Chanting Points Memo: The Head Fake

Joe Soucheray got fooled.

The entire Twin Cities media has either been fooled, or is playing along.   I vote “playing along”.

Governor Messinger Dayton and Senate Majority Leader Bakk aren’t “fighting”, or “at odds”, or “in a conflict” over the DFL’s so-called “tax cuts” (which, let’s not forget, “cut” less than 10% of the four billion dollars worth of tax hikes the DFL jammed down back in 2013).

This is all theater.   And it’s about as spontaneous as a porn shoot.

Signs the DFL planned this from the ground up?   Ask yourself this; why is Governor Messinger Dayton, who is up for re-election this year, “in conflict” with Tom Bakk – who is not up for re-election this year – and not Paul Thissen, who is?

The entire “story” is a carefully-manicured charade designed to make Mark Dayton – who signed four billion dollars worth of tax hikes last year with little more thought (and perhaps little more knowledge) than he’d use signing a credit card receipt at the Oceanaire – look like a “tax cutting moderate” compared with the Senate (who are utterly safe for the next two years, and for whom the media will help engineer something in two years anyway), but heaven forbid not the House, who are, mirabile dictu, not involved in this particular fracas.

Chanting Points Memo: Koch Fiends

How much reporting could conservatives save by simply referring to Berg’s Seventh Law – “When a Liberal issues a group defamation or assault on conservatives’ ethics, character, humanity or respect for liberty or the truth, they are at best projecting, and at worst drawing attention away from their own misdeeds” – to explain “progressive” efforts to slander/”attack” conservatives, their organizations, and their supporters? 

Hard to say.  Lots.

That said, it’s good to get the details.

James Taranto chronicles the left’s current assault on  the Koch Brothers – who, along with the tiny think tank “ALEC” and the NRA are the the repository of most lefty boogeyman-mongering – and finds it a troubling variant on a standard “progressive” tactic…:

We’re torn between finding this effort sinister and ridiculous, and the truth is it’s both. Alinskyite tactics were meant to be applied against the powerful by the powerless. When applied by powerful men, like Reid, who are supposed to be public servants, they take on the character of tyranny rather than rebellion.

…as well as a classic case of Berg’s Seventh Law in action (

No doubt the Kochs can take it, but note that his attack aimed not only at them but also at ordinary Americans who have been victimized by ObamaCare and spoken out about it. The aim is clearly to intimidate others and thereby suppress information about ObamaCare’s failures.

Not to mention make dissenting from the “progressive” narrative too painful for non-billionaires to carry on.  See also “Joe the Plumber”.

Strib: “Look At All That Money!”

You know me.

You know I believe that the Strib is – and at the highest level, sees itself – as a PR arm for the DFL.

I don’t think I’ve left a whole lot of you wondering about my beliefs about Minnesota’s Newspaper of Record.

But I never figured the business section’s Neal Saint Anthony would turn into a stenographoer for Alida Messinger, too.

But one of my last little outposts of pollyannaism about theStrib’ssense of detachment has been the business section, especially Neal Saint Anthony.

I was wrong, of course:

Nearly half of the tax cuts Gov. Mark Dayton proposed Thursday are for businesses and their owners, a move that may reduce the anti-business criticism that has dogged him.

 Dayton proposed — and the House almost immediately passed — eliminating three business-sales taxes that accounted for $232 million in his overall $616 million in tax cuts.

 He also asked lawmakers to simplify and raise the estate tax deduction to $2 million from $1 million and to eliminate the gift tax, a 10 percent levy on any personal gift above $1 million. Those moves would cut $43 million in taxes, bringing the combined cut on businesses and the wealthy to $275 million, or 44 percent of the total.

So let’s get this straight:

  • In 2013, the DFL went on a taxing orgy, jacking up taxes by a net $2 Billion.  With the economy still moving forward after a decade of Republican control, revenues actually went up $3 Billion.  That’s an extra $600 taken out of the productive economy for every man, woman and child in Minneosta.   This orgy of larceny was treated with kid gloves by the Minnesota media. 
  • In 2014, the DFL proposes “giving” a few hundred million of those three billion dollars “back”.    This “gift” is being greeted with saturation media coverage, in a key election year in which – mirabile dictu – the DFL is in dire need of a PR win. 

Why, it’s almost as if a cynic might expect to dig back into the “hypothetical” Minnesota version of Journo-List and find a conversation between key DFL operatives and the major Twin Cities media figures saying “we’ll grab all the taxes we can first; keep mum about it.  We’ll give some back next year; make a huge deal about it.  And for God’s sake, never talk about MNSure!”. 

But that’d be cynical, wouldn’t it?

Chanting Points Memo: Will Susan Perry Ever Stop Treating Readers Like Junior High Kids?

There must be a legislative session coming up; the MinnPost – a local group-blog funded by liberals with deep pockets employing a rogue’s gallery of recycled local big-media people – is back on the gun beat.

Last week, Susan Perry – their “consumer health reporter”, whose sloppy reporting on this subject we’ve repeatedly, even routinely, beaten up in this space – wrote a fluff piece about a metastudy (a repackaging of the data in other studies) appearing in the Annals of Internal Medicine that shows that having a gun in the home doubles chance of a murder, and triples the chance of suicide.

And it reminded me of an episode from twenty years ago.

Let’s flash back, shall we?

The Gullible, Biased Hack Beat:  Back in the early nineties, the anti-gun media (which was most of them, back then) breathlessly recited a factoid; a study in the New England Journal of Medicine had showed, we were told, that a gun in the home was 43 times as likely to kill the owner, or someone the owner knew, than it was to kill a criminal.

The media reported this uncritically, without question, much less the faintest pretense of analysis of the data that led to that very specific number.

Of course, some Real Americans in the Second Amendment movement did dig into the study, back when “the internet” was still “Usenet” for most people.

They found that the data came from King County, Washington, during a period of several years in the late eighties.  And the “43:1” ratio actually broke out, over the period of time, to nine justifiable deaths of criminals that the shooter didn’t know, against something like 380-odd other firearms deaths.

And of those 380-odd firearm deaths, the vast majority were suicides – enough to account for 36-37 of the “43”.  Of the remaining 6 from the “43” – 50-odd firearms deaths – there were a few accidents; the rest were murders or manslaughters of one kind or another.  And note that it only counted the presence of a gun in the home, not whether it was used; if someone broke into your home and shot you as you were peeling potatoes at your kitchen counter, but there was a gun in the house, it went into the “43”.

Suicide is obviously a problem – but it doesn’t depend on firearms.  Japan, where guns are unobtainable, has double the US’ suicide rate.   But leaving out suicides, the rate dropped to more like six to one.

But there were other clinkers in the way the “43:1”, or even the 6:1, figures were generated, and related to the public by a media that, at best, didn’t know what it was talking about and, at worst, didn’t care.

Walt White Knew Jack Welker!:  The phrase “gun owner or someone they know” was the first problem.

Someone who shoots himself, obviously, is “killing themselves or someone they know”.  But then so is a drug dealer shooting a rival, or a customer that owes them money, is “killing someone they know”, as is a gang-banger shooting a long-time rival So is a woman shooting an ex-husband that’s been stalking and threatening her.  So is someone killing a robber that they had met, even once, ever.

The NEJM study didn’t distinguish between those types of killings.  The “1” in the “43:1” ratio only included justifiable homicides where the shooter had never met the victim.

Why So Bloodthirsty?:  Did you notice that the only “good” results in the New England Journal study – the “1” in “43:1” – were the nine justifiable killings of complete strangers?

Leaving aside the likelihood (indeed, fact) that some of the homicides of acquaintances were justifiable – why is a justifiable killing of a complete, malevolent stranger the only legitimate use of a firearm?

The study didn’t account for deterrences of other crimes.  A gun used to scare away a burglar or a stalker doesn’t have to kill anyone to have a beneficial effect – deterring a felony without a shot being fired.

The Real Results?:  So when you take the numbers from the “43:1” ratio, and then…:

  • factor out suicides (which are a problem, and were the vast majority of the deaths in the study, but are entirely different than crimes committed with malice against others)
  • move the justifiable homicides of “acquaintances” – ex-spouses and the like – into the “good” column”
  • Account for the “bad” shootings that involved someone who was drunk or high, or had a criminal record
  • Add in estimates of the number of crimes that would have been deterred by law-abiding citizens with guns in the same area during the same period

…then the original New England Journal of Medicine study’s numbers came out more like this:

  • A gun in a home in which one or more residents had a criminal record, drinking or drug problem was equally likely to be involved in a murder or unjustified killing as it was to deter a crime.
  • A gun in a home without any of those problems was dozens or hundreds of times as likely to deter a crime (depending on the estimate of deterrences you accepted – from the conservative FBI estimate to the much more expansive estimate by Gary Kleck, which by the way tracks pretty well with the Centers for Disease Control’s recent work on the subject) as to be involved in an unjustifiable homicide.  That’s dozens at least, hundreds at most

So How About Sue Perry’s Article?:  A quick scan of the metastudy in Annals shows that it (or, more proximately, the studies it mines for data) does not, in fact, control for…:

  • drug abuse
  • Alcohol abuse
  • criminal records

…among the subjects in the “study”.

Like the reporting on the NEJM study twenty-odd years ago, it considers firearms in a vacuum, without accounting for any of the human factors – criminal activity of the owner, sustance abuse issues, or mental illness.

Neither does it distinguish between justifiable homicide – which accounts for 2-3% of all firearms deaths in America in a given year – and murder, manslaughter or accidental deaths. 

It’s junk science…

…well, no.  It’s junk social science, which is the worst kind.

Susan Perry is doing junk reporting of junk non-science, to report a meaningless, junk conclusion. 


Remember:  The MinnPost operates with the assistance of a large annual grant from the Joyce Foundation.

Follow the money. Journos do it – when it’s not Alida Messinger or Michael Bloomberg’s money, anyway.

The Joyce Foundation also funds…

  •  “ProtectMN”, the closest Minnesota gets to an actual gun control “organization”,
  • “TakeActionMN”, which essentially serves as an unregulated “progressive” political party whose mission is to drive the DFL to the left.  It may be the most successful political party in Minnesota today – precisely because the laws that apply to the GOP and (to some extent) DFL don’t apply to it. 


All “journalism” about guns – and politics and general – from the MinnPost must be considered with that in mind.

So why would the MinnPost publish a continuous chain of stories about Second Amendment issues that range from bad science to bad history to bad scholarship to really, really bad reporting

Because, I suggest, it’s what they’re being paid to do.   

There was a time when “journalists” would have recoiled at any suggestion that their coverage was bought and paid for to secure some special interest’s narrative. 

Those days are long past us – to everyone who pays attention.

Chanting Points Memo: The Rainbow Maria

“Progressive” and Administration efforts to shut up conservatives are continuing apace as the nation gets set for another ugly round of elections.

One of their latest memes?  “Dark Money”.

To hear the usual liberal suspects (including most of the “news” media – “Dark Money” is an insidious scourge against Democracy.

But of course, the definition depends entirely on who’s using it.  And I don’t entirely mean “if it’s Alita Messinger, it’s OK”.

No, the hypocrisy goes deeper than that:

The HuffPo and the rest of the left define “dark money” groups as non-profits who don’t have to disclose the identity of donors. This non-disclosure of donors is actually a byproduct of the civil rights struggle, when the government sought to protect donors from intimidation by groups like the KKK. Given that conservatives feel the need for anonymity over their political speech is a stark reflection of how far leftist rhetoric has devolved.

And why do conservative donors feel the need to protect their identities?

Ahead of his reelection in 2012, President Obama published an “enemies list” of donors to his opponent Mitt Romney. Obama’s campaign even urged supporters to “report” attacks on the President’s record. Business Frank VanderSloot found himself the subject of two IRS audits, an investigation by the Department of Labor and the subject of an investigation by a Democrat Senate staffer, just days and weeks after being publicly named as a major Romney donor.

At the end of 2013, a cancer patient, Bill Elliot, went public with the news that his health insurance had been cancelled due to ObamaCare. An insurance broker, C. Steven Tucker, heard about his situation and helped Elliot get new insurance coverage. Both men appeared in the press about the events. Both men also, on the exact same day, were notified by the IRS that they were being audited.

Given the details revealed last year about how the IRS targeted conservative and grass roots organizations for extraordinary scrutiny and review, it is not unreasonable for conservatives to worry that they will be targeted for their political activity.

And like the campaign against ALEC, it’s all further evidence in favor of Berg’s Seventh Law – when liberals attack conservatives motives, commitment to freedom or ethics, it’s a cover for something they’re doing themselves.

But this year, there’s the added imperative change the conversation.

To anything!

The left knows they are at a disadvantage. HuffPo’s warning about “dark money” is just the first salvo in the campaign to silence the right this year. To paraphrase the old legal saw, if neither the facts or the law are on your side, pound the table. The left is going to pound the table loudly until November.

Look for the scourge of ALEC to make its reappearance as the Minnesota legislative sessions re-opens next month.

Chanting Points Memo: Irrational Exuberance

The local establishment media have been flogging a article in the NYTimes in which Professor Larry Jacobs – the most over-quoted person in Twin Cities media, although Professor David Schultz is breathing hard on his heels – claims “progressive” Minnesota’s outlook is better than “conservative” Wisconsin’s.

I was going to tackle it – but Jeff Peil already did, and did it just fine.

Read the whole thing – but here’s the money quote:

So what does it matter? The whole point of Jacobs’ article is that Minnesota and Wisconsin are perfect little laboratories to measure the consequences of completely opposite policies. The only problem is that they are not. What’s worse is that the consequences he cites are so cherry-picked, that Politifact, renowned in conservative circles for being vehemently left-leaning, actually pre-empted Jacobs’ drivel a couple of months ago. Politifact called it a half-truth to state that Minnesota is faring better than Wisconsin in important areas. But, you see, that does not matter to the likes of Jacobs or the Times. Walker must be taken down – sound reasoning and intellectually honest analysis is irrelevant.

The truth is that it is way too soon to see what differences, if any, exist between liberal and conservative rule. Mark Dayton spent much of his term battling a Republican majority, which, like its federal counterpart, shut the government down. Being as generous as I can, he has had about nine months to enact his policies. Similarly, Scott Walker spent the majority of his term battling a recall effort which ended up with his party losing control of one chamber of the legislature.

Economies take time to change – but the parade of suck has begun in Minnesota.

Winkler Karaoke: “Making Bipartisanship Out Of Nothing At All”

Ryan Winkler (DFL St. Louis Park) is beating the bushes around Minnesota to try to gin up a push for a massive hike in the minimum wage (and cobble together some positive name recognition to try to rescue his rumored ambition to run for Secretary of State after the avalanche of negative publicity he got by calling Justice Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom” over the summer).

Now, Winkler is from a solid blue district.  He can demand a minimum wage of $20 an hour, and the voters in Saint Louis Park and most of CD5 will applaud and stomp their feet and send him back to Saint Paul with 20 point margins of victory.  Such is life. 

But outstate?  In parts of Minnesota with functioning two-party systems, where the majority don’t work for government?  Especially in parts of the state represented by extremely weak DFLers like Ben Lien?

Winkler, one of the most extreme demigogues in the entire Legislature, needs to try to appear “bipartisan”.

This video was shot by a Winkler staffer at a town hall in Moorhead recently.

So at the start, he says the support for his $9/50/hour minimum wage proposal from a House Select Committee on the minimum wage  is “bipartisan”.

Around the 90 second mark, a Town Hall attendee presses Winkler on the support his proposal is receiving – and whether the Republican members of the Select Committee on the Minimum Wage actually signed off on his presentation.

Winkler quickly answers “no” before moving right along.

No wonder why.  Here’s the presentation Winkler’s making:

Rep Winkler’s Living Wage Presentation

That it’s full of lefty puffery and junk stats about the minimum wage is no surprise.

But forget about the actual facts for a moment. 

Why would Winkler claim “bipartisan support?”  This would lmean the Republicans on the Select Committee –  Representatives Jenifer Loon, Pat Garofalo and Andrea Kieffer – supported his stance, and the points on his presentation.

Sources say Winkler’s repeating the claim at other town hall meetings where – unlike the Moorhead meeting in the video – nobody’s pressing him on the claim.

Pat Garofalo has spoken against Winkler’s proposal in the House.  I talked with Rep. Garofalo – he opposes the $9.50 minimum wage, and has not changed his mind one iota. 

And a source close to Representative Loon tells me that not only does Loon not support the $9.50 minimum wage, but that the DFL, possibly including some DFL members of the Select Committee, might not entirely support Winkler. 

Finally, I talked with Representative Kieffer.  She does not support Winkler’s proposal, and does not approve of the points in the presentation. She’s even written an op-ed on the subject, which has circulated to some local newspapers around the state; it’s below the jump.  It flenses Winkler’s claims about the minimum wage in general.

But here’s the money quote from Kieffer in re the “bipartisanship” of Winkler’s support:

First and foremost, the implication that there is “bipartisan” support for his presentation is disingenuous. During meetings that I attend, I consistently voice my concerns to the data presented, ask for more specifics, and maintain that the committee is focusing on the wrong part of the economic picture.

And Kieffer is right.

So why is Ryan Winkler misrepresenting the Select Committee’s position as “bipartisan” support for his proposal around greater Minnesota, when not only are the Republicans not on board, but even the DFL has qualms?

It’s not bipartisan.  It’s not even entirely monopartisan! 

Continue reading

Chanting Points Memo: Our Spunky, Cute, White Underclass

The fact is, I have a lot of questions about the minimum wage debate.

Of course, the uncountably vast majority of people who are earning minimum wage are kids, or others who are just entering the workforce.  People who haven’t yet developed even the most rudimentary work skills – like showing up on time, much less running the shake machine or the deep fryer with authority.

But there are people earning the minimum wage who do, in fact, have themselves and others depending on their income.

If you’re a conservative, you no doubt suspect that that sad state is because of poor choices; partying too much in high school and not getting an education; having children out of wedlock; working on the easy crime career before developing the boring straight career.

Of course, not every person is affected by their own choices.  When you party you way into your twenties, do jail time, get knocked up and wind up having to raise a family on a wage that wouldn’t support a single person, you are very likely passing a lot of problems on to the next generation; you’re passing your bad, shortsighted, immature and/or stupid choices on to them.  “Personal Responsibility” is great when it’s just your own choices affecting you – but when your parents, and grandparents, were idiots or drunks or screw-ups, what’s a kid to do?

(And if you’re the progeny of a couple of generations of people who made good choices, worked hard, got good jobs and dedicated themselves to helping you make good choices, too, then thank whatever it is you believe in.  It’s a major leg up in life).

Now, I’m not sure how many of Jessica English’s choices were her ancestors, and how many were hers.  But the media certainly is playing up the results – the state of Ms. English’s life today:

Jessica English is the face of a newly revived effort to raise Minnesota’s minimum wage.

Ms. English, speaking at the Minnesota State Fair, illustrating the dangers of poverty to cute, white women from Wayzata who choose to work in art.

She earned minimum wage while working in rural western Minnesota, places such as Fergus Falls, Ortonville and Kerkhoven. A case worker called it the “land of the minimum wage.”

Now, the 35-year-old divorced mother said she faces losing custody of her four daughters, ages 6 to 15, because she earned so little, even though her finances improved a bit since moving to St. Paul.

On the one hand?  That sounds scary – being 35 and up against it like that.   Now, I have no idea what got Ms. English to this point in her life – single, four kids, job skills worth $6.15 an hour.

(As to the “losing custody” bit, though?  Er, if she was a single father – presuming that’s who Ms. English would be contesting for custody – would the media even care?  What if the father is better able to provide a decent life for the kids?  The double standard is nothing new).

But the fact is, one does make choices in one’s life.  I’ve made a few; I left radio, my first career, when I was married and had two kids and another on the way, and was making $6.50/hour, and painstakingly taught myself how to convince managers I was a competent technical writer.  I adapted.  I did what it took to develop a skill that would get me and my family out of poverty.  I don’t want, or deserve, a cookie for that – that’s what you do when you have a family; you take care of them.  I had some blessings, of course; I’d gotten a passable education when I had the chance, I’d avoided doing any jail time, that sort of thing. Perhaps my greatest blessing?  Growing up in a place and time when “not being ready to raise a family when I had one” still had some moral weight.

And it’d seem Ms. English has learned that lesson, at least in part.  The article notes that her financial situation has “improved a bit since moving to St. Paul”.

Where she works – for an inadequate wage, perhaps, although we don’t know – as a “community organizer” for “The Coffee Party”, the beyond-astroturf liberal-plutocrat-funded “response” to the Tea Party. 

In other words, one of the liberal-plutocrat-supported non-profits that’s agitating for a “living wage” apparently won’t provide one. 

Judging by Ms. English’s rap sheet, she spent the last several years working in the public/non-profit art business – a famously penurious racket, usually the province of trust fund babies, bored housewives and young, no-strings-attached arts majors.

I don’t know Ms. English.  But how much weight should the media give the testimony of a person who has apparently dedicated herself to finding and remaining in poverty?

And how much should Minnesota’s real working poor – the 20 year olds scrambling for their first jobs at Burger King, who will be the first to get laid off when the robots do finally take over the fast food business, the immigrants who are working as many minimum wage jobs as they can while they learn English and develop other skills, the poor kids who need to some some reassurance that there’s a future in working the straight and narrow rather than turning to crime – have to pay for such dilettantism?

Because it’s their jobs – not the “Community Organizer” jobs for fashionable lefty non-profits – that’ll be disappearing.

UPDATE:  Someone emailed “aren’t you being a bit condescending?”

Me?  Not a bit.  There’s a reason that the poverty pimps are trotting out an attractive white woman instead of a 30 year old Somali immigrant.  Put another way – the proponents of the minimum wage hike are doing the condescending, here.

We Warned You. Oh, Yes, We Did.

2011:  As the GOP majority began working to try to tame Minnesota’s government monkey, the DFL prattled “the GOP is raising property taxes!”. 

It was baked monkey doodle, of course.  The GOP re-focused “Local Government Aid” toward its original mission, helping poor outstate communities, as opposed to subsidizing the urban DFL. 

But in 2012, it was one of the DFL’s big chanting points; “Elect us and we’ll lower property taxes!”, by restoring and boosting Local Government Aid. 

And some of us warned you back then – while the DFL would certainly tuck into the job of wrenching more money out of the parts of the state that pay their way, there’d be no guaranteed cuts in property taxes…

…because the state has nothing to do with what counties charge.

Nothing.  Zip.  Nada.  Zilch. 

But the voters – maniupulated by a lot of emotional issues, and not thinking all that clearly – turned the House and Senate over to the DFL.  And the DFL raised taxes, and jacked up LGA payments to their friends in Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Duluth. 

And then what?

What the hell do you think?   Property taxes aren’t going to budge!

Joe Doakes from Como Park noticed it, and emailed:

St. Paul’s budget proposal has no layoffs; instead, there are new hires and expanded services, which the City Council President Lantry attributes to Local Government Aid received from the State of Minnesota.

Two weeks ago, Governor Dayton and the DFL promised that LGA would produce $120 million in local property tax relief instead of new spending.

But DFL politics aren’t driven by actual results.  All that’s necessary, in a state where the media mostly takes its marching orders from Alida Messinger, is that someone says taxes will go down, probably. 

And that’s exactly what’s happening. 


Nope, not in St. Paul. St. Paul taxes stay the same. The LGA gets spent on fun stuff, not boring old property tax relief. Again.

Joe Doakes

And by “fun stuff”, we mean more government employee union jobs. 

At any rate, I’ll claim a big win here – taxes in Saint Paul won’t drop, and they’ll probably rise.  Taxes in Minneapolis and Duluth will also stay the same, although there will be more “services” that serve precious few at exquisite cost.

The DFL lied.  And it’s you, the taxpayer, that’s paying the price – being taken for a ripe suck at both the state and (most) local levels. 

The funny part?  The DFL’s apparatchiks are still claiming taxes are dropping, even though they aren’t. 

It’s almost like they don’t expect the regional media to fact-check them, or give any coverage to those who do.

Chanting Points Memo: Why Yes – We Did Build It

“You didn’t build that”.

President Obama said it to America’s entrepreneurs during the campaign; the not-remotely-muted message was that “private sector innovation follows public sector investment” – that without roads, there’d be no car company; without airports, there’d be no aircraft. 

On the state level, one of Governor Messinger’s budget czars made essentially the same statement at a meeting of government and business leaders in Thief River Falls last year; without government to build the infrastructure, entrepreneurship would be doomed to failure. 

On the one level, it’s wrong – unless the entrepreneurs and their employees not only weren’t paying plenty of taxes, but hadn’t already paid their taxesforall that infrastructure all of their lives, and their parents, and grandparents, back to statehood. 

But even beyond that – and I can’t believe I and many other conservative pundits didn’t note this at the time?   It’s just not true; infrastructure tends to follow innovation.

A great example – which came first, the car or the road?

Henry Ford and dozens of other auto makers put a car in almost every garage decades before the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act in 1956. The success of the car created a demand for roads. The government didn’t build highways, and then Ford decided to create the Model T. Instead, the highways came as a byproduct of the entrepreneurial genius of Ford and others.

Read a little about the history of the automobile.  When cars were expensive, handmade playthings of the wealthy, roads, were few, far between, and largely wretched outside the cities, where they existed at all.  The normal “road” in the greater US in 1900 was a cow path or a wagon trail.  Early cars were as likely to be found driving along railroad tracks as anywhere else. 

And what happened next?  A huge federal road-building initiative? 

No!  Ford mass-produced the Model T, which brought the car financially into reasonable reach for working-class Americans.  Other auto makers followed suit. 

And then the roads got built: 


Moreover, the makers of autos, tires and headlights began building roads privately long before any state or the federal government got involved. The Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental highway for cars, pieced together from new and existing roads in 1913, was conceived and partly built by entrepreneurs—Henry Joy of Packard Motor Car Co., Frank Seiberling of Goodyear and Carl Fisher, a maker of headlights and founder of the Indy 500.

And this was the pattern for advance after advance in industry and “infrastructure”; the canal boat led to the government canal; the burgeoning steamship industry led to everything from seaports to the taming of the Mississippi; commerce, not Algore or even the Department of Defense, built the Internet. 

And the business in Thief River Falls which Governor Messinger’s budget apparatchik owed its existence to infrastructure?   Not only had they paid their fair share for the infrastructure that exists (more than their fair share, actually, given Minnesota’s business taxes) over the past 40 years, but it was the company’s existence that gave Thief River Falls the need for significant infrastructure in the first place. 

It’s time government – especially the arrogant, preening, narcissistic variety practiced by the DFL – learn its place.

All The Facts That Fit (The Narrative)

Dems must smell their own blood in the water for next year; they’re frantically trying to attack the notion that tax cuts help create jobs…

…in the minds of those who don’t check the facts.

This one’s been popping up on Twitter lately:

So I looked at the link.  It’s from “Think” Progress, which is always a good sign that you’re about to descend into the fever swamp.

And it says…:

The five states that implemented deep tax cuts during the 1990s experienced slower job growth over the next economic cycle than states that did not, and none of those states experienced income growth that exceeded inflation, CBPP found:

And what states were those?

The post doesn’t mention ’em.  You have to look at the fine print on the handy graph they included:

Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and New York?

Five states that were pretty much boom economies throughout the 2000s before the crash (perhaps because of the tax cuts in the 90s)?   States that in most cases had very little room for job growth – before the crash (at which point the “study” conks out), anyway?

This is sort of like the Dems’ slur against Romney – the Massachusetts economy grew slower when he was Governor (because it was already pretty much steaming along at full bore)!

Distrust, but verify.  Then, almost invariably, distrust some more.


Chanting Points Memo: Flat Versus Bouncy

One of the left’s favorite chanting points this past few months has been that, supposedly, Minnesota’s job growth under an all-Democrat regime has outstripped that of newly-Republican Wisconsin.

Conservatives responded that Wisconsin was shaking off the after-effects of decades of “progressive” incompetence, and would take a while, while in the meantime Minnesota was still coasting on having had ten years of one combination of GOP governor or legislature or another.

Well, the coasting’s stopped:

There was a “substantial vacation” in U.S. entrepreneurial activity last year—but nowhere was it as pronounced as in Minnesota.
That’s according to The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, a report compiled by the Kansas City, Missouri-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The study essentially defines entrepreneurial activity as being tied to the launch of new businesses, and it is meant to serve as an indicator of business-creation activity across the United States.
The report found that there was a national lull in entrepreneurship in 2012, when roughly 514,000 entrepreneurs opened new businesses each month, down from 543,000 in 2011.
The report defines entrepreneurial activity based on how many adults per 100,000 residents started a new business each month during the year. Minnesota fared the worst, with only about 150 out of 100,000 residents opening businesses on a monthly basis.

Minnesota has always been a difficult place to start a business.

Run a Fortune 500?  That’s a whole ‘nother thing – although ask yourselves how many Fortune 500s based in the Twin Cities are building non-retail operations in the state these days.

But how about Wisconsin?

This MPR story a few months back shows that while Wisconsin is lagging, a big part of the reason is that the Badgers are overcoming so much negative intertia from when the Democrats had full reign over the place.

Chanting Points Memo: Ron Latz’s Polished Turd

Death came to me the other day as I was shopping for crackers.

No, not in the whole black robe and scythe get-up.  In fact, he looked a little bit like a Ryan Winker speech sounds.

But I digress.  We started talking.

DEATH: OK, so how about “death”?  Whatdya think?

ME:  Well, I’ll choose life, if I have any say in the matter.

DEATH:  Right, right.  No problem.  I’m all about the “win-win” – well, as long as I’m not walking around in the robes, naturally.

ME: Naturally.

DEATH: So how about a compromise.  We take “death” off the table, and settle for a concussion and a toxic intestinal infection?

ME:  Er…that’s not much of a compromise…


This past week and a half, Representatives Paymar and Martens Hausman introduced stupid, oppressive, constitutionally likely-dodgy gun grab bills.  Think “death”.

In response, Representative Hilstrom and Senator Ortman filed good gun bills – bills that ratchet up the consequences for mis-using firearms.  Think “life”.

In response to the public revulsion at the Paymar/Hausman/Stalin bill and the legislative juggernaut behind the Good Gun Bill, Senator Ron Latz – the Senate Judiciary Committee Chair, who has been trying to position himself as “reasonable” on the issue for some time – has introduced a head injury and a toxic infection of a “compromise” amendment to the Senate gun grab bill .

Latz’ bill would take most of the provisions of the Hilstrom/Hortman bill, and plop in all of the worst features of the Paymar/Hausman/Stalin gun grab bills.

According to GOCRA, the “compromise” bill would bring us:

Universal Registration:

These bills would require universal registration of pistols and sporting rifles, implemented through a “universal” background check, — twice: The bills would require every sale of such guns to go through a licensed dealer, who would charge $25 per transfer. These transfers would still require a permit to purchase, for which the House bill would charge you another $25 annually.


Rights Delayed

The bills extend the time that sheriffs and police have to process a purchase permit from five to seven business days, and allow the law enforcement official to fingerprint the applicant and extend the deadline to 30 days.


Easier Carry Permit Denials

The bad bills would allow sheriffs the judgement to deny a carry permit on the basis of a subjective “likelihood” that the applicant was dangerous.

More Difficult Carry Permit Appeals

The bad bills positively encourage abusive denials: they remove the sheriffs’ obligation to pay an applicant’s legal fees when a permit denial is overturned — a safeguard that has kept sheriffs departments honest, and bogus denials fairly low, for almost 10 years. The Sheriff’s Association has not asked for this unfair reversal of law.

The bad bills also lower the sheriffs’ standard of proof of danger to self or other others from “clear and convincing evidence” to the mere “preponderance of the evidence.”

Due Process Protections Gutted

The bad bills would remove legal protections against losing your firearm rights. Currently, before you lose your right to own a firearm, you must be convicted or committed by a court. Under the new bill, any involuntary hospitalization, even overnight, would disqualify you from owning guns indefinitely.

Making The Law Abiding Into Convicts

The bad bills set a very low standard of proof for conviction of serious gun crimes, using the phrase “knows or has reason to believe” to convict sellers who reports a gun stolen, or who sell a gun to a person who later commits a crime.

More Difficult Civil Rights Restoration

The bad bills increase the difficulty and expense for a person who has paid their debt to society to regain their civil rights.

Intersting how the DFL wants felons to be able to vote while they’re still in jail, but never have a chance of getting their Second Amendment rights back.

Hearings Tonight!

The Senate is holding hearings on both the Good Gun Bill and Latz’ bill – I’ll call it The Polished Turd, since that’s about what it is – tonight.  Hope you can make it.

And keep on lighting up the phones at the Capitol, especially for members of the House and Senate committees involved.  Sources at the Capitol tell me your efforts are making a difference.  It’s not even close; pro-Second Amendment traffic from Real Americans is crushing commentary from nannystate orcs.  This needs to continue, and accelerate.  

Go here for more information.

Chanting Points Memo: The Potemkin Push

With much fanfare, a few DFL figureheads are introducing a gay marriage bill:

“Minnesotans spoke so loudly during this last election refusing to adopt that proposed constitutional amendment. It was a very clear statement, and I think we’re now ready to take the next step, and it means everything to our families.”

Surrounded by supporters, Clark and Sen. Scott Dibble, who was instrumental in the anti-amendment campaign, said their side is prepared to combat the flood of national money that’s been promised against the proposal.

I’ve been saying since the opening day of the session that the DFL was going to stall on gay marriage – and they have.

And they’ll continue to; even the DFL’s house PR organs (including the MinnPost, from which I quote) note that the DFL leadership is going very slow:

Although DFL leaders have said they personally support same-sex marriage, they haven’t been overly enthusiastic in discussing legislative action with the press.

This is echoed in fundraising letters being sent to gay marriage supporters; outstate DFLers, already alarmed by the DFL’s gun grabs and a DFL tax bill that is going over outstate like a Lindsay Lohan one-woman show in Branson, are queasy about the bill; they remember (even if the media doesn’t) that the Marriage Amendment passed, often convincingly, in most of Minnesota; it was stopped by cataclysmic turnout in the Metro.

Where, unlike greater Minnesota, the issue is a winner for the DFL.

My fearless prediction:  the DFL will introduce the bill with much fanfare (ok, that’s not a prediction, that’s what happened).  It’ll quietly die in committee.  And the Alliance for a Better Minnesota will send its flying monkeys out next year to spin the death as perfidy by a GOP caucus that, in fact, controls nothing.

Final scorecard:  those who prosper from low-information voters: 1.  Gays who wish to marry:  0.

And so it shall stay.

The Knights Who Say “Living Wage!”

SCENE:  Adriana and Michael GONZALES, age 30 and 32, owners of a small family commercial cleaning business and parents of three children, are walking through the woods near Minnehaha Park.  It’s foggy and foreboding.

ADRIANA: Mike, did you see something in the woods?

MICHAEL:  Yeah.  Looks like – guys in helmets?

ADRIANA:  This is weird.

MICHAEL:  No kidding…

(They stop, noticing three people in medieval knight costumes – Tom BAKK, Ryan WINKLER and Heather MARTENS – astride the path).

MICHAEL:  Er, who are you?

BAKK:  We are the Knights Who Say “Living Wage!”

WINKER:  We are three elected representatives…

(BAKK nudges WINKLER, points toward Martens, who is gazing distractedly at a squirrel. WINKLER shrugs)

WINKLER: …who roam the forest spreading social justice!


WINKLER:  If you wish to pass through this forest, you must appease us!

ADRIANA:  Er…OK?  With what?

WINKLER:  You must hire…a Minimum Wage Employee!

MICHAEL:  Cool.  I was hoping to do that.  We’ve got more business than the two of us can handle.

BAKK: Silence?


WINKLER:  You must pay them…nine dollars per hour!

ADRIANA:  Oh, no.  We just need people to do basic cleaning.  We can pay a bonus, but it’s not worth $9 an hour…

BAKK:  And you may not cut your other employees’ hours or benefits to pay the training wage rate, which is itself higher than the federal minimum wage!

WINKLER:  Or lay them off!

BAKK and MARTENS: Or lay them off!

ADRIANA:  Well, then we just can’t hire anyone!

BAKK:  Be happy to pay for a Better Minnesota!

ADRIANA (to MARTENS): So what are you doing here?

MARTENS:  Guns on a bed of escarole make a wonderful snack.  So much better than killing people!

(Sounds in distance:  Minstrels playing over the clip clop of horses, as Governor DAYTON, riding a white charger, appears at the head of a retinue of knights and minstrels.

MINSTREL (as lutes and flutes play in the background) Brave Sir Mark ran away / bravely ran away away! / When terror made its presence known, he bravely turned and scampered home…

DAYTON: Blargle not blargle sure blargle not blargle blargle!

MICHAEL to ADRIANA (whispers): This is a weird place…

MINSTREL: He wasn’t afraid to face Roger Goodell / or tell Alida she’s not so swell / brave brave brave brave sir Mark…

DAYTON:  Blargle!  Blargle not blarg!

MICHAEL : So what if I can’t afford it?

WINKLER:  It’s against the law!  Don’t ask questions!

ADRIANA:  We could just take our business to North Dakota!

BAKK:  Hah!  And for what?  Money?

DAYTON: Blargle!

MICHAEL:  Well…yeah!

WINKLER:  But you can’t get MPR in North Dakota!

ADRIANA:  Yes, I can – we paid for that, too.

BAKK:  But in Minnesota, you will soon have unionized daycare!

ADRIANA:  I like the daycare we have just fine.

WINKLER:  But you can pay more for them!

MARTENS:  It’s a known fact that daycare that costs more is better for children.  Especially if you ban guns.

MICHAEL:  What the…?

DAYTON: Blargle blargle!

ADRIANA (pulling a Texas brochure from her purse and looking at MICHAEL):  This is a silly place.

The couple walk past the jabbering knights.


Chanting Points Memo: Ryan Winkler, Brezhnev-Style Economist

Conservatives joke that liberals just. Don’t.  Get. Economics.

We joke, at times, that at some point a liberal is going to push for a “living wage” statute calling for a $100/hour minimum wage as a means to end poverty, followed by a bill barring any layoffs and banning bankruptcy.

It’s a joke.  Some liberals shake their heads and go “yeah, yeah, we’re not nuts”.

And then something comes a long to prove that they really, really are that dissociative.

Rep. Ryan Winkler (D St. Louis Park), also known as “The Eddie Haskell of the House” – is introducing a “Kill All” amendment to House File 92 that bars businesses from laying off workers, cutting hours or benefits due to minimum wage increases. 

I’m going to write that again, just to let it sink in.

Winkler’s bill would make it illegal for businesses to lay off workers, cut hours or benefits due to minimum wage increases.

No, I’m really not making it up; I’ve added emphasis to the original:

(c) Notwithstanding paragraph (b), during the first 90 consecutive days of employment, an employer may pay an employee under the age of 20 years a wage of :

(1) $6.07 per hour beginning August 1, 2013;

(2) $7.24 per hour beginning August 1, 2014;

(3) $8.41 per hour beginning August 1, 2015; and

(4) the rate established under paragraph (d) beginning January 1, 2016.

2.11 No employer may take any action to displace an employee, including a partial  displacement through a reduction in hours, wages, or employment benefits, in order to hire an employee at the wage authorized in this paragraph.

(UPDATE: Commenter Master Of None points out, the above section refers to a training wage – a wage that employers may pay for up to 90 days – and says it’s not quite as dire as I’d made it out to be.   I disagree; Winkler’s bill raises the already existing training wage, causing all the same problems that raising the minimum itself does, which negates most of the utility of a “training wage”, as well as starting some sort of enforcement mechanism to painstakingly adjudicate all disputes related to training and minimum wages.  Because Minnesota businesses needed more niggling regulations)

And as the Obama Administration launches into permanent quantitative easing, Winkler wants to key the minimum wage to inflation, ensuring that no wages will ever keep up with inflation:

2.14 (d) No later than November 1 of each year, beginning in 2015, the commissioner  shall determine the percentage increase in the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers, United States city average, as determined by the United States Department of Labor, during the most recent 12-month period for  which data is available. The minimum wage rates in paragraphs (b) and (c) are increased by the percentage calculated by the commissioner, rounded to the nearest cent. The new minimum wage rates determined under this paragraph take effect on the next January 1

In other words: Ryan Winkler wants to…:

  • arbitrariliy set wages (higher than the federal minimum, no less!)
  • bar business from compensating for the arbitrary change in labor costs in any way but by increasing revenues in the middle of a crap economy (which Dayton’s business service taxes and Obamacare are making worse by the day).

It’s the sort of thing any Economics 101 student knows is madness if he or she wants to get better than a “C”.

Bonus Question:  Do you think Rachel Stassen-Berger, Tom Scheck, Tim Pugmire or John Cronyn will bring any of this up with Winkler or the leadership that enables him?

Chanting Points Memo: Only The Master Gets To Write Gun Control Laws

Over the years on this blog, I’ve made certain observations about human behavior as manifested through online media, like blogs and Twitter.

I’ve captured and codifed some of these observations as “Berg’s Law“, a series of common observations that I’m pretty sure are universal.

One of the most commonly-invoked Laws is “Berg’s Seventh Law”, which states “When a Liberal issues a group defamation or assault on conservatives’ ethics, character or respect for liberty or the truth, they are at best projecting, and at worst drawing attention away from their own misdeeds”.

I’ve rung up quite a number of occurrences of Berg’s 7th over the years. And I’ve found another.


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Chanting Points Memo: Chickens Do Not Equal Causation

Dave Mindeman at mnpAct (?) illustrates why trying to discuss economics with Democrats is such a deeply, abidingly frustrating diversion:

The business community worked hard to get Republicans elected during the last election…Now they say they are nervous about DFL Legislative control.

This is, bear in mind, the same DFL administration that, the week President Obama told America’s entrepreneurs “you didn’t build that”, repeated exactly the same message to a major privately-owned Minnesota corporation.

If they’re nervous, it’s for a reason.

As usual, business get it wrong when it comes to which Party is best for business. And, frankly, most of the perception problem stems from the fact that business always does better when government policies are promoted which favor their clientele and customers…not themselves.

That’s an interesting claim.  Let’s watch Mindeman elaborate on it before we pull the rug out.

Republicans and business generally collaborate on the superficial. They want property tax breaks….they want to limit taxes on the wealthy….they want tax incentives. All of that can free up cash and maybe increase the bottom line to a temporary extent….but they are not really pro-growth policies.

Well, yes and no, and irrelevant.  Republicans and business also favor paring back excessive regulation, and reforming taxes in the long term so that they don’t structurally hinder growth. Mindeman didn’t mention that – but to be fair, no Democrat ever does.

The dynamics of the economic engine are heavily fueled by demand. Business can create demand to some degree but unless their is a thriving middle class that has the means to purchase the goods produced, the economy goes nowhere.

Which leads us to a chicken-egg question; what creates a healthy and prosperous middle class?  Especially given that so many of us in the middle class work for, well, businesses?

MIndeman, being a Twin Cities liberal – where a sclerotically-disproportionate share of the “middle class” is employed by government, has an answer; we’ll come back to that.

First, we have a chanting point to dispense with:

When Democrats are in power, business may not get the preferential treatment they are used to by the GOP, but the broader economy usually does better.

Ah, well, then.  That settles it.

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Chanting Points Memo: Slouching From Fargo

How do you measure success in a politician?

If you’re a liberal, it’s likely in terms of sheer volume of legislation created and money moved about.  Because to a liberal, government is about creating reams of paper, rules, laws, stuff for government to do.

If you’re a conservative, it’s probably more a matter of princple; of getting government out of the way, of taking pointless laws and needless regulations off the books.

We’ll come back to that.


Mike McFeely is a talk show host in Fargo.  He’s the current house liberal at KFGO, which was at one time the WCCO of the Fargo area, and like WCCO has shrunk greatly since its heyday (and since I left North Dakota).  He fills the role Fast Eddie Schultz used to play on the station, the token lefty.  Like Schultz, he’s apparently a former small-market sportscaster; like Schultz, he sounds like it.

And like a lot of liberal D-list pundits and pseudo-celebs, he’s got a jones for Mary Franson, GOP incumbent in District 8B and, like most uppity female and minority conservatives, the same sort of catnip for lefties that Michele Bachmann has been for the past decade and a half.  It started  a few weeks ago, with McFeely’s Schultz-like chanting of rumors that even some of the smarter regional leftyblogs long ago debunked.  McFeely came across in that case as a small-town crone abusing the “power” of his radio bully pulpit (and as much as KFGO has atrophied, it’s still not chicken feed)

I’ll give the guy kudos for at least trying to go legit in this letter to the editor in the East Otter Tail County Focus last week.

Rep. Mary Franson does not represent Greater Minnesota values and, by her own admission, will not have a strong voice for her constituents in House District 8B if she is re-elected.

Now, whenever a critic says their target has said something “by their own admission”, you can usually be pretty sure someone’s trying to play a rhetorical card trick; they admitted nothing of the sort.

While Rep. Franson has made embarrassing headlines nationally and statewide for, among other things, comparing her constituents who receive food assistance to wild animals (a claim she repeated even after “apologizing” for it on social media)

Now, when you’re a sportscaster, you can pretty much babble any kind of crap you want – because it’s just sports.  McFeely – like Schultz before him – seems to think politics is about the same.

But no – the smart people dispensed with that meme, too, and months ago; Franson pointed out, correctly, that long-term dependence dehumanizes people, and casts government in the role of the benevolent, responsible pet owner.   The remarks were taken out of context during a fractious session by a DFL noise machine that exists only to provide grist for their campaign mill.

And like a lot of D-list talk show hosts – and yes, my NARN pals and I are better than this – McFeely and “context” are never really on good terms:

At the event during which she repeated her comparison of assistance recipients to wild animals, Rep. Franson admitted that members of her own party did not support her and distanced themselves from her.

Yep.  During the “Animals” fracas, the House leadership shamefully backed away from Franson – one of several “ready fire aim” moments in a trying session for GOPers.

But teapot-tempests come and go; at the end of the day, always, “it’s the economy, stupid”.  McFeely takes a brisk dip into actual fact:

Despite low unemployment in Douglas and Todd counties

Wait – back up.  This Republican corner of the state is doing pretty well, you say?


So let’s take a quick breather and set up some actual, factual history:  Representative Franson was…:

  1. …elected in the Tea Party wave in 2010 on a conservative ticket…
  2. …to represent a traditionally conservative Republican part of the state…
  3. …that’s doing relatively well, and apparently – by dint of having sent a conservative freshman legislator to the legislature in the middle of a grueling recession – wants to keep it that way.

Just so we’ve got that straight.


Instead of spending time in St. Paul fighting for issues specific to her constituents – such as lowering property taxes for farms and small businesses in rural Minnesota – Rep. Franson spent her two years in the Legislature authoring bills that accomplished nothing.

Perhaps McFeely would favor us by showing us the bill where Franson raised – or declined to lower – property taxes.

Go ahead, Mike, We’ll wait.  Cough up that bill.

[Mr. McFeely – don’t look at this next statement.  Scout’s honor?  OK – all the rest of you know that property taxes are the role of county commissions and city councils.  The legislature doesn’t set property taxes.  Now, the Democrats have spent the last two years babbling about how lowering Local Government Aid inevitably raises property taxes.  McFeely would have you believe that on Franson’s watch, taxes rose as a direct, cause-and-effect consequence of lowered LGA.  It’s one of those chanting points the left throws out there to gull the ill-informed.  But, again, that’s the job of the counties and cities.  Assuming LGA was cut.  Was it?  We’ll come back to that – but I’ll give you a little spoiler; McFeely makes Ed Schultz look smart and ethical].

Got that bill, Mike?  Hint:  It’s between the snipes and the half-round squares.


Next, McFeely botches history – and by “botch”, let’s be charitable and assume he just doesn’t know the actual facts involved; if he does, then he’s just lying:

In her two years in St. Paul, Rep. Franson authored 36 bills. None became law. Very few were even discussed or forwarded. Even her own party wasn’t interested in the agenda Rep. Franson was trying to push. That is the definition of an ineffective legislator.

Wait – authoring laws that don’t get passed “defines” “ineffective?”

Let’s go back to the beginning of the post; conservatives don’t believe generating new laws defines success.

But let’s go by the left’s – and McFeely’s – definition of “effectiveness”.  None of Franson’s 36 bills passed into law.

Which is exactly the same record as House Minority Leader Paul Thissen; none of the two bills he authored passed into law, either!

Or how about a more rank-and-file member?  Ryan “The Intellectual Id Of The DFL Caucus” Winkler chief-authored 22 bills.  None passed; none even came close.

And do you know what?  Neither Thissen’s 0/2, Winkler’s 0/22 or Fransen’s 0/36 are even below average – because in a typical session (for example, 2008, the latest one with statistics) over 4,000 bills are introduced, and around 100 get signed.  That’s about 1 out of 40.

In other words, McFeely tossed out a number that is in itself meaningless without context.  Just like the “Animals” comment and his “property taxes” comment; either he doesn’t know what he’s taking about and doesn’t care, or he does and he’s hoping nobody checks his facts.  Like all Democrat campaigns, he – and by extension, the Cunniff campaign that McFeely is supporting – is hoping people aren’t curious enough to poke at those numbers.

Oh, we’re not done.


McFeely turns next from misleading context to just-plain-ignorance:

At the same time, Rep. Franson consistently voted to raise taxes on residents of Greater Minnesota. She supported elimination of the Market Value Homestead Credit, raising property taxes on all Minnesotans and particularly those in rural Minnesota.

MVHC was a subsidy of metro-area housing; it kept metro-area property taxes artificially low, and subsidized spending by the wastrel DFL governments in Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Duluth.  Like LGA itself, it transferred money from the parts of the state that support themselves to our basket-case metro areas.

But at least that was a chanting point with a coherent argument.  Next, McFeely wafts away into fantasy-land:

Rep. Franson sided with metropolitan legislators by failing to fight for an increase in Local Government Aid, a tool that provides property tax relief primarily for Greater Minnesota cities and towns.

Local Government Aid, as we’ve discussed in the past, was originally a way to transfer money to poor, outstate towns from the wealthy Metro, to allow them to buy some of the amenities of modern life; modern schools, roads, water treatment plants and the like.  It’s turned into a subsidy of Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Duluth (although Iron Range towns get the most aid per capita).

(And while McFeely doesn’t name, and I suspect doesn’t know, the “metropolital legislators” with whom he claims Franson sided, it’s worth noting that the Metro is divided between cities that are constantly begging for more aid, and suburbs that largely receive none).

The GOP ran in 2010 on a platform of returning LGA to its original purpose – supporting smaller towns that don’t have the tax base to buy the necessities of modern government. And how’d that work?

State funding for LGA has been cut 25 percent over the last 10 years and has remained flat since 2010.  Eliminating or reducing LGA will seriously weaken regional centers like Alexandria and small cities like New York Mills.

McFeely gives a statewide number – but since McFeely’s writing about Franson’s performance in re her district, 8B, let’s ask what are the district’s specifics?

Let’s track LGA payments in 2008 and 2011 – payments, not pledges – for the three counties in Rep. Franson’s district, as well as the state averages and the metro areas (measured in per-capita dollars actually paid to the various jurisdictions).  All figures come from that noted conservative tool, the State of Minnesota:

City or County 2008 Payment ($/capita) 2011 Payment ($/capita) Change
Douglas County 123 118 -5
Otter Tail County 237 245 +8
Todd County 262 273 +11
State Average 101 98 -3
St. Paul 178 175 -3
Minneapolis 178 166 -12
Duluth 321 321 Bupkes

Ah.  So that’s why McFeely gave a statewide number!  Because since 2008 – the only period Rep. Franson had any control over as a legislator – LGA actually rose in Otter Tail and Todd counties; it shrank by an insignificant amount in Douglas County, where Alexandria is. and where as McFeely himself admitted, the economy is doing better than the state average.

So if you’re a liberal?  District 8B’s LGA was steady to slightly up.  More money!  Franson was effective!

And if you’re a conservative?  LGA spending in the district was in line with the GOP’s platform, raising payments to smaller out-of-state jurisdictions that actually need it, and were the original intended target of this spending.  Franson was still effective!

And if you have a functioning BS detector?  Mike McFeely is out of his depth writing about anything that doesn’t involve throwing a ball, and is serving as a trained chimp reciting DFL chanting points he may not understand, and certainly hopes you, the voter in District 8B, won’t.

Like the following:

Under her watch, property taxes have risen sharply…

Although, as the state’s figures show, not because of anything the legislature did, least of all in District 8B.

…while she has embarrassed her constituents with controversial national headlines.

Which were cowardly manglings of context by people who are getting more and more desperate at their prospects in two weeks, and for whom female conservatives are like red capes in front of bulls.

Franson did get an 86 from the Taxpayers League, among many other spiffs from conservative groups.  She was one of the freshmen “Tea Party” class that held the line on things like spending, tax hikes, and giving money to Zygi Wilf, while erasing the deficit, reforming regulations, keeping Minnesota’s unemployment rate way below the national average, and working to reform our state’s business climate.

In short, she did what the majority of (pre-redistricting) District 11B’s voters – mostly Republican, mostly conservative – sent her to do.

And if this is how desperate her opponent, Bob Cunniff, and his campaign are getting, it looks like she’ll do the same for new district 8B.

And if you live in the area, feel free to let the East Otter Tail Focus – and Mike McFeely – know I said so.


So we started the article by asking how you measure a politician.  The answer – whether you’re left or right – most likely involves doing what one is sent to the Capitol to do.  Has Mary Franson done this?  That’s for the people in her district – not talking heads from Fargo or the Twin Cities – to decide.

So how about a media figure, an uninvited pundit?

Getting one’s facts straight, or at least being honest, would be a great start.

Chanting Points Memo: The Rigger’s Dilemma

It’s my contention that the Star/Tribune “Minnesota” poll is, and has been for two and a half decades, less a “public opinion” poll and more an instrument of DFL propaganda.  I’ve supported that contention with a raft of circumstantial evidence; proof that the Minnesota Poll underestimates GOP turnout – especially in races that are perceived to be close; it showed Mark Dayton with an absurdly huge lead over Tom Emmer, and Al Franken with a four point lead over Norm Coleman, while guessing the Klobuchar/Kennedy race fairly accurately.

It’s my contention that this is to leverage the “Bandwagon Effect” – to discourage Republicans and conservatives from going to the poll.

But this year’s race presents a dilemma for the editors who – I’m being half-hyperbolic here [1] – plan the results of these polls.  On the one hand, you have the Voter ID initiative which is likely to win in a blowout.  To skew that poll enough to encourage Democrats and opponents of the amendment, the Strib would need to skew the poll to an absurd extent.  As in, assume conditions that are the same as in 1976, after Watergate.

On the other hand, you have a Senate race between Amy Klobuchar and Kurt BIlls that is widely perceived to be a pretty safe race for the incumbent.   Skewing the sample too far to the left would make the results look completely implausible.

The answer, if you’re the Strib?  You see it in this weeks’ Minnesota Polls; this is their old buddy Jim Klobuchar’s daughter we’re talking about here!  Of course they’ll do what it takes to make her re-election as epic as possible – why, everyone on Editor’s Row remembers Amy when she was just this tall, dagnabbit!

Beyond that – and more germane to the propaganda organ – they know that the voters the DFL needs are the “low-information” voters. The ones that rarely get past the headline, much less the lead – forget about looking at partisan breakdowns.  The ones that still believe the Strib is anything but DFL shills, or don’t care either way.

The Strib is showing a 57-28 lead for Klobuchar, with 15 percent either undecided or voting for someone else.  As we’ve been showing every day this week, this is based on a sample that includes 41% Democrat/28% GOP turnout.

Now, if we assume it’s more like 38/34 – which is more in line with Rasmussen’s figures, which have been traditionally vastly more accurate – and multiply the changes by the support each candidate gets within their party…

…well, that’s bad for Bills, if you believe the Strib.  While 90-odd percent of Dems say they’ll vote for A-Klo, the Strib claims only 2/3 of Republicans will vote for BIlls.  While the nomination battle was a bruising one in the GOP, and left a lot of bad blood, Republicans are much more suck-it-up-and-support-our-guy than that.  This strikes me as dubious – the “stink test” is crying “BS!” – but I’ve got no hard evidence to the contrary just yet.  Absent that, let’s run with the Strib’s numbers.

So if we subtract 3% from the Democrat split, multiplied by 90%, we get a net loss of 2.7% for Klobuchar, taking her down to 54.3%.

Adding 6 to Bills – times the 66% support in the party, naturally – leads to a four point rise, to 32.

54-32 still isn’t close.  But it’s not the 2:1 humiliation…

…that, I contend, the Strib wants Republicans to believe is coming, on top of all the other “bad news” they’ve brought us this week.

So what does all this mean?

More tomorrow.

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Chanting Points Memo: Tie Manufacturing Is Way Up!

The Star Tribune “Minnesota Poll” has declared Minnesota tied on the Obamacare issue:

About 46 percent of the state’s likely voters say they support keeping the Affordable Care Act, whose main tenets were largely upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court this summer, while 47 percent believe the law should go.

As always when dealing with any polls – especially polls with records of dishonesty as long as the Strib’s -  The Strib’s, in case you’ve forgotten,  is 41% Democrat, 28% Republican – which, as I showed yesterday, is more Democrat-leaning than the 1976 post-Watergate, post-Nixon-pardon election, the post-war nadir of GOP fortunes.

As a bipartisan sampling – liberal Hamline poli-sci professor Dave Schultz and I – both agree,  the sample is more like 38% DFL, 34% GOP.   Since 80% of DFLers (according to the Minnesota Poll) support the amendment, that means you deduct 80% of 3 points – 2.4 – from the “support” column.  Likewise, 90% of the six additional points of Republicans – 5.4% – support repeal.

With those assumptions – a more realistic turnout model and those levels of support – the “repeal” case is really more like 52-44.

It looks like the MInnesota Poll is building up to the Senate Race.

Chanting Points Memo: “Minnesota Poll” Has Your Delivery Of Sandbags Right Here

Yesterday, the Star Tribune “Minnesota Poll” also delivered its mid-cycle tally of support for the Voter ID Amendment.

And coming barely a week after the generally-accurate Survey USA poll showing Voter ID passing by a 2:1 margin, the Strib would have you believe…:

Slightly more than half of likely voters polled — 52 percent — want the changes built around a photo ID requirement, while 44 percent oppose them and 4 percent are undecided.

That is a far cry from the 80 percent support for photo ID in a May 2011 Minnesota Poll, when the issue was debated as a change in state law. Support among Democrats has cratered during a year marked by court battles, all-night legislative debates and charges that the GOP is attempting to suppress Democratic votes.

Republicans and independents continue to strongly back the proposal, which passed the Legislature this year without a single DFL vote.

Wow.  Sounds close!

Sort of; if you accept the validity of the numbers (and unless the DFL is headed for a blowout win, you must never accept the validity of the “Minnesota Poll’s” numbers), and every single undecided voter today voted “no”, the measure would pass in a squeaker.

But are the numbers valid?    And by “valid”, I don’t mean “did they do the math right”, I mean “did they poll a representative sample of Minnesotans?”

To find that out, you have to do something that almost nobody in the Strib’s reading audience does; look at the partisan breakdown of the survey’s respondents.  Which is in a link buried in the middle of a sidebar, between the main article and the cloud of ads and clutter to the right of the page, far-removed from the headline and the lede graf.  Which takes you to a page that notes (with emphasis added):

• The self-identified party affiliation of the random sample is: 41 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican and 31 percent independent or other.

That’s right – as with the Marriage Amendment numbers we looked at this morning (it’s the same survey), the Strib wants you to believe…

…well, no.  I’m not sure they “want” anyone to believe anything.  I’m sure they want people to read the headling and the “almost tied!” lede, and not dig too far into the numbers.

It’s part of the Democrat’s “Low-Information Voters” campaign; focus on voters who don’t dig for facts, who accept what the media tells them, who vote based on the last chanting point they heard.

Fearless prediction:  On November 4, the Strib will release a “Minnesota Poll” that shows the Voter ID Amendment slightly behind, using a partisan breakdown with an absurdly high number of DFLers.   It’ll be done as a sort of positive bandwagon effect – to make DFLers feel there’s a point to come out and vote against the Voter ID Amendment (and for Obama, Klobuchar, and the rest of the DFL slate, natch).

And it will be a complete lie.  Voter ID will pass by 20 points, and this cycle of polling will disappear down the media memory hole like all the rest of them.

Question:  Given that its entire purpose seems to be to build DFL bandwagons and discourage conservative voters, when do we start calling the “Minnesota Poll” what it seems to be – a form of vote suppression?

Chanting Points Memo: “Minnesota Poll” Orders Material For A Narrative-Building Spree

If you take the history of the Minnesota Poll as any indication, yesterday’s numbers on the Marriage Amendment might be encouraging for amendment supporters:

The increasingly costly and bitter fight over a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage is a statistical dead heat, according to a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.

Six weeks before Election Day, slightly more Minnesotans favor the amendment than oppose it, but that support also falls just short of the 50 percent needed to pass the measure.

Wow.  That sounds close!

But as always with these polls, you have to check the fine print.  And the “Minnesota Poll” buries its fine print in a link well down the page; you don’t ever actually find it in the story itself.  And it contains the partisan breakdown (with emphasis added):

The self-identified party affiliation of the random sample is: 41 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican and 31 percent independent or other.

That’s right – to get this virtual tie, the Strib, in a state that just went through photo-finish elections for Governor and Senator, and has been on the razor’s edge of absolute equality between parties for most of a decade, sampled three Democrats for every two Republicans to get to a tie.

If you believe – as I do – that the “Minnesota Poll” is first and foremost a DFL propaganda tool, intended largely to create a ‘bandwagon effect” to suppress conservative turnout (and we’ll come back to that), then this is good news; the Marriage Amendment is likely doing better  than the poll is showing.

What it does mean, though, is that they are working to build a narrative; that the battle over gay marriage is much more closely-fought than it is.

And the narrative’s players are already on board with this poll.  The Strib duly interviews Richard Carlbom, the former Dayton staffer who is leading the anti-Amendment

Actually, here’s my bet; the November 4 paper will show a “surge of support” that turns out to be much larger than any that actually materializes at the polls.

More At Noon.

UPDATE:  I wrote this piece on Sunday.  Monday morning, all of the local newscasts duly led with “both ballot initiatives are tied!”.

If you’re trying to find a construction job in Minnesota, you can get a job putting siding on the DFL’s narrative.

UPDATE 2:  Professor David Schultz at Hamline University – no friend of conservatism, he – did something I more or less planned to do on Wednesday; re-ran the numbers with a more realistic partisan breakdown:

Why is the partisan adjustment important? The poll suggests significant partisan polarization for both amendments, with 73% of DFLers opposing the marriage amendment and 71% of GOPers supporting. Similar partisan cleavages also exist with the Elections Amendment. If this is true, take the marriage Amendment support at 49% and opposition at 47%. If DFLers are overpolled by 3% and GOP underpolled by 6%, and if about 3/4 of each party votes in a partisan way, I would subtract about 2.25% from opposition (3% x .75) and add 4.5% to support (6% x .75) and the new numbers are 53.5% in support and 44.75% against. This is beyond margin or error.

If one applies the correction to the Elections Amendment there is about an 80% DFL opposition to it and a similar 80% GOP support for it. Then the polls suggest approximately 56.8% support it and 41.6% oppose.

Which brings us very nearly back to the 3:2 margin  for the Voter ID amendment, and the tight but solid lead for the Marriage Amendment that every other poll – the reputable ones, anyway – have found.

The Declaration Of Independence, According To Mark Dayton

It goes a little something like this:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to coerce the livelihoods from another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the superior and unequal station to which the Theories of Keynes and Bloomsbury entitle them, a decent respect to the needs of government requires that they should declare other peoples’ property to be public property first, and their own last.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equally vital belongings of Government, that they are endowed by their Government with certain unalienable Duties, that among these are to support the government that makes us all so very equal.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted upon Men, deriving their just powers from, paradoxically, their power.

Governor Dayton has an odd idea of what unites us as a people, and of what this nation is supposed to be all about.

It starts as the same old story…:

Dayton told a group at the University of Minnesota today that his administration is coming up with a plan to overhaul the entire tax code to make the tax system fairer to lower and middle income people. He didn’t offer specifics but said his plan would continue to include an income tax hike on the state’s top 2 percent of earners.

…but quickly devolves into a big toke off the Obama/Soros/Messinger kool-aid-filled water pipe:

Dayton also criticized Republicans in the Legislature and in Congress for being reluctant to raise taxes to pay for new programs.

“This unwillingness to pay taxes and seeing it as a threat to our freedom and our liberty and our way of life, to me, is going to be the death of this country if it’s not corrected,” Dayton said.

You heard him right.

The desire to keep what one earns rather than seeing it squandered, the spirit of dissent against the idea that the fruit of your labor belongs to government first and you, eventually, maybe?   That’s the threat to the nation!

All you peasants have got to quit being so uppity!

Your nobles have spoken!