of growing misconceptions about the Senate recount:

    The portrayal of Senator Coleman as a victim akin to Dino Rossi in the Washington recount fiasco is misleading. Friends of ours who have observed the process up close and who know the players managing it on behalf of Senator Coleman share our misgivings regarding this portrayal. Senator Coleman has acted a bit like an NFL team sitting on a two-point lead in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter and playing zone defense. He could have been much more aggressive in protecting his position in the days since November 5.

    One overlooked aspect of the process is the different approaches the two campaigns took once the recount began. From the outset of the recount process, the Coleman campaign has been remarkably passive in its approach. They have improvised strategy from day to day and spent too much time "spinning" the Franken campaign's activities, while expecting their lawyers to protect them. They have not appeared to me to have a handle on what was happening or on what was likely to happen.

    Franken's campaign recognized immediately the opportunity to "find" more votes with the "improperly rejected" absentee ballots. The Coleman campaign may have erred at the outset when it failed to initiate its own efforts or craft a countervailing strategy.


    It was probably natural for the two campaigns to act in the way they did. With Coleman ahead, the attitude on his side was to try to hold the lead and prevent the Franken campaign from picking up additional votes to narrow the gap. On the other side, the Franken crew knew that to overcome Coleman's lead they would have to scratch and claw for every additional vote they could. Some of these efforts were rebuffed, but enough came to fruition to allow them to catch and pass Coleman. Meanwhile, by not taking the same attitude toward looking under every rock and exploring every possibility for every additional vote, it seems like the Coleman campaign missed an opportunity to increase their vote total, especially in regard to the rejected absentee ballots. Now, it may be too late to go back and hope to pick additional votes through the contest process.

    Complaining about the election being "stolen" during the recount process is also a little like a NFL team complaining about a bad call late in a loss to the Lions (assuming that the Lions ever win another game). The sad truth is that the Coleman campaign should never have been in this position in the first place. If you can't secure a wide enough margin in the election to defeat Al frickin' Franken, then you probably don't deserve to win anyway.

    One last point. What Scott Johnson demonstrated in his post was something called intellectual honesty. A concept that local lefty bloggers who are carping about how Coleman should do the right thing and accept the results are completely unfamiliar with. There is no doubt that if the roles were reversed and Franken had contested the election after being down 225 votes, the very same choir would be singing in unison about how "every vote should be counted" and that Coleman had no right to claim victory.

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    Tuesday, January 06, 2009
    We Like It Here?

    Living in Minnesota is not easy. The winters are nasty, brutish, and long. Summer days are a rare commodity and summer nights are oft spoiled by ravenous mosquitoes.

    With the exception of the Twins and Gopher hockey team, the championship trophy cases for our sports teams are pretty barren. There's been far more agony than ecstasy in that realm over the years.

    We have to live with the cultural stigma wrought by "Fargo," Garrison Keillor, hot dish, and Sven and Ole jokes. Despite the fact that Minnesotans are among the best educated and well-read people in the country, we're often collectively viewed as ice-fishing rubes running around in our galoshes spouting "Ya sure, you betcha."

    Even though some progress was made in early parts of this decade, we're still among the high end of states as far as tax burdens go and companies continue to face competitive disadvantages in our business climate. With the DFL in control of the state legislature and the a four-plus billion dollar budget deficit, it's hard to imagine that this situation won't get worse in the years ahead.

    But despite all this, we could always find ample reasons to prefer the state to others. One of those reasons was that the people of Minnesota were considered down to earth, common sense folk. We weren't prone to undue excitement or rash acts based on emotion. We would calmly and carefully analyze our options and make prudent decisions based on what we thought best.

    In politics this sometimes meant going against the perceived grain. Rather than always voting along straight party lines, Minnesotans would consider the character and experience of the individual candidate. And if there was a flaw in that character or just a gut instinct that this person might not be the best one for the job, some Minnesotans (often enough to make the difference) would vote against what might otherwise have been there party preference.

    Of course in 1998, enough Minnesota voters strayed from this common sense approach to elect Jesse Ventura as governor. But that was a non-serious time. The big issues of the day really weren't that big. If there ever was a time for the people of Minnesota to let our hair down and take a flyer, that was it.

    2008 was a serious time. A very serious time. A time when more than ever than our common sense, best man for the job inclination would come to the forefront and lead the people of Minnesota to make prudent and proper decisions when they went to their polling places. I was so confident that my fellow Minnesotans would do the right thing that I never seriously considered the possibility that Al Franken would be elected to the U.S. Senate. This was Minnesota after all. While we might be predominantly liberal, there were still enough rational, independent-minded voters out there who would realize that Franken was unfit for the office, unfit to represent the people of Minnesota in such an important position.

    Now, with Franken joining the exclusive Senate club no longer a question of "if" but "when," I have to look around and wonder just what the hell has happened to my fellow inhabitants of the North Star state. Our weather is still cold. Our sports teams are still losing. Our image as lutefisk eating "uff da" doofuses still lingers. Our taxes are still high. But something has changed.

    Al Franken is going to represent us in the U.S. Senate. And I can't be the only one asking, "What's the matter with Minnesota?"

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    TALK O' THE TOWN
    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:

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    2009-10 NARN LOON O' THE WEEK

    3/20--Rick Perriello
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    2/6--Barack Obama
    1/30--Carol Shea Porter
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    9/5--Chris Matthews
    8/29--Dan Savage
    8/22--Brad Pitt
    8/15--Chris Matthews
    8/8--Barbara Boxer
    8/1--Bill Maher
    7/11--Maddow/Klobuchar
    7/4--Al Franken
    6/13--David Letterman
    6/6--Harry Reid
    5/30--Drew Barrymore
    5/23--Jesse Ventura
    5/16--Wanda Sykes
    5/9--Alren Specter
    5/2--Nancy Pelosi
    4/25--Janeane Garofalo
    4/4--Damon Greene
    3/28--Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
    3/21--Charles Grassley
    3/14--Seymour Hersh
    3/7--DL Hughley
    2/28--Sean Penn
    2/21--James Clyburn
    2/14--Chuck Schumer
    2/7--Nancy Pelosi
    1/31--Nancy Pelosi
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