Minnesota

Michelle Bachmann Kicks off CPAC

by Bill O'Connell on February 10, 2011

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Michelle Bachmann let off the three day CPAC conference with a keynote address that laid out the case against the current administration and the rule of Nancy Pelosi. Most of the focus of her talk was on raising the alarm on our current financial situation and its urgency.

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The Progressive War on Federalism

by Bill O'Connell on December 6, 2010

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I still find myself in awe of our Founding Fathers who created our form of government.  The competing ideas that they sifted through to come up with our Constitution and the safeguards in it is wondrous.  The designs upon it by the progressives is by equal measure disturbing.

  

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ObamaCare in Action

by Bill O'Connell on November 12, 2010

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When President Obama and his team stood before their supporters and introduced ObamaCare you could almost hear them sing in unison the Carly Simon song, “Nobody does it better…”.  They were going to bring us the health care we had been waiting for.  Magically covering every soul in America whether they wanted it or not.  If they did not, the government would be just like granny used to be, “Open wide, this won’t hurt a bit.”  Come to think of it, was that granny or… never mind.

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Never Mind Fannie and Freddie, Let’s Nail Betsy

by Bill O'Connell on August 11, 2010

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The Dodd-Frank Act that in a mere 2,000 pages sought to put the control back in financial regulation skipped right over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the Government Sponsored Enterprises that were at the heart of the fiscal crisis and are bleeding red ink.  Focusing instead on those evil bankers on Wall Street the Dodd-Frank Act really put those guys in a box, until Goldman Sachs slipped its fetters faster than Houdini.  So who’s buried under the pile of rubble that is the latest masterpiece of our massive government, Betsy Jensen.  Who is Betsy Jensen?

Betsy Jensen is a farmer in southwest Minnesota.  She and her family grow wheat and soy beans.  She doesn’t have a mortgage, so she didn’t cause the housing bubble.  But she does use derivatives to control the risk in farm prices which can be rather volatile.  For example, a bushel of wheat went for $18.69 in February of 2008 whereas it was selling for $3.49 in July of 2010.  A farmer has to buy their seed and fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season and they don’t sell their product until the harvest.  If prices fluctuate wildly during that interval, it isn’t hard to imagine what that can do to your business, let alone your sleep patterns.

So where do derivatives come in?  Farmers like Betsy can negotiate a guaranteed price for their grain with their customers.  Betsy risks missing out on some profits if the prices go up as they have recently (45%) due to fires in the wheat producing region of Russia, but she also is protected against a price drop, for similar reasons beyond her control.  She recently negotiated a price of $7.15 per bushel and with that knowledge, she can manage her farm business and sleep a little more peacefully.  For her purchases she can also use derivatives to buy fuel and fertilizer, where the latter has seen price fluctuations of $435 to $685 per ton.  Then along come Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, a couple of career politicians who never worked in the private sector.

The Dodd-Frank Act says it is unlawful to enter into swaps (derivatives) “in excess of such amount as shall be fixed from time to time” by the Commodities Futures Trading Corporation (CFTC).  That doesn’t sound like a free market to me.  What if, in Betsy’s example, the CFTC didn’t get around to raising the amount on wheat above $5 per bushel?  Betsy couldn’t arrange to sell it for $7.15.  What if the grain elevator couldn’t turn around and sell Betsy’s wheat for the 45% increase in price due to the Russian fires?  Do you think with a cap on the upside they might not be willing to pay as much for Betsy’s wheat?

From Dodd-Frank to Bill O’Reilly we hear about the evils of speculators.  O’Reilly used to rail against the speculators when gas prices were rising toward $5 per gallon.  The evil, greedy speculators were driving up the price of gas!  But little mention was made of speculators when the price of gasoline fell back down?  Did the speculators retire?  Go on vacation?  The reality is that speculators don’t care if the price goes up or down, they only care it moves in the same direction on which they are betting.  They can drive the price down just as fast as they can drive it up.  But they are useful, not evil.

Speculators bring liquidity, that is, money to the market.  Betsy Jensen estimates that about one-third of the purchasers of wheat contracts are traders who never take physical control of the product.  But by adding their view and their money to the market they keep prices from fluctuating wildly.  If these traders are banned then, as she put it, one-third of her customers would disappear.  With one-third fewer customers the price swings will increase rather than decrease.  Remember, a trader who does not take delivery of the wheat can make money on small swings in the price and is likely to get in or get out on smaller moves and thus change the market price accordingly.  If only those who take physical possession of the product are in the market, then other factors such as transport, storage, spoilage, must be factored into each transaction and the price swings will be wider and wilder.

But Betsy said it best, “I may not be able to manage Mother Nature, but I can manage my risk with derivatives.”  If only our government would get out of her way and let her do so.

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If You See Something, Say Something…, er, Never Mind

by Bill O'Connell on November 12, 2009

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If you live in New York, you will regularly hear the admonition, “If you see something, say something.”  The idea being that the more people who are on the lookout for solitary packages in a crowded railway station, people behaving erratically, and reporting it, the safer we will be.  Makes sense.  Just be careful not to malign any followers of Islam.  What?

In addition to that public service message you also hear other stories in the news.  A Muslim cab driver refuses to pick up a fare because they are carrying a recent purchase from a liquor store.  The cab driver’s religion is against drinking.  At a public university in Minnesota a coffee cart is prohibited from playing Christmas carols, but public funds are used to construct foot baths so that Muslims can properly prepare for prayer.  At an airport, security personnel cannot ask someone in line to step out for a closer search because they already pulled out two other Muslim young men and they didn’t want to be accused of racial profiling.

The Facts, Ma’am, Just the Facts

Joe Friday, where are you when we need you?  The fictional detective was obsessive in sticking to the facts.  Fact: not all Muslims are terrorists.  Fact:  almost all terrorists you see in the news are Muslims.  So if you are on the lookout for terrorists, who should you look at? eighty year old Italian grandmothers or Middle Eastern men between the ages of 20-40?

Fort Hood

People around Major Nidal Malik Hasan, saw something and said something and were basically told…SHUT UP! Apparently diversity is more precious than human life.  Taking extreme care not to offend, trumps taking steps to prevent a massacre.  There appears to have been abundant evidence that Hasan was ticking time bomb and some spoke out about it, but our sensitivities to giving offence have turned reason inside out.

We have a sub-group of a religion who actively advocate killing all non-members, that is, infidels, and we are scared to death of offending them.  Our liberal friends go out of their way to demand we all accommodate them.  We can criticize all religions but theirs; we can have dress codes, but must make allowances for their dress; if their religion allows a parent to kill a child for converting to Christianity, we must not interfere, but if a non-Muslim parent neglects to buckle a child into a car seat for a quarter mile journey to the grocery store, bring them up on charges of child neglect.

Jumping to Conclusions

Our Commander-in-Chief cautions us not to rush to judgment by calling this an act of terrorism.  Wasn’t this the same Commander-in-Chief who spoke from the White House calling a certain police department in Cambridge, Massachusetts stupid without a clue about what happened.

Political correctness, multiculturalism, an emasculated fourth estate, President Obama’s worldwide apology tour, strong arming a small Central American country, Honduras, because they followed their constitution and instead calling it a coup, all point to an embarrassing campaign by the left to drag down our country. 

Please don’t try to make us like the rest of the world.  We are greater than that.  If you prefer the way the rest of the world behaves, move there.  Don’t try to make the shining city on the hill, a city run amok. 

It’s simple really. If the world really believed that America is such a terrible place, why do we have an immigration problem?  Why do our universities teem with foreign students?  Why, whenever there is a flare-up in the world, do all eyes turn to the good old USA to see what we are going to do about it?  Where’s Ronald Reagan when you need him?

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The Multicultural Fifth Column

by Bill O'Connell on November 10, 2009

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There was a time when people came to our shores to find a better life.  To escape persecution and poverty and to build a better life for their children was their goal.  They found Lady Liberty lifting her lamp beside the golden door.

What happened next was that people assimilated.  Their children went to school with other children and learned to read and speak English.  Their names may have sounded different but before long their voices didn’t.  Sure, New Englanders sounded different than those from Mississippi, but they sounded very much like their neighbors.  They became Americans.

I just finished reading Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen’s historical novel, To Try Men’s Souls, which is the story of the George Washington crossing the Delaware on Christmas night, 1776, and attacking Trenton.  Trenton was guarded by Hessian mercenaries, who were some of the most elite soldiers in Europe.  It was a mismatch beyond belief, but in a last ditch effort, their password that night was “Victory or Death,” and with the element of surprise, they prevailed.  In one passage it mentioned American soldiers of Dutch and German extraction shouting to the Hessians to surrender, in German.  They were probably closer to the Hessians in culture and blood than to their fellow Americans from Boston, but they considered themselves Americans and were willing to die for their country.

The Balkanization of America

Today, we are mired in multiculturalism.  I remember the story of an Hispanic man loudly protesting to his local school board regarding bilingual education to which he was opposed.  “You’re teaching my son to be a janitor!” he said, “I want him to learn in English, so that he can get a job with a future!” 

We should not lose track of our roots.  It is right to celebrate where we came from.  One of the great things about New York is the different neighborhoods and parades that teach and celebrate about where we came from, which is good.  But if carried to the point where we no longer assimilate; where we remain pockets of groups with their own identity and politics, we are in grave danger of ceasing to be America.

During World War II, what if people of German heritage refused to fight against Hitler or for that matter felt a greater allegiance to him than to America?  Some did.  They were tried for treason. What if they were protected instead?  What if their differences were looked at with admiration rather than suspicion?

Fort Hood

Commentators in the news are twisting themselves in knots trying to disassociate Major Nidal Hasan’s slaughter of 13 Americans from his jihadist proclivities, despite evidence of outright hostility toward America and contact with a radical imam.  It is politically incorrect, to speak of his religion.  The Army Chief of Staff raises concern about negatively impacting the military’s record of diversity, if we focus on anything but a lone gunman who snapped.

But what if there is a larger plot?  What if there is an effort on the behalf of some Muslims to purposely not assimilate, to infiltrate the military and become a fifth column within?  Multiculturalism makes it far easier for this to occur because if everyone looks different, no one stands out.  On the other hand, if everyone assimilates, those who speak, act, or plot against America become more obvious.  Again, imagine multiculturalism in the United States in 1943.  You might have whole communities that were German to the core, did not like non-Germans among them and quickly spread the alarm when a stranger approached.  How much easier would it have been for Hitler to build a network of saboteurs?

Kill Multiculturalism Before it Kills Us

We must reinvigorate the idea of assimilation.  Speak any language you want at home; dress any way you want; practice your faith as you please, but where government is involved, we should be treated equally. We should speak one common language for all official business.  If not, where do we draw the line?

In Minnesota in 2007 a public university coffee cart was banned from playing Christmas Carols, but public money was being used to install foot baths to accommodate Muslims before prayer.  After the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and now another terrorist attack at Fort Hood, we have to be able to tell the good Muslims from those out to kill us.  We must have true peace loving Muslims, become true Americans.  We have to engender that we are Americans first, like those early Americans of Dutch and German decent, and not have divided loyalties particularly where the “other loyalty” insists on killing us infidels.

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Congressional Arrogance

by Bill O'Connell on July 11, 2009

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A Rasmussen poll 68% Say 2nd Stimulus is Likely, makes stark just how committed the statist majority of Congress is to reshaping America in their image and derisively dismissing the will of the people.  68% of those polled say a second stimulus is likely while at the same time 60% of the American people are opposed to a second stimulus while only 27% are in favor.  Let that sink in for a moment before I play it again, 68% of the American people believe that Congress will ram down their throats what only 27% are in favor of.  Is this a government for the people?  By the people?  It sounds more like Iran and their recent presidential “elections”.

In Iran, hundreds of thousands took to the street while their government responded by beating and shooting them.  In America, hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in Tea Parties, and thankfully the government hasn’t responded by beating and shooting us, but ignoring the will of the people just the same.

Promises, Promises

President Obama promised open- ness and transparency in his administration.  During the campaign his website had the following statement:

“Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them,” the campaign website states. “As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.”

Well, true to Obama’s form, there is always an escape clause, in this case, “non-emergency.”  So just declare every bill an emergency and the promise remains unbroken.  But what is an emergency?

The stimulus was pitched as an emergency and it was rushed through Congress getting passed on a Friday.  However despite all the urgency, President Obama did not sign it on Friday night, nor Saturday, nor Sunday, nor Monday as it was a holiday, but on Tuesday when a true media event surrounding the signing ceremony could be orchestrated.  So despite the conflict surrounding “hurry up and wait” why couldn’t the American people get a look at the bill during those five days?

So what’s the track record?  The Sunlight Foundation had this to say back in April:

“Of the eleven bills, only one (The DTV Delay Act) could be somewhat considered to have fulfilled the five day pledge. This could only be somewhat considered because it was posted just prior to being presented to the President, which is a slightly minor point.”

Did You Read It?

These massive spending bills (Stimulus, Cap and Trade, Health Care, TARP) are getting passed by Congress and if you ask Democrats or members of the administration if they actually read the bill they either laugh or bristle with indignation.  Carol Browner Thinks It’s Unfair to Say She Hasn’t Read the Energy Bill

So it seems like this Congress and this Administration is resolute in urgently slamming through every government enlarging and power consolidating program that they can in the least amount of time before the next election cycle.  What the American people want is immaterial if the political class can strengthen their grip on the government such that future Congresses and administrations will find it hard to undue.

Furthermore if they can get enough illegals, dead people, homeless, criminals who have lost the right to vote, registered or counted in the census so that they can enlarge their favorite Congressional districts, or fix elections then they can stay in office.  When they lose a close election they know how to immediately dispatch teams of lawyers to invalidate ballots of their opponents and count more of their own that were “missed”.  They perfected this technique in Washington state, and repeated it in Minnesota, where Republicans won both closely contested elections, but Democrats repeatedly demanded recounts until their candidate was ahead and then, with a straight face said, “enough recounts the people deserve to have this resolved.”

Pay Attention People

If more people don’t start paying attention, the greatest country in the history of the world, the United States of America, will become a nostalgic footnote.  Already Communist China is building a more capitalistic economy than we have, while we try to move toward the old, failed socialist model.  If we are not more careful, we will wake up some day and wonder how we became more like Venezuela, and feel a little bit………foolish?

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How the Pros Steal an Election

by Bill O'Connell on January 6, 2009

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Who could forget, if the left would ever let us, the Florida brouhaha about Bush stealing the election?  The fact is that Bush won the election, he won the recount, he won the re-recount, and he not only won according to a investigation by the Miami Herald and USA Today but according to that investigation if the rules that the Gore team wanted were applied, Bush’s margin of victory would have tripled.  But all you ever hear from the left is that Bush “stole” the election.  When it comes to stealing elections the Democrats are the pros.

In 2004, the race for the governorship of Washington state was very close with Republican Dino Rossi winning over Democrat Christine Gregoire by a mere 261 votes.  Under Washington law a vote that close requires a machine re-count.  The results of the hand recount was that Rossi won again, this time by 42 votes.  Rather than concede, the Democrats ponied up $800,000 for a hand re-count.  After that recount it showed Gregoire ahead by 129 votes.  Okay, shut it down, it’s over, we have a winner.  Due to the closeness of the race Rossi asked Gregoire to a runoff election.  Gregoire refused.  As she put it, “The bottom line is the election is over. Today we have a governor-elect. It’s time to move forward, and I am prepared to take on the people’s work.”  In King’s county, the final tally had 3,539 more votes counted than voters who participated in the election.

Fast forward to Minnesota.  When the election results came in Norm Coleman, the Republican won by just over 700 votes.  After the election, ballots started showing up in the trunk of cars; some districts were ruled that the election night votes were accurate, other districts were ruled the opposite;  a number of duplicate ballots were not marked duplicate as required and so were counted twice.  Many districts had the same situation as the Washington election where the numbers of votes tallied exceeded the number of voters.

So where is the outrage from the media.  Bush wins four out of four and he “stole” the election.  Gregoire and Franken lose the general election and some shady counting turns up in the recount or recounts (you have to keep recounting until the Democrat is ahead and then you immediately stop), where you have more votes than voters and everything it just fine.  Just like we have heard next to nothing about the Washington election these past four years, don’t expect to hear much from the press when Democrats steal an election.

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Obama’s Unraveling

by Bill O'Connell on January 6, 2009

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I was wondering how long it would take for Barack Obama’s lack of experience or a power base to manifest itself, but it appears the moment has arrived, and the problems keep coming.

His recent announcement or leak by his aides that Leon Panetta is his choice for head of the CIA is confounding, to say the least.  Panetta may be a nice man, and a good administrator, but in the midst of the War on Terror who but a rookie would put a rookie as head of the CIA?  Apparently Obama couldn’t push back those on the left who want no one who agrees with the Bush Administration in the post.  Two other potential appointees got hooted down by Obama’s supporters so he had to go with this pick.  The CIA is notorious for not liking outsiders.  Panetta has no intelligence experience, other than listening in on security briefings as Clinton’s Chief of Staff.

Bill Richardson withdraws his name from nomination as Commerce Secretary, due to a gathering scandal.

Eric Holder as Attorney General pick approved pardons for the FALN terrorists while working in the Clinton Justice Department and now he is responsible for prosecuting terrorists.

The Blagojevich scandal doesn’t want to go away and now the Democrats are battling over whether or not they will seat the man appointed to replace Obama in the Senate

We have the Coleman/Franken fiasco in Minnesota; Charlie Rangel under investigation for not paying taxes despite being chairman of the committee that writes the tax laws (Ways and Means); an item in the NY Times about a donation to the Clinton library from an individual who benefited from legislation supported by Hillary Clinton…

How long before the press decides the honeymoon is over?

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