Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jason Lewis goes national but will be heard locally

100.3 KTLK-FM host Jason Lewis, a.k.a. "Minnesota's Mr. Right" is movin' on up: his afternoon drive time show will be nationally syndicated beginning on Monday.

Reportedly, Lewis's show will continue to be heard in the Twin Cities in KTLK-FM, but from 5-8 pm instead of its current 4-7 pm, to enable a coast-to-coast live broadcast. This will give Lewis a daily national audience beyond his recent guest-host stints for Rush Limbaugh.

Lewis has long provided Twin Cities conservatives with a kindred spirit, liberals with a nemesis, and elected officials like Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Rep. Jim Ramstad (MN-3), and state Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia) — affectionately referred to by Lewis as "Tommy the Commie" — with a severe headache. We hope that his new gig will still allow enough time for him to appear at his signature, annual Tax Cut Coalition rally on April 15 at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stimulus: what would Reagan do?

This is no time to repeat the shopworn panaceas of the New Deal, the Fair Deal and the Great Society. John Kenneth Galbraith, who, in my opinion, is living proof that economics is an inexact science, has written a new book. It is called “Economics and the Public Purpose.” In it, he asserts that market arrangements in our economy have given us inadequate housing, terrible mass transit, poor health care and a host of other miseries. And then, for the first time to my knowledge, he advances socialism as the answer to our problems.

Shorn of all side issues and extraneous matter, the problem underlying all others is the worldwide contest for the hearts and minds of mankind. Do we find the answers to human misery in freedom as it is known, or do we sink into the deadly dullness of the Socialist ant heap?

Those who suggest that the latter is some kind of solution are, I think, open to challenge. Let’s have no more theorizing when actual comparison is possible. There is in the world a great nation, larger than ours in territory and populated with 250 million capable people. It is rich in resources and has had more than 50 uninterrupted years to practice socialism without opposition.

We could match them, but it would take a little doing on our part. We’d have to cut our paychecks back by 75 percent; move 60 million workers back to the farm; abandon two-thirds of our steel-making capacity; destroy 40 million television sets; tear up 14 of every 15 miles of highway; junk 19 of every 20 automobiles; tear up two-thirds of our railroad track; knock down 70 percent of our houses; and rip out nine out of every 10 telephones. Then, all we have to do is find a capitalist country to sell us wheat on credit to keep us from starving!

—California Governor Ronald Reagan, Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Washington, DC, March 1, 1975

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Budget Town Hall Meeting coming to Plymouth, February 26

Photo: 'Young Frankenstein,' © 1974 20th Century Fox
The Legislature is conducting a series of town hall meetings across the state to hear directly from constituents about the budget deficit. This is certainly more convenient for constituents than taking a half-day off work to drive to Saint Paul to elbow past the teachers' union lobbyists to meet with one's legislators (especially since even most metro area residents haven't even been to the Capitol since their fifth grade field trip, much less know their way around the Capitol and the State Office Building). It is less convenient, however, than picking up the telephone or sending an e-mail to one or multiple state Senators or Representatives (which most of us also have not done since fifth grade).

At their best, these town hall meetings can provide a Norman Rockwell-esque image of representative government: from the people's lips to their legislators' ears. At their worst, these meetings can degenerate into a political theater of literal shouting matches between competing special interests and ideologies. Such is government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And yet, the world belongs to those who show up to the meetings.

Speak now (or call, write, or e-mail) or forever hold your peace. Now is the time to tell the Legislature and Governor Pawlenty how you would balance the budget: before they tell you how they're going to do it.

Minnesota Legislature
Budget Solutions Town Hall Meeting
Thursday, February 26th, 7:00 p.m.
Plymouth City Hall
3400 Plymouth Blvd

Pre-register if you wish to testify.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sales tax funds environment and arts (or will it)?

Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) Photo: Minnesota House of RepresentativesRep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) informed us that the board that is charged with overseeing the sales tax revenue that is now constitutionally dedicated to the environment and arts wants a large piece of the action for its own expenses:
In November [2008], voters passed a sales tax increase to fund the environment and the arts. A portion of this new revenue (33 percent) will be allocated by the newly created Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council. This week in committee, this council asked that $150,000 be transferred from the Department of Natural Resources water recreation account to the council for administrative and travel expenses from November 2008 to October 2009.

Several members raised concerns over this proposal, myself included. The transfer comes to roughly $13,000 per month or over $1,000 per council member in expenses. I think the people of Minnesota believed this money would go to the environment and arts. In committee, myself and others advocated for accountability measures to be put in place.

Voting for "the environment" and "the arts" may feel good, but the price is bigger government, more bureaucracy, and higher permanent spending as well — even when sales tax revenue goes down. Kudos to Anderson for raising the question, who's watching the watchdog?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pogemiller & GOP: through the looking glass

At first read, it appears that Tim Pugmire got it backwards on his Polinaut blog post:
  • Sen. Larry Pogemiller (DFL-Minneapolis), arch nemesis of the Republicans, favoring "across the board" spending cuts of 13.65 percent, which would mean a $1.5 beeel-yun cut for K-12 education.
  • Rep. Marty Seifert (R-Marshall), House Minority Leader and conservative stalwart, responding with "I don't think that slashing K-12 funding and dumping quality improvement programs [Q-Comp] is the right answer to what ails Minnesota."

Democrats calling for cuts to K-12 funding? Republicans, including the governor, vowing to hold K-12 harmless? Curiouser and curiouser.

In the words of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, "You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid."

Governor Pawlenty, this is not the time to let a crisis to go to waste.

Republicans should (I can't believe I'm writing this) reach across the aisle to Sen. Pogemiller in a bipartisan spirit to help him reach his bold goal of cutting $1.5 billion from Minnesota's K-12 budget. We should start by opting out from the impossible "Adequate Yearly Progress" accountability provisions of the Federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). School districts are finding that the costs of compliance with NCLB are exceeding the federal funding they receive from it.

We should continue by dusting off Republican K-12 education reform measures that increase school choice (education tax credits), increase the local control of our independent school districts, and decrease the power of the state and Education Minnesota over those districts' local decision making.

I know, only in Wonderland.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Two Below Honey

Our friends at Minnesotans for Global Warming send their video greetings from Minne-So-Cold with this Van Morrison-inspired "Two Below Honey." At just under seven minutes, it's too long, but it's still hilarious, so watch the whole darn thing (current Twin Cities global cooling temperature: -7 degrees F).

UPDATE: "Two Below Honey" was removed from YouTube due to a copyright claim. It was fun while it lasted.