Wednesday, May 26, 2010

America Speaking A new way to listen to conservatives or a new way for liberals to bash them?

There is a new website in the internet galaxy, and it's There is a video on the home page that explains what the site is about. It was developed by House Republicans as an effort to gather the ideas of fellow Republicans about the direction in which to lead our country.

On the site, you can post an idea and people can vote either thumbs up or down. You can list your own tags for your idea, and there are currently too many categories to count. They range from the normal (liberty, taxes, spending, constitution, second amendment) to the ridiculous (chipmunks, cheese, toaster, ha-ha, donuts and rent-a-boy).

It was a sincere effort by Congress to listen to the American people. Yes, it was developed by Republicans for Republicans, but they do encourage people from all political belief systems to participate in a "respectful" way.

Well you can ask, but, as Mick Jaggar said, you can't always get what you want.

This is what they are getting: (All grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors are from the original posts.)

In the pro-life forum:

Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?

In the 20th Century as women's roles in the work place increased so has the suffrage of women. Despite all of this, those pigs in congress feel content to ignore this terrible, terrible injustice. It is time to end this vicious cycle and outlaw women's suffrage. Make your voice heard america.

the sanctity of life should be protected. Before an abortion, the patient should be forced to name the baby, knit the baby pajamas, and make a mixed tape for the baby,

In a forum entitled "Borders:"

We need to do what the Soviet Union did in Berlin, along the US/Mexican boarder. We can make it into a video game like teh movie Gamer. We can set up machine guns and have gamers shoot them down as they run towards the boarder.

We need a righteous example set for the illegals which trespass against us. The Bible advocates the crucifixion of any foreigners which violate the Christian, God-bestowed borders of the USA. Remember your Corinthians!

In the Unemployment forum:

Why not institute on site brothels for our military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq? I'm certain we could find plenty of willing, and attractive, patriotic women to fill this much needed role. Remember America, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!

In a forum entitled "Oil Spill"

We need to make the enviro-whackos trying to create a panic over the golf oil spill to shut the he!l up! OIL IS A NATURAL SUBSTANCE!!! You cook with it (vegatable oil), clean with it (lemon oil), put it on your skin (oil of olay), etcetera. GOD put it there for us to use, and anyone saying that a NATURAL SUBSTANCE is bad for NATURE either is severly misguided or diliberately lying to promote thier own SOCIALIST agenda.

In the Family Values forum:

Sarah Palin and Levis Johnson need to get back together for the sakes of Truck and Tractor.

And the piece de resistance, the Xenu forum:

Xenu respects the life of all children, except John Travolta's. There are ten posts under this heading that are just as vile.

When I first visited the site, the trolling by liberals and the stupid, offensive posts were much, much more prolific. It looks like the moderator has been taking some things down. I hope they continue to do that because their, in my opinion, honest effort to communicate with the American people appeared to be failing because immature, leftist nut jobs couldn't leave the site alone.

One liberal wrote that this site was the most fun to troll, and there is a facebook page devoted entirely to Stupid things Posted on America Speaking Out, which I originally thought would contain some of the things like I posted here, but they were posting and making fun of actual Republican and conservative ideas.

So if you are conservative and want to post an idea, I say go for it. And vote on other people's ideas. But if you are a liberal, or progressive or whatever, if you go to the site, be a grown up and only post serious, helpful ideas. There were a few good posts from the left, and I really appreciated them.

As for the site, I hope this works out for the Congressional Republicans. It was an interesting idea and, I hope, a successful one.

Monday, May 24, 2010

StarTribune needs to check its headlines for accuracy

Saturday's headline in the StarTribune read, "Hopefuls for governor seek $6 billion solution: Gubernatorial candidates float ideas like taxing the rich, cutting human services, and putting slots at horse-racing tracks."

The headline should have read, "Gubernatorial hopefuls seek solution to $6 billion deficit: Democrat and Independent gubernatorial candidates float ideas like taxing the rich, cutting human services, and putting slots at horse-racing tracks." I didn't like the "seek $6 billion solution," because when first reading it, it implies the candidates are seeking to spend $6 billion as a solution to something. The headline is not only inaccurate but unclear.

This selection from the article details what I believe to be a sloppy job of reporting what Republican candidate Tom Emmer proposes:

Emmer, the Republican-endorsed candidate for governor, has not offered details on his plan to balance the state budget.

On the campaign trail, Emmer said a state government reduction of 20 percent "would be easy." He says the cuts would be the result of an overhaul of state government, rather than across-the-board slashing.

"We will start taking apart those things and do what people expect and deserve," he said.

Emmer said his budget plan will take shape soon based on talks with Minnesotans. His priorities include maintaining roads and bridges and providing general education.

A steady refusal to raise taxes characterized his budget philosophy in the Legislature. Emmer voted against the latest budget compromise, which included $3 billion in cuts and shifts negotiated by fellow Republican Pawlenty.

Emmer said he agreed with the spending priorities mostly, but the deal "missed the opportunity to do significant structural reform."

As far as the above excerpt goes, I think Emmer's wanting to talk to Minnesotans on the campaign trail before he produces a final budget plan is admirable. He is going into this with the absolute correct attitude: the governor of Minnesota works for the people of Minnesota. The people need to have a say in what the budget should include.

To say "Emmer hasn't offered details on his plan to balance the state budget" is just lazy. On Emmer's official website, Emmer for Governor, he offers this under the heading, "Government Spending:"

As governor, I will stop the spend-and-tax cycle by calling first and foremost for a balancing of the budget. I will not accept a spending bill until the deficit no longer exists. I will not support tax increases that place the burden for excessive spending on taxpayers. I will drastically reduce the size of government through elimination of duplicative programs and services within state agencies, and the employees who provide them.

We must define what government does, and then we must prioritize.

We can invest in our priorities by making smart choices. We must reduce the size of government by eliminating excessive and unnecessary bureaucracies, and spending will reduce naturally.

This is just a portion of what is included in the "Government Spending" tab on Emmer's website. Does the StarTribune not allow its reporters to use information the candidate himself put on his website and maybe, I don't know, contact the candidate or the candidate's staff for clarification? This seems easy enough to me.

The article's subhead: "Gubernatorial candidates float ideas like taxing the rich, cutting human services and putting slots at horse-racing tracks," only includes ideas from the Democrat and Independent candidates. Taxing the rich comes from Mark Dayton and every other DFL candidate. DFL endorsed candidate Margaret Anderson Kelliher says she's against it, but then says she's for it:

She said she won't be limited by seemingly simplistic campaign pledges, such as no-tax promises or balancing the bulk of the budget on the backs of high earners. She opposes both ideas as ironclad approaches.

The next sentence, however, reads:

Creating a new top-tier income tax rate for couples with a taxable income of more than $250,000 is a top priority.

So let's see, she won't be limited by "simplistic campaign pledges" such as "balancing the bulk of the budget on the backs of high earners," but creating a higher tax bracket for high-earning couples is a "top priority." Hmmmmmmm.

"Cutting human services" came from DFLer Matt Entenza, and "putting slots at horse racing tracks" comes from Indepencence Party candidate, Tom Horner. None of these ideas is from a Republican.

So, the article's headline ignores the Republican candidate but doesn't say so. I think that's inaccurate. Then it lists potentially controversial ideas some of the candidates have come up with, and leaves it up to the reader, who may only look at the headline and not read every word of the article, to infer which idea came from whom.

I think the editor who writes the headlines should pay more attention to detail. Clearly nobody was really paying attention when this article was written, unless they intended to make Margaret Anderson Kelliher look like a hypocrite.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"Clifford the Big Red Dog" has Democrat view of presidency down pat

I was watching "Clifford the Big Red Dog," a cartoon series based on the books by Norman Bridwell, with my two-year-old granddaughter this morning, and political enlightenment was bestowed upon me by the characters in the story. You never know where knowledge is going to come from, do you?

Anyway, the children in the story were discussing what they wanted to be when they grew up. One character, who is particularly narcissisitic, said she wanted to be the president of the United States when she grew up. Cut to the fantasy.

In her fantasy, she was dressed in a blue business suit with her hair pulled back to look professional. She was still a child. She was speaking behind a podium addressing a crowd of people and journalists.

She said, (I'm paraphrasing), "I declare that every Friday will be Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!" The crowd cheers.

"I declare that there will be fountains of free lemonade in every park!" Again, the crowd roars and cheers.

"And, I declare that I'm having a great big party so all of you can come and have your picture taken with me!" The crowd goes wild.

That last bit was so Obamaesque that it was funny, but the rest of it really struck me.

There is no thought to who will pay for the cookies and lemonade, or the people who serve them. What about the massive uptake in the need for cookie ingredients like chocolate chips and sugar? Would there be enough supply, and what effect would it have on staple ingredients for families like flour and eggs. Where would we get enough lemons to make all that lemonade? Could we do it in the United States, or would we have to import them? Again, we'd be using sugar, so between the cookies and the lemonade, the demand for sugar would soar. Could the sugar cane growers and processing plants keep up with the supply? Jobs would be created, so that would be an upside...

Clearly Clifford's friend is presenting a child's view of what it is to be the president. It's not unlike when a child runs for class president and makes promises that sound great to the voters, but are impossible to fulfill (e.g. I'll have the lunch ladies serve cake every day). Sadly, though, this thought process isn't confined to children. It's rampant among Democrats.

Cause and effect thinking is what is always missing from ideas to give free things to the people. And it can cripple a country, as we are witnessing in Greece as I write this.

There is a website called "if I were president" and it compiles submissions from people answering that question. The answers range from scary (I'd cut one finger off of every driver caught without using a headset while talking on the phone and driving, for EACH offense. 10 offenses = NO fingers!), to practical (lower taxes, allow failing companies to fail, keep government out of our personal lives, and look out for the country's best interests), to admirable (I would remember that I am a servant of the people, not a dictator manipulated by everyone in town who has an agenda).

But so many of the answers are dictatorial in nature, including increasing pay for all teachers and eliminating taxes. There is a lot of giving going on in the answers--giving free health care to everyone (which many people mistakenly think the recently-signed health care law provides), providing vegan meal choices to all school children, etc.

There is little acknowledgement that the president of the United States isn't supposed to sit in the White House making declarations; the congress passes the bills and the president signs them into law. Clearly who is president makes an enormous difference; but he is not king, he is an elected official in a representative republic.

When President Clinton was in office, he was instrumental in getting 100,000 more police "on the streets" all across the country. He still brags about that one. The problem with it was that there was an expiration date. After a certain amount of time, the money for the program ran out and it was unfunded. The states were then stuck with all of these police personnel and no money to pay them. It's a perfect example of an idea that sounds good (we need more police, and that will reduce crime), enacting a "solution" without thinking it through, and having the consequences cause a huge mess. This happens all too often when Democrats are left in charge.

I really think Democrats believe the presidency is like Clifford the Big Red Dog's friend's fantasy. And even more frightening, I think our current president believes it too. Like the voter who uttered the now-famous quote that with Obama as president she won't have to worry about paying her mortgage or putting gas in her car, there are people who believe he has almost super-human powers because he's president. This childish view of the presidency is common.

It's the voters on the left who believed this and voted for Obama, and it's the Democrat leaders who keep promising things they never wind up doing. They've been promising to help the poor for decades, and they have made no strides in that area whatsoever. But they keep on promising. And the voters keep on voting.

And America keeps on living with the consequences of the immature who cannot grasp cause and effect thinking, but have the power to vote. Like Clifford's friend, America needs to grow up.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Check out my interview with Neal McCluskey from the Cato Institute on

Photo of Neal McCluskey by Tom Conlin

I was honored to be asked by VOICES of Conservative Women to interview their keynote speaker for their Education Policy event last Thursday evening. I conducted the interview for my column on Hennepin County Conservative Examiner.

Neal McCluskey is the author of Feds in the Classroom, How Big Government Corrupts, Cripples and Compromises American Education.

Check out the interview at