The St. Cloud Times ran an editorial today by a bipartisan group of state legislators urging the local public to support school levies. It is always good to see people working together for a cause that benefits us all!

Your turn: Local legislators support district's levy
By Sen. Tarryl Clark and Reps. Steve Gottwalt, Larry Hosch and Larry Haws

Published: October 31. 2007 12:30AM

We stand together to support our local levy, and we hope you will, too!

It has been said that a society's soul can be measured by the beliefs and practices of its citizens. A community whose citizens value each other regardless of differing economic, social and ethnic backgrounds is also a community whose schools grasp every opportunity to produce educated, confident students.

Since the days of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, the role of public education has evolved to ensure universal access, equity and opportunity for all students. While the next years will certainly focus on proficiency and accountability within our schools, we cannot lose sight of our fundamental goal to work alongside parents and guardians educating the whole child to produce healthy, capable and participating citizens.

Ninety percent of Minnesota children attend public schools and collectively, our most challenging goal is to teach all students effectively. Our need for additional public funding affects gifted and talented students as much as those at-risk children who face complex problems beyond the educational setting.

The St. Cloud school district's funding dilemma is not much different from its neighbors, who also seek local levy funding on Election Day.

The levy asks for dollars to cover basic costs of hiring additional teachers, providing a half-day option for kindergarten, ensuring athletics and extra-curricular activities, providing transportation to students who live between 1-2 miles from their school, achieving greater fiscal efficiencies and adding improvements in technology.

A $15 annual school tax increase added to current property taxes on a $150,000 home will continue those services the next four years. A "no" vote will require $6 million in cuts starting in 2008.

We seek your help in supporting this local property tax levy as we vow to work hard on public education funding. We pledge continued collaboration and renewed effort as we address funding, achievement and district inequities.

We know that there are higher costs to educate students who are challenged with English proficiency, low socioeconomic status, disabilities, access to technology, regional economic disparities, mobility and other differences.

We are acutely aware of the increasing costs to provide the best education. ... We are also aware that this must be done in close collaboration with parents and guardians as we work toward the ultimate goal of success and achievement for our children in an increasingly competitive global market.

Our local schools need our help and a "yes" vote for the district's operating referendum on Tuesday. We need your support and input as we work to address funding issues of equity, achievement and accountability for all our children.

It is our desire to work toward a long-term funding solution characterized by flexibility, innovation and transparency. Everyone understands our children need to be well educated, but getting there requires working together.

... Join us in voting "yes" for the St. Cloud school district operations referendum!

Sen. Tarryl Clark represents District 15 and is assistant majority leader. Rep. Steve Gottwalt represents District 15A. Rep. Larry Hosch is from District 14B and Rep. Larry Haws is from District 15B.


9:22 PM | Posted in ,
Recently, Michele Bachmann was a guest speaker at an I-94 Chamber of Commerce luncheon. The purpose of the speech was to discuss "the impact of government policies on small businesses". Yet, when it came time to help the small businesses she purports to support, Michele once again joined the minority not only in the House of Representatives as a whole but also in her very own party. The Small Business Contracting Program Improvements Act (HR 3867) gives certain benefits to DISABLED VETERANS and WOMEN who own small businesses across the country.

Excerpts of this "egregious" legislation:

SEC. 104. PRIORITY FOR SEVERELY DISABLED VETERANS.

    In developing regulations to implement section 101, the Administrator shall give a priority to those certified service-disabled veterans that are severely disabled.


    SEC. 202. ESTABLISHMENT OF GOALS.

      (a) Establishment of Government-Wide Goals- Section 15(g)(1) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 644(g)(1)) is amended by striking the first sentence and inserting `The President shall annually establish Government-wide goals for procurement contracts awarded to small business concerns, small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans, qualified HUBZone small business concerns, small business concerns owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, small business concerns participating in the program established by section 8(a), and small business concerns owned and controlled by women.'.


      SEC. 206. PROHIBITION ON CONTRACT AWARDS TO CONTRACTORS IN VIOLATION OF IMMIGRATION LAWS.

        Any employer found, based on a determination by the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General to have engaged in a pattern or practice of hiring, recruiting or referring for a fee, for employment in the United States an alien knowing the person is an unauthorized alien shall be subject to debarment from the receipt of future Federal contracts under this Act.

        The hypocrisy meter has to register pretty high on this vote given that the speech she made occurred only days earlier. Also, the double whammy being that she is voting against a bill to allow disabled veterans (You remember, the ones she claims she supports!) to get contracts easier than non-veterans. Interestingly, Michele took another photo at the luncheon (you think she would have learned after the Clearwater Photo-Op disaster).


        You may notice that of the presumably 23 business owners pictured there are at least 7 women (30% of the room). What does that have to do with anything? Well, given that this bill also gives women owned small businesses a leg up in getting government contracts. So, how many of these women LOSE because of our very own anti-vet/anti-woman/anti-small business representative?

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        8:23 PM | Posted in ,
        It is incumbent upon us as Americans to stand up and choose the man or woman who we believe can effectively lead this country. Unfortunately, it appears to me that too often it is not the citizens of this country that truly make this decision but rather the media that anoints a candidate that the rest of us then seem to follow blindly. Senator Joe Biden realizes that this contest should NOT be about the almighty dollar and media hype but rather about the ideas and solutions presented by each candidate. Yes, it is a far more boring endeavor to judge people on substance rather than choosing based upon media hype but it is the ONLY way in which we can have intelligent leaders of substance rather than vacuous candidates who invariably make poor decisions.

        Biden: Race Is About Ideas, Not Money

        WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden said Monday that the race for the White House is more about ideas than the huge amounts of money being raised by many of the other candidates.

        Biden said voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — states that will cast the first votes of the nominating season next year — are looking for a knowledgeable candidate who can lead the country.

        "I am absolutely convinced that this is about ideas, and it's not about money," he told about 900 people at the Delaware Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner. Money and prestige have dominated the race so far, he said, but ideas will matter.

        Biden has represented the state in the Senate for nearly 35 years, and is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. He is considered a knowledgeable voice on international relations, and has been pushing a plan to end the conflict in Iraq by carving the country into three distinct states, with a central government located in Baghdad.

        He may have ideas, but it's money he lacks.

        Biden raised more than $6 million through the end of September, but had less than $1 million on hand. Rivals and Senate colleagues Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama together raised more than $150 million during the period.

        Biden said the idea of a candidate raising $85 million to $90 million is "astounding," but that he still considered it a level playing field in the early primary states. He said those voters care what a candidate has to say.

        Biden said the next president's term will determine whether America "regains its footing and reinvigorates the middle class or continues on this spiral that this administration has put us into."

        "The American people know that this president has dug us into a very, very deep hole," Biden said.

        He acknowledged the tough road ahead, and compared the Democratic primary to his successful 1972 Senate race when, as a 28-year-old upstart, he defeated popular Republican incumbent and former Delaware Gov. Caleb Boggs.

        "I am not on a fool's errand; I realize I need your help," said Biden, who predicted that the top three finishers in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3 will live to fight on, while the others will cease to be viable candidates.

        Joe Biden & The Health Care REALITY!



        Four Practical Steps Toward Health Care For All

        Joe Biden’s highest priorities – along with ending the war in Iraq – are universal health care and education. He will convene a national gathering of key health care stakeholders from labor, business, health care and government within the first 90 days of his administration to seize the historic opportunity created by the recognition from organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies, the Business Roundtable and the AMA to the labor movement that the time has come for universal, affordable health care.

        Joe Biden’s CARE plan proposes four essential steps toward universal health care:

        1. Cover all Children
        2. Access for Adults
        3. Reinsurance For Catastrophic Cases
        4. Encouraging Prevention and Modernization

      • ��
        5:29 PM | Posted in ,
        On August 1st of this year we in Minnesota watched in horror as one of our bridges lay in ruins and our fellow citizens were being pulled from the Mississippi River. This event brought to light the infrastructure needs in this state and across the country. Given the close ties to the tragedy, one would think that Michele Bachmann would support plans to address various infrastructure needs around the country. Unfortunately, MY representative is more concerned with towing the party line than concerning herself with the safety of us all.

        Here is the legislation:

        110th CONGRESS
        1st Session

        H. R. 3224


        AN ACT

        To amend the National Dam Safety Program Act to establish a program to provide grant assistance to States for the rehabilitation and repair of deficient dams.

          Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

        SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

          This Act may be cited as the `Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act of 2007'.

        SEC. 2. REHABILITATION AND REPAIR OF DEFICIENT DAMS.

          (a) Definitions- Section 2 of the National Dam Safety Program Act (33 U.S.C. 467) is amended--
            (1) by redesignating paragraphs (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9), (10), (11), (12), and (13) as paragraphs (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9), (10), (12), (13), (14), and (15), respectively;
            (2) by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:
            `(3) DEFICIENT DAM- The term `deficient dam' means a dam that the State within the boundaries of which the dam is located determines--
              `(A) fails to meet minimum dam safety standards of the State; and
              `(B) poses an unacceptable risk to the public.'; and
            (3) by inserting after paragraph (10) (as redesignated by paragraph (1)) the following:
            `(11) REHABILITATION- The term `rehabilitation' means the repair, replacement, reconstruction, or removal of a dam that is carried out to meet applicable State dam safety and security standards.'.
          (b) Program for Rehabilitation and Repair of Deficient Dams- The National Dam Safety Program Act is amended by inserting after section 8 (33 U.S.C. 467f) the following:

        `SEC. 8A. REHABILITATION AND REPAIR OF DEFICIENT DAMS.

          `(a) Establishment of Program- The Director shall establish, within FEMA, a program to provide grant assistance to States for use in rehabilitation of publicly-owned deficient dams.
          `(b) Award of Grants-
            `(1) APPLICATION- A State interested in receiving a grant under this section may submit to the Director an application for such grant. Applications submitted to the Director under this section shall be submitted at such times, be in such form, and contain such information, as the Director may prescribe by regulation.
            `(2) IN GENERAL- Subject to the provisions of this section, the Director may make a grant for rehabilitation of a deficient dam to a State that submits an application for the grant in accordance with the regulations prescribed by the Director. The Director shall enter into a project grant agreement with the State to establish the terms of the grant and the project, including the amount of the grant.
            `(3) APPLICABILITY OF STANDARDS- The Director shall require States that apply for grants under this section to comply with the standards of section 611(j)(9) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5196(j)(9)), as in effect on the date of enactment of this section, with respect to projects assisted under this section in the same manner as recipients are required to comply in order to receive financial contributions from the Director for emergency preparedness purposes.
          `(c) Priority System- The Director, in consultation with the Board, shall develop a risk-based priority system for use in identifying deficient dams for which grants may be made under this section.
          `(d) Allocation of Funds- The total amount of funds appropriated pursuant to subsection (f)(1) for a fiscal year shall be allocated for making grants under this section to States applying for such grants for that fiscal year as follows:
            `(1) One-third divided equally among applying States.
            `(2) Two-thirds among applying States based on the ratio that--
              `(A) the number of non-Federal publicly-owned dams that the Secretary of the Army identifies in the national inventory of dams maintained under section 6 as constituting a danger to human health and that are located within the boundaries of the State; bears to
              `(B) the number of non-Federal publicly-owned dams that are so identified and that are located within the boundaries of all applying States.
          `(e) Cost Sharing- The Federal share of the cost of rehabilitation of a deficient dam for which a grant is made under this section may not exceed 65 percent of the cost of such rehabilitation.
          `(f) Authorization of Appropriations-
            `(1) IN GENERAL- There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section--
              `(A) $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2008;
              `(B) $15,000,000 for fiscal year 2009;
              `(C) $25,000,000 for fiscal year 2010;
              `(D) $50,000,000 for fiscal year 2011; and
              `(E) $100,000,000 for fiscal year 2012.
            `(2) STAFF- There are authorized to be appropriated to provide for the employment of such additional staff of FEMA as are necessary to carry out this section $400,000 for each of fiscal years 2008 through 2010.
            `(3) PERIOD OF AVAILABILITY- Sums appropriated pursuant to this section shall remain available until expended.'.

        SEC. 3. RULEMAKING.

          (a) Proposed Rulemaking- Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency shall issue a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding the amendments made by section 2 to the National Dam Safety Program Act (33 U.S.C. 467 et seq.).
          (b) Final Rule- Not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency shall issue a final rule regarding such amendments.

        Passed the House of Representatives October 29, 2007.



        There is nothing in this legislation that appears controversial nor does it appear to be a terribly expensive endeavor, so you really have to wonder what would bring Michele Bachmann to vote against something addressing our critical infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers supports the legislation and I have found no statements explaining what the opposition has problems with in the bill. So, Michele, what is it? What possible reason could you give for voting against Dam safety? It isn't benefiting illegal immigrants, homosexuals, or the terrorists so,

        WHAT IS IT?
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        3:00 PM | Posted in
        Over the next week or so I am not going to have a lot of time to post anything due to hectic school and family commitments. My hope is to get back into regular posting by next week but we will see. Perhaps I need additional contributors in order to keep this thing running!

        Maybe Andy Barnett can teach me how to be a CULTURE WARRIOR and fight back against the evil secular progressives! Okay, that was a bit delusional.

        If you have any questions, let me know at political_muse@hotmail.com
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        12:19 PM | Posted in
        In the debate over SCHIP, Michele Bachmann chose not to actually debate the program but felt it would be easier to simply use the same lies over and over and over and over again. FactCheck.org documented these lies well and now has a wonderful article explaining just why the technique of repeating lies ad nauseam is so effective.

        The Article:

        Cognitive Science and FactCheck.org, or Why We (Still) Do What We Do
        by Joe Miller

        Have you heard about how Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet? What about how Iraq was responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center? Or maybe the one about how George W. Bush has the lowest IQ of any U.S. president ever? Chances are pretty good that you might even believe one (or more) of these claims. And yet all three are false. At FactCheck.org our stock in trade is debunking these sorts of false or misleading political claims, so when the Washington Post told us that we might just be making things worse, it really made us stop and think.

        A Sept. 4 article in the Post discussed several recent studies that all seemed to point to the same conclusion: Debunking myths can backfire because people tend to remember the myth but forget what the debunker said about it. As Hebrew University psychologist Ruth Mayo explained to the Post, “If you think 9/11 and Iraq, this is your association, this is what comes in your mind. Even if you say it is not true, you will eventually have this connection with Saddam Hussein and 9/11.” That leaves myth busters like us with a quandary: Could we, by exposing political malarkey, just be cementing it in voters’ minds? Are we contributing to the problem we hope to solve?

        Possibly. Yet we think that what we do is still necessary. And we think the facts back us up.

        The Post story wasn’t all that surprising to those who follow the findings of cognitive science research, which tells us much of our thinking happens just below the level of consciousness. The more times we hear two particular bits of information associated, for example, the more likely it is that we’ll recall those bits of information. This is how we learn multiplication tables – and why we still know the Big Mac jingle.

        Our brains also take some surprising shortcuts. In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Virginia Tech psychologist Kimberlee Weaver shows that the more easily we recall something the more likely we are to think of it as being true. It’s a useful shortcut since, typically, easily recalled information really is true. But combine this rule with the brain’s tendency to better remember bits of information that are repeated frequently, and we can run into trouble: We’re likely to believe anything we hear repeated frequently enough. At FactCheck.org we’ve noted how political spin-masters exploit this tendency ruthlessly, repeating dubious or false claims endlessly until, in the minds of many voters, they become true. Making matters worse, a study by Hebrew University's Mayo shows that people often forget “denial tags.” Thus many people who hear the phrase “Iraq does not possess WMDs” will remember “Iraq” and “possess WMDs” while forgetting the “does not” part.

        The counter to this requires an understanding of how it is that the brain forms beliefs.

        In 1641, French philosopher René Descartes suggested that the act of understanding an idea comes first; we accept the idea only after evaluating whether or not it rings true. Thirty-six years later, the Dutch philosopher Baruch de Spinoza offered a very different account of belief formation. Spinoza proposed that understanding and believing happen simultaneously. We might come to reject something we held to be true after considering it more carefully, but belief happens prior to the examination. On Spinoza’s model, the brain forms beliefs automatically. Rejecting a belief requires a conscious act.

        Unfortunately, not everyone bothers to examine the ideas they encounter. On the Cartesian model, that failure results in neither belief nor disbelief. But on the Spinozan model we end up with a lot of unexamined (and often false) convictions.

        One might rightly wonder how a 17th-century philosophical dispute could possibly be relevant to modern myth-busting. Interestingly, though, Harvard psychologist Daniel T. Gilbert designed a series of experiments aimed specifically at determining whether Descartes or Spinoza got it right. Gilbert’s verdict: Spinoza is the winner. People who fail to carry through the evaluation process are likely to believe whatever statements they read. Gilbert concludes that “[p]eople do have the power to assent, to reject, and to suspend their judgment, but only after they have believed the information to which they have been exposed.”

        Gilbert’s studies show that, initially at least, we do believe everything we hear. But it’s equally obvious that we reject many of those beliefs, sometimes very quickly and other times only after considerable work. We may not be skeptical by nature, but we can nonetheless learn to be skeptical. Iowa State’s Gary Wells has shown that social interaction with those who have correct information is often sufficient to counter false views. Indeed, a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology by the University of Southern California’s Peter Kim shows that meeting a charge (regardless of its truth or falsity) with silence increases the chances that others will believe the claim. Giving false claims a free pass, in other words, is more likely to result in false beliefs (a notion with which 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry, who didn’t immediately respond to accusations by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth about his Vietnam record, is all too familiar).

        So, yes, a big ad budget often trumps the truth, but that doesn’t mean we should go slumping off in existential despair. You see, the Spinozan model shows that we will believe whatever we hear only if the process of evaluating those beliefs is somehow short-circuited. Humans are not helpless automatons in the face of massive propaganda. We may initially believe whatever we hear, but we are fully capable of evaluating and rejecting beliefs that turn out not to be accurate. Our brains don’t do this naturally; maintaining a healthy skeptical attitude requires some conscious effort on our part. It also requires a basic understanding of logic – and it requires accurate information. That’s where this Web site comes in.

        If busting myths has some bad consequences, allowing false information to flow unchecked is far worse. Facts are essential if we are to overcome our brain’s tendency to believe everything it hears. As a species, we’re still pretty new to that whole process. Aristotle invented logic just 2,500 years ago – a mere blink of the eye when compared with the 200,000 years we Homo sapiens relied on our brain’s reflex responses to avoid being eaten by lions. We still have a long way to go. Throw in a tsunami of ads and Internet bluster and the path gets even harder, which is why we’re delighted to find new allies at PolitiFact.com and the Washington Post’s FactChecker. We’ll continue to bring you the facts. And you can continue to use them wisely.


        Sources:
        Descartes, Rene. Principles of Philosophy. Tr. John Cottingham. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985 [1644].

        Gilbert, Daniel T., Romin W. Tafarodi and and Patrick S. Malone. "You Can't Not Believe Everything Your Read." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 65.2 (1993): 221-233.

        Kim, Peter H., et al. "Silence Speaks Volumes: The Effectiveness of Reticence in Comparison to Apology and Denial for Responding to Integrity- and Competence-Based Trust Violations. Journal of Applied Psychology 92.4 (2007): 893-908.

        Mayo, Ruth, Yaacov Schul and Eugene Burnstein. "'I Am Not Guilty' vs. 'I Am Innocent': Successful Negation May Depend on the Schema Used for its Encoding." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 40.4 (2004): 433-449.

        Spinoza, Baruch de. Ethics. Tr. Edwin Curley. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994 [1677].

        Weaver, Kimberlee, et al. "Inferring the Popularity of an Opinion from its Familiarity: A Repetitive Voice Can Sound Like a Chorus." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 92.5 (2007): 821-833.

        Wright, E.F. and Gary L. Wells. "Does Group Discussion Attenuate the Dispositional Bias?" Journal of Applied Psychology 15 (1985): 531-546.
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        8:55 AM | Posted in ,
        This past Wednesday (10/17/07), Bob Olson introduced himself to some area voters in an attempt to solidify his support to become the 6th District DFL nominee. From health care to education to taxes, Bob Olson explained what makes him the perfect fit to become the nominee and defeat Michele Bachmann in 2008. Obviously, he has already gained my support and I will continue to provide information so that readers might also see fit to support this man so that we can finally have representation in Washington that is reflective of working people rather than reflective of whatever George W. Bush or John Boehner want.



        Important to remember:

        "Michele Bachmann will get middle class/working class people excited about wedge issues, such as guns, while they are picking their pocket."
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        9:12 PM | Posted in , ,
        Joe Biden, who was recently endorsed by the Delaware State Education Association, has a new video out highlighting his views on education. The more I read and the more I see out of Biden, the more I feel he should be the Democratic nominee in '08.

        ��
        The Olson campaign put out a press release today expressing disappointment over Bachmann's vote to sustain the veto of SCHIP.

        Olson: Bachmann Turns Back on Working Families

        ANOKA – Bob Olson, a DFL candidate in the 6th Congressional District, released the following statement following Michele Bachmann's vote to uphold the president's veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program funding bill:

        "Working families were counting on Mrs. Bachmann and today she turned her back on them."

        By voting to sustain the president's veto of the S-CHIP funding bill, Mrs. Bachmann made it painfully clear that when she talks about family values that doesn't mean providing health care for low-income kids."

        "With 9 million uninsured children nationwide, including 85,000 here in Minnesota, we need leaders whose actions match their rhetoric."

        "I'm proud of the local people who took time to let the congresswoman know what an important issue this is. While it appears we lost this round we must never give up the fight until every child in America has access to the health care they deserve."

        S-CHIP currently provides insurance coverage for 6.6 million children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicare and not enough to afford private insurance coverage.

        The bill passed by bipartisan majorities in Congress last month, opposed by Bachmann and vetoed by President Bush, would have renewed S-CHIP funding and extended coverage to another 3.8 million uninsured children.

        More information is available at www.bobolson.org.


        I would add that what is particularly egregious about this vote and her decision not to support the expanded bill is the way in which she has presented her arguments. It has been documented over and over again that NOT ONE PERSON over the income level of $80,000 will be eligible under the expansion bill. The bill expressly prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving SCHIP. Finally, her claim that she wants to cover the same amount of children is false. Her bill (or might I say her boyfriend's bill) would amount to children being thrown OFF the program who have already been covered. Even though these innaccurate claims have been shown false time after time, what was Michele's response?

        “Children in need should have the health insurance promised to them before expanding SHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) further up the income ladder or using more of the program’s resources for adults and noncitizens,” said Bachmann. “Rather than playing politics with children’s health care or scoring points with radio and TV ads, Congress can show the American people that we are here to solve problems.”

        There is an excellent article at Minnesota Monitor that deconstructs the falsehoods perpetrated by Michele (also check out FactCheck.org). Finally, if Bachmann thinks she hasn't been "playing politics" low these many years, she is more blind than any of us could imagine!
        12:41 PM | Posted in ,
        Bob began last night's event with a wonderful description of himself and his accomplishments.

        His resume is impeccable:
        This wide range of real life experiences from the business world, the education world, the environmental world, and even the working class world demonstrates Bob's ability to relate to all of these people and fields but also gives him unique insights on how each can be improved.

        Take a listen: (I apologize for the audio being soft, I am still learning!)

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        9:00 PM | Posted in ,
        Tonight I was able to make it to the Bob Olson Meet up at the Ace Bar in St. Cloud. Bob and the rest of those in attendance discussed a variety of issues that will be crucial both in winning the DFL nomination and in winning the general election. As I have been trying to increase the scope of this blog, I recorded the conversation and will have a highlight sound bite later tonight or tomorrow. It was a fun time as I met several folks who frequent the blog confirming the fact that I write for a larger audience than myself and my immediate family.

        More details to come...
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        8:11 PM | Posted in , ,
        Nearly 20 days ago, I sent an email to Michele Bachmann to find out two basic things: first, if she could explain how she and the bipartisan group of supporters could compromise in order to get the SCHIP legislation passed and second, to see if she would be willing to sponsor or co-sponsor a bill increasing the SCHIP budget so that it meets the CBO estimate of $13 billion additional fund needed in order to keep the current level of coverage (as of now she supports a bill that would increase the budget by $5 billion thus kicking kids off the program that have been on it). I will give Michele the benefit of the doubt on the delay in her response given the sheer load of mail and email representatives must receive. However, the response I did get neither answered my questions directly or indirectly and recycled the same old crap she has been regurgitating over and over again. Michele doesn't have to agree with me on much of anything but I am no less a constituent than those who voted for her yet this letter demonstrates a clear lack of interest in anything those that would disagree with her would have to say.

        The Response:

        Dear **********,

        Thank you for contacting me about the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

        As you may know, Congress is engaged in a debate about the future of healthcare in America and what should have been a proposal to extend affordable coverage for low-income children.

        SCHIP is set to expire soon. This decade-old program offers states federal funding to provide health insurance for children in households that do not qualify for Medicaid, but cannot afford private coverage.

        Unfortunately, the program has become politicized, and Congress recently passed legislation to expand SCHIP coverage beyond children, beyond U.S. citizens, and beyond those who are truly in need, and that is where the problem lies.

        According to the U.S. Census Bureau, several million SCHIP-eligible children are still uninsured. Surely, children in need should have the health insurance promised to them before expanding SCHIP further up the income ladder or using more of the program's limited resources for adults.

        Here's my idea. Let's cover the kids first. Let's focus on children in need without access to health insurance, and fund SCHIP as it was meant to be. I've publicly supported legislation that would accomplish these goals and keep SCHIP moving forward to help those it was intended to help.

        But some want to move SCHIP in the wrong direction. Under the bill passed by Congress and vetoed by the President, SCHIP dollars could be used to cover childless adults and more affluent families - in some cases, households earning up to $83,000 per year. It also changes current law to make it easier for illegal immigrants to get SCHIP funds.

        Rather than focusing on low-income, uninsured children, a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study shows that more than 77 percent of children affected by this expansion already have personal, private health insurance. In other words, the bill creates an incentive that pushes kids out of private insurance into a government-run program.

        Worse, this legislation makes SCHIP financially unstable. In order to appear fiscally sound, it gives children health insurance for 5 years, and then it cuts SCHIP funding by nearly 80 percent - a classic bait and switch that will cause millions of American children to lose their health coverage.

        According to the CBO, the bill will lead to only 800,000 currently eligible-but-unenrolled children being enrolled in SCHIP by 2012. The sad fact is that it would be cheaper to give each of these kids $72,000 than it would be to enact this bill, and it would probably show healthier results.

        Rather than playing politics with children's healthcare or scoring political points with radio and TV ads, I believe Congress should show the American people that we are here to solve problems, and I will continue encouraging House leaders to do the right thing by bringing up an SCHIP bill we can all support.

        Once again, thank you for contacting me. Please keep in touch.

        Sincerely,

        Michele Bachmann
        Member of Congress


        Does it sound familiar? It should, it is almost identical to the press release she put out to the Star Tribune only two days ago! So, apparently Michele thinks so little of her constituents or their concerns that she would recycle press releases in the form of letters hoping they are too stupid to figure it out.

        Playing politics Michele? You certainly wouldn't do any such thing now would you! Certainly you would never vote against legislation providing grants to firefighters then rush out to your district to get your photo taken presenting one of those grants, would you?


        Certainly you would never have a strategically taken photo of yourself in the midst of a classroom of public school children at the same time you advocate scrapping the public education system as we know it, would you?

        And certainly you would never visit a wildlife refuge whose funding you had voted against, would you?

        This letter is an insult to me and it is an insult to anyone who hopes that when he/she writes or emails their representative that that person will respond with even the most basic answers whether they be in agreement or to the contrary. I recall sending several letters to Mark Kennedy and as I recall I never got something that had been released to the paper only days before. He and I rarely agreed on issues but he had the statesmanship to respond appropriately to concerns raised by his constituents. You continue to show that you are little more than a partisan hack spewing the platitudes of the far right conservative leadership. I can respect people such as Norm Coleman and Jim Ramstad despite disagreements but you madam I have little respect for as you show little respect towards anyone with whom you may disagree.
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        An LTE in the St. Cloud Times does a wonderful job of taking Bachmann to task on her recent statements regarding the budget and taxes. The writer does an excellent job of putting some of the things Bachmann says into proper middle class perspective.

        Here it is:

        Your turn: Bachmann is on wrong track
        By Mike Sullivan St. Cloud

        Published: October 15. 2007 12:30AM

        I am so pleased the Times on Oct. 3 printed U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's letter to her Central Minnesota constituents on federal budget and tax policy issues.

        I feel like Paul Harvey. There is a "rest of the story" that needs to be told.

        Congresswoman, you state that the majority (Democrats) have passed a budget calling for the single-largest tax increase in our nation's history, a tax increase that could cost the average American family $3,000 per year.

        The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Kent Conrad, D-N.D., has an answer to your emphatic and unsupported statement. He says, "There is no tax increase assumed or required in the FY 2008 budget. PERIOD."

        I believe constituents need some proof. ... You also know that budgets don't spend a dime or raise a dime in taxes, they're simply guidelines.

        Isn't it a little premature to alarm your constituents about a pending $3,000 tax increase?

        The numbers

        You also tell your constituents that the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax relief measures will save the average tax payer $2,216 this year. In August 2004, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the average middle-income household (about $46,000 in taxable income) would receive a tax reduction of $1,090. Households in the top 1 percent of income earners would receive a tax cut of $78,460.

        How can we reconcile this? Here's how. Forty percent, or about 60 million separate taxpayers, earn less than middle-income households and received almost no tax reduction from the 2000/2003 Bush tax plan.

        For example, let's consider a $100,000 total tax relief. The first taxpayer receives a tax cut of $78,460.

        The next 44 taxpayers receive $489.50 each. This tax plan just achieved a $2,216 average reduction. Averages don't mean much to most of us.

        Let's look at the facts. The Tax Policy Center shows that in 2006, the 20 percent of taxpayers with incomes of more than $84,000 (about 30 million separate filers) receive 68.8 percent of the total tax relief under the Bush II plan, while 90 million filers with incomes less than $46,000 received just 15 percent of the tax relief.

        The top 1 percent, or 1.5 million taxpayers, received more than 30 percent of the all tax reductions.

        You also tell your constituents that CBO forecasts the budget deficit to be down a third year in a row, 36 percent below just last year.

        When you tell us what appears to be good news, you should put this in context so we really understand your earlier quote from the Government Accountability Office, which says that "the long-term deficit is unsustainable on our current fiscal track."

        Your constituents should be told that the 2003, 2004 and 2005 budget deficits were the three largest budget deficits in the 225-year history of our country.

        They should also be told that the President Bush budget deficits from 2002 through 2006 total not billions, but $1.512 trillion.

        They should probably also know that during the last three years of the Clinton administration, there was $430 billion in budget surpluses.

        If these budget deficits are not bad enough in themselves, your constituents should also know that each year during the Bush II administration, the president raided the Social Security Trust Fund.

        In 2001, it was a mere $34.7 billion, but that's equal to the entire state of Minnesota's two-year budget.

        In the following years Social Security raids were significantly worse, $159 billion, $155 billion, $155 billion, $150 billion, $173 billion, $185 billion and $191 billion in FY 2007, which ended Sept. 30.

        The CBO also estimates that the FY '07 cost of the Bush tax cuts is $258 billion. The budget deficit of $161 billion plus the Social Security Trust Fund raid of $191 billion totals red ink of $352 billion.

        Soaring debt

        The conclusion is inescapable; 100 percent of the Bush tax cuts is funded by national debt, a debt that becomes the burden of young families and our children.

        You also tell us that "to steer Congress in the right direction" you joined 145 other members assuring the president that you would vote to sustain any of his vetoes on spending bills. You must understand that "the unsustainable fiscal track" that you quote from GAO is the fiscal track of 2001-07 directed by the president and supported by the GOP Congress.

        With both GAO and CBO warning of the fiscal train wreck, why do you board that train? Shouldn't you be challenging it to protect your 6th District constituents and the rest of the country?

        This is the opinion of Mike Sullivan, a resident of St. Cloud, but not a local attorney.

        One thing that really ought to have been a major part of this message is the recent news of the growing income-inequality gap. Michele Bachmann, on September 19th, made a speech on the floor of the House. In that speech she discussed the "prosperity" brought about by the Bush tax cuts. One has to wonder, prosperity for whom?

        September 19th, 2007:

        But what the other formula (the Bush tax cuts) for success has brought about, Mr. Speaker, is prosperity. Prosperity not just for those who are the high income earners, not even just the middle income earners. We have seen tremendous levels of prosperity, even for those who we would consider the poor among us, who government considers the poor among us, and if there is anyone who deserves help up, a hand up, it is the poorest among us.

        The median household income, more good news is that adjusted for inflation, the median household income today has risen in 2006 to over $48,451 nationwide, and in the Twin Cities in Minnesota, median household income today is at a robust $62,223. This is great news. We should be talking about this great news. And how did we get to this level of prosperity? It is because of the tax cuts that came in 2001 and 2003, and that great investment is now paying off.


        Really Michele? Could you also have added that this "great" news represents only a 0.7% increase or that in the 6 years of the administration those at the bottom are actually down 2% from the year 2000? Michele, you tout time and time again the effectiveness of the Bush tax cuts but the more accurate data that comes in, the more we realize that the effectiveness has NOT been for those of us in the middle but rather for those at the very top rung of the economic ladder.

        The wealthiest 1% of Americans earned 21.2% of all income in 2005, according to new data from the Internal Revenue Service. That is up sharply from 19% in 2004, and surpasses the previous high of 20.8% set in 2000, at the peak of the previous bull market in stocks.

        The bottom 50% earned 12.8% of all income, down from 13.4% in 2004 and a bit less than their 13% share in 2000.

        The IRS data, based on a large sample of tax returns, are for "adjusted gross income," which is income after some deductions, such as for alimony and contributions to individual retirement accounts. While dated, many scholars prefer it to timelier data from other agencies because it provides details of the very richest -- for example, the top 0.1% and the top 1%, not just the top 10% -- and includes capital gains, an important, though volatile, source of income for the affluent.

        Damned you more accurate data, for refuting our "Fool for Christ"!
        4:46 PM | Posted in
        It is readily apparent that somebody from the Republican Party held onto the rose colored glasses for a bit too long (perhaps it was Gary given his rosy outlook on Republican chances!) because a contributor over at True North has already packed it in for Republicans in Minnesota. Without the rose colored glasses, reality can be a difficult thing for Republicans in Minnesota to face.

        MN OB IN '08

        Written by Chad The Elder
        Monday, 15 October 2007 13:55

        For a while now I've been holding my tongue as I continue to read and hear talk about how Minnesota is "in play" in the 2008 presidential election. However, it's time to stop being polite...and start getting real.

        Republicans in this state and elsewhere need to wake up and smell the roses (Moses). Not only is Minnesota not "in play" in '08 as far as the presidency goes, it's possible--although probably not likely--that we could have an all-Democratic slate representing us in Washington after the 2008 elections.

        You think an all-blue delegation is impossible? If you don't believe that Coleman is vulnerable, you just aren't paying attention. And if you don't think the Dems are going to throw everything they can at Michele Bachmann in the Sixth, you're dreaming. With Ramstad's retirement and John Kline apparently having to face a real candidate for a change (how real is still TBD), it's not outside the realm of possibility to imagine that the MN GOP could lose Coleman's Senate seat and all three House races.

        Again, I don't think it's likely that Kline will be knocked out, but the Third District is very much up in the air and Bachmann is going to have to weather a ferocious media and money onslaught to hold on to her seat. Meanwhile, the prospects of picking off any of the current Democratic holds does not look good. Earlier, I would have thought that Tim Walz might be vulnerable, but unless something changes dramatically, he looks like he'll be returning to Washington.

        The reality is that 2008 is going to be another tough year for Republicans in Minnesota. And it's going to be even worse at the top of the ticket.

        In 2004, John Kerry beat George Bush by just over three percentage points in Minnesota. Heading into that election, there were high hopes among the GOP faithful that it would be the year when Minnesota could finally be counted in the Republican electoral college tally. Looking back now, 2004 looks like the high water mark for the GOP tide. 2006 showed the tenuous nature of whatever inroads Republicans had made with Minnesota voters and I believe we'll see the trend toward blue continue in 2008.

        So far, I've come across three arguments on why Minnesota could or should be in play in '08.

        1. Pawlenty on the ticket as VP. While Governor Pawlenty is enjoying high approval ratings at the moment, I don't believe that his presence on the ticket would have enough impact to make the difference. No matter what the names are on either side on the presidential slate, I'd guess the Democratic candidate would start out enjoying at least an 8-10% lead in Minnesota. Having Pawlenty as VP could maybe shave four to five points off, but that's it. And the notion that Pawlenty could help bring Iowa and Wisconsin into the bag as well is baseless wishful thinking.

        2. The 2008 GOP convention is in the Twin Cities. Again, the gap is far too large for whatever small boost hosting the convention would bring to make any real difference. A non-factor.

        3. A Romney candidacy could put Minnesota in play. Done laughing yet? I had to throw that one in to lighten the mood.

        The bottom line is that doesn't matter whether Pawlenty is on the ticket as VP, the convention is in the Twin Cities, or Romney is the candidate (hee, hee): Minnesota is going blue in aught eight and nothing the GOP can do is going to change that fact. The eventual Republican candidate would do well to avoid wasting precious time and resources here. Minnesota Republicans should focus their efforts on trying to save Norm Coleman, hold their three House seats, and maybe chip away at the DFL stranglehold in the State House of Representatives. Those are the boundaries that they should be playing within. Anything else should be considered out of bounds.

        (Cross-posted at Fraters Libertas )

        Thank You Chad, for making things easier on yourself and your brethren!

        One thing I must take issue with however, the statement "I believe we'll see the trend toward blue continue in 2008" is truly amazing. Why? Because if you honestly believe that we in Minnesota are "trending" blue you apparently haven't been paying much attention over the last 35 years. It has been 35 years since Minnesota voted for a Republican Presidential candidate. I don't call that a trend, I am pretty sure that is a dynasty!

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        Over at Dump Bachmann, Lloydletta describes yet another example of Bachmann Photo-Op hypocrisy. It seems the "Fool For Christ" took a special visit to the Sherburne Wildlife Refuge yet couldn't find it in her heart to vote for the very bill that funds such places. Once again Michele, kudos to you!

        Sunday, October 14, 2007

        Michele Bachmann Stages Another Self-Serving Photo-Op

        This time she goes to the Sherburne Wildlife Refuge and gets some puff piece coverage plus some photos (no longer available from the front page of the site).

        Two of the visitors to the event carry a certain amount of political power in Washington, as both Sen. Norm Coleman and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann made their way about the crowds.

        Sittauer said getting visitors with such high political clout to support the refuge and the proposed visitor’s center has been a major victory.

        Oddly enough on June 27, Bachmann voted AGAINST HR 2643, "Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations, FY 2008." The bill passed 272-155. It would be worth finding out what Bachmann has actually done to obtain federal funding for the proposed visitor's center. Norm Coleman has a record of actually getting something done of this sort. Michele Bachmann only has a record of claiming credit for things she hasn't done.

        Bachmann hauled in $32,816 from the Safari Club International in 2006. This is a group that promotes Big Game hunting - and is certainly not wildlife conservation.

        Posted by lloydletta at 1:10 PM

        And from the comments section, the defense begins:

        Eva,

        Hunters do more to protect wildlife and their habitat than any other group. Many on the left would like to abolish hunting which would ruin a great American tradition.
        dare2sayit.com | Homepage | 10.14.07 - 4:03 pm |

        That is strange because someone really ought to tell the 100+ relatives of mine living in the northern forest lands of Minnesota that as ardent DFLers they are actually opposed to hunting. In fact, as we speak my DFL cousins are wrapping up their bear hunting season. Who would have thought that all along, after hundreds of hunts, they were opposed to the very thing they did every year. Excellent analysis dare2sayit!
        It is one thing for local bloggers and non-elected members of a given party to create snarky material meant to exaggerate the negatives of your opponent. However, it is completely another when the elected representatives of your party spend their time creating such material. Why? Our elected representatives should be staying above this type of foolishness and find ways to get their agenda moved forward through either compromise or coalition building. Conservatives are quick to point out that Liberals have not offered a "plan" and that when they have it has been only one of attacking the "plans" of others. It appears as though the opposite is true here in Minnesota, where Conservatives have spent much of their time attacking the DFL while coming up with such "original" goals as Common Sense.

        Gary Gross has a wonderful piece entitled "Decoding Liberalspeak". Had he created the definitions for the decoder dictionary he highlighted I might have giggled at a few and not thought anything of it. However, it was not Gary who created the dictionary, but rather appears as though it was created by House GOP Leader Marty Seifert. One has to wonder, if House GOP leadership spent less time creating these materials and more time actually governing they might have a better shot at holding onto or building a majority.

        7:11 PM | Posted in ,
        Recently, in a post about the growing income-inequality gap, I wondered when I would be getting trickled on as a result of the Bush tax cuts that were supposed to lift everyone in the economy. Well, The Onion has answered my call. Apparently, in a short 26 years you and I will see somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 that, as we speak, is trickling down from on high.

        Reaganomics Finally Trickles Down To Area Man

        The Onion

        Reaganomics Finally Trickles Down To Area Man

        BANGOR, ME-"He may not have lived to see it, but I'm sure President Reagan is up in heaven smiling down on me," said the recipient of two crisp five-dollar bills.

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        6:46 PM | Posted in , ,
        Politics in America has become a game in which the sides are encouraged not to work together and to scoff at everything your opponent has to say. We now have labels such as DINO and RINO to describe those egregious characters who dare stray from the party line. Unfortunately, this leads to a situation in which nothing gets done and no problems are solved. Talking heads on both sides come out declaring that we must not abandon our core principles for the sake of "compromise". I don't buy this argument given the fact that even the founders of this country (for whom we all have so much reverence) chose to bend their principles and compromise over and over again so that this nation might live. Beyond compromise, I would say that politicians ought to be building bipartisan coalitions. It is nearly impossible for everyone in either the Republican or Democratic Parties to agree 100% of the time with their platform and leadership so I say rather than compromise, they ought to be finding those that agree with them (despite party label) and thereby solve problems without ever giving an inch on principle.

        This is precisely what Joe Biden and Sam Brownback have been doing lately. I personally wouldn't vote for Brownback to save my soul, but we appear to agree on one important issue and I am glad he and Biden are showing us the way politics should be.

        12:18 PM | Posted in ,
        Local KNSI 1450 radio host, Andy Barnett, had Ann Coulter on the show Friday (10/12/07). He begins by claiming that Coulter is NOT a controversial figure, despite her vitriol based career of bigoted and most recently anti semitic statements! They continue through to the most recent Coulter controversy in which she claimed that Jews should be "perfected". Andy wholeheartedly agreed with Coulter, downplaying the "perfected" line and preferring a softer line of "conversion". Other highlights included claiming that the one thing Democrats learned from Hitler was not to discriminate, amazingly claiming that "we don't go around outing politicians", and advocating for the repeal of the 19th Amendment.

        Some Interview Highlights:



        My foray into the world of creating youtube video has begun, check it out!

        Also, earlier in the show, Andy was discussing news items about Barack Obama and wished he were dead. You have to wonder if this is what it means to be Pro-Life?

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        7:51 PM | Posted in
        Happy Postiversary to ME!
        Happy Postiversary to ME!

        Happy Postiversary dear Political Muse,

        Happy Postiversary to ME!


        Hokie? Yes, but little did I know that this blog would produce even the modest connections that it has. My expectation was that I would blog for a couple of months, become bored, and leave this blog to die a slow death. What I have found is an outlet for my views and a wonderfully relaxing way to use the little free time that I have. For some reason there are few things more relaxing to me than sitting down to create a story, examine Bachmann votes, or harangue local radio personalities. My hope is that this blog will continue to grow in readership and become a driving force for progressive ideas across this land of conservatives in which I live.

        I have created a new email address (political_muse@hotmail.com) at which I can be reached for any questions, comments, or concerns you feel cannot be freely posted in the comments section. Recently, I have been pondering the addition of a second contributor to this blog but that idea is still in its infancy.

        If you have ideas or tips for a story, let me know!

        Thanks for visiting on this 100th Postiversary!
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        6:50 PM | Posted in ,
        Michele Bachmann was once quoted saying,

        "In the terms of modern presidency, Ronald Reagan has been a tremendous hero of mine, as has Ann Coulter. I just adore Ann Coulter,"

        Given the recent comments of Anne Coulter calling for all Jews to convert to Christianity, One has to wonder what Michele would have to say given her claims of support for Israel.



        Will Michele listen to the Jewish people when it comes to condemning insults from those she "adores"?

        National Jewish Democratic Council (looks like they already see through Michele!)

        American Jewish Committee
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        In sad news, the Wall Street Journal reported that the top 1% of Americans took in a paltry 20% of the TOTAL income in 2005. Is it any wonder that Michele Bachmann is doing her very best to give much needed relief to this under served yet increasingly wealthy group? Certainly, if the ultra wealthy are reaping these kinds of rewards the rest of us should be seeing similar gains as 'trickle down' economics teaches us. Oops, it seems that while the wealthy accrue an increasing percentage of the wealth, the bottom 50% of us saw income drop to 12.8% (below 2000 levels) of TOTAL income. It seems as though we are being less trickled upon and more crapped upon!

        It begs the question, When am I going to get 'trickled' on?

        Income-Inequality Gap Widens

        Boom in Financial Markets
        Parallels Rise in Share
        For Wealthiest Americans

        Highlights:

        The wealthiest 1% of Americans earned 21.2% of all income in 2005, according to new data from the Internal Revenue Service. That is up sharply from 19% in 2004, and surpasses the previous high of 20.8% set in 2000, at the peak of the previous bull market in stocks.
        The bottom 50% earned 12.8% of all income, down from 13.4% in 2004 and a bit less than their 13% share in 2000.

        The IRS data go back only to 1986, but academic research suggests the rich last had this high a share of total income in the 1920s.
        The data highlight the political challenge facing Mr. Bush and the Republican contenders for president. They have sought to play up the strength of the economy since 2003 and low unemployment, and the role of Mr. Bush's tax cuts in both. But many Americans think the economy is in or near a recession. The IRS data show that the median tax filer's income -- half earn less than the median, half earn more -- fell 2% between 2000 and 2005 when adjusted for inflation, to $30,881. At the same time, the income level for the tax filer just inside the top 1% grew 3%, to $364,657.
        8:56 PM | Posted in
        It has been nearly two weeks since my last 'Barnett is an idiot' post so I figure there is no time like the present. A friend recently asked why I don't ignore the rantings of this goofball given that he is little more than a conservative mouthpiece of a 1000 watt blip of a radio station. First, it amuses me and second, I feel it is my duty to root out conservative idiocy and hypocrisy even in the nooks and crannies of a little St. Cloud radio station.

        In his latest rant, Barnett takes on the multiculturalists. Unfortunately, Andy doesn't even know what he stands for so he proceeds to attribute to the multiculturalist a belief that actually runs counter to what they espouse and one that he should be heralding given his set of beliefs. Isn't amusing when someone attacks something they don't understand?

        Thursday, October 4, 2007

        Why I'm not a multiculturalist, but I enjoy learning about other cultures!

        Attack of the Multiculturalists! It could be the title of a new book! It would be a horror novel, or better yet a mystery! It's a mystery to me what multiculturalists hope to accomplish with their strange and destructive agenda. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me clarify what I mean when I'm talking about multiculturalism.

        On the surface, the word multi-cultural sounds very good. Multiple cultures. The melting pot. That's what America is all about. Many of us trace our roots back to the Germans, Italians, Irish, English, etc... And there's nothing wrong with celebrating the good parts of your heritage and your culture! (No one with a right mind celebrates the ugly parts, for instance when German-Americans celebrate their heritage they don't celebrate the Nazis.)


        Andy, you do more to discredit yourself than I possibly could! The melting pot? The melting pot is a concept that you, as an "avowed traditionalist" believe in and promote ABOVE the concept of multiculturalism. Multiculturalists believe in what could be termed the 'salad bowl theory' or 'cultural mosaic' theory. These contend that we can live in a society with varying cultural beliefs and practices without "melting" into one homogeneous group. You, as an "avowed traditionalist" are supposed to support the melting pot as the epitome of American society. For you to put these two contradictory terms into the same category shows how little authority you have on this topic.

        (Now I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that one of the sad parts about our American heritage is the reprehensible practice of slavery which existed for years in our nation and around the world. This tragedy has prevented many African-Americans from being able to trace back their roots to various countries in Africa. As disgusting as slavery was, I hope we can take some pride in the fact that we as Americans are one of the first cultures to eliminate slavery and to promote equality of all races.)


        WHAT? First, it wasn't until the last 50 years that the United States has "promoted" equality of all races. If you are to deny the nearly 100 years of segregation and legalized discrimination of African Americans after the Civil War then you are more blinded than even I could imagine. Second, how do you define us as "one of the first cultures"?

        Abolishing Slavery
        • Spain & its colonies (1811)
        • Chile (1823)
        • Central America (1824)
        • Mexico (1829)
        • Bolivia (1831)
        • Britain & its colonies (1833)
        • Uruguay (1842)
        • Argentina (1843)
        • France (1848)
        • German serfs freed (1852)
        Now, given the fact that Britain controlled much of the world during this time, there is NO way you can claim we were one of the first to end slavery. In fact, it was with considerable kicking and screaming that this country went from slavery to emancipation!

        Many of us celebrate parts of our heritage going back generations, and we all celebrate our heritage as Americans. It's also neat to see newer immigrants in America celebrating their heritage! Be it Mexicans, Pakistanis, Nigerians, South Koreans, and so on and so forth. I have friends from countries all over the world. I've been blessed with the opportunity in the past to meet international students who come to America to learn English and learn about our culture, and in turn I get to learn about their culture, it's an educational experience and it can be a lot of fun. This is not what multiculturalists are interested in though.

        Multiculturalism is biased against Western culture, and more specifically American culture. The ardent multiculturalist also recognizes and praises all aspects of non-Western culture and puts it on a pedestal. To say it another way: the multiculturalist is anti-American and pro-everything else as a matter of principle. I have a huge problem with this and so do many Americans for a couple of reasons.


        Biased against Western culture? Really? First, what is "American" culture? Before you go claiming that multiculturalists are anti-American it would be really helpful if you could define for us what American culture is and is not. What does an "American" look like? What does an "American" believe? In order to define what the multiculturalist is against it behooves you to create these definitions. Given that this country is an amalgamation of nearly every culture in the world, how can you possibly define what is and what is not American? If you cannot or will not, then your entire argument is subjective and opinion based with little merit in reality.

        Second, could you please provide examples of multiculturalists protesting against the numerous "Western" cultural celebrations across the country. German festivals, Irish festivals, and any number of other festivals are celebrated across this country without a word being uttered by "multiculturalists". Your claims are unfounded and lacking of any merit!

        First, the celebration of all aspects of these cultures without question is dangerous. How does one celebrate cannibalism? How does one celebrate human sacrifices? How does one celebrate other cultural practices that go against universal human values and American values? Polygamy, incest, self-mutilation, are examples that come to mind. Unfortunately multiculturalists have no problem promoting these things. Instead of this celebration without question we should be learning about the good and bad of various cultures. The problem is that multiculturalists are also relativists. They don't believe in good or bad, but believe anything and everything is basically good. Except for America that is, which brings me to my second point.


        This is one of your most ludicrous accusations to date. I challenge you to provide me examples of multiculturalists celebrating the cannibalism, polygamy, incest, self mutilation, or other negative aspects of cultures around the world. Is this really the best argument you can muster?

        Along with the praise for all aspects of foreign cultures, there is a concerted effort to downplay the importance of the values that America was founded upon. Rather than praising the principles that have made us the greatest nation in all the land, a country of freedom and a shining city on a hill, the multiculturalist prefers to rag on America as an evil empire.

        Now I'm not naive, we have a list of negatives from our past including racism, a lack of women's rights, and our treatment of Native Americans. Despite this we have a lot to be proud of here in America when compared with the other cultures that have ever existed on this planet. Put another way: you can criticize some aspects of our nations history without trashing the principles we were founded on. You can denounce the behavior by some without ripping apart our constitution.


        What values was America founded upon? We do have a lot to be proud of here in America, Andy, but to deny or diminish the importance of our struggles through negative aspects of our history is extremely disrespectful to those generations of Americans that took on those struggles and overcame them without entirely ripping this country apart. You are asking to gloss over the challenges and negativities that give this country character in order to tell a story of little struggle and little challenge on the road to greatness. We should be highlighting the negatives to show that this country is not perfect but our desire to reach perfection has driven us to solve each negative aspect of our society. I would posit that it is you who is disrespectful to our history by keeping our negatives under wraps.

        So the complete and utter trashing of America boggles my mind. How many history teachers in our schools are trashing America? I know I heard my share of anti-American rhetoric in college and a lot my classmates were really buying into it. There are other more subtle examples though. How many schools are dropping the celebration of traditional American holidays while adding holidays from foreign cultures. I'm not saying that learning about other holidays is inherently bad, it's just very strange that at the same time they would eliminate American ones. Does this bother you as much as it does me? Suddenly Ramadan is popping up on the school Calendar, but Christmas Break has long since been replaced by "Winter Break".


        I am a history teacher, what exactly does "trashing America" mean?

        No, it doesn't bother me given the fact that the school is keeping Christmas despite your claim that it is "Winter Break". If you had read the article you would see that they are not eliminating anything. They are simply adding a holiday representative of 30% of their population. Call it whatever you want, the school calendar has long catered to the Christian over all other religions and adding one non-Christian holiday to the mix does nothing to eliminate the others or attack "Western" culture. The schools are uniquely tailored to the Christian with holiday observances, meal choices around lent, and policies against activities on Wednesday Confirmation days. You seem to be mostly offended at the very thought that a school would add anything other than Christian holidays to the calendar. What is a non-Christian to do? Are you asking for them to assimilate to Christianity or shut up?

        What worries me is this anti-American behavior is spreading. One of the great lines of defense that will be used by a multiculturalist is that "you can't call me anti-American for questioning things". This goes back to the fundamental belief in right or wrong. I believe the ideals America were founded upon are right. If you want to question that, go right ahead, but if you come to the conclusion that America is wrong for you, please do us all a favor and pack up your bags, purchase a plane ticket and don't let the door hit you on the keister on the way out!
        In the meantime, those of us who are proud of America and the ideals on which it was founded need to step up to the plate. Speak up at school board meetings, speak up at city council meetings, write letters to your legislators and congressmen. Speak with your actions such as the way you spend money, the people you vote for, the way you teach your children, and the way in which you interact with co-workers and friends.

        America is a good country, may God bless the USA.

        You make a key mistake here, because the multiculturalist does not believe that America is wrong for THEM but rather that America is from time to time in the wrong. Simply claiming that America is wrong on some issue or in some respect does not negate their love for this country. It shows a deep love and effort to change those actions and make this country right once again. If the multiculturalist did not care about America they would not speak out at all. For you to tell people with whom you disagree or who choose to point out inconsistencies in this country to get out runs entirely counter to our First Amendment and the very foundations of this country. Your problem is that you believe love of country equates to a belief that that country is infallible. True love of country is one of constant questioning of authority and healthy dissent!
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