Saturday, September 30, 2006

Class: Bachmann asks Wetterling stop her deceptive ad

Posted by Craig Westover | 2:46 PM |  

I receive a lot of emails nicely asking or angrily demanding how I can support Michele Bachman when I disagree with her significantly on social issues. In a single word, it comes down to “class.”

Unlike some gimmicky demands politicians make – like calling for the return of campaign funds coming from fringe donors – Bachmann’s asking Wetterling to stop her deceptive ad comes only after two media sources – hardly members of the vast right-wing conspiracy – have publicly supported Bachmann’s position that Weterling’s ad is misleading. In an email issued today, the Bachmann campaign says --
Both the Star Tribune and WCCO television have called out the misleading information presented and the false impression the ad conveys. Eric Black of the Star Tribune stated in his column on September 28, 2006, the "ad that began airing Tuesday leaves out a key fact about a proposed tax plan. The missing fact is so relevant that the ad creates a false impression." Furthermore, Mr. Black agreed with Bachmann's contention about her positions on tax policy, "The ad also attributes a position to Wetterling's opponent, state Sen. Michele Bachmann, that Bachmann says she has not fully embraced."

In addition, Pat Kessler of WCCO reported during his Reality Check Segment September 29, 2006 that "she (Wetterling) distorts Bachmann's position and misrepresents what it does." Kessler also called the ad "very misleading."
Below is the text of the letter sent by Bachmann personally to Wetterling. I’d ask Bachmann critics to especially note this paragraph –
Patty, we have legitimate differences in our visions for Minnesota that we should discuss in this campaign. Let us focus on our legitimate differences.
That statement is the essence of what political campaigns should be about. More than any other candidate in this race, Bachmann respects the legitimacy of her opponent’s positions. A little pop psychology: Perhaps that is because her emphasis on social issues has taught her that good people can do bad (as she views them) things and still be good people. Whatever the reason, Bachmann does the best job of any candidate defining her opponent by her views, not any personal faults. Bachmann disagrees with Wetterling’s collective philosophy of making government the solution of first rather than last resort, but she doesn’t demonize Wetterling for it.

If anyone has a right to respond angrily to the Wetterlying ad, it is Bachmann. Anyone that knows anything about the Fair Tax solution and/or Bachmann’s position on taxes knows the implications of Wetterling’s ad are ludicrous. The Fair TAx can certainly be debated, but Wetterlying's ad doesn't take that issue-oriented approach. Instead she trys to paint Bachmman as pro-taxes.

No candidate is more vilified than Bachmann. Yet she refrains from responding in kind. Again, note the language of her letter to Wetterling --–
believe once you understand the entire story behind this tax policy and my comments on it, you will change your advertisements forthwith.
She doesn’t even accuse Wetterling of smearing her; Wetterling simply doesn’t understand the policy. Call it a political tactic if you will, but Bachmann’s letter is just plain classy.

September 29, 2006
Patty Wetterling
Wetterling for Congress
2022 N. Ferry Street
Anoka, MN 55303

Dear Patty:

I truly wish I did not have to write this letter. However, your current television ad misrepresents my tax record and creates a false impression. I am formally asking you to take down the unfair and inaccurate advertisement of my tax record.
Your ad has been called "misleading" and has "created a false impression." Both the Star Tribune and WCCO television have pointed out the errors in your misrepresentation of my words.

Both the Star Tribune and WCCO television have called out the misleading information presented and the false impression the ad conveys. Eric Black of the Star Tribune stated in his column on September 28, 2006, the "ad that began airing Tuesday leaves out a key fact about a proposed tax plan. The missing fact is so relevant that the ad creates a false impression." Pat Kessler on WCCO reported during his Reality Check Segment September 29, 2006 that "she (Wetterling) distorts Bachmann's position and misrepresents what it does." Kessler also called the ad "very misleading."
Furthermore, Mr. Black agreed with our contention about my positions on tax policy, "The ad also attributes a position to Wetterling's opponent, state Sen. Michele Bachmann, that Bachmann says she has not fully embraced."

Patty, we have legitimate differences in our visions for Minnesota that we should discuss in this campaign. Let us focus on our legitimate differences.

During the remainder of the campaign, I hope you will join me in addressing the voters in public forums in order to accurately present our views on taxes, jobs and national security. Unfortunately, you did not attend this week's forums, where I again outlined my position on tax issues.

I thank you for your attention to this matter. I believe once you understand the entire story behind this tax policy and my comments on it, you will change your advertisements forthwith.

Michele Bachmann
Bachmann for Congress
6053 Hudson Road Suite 360
Woodbury, MN 55125

Friday, September 29, 2006

Is this hypocrisy?

Posted by Craig Westover | 4:26 PM |  

Men want their sons to grow up to be just like Joe Mauer. They want their daughters to marry guys just like Joe Mauer. But in the bottom of their hearts, they, themselves, would rather be A.J. Pierzynski.

Dreaming with Amy

Posted by Craig Westover | 1:19 PM |  

From Amy Klobuchar -- "One of the things I have always loved about Minnesota is that the people of this state dream big -- and they deserve leaders who dream big, too."

When I dream big, I have to work hard to make my dreams come true. When my leaders dream big, I have to work twice as hard and don’t have time to dream. I guess that's what I get for being an evil Republican.

BREAKABLE NEWS – Minnesota DFL expresses caution on Twins’ climb to first place

Posted by Craig Westover | 12:49 PM |  

Minnesotans being misled about of the “success” of Twins’ season, says DFL head Melendez.

(The city across the river from St. Paul) – The Minnesota Twins may have climbed into a tie with the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central Division, but Minnesotans shouldn’t be fooled into celebrating, warned DFL chairman Brian Melendez. Pushing the Tigers provides them with more motivation to win and will simply create more Tigers’ fans in Detroit, he told reporters.

“While we support the Twins, we remain steadfastly opposed to optimism,” said Melendez in a prepared statement issued just moments after Justin Morneau crossed home plate in the 10th inning of the Twin’s 2-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.

Melendez noted that the only thing making the Twin’s season so remarkable was the complete mismanagement of the first two months of the season.

“Had the Twins played as well in April and May as we are being led to believe they are playing now, we’d all be talking about the Vikings one-game losing streak today,” said Melendez. “A team that played as bad as the Twins did in April and May is in first place today? If you believe that,” he added, “you probably believe that the Bush administration isn’t controlling the price of gasoline.”

Minnesotans are being misled about the Twins’ succes. “Sure, the right-wing media publishes pictures of celebrating players and publishes a lot of statistics, but they spin them just to make look good,” he added. When asked for an example Melendez noted that both Twin Cities’ newspaper report Joe Mauer is “hitting .349.”

“Not one paper is accurately reporting that he is ‘not hitting’ at a .651 clip, almost 100 percent worse than we are being told,” he said. “The fact that he may become the first American League catcher to win a batting title is indicative of the poor quality of catchers being produced by under-funded public schools.” Melendez noted that Mauer went to a “religious school,” depriving the St. Paul public schools of its deserved state payments.

Melendez also cited the quagmire that is the Twins starting rotation and the loss of Francisco Liriano for the playoffs, which he said was the result of stress on the Dominican rookie resulting from his uncertainty about Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s immigration policies.

“About the only good thing we can be sure of,” said Melendez, “is that if the playoffs start with Johan Santana going against the ‘Yankees,’ we’ll have Hugo Chavez rooting for the Twins.”

In related news DFL 6th district congressional candidate Patty Wetterling says that while she doesn’t know much about baseball, she cares about people. She called for the baseball season to be over by Thanksgiving.

Why Kennedy is still the right choice

Posted by Craig Westover | 6:49 AM |  

Although I find some of the security measures passed in the wake of 9/11 of questionable value and others are outright infringements on individual liberty, national security is the essential issue of this election. It's a debate we should be having. In that regard, Kennedy has his priorities in the right place.

From the Kennedy campaign:
Kennedy Supports Providing U.S. Intelligence the Tools it Needs to Protect Americans

Washington, D.C.-Congressman Mark Kennedy supported passage today of the Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act, legislation to update our intelligence laws so U.S. intelligence agencies can gather the information they need to protect Americans from terrorist attacks.

"The bottom line is that if al Qaeda is calling somebody in America , it is in our national security interest to know who they are calling and why," Kennedy said. "That's why we need a strong Terrorist Surveillance Program so that our intelligence agencies can immediately investigate known security threats and stop terrorists before they strike. This bill will provide the security we need, without compromising our values. "

The Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act updates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to cover modern technology, such as cell phones and the Internet. It also eliminates excessive FISA bureaucracy to expedite the foreign intelligence surveillance warrant process, as well as gives law enforcement the flexibility to react swiftly to known imminent threats against the United States . Finally, the act increases congressional oversight to ensure that Americans' civil liberties are protected.

"If we want to win the War on Terror, Congress must ensure that intelligence agencies have the 21st century tools they need to combat terrorists," Kennedy added. "One need not look any further than the tools the British used to foil the recent London terror plot. This legislation will help modernize our most important intelligence laws to help prevent terrorists from attacking us again."
(It's also refreshing to see a Kennedy ad that doesn't mention Klobuchar. Makes him look a lot more senatorial.)

Update: And is is a legitimate question:
For Immediate Release:
September 28, 2006

How Would Amy Klobuchar Vote?

(St. Paul, Minnesota) – As Minnesota’s Senate race heats up, voters are beginning to focus more closely on the candidates and their records to determine who will best represent their values and concerns, Mark Kennedy or Amy Klobuchar?

Mark Kennedy has a clear and open record of representing the best interests of Minnesotans. Voters in Minnesota however, are having a hard time figuring out where Kennedy’s opponent stands on the issues important to them. Ms. Klobuchar refuses to help Minnesotans make an informed decision this November, by answering the simple question of how she would vote on specific legislation and particular issues.

This week, Congress voted on a range of important issues; Mark Kennedy voted in favor of military tribunals to try suspected terrorists (September 27, 2006, House Roll Call Vote 491, HR 6166).

He voted in favor of a measure to protect the public _expression of religion, as in cases where extremely liberal groups like the ACLU look to limit the rights of veterans groups and the Boy Scouts (September 26, 2006, House Roll Call Vote 480, HR 2679).

He voted in favor of a bill that would protect the rights and best interests of parents and children by making it a federal crime to take a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion as a way of getting around parental consent and notification laws (September 26, 2006, House Roll Call Vote 479, S.403).

These votes are part of Mark Kennedy’s record of supporting common sense measures in the best interests of Minnesotans. How would Amy Klobuchar vote on these measures?

Voters can look at Kennedy’s record to see where he stands and if they have any questions, they can ask him and he will tell them. On the other hand, voters and reporters should ask the reasonable question, “How would Amy Klobuchar vote?” They would be well advised not to hold their breath waiting for an answer.

Bachmann campaign picks up GOP negativity

Posted by Craig Westover | 6:03 AM |  

I'm disappointed, too.

In refuting Patty Wetterling's recent ad trying to portray Michele Bachmann as favoring increased taxes, the Bachmann campaign sent out a release that picks up the negative content-free tone that the GOP has been using consistently in the Kennedy and Pawlenty races.

In Case You Missed It!
Extreme Liberal Patty Wetterling: Wrong on the facts. Wrong for the 6th District.

Today’s Star Tribune reports on Patty Wetterling’s sin of omission in her new negative campaign ad. "Wetterling ad leaves out key fact about Bachmann’s sales tax stand" reads the headline. The missing fact is so relevant that the ad creates a false impression.

"The ad also attributes a position to Wetterling's opponent, state Sen. Michele Bachmann, that Bachmann says she has not fully embraced."(Star Tribune 9/28/06)

Clearly, reality has struck Patty Wetterling -- her extreme liberal agenda is not playing well in the 6th District. The latest independent poll shows Patty lagging behind Michele by nine points. The only explanation for this inaccurate ad is she is so desperate to go to Congress that she will do or say anything, and even mislead the people she wants to represent. Wetterling declined to be interviewed about her own ad.

This change in character and tone is disappointing but not unexpected. At Patty Wetterling’s announcement in February for US Congress, when she broke her promise to Elwyn Tinklenberg and his wife about not running in the Sixth district, Patty said "Everything changed. The world changed," and "I am not the same person I was two years ago." (Star Tribune 2/04/06 page 1A, St. Cloud Times 2/04/06, page 1A) A prominent democrat colleague commented, "Now she is saying that things have changed. I am sad to say I believe that one of the things that has changed the most is Patty." Patty has already admitted that she cannot win in the 6th District but we need your help to combat these deceitful ads.

Michele is winning and winning on the truth. The Star Tribune article said this about Michele Bachmann’s second ad: "The Bachmann campaign also aired its second ad of the year this week, touting her state Senate record of favoring lower state taxes. The factual claims in the ad are accurate."

Please help Michele continue her work of lower taxes and spreading her message of truth to the people in the 6th district, we need to have a strong showing on our next Campaign Finance report due on September 30th, we hope to raise another $50,000 in the next two days. Please click here to help Michele reach her goal and contribute online today.

Thank you for all of you who have been door knocking, phone banking, and pounding in signs for Michele. You are doing something great! Please feel free to call our office to find out what other ways you can help.

Best Regards,

Andy Parrish
Campaign Manager

P.S. If you would like to read the entire article, see

The release notes that Wetterling's ad is misleading, but doesn't say why or even reference the content of the ad, instead simply linking to the Strib story. It then takes advantage of the release to dump on Wetterling for non-related issues. Bad strategy; missed opportunity.

The orginal Wetterling ad is so blatantly misleading it should have been countered directly. The ad in question reflects a pretty consistent Democrat technique of stating a fact out context in order to make implications that are misleading at best, intentionally untrue at worst. In other words, bullshit.

As noted in the Strib --
The ad refers to a proposal known as the "fair tax" that has been around in Congress since 1999 and currently has 60 co-sponsors in the House.

It would indeed impose a 23 percent federal sales tax .

But its advocates say that this sales tax would have a positive effect.

It would raise an amount equal to all existing federal income and payroll taxes, allowing them to be eliminated.

Wetterling's ad doesn't mention that the sales tax would replace those taxes. . . .

But the Wetterling ad invites viewers to believe that if Bachmann had her way, they would be burdened with a big new federal sales tax, without disclosing that the plan also includes the elimination of current taxes.
Free advice for the Bachmann campaign: Counter the negative stuff from the Wetterling campaign with facts in Michele's voice; don't adopt the randon shots strategy and GOP rhetoric.

Free advice for the DFL: Don't try to paint Bachmann as favoring tax increases because she voted "for" the health impact fee. That vote was on a bill that also contained pro-life provisions vis a vis fetal pain. Thanks to Gov. Pawlenty's word play, conservatives were placed in the awkward position of an either/or vote on taxes or pro-life legislation. One can disagree with Bachmann's priority on her vote, but one can't honestly call it a vote to raise taxes.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

BREAKABLE NEWS – “Big Oil” criticizes Bush Administration’s Mishandling of Gasoline Prices

Posted by Craig Westover | 10:23 AM |  

“Bush lied and prices slide,” says Oil Exec.

(Minneapolis) -- Attired in three-piece suits and chomping on unlit cigars, representatives of “Big Oil” stood in front of the pumps at the “Stop ‘n Rob” on the north side of Amy Klobuchar’s Minneapolis and railed against the Bush administration’s failure to keep gas prices at record levels.

“Less than two months ago with gas prices busting the $3.00-per-gallon barrier, the president met with us and declared ‘mission accomplished,’ said “Big Oil” spokesman, Sol Recker. “That was premature to say the least.”

According to analysis done by retired Glenco farmer Hans Anderson, conjecture by double-talking economists citing the end of the summer travel season, lack of hurricanes, easing of tensions between the United States and Iran, and a sell-off of oil futures by speculators is just a smoke screen.

“It’s as plain as the fact that George Bush orchestrated the 9/11 attacks that he’s manipulating gas prices in order to elect rubber-stamp Republicans like Mark Kennedy,” said Anderson from behind a large Wellstone! sign he had propped against his sleeping 17-month old grandaughter.

Recker angrily agreed.

“Bush promised us, in return for campaign contributions, that he’d maintain high gasoline prices by creating weather of mass destruction,” said Recker. “Well, we authorized the contributions, but now there’s no WMD. Bush lied and prices slide.”

Dodging a black, sputtering and coughing SUV with a faded “Support E85” bumper sticker pulling up to the pumps, Robert Enron Emerson III, representing Citizens for Higher Oil Prices (CHOP), said that even if Bush didn’t lie about WMD, he certainly did not have an adequate plan for maintaining high gas prices.”

“The shock and awe of staging hurricanes Katrina and Rita was a brilliant strategy on Bush’s part, but maybe it was too successful,” said Emerson III. “Bush obviously had no plan to counter the insurgent market forces that are driving the price of gasoline down. We’re losing the War on Free Markets. We’re going to be stuck in a quagmire of falling gas prices for the foreseeable future.”

“People underestimate how fast government can raise the price of gasoline at the pump,” countered Decimile Point of the U.S. Department of Energy. “We have to stay the course. If Big Oil can just be patient through the election, with a Republican majority in Congress, we can get gas prices up well over the $2.85 price point, maybe even over $3.00, in time for the holiday travel season.”

Update: 6th District congressional candidate Patty Wetterling has released a statement saying that while she doesn’t know too much about oil economics, she cares about people. Wetterling demanded that President Bush “stop doing whatever he is doing to illegally lower gasoline prices.” Wetterling called for the president to have gas prices “where they belong” by Thanksgiving.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A couple of questions for the Left . . .

Posted by Craig Westover | 12:19 PM |  

On this story --

Oil prices plunge below $60 a barrel

How did the action of any level of government bring about the plunge in oil prices?

Why did the greedy oil company executives allow this to happen?

Pioneer Press article on Mark Kennedy

Posted by Craig Westover | 11:07 AM |  

There's an excellent article by Rachel Stassen-Berger on Mark Kennedy in Sunday's Pioneer Press that does a better job of highlighting Kennedy's strengths in a single piece than the Kennedy campaign has done in a couple years. From the article --

In his campaign for U.S. Senate, Kennedy has pitched himself as a common-sense Republican with an independent streak. His political foes have worked to paint him as a Republican robot who toes the party line.

Both portraits have shades of truth and both miss much of the work that Kennedy, like most Congress members, does behind the scenes on local issues . . .

Ultimately, Kennedy's job success in Congress may be best measured through three lenses — his partisanship, his values and his service to Minnesota. . .
On partisanship, the article notes --

When voters elected Kennedy three times, they sent someone to Washington who agrees in large part with the Republican Party and with the GOP president.

In his time in Congress, Kennedy, who formerly worked in finance for big businesses, has voted like a Republican.

That makes him neither a good nor a bad member of Congress, say those who watch lawmakers, but simply a Republican one. Whether that is a plus for Kennedy come Election Day depends on whether voters believe the Republicans in power tend to be more right than wrong and whether they think those in Washington should be independent of party allegiance.
In his campaign, Kennedy has tended to run away from his partisan record, responding to Democrat charges that he is a rubber stamp for the Bush administration. He's tried to counter that perception rather than embracing it and claiming his votes as good votes, whether they support or depart from he administration. He has come off as somewhat of a "weeny."

On values --

Kennedy maintains that he has brought Minnesota values to Washington. Those include lowering taxes to help the economy thrive, keeping a lid on federal spending, and opposing legal abortion and same-sex marriage.

"I evaluate all legislation according to whether it will strengthen or undermine the traditional family values that have made Minnesota great," Kennedy has said.
That's an admirable stance that Kennedy has played up in his Senate campaign. The question is, does it play in the Senate as well as it does in a House? A couple of elections -- Humphrey for president in '68 and Mondale in '84 -- have demonstrated that "Minnesota values" don't play well on the national stage. A Senator shouldn't limit himself to parochial thinking -- especially when Minnesota Values are changing under the influence of immigration -- not just from other countries, but from other states.

As a comment on this site noted, Kennedy is running his Senate campaign like a house campaign, simply making promises to a larger constituency. (Note: This is why changing the constitution to directly elect Senators was a progressive mistake.) I think that's a good insight. The Senate is not just, or should not be just, a smaller-body version of the House. The Senate is the body of big ideas, of debates over war and peace, expansion of government, constitutional questions, advise and consent on presidential appointments. Kennedy has not positioned himself as a "big idea" guy. He hasn't demonstrated that he understands the difference between Congressman Kennedy and Senator Kennedy.

On Service to Minnesota --

Kennedy has joined with Democrats on some issues that uniquely affect Minnesota.
"If you are going to make a claim that you are not a knee-jerk partisan, that's a point in your favor," said Ornstein (Norm), the congressional expert. "There are some members who would never do something like that."
Congressman Kennedy’s efforts on behalf of Minnesotan’s will likely have a retail effect at the polls -- those that actually benefited and those they might influence would be solid Kennedy votes, but again the question surfaces, “What is a senator’s role?” Can Senator Kennedy be as effective selling ideas on big issues like national defense and a national energy policy support for presidential appoints as he was brokering legislation that sent federal dollars to his district and state?

Bottom line, Stassen-Berger has done a nice job framing Mark Kennedy, better than the candidate himself has done. Overall, it’s a very positive picture of Kennedy, but one that raises questions about whether he can translate an effective House tenure into effectiveness as a Senator.

I don’t need a peek at any unreleased Kennedy ads to surmise that his strategy for the remainder of the campaign is going to be demonizing Amy Klobuchar. Too bad. The Mark Kennedy portrayed in this article would be a better candidate.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Amy Klobuchar -- Sincere apology or pragmatic compromise?

Posted by Craig Westover | 11:30 AM |  

Hour five of the Northern Alliance on Saturday, King Banaian and Michael Brodkkorb were all over the Kolbo-gate issue. There was the expected partisan harranging of the issue, but also some good points were made about Klobuchar’s handling of the issue, not the least of which is that Mark Kennedy’s campaign was contacted by the press BEFORE they learned of the theft from the Klobuchar campaign. That’s a pretty significant factor in evaluating Amy’s “sincere apology.”

A sincere apology (Is there any other kind?) ought to be an admission that you screwed up, and implicit in a sincere apology is that you will do what it takes to make the situation right and do so as quickly as possible. Whatever actions the Klobuchar campaign took, it is becoming clear that they were first and foremost predicated on what was best for the Klobuchar campaign and not what was the right way to rectify the Klobuchar campaign’s screw up.

Once can forgive a little hesitation in action on Klobuchar's -- we’re all human, and when we screw up, first reaction is rationalizing how, whatever the situation, it’s not really our fault. But the mark of leadership and character is how quickly one gets past that initial defensiveness and goes about making amends.

A great movie moment comes at the end of Robert Redford’s film “Quiz Show” when Ralph Fiennes playing Charles VanDoren confesses before a congressional committee that his victories on the popular television quiz show “Twenty-One” were rigged. Several members of the committee praise him for his honesty until one committee member has the courage to speak the obvious: There is no redemption for a man of Van Doren’s intelligence to come clean after having been complicit in a lie for so long.

That’s the position Amy Klobuchar has put herself in. She wants praise and redemption for doing the right thing -- for firing her communications director, for reporting the incident to the FBI and for notifying the Kennedy campaign, however belatedly. At the same time, she has drawn a line at how far she will go to make the situation right.

One can only echo the sentiments of the congressional character from Quiz Show -- there is no redemption in a "sincere apology" that ultimately proves to be a pragmatic compromise with the perception of remorse.

Chile, Krugman and private retirement accounts

Posted by Craig Westover | 10:10 AM |  

I opened a discussion of social security here, and in a comment here, a reader brought up the question of social security in “Argentina.” In fact, the country he’s referencing is Chile, which is often cited, specifically by the Cato Institute, as a privatized (or “choice” in Cato’s language) pension system. Reader J. Ewing makes some comments here.

For the record, the Chilean system isn’t perfect, but it’s lack of perfection lies more in expectations than in the essential question “Does it provide a more secure future for retirees?” The attack of the Left on privatization generally attacks the expectations, not the results. A good example is the high priest of liberal economics, Paul Krugman in the op-ed “Buying Into Failure.”

Krugman notes two “open secrets” about the privatization experience in Chile: Privatization dissipates a large fraction of workers' contributions on fees to investment companies. It leaves many retirees in poverty.

Looking at these two objections to privatization of social security specifically, it is important to recognize the nature of these criticisms. The first – the issue of fees – is a detail of program implementation. It has no bearing on whether or not privatization is better or worse than a government-run pension system unless it can be shown that excessive fees are inherently harmful to participants in the program. Let’s look at that.

Notice the wording of Krugman’s criticism – “Privatization dissipates a large fraction of workers' contributions on fees to investment companies.” Two questions should be raised.

The first question is, “What is the value of the fees?” Today, every person with a 401(K) or individual IRA (including Amy Klobuchar and Power Liberal REW) pay some fraction of their contributions on fees to investment companies. It must be assumed they do so voluntarily in expectation that these firms will manage their money to a better return than they could do investing themselves.

What Krugman is setting up is the idea that fees are inherently bad. But here is the more appropriate question, which does have an empirical answer when tested over time. If a person contributes $X to social security and earns Y% return, is that return greater or lesser than if the person contributes the same $X to a private account and earns a greater Y% return but pays a $Z fee. If the latter is greater, the fee is irrelevant to the question of which system provides better retirement benefits.

The second question is “What constitutes unreasonable fees?” While privatization may return more than social security even if fees are charged, there is the concern excessive fees still cut into the retirees’ pensions. Now we are not talking about the value of privatization, but we are discussing how to make system better. The answer is choice – structuring the system around several funds in several categories. In that way, competition among funds and desires of investors keep fee structures in line. Krugman counters:
Advocates insist that a privatized U.S. system can keep expenses much lower. It's true that costs will be low if investments are restricted to low-overhead index funds - that is, if government officials, not individuals, make the investment decisions. But if that's how the system works, the suggestions that workers will have control over their own money - two years ago, Cato renamed its Project on Social Security Privatization by replacing "privatization" with "choice" - are false advertising.
Not so. A “choice” system would include index funds and growth funds and growth and income funds, which might charge higher fees, but return higher yields. Individuals would, as people like Amy Klobuchar and REW do today with their private investments, voluntarily pay higher fees in expectation of higher returns. Krugman misleads by implying privatization is a one-fund propostion.

In other words, while the issue of fees is an important discussion point in actually designing a private social security program, it is not a showstopper for having the discussion. If a managed fund takes a fee and still delivers the retiree more than a government-run program, then the fees are irrelevant in deciding between the two systems.

Krugman’s next point it that a privatized system “leaves people in poverty.” He writes:
Privatizers who laud the Chilean system never mention that it has yet to deliver on its promise to reduce government spending. More than 20 years after the system was created, the government is still pouring in money. Why? Because, as a Federal Reserve study puts it, the Chilean government must "provide subsidies for workers failing to accumulate enough capital to provide a minimum pension." In other words, privatization would have condemned many retirees to dire poverty, and the government stepped back in to save them.
The Cato 6.2 percent solution for choice in retirement funding, and any viable plan to privatize individual retirement, includes provisions for funding retirement for those that do not have enough capital at retirement for a reasonable standard of living – something we do in the United States today through a variety of welfare programs. The question is, "Is this economically feasible?"

Under Cato's 6.2 percent solution, individuals would retain control over the 6.2 percent of social security tax they currently pay. The 6.2 percent paid by employers would go into the general system to meet the requirements of pensions for those whose funds are inadequate.

In fairness, that may or may not be adequate – but here is the real point. Under the current system, we have a universal program that is less beneficial for EVERYONE and people still fall through the cracks. A privatized system is more beneficial to most people, and it allows us to identify those for which it is not and specifically target welfare for those people. I might add, as liberals are fond of saying, America is a rich country (compared to Chile) and we have a capitalistic economy that creates more than enough wealth for targeted support of the poor at retirement.

Krugman’s conclusion is neither backed by experience nor supported by his OP-ED.
So the Bush administration wants to scrap a retirement system that works, and can be made financially sound for generations to come with modest reforms. Instead, it wants to buy into failure, emulating systems that, when tried elsewhere, have neither saved money nor protected the elderly from poverty.
Privatization has produced greater retirement benefit for more people, which is the bottom line objective of a retirement program. True, it has not delivered the utopian expectation where every elderly person is lifted from poverty and everyone retires a millionare, but it has provided a better living for more people than government-run programs. Suggested privatization programs, despite Krugman’s implication, do not leave poor people hanging – provisions are made to provide people with little capital at retirement a secure retirement.

Chile is a model for the United States, not a cut-and-paste solution. The real bottom line – before one can argue details, one must refute why morally and theoretically choice is wrong instead of merely parroting partisan platitudes. This Krugman specifically, and the Left in general, does not do.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Same-sex marriage questions for Patty Wetterling

Posted by Craig Westover | 8:43 PM |  

From Eric Black’s Strib story on the NRCC fliers criticizing Patty Wetterling --
The second side of one of the NRCC fliers says that Wetterling would vote against a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. That accurately states her position. Wetterling says she does not favor legalizing gay marriage, but does not support a federal constitutional amendment on the topic.
That’s a stance that bothers me when coming from a Democrat. Why does Wetterling not favor legalized same-sex marriage? There is a legitimate argument, (not supported in my view) that it would prove disruptive to society, which is the practical side (or fear-mongering side depending on your point of view) of Bachmann’s position. Does Wetterling agree with Bachmann that same-sex marriage would be bad for society?

The other (in my opinion politically invalid) reason for opposing the legalization for same-sex marriage is the moral argument. It’s perfectly legitimate for someone to hold that homosexuality is immoral for Biblical or other reasons, but the essence of a free society is that sometimes people do immoral things that aren’t illegal or that government has no business making illegal. Does Wetterling believe homosexuality is immoral and same-sex couples do not deserve to be married?

Aside from the constitutional issue, it seems Wetterling and Bachmann have the same position -- same-sex couples shouldn't marry. Morally, what is the difference between discriminating against same-sex couples in the constitution or discriminating against them in the law?

Personally I don’t give a damn what she thinks, but I am very curious about how she reasons her way to the position that she holds -- opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage. Understanding how she gets there says a lot about how she’d handle tough issues that demand a principled, uncompromising and unpopular stance.

A Power Liberal case for Social Security choice

Posted by Craig Westover | 7:49 AM |  

I posted a comment the other day at the Power Liberal site making a point I’ve made here often; Amy Klobuchar’s mutual fund holdings in oil companies are no big deal -- every person that has mutual funds in their retirement plan is invested to some degree in oil companies. Klobuchar’s hypocrisy, if you can call it that, is that she claims to be working for the middle class, but wants to implement policies that arbitrarily change the rules, redistribute oil company profits, and indirectly hurt the investments of millions of middle-class families and fixed-income individuals with mutual fund investments. REW takes me to task --


Want to know what I did Thursday? I went to M&I banks downtown. See, I have an employer run 401K, and now that I don't work there, I needed to flip the funds into an IRA.

The banker sat down and explained the American Growth fund that I had 20% of my funds in currently. After going through the paperwork, I learned what bits they invested in. Part of it is in oil.

I now officially know that rather than having money in various funds in my IRAs, I have "thousands of dollars in oil."

But the interesting part of this "high risk, high yield" growth fund that I have is that the other part of the fund is invested in something that will do well if oil does tank (ha!), to try and buoy it up.

That's how investment funds work, they have variety to balance in case one thing doesn't perform well. Yep, even those high risk funds that they encourage those of us who have 30+ years before retirement to take advantage of.
That’s an interesting response, coming from the Power Liberal, because she’s just made a very powerful argument for choice in Social Security.

(Yes, I'm taking her comment out of the context of the thread, but REW is a pretty straight-up lady. I don't think she'd change her opinion of mutual funds just to fit the issue she's talking about. I'm going to take her at her word and trust that what she says here about mutual funds is what she really believes.)

A smart and prudent person, REW is putting some of her discretionary income into her retirement. I’m going out on a limb and guessing that she doesn’t think of her investment as a “risky stock market scheme,” and she’s probably not too upset that she’s paying some fees and commissions along the way for the service of people that know more about investing than she does. I’m also going to guess that she expects a decent return on her money, and if she doesn’t get it, she might change investment firms.

Now, the big question -- so why if REW thinks she’s smart enough and willing enough to choose investments to make with her own money, why isn’t she smart enough and willing enough to do it with the percentage of her pay that is taken for social security. Why is she against letting other people make that decision for themselves?

Again, we have an example, as with Klobuchar’s mutual fund investments in oil, of liberal policy that is impractical to follow in real life. If REW really believed that allowing people to put social security dollars in mutual funds was a “risky stock market scheme meant to enrich Bush’s friends in the investment industry,” then instead of rolling her 401K into a mutual fund, wouldn’t she have purchased some nice safe Treasury Bonds?

Of course not. She wants a better return than Treasury Bonds give her. And she should. But by investing in mutual funds, she is acting exactly contrary to the political position that government knows best how to invest for our retirement. Even for Power Liberals, liberal policies don’t work in the real world.

6th CD -- Thinking about transportation

Posted by Craig Westover | 7:03 AM |  

The Strib posts a summary of the 6th District congressional candidates positions on transportation, noting that the 6th stretches across the northern metro from Stillwater to St. Cloud and involves many areas where commuters face road congestion. A 6th District resident, I can vouch for that. So here’s what I think of these positions:
• Wetterling reiterated her call for the state to finish the Northstar commuter rail line by extending it west to St. Cloud and ramp up other mass transit. The Northstar line, she said, "is an investment that we have to make."

• Bachmann said: "We need to lay more asphalt across the Sixth District. We need to build more roads, we need to build more bridges." She cited the long-planned replacement for the Stillwater lift bridge.

• Binkowski supported raising gasoline taxes for more roads but warned it might not solve congestion. "We can lay all the asphalt we want, there's still going to be traffic," Binkowski said. If you've ever been to Los Angeles, he said, it doesn't matter if its six or eight or 10 lanes of traffic, "it's a parking lot."
They are all right, and they are all wrong. They each champion one solution at the expense of an overall plan. Let’s start with Binkowski, because he offers the best insight and the worst solution.

Binkowski’s comparison to Los Angeles is apt. The relatively small downtown areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul and the sprawling suburban and exurban area surrounding it make the Twin Cities much more like LA than New York or Chicago, which in turn makes it a car-driven culture not easily adaptable to mass transit options. Binkowski’s also right that building more roads won’t necessarily reduce congestion. At best it will help us keep up with growth and manage congestion. However, raising the gas tax is simply throwing more money at the problem. A better solution is to spend the current taxes and fees generated by gas taxes and license fees on transportation as intended, but do so with some coherent plan in mind.

Jumping to Bachmann, she’s partially right. Given the geographic structure of the Twin Cities, roads are always going to be an important part of the infrastructure. People don’t just travel from the ‘burbs to downtown. They travel between suburbs. Such geography and travel patterns aren’t conducive to mass transit, which is a point-to-point solution, not a network. Having said that, overemphasis on roads is simply going to magnify the trend to a car-culture. Congestion is like gas prices, the worse it gets the more viable other forms of transpiration become. What we need to look at is where the fall-off point is and what are the characteristics of people at that point where there are VIABLE alternative transportation options. Roads alone are not an answer.

That brings us to Wetterling, who offers the worst of all possible approaches. Wetterling wants to provide a generic solution, mass transit, without recognizing what the problem is. She has no idea whom mass transit is suppose to serve or what form is appropriate. To be honest, nobody does, but we can make some guesses.

Where mass transit is needed most is within Minneapolis and St. Paul proper. People that have no transportation alternative need it for short-hops to many locations. That’s not a light rail point-to-point solution. That’s a network solution, cars and buses and – gosh, might there be a private sector solution? Say a jitney service of low-cost, shared, on-demand car service? Maybe, but not under current city rules that limit cab licenses and regulate who can provide such service where.

The point is the single parent that has to get the kids to daycare and school and then get to work isn’t going to do it on the Hiawatha line. Who does use the Hiawatha line, which is heavily subsidized by tax dollars? Mom and pop in the ‘burbs. One drives the other to the train station in the SUV, then drops the kids at school and drives to a job in the suburbs. Wetterling’s approach of starting with a solution instead of looking at the problem magnifies that kind of mismatch.

The insidiousness of both the Bachmann and Wetterling approach is that they encourage Congress to dump funds into the district for one-off projects that fit no overall plan. I don’t have an answer for pork-barrel distribution of federal dollars, but here’s some suggestions for a transportation plan.

First, use the funds raised by transportation fees and taxes for transportation (I don’t support doing it by amendment, but do support doing it). Roads are the first priority, but not the only path.

Second, develop mass transit by looking at the needs of riders not the needs of people running the system or how neat the solution is. Shinny trains are cool, but they are endlessly in need of subsidy and at best make transportation more convenient for people that have other alternatives. If trains are part of the picture, plan routes that solve problems, not simply to fit a preconceived idea of a future point-to-point network that by the time it is complete may not reflect the transportation patterns that exist when it is planned. Mass transit solves problems – it is not an end in itself (but just listen to how people talk about the Central Corridor, as a project, not as a solution to real problems).

Third, look at what barriers stand in the way of private sector transportation options and get rid of them. If there is a significant demand for travel from Woodbury to Bloomington, for example, why shouldn’t a private bus company be encouraged to create service – or a private jitney service? I’m not talking about subsidies; simply remove the barriers that make it economically impractical or legally impossible to encourage such service.

As noted above, the congressional issue really comes down to voting for dollars, the more the better as long as the 6th gets more at the expense of the everyone else, or what’s a congressperson good for? Planning local transportation solutions to real problems is a state and local issue. It’s the statewide office seekers that ought to be addressing the problem – with a plan.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Klobo-gate redux

Posted by Craig Westover | 4:09 PM |  

What the post below from Minvolved leaves out is that the first transgression was Klobuchar’s communications director following the link provided to her and viewing the unreleased Kennedy ad. We must assume what she did was wrong because Amy Klobuchar said so -- at least she described it as “poor judgment,” and something she should be fired for.

Second, regardless of Amy’s involvement, the Klobuchar camp is in the wrong and has to do the lion’s share of the groveling -- meaning they have some obligation to answer a pretty reasonable set of GOP questions. We are talking theft of intellectual property (I hear the smirks), and simply saying I’m sorry and moving on doesn’t cut it. Klobuchar has the responsibility to make the situation right, whatever that takes.

Third, you get some points for putting out a fire, but it is better not to have a fire at all. Klobuchar has a history of having a difficult time controlling her employees. Managing a staff well is not the kind of thing that wins elections, but it’s essential for running a Senate office. Given this incident and here union problems, Klobuchar’s management skills are fair game for questioning.

That said, this post from Minvolved is getting harder and harder to refute (emphasis in the original).
We really don’t have much to say about the whole dust-up with Blanked-Out and Mark Kennedy. Here’s what we do have to say:

The only important part of this whole mess is how your future United States Senator reacted to a possible crime/security threat. We’ll say it again with different words: the only thing that matters here is how the campaigns responded to the news. One final time: local bloggers aren’t who we vote for in November, Mark and Amy are. All this stuff about a lack of boundaries for the liberal blogosphere and whatnot…well, that’s idiotic and no one cares. What matters, and what people truly care about is how Mark and Amy respond to crisis.

Amy Klobuchar responded decisively and with little delay. She fired the staff member involved in the affair and she turned over the case to the proper authorities. In short, when presented with a security threat, Amy quickly did what needed to be done regardless of how it made her or her office look.

Mark Kennedy responded by turning the security issue into a political hammer to hit his opponent with. He displayed a stunning lack of seriousness by putting on a show with his website; purporting to “shut it down”, when, in reality, it could easily be accessed by simply removing the redirection protections on your Internet browser. Our 8 year knew how to do this and she was able to read from Kennedy’s campaign blog.

For Amy, this security issue was a call to substantial action. For Mark, this security issue was a call to meaningless and ineffective electoral tricks masked as protective measures.

Who do you want in charge of national security?
I wouldn’t want either one “in charge” of security, but I’d rather have Kennedy’s vote on national security, and I’m worried that isn’t going to happen. Kennedy had a right, perhaps an obligation, to raise questions after the breach came to light, but he and the GOP are working really hard to mess this one up.

(BTW -- for those who can’t read between the lines, Mr. Sponge is making the excellent point that bloggers should stop knocking each other and focus on how Klobuchar and Kennedy are handling the situation -- if they want to play a meaningful role in the process.)

IRS goes after political church

Posted by Craig Westover | 8:38 AM |  

Well, thank God (oops), well just say halleluiah (is that okay?), oh hell ( now that’s gotta be alright) it’s about time that authorities started cracking down on those pastors and their congregations that are getting political. We have separation of church and state in this country and it’s about time these fundamentalist right-wing pastors learned that you can’t preach politics from the pulpit. Right?

But what if it’s a liberal congregation that walks through the valley of the shadow of the government boot?

This news from the LA Times:
IRS seeks church's sermons

Stepping up its probe of allegedly improper campaigning by churches, the Internal Revenue Service on Friday ordered a liberal Pasadena, Calif., parish to turn over all the documents and e-mails it produced during the 2004 election year with references to political candidates.

All Saints, an Episcopal church, and its rector, the Rev. Ed Bacon, have until Sept. 29 to present the sermons, newsletters, financial records, utility bills and electronic communications.

The IRS investigation was triggered by an anti-war sermon delivered by a guest speaker at the church shortly before the 2004 presidential election. Bacon was ordered to testify before IRS officials Oct. 11.

The tax code bars nonprofit organizations, including churches, from endorsing or campaigning against candidates in an election.

Facing the possible loss of his church's tax-exempt status, Bacon said he plans to inform his roughly 3,500 active congregants about the investigation during Sunday services. Then he plans to seek their advice on whether to comply or defy the request.

"There is a lot at stake here," Bacon said. "If the IRS prevails, it will have a chilling effect on the practice of religion in America."
Damn right there is. But isn’t this kind of action by the IRS exactly what the Left has been screaming for? Isn’t this the threat the Left keeps hurling at right-wing churches where pastors preach sermons on the evils of abortion or the dangers of same-sex marriage?

More importantly, isn’t this the kind of action that the Right has warned could happen if preaching against practices the church regards as sinful is treated as hate speech?

It’s ironic that this case involves a liberal congregation and the preaching of anti-war sermons, but in all seriousness, this is neither a Right nor a Left issue.

Separation of church and state is meant to protect religion from government, not government from religion. The first amendemnt has two clauses regarding freedom of religion -- one guaranteeing that government would not impose a religion, the other protecting the right to feely exercise one's religion.

The reason that churches are tax free is to protect them religion from coercion by government -- the effective imposition of a specific religin through a manipulated tax code. That system works unless people actually start to take their "free exercise" rights seriously and act on their religious beleifs. Now we have a much more complex question.

If the beliefs of a church are that war is wrong and therefore the Iraq War is wrong and the IRS clamps down on the church for preaching such, then isn’t the government essentially using the threat of the tax code to modify the church’s belief? And ditto for a congregation that preaches that homosexuality is a sin?

It’s an interesting question and one where, as this example illustrates, Right and Left have a common interest.

Wal-Mart lowers generic drug prices

Posted by Craig Westover | 8:09 AM |  

Thank, God. For a second there, I thought capitalism was working, and that Wal-Mart was doing a good thing. Silly me.

Feel the love when Left and Right come together . . .

Posted by Craig Westover | 6:43 AM |  

And maybe, just for an instant, a flash of irony illuminates the scene.

From a comment by Patrick Lorch:
The lefty blogs are trying to make political hay over their perception that Mark Kennedy is trying to make political hay over an unethical act by a Klobuchar staffer.
From our friend REW, The Power Liberal:
Oddly enough, that may in fact be the most coherent summary of this whole thing I've read anywhere.
From Patrick:
The fact that you are agreeing with me on something frightens me not a little bit, rew :-)
Somewhere Rodney King is smiling at the love.

Update: At risk of being found guilty of penetrating the super secret barriers at the Kennedy web site, my secret source tells me one can listen to the Kennedy radio ads, which are really pretty good, at these links:

Kennedy Phone Tree Ad #1

Kennedy Phone Tree Ad #2

As my super secret source notes, "Besides, any campaign that puts 'sensitve campaign informaton' anywhere near their public web site is just stupid."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Remember when Amy's "Hero" Mark Dayton closed his Senate office . . .

Posted by Craig Westover | 4:02 PM |  

Message on Mark Kennedy's web site --
Message from Mark Kennedy ’06 Campaign Manager Pat Shortridge:

We were informed last evening of a serious security breach of sensitive Kennedy campaign information by a senior member of Amy Klobuchar’s campaign. Due to the fact this information was accessed via the internet, we are taking precautionary measures to protect our campaign information. We apologize for the inconvenience. The full features of our website will be restored once this matter has been resolved.

One page we are absolutely confident remains secure is our contribution page. You can access this page via a security enabled site by clicking here.
Must be one helluva an ad that was stolen. It does have me curious -- what revelation could Kennedy make in a 30-sec ad that, if prematurely viewed, could undermine his entire campaign and send him into a bunker? It better be something pretty special or Kennedy risks coming off looking like Mark Dayton closing his Senate office.

Going after Klobuchar on this is a worthwhile tangent, but it is a tangent. Republicans, not Democrats are the ones that can get back to emphasis on issues. Kennedy has the opportunity to define himself on positions while Ron Carey and company nag Klobuchar to death. Not the most honorable way to proceed, but the GOP doesn't need a password to walk in the door Klobuchar's folks opened up.

From the irony files: I wonder if Klobuchar will still criticize "illegal" Bush wiretaps. Or maybe she'll just go with "See, even my good DFL campaign workers can't be trusted not to spy on people. How can we trust George Bush."


Posted by Craig Westover | 11:46 AM |  

I've just spent an hour or so perusing the web, trying to sort out the issues. Clearly, somebody done wrong in the Klobuchar camp. The Klobuchar campaign was sent a link to a password protected site, and several members of the Klobuchar staff viewed an unreleased Kennedy ad. Tara McGuinness has taken the fall -- either resigned or fired, depending on who you read. Klobuchar’s office notified the FBI. Klobuchar apologized to Kennedy. Albeit, it took four days. The Kennedy campaign is demanding answers to a laundry list of questions about the incident.

Okay, my take.

Sounds to me like Klobuchar’s campaign handled the issue pretty well, but if the apology is sincere, then Klobuchar ought to just bite the bullet and answer the questions being posed by the GOP. Stuff happens, and the worst thing Klobuchar can do is get indignant and defensive, which is what the GOP hopes to taunt her in to doing. Her people screwed up. A “sincere apology” and taking responsibility means going the extra mile, not meeting the Kennedy campaign halfway. In fact, the best thing Klobuchar could do would be get out in front of the GOP in getting the full details out.

The GOP thinks it is in the driver’s seat on this issue, that perhaps it has an issue that can put some life in the Kennedy campaign (beats the hell out of micromanaging Klobuchar‘s mutual funds). In fact, the GOP is treading a pretty fine line here between righteous indignation and foot-stomping petulance. It has to be appear concerned without appearing to bully. While the Klobuchar campaign ought to be willing to bend over on this one, the Kennedy campaign shouldn’t ask it to go that far. After all, we are talking about a stolen peek at a Mark Kennedy campaign ad, not exactly the Pentagon Papers.

Klobuchar’s people might have broken some laws, and this incident doesn’t reinforce the image of a tough-on-crime prosecutor. Couple it with complaints about the work environment in her Hennepin county office, and it paints the picture of a woman that can’t manage a staff very well -- a pretty important if underplayed role of a Senator. But if the GOP intends to hang its hat on this one, then Kennedy's campaign is in a lot of trouble.

This shouldn’t be the best we got. The Republican objective is getting Kennedy elected. This Klobuchar misstep can helpKennedy if the GOP doesn’t overplay it. However, I fear that even as I write, the state GOP has an army of interns armed with thesauruses looking up synonyms for “apocalyptic” and “larceny.” Ain't the way to go.

"I, Pencil" still a classic

Posted by Craig Westover | 9:41 AM |  

King over at SCSU Scholars recommends Leonard Reed’s little classic I, Pencil as reading material for budding liberals. I highly concur, but note that some Republicans running for office might learn from it as well.

Some of “I, Pencil” reflects its publication date of 1958, but the essay has lost none of its power over time. The “first-pencil” essay telling the story how a pencil is made starts with the seeming absurdity -- not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me.

We’re talking a pencil here, not a space shuttle. But indeed, as the story of "Mongol 482." assembled, fabricated, and finished by Eberhard Faber Pencil Company, unfolds, the truth of that statement becomes evident. Mongol 482’s story makes evident the absurdity of politicians that think government can out-guess the market.
I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me—no, that's too much to ask of anyone—if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because—well, because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me.

Kennedy's radio ads are excellent

Posted by Craig Westover | 7:41 AM |  

Negative advertising is defended as necessary to define the opposition. That's a valid point, but it still must be done well. Too much of it comes off as simply childish whining and petulance. Nonetheless, negative advertising can be done well, and Mark Kennedy's two radio ads do it well.

The content of Kennedy's radio ads aren't any different from his daily grind of Amy Klobuchar criticism, which in his press releases and television ad comes across as trivial, personal and mean. They make him look like the desperate candidate, not a winner.

His radio ads, on the other hand, do a great job defining Klobuchar. Structured like a obnoxious automated phone answering system -- this one at “Amy Klobucahr for Senate Hotline” -- the ads come across like a joke told across the bar, humor shared among friends, rather than personal attacks. And like all good humor, the ads are funny because they contain a grain of truth. And it helps that everyone hates phone trees.

In one ad the caller is warned to listen to the menu “as some of Amy‘s positions may have changed.” The caller/listener is then asked to choose between options like “if you think big oil is evil, press 1”; “if you agree with Amy that big oil is a great investment, press 2.”

For what they are, commercials defining Klobuchar, the Kennedy radio ads are excellent. From a broader campaign perspective, I doubt Kennedy’s campaign will maximize their effectiveness.

Rather than repeating his attacks on Klobuchar in other media (although I like the phone tree idea so much I’d like to see it turned into a television ad to replace that God-awful attack ad running now), the Kennedy campaign should soften its criticism and point out that Klobuchar’s contradictions are not necessarily personal flaws, but flaws in Democrat policy.

Politically, Democrats feel they have to rail against “Big Oil,” which at a price-per-gallon competitive with price of a gallon of milk, fuels the nation. Yet when it comes to making personal decisions that affect the welfare of their families, Klobuchar and Democrats make the same decisions the rest of us do -- they invest their money where it garners the greatest return. Amy isn’t evil and she’s not even really a hypocrite. She’s a Democrat, and the conflict between her policies and her personal actions show that in the real world we live in, Democrat policies are unworkable.

If Kennedy took that route, he’d come off less mean, more positive, and actually be adding some substance to the debate. Unfortunately, it may be a little late for that metamorphsis.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

COLUMN -- Tilting at the CEO: A necessary evil or partner in progress?

Posted by Craig Westover | 8:46 AM |  

Wednesday, Sept 20, 2006

I intended to write today about the quixotic primary challenges of Republican Sue Jeffers and Democrat Becky Lourey. Lourey challenged DFL-endorsed Mike Hatch from the traditional left with a platform of helping Minnesotans who most need help. Jeffers challenged sitting governor Tim Pawlenty from the economic right, arguing for fiscal conservatism and limited government.

In their own ways, both women tilted at giants of established power despite warnings that their foes were simply windmills grinding out party politics and would ultimately carry the day. And indeed, political winds unsaddled both women. Each finished her primary run a little better than Apathy, slightly behind Indifference, and well back of the endorsed candidates Hatch and Pawlenty.

An admirer of Cervantes’ knight-errant, I was going to extend the Don Quixote metaphor into a column on the nobility of daring the impossible, the dream of winning by standing on principle. But then I discovered that Jeffers and Lourey weren’t running for governor after all. The job they were seeking was CEO of Minnesota, Inc.

“An interview with Minnesota’s current CEO” ran on Sunday’s Pioneer Press Viewpoints page. For four years, Dan Carr, president of The Collaborative, has interviewed Gov. Pawlenty about the “business” of running the state’s largest employer – Minnesota state government. The Collaborative is a network of Minnesota businesses, as its name suggests, promoting a strong infrastructure to support growing businesses. State government is definitely a partner in that network.

The metaphor of government as a business has a nice ring to it. It jingles of fiscal responsibility, effectiveness and efficiency. It resonates with buzzwords like “strategy,” “vision” and “objectives.”

“We were clear about our vision, and we did a lot of good tactical things,” Gov. Pawlenty said in his 2003 interview with Carr. “We were aggressive about marketing and defending our positions and making sure that we used all the levers that we had at our disposal to assure things got accomplished. … You have to have goals, some benchmarks and a vision.”

Jeffers’ libertarian brand of Republicanism doesn’t play well in that model. The idea of government using the levers of tax and regulatory policy, subsidies and economic incentives to implement a top-down vision is a sharp rap to the knuckles of the invisible hand of spontaneous, market-driven growth.

Lourey’s idealism also would struggle in the corporate model of Minnesota, Inc.
In his 2004 questioning of Pawlenty, Carr contrasted a pragmatic, goal-oriented, forward-looking CEO with the more idealistic and less pragmatic modus operandi of politicians. Pawlenty noted that while people in the legislative process have their hearts in the right place, it is difficult to manage any common solution when expectations vary, and there are no objective measurements. Corporate America provides Pawlenty’s operational benchmark.

“Slowly, 20 years late, government is kind of lurching in that direction (measurement),” he said. “Still not anywhere near where it needs to be, certainly not anywhere near where corporate America is.”

It’s also hard to imagine Mike Hatch, who built his career and his reputation being a public watchdog on the private sector, sliding easily into the role of Minnesota’s ready-to-partner CEO. Pawlenty quotes Thomas Friedman on globalization, Richard Florida on attracting “the creative class” and Harvard professor Michael Porter on “economic clusters.” Mike Hatch likes to quote Mike Hatch on Mike Hatch.

Back-to-back reading of all four Collaborative interviews, one discovers a governor who fits very comfortably into the strategic visionary CEO model. Reading what then-conservative hero Pawlenty was saying in 2003, one should not be surprised that in 2006 conservatives are soured stakeholders of Minnesota, Inc.

“This has historically been a place where it is hard to get people to move here, but once here, they like it. We have to have some amenities and a high quality of life for that to continue,” said Pawlenty in 2003. “That is why, as our budget is stabilized, you will see us pay attention to quality of life issues and how it relates to academic institutions, sporting opportunities and recreation opportunities.”

Indeed, we have.

In 2003 the tough, fiscally conservative CEO model played really well with conservatives. The question now is whether conservatives can live with the visionary, itching-to-invest-for-a-better-Minnesota CEO model. Or can conservatives live with the CEO model at all? Government run as a business is not Thomas Paine’s “necessary evil,” but then, perhaps Paine and the other founders were simply tilting at windmills.

Update: From Speed Gibson:
I've always felt Pawlenty never really did give up his old job as a Legislative leader. With the added powers of being Governor, he is indeed the very model of a modern Prime Minister - and not a CEO.
Good post. Read it here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Same-sex marriage -- It's not what you're against that counts, but what you're for

Posted by Craig Westover | 8:48 AM |  

First, Kudos to Jeff Kouba at Bachmann v. Wetterling for this acknowledgement about a Republican National Congressional Committee mailing –

Also, since I don’t like it when the other side does it, I must say it’s rather unfair to use such an unflattering photo of Wetterling. If the message is strong, and I think it is, let it stand on its own. Use a decent photo, not one that makes her look like Grumplina, Queen of the Trolls.
More significant, however, is a discussion thread in the comments to his post. The context is Wetterling’s stand on same-sex marriage; the issue is whether or not opposition to a defense of marriage amendment (state or federal) is the same as supporting same-sex marriage. The implication of the RNCC is that it is. Wetterling defenders are arguing that opposition to the amendment and support for same-sex marriage are not one and the same thing.

Both Wetterling supporters and critics are missing the point.

The critics are wrong in that opposing a constitutional amendment is NOT the same as supporting same-sex marriage. One can justly argue that an amendment is unnecessary given current law, that such an amendment takes the decision out of the hands of future legislatures, that legislating through the constitution is not a legislative prerogative and the like. None of those arguments requires that one support same-sex marriage. One might even opposse it.

Wetterling supporters are wrong because they are making the wrong argument and playing into critics hands. The real issue is not just where Wetterling stands on the amendment; the real issue is where she stands on same-sex marriage. As as note above, her stance on the amendment doesn't tell us that.

If an amendment is wrong, then is current law also wrong? If the law is right, then does Wetterling believe same-sex couples don’t have a right to marry? If the law is wrong, would Wetterling actively seek recognition of same-sex marriages?

Of course, Wetterling has the right not to address those questions. But if I were a Democrat, especially a gay or lesbian Democrat, I would want to know the answer. The same-sex marriage issue is on the table, and while people want to dismiss it as simply a wedge social issue, it is much more.

Where candidates stand on the same-sex marriage defines what they think about government’s authority to pass laws for maintaining an ordered society. How a candidate rationalizes his or her view tells us something about how they define discrimination and government’s role is combating it. For Democrats, the same-sex marriage issue further defines its candidates as either really standing up for a constituency (actively supporting same-sex marriage), or simply compromising the welfare of the gay and lesbian community for political expediency (no amendment, but no overt support for same-sex marriage).

It’s a real politics versus principles issue, which is why so many people are running from it.

Update: From last Friday's Pioneer Press and the careful what you wish for category --


Several large companies with operations in Massachusetts are informing employees with same-sex partners that they will lose those benefits in the near future. About 1 in 3 Fortune 500 companies voluntarily offer domestic-partner benefits as a talent draw. With same-sex marriage legal in Massachusetts, many of those companies are rescinding partnership benefits in that state, making their policies consistent for all unmarried couples.

Isn't that how markets are supposed to work? Now that same-sex couples have the legal option to marry, if they want the benefits, they have to make the commitment. If stable, committed relationships are good for society, then the market motivating same-sex couples to marry can only be a good thing.

Pioneer Press candidate endorsement criteria

Posted by Craig Westover | 7:47 AM |  

One of my favorite (and often used) bits of political wisdom comes from a Democrat, Adlai Stevenson, who twice lost the presidency to Dwight Eisenhower. Steven said (paraphrasing from memory, here), “I need the vote of every thinking American – and a few more so I have a majority.”

On Sunday, the Pioneer Press editorial board ran an editorial that lays out the criteria it will use in making endorsements for during the upcoming elections. It’s a thinking person’s set of criteria – unlikely to be heeded by the majority. I have a few nits with it here and there, but it’s worth taking a look at.

Posted on Sun, Sep. 17, 2006
Of magic, merit and the attributes of good candidates

There is a magic to politics that goes beyond issues and positions and personality and character. Emotion, timing, pop culture and who-knows-what-else figure into the way we view the candidates parading before us.

Partisan appeal also has a magnetic and important attraction. Great movements require teamwork, discipline and commitment. Single issues can exert a similarly strong pull.

We understand that. We also understand that voters have places to go to get their fix of partisanship and single-issue stridency.
This is not that place.

At a time of vast ideological and partisan divide, we worry that the assessment of most candidates begins and ends by locating the (R), (D) or (I) next to their names on the ballot. But we here at your friendly local newspaper are in the business of trying to evaluate candidates on merit. We will be doing that again this election year, offering our humble recommendations before the general election on Nov. 7.
Instead of looking for a few good issues, or a few good partisans, we're looking for a few good candidates.

Let the cattle call begin!

Declaration of (small-i) independence. We need candidates who know who they are and do not slavishly follow interest group or party playbooks. Partisan movements matter, and politicians are constantly under pressure to deliver. But there must be limits. Interest-group pledges restrict the ability to lead. A good leader has to know how to say "no" to his or her own team.

In our perfect world, school board candidates would not be endorsed and assisted by teachers' unions, with whom they have to negotiate contracts and decide how to spend scarce education dollars, for example. Many good school board candidates are. We need to know they will stand up for taxpayers who aren't teachers as well as those who are.

Integrity. Four felony convictions of public officials in Minnesota in the last five years — three Minneapolis City Council members and one former state legislator — should be a wakeup call that Minnesota, despite its clean reputation, is as prone to avarice as anyplace else. "Public corruption is the FBI's top criminal investigative priority,'' Michael Tabman, Special Agent in charge of the Minneapolis FBI office, said last month.

Yet state officials tell us precious little about their private interests, and legislators rarely excuse themselves from voting due to a potential conflict. We can't see into everyone's heart, but the recent trend shows the need for fuller disclosure by public officials and more openness regarding meetings, schedules and communications. The public really does have a right to know.

Respect. We like vigorous debate. We are in the free-speech business and are loath to tone things down. Sometimes, personal issues are important. Candidates have to fight — otherwise, why would they be running against each other? But as with partisanship, there is a line. Candidates who flood the airwaves with incessant personal attacks or lame, emotional appeals disrespect the voters.

How much, for example, did 2nd district U.S. Rep. John Kline spend on mailings designed to link his opponent, FBI whistleblower Colleen Rowley, to an unpaid advisor's personal views on illegal drugs — views that Rowley does not agree with?

Creativity. In critical areas such as energy and health care, the U.S. government is deadlocked and is likely to remain so. New ideas will have to come from states and percolate upward. Candidates at all levels need to see themselves as part of these bigger solutions.

How can Minnesota start the ball rolling on the next big national trend — and profit from it in the bargain?

[Nit – New ideas are not always good ideas. Every “crisis” does not require government intervention. Sometimes it is proper for government to do nothing other than remove roadblocks in the way of the private sector.]
Fiscal responsibility: By which we do not mean "no new taxes." We mean honest accounting; who pays and when, who benefits and how. And a tight fist with public largesse. Candidates who offer us something for nothing — what we have been calling a "free turkey" — are again disrespecting the voters, who know the rule about free lunches.

Does anyone doubt that the bill for Iraq, new Medicare programs and years of tax cuts — now being rolled into the national debt — will not come due some day? If we had to pay for it now, we might have a better debate about costs and benefits.

Discernment: That is, the ability to tell the difference between things that matter and that government should do something about, and those that don't and aren't.
Do we really have to have a government wi-fi system, or a scorch-the-earth debate about whether government should constitutionally ban same-sex marriage? If those are our top issues, what are we missing?

Unity. In our winner-take-all system, we need candidates who have a track record of working with the other side.

Exhausted legislators from opposing sides standing at a news conference with a last-minute agreement, after months of fighting, are saying to voters: Democracy works.
We want candidates who share our passion for the success and vibrancy of our East Metro home base. We see the Central Corridor rail line down University Avenue as a critical element in that success. We embrace market forces and see duly elected government as among those forces, particularly when it comes to certain public investments that make sense — but not quick profit.
[Nit – I still can’t get my arms around the PIPress notion of government, the only entity with coerce power, as part of the market -- Central Corridor light rail a prime example. I would refer the Pioneer Press to its comments on “Discernment.”]
As we look for gutsy candidates, we're also challenging voters to shed some protective coloration and assign a higher value to the long-term health of our republic than to a temporary partisan victory or to power for its own sake.

Meantime, we'll challenge ourselves to stretch beyond our biases and beliefs in reaching for the common good, too. We're looking for candidates of merit who are willing to do the same.
[Nit – not quite sure what “stretching beyond our beliefs” means. If it means a willingness to think about things in a new way – I’m all for it. If it means denying what one’s reason tells one is true for the sake of perceived consensus – then no, I disagree.]

When it's all said and done, regardless of how one attempts to define "merit," each choice at the ballot box is a judgment call, pure and simple. That's part of the magic of politics.
So, how do readers see the various candidates stacking up?

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Posted by Craig Westover | 3:29 PM |  

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Federal Judge Says Parents Must Submit Children
to State-Sponsored Genetic Testing at Birth

Minneapolis, Minnesota -- Citizens' Council on Health Care opposes yesterday's federal ruling that upholds the Nebraska state law requiring parents to submit their newborn children for state disease testing at birth.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf, who in 2004 had given Ray and Louise Spiering a temporary order restraining the state from taking their baby's blood within 48 hours of birth, has now ruled that the state has a legitimate interest in testing for diseases in babies. The parents had objected due to religious reasons.

All states have newborn genetic testing statutes, but only Nebraska is the only state that forces parents to comply without exception. Minnesota law, as a result of CCHC efforts, now allows parents to opt-out of the testing, or to allow the testing but require the blood and test results to be destroyed. The CDC says newborn screening is the nation's largest genetic testing program.

Twila Brase, president of CCHC, makes the following statement:

"The judge's decision means that the blood of citizens cannot be withheld from the government, that the DNA of newborn citizens is essentially government property.

"Compulsory submission to government genetic tests is an infringement of the constitutional rights of all citizens. "

"This is a very slippery slope. This decision undermines the parent's rights to make medical decisions for their children. If this decision is not overturned, all American citizens may soon be subject to government-imposed medical directives.

"What 'legitimate state interest' will the court next support? In utero genetic testing? Adult genetic testing? Adult submission to medical or psychological tests? Required use of medication?

"For the constitutional rights of citizens to be restored, the judge's decision must be overturned."

# # #

Citizens' Council on Health Care is a non-profit, independent health care policy organization that supports free-market ideas in health care.

Pawlenty’s new ad – a good job; Kennedy's . . . .

Posted by Craig Westover | 9:11 AM |  

Nothing dazzling, but, in my opinion, this is what a political ad ought to be. It takes one issue and contrasts Pawlenty and Mike Hatch, without demonizing Hatch and detracting from the message. Sure it spins in Pawlenty’s favor and reduces the issue of a cap on property taxes to a sound bite. But laying out the details are what press releases and debates are for.

And that's where political advertising falls apart. Campaigns tend to view television and radio ads as individual events rather than building blocks of an integrated campaign. Pawlenty's ad talks about a property tax cap -- where is the flood of information from his campaign on the details?

Instead of yet another release about Mike Hatch flip-flopping on the designated hitter rule or whatever, Pawlenty’s ad should have been preceded by a release with the detail on which the ad is based and the detail of Pawlenty’s property tax cap plan. How does it fit in his overall plan for the next term?

Before any campaign runs an ad, their first question should be, “How will this play on WCCO’s Reality Check?” Anticipate the objections and commentary and address them up front before the media has a chance to spin it. By doing so, the campaign frames press opinion and influences the questions reporters ask and sets the boundary of the debate. That’s basic PR.

[Free Advice: Pawlenty should have had one person on his campaign staff, a good one, take the role of the Strib editorial board, and write a "Strib" editorial following every debate, speech, public statement and toss it back to the campaign staff and have them address it before the Strib has a chance to do the real thing.]

Update: Just watched Kennedy's latest. It's Kennedy's ad, but it's all about Amy Klobuchar. The press release mimics the ad --

"The two things we've heard from Ms. Klobuchar throughout this campaign are complaints and hypocrisy. We’ve heard Ms. Klobuchar rail against lobbyist, yet she spent 12 years as a lobbyist. We’ve heard Ms. Klobuchar demonize oil company profits, yet her largest mutual fund holding is ExxonMobil. We’ve heard Ms. Klobuchar rail against special interests, yet her campaign has received over $565,000 from a special interest group that funnels money from across the country to extremely liberal candidates. The voters of Minnesota don’t need a Senator who says one thing but does another.”

The argument for this kind of ad is that it defines one's opponent. It does, but it defines her personally, not politically -- unlike the Pawlenty ad, which set up a clear political contrast with Mike Hatch. What am I to contrast between Kennedy and Klobuchar based on this ad?

From the ad, I have no idea how Kennedy thinks about lobbyists, members in congress making investments or special interest money. The last line quoted from the press release implies that Minnesota needs a Senator that does what he/she says. Kennedy might want to look at the inconsistencies in his education and energy policies before putting that statement out.

I too hope for a senatorial candidated that means what he says, but first he has to say something that means something.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Gooses and Ganders

Posted by Craig Westover | 10:58 AM |  

At Kennedy v. The Machine, Gary throws his support behind the Kennedy campaign’s response to Rosie O’Donnell’s slam on Christianity:
“Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have separation of church and state.”
The Kennedy campaign response:
“Comparing Christians to suicide bombers is so far beyond acceptable public discourse, it’s shocking to even hear something like this in the 21st century.

“I call on Amy Klobuchar to immediately return Ms. O’Donnell’s $2,100 and repudiate her extremist remarks. This is what happens when you’re so dependent for fundraising on extreme liberals and the Hollywood crowd.”
O’Donnell’s remarks are ignorant and offensive, but sorry, Gary, tarring Amy Klobuchar with them is a cheap tactic. I spent a lot of cycles defending Michele Bachmann from critics that wanted to tar her with advocating abolishing public schools because that was the position of some of her contributors. I’ll do no less for Klobuchar.

Just as voters are entitled to think what they will about Bachmann based on who supports her, voters are entitled to make the same judgments about Klobuchar. But neither is under any obligation to turn down campaign funds from groups or individuals with unpopular or just plain ignorant points of view. Making a public display of calling on Bachmann and Klobuchar to do so simply cheap theatrics – regardless of which party is doing it.

Update: This from the DCCC --

Disgraced Ohio Republican Bob Ney Pleads Guilty in Abramoff Case, Will Minnesota Republican Kline do the Right Thing and Return the Tainted Cash?

( Washington , D.C. ) – Today, Bob Ney pleaded guilty in the ongoing federal investigation of corruption and influence peddling. Ney pleaded guilty to charges of making false statements and conspiracy to commit fraud and violating post-employment restrictions for former congressional aides for his role in the scandal surrounding admitted felon and former Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. . . .

As Ney pleads guilty today, many Minnesota families are wondering how closely their member of Congress is to this ring of corruption. In fact, John Kline has taken at least $1,000 from Bob Ney during his time in Washington. Will Kline do the right thing by the families they represent and send back Ney’s tainted money?
I don't know what constitutes "many," but it's probably about the same percentage that are concerned about what Rosie O'Donnell thinks of Christianity -- not many. Nonetheless, if Klobuchar should give back the $1,200, should Kline give back the $1,000? If one does and the other doesn't, is that really some sign of character? A grand here or their is pocket change in a congressional campaign.

Don't these campaigns have anything more substantive to talk about?

Framing the Iraq war debate

Posted by Craig Westover | 9:38 AM |  

The David Brooks column reprinted in today’s Pioneer Press (link not available) succinctly frames the Iraq war debate.

Brooks noted that the President holds “inviolate” principles and quoted Bush as saying, “People want you to change. It’s tactics that shift, but the strategic vision has not, and will not shift.” Brooks’ observation --
“And the sad truth is, there has been a gap between Bush’s visions and the means his administration has devoted to realize them. And when tactics do not adjust to fit the strategy, then the strategy eventually gets diminished to fit he tactics.”
So what do we have? In the beginning, both Democrats and Republicans signed on to a vision and a strategy for combating the war on terror that included invading Iraq. Whatever progress is being made, considerable or insignificant as it might be, it’s fair to say public expectations of success (mission accomplished) have not been met.

In that climate, Democrats are proposing exactly what Brooks fears. Their plan is scale back the strategy. It’s an admission that they held no “inviolate” principles going into the conflict. Their support was a matter of political expediency. A shallow attempt to be included in the post 9/11 fervor. Meanwhile, Republicans are rubber-stamping every decision without necessarily giving each the consideration it deserves.

My questions for Amy Klobuchar and Patty Wetterling are, what are the “inviolate principles” that you would fight for? Obviously they are not the same as the president’s. Is the vision and objectives that Democrats supported at the onset of the war no longer valid? If they cannot answer those questions, then they are not people one would want defending the country.

Republicans don’t get off the hook. My questions for Mark Kennedy and Michele Bachman are, when does loyalty to party and president demand that you question the tactics used to implement a strategy and achieve an objective in which you believe? How would you exercise your congressional responsibility to influence tactical changes in the Iraq war? If they cannot answer those questions, they cannot be trusted to oversee military actions.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Tell me again about this character thing . . .

Posted by Craig Westover | 6:02 PM |  

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

-- Martin Luther King Jr.

Ellison's win also illustrated how eager voters in the Minneapolis-dominated district are to break the white-male mold for elected officials. Ellison, if elected in November, will be the first black Minnesotan and the first Muslim in Congress. The diversity he would bring to the U.S. House was an asset in this race, outweighing Ellison's personal foibles -- a history of unpaid parking tickets, unfiled campaign finance reports and unpaid taxes.

-- Minneapolis Star Tribune

(tip of the Sou'wester to Lee McGrath)

Damn the GOP -- Analysis of the analysis

Posted by Craig Westover | 3:26 PM |  

I just received the GOP’s email summary of today’s gubernatorial debate. What a bungled opportunity. Here are a couple things that jump out at me (I have yet to listen to the debate).

Here’s how the GOP quotes Mike Hatch on health care – “We haven’t had reform of the system… the HMOS are not accountable.” …. “Instead of importing Canadian drugs we should be importing the Canadian system …”

And how does the GOP respond to what ought to be an extremely frightening statement? They rush for Google to find every negative and conflicting statement Hatch ever made on health care. Call me crazy, but maybe the GOP should be doing some analysis on the Canadian system and why telling us why importing it is really, really, dumb.

Wake up guys.

Importing Canada’s system or implementing “Medicare for all” or duplicating the Massachusetts plan or some other form of single-payer universal health care is an appealing dangerous idea.

It’s appealing because people are feeling the pinch of health care costs. Hatch, Peter Hutchinson and Democrats in general are offering plans to address that pain. Parts of those plans even make sense, but the dowside will, literally, kill a lot of us. The GOP, instead of pushing free market health care ideas, is Googling like mad to find negative things to say about Mike Hatch. Does the GOP have a clue?

Hatch on higher education – “The cost of higher education is not affordable. … I want tuition costs lowered.”

So the GOP drudges up some stuff on Ventura budget vuts supported by Hatch. Great. How is that going to address tuition costs? Hatch wants lower tuition. Does the GOP want higher tuition costs? No, then how does the GOP propose to control tuition cost? Again, if I’m feeling the pain of higher tuition, then my choice is a bad guy with a plan or good guys without a clue. Duh.

I’d skip the business climate issue, (“… The fact is the government should service people and businesses”) because this issue should be a gimme for the GOP given Hatch’s record, but come on, guys. How about a little analysis instead of just a bunch of headlines. Okay, Hatch is anti-business. How are Republicans pro-business? How does pro-business compare with pro-consumer? There are more consumers than business owners. Maybe the GOP should give them something to work with besides Mike Hatch sucks.

The GOP response to Hatch take on K-12 education (“The biggest issue facing our state: students do not have the financial structure to go on to higher education”) is my biggest disappointment. The GOP’s Google mentality pulls up Ventura K-12 cuts from a budget that Hatch supported. Is that all you got?

Hatch is so wrong on this issue. The biggest issue facing K-12 education is the achievement gap between white students and students of color followed closely by student readiness or lack there of for college even when they graduate. Third is funding – not as in more money, but as a simplified system for distributing education funds and measuring the return on education dollars invested.

How is the GOP going to address those real K-12 education problems? Hatch is defining the problem in terms of dollars, and it’s not a dollars problem, but the GOP lets him get away with it.


I’m tiring of bashing the GOP, but sooner or later they got to give us something positive – something with a little more substance than 14 pages of philosophical conflicting bullet points or educational silliness like the bureacratic mandate of 70 percent of funds to the classroom. "We're not Democrats" isn't going to cut it.