Stampeding The Herd

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin – who currently resides atop my short list for 2016 – paid a visit to the Minnesota state capitol yesterday.

He spent some time visiting with lawmakers.

GOP ones, anyway.  A DFL linked Twitter account noted that Democrat lawmakers stayed away from the Governor.

I can see why.  Every Democrat who crosses his path gets defeated.

We need to bring him to Minnesota in 2016.

There Is No Such Thing As “Too Conservative”

Eleven seconds after Ted Cruz announced his candidacy for President, the left and media (ptr) declared he couldn’t possibly win because he was “too conservative”.

Of course, any conservative – especially the ones that provide a legitimate threat to the Democrats, or are endorsed at any rate – will be labelled “too conservative”.

Sturdevanted:  The mainstream media, and parts of the GOP establishment, and for that matter my moderate-Democrat father – are fond of practicing “Sturdevanting”; thinking that all our nation’s problems would be solved if the GOP became “less extreme” and the Democrat Party remained squirrel!   If we just had a GOP like the good old days – the Gerald Fords and the Dave Jenningses and the Arne Carlsons – who were willing to work with the Gus Halls and Rudy Perpiches and Paul Wellstones (and indulge their most wacked-out “progressive” pipe dreams), all would be just hunky dory.

Of course, there’s method to the madness; so much, in fact, that it’s The Law.

Threat Reduction:  Berg’s Eighth Law to be exact: “The conservative liberals “respect” for their “conservative principles” will the the one that has the least chance of ever getting elected”.   (There are a number of corollaries, ending with the Reagan Corollary, which is pretty germane today: “The Media and Left (pardon the redundancy) will try to destroy the conservative they are most afraid of”).

Now, Ted Cruz isn’t my top choice; as I noted the other day, he’s behind Walker, Jindal, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio on my list, so far.

And there may be reasons he can’t win; being “too conservative” isn’t one of them.

And by “too conservative”, I mean in a modern American context; proclaiming oneself king, calling for the re-establishment of the Holy Roman Empire and the re-institution of flogging in the Navy are pretty much off the table, realistically.

But in that American context?

Mitt Romney didn’t lose because he was too conservative; he outpolled Obama among “independent” and “moderate” voters.  No, Mitt lost because 400,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and Colorado stayed home.  400,000 Republicans that had showed up for previous elections, but decided they had better things to do on a Tuesday night.

And they didn’t stay home because Mitt was too conservative.

Kevin Williamson at NRO notes that Sturdevanting, and other violations of Berg’s 11th Law, have a long, storied history:

“Reagan can’t win, Ford says.” That’s the 1976 version. The 1980 New York Times version, with the nearly identical headline: “Ford Declares Reagan Can’t Win.” Ford was really quite sure of himself: “Every place I go, and everything I hear, there is a growing, growing sentiment that Governor Reagan cannot win the election.” New York magazine: “The reason Reagan can’t win. . . . ” “Preposterous,” sociologist Robert Coles wrote about the idea of a Reagan victory. The founder of this magazine worried that Reagan simply could not win in 1980, and several National Review luminaries quietly hoped that George H. W. Bush would be the nominee. There were serious, thoughtful conservatives who thought in 1980 that their best hope was to have Daniel Patrick Moynihan run as a Democrat that year, while many others were looking to ex-Democrat John Connally to carry the conservative banner on the GOP side. Things have a funny way of working out differently than expected. (And then much, much differently.)

And of course, if you’re a conservative, there’s another angle to it:

Will he be the nominee? Good Lord, who knows or cares at this point? It’s a question mainly of interest to Ted Cruz and his rivals, and maybe to their sainted mothers. That we are so fascinated by the possibility is further evidence of the corrosive cult of the presidency — we conservatives should know better than to wait for the anointing of a savior.

Take that, Ron Paul supporters.

Anyway – is there such a thing as “too conservative?”  Maybe. Is anyone to the left of Mike Huckabee the one to tell a conservative/republican/libertarian what that means?

No.  Not at all.

Paper

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals exclaim that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s lack of a college degree proves he lacks knowledge.

I knew a guy who was frighteningly well educated. He could tell you why it rained, when it was going to rain, what made it rain . . . he just didn’t have enough sense to come in Out of the rain.

Knowledge is not wisdom.

Knowledge is learned in college; wisdom is won in the world.

I wish our current President had more worldly wisdom and not so much college knowledge.

I sincerely hope our next President does.

Joe Doakes

Anyone still talking about where they went to college more than five years after they graduated, unless there in an academic field, probably has nothing to be proud of in their post-college life.

Anyone who barbers about where someone went to college, unless that person is operating on the child or building their bridge, is probably an idiot.

By Degrees

I have a college degree.

And other than writing for some portion of my living for pretty much my entire adult life, I’ve never really “used it”.  My BA was in English, with minors in History and German (and two courses short of a minor in Computer Science, although it was the type of computer science that is pretty obsolete today).  Most of what I use for a living, I picked up on my own – and yes, college certainly helped me “learn how to learn”, which has been the stated justification for humanities degrees among the independently-non-wealthy for decades.

So college was good for me; I’m glad I went.  But a degree doesn’t say all that much about a person.

Least of all an “elite” degree.  The best thing an Ivy League degree says about a person is that between the ages of 14 and 17, they knew enough to play the paper chase with enough excellence to punch all the tickets that “elite” school recruiters were looking for, because they had a sense of the importance of that most important byproduct of an “elite” education; access to the alumni directory.  And that’s the best thing it says.   The other things it says – legacy admission, overentitlement, educational stage parents – are less salutary.

In the meantime, many of the greatest Americans – from Abraham Lincoln to Bill Gates – had no college education (at the least).

So after eight years of stonewalling about Barack Obama’s college transcripts, the media is suddenly obsessed with Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s college career – which was cut short when he dropped out to start his career.

Will that scupper Walker with the American people?  Charles CW Cooke says there are a couple sides to that question:

How effective the approach would be during a general election is anybody’s guess, for at present Americans exhibit a strange and inconsistent attitude toward their dropouts. In theory, this is a nation that was built by the rebels and the nonconformists — more specifically, by the recalcitrant revolutionaries of Valley Forge, the chippy entrepreneurs of the frontier and of Silicon Valley, and by the ambitious Lincolnian auto-didacts who looked at their conditions and sought to improve them on their own terms.

Indeed, many of the great advances in human history came from the self-taught autodidact.

In practice, however, America is becoming increasingly rigid and Babbit-like. When a given individual makes it without school, we lavish him with praise and with adulation and we explain his rise with saccharine appeals to the American spirit; when our own children suggest that they might wish to dropout, however, we tut-tut and roll our eyes and make sneering jokes about Burger King.

There are, of course, two Americas:

This is no accident. Rather, it is the product of an increasing tendency among college-educated Americans to regard the letters after their names as a distinguishing mark that renders them as part of a special, exclusive class. By willfully conflating their established educational achievements and their presumed intellect or societal worth — in Dean’s words, their “education” per se — these people extract every last ounce of social value from their investment, and make it appear as if the only way to compete with them is to join them…Sorry, Mr. Walker, you have the wrong colored dot on your forehead to run for higher office.

I think a person whose life has been focusing on accomplishing things would make a nice switch from a President with all sorts of credential who has accomplished nothing.

Trouble

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is waiting for new tires to be put on his car.   

Bill GUNKEL, former Republican who is now chairmain of the Inver Grove Heights chapter of “Former Republicans for Ron Paul”, walks in.

GUNKEL:  Boy, is the GOP in trouble!

BERG:  Huh.  Hey, Bill.  Why do you say that?

GUNKEL:  Because a GOP legislator in Montana proposed legislation to ban yoga pants in public!

BERG:  Wait – that proposal was unanimously tabled by the GOP-dominated committee to which it was introduced, without so much as a hearing.   They killed it.  Dead.

GUNKEL:  Yeah, but this is proof that the GOP is in huge trouble!BERG:  Er, OK.  Why is that?

GUNKEL:  Because a Republican introduced legislation banning yoga pants in public! They hate liberty!

BERG:  ”They” unceremoniously shot the bill down.  It’s dead. Gone.

GUNKEL:  Yeah, but this is proof that the GOP is in huge trouble!

BERG:  Right – you said that.  So given that the GOP also killed the bill, why do you say that?

GUNKEL:  Because a Republican introduced legislation banning yoga pants in public! They hate liberty!

BERG:  Look, the state of Montana is controlled by the GOP; the House of Representatives is 2:1 GOP.  Montana has very low taxes, in effect no speed limit, they’ve nullified both Obamacare and any unconstitutional federal gun laws, and they are in general a vastly freer state than most of the lower 48 – all under GOP control.  That’s as compared to Minnesota, which – believe it or not – all you Ronulans haven’t managed to turn into a Free State Project home base just yet.

GUNKEL:  Yeah, but pull your head out, sheeple; this is proof that the GOP is in huge trouble!

BERG:  Um, OK.  Why?

GUNKEL:  Because a Republican introduced legislation banning yoga pants in public! They hate liberty!

BERG:  Except the rest of the Montana Republicans took the bill OUT of contention.

GUNKEL:  Yeah, but this is proof that the GOP is in huge trouble!

BERG:  Don’t say “Because a Republican introduced legislation banning yoga pants in public! They hate liberty”.

GUNKEL:  Because a Republican introduced legislation banning yoga pants in public! They hate liberty!

Avery LIBRELLE walks into the lobby. 

BERG:  I never thought I’d say this, but Avery!  Thank goodness you’re here!

And SCENE

Money In Politics: Talk Dirty To The DFL

The DFL is in the midst of an extended campaign of sniveling about the amount of money in politics.

A look at this list of independent expenditures registered from the 10 Minnesota House races that flipped last election shows you why:

The DFL spent more.  Sometimes a helluvva lot more.  And it didn’t work.

IMG_3251.PNG

Courtesy John Rouleau of the MN Jobs Coalition, via Twitter.

The candidate with the most indy spending in each race is color-flagged.

Of 10 races, DFL groups outspent GOP groups in eight of them, notching a little over 10% more independent spending.  And that doesn’t even tell the whole story.

  • Remember all the whining Zach Dorholt did the Twin Cities media did on Zach Dorhold’s behalf about big money in his district?  His independent expenditures were 20% higher than Knoblach’s.
  • The GOP spent more on Peggy Bennet than the DFL wasted on Shannon Savick – by about $4,000.  That speaks to what a terrible campaign Savick ran, and what a lousy term she had in office – and the power of the grass roots that turned out to bounce her.  Don’t screw with the Second Amendment outstate!
  • On the other hand – Erickson vs. Hancock (over 2:1 in favor of the DFLer) and Fritz vs. Daniel (almost 3:1 for the DFL?)  Holy cow.
  • Against that, the GOP indies only outspent the DFL in two of the flips; the Bennet/Savick race, as already noted, and a 15% margin in the Heintzelman/Ward race.

So no wonder the DFL is so concerned about rationing money in politics; theirs didn’t work.  They need less competition.

Saint Paul Republicans: It’s Go Time

If you live in St. Paul, and I’m a Republican, or conservative, or just someone who’s tired of St. Paul being a one party city, then I hope you can turn out tonight.

It’s the St. Paul Republican City Committee caucuses, and they’re being held tonight in the auditorium at St. Paul College.

It’s hard enough being a Republican in StPaul – and over the previous few years, the city committee fell into near complete your relevance. There’s new leadership – full disclosure, I’m part of it – and we’re hoping to change that. Starting tonight.

We’ll have a couple of guest speakers – Sen.Dave Thompson, and Andy Richter of “CommunitySolutions”, which has turned around politics in the city of Crystal. Will also be talking about the nuts and bolts of turning the cities political culture around.

St. Paul College is a block north of the Cathedral, at Summit and Marshall. If you park in the college’s parking lot, save your ticket – vouchers will be issued, so parking won’t cost you.

Come on down!

Hope

Generally, I keep my powder dry as we ramp up to big endorsement challenges.  And this year might be as good a year as any to keep mum.

But I’m not.  Among a small short-list of GOP candidates I’d like to see running for the Presidency – Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, maybe Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio – the top of my list is Scott Walker.  I’m a Walker guy, and I have been since he survived his recall.

The biggest concern people have had so far about Walker is that “he’s not charismatic enough” – yet another thing that has made me long for the days before television screwed up American politics.

But there is ground for hope that worries about Walker’s charisma may be exaggerated.

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

If you still needed proof that Establishment Republicans were just as committed to status quo as Democrats, this would be the clincher.

Joe has a point – although I’m going to wait to see how the GOP conference votes on actual policy issues, rather than internal niggling.

If they screw the pooch on Keystone XL, IRS hearings, defunding Obamacare and the like, wake me up.

Machiavelli Sucked At PR Too

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. The Vikings are green with envy.

Nothing signals a shift to a bold, decisive new direction like re-electing the same weasels who led us down the path we’re on now.

“But the GOP majority got bigger, the Speaker must be doing something right.” No, dummy, you have more Conservative Republicans elected DESPITE the Speaker sabotaging conservatives at every opportunity. The grassroots voters are fed up with Obama AND with spineless Republicans who hand the Democrats a free pass on spending for all of 2015 and then dither and quibble about maybe suing the President over immigration, when Congressional Republicans ought to be using every tactic, trick and tool in the box to rein the President in and shut him down.

We got a surge of Republicans elected in 1992 when Newt Gingrich campaigned on the Contract With America. What we don’t have today is a formal set of ideas to enact and somebody willing to implement them.

Joe Doakes

The good news? It was the most hotly contested speaker racing over 100 years.

The bad news? Voters don’t keep track of history.

Perhaps worse still? I’m starting not to really care about what the reasons and excuses are anymore.

Boehned

There has been a tsunami of dismay over the re-election of John Boehner as Speaker of the House.

I share some - some - of that dismay.  I’d rather have seen someone who could give us, conservatives, a start toward doing something that’s been direly needed this past six years; get conservatives whipped up and ready to come out and volunteer, call, stuff envelopes, and work to get conservatives elected.

We’ll come back to that.

Ralph Benko at Forbes makes the case for Boehner:

Boehner may well be the worst thing to happen to progressives since December 26, 1991… when Gorbachev dissolved the USSR. The left understands this better than does the right.

Boehner’s problem with conservative firebrands seems to derive from the fact that he is all action, no talk. (Or as they would put it in Texas, he’s all cattle, no hat.) Rather than indulging in fierce rhetoric Boehner has parlayed into big wins a small stake and an impossibly weak political hand — a narrow and fractious Republican majority in one of three branches (with a “fourth estate,” the media, largely hostile to conservatives).

My torch-and-pitchfork wielding colleagues aren’t getting how deeply conservative is John Boehner. They are looking for Genghis John while what’s in front of them is Baby Face Boehner. Lethal to liberals, just not showy.

It is time to see Boehner as the conservative he is.

Read Benko’s case, and either be convinced, or not.

I’m of a couple of minds about this:

A Mechanic Versus A Leader:  The Speaker of the House, aside from actually setting the House’s agenda, is in charge of seeing to all of the mechanical and procedural details involved in passing (or blocking!) legislation.

And for all of his orange-tanning, crying and occasional cave-ins (strategic?) to the Administration, Boehner certainly has been that.  Benko certainly spells out that case well.

But the tsunami of conservatives who crashed the Capitol switchboard yesterday wanted a symbol installed, a message sent.

They wanted someone like that other great partisan firebrand Speaker, who inspired so many to get off the fence and leap into action…

…um…

…wait.  Who was the last Speaker of the House to take on a partisan leadership role?  I mean, yeah, Pelosi.  OK – when was the last successful one?

I get it.  Conservatives want a win.  They crave some sign that the momentum they picked up last November is still moving along.  Believe me, I understand.

So who was the conservative firebrand leader in the House who heard that call, and stepped up to be carried to the rostrum on the base’s rhetorical shoulders?

Louie Gohmert?

At the last minute?

What does that tell you?

The Speaker’s job is not to lead the base.  The Speaker’s job is to lead the caucus (and, incidentally, the House).

Will Boehner do the job well?  Well, after one whopping day as Speaker of the House in a Republican, as opposed to divided Congress, it’s hard to tell.

Wait – you didn’t like his approach in November and September?  When Boehner was speaker of a House that was fighting a defensive battle against a Democrat President and Senate?  It was a different Congress.

Make no mistake – if Congress doesn’t make some conservative hay this session, it’ll be high time to primary the hell out of people.  But change in Washington happens lamentably slowly.

And that, unfortunately, is the problem.

Glass Jaws:  The cataclysm of conservative disgust was overwhelming, yesterday.

Now, let’s do a reality check.

Yes, the new, Republican-controlled Congress is one day old.  And the Speaker race was decided in the most fractious election in over 100 years – I think Boehner got the message – and if he didn’t, he’ll be returning to the Minority soon.

But this isn’t about Congress.  This is about conservative voters.

Somewhere along the way, a huge number of conservatives started to believe that government, policy and politics were all about single, cataclysmic, litmus-test-to-end-all-litmus-test votes; votes that, if won, would lead to political nirvana, and if lost, lead to forty years in the desert.

This was not that vote.

A vote on defunding Obamacare, or rejecting Obama’s appellate justices, will be that vote.

I’m not sure who to blame for this; perhaps after decades of framing most issues as black and white choices, conservative alt media is reaping the blowback.  Perhaps all the time and effort the Ron Paul and Tea Party movements spent on imbuing their followers with a messianic sense that all things lead either to death or glory is coming back to haunt us.

I don’t know.

But politics – hell, all of life – is more like boxing than wrestling.  Wrestling is all about trying to score the coup de main inside a few minutes – the pin, the catastrophic hold, the big win.

But in boxing, as in politics, as in life, for the vast majority of the world in the vast majority of bouts, it’s about taking punches.  Over and over and over and over and over.  And maybe landing a few, almost never knockouts.  And being the last man standing – not in three minutes, but after fifteen three-minute rounds.

Boehner?  Love him or hate him, this was just one punch.  Shake it off.

 

Boehnless

It matters not so much exactly who the GOP elects as Speaker of the House, with two special criteria:

  • It’s not John Boehner,
  • It’s an actual conservative

Is Louis Gohmert the guy?  Hell, I’d go for just about anyone:

“With a growing Republican majority in the House and a historically high number of liberty-voting fiscal conservatives within it, there is an urgent need replace Speaker Boehner with fresh, bold leadership that better represents the views of the whole caucus,” FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said in a statement on Sunday.

 

“Speaker Boehner has kicked fiscal conservatives off committee positions for voting against his wishes, caved on numerous massive spending bills at the eleventh hour, and abused the legislative process to stomp out opposition by holding surprise votes and giving members little time to actually read the bills before they vote,” Kibbe added.

 

The conservative group will urge activists to contact their representatives ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

I’d love to see a Trey Gowdy.   I’d go for just about anyone over Boehner.

Take note, Minnesota Republican delegation to DC:  make it conservative, or give up on the 2016 election right now.

And take that lesson – moderate hamsters do not pack the gear – forward with you to the Presidential race.

Jebbed

Nate Silver – in a piece entitled “Is Jeb Bush Too Liberal To Win The Republican Nomination In 2016” – answered the question halfway, after providing a nifty visual of Republicans rated (according to Silver’s choice of ratings on indices: voting recordsdonor base and public statements on the issues.

Here’s the list:

Quibble with the methodology if you want (Mike Huckabee is not “to the right” of Rick Perry or Bobby Jindal, much less Ronald Reagan).

But it does provide an interesting jumpoff point for a conversation; is the GOP screwing up again with the “Jeb is Inevitable” meme? 

The whole point behind John McCain was his “electability”.  Ditto, to an extent, Mitt Romney – both of whom, you may recall, lost. 

As Limbaugh put it yesterday:

So we are, in a blog here at FiveThirtyEight, we’re ranking Jeb Bush against four other men who have lost or failed to succeed in getting a nomination or did get the nomination but lost the election. Now, isn’t there a lesson there? The establishment keeps telling us, “No, no, no, you Tea Party people, look at what happened to Barry Goldwater, we’ll get creamed. You people are extremist kooks! America thinks the Tea Party is a bunch of kooks, and if we have a nominee coming from you, why, we’re gonna get creamed. We’re gonna have a landslide like Goldwater.”

And, of course, the retort is, “Yeah, well, the people you are nominating, I don’t see a W next to their names at the end of the process. You guys can cite one: Barry Goldwater. We can cite every one of your nominees. They lose, every one of them.” But, nevertheless, the process continues here to rank Jeb and other Republicans on this imaginary chart of conservatism.

Upshot: the more I watch Scott Walker, the more I like him.

Open Letter To Mitch McConnell And John Boehner

To:  Y’all
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  The Way Forward

Do the following…:

  1. Pass a bill securing the border.
  2. Devise a way for illegals already here to get a work visa
  3. Overhaul the rules for legal immigration.
  4. Let Obama veto it.
  5. Seize the moral high ground.

I don’t for a moment think either of you are smart enough, or independent-enough of all that K-street “talent” and US Chamber money, to do this.

But you could sure surprise me.

Go ahead, gents.  Make my day.  Make being a Republican less humiliating.

That is all.

The Speech I’d Like To Hear

For the better part of a decade, I’ve been saying two things:

  • The GOP needs to engage the voters in the 4th and 5th CDs – including the dreaded ”inner city” voter - better.  I’m not the only one to say this, of course – but so far, Dan Severson and his Minority Liberty Alliance have been the only real cow to go with the moo. 
  • While black, Latino, Asian and immigrant voters tend to vote overwhelmingly Democrat (for reasons that are less related to patronage and force of habit than some would like to think), it remains a fact as well as a stereotype that Latinos are socially conservative, Asians do place a premium on education and initiative, and African-Americans are among the most passionate advocates of school choice, and they should be, eventually, amenable to a message that reflects that. 

Below is the outline of a speech that I’d love to see a (presumably white) Republican (although the candidacy of Abdimalik Askar against Phyllis Kahn is a hopeful sign) give to an African-American audience in the 4th or 5th CD.  The candidate won’t be me, natch – there’s no way I’m ever running for office.  I’ve given oppo researchers almost 15 years of smear-fodder.  It’s just not gonna happen. 

But for someone else – someone who actually belongs running for office? 

Here’s an idea.

Continue reading

The Faint Glimmer Of Hope

Living as I do in the Fourth CD, watching wave after wave of excellent candidates go forth to do battle in Saint Paul (Sharna Walgren, Tomy Hernandez, Teresa Collett) and across the river in Minneapolis in the 5th CD (Doug Daggett, Chris Fields), it’s easy to get discouraged.  It feels sometimes that there just is no hope.

And then you see a story like this

…and you suck it up and you carry on for next cycle.

Open Letter To The MNGOP Judicial Elections Committee

To:  The MNGOP Judicial Elections Committee
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant Who Resents The Time He’s Wasted Listening To You People Over The Years
Re:  Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Dear JEC,

Quick – without looking at a ballot, tell us – who was running for the other Supreme Court  of Minnesota (SCOM) seat on Tuesday?

We’ll come back to that. 

Some of you are giggling like schoolgirls that Michelle MacDonald, after all of the back-and-forth over her endorsement and legal issues, got 46% of the vote for Supreme Court against Darth Lillehaug (who came in at 53%). . 

Hold the giggling.  Did you remember who was running for the other SCOM seat that was up for grabs?

It was Mimi Wright against John Hancock; Wright won 56/42.  And Hancock didn’t have the benefit of five months of media attention to his (non-existent) endorsement fiasco, party wrangling and legal travails. 

And perhaps more importantly, he wasn’t running against Darth Lillehaug

Look at every other judicial race in the state.  The challengers in the (very few) races that weren’t opposed generally netted 35-40% of the vote.  And why?  Because they weren’t incumbents. Random noise. 

So 35-40% of Michelle McDonald’s 46% were votes the GOP could have gotten by nominating Sharon Anderson or Leslie Davis or Clu Berg, my golden retriever. 

So don’t go claiming any credit for outperforming the GOP as a whole.

Now, this blog has already spent plenty of time castigating the JEC for the sleazy way you got McDonald endorsed – trotting her across the stage as a convention hall full of delegates with numb asses from 20 hours of wrangling over the Senate endorsement were getting ready for another half day of untangling a 5-way Governor race, and – unforgiveably – voting to not disclose to the delegates that Ms. McDonald had a pending court case for driving while intoxicated, rushing her through an acclamation endorsement without bothering to mention that the woman had “Media Poo-Storm” written all over her. 

We apparently didn’t need to know that. 

She spent the next five months, camera diliigently thrust in front of her, roaming the state, trashing the GOP, getting headlines from a media whose mission is also trashing the GOP, mostly winning her legal case…

A camera. Michelle MacDonald is standing behind it.

…and making people who follow these sorts of things wonder what was going on in there?

So let’s recap:

  • The JEC performs a dishonest sleight of hand, and gets Michelle MacDonald endorsed.
  • MacDonald spends months getting the kind of media attention no SCOM candidate ever, ever gets.
  • She runs against David Lillehaug – one of the few other SCOM candidates this side of Alan Page with a media profile.
  • She gets 4% better than a complete unknown running in an unknown race against an unknown opponent. 

This tells us a couple of things:

  • A good 30-40% of the vote in any contested judge race will be anti-incumbent, no matter who it is. 
  • Apparently that 30-40% doesn’t care if someone was charged with DUI, or wouldn’t know if they did. 
  • Either people liked Michelle McDonald, or they hated David Lillehaug. 

So – how could things have gone differently? 

What if you, the JEC, had tried just a skosh of honesty?  What would have happened?

Maybe you’d have lost the nomination.  And then again, maybe a straightforward minority report, coupled with an honest explanation of the exigencies from Ms. McDonald, would have won the delegates over.

Of course, the media would have have bellowed “GOP ENDORSES ACCUSED DRUNK DRIVER”. 

Which they did anyway! Only this time the GOP would have been at her back (although that would have taken some cojones).  And then it would have been off to the general election, Where 30-40% would have voted for her or Sharon Anderson or Paula Overby or Clu Berg. 

And 4-6% would have voted for her because they’d heard of her. 

And then Minnesota’s Second Amendment lobby, convinced they were backing a viable candidate instead of a skittery liabililty, could have called in the tribes and fired off some of their carefully-hoarded political capital against David Lillehaug, their sworn enemy.  If there’s anyone who wants Lillehaug to go into retirement, it’s Minnesota’s shooters.  Most of their races won; their support turned out the tribes in support of not just a few longshots.  To take down Darth Lillehaug? 

It could have been a match made in heaven.

Instead, you – the JEC – tried to manipulate the convention, and did it very badly. 

And I haven’t the words to express my contempt for what you all did.

That is all.

And Now The Real Problem

So the GOP has won, and won big.

That’s great. And it’s still worth taking a moment to savor the win.

But the time is coming soon  - tomorrow?  Monday? – when it’ll be time to ask the GOP “OK.  Now – what have you done for us lately?”

And the answer is, outside the realm of the Tea Party, it’s been pretty mixed.  The Karl Rove “Slick Consultant” wing of the GOP – which is less allied to conservative/libertarian principle than it is to at least theoretically putting numbers up on boards – still wields way too much control over the GOP.

This piece from Politico is clearly dated; it was written last week, before the election results blew away some of its statements…:

It doesn’t seem to matter much that the political track record of this GOP consultancy-industrial complex is execrable. Targeted Victory, LLC—which was co-founded by Michael Beach, the “national victory director” for the Republican Party during the 2008 campaign—played a key role in the development of “Project ORCA,” the now infamous Romney technology effort to win in 2012. It failed spectacularly. The manager of that effort for Targeted Victory was Tony Feather, who is now the “F” in FLS Connect, a powerhouse Republican consulting firm that handles much of the GOP’s voter contact. The “L” in FLS is Jeff Larson, who had been chief of staff for the Republican National Committee. FLS Connect also, at one time, employed Rich Beeson, who also worked at the RNC and went on to become Mitt Romney’s political director.

Understanding the incestuous ties between Republican consultants—the unending referrals of business between these friendly and insular consultant cliques—and the group think they promote is vital to comprehending the Republican predicament in 2014. Many of the groups that profited from Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012 are now helping Republicans in 2014. Ron Bonjean, who worked for former establishment Republican leaders like Dennis Hastert and Trent Lott and is also a partner at a bipartisan firm, Singer Bonjean Strategies, in September took up an independent position with the NRSC. (The “Singer” in that firm, by the way, would be one Phil Singer, who worked for Chuck Schumer and served as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s communications director in 2006.)

The coveting of power for the sake of power and consultant-led group think have misdirected the GOP to strategic blunder after blunder.

…that are dated in terms of specific facts but still accurate.  Indeed, that may be the big downside of Tuesday; the consulting class is going to claim the victory, notwithstanding the fact that it was more a vote against Obama, his policies and his malaise than for the GOP.

Republicans in Washington who declared war on their very base are now shocked that conservative voters have little interest or motivation in helping Pat Roberts, Thom Tillis, David Perdue, or a host of other candidates. A Republican establishment that has spent several years badmouthing Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and outside groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund now find themselves openly begging the Senate Conservatives Fund to engage in races while they fly Ted Cruz around the country to motivate the base.

And so the base was motivated.

But are the GOP’s problems fixed?

Not by a long shot.

It’s still the party that went with the flow with George W Bush on his deficit spending.  It’s still the party that caved in to a bunch of neanderthals in purple Viking outfits and yellow wigs to give public money (appropriately laundered) to Zygi Wilf, to try to avoid losing political points.

Ask Jeff Johnson how many political points that saved us.

And I get it – compromises are going to have to happen, and no politician who actually gets into a position to to change things escapes without some compromise to their ideological purity (unless they turn themselves into self-satirizing caricatures like Paul Wellstone and Ron Paul, always voting pure unadulterated principle and rarely actually affecting policy).  But it would be just great if the GOP would provide a consistent, sharp contrast to the Democrat Party and the DFL.

Republicans who are congratulating themselves this week had best keep it short and tasteful.  The GOP has a lot of problems, and even some of us in the party are questioning the party’s commitment to being different from the Democrats in Washington and the DFL in Saint Paul.

Which GOP is going to show up at the capitols in DC and Saint Paul next January?  The real one that is an actual meaningful alternative – the Tea Party – or the chuckleheads in the suits and the binders and binders full of excuses?

So Let’s Say The GOP Wins Big On Tuesday

So what?

The driving conceit of most third party approaches is that there is no real difference between Republicans and Democrats.  And they have a point.

Half the point is “duh”, of course; politics, especially in legislatures, is all about reaching one degree or another of compromise with the other side.  The closer one’s legislature is divided, the more compromising is going to happen, provided anything happens at all.  If you mix a cup of orange juice and a cup of grape juice, there’s little way around the fact that you’re going to get orange-y grape juice, or grape-y orange juice. 

I get it.  Some compromise is inevitable.

But some of it has added insult to injury.  The GOP got a great start toward standing for conservative principle with the “Contract with America” – but by 2000 the party had largely gone beltway. 

Here in Minnesota?  The GOP legislative majority in 2011 opened weak and conciliatory on Governor Dayton’s budget hikes, and settled for “decreasing the increase”, seemingly almost without a fight.  And then they went on to collaborate with the DFL in capitulating to Helga Braid Nation, and giving Zygi Wilf hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to improve the Wilf investment portfolio. 

Pure principles do, inevitably, get sullied by contact with the opposition – at least if you want to effect policy; Ron Paul and Paul Wellstone both were sole principled dissenters on many fractious votes; neither ever really had much legislative effect on policy.

So negotiation – compromise – is an inevitable part of politcs

But at least make it a freaking fight. 

And I’ll be fair, here; the Tea Party class of 2010 has done a generally good job of making it an actual battle; they’re hobbled by the seniority system; most Tea Partiers don’t have much of it, and had less in 2011.  But they’ve largely stuck to doing what they were elected for.

And it has mattered.  Because who have the Democrats been running against this cycle?  How many GOP candidates has the Democrat noise machine labeled “Tea Party”?  Demonizing the Tea Party has been Democrat Job 1 since 2010.

And the Tea Party are effective conservatives because they know that the larger Tea Party movement is still out there, still motivated, still paying attention.

The entire GOP class that may be going to Washington and to Saint Paul needs to know this.

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Just saying – the real job, making sure a GOP majority actually acts like a conservative, limited-government, liberty-restoring majority –  will actually begin on November 5.

Unicorns Vote 100% Third Party!

SCENE:   Mitch BERG is biking in the southwest suburbs.  He pulls over into a coffee shop.

As he sits down, he notices Stephanie Marie ANNAN, Community Organizer for the Minnesota 5th CD Libertarian party.   She is wearing capri pants and a t-shirt with “He Gave His Only Begotten Son”, and a picture of Ron Paul walking across the water toward the camera.

ANNAN:  Hey, Mitch.

BERG:  Hey, Stephanie Marie.  Ready for the election.

ANNAN:  Yep.  I’m voting Libertarian. 

BERG:  Kinda figured.  So – why? 

ANNAN:  Because big changes need to happen.

BERG:  Yeah, that’s true.  That’s why I’m voting for Jeff Johnson as many times as Mark Richie will let me get away with it. 

ANNAN:  He won’t bring any changes.  The GOP is just as big a part of the problem as the DFL is. 

BERG:  Er…why do you say that?

ANNAN:  When people put the GOP in power, they were just as bad as the Democrats.  There is no difference between the parties. 

BERG:  Yeah, the GOP can be frustrating.  Although you’re oversimplifying.  Bobby Jindal has made a huge difference in Louisiana; under his leadership, the New Orleans Public Schools went all charter.  Other GOP governors – Pence, Haley, Walker, Martinez – have made inroads in reducing the size and power of government.  The GOP – and GOP candidates – have made a difference at limiting government and its impact over the years.   Reagan’s tax cuts were a huge help…

ANNAN:  Reagan grew the deficit!  He raised taxes!

BERG:   Bingo.  You’re making my point for me.  Reagan, being a Republican president dealing with a Democrat Congress run by a big-government ward heeler like Tip O’Neill, had to make compromises.  One of those compromises was that he had to trust O’Neill to keep up his end of the bargain on cutting spending – which, of course, he didn’t.  And for all of that, his “tax hikes” were a fraction of his tax cuts, and they happened at a time when the economy was humming along.  If you don’t think Reagan’s tax cuts in the early eighties helped immensely with the recession, you’re dreaming. 

Anyway – the GOP in 1994 made a huge difference in paring back Bill Clinton’s megalomania.  Remember “Hillary Care?”  Either does anyone else.  And the Tea Party class of the GOP, the people elected in 2010, have largely kept their promises. 

ANNAN:  But the Minnesota GOP had the governor’s office from 2002 to 2010, and the House until 2008, and both chambers in 2011 and 2011, and nothing changed. 

BERG:  Plenty changed.  “Republican” used to mean Arne Carlson.  It used to mean “go along with the DFL in turning surpluses into more permanent spending”. 

ANNAN:  The GOP raised the budget in 2011, and built the stadium. 

BERG:  Yep.  And both were wrong.  And in neither case did the Tea Party class of 2010 go along, at least without a fight. 

ANNAN:  Bla bla bla.  The GOP always compromises.

BERG:  Parts of the GOP – the older, “Moderate” wing of the party, especially, which still exerts way too much control over the party at the Capitol – certainly does.  Parties don’t change overnight.   The GOP still caves in on way too much.  It’s improving, as conservatives slowly replace moderates. 

And let’s be honest; Minnesota is a blueish purple state at best.   Minnesota is split between various shades of red and hard, deep blue.   When a conservative goes to Saint Paul, and wants to get anything done, compromise is inevitable.  There is no way anyone who gets elected to office as a conservative in Minnesota doesn’t have to defile the purity of their principles at some point or another. 

ANNAN: Yeah, well, I’m sick of voting for the lesser of two evils all the time.  I’m going to vote my absolute, pure principles and vote Libertarian. 

BERG:   And that way, you’ll promote liberty.

ANNAN:  Yep.  

BERG:  So let me get this straight; you won’t vote for Republicans because previous generations of Republicans have had to compromise the purity of their principles when they actually got into a room with the other side and had to actually try to get things done, to say nothing of having to stop the other side from getting worse things, like daycare unionization and gun control, done. 

ANNAN:   Yep. 

BERG:  And you’ll vote for someone who’s never had to test the purity of his precious principles by trying to enact any kind of policy at all, much less over the votes of a legislature that is at least 50% completely hostile to everything your candidate says. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I could see myself supporting Rand Paul for President.   

ANNAN:  Ew.  He’s abandoned his principles.  Not like Doctor Paul.

BERG:  You’re proving my point.  “Doctor” Paul never got elected to anything outside of a House district in Texas.  And for all his big talk about policy – auditing the fed, disengaging abroad, yadda yadda – he admits, albeit quietly, that he never could have done it.  He had no support in Congress. 

ANNAN:  Why do you hate liberty?

BERG:  Actually, I clearly respect liberty more than you do. 

ANNAN:  Hah!  How can you say that? 

BERG:  Because the only way you’re going to get your agenda passed is to elect a libertarian monarch who takes office, sweeps away a century of noxious policy by decree, and then steps down.  Hopefully.  And that’s fine, if “magical thinking” is good enough for you.   But that’s really all voting for a third party gets you.  A third party vote is a wasted vote.

ANNAN:  It wasn’t with Jesse Ventura!  He had principles and he stuck with them!

BERG:  No, he didn’t.  He ran on a promise of returning the entire plus to the people. And once he got elected, he had to deal with the fact that was a governor with no caucus in the legislature – two Democrats flipped over to the Independence Party over the next year, and that was it. So we had to run with his hat in hand to Roger Moe, the DFLSenate majority leader, and cut deals like a madman. Meaning that about a third of the surplus got paid back. And the rest of it got turned into permanent spending, the way the DFL wanted.

So where was the principal?

ANNAN:  He sent a message!

BERG: Yep. And that message was “voting for a third-party candidate is of nothing but symbolic value”.

ANNAN:  (Plugs ears, turns, starts running).  Bla bla blaaaaa can’t year youuuuuuu bla bla bla bla bla).

[And SCENE]

Three Shockers

Three new polls indicate that the “good year for the GOP’ might not stop at the Saint Croix:

The first two are, of course, internal polls.  It’s possible they’re self-serving – although generally the parties are paying good money for the internal polls, and want them to be accurate.  They are, of course, intended to start a “bandwagon effect”, convincing voters who are inclined to be friendly that their support can be rewarded, and likely opponents to stay home and avoid the futility. 

Sort of like the DFL, ABM and mainstream media (ptr) have been doing to make DFL wins feel inevitable. 

Three weeks ’til the election?  This is huge. 

Also – with the Democrats pulling their money out of Kentucky and Colorado, look for Al Franken to get a wad of cash, as Democrats around the country start to realize Senator Smalley is a lot more vulnerable than the local media let on.

What Conservatism Needs In Minnesota

In the middle of a year that promises to be a good, if not great, year for Republicans nationwide, Minnesota Republicans are hoping to flip the House, so as to at least contest control for the state, and praying for an upset in the Senate and a come-from-behind miracle for Governor.

It was ten years ago that the conventional wisdom was that Minnesota was purple, flirting with red.

Today, it’s a bluish-purple state – some bright-red points, some dingy blue swamps. 

In 2002, after the death of Paul Wellstone, the DFL was in disarray;  they lost the state House, the Governor’s office and Wellstone’s Senate seat.   The grownups controlled all of the state offices except the Attorney General; the DFL held the State Senate by a hair, and was well behind in the House. 

Inside six years, they turned that into nearly-complete domination of Minnesota.  They held Mark Dayton’s old and barely-used Senate seat, they took Coleman’s they took both chambers of the Legislature in 2008, lost them in 2010, and took them back in 2012, and have controlled all of the state Constitutional offices – Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor – for eight years now. 

How did they do this?

The 24 Month Campaign:  Ben Kruse got it mostly right Monday morning on the morning show on the lesser talk station; Republicans need to learn something from the Democrats.  For them, their 2016 campaign will start in earnest on November 5.  The Republicans, in the meantime, will meander about until State Fair time, 2016. 

I know – to be fair, Jeff Johnson and Dave Thompson started their governor’s races back in 2012 in all but name; Mike McFadden was aggressively moving his Senate candidacy at the State Fair in 2013. 

In contrast, the DFL’s attack PR firm “Alliance for a “Better” Minnesota” never stopped campaigning.  The group – financed by unions and liberal plutocrats with deep pockets, including Mark Dayton’s ex-wife Alita Messinger – does something that goes beyond campaigning. 

It bombards Minnesotans with Democrat propaganda, 24 months every campaign cycle.

The Communications Gap:  The Minnesota GOP has plenty of strikes against it; while it’s made up a lot of financial ground since its nadir two years ago, it’s still in debt, and still scrambling to get back to even.

But even when it’s in the black, it only does so much communicating – and then, it only does it in the run-ups to elections and, maybe occasionally, during legislative sessions (and that’s mostly the jobs of the GOP legislative caucuses). 

In the meantime, the Democrats (with the connivance of regional media whose reporters may not overtly carry the water for the DFL, but whose management largely most definitely does) shower the Minnesota voter with a constant drizzle of the Democrat version of “the truth”. 

Which means the low-information voter – the one that might start thinking about next month’s election any day now – is kept on a constant drip, drip, drip of the DFL’s point of view.  It means the baseline of thought for those who don’t have any strong political affiliation of their own leans left of center; they assume that raising taxes helps schools, that Republicans are rich tax evaders who hide their wealth out of state, that there is a “war on women”, and on and on.

There’s No-one To Fly The Flag – Nobody Seems to Know It Ever Went Down: So how was the situation different when the GOP was contending to take MInnesota away from the left? 

Other than the DFL having an endless parade of checks from plutocrats to cash? 

For starters, back then Minnesota had a number of overt conservative voices on the media, statewide, day in, day out.  It was when Jason Lewis was at his rabble-rousing peak; I call him the Father of Modern Minnesota Conservatism, and I’ll stand by it.  With Lewis on the air, a lot of people who didn’t know they were conservatives, figured it out – and a lot of conservatives who figured they were alone in the big blue swamp realized there were others out there. 

And Joe Soucheray was on the air three hours a day talking, not so much directly about politics, but about the absurdities that the left was inflicting on the culture.  It may have been a decade before Andrew Breitbart noted that Politics springs from Culture, but Soucheray knew it, and made it a constant topic for a long, long time. 

Lewis and Soucheray had record audiences – not just in the Metro, but outstate, where both had syndication in Greater Minnesota. 

And between the two, the media’s left-leaning chinese water torture had competition.

And for a few years, MInnesota had a couple of voices that did for conservatism in the state what Rush Limbaugh helped do nationwide; dragged it out of the basement, aired it out, made it relevant to the challenges Minnesotans faced then and today, and made being conservative, unapologetic and smart a thing to be proud of. 

And this happened at a time when Minnesota conservatism…came out of the basement, aired out, and started grabbing Minnesota mindshare. 

Coincidence?

Feed The Cat:  Of course, this doesn’t happen on its own.  While conservative talk radio is still, along with sports, the only radio format that’s paying its bills, the format has atrophied – largely because it’s become, for money reasons, a national rather than regional format.  Syndicated network programming – Limbaugh, Hannity, Prager, Hewitt, Michael Savage, what-have-you – delivers ratings on the relative cheap.  And they deliver political engagement, nationwide.  

But they don’t have a local political effect like a solid, firebrand local lineup does. 

But radio stations pay for very little in the way of “local lineup” anymore; KSTP has turned Soucheray into just another sports talking head; AM1280 has the NARN; AM1130 has Jack and Ben and, temporarily, Dave Thompson. 

Minnesota business – at least, the part of it that realizes that a conservative outcome benefits everyone, themselves included – needs to pony up and sponsor the next generation of rabble-rousing Conservative media with a cause; the fact that it’s actually a good ad investment is a collateral benefit, compared to flushing money down ABM’s drain. 

And yes, I’m focusing on radio – but this rabble-rousing presence would need to cover all of the social and alternative media, not just the traditional AM band.  Still – there is no (affordable) medium that reaches, or can reach, more Minnesotans.

And through that, maybe, we start turning the intellectual tide in this state. 

It’s happened once.  It can happen again.

Needs to happen again, really.