Just You Wait…

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Paul Ryan has become an Establishment Republican.  He’s not going to help Trump win.  He thinks that’s the smart play but I wonder if his voters will mind that he’s back-stabbing the Republican candidate? They’re already booing him in his home state.

 Trump isn’t the one who killed the GOP.  He’s just the one who walked up to it and poked it with a stick to be sure it’s dead.

 Last time, the base turned out nice, polite Tea Partiers who left the lawn cleaner than when they arrived.  This time, we picked Trump who is loud and vulgar but at least knows the greatest threat facing America is not global warming.  If the Democrats, the media and the Establishment GOP conspire to keep him out of the White House, just wait to see who comes next.

Joe Doakes

The anticipation is killing me.

Report Card

Frank Drake is running and extremely aggressive, and fairly tart, campaign against Keith Ellison in the fifth Congressional District.

Will it work? I saw the 1980 Olympic hockey team; I do believe in miracles. I’m a Republican in the inner city, so I have to.

Anyway – Drake provides a list of Keith Ellison’s “accomplishments” in office:

Top Keith Ellison accomplishments:

1) I promise to end these wars, and not start any new wars.

2) Minneapolis is now a UN sanctuary city funded by Minnesotans.

3) I can show up anywhere, and I’m the story.

4) The DNC was impartial. That’s why “Keith’s for Hillary” now.

5) Who’s this Frank Drake dude anyway?

6) Community Action of Minneapolis was a great front and money laundering operation until it was seized by the Government for fraud. Bill Davis remains a trusted advisor. President Obama will pardon him before leaving office.

7) Marijuana remains a Class 1 Narcotic, just like Heroin.

8) Keith Ellison was never involved, in any way, with the overthrow of Syria or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

9) Unemployment is low, especially in our urban centers. That 4.5% Unemployment Rate is true, despite 1/3 of all Americans not working. Over 94,000,000 Americans don’t work.

10) Our Government is in the business of War. Private prisons are a growth industry.

11) My ideas are proven in Venezuela and many controlled economies.

Keith Ellison’s ideas resonate like a frying pan dropped from a five-story building hitting the pavement.

Drake has a way with words that we could use a lot more of an inner-city Republican politics.

Counterpunch This

To:  Donald Trump
From:  Mitch Berg, Ornery Peasant
Re:   Doyyy

Mr. Trump,

I started disliking your public persona thirty years ago.   While I’m told you are a perfectly fine human being in person, your public persona – the garish extravagant gaudiness, the constant noise – was always off-putting. Still is.

Now, this time a year ago I was a Scott Walker supporter.  And I still am.  If there were a way to get him into the race (and lamentably, there is not), Shrillary would get pounded like a piece of cheap steak.

But that’s neither here nor there.  Because here we are.

Anyway – I’m not one of the #NeverTrump crowd, if only because crowds annoy me.  The idea of Hillary Clinton nominating SCOTUS justices should terrify everyone who cares about the Bill of Rights.   And the Libertarian ticket isn’t an option (forget about the Greens).

So I don’t like your persona – but I don’t vote for personas.  I don’t like what your campaign has done to the GOP, but then the GOP has been frustrating lately, too.  And I don’t like the way you’re running this campaign, but then it’s your campaign, not mine.

But this?  This is just plain stupid.

You’ll help NATO countries if they’ve “paid their way?”

What’s this tell you?

The NATO members in the most immediate danger from Russia – the Poles and Estonians – are taking their defense pretty seriously.  Latvia and Lithuania are coming around (both have increased their spending in 2016 – Latvia’s spending is actually up 50% in the past two years).

And can you think of four nations that have “spent” more freedom in the past 30 years that those four?  Not just in terms of budget, but in terms of actually resisting tyranny?

No, I don’t imagine you can.

Think about it, Mr. Trump.

That is all.

Berg’s 11th Law Is Also Inerrant And Immutable

The Strib endorses John Howe for the CD2 congressional seat currently held by John Kline.

Nothing against Howe, who was a capable legislator and an estimable mayor of Red Wing – but this endorsement is a classic example of Berg’s 11th Law:

Berg’s Eleventh Law of Inverse Viability: The conservative liberals “respect” for their “conservative principles” will the the one that has the least chance of ever getting elected.

Jason Lewis is the endorsed candidate, with immense name recognition and a record as the father of modern Minnesota conservatism.  Darlene Miller is John Kline’s preferred candidate.  The fourth, the putative Trump-supporting candidate Hey Look At Meeeee, along with Howe, rounds out the field.

I’ll be interviewing Jason Lewis this coming Saturday on the NARN, by the way.

Cruz Control

A long-time friend of the blog writes:

In Trump, we have many things- a candidate who is a master at marketing, a candidate who thinks he is in a popularity contest, a candidate who believes that the country is his personal reality show.

Among the speeches during the last 3 days, most haven’t really had a clear message for what the Republican is, just that it isn’t Hillary’s party. My own cynicism rears when that is the main message, especially with a party that nominates a Presidential candidate who admits to donating to the Clintons.

All duly acknowledged.

So, with my own feelings of dislike for Trump, I really want to high five Ted Cruz for his speech. It took skill to do that. Bravery. A true leader who is more concerned about doing what is right rather than what is popular. 

Of course, I’m not gullible enough to believe that Trump had no idea that Cruz would do this. As I said earlier, this is his reality show. Now, the focus is off of Melania’s speech. The focus is off of Pence, who may not draw in the ratings that Trump is looking for. No, with the conflict that Cruz brought, ratings for tonight’s episode will possibly be even higher. 

To me, Trump’s convention is not offering anything serious, anything that demonstrates an understanding of the needs of the country. It is only giving me further proof of the narcissism of this man. Regardless of the outcome of the election this year, it is going to be a long 4 years.

All of that could be exactly right.  And I could be overthinking (or over-crediting the thinking of others).

But hear me out.

What was conservatives’ biggest beef in 2008 and 2012?  That their champions, such as they were, bowed out and faded away in a lavender cloud of conciliation.  They went on to stay home in droves in November.

Trump faces the same problem in spades; grass-roots movement conservative Republicans and conservatives staying home in November.

But what if Trump were to give those conservatives a figurehead who wasn’t going to shake hands and congratulate Trump on a job well done?  Who would spend the next four years – and especially the next three months – keeping the bloody shirt flying?

It won’t hurt Trump – nobody whom Ted Cruz could influence is going to vote for Hillary.

But it could – perhaps – help Trump down the ticket, in the conservative places where Trump needs every possible vote to turn out, to try to keep control of the Senate in friendlier hands this fall.

Crazy?  Or Crazy like a WWF marketer?

We’ll see.

Pick Your Poison

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

C.S. Lewis’ famous quote:

 “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

 Seems appropriate for this election: Trump versus Hillary. 

 Joe Doakes

Although Sanders probably most perfectly fits the definition of “moral busybody”, as opposed to “self-aggrandizing megalomaniac” or “political robber-baroness”.

NARN-day I’ve Got Friday On My Mind

Tonight, we’ll be doing a special edition of the NARN, live from the GOP State Convention in Duluth, from 6-8PM!

Who will be on the show?  What’ll we be talking about?  We’ll be talking a fair amount about the goings-on at the GOP State Central Committee – and of course, the Judicial Elections Commission.

Don’t forget – King Banaian is on from 9-11AM on AM1440, and Brad Carlson has “The Closer” edition of the NARN Sundays from 2-3PM.

So tune in the Northern Alliance! You have so many options:

Join us!

While In Duluth Tomorrow

I’ll be broadcasting live from the GOP State Convention on Friday from 6-8PM, and again on Saturday fro 1-3PM.

I’m neither a delegate nor a member of the State Central Committee, so I won’t be voting on anything

But I will be doing my level best to help any group that seeks to limit the power of the Judicial Elections Commission.  Perhaps not end the JEC, per se – but in exchange for leaving the JEC alive, I want the heads of those responsible for the Michelle MacDonald debacle displayed on pikes outside the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.

Rhetorically speaking, of course.

Speaking of Michelle MacDonald:  she’s running for the Supreme Court again.  That’s certainly her right; hopefully the convention chair won’t make the same mistake that happened in 2014.

Speaking of MacDonald – her followers are making the technically true but contextually laughable assertion that MacDonald got a higher percentage of the vote than any other GOP candidate in 2014.   Which is true…

…and also deeply misleading – and I can not wait for the first MacDonald supporter to try to bring that up on the air.

MacDonald got 46% and change, it’s true – running mostly against the GOP, and little or not at all against David Lillehaug (who ran, effectively, no campaign at all).  As I pointed out after the last election, all contested judicial elections get an average of 35-40% – it’s an outlet for people’s obstinacy, apparently (I always, always vote for challengers, whether I know or care about them or not, and I can not be the only one).

So MacDonald got about 4% more than “background noise”.  And while I have no empirical evidence for this, I’m going to speculate with confidence that had she not been running against Darth Lillehaug – one of the most anti-gun politicians (excuse me, “jurists”) in the business, she’d have come in in the thirties without a whole lot of shooters voting against Lillehaug and not for MacDonald.

So while my actual means for dealing with the JEC and MacDonald are limited, I’m going to use what I can to encourage those who can do something about it to seriously punish the JEC, and send MacDonald back to famlaw.

Speaking of family?  Read this time-line of MacDonald’s most famous case.  I have no idea if MacDonald was involved in any wrongdoing – specifically, the systematic alienation of a custodial father’s children against him – but as a matter of principle, everyone who interferes with another parent’s access to their kids should rot in hell.

Death Is Easy: Survival Is Hard

Walter Hudson says if there’s to be a civil war in the GOP, let’s fight it to win:

hat said, the risk of a general election loss was first assumed by embracing Trump to this point. As our nominee, Trump will decimate what remains of our credibility. Our candidates up and down the ticket will be saddled with his horrendous personal behavior and called upon to answer for his irresponsible rhetoric. Efforts at developing new constituencies and expanding the base to suit rapidly shifting demographics will wither and die. Trump will further homogenize and calcify a party which needs now more than at any other time in its history to diversify and grow.

The only way to mitigate the damage Trump will cause, and repair the damage already done, will be for Republicans to oppose him as Republicans. We have to lay claim to our party and reject him as its standard bearer. We have to present a contrast, from within the party, to his vile persona and unprincipled authoritarian agenda. That means stepping outside our comfort zone, defying conventional expectations, and ruffling more than a few feathers.

The whole thing is worth a read.

As far as I’m concerned?

I grew up reading stories like “Endurance” (30 guys surviving on an ice floe for over a year, before rowing lifeboats across the subarctic South Atlantic to safety), and “Escape from Sobibor” (people escaping an extermination camp and surviving in the woods until liberation came) and “Rickenbacker” (surviving on a raft in the Pacific for three weeks) and “Alive” (people surviving in the Andes after a plane crash). Non-fiction, by the way.
Those are the stories I’ve kept in my mind as I’ve gone through some of my life’s own travails (and I’ve had some doozies – but nothing like the above. Which is, of course, the point).

The Trump “Crisis” and the battle for the soul of the GOP? Pffft. Bring it.
I’m not going to theatrically pack up and leave the GOP. Partly because I (and many people much better than I) have worked too hard to bring the MNGOP a long way from where it was a generation ago. Don’t believe me? Check out Arne Carlson’s and Dave Jennings’s budget numbers, and then let’s talk. It’s not changed enough, fast enough, but it’s changed.

And partly because I did it once. I left the GOP in disgust in 1994, and went to the Libertarians. The Libertarian Party is a clown car. It will never get anyone elected to office. It *can* never get anyone elected – because it is a glorified frat party that exists mostly to purity-test each other to a fine sheen. They can’t even run a state convention, much less a government (and they’ll say “that’s the point!”, and they’ll be correct, but not the way they think they are). And libertarianism is a lovely philosophy, which at its logical conclusion depends on a complete suspension (or ignorance) of human nature. It’s no less a fantasy world than “democratic socialism” is. I’ll write in my dog before I vote for a Libertarian.

Anyway – I’m coming around to Walter’s point of view. Give it a read.

The Vandal

Like a lot of people last fall, I figured that the Donald Trump candidacy was nothing but a marketing ploy to buff up the power and prestige of the Trump brand.

Trump’s surge over the winter – intended or inadvertent – pushed that narrative to the back of the stove for a few months.

But how comes some intimations that perhaps Trump really doesn’t actually want the presidency, and is working on his exit strategy:

Over the course of the last week, Trump has made headlines and drawn attention by doing and saying things that are completely contrary to what anyone would consider sane.

Trump’s conversation with Chris Matthews on MSNBC …he told Matthews that women who seek abortion should be punished…women are the largest demographic in this country. There is no path to nomination without their support. Why would anyone alienate them?

…[later that week] Trump told the audience that the Geneva Conventions hinder our efforts…“The problem,” Trump said, “is we have the Geneva Conventions, all sorts of rules and regulations, so the soldiers are afraid to fight. We can’t waterboard, but they can chop off heads. I think we’ve got to make some changes.” …Trump also said he would not be opposed to using nuclear weapons in the Middle East or in Europe, during the above-mentioned interview with Chris Matthews.

It does seem odd that Trump – not being an idiot – said such idiotic things.  I think it’s entirely plausible Trump wants to avoid Jesse Ventura’s fate, actually having to run a government.

Which is fine and dandy – but galling for those of us who have been fighting to advance the conservative brand and rehabilitate the GOP.

Last September, the GOP had one of the most stellar line-ups of candidates in history.  Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and on and on and on.

But for six months, Trump sucked all the air out of the room, eating up any chance for an accomplished but regional figure like a Walker or a Jindal to break out of the pack.

And if Trump does eventually bow out, or lose at the convention, that will be his greatest disservice.  Not that I don’t think Ted Cruz will be an excellent candidate – he will – but how much better a race would this have been had it been six months of grappling among serious and sincere candidates rather than the Vince McMahon stunt we’ve just spent six months watching?



The Republicans of the Upper Midwest have made their distaste for Trump pretty obvious.  The Donald lost Minnesota and Iowa bright and early, and went on to tank in Wisconsin and, over the weekend, North Dakota.

I won’t say I predicted it in as many words – but this bit summarizes what I’d hoped and believed; Trump’s braggadocio doesn’t resonate with quiet, modest, stoic, passive aggressive Minnesotans.

Most of us have heard of “Minnesota Nice” — the friendly, reserved, play-by-the-rules behavior favored by that state’s residents. But Wisconsin has a similar Scandinavian (though more German) culture, as do North and South Dakota. When the Upper Midwest of Europe relocated to the Upper Midwest of the United States, they brought their politeness, understatement, and emotional restraint with them.

All of these characteristics are diametrically opposed to the Trump ethos of baseless braggadocio, histrionic complaint, and conflict as first resort. Critics of Minnesota Nice cast it as barely masked passive-aggressiveness, but active-aggressiveness is considered not only unseemly, but unmanly.

Scandis find virtue in stoicism. When you’re shoveling a sidewalk buried in three feet of snow, your neighbor doesn’t want to hear your complaints — especially since she’s 68, has a bum leg, and cleared her driveway before the sun rose. Just do what needs to be done, and would it kill you to put a smile on your face?

Invoking “Minnesota Nice” is lazy – but it’s not wrong, either.

I Have A Theory. Which Is Mine.

Bear with me, here.

So how does the GOP save the party, the conservative movement, the country, and perhaps Western Civilization itself – from the Dems, from Trump, and even from themselves?

I’ve got an idea.

Assumptions:  Trump is going to get slaughtered by Hillary – but he’ll drawn a lot of “disenfranchised”, PC-weary voters from both parties; Dems who’d never dream of voting for Cruz, but find Hillary warmed-over and underwhelming.

So Here’s The Plan:  Here’s how it works:

  1. The GOP should “steal” the nomination from Trump.  And they shouldn’t be even a little bit subtle about it; they should make it big, arrogant and blatant.  They should poke the bear’s gargantuan ego with big nasty sticks – the better to inflame The Donald.    They should do it, and do a big, ugly, arrogant end-zone happy dance when they do.
  2. The Donald, his ego suitably affronted, will launch a “Great” third party bid – The Trump Party”, most likely.  It’ll be the best ever; Trump will bring more money to the table than Croesus himself.  By the time he’s done, nobody will care about “that loser” Cruz or “that witch” Hillary.
  3. Of course, they will.  The three parties will split the vote such that nobody gets 270 electoral votes.    Oh, it’ll be close – but let’s look at the Electoral College under my scenario:


Lets assume Hillary takes Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – none of which I consider givens, but lets be, ahem, conservative here.

Hillary comes up one electoral vote short.  Cruz, 24 shy of a win.  Trump, 247 light.

And then what?

Here’s What:  According to the Constitution, if there is no winner in the Electoral College, the House of Representatives chooses the President.

Disclaimers:  I’m not going to bet money on any of this.  Also, I’m being tongue-in-cheek as can be (which, I’m going to guess, completely escapes any left-leaning commenters and bloggers who read this.  In fact, just watch; that, I’d bet money on) .

“We Want Change!”

Barack Obama got swept into office on a wave of people seeking “hope” and demanding “change”.

Few could articulate the change they were hoping for – or, rather, there were tens of millions of different changes being hoped for – but by jinky, they were gonna get it.

It’s hardly arguable that most of the changes were bad; more Americans have healthcare than before, but they can afford it less.

And against that, the accusation is that the GOP did nothing – which is, of course, the impetus for much of Donald Trump’s popularity.

As Kevin Williamson points out, it’s not true – but you need to have an attention span to see it (emphasis added)

Having been elevated in the 2010 elections and fortified in subsequent elections, congressional Republicans have made a little bit of progress on the deficit, which was reduced from 8.7 percent of GDP in 2010 to 2.5 percent of GDP in 2015. In 2007, before the credit crisis and the subsequent recession, it had been about 1.1 percent of GDP — too high for the liking of many deficit hawks, but arguably manageable.

Arguably manageable – and at least moving in the right direction.

Another way to look at the spending problem is deficit compared to revenue, i.e., how much we’re borrowing to finance spending vs. how much we’re taking in. This gives you an idea of what the “stretch” is, what we’d need to cover in additional taxes or reduce through spending cuts to bring expenditures in line with income. In 2010, the deficit was 60 percent of revenue ($1.29 trillion deficit vs. $2.16 trillion revenue), whereas in 2015 the deficit was 13 percent of revenue ($439 billion deficit vs. $3.25 trillion revenue).

The moral of the story?

For those of you who habitually ask what it is that congressional Republicans have accomplished, that’s it: Despite having Barack Obama in the White House and a public that clamored for more benefits and lower taxes, the deficit has been reduced substantially in absolute terms, relative to GDP, relative to the federal budget, and relative to revenue, since the height of Democratic power under the Obama-Pelosi-Reid triumvirate.

A triumvirate that, Williamson points out, Trump funded.

Could and should the GOP majorities have done more?  Perhaps.   Changing the course of government is slow, unless  you control the entire shootin’ match (like Obama did from ’09 through ’10).  That’s intentional; there was a time when conservatives, if nobody else, knew that government was supposed to be slow.

(Which is the biggest reason Obama’s overreaches on immigration, among other topics, are so very dangerous).


Stork King

There’s an old parable; I want to say it’s Russian, since it sounds like it’s part of the Russian character.  I don’t know.

But it’s a good parable.  There once was a swamp full of frogs.  The frogs in a swamp were happy; plenty of slime to jump through, plenty of bugs to eat.

But something was missing.  So they asked “why can’t we have a king?”

And presently, a king was sent to them; a stork.

Storks, of course, eat frogs.

The moral:  be careful what you wish for.

Along those lines, a longtime friend of the blog writes:

I have a friend here at work who for years has said our problem is that we elect politicians. Well, now he belly-aches because he thinks a Trump presidency is a bad idea. Unless there is a serious change, soon, he’s going to get exactly what he said he wanted, originally — in nominee-form, anyway.


Jesse Ventura II

I like to think that’s why Minnesota bucked the Trump wave last night; we’ve been through this before.


I’m going to the caucuses tonight.

Who am I going to caucus for?  Well, not Trump.   I think he’s an epic fraud who will betray the conservatives who’ve lined up behind him.  He’s like an executive brand David Souter, via Vince McMahon.

And I won’t be caucusing for Kasich – who I think is a solid VP candidate – or Carson, who I believe is way out of his depth, and who needs to run for Mayor of Detroit, where he’ll do a lot more good than he’s doing now.

My short list – Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal – are both obviously out of the picture.   So it’s down to Cruz or Rubio for me.

Who’s it gonna be?

Not sure.  Partly because I am, genuinely, not sure.  And partly because the vitriol inside the party has gotten so very, very mindless and pointless.  Dennis Prager writes about  it – and it’s something every Republican, and especially every conservative, should read before they go to the caucuses:

So this is where we stand today: Many anti-Rubio Republicans regard Rubio as a traitor on the immigration issue and therefore have contempt for his supporters. Many anti-Cruz Republicans regard Cruz as an extremist conservative who is, moreover, a misanthrope, and therefore have contempt for his supporters. And many anti-Trump Republicans – perhaps most – regard Trump as a dangerous fraud, and therefore view his supporters with contempt.

Needless to say, with these attitudes, there is little chance any Republican can win.

So, then, despite eight years of failure under a Democratic president, and with Hillary Clinton — widely regarded as a completely untrustworthy woman who has put pursuit of money and power above the interests of her country — as the Democratic candidate, Republicans will still lose. And Republicans will have no one to blame but themselves.

One observation I made of Ron Paul supporters in 2008 and 2012 – that they seemed to be personality cultists, who believed not only was Paul the only valid choice, but that any other choice was no better in any way than a Democrat, or nobody at all – has metastasized across much of the GOP body politic this cycle.

And so while the “passion index” favors the GOP by landslide proportions – it is, at this point, almost entirely aimed at other Republicans, rather than at the doddering would-be Hugo Chavez or cynical, calculating would-be Eva Peron who, some need to be reminded, actually would be worse for the country than Rubio, Cruz or even Trump.

So if Trump wins the nomination?  I’ll vote for him – not because I think he’ll be a good president, not because I think he’s going to hold to his promises (not even on immigration), and not even because I think he, himself, will nominate better SCOTUS justices than Hillary.  I’ll do it because he’ll have to run to the legislative majority to get anything done – and if we don’t have a GOP Senate or House, we’re truly screwed.  And if Trump doesn’t win convincingly, then the coat-tail effect will tend to increase the power of the worthless whackdoodle Democrats.

And that is the only reason.

So I’ll be going to caucuses tonight.  Hope to see you there.

Tremors And Trash

Republican Chad Anderson upsets the DFL – ahd “Democratic Socialist” trash collection –  in a special election, flipping Ann Lenczewsi’s seat in a district only marginally less DFL-secure than any other in the first tier of burbs:

With all the precincts tallied in the special election to replace Lenczewski, Anderson netted 51 percent to DFL Bloomington City Council member Andrew Carlson’s 49 percent.

The win gives Republicans, who are already in the House majority, an extra legislative vote this year and a key boost of confidence before November’s election, when the entire Legislature is up for election.

Both House Republican and Democratic-Farmer-Labor campaign arms spent thousands of dollars on ads targeting the Bloomington area, an unusual step in special elections. About 5,000 voters turned out Tuesday.

Losing Lenczewski’s seat has to have people at the DFL’s office on Plato Boulevard changing their underwear today.   It’s not quite like flipping a seat in Minneapolis – but it’s not that far from it, either.

Andrew Carlson – the DFL contender, and an incumbent Bloomington City Council member – was instrumental in jamming down Cuban-style socialized trash collection in Bloomington last year.

UPDATE:  What could be better than flipping a DFL sinecure?  Doing it while spending 1/4 as much as the Democrat did.

More on that tomorrow.

A High Floor And A Low Ceiling

Rand Paul has been on my short list for a long time.

And like the rest of my presidential short list as of four months ago – Walker and Jindal – Paul is out.  Apparently my short list is a kiss of death.


Paul had become an increasingly marginal figure in the still-sprawling GOP field. He finished fifth in Iowa, with less than 5 percent of the vote, but is projected to do much worse in next week’s New Hampshire primary, with recent polls showing him in ninth place.

The Kentucky senator was facing a dismal money situation, and ended the fourth quarter with $1.3 million in the bank for his presidential campaign. He raised roughly $2.1 million in the quarter, while spending $2.9 million. His super PACs ended the year with a little more than $4 million in cash on hand.

He’s off to focus on his Senate re-election bid.

My two cents?  Paul had two major handicaps:

  1. He had the above-mentioned “high floor and low ceiling”; a fair number of people, many inherited from his father’s campaigns, others from the Tea Party, who supported him.  But their idea of ‘working for a candidate” seemed to involve mostly vigorous tweeting and taking online polls (which Paul, like his father, routinely swept).
  2. His followers shared many of his father’s followers’ worst traits; an almost personality-cultish focus on the candidate rather than the issues, and in all too many cases an entitled arrogance about their candidate’s superiority.   If I had a nickel for every Rand supporter I see online this morning claiming that “the electorate is just too stupid for us”, I could buy that Les Paul I’ve been eyeing.

Anyway – it’s a crummy world, where Rand Paul is out but Rick Santorum is still in.

What If?

On the weekend before the official kickoff of the GOP nomination season, Donald Trump would seem to have the momentum.  Now, both of “my guys” for this race – Walker and Jindal – are long gone, so my short list is (in very rough order) Rubio, Cruz, Paul, Christie.

Trump’s ascendancy has, of course, brought out the usual jeremiads about the oncoming implosion of the GOP (to which cooler and more historically-grounded heads reply “What?  Again?  This happens every eight years or so“).

But I keep getting asked – what if Trump is, at the end of the day, the nominee?

Simple.  I’ll hold my nose and vote for Trump.

It’s not just because I regard third-party candidacies as irrelevant exercises in personal philosophical navel-gazing – that’s between you and your conscience, and is none of my business.

And it’s not that I’m a “my party, right or wrong” guy; I’m a Tea Party Conservative who votes GOP because it is, to evoke Buckley, the most conservative party that can win.  And if Trump, heaven forefend, is the most conservative person on the ballot who can win next November, then I’ll vote for him.

But Trump promises to be a rerun of the Jesse Ventura years, only coast-to-coast.   So why bother?

Three reasons:  Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Scalia – one of the better conservative minds in the history of the court – lamentably can’t last forever.  Having Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders nominate his “replacement” – or that of Kennedy, the most powerful “Moderate” in the history of the universe – would turn the SCOTUS bright blue for decades to come.  Kiss any chance of rolling back Obamacare, getting control of immigration or voting or the borders, or the Second Amendment, goodbye right now.

And by the opposite token, if Kennedy retires, or Ginsburg gets called by her overlords back to her mothership, during a GOP administration, there’s at least a chance of getting a much better, more conservative justice on the bench.  And don’t be caterwauling at me about what disappointments Roberts and Souter turned out to be as conservatives; without a GOP president and GOP Senate, “eventual disappointment” is the best you can hope for.

Remember – Trump may well nominate a complete idiot.  But the Senate has to confirm them.  And if both a hypothetical President Trump and a GOP Senate are idiots, then we’re screwed – but those are both “maybes”; you can bet a hypothetical President Sanders will nominate Saul Alinksky, and Clinton’s nominees will make Sonia Sotomayor look like John Marshall.

So yeah.  I’ll hold my nose and vote Trump.

And then set to work on fixing the rot that led us to this point.

Pretense Aside

SCENE: Mitch BERG is waiting in line at the Rack Shack on South Robert.   Stephanie Marie ANNAN – Community organizer for the 5th CD Libertarian Party – enters with a great clatter, vigorously stomps off her boots, and gets in line, finally noticing BERG. 

ANNAN:  Hey, Merg!  I don’t like all that stuff you’ve been saying about how us Ron Paul people just like to throw…what do you call it?”

BERG:  “Turd bombs”.

ANNAN:  Yeah!  The GOP did it first, back in 2008!

BERG:  Yeah, so I’ve been told.  That was about three years before I got involved in the GOP beyond going to caucuses, by the way.  I know there’s been going on eight years of tit-for-tat between the Ron Paul clicque and the “establishment”, which I’m told I’m part of, even though I got involved in the party after the Tea Party.

ANNAN:  You’re already boring me.

BERG:  That seems to happen a lot.  You all apprently got “bored” with Kurt Bills after you you all went to Tampa in 2012…

ANNAN:  Hey – there’s a special primary coming up in a house district 68B!

BERG:  Yeah, it’s been in all the papers.

ANNAN:  I suppose you’re supporting the Republican candidate, like some mindless sheeple?

BERG: No, I support the endorsed Republican candidate because I’m an intelligent, informed voter. I think the endorsed candidate, Mindy Pilph, is an excellent choice.  Although I don’t actually live in the district.

ANNAN:  I plan on supporting her primary opponent!

BERG:  Who?  Jesse Duff?

ANNAN:  Yes!

BERG:  Duff supports doubling the gas tax, banning civilian firearm ownership, rolling back school choice and instituting an entirely grievance-based curriculum, and adopting the North Korean style socialist philosophy of “Juche“, an isolationist firm of Stalinism based on all-seeing, all-knowing, omnipotent state.  Which seems – pardon me for saying so – counterintuitive for someone who was a high ranking functionary in the Ron Paul campaign four years ago.  Since Duff would seem to be the polar opposite of Libertarian, I gotta say, that’s a zig when I expected a zag.

ANNAN:  But he’s independent from the Minnesota Republican Party.

BERG:  Well, with good reason. He stands for everything the party rejects.

ANNAN:  But he’s independent!

BERG:  But he’s the exact opposite of Libertarian.


BERG:  So yet again, it seems that “libertarian principle” isn’t really as big a deal as trying to TP the MNGOP….

ANNAN:   Squirrel!

(ANNAN leaves the room.  And SCENE)

Un-Abeler To Compute

I rarely if ever endorse candidates, per se.  I figure it’s not my job – who am I, after all?   I inform; you decide.

But I live in Saint Paul.  The Fourth Congressional District; Senate District 65; House 65A.  I’m “represented” by Betty McCollum, Sandy Pappas and Rena Moran.   And while I do my best to get involved in politics in my own neighborhood, let’s be honest; I probably have a greater  impact elsewhere.

Of course, Andy Aplikowski is a longtime friend of this blog.  And of mine, for that matter.  One of the co-founders of True North, one of the smartest political numbers guys I know, half of one of the genuinely nicest couples I know.  Andy’s running to replace Brandon Petersen in the Senate.  And I hope he wins.

Andy’s got the endorsement of the SD35 party apparatus.  But he’s gotta get through a primary against long-time former rep. Jim Abeler.

Now, I’ve interviewed Abeler a few times.  He’s a great guy; there are those who choose to demonize those they disagree with, and neither Abeler nor I are them.  And in his interviews, Abeler makes a solid case for some of the votes he’s taken.  Not solid enough to convince me, but nothing to brush aside, either.

But one vote that concerned me, as someone who’s gone around and around with the public school system, is a vote he took that ended up denying vouchers to students in Minneapolis and Saint Paul schools. Did Abeler have his reasons?  I’m sure he did – but they pale against the opportunity that arises when you allow the free market, personified by giving the parents the fiscal clout to say “no” to the district system, to have its effect.

So while I’m not sure what Abeler’s policy reasons are, I know that the vote did earn him some powerful friends. No, I mean some very powerful friends, friends with deep pockets and heavy-duty outsized clout in Minnesota politics.

Anyway – if you’re in SD35, or have friends there, by all means let ’em know where the School Choice vote goes.

The GOP’s Keystone Kommittee

One of the downsides of being a GOP activist and officer is that you have to get involved, even passively, in GOP inside baseball.   Ever.  For any reason.

And of course, it’s important; without a viable challenge to the DFL, Minnesota is a few downturns away from turning into California.  Or Minneapolis.

So I go to the meetings.  I vote on stuff.  I do my bit to try to help get better people elected to office; not just Republicans, but conservative Republicans who support limited government.

And I try to get as informed as I can about some of the “inside baseball” issues in the GOP; the budget deficit (how the hell…?), the collapse in the Cities, the turnout issues in the first and second ring ‘burbs…

…and of course, the Judicial Elections Committee.

That Buzzing Sound That Never Goes Away:  The JEC is an obscure fixture in the MNGOP, focusing both on endorsing judicial candidates and fighting for judicial reform.

As re the second?  The subject is a deadly combination of intensely technical and very important.   It’s intensely picayune – and absolutely vital.  The judiciary has turned into an unaccountable, opaque, lifetime sinecure in Minnesota; judges have extremely disproportionate power as a result, and the ability to make sweeping decisions with almost no accountability.  And the power extends beyond just the courtroom; the past several state redistricting processes, including the 2010 redistricting – gerrymandered enough to make Bull Connor and George Wallace sit up in the grave and say “Hey, bucko, you’re getting a little carried away, here”.  “Shall Issue” carry reform was struck down in 2004 by a judge whose home was a DFL hamster wheel and who, ignoring the fact that every state budget is a combination of omnibus bills full of unrelated amendments, struck down the law because it wasn’t closely enough related to the bill that was originally amended.

So there is a problem that needs to be solved.

There’s a lot of history to the notion of judicial endorsements, and the creation of the JEC, and its activities since it was established; I’ve written about them in the past, and I won’t rewrite it all now (search my site for references to the phrase “My brain went blank and my ass went numb”).

But it’s the JEC’s recent history that concerns me most.

Last Saturday was the GOP’s State Central Committee meeting.  I didn’t attend – but the future of the JEC was one of the subjects up for discussion.  And my butt went a little numb just reading the accounts on Twitter.

Business:  Of course, the JEC’s main claim to “fame” was the endorsement of Michelle McDonald to run for State Supreme Court.  This happened at the MNGOP State Convention in Rochester in May of 2014.  McDonald turned out to have a pending year-old DUI charge – about which the convention was not told.   We’ve written about this at some length in the past.

Let’s fast forward to last Saturday.  A series of handouts was waiting for the SCC delegates as they arrived at the event, or distributed during the convention; a friend scanned and sent them to me (the scan is included below the jump).

In it, the JEC explains the reasons for its existence – and, to be honest, does it fairly well, in places (and let’s be honest – the handout was written by logorrheacs, and you have to dig to find the good stuff.  But it’s in there).  In all my years of listening to JEC members trying to explain why judicial endorsements, and judicial reform, are good and vital, and why retention elections are bad, this is the first time even the faintest hint of a light has gone off above my head.

And so partly as a result of this handout, my previous determination to tear down the JEC, with flamethrowers if necessary, has been tempered just a bit.

I said “the JEC”.

The JEC’s membership is another story.

Twenty Octogenarians Driving A Clown Car:  If you recall – and I completely forgive you if you do not – the history of and beef with the McDonald endorsement goes a little something like this:

  1. The JEC recommended Michelle McDonald – a controversial family-law lawyer – for nomination to run for the Supreme Court (SCOM).
  2. At the State Convention, after the delegates had endured a 20-odd-hour endorsement battle for Senate, the JEC brought McDonald to the stage for a speech and a motion for endorsement by acclamation.  Many delegates were out – grabbing a bite, or in the bathroom, or stretching their legs after the endless Senate battle – and many that were in the room reported feeling bum-rushed – but the motion for acclamation passed, and McDonald was endorsed.
  3. The following week, the media reported that McDonald had a pending DUI charge awaiting trial.
  4. Reports emerged that the JEC had been aware of this charge, but had voted to nominate McDonald anyway, and had voted to not inform the delegates, including blocking an attempt to issue a minority report to the convention that would have brought up the legal issues for the delegates’ consideration.
  5. McDonald and the MNGOP brass spent the next five months fighting each other, under a blazing media spotlight, rarely managing or bothering to engage the DFL’s candidate, Darth Lillehaug, on any level.
  6. McDonald went on to lose the election against Lillehaug.  According to some reports, her campaign raised less that $1,000, and spent about $8,000.

The handouts give a couple of insights into the JEC’s performance – or “performance” – at the 2014 State convention, in the first two pages (the pink ones, whose order is reversed; page 2 is actually page 1).   It’s also full of opinion-driven weasel words – “the chair appeared…”, “in the committee’s opinion, the chair…” and the like.

There are two quotes from the handout, though, that display…something about the JEC’s opinion of itself; whether that something is arrogance, incompetence or malfeasance, I’m not sure and I’ll leave it to better judges than I.

It should be noted that the purpose of any endorsing committee is to spare the convention the task of sorting through a candidate’s personal life.  the job of any endorsing committee is to do the work in confidence and present a yes or no to the convention.  Committees focus on a candidate’s message, their willingness to campaign hard and their ability appeal (sic) to voters.  The idea that the Judicial Election Committee (or any other nominating committee) should air a candidate’s personal information to the convention is badly misinformed.

Exactly what a nominating committee is supposed to do is a subject worthy of discussion. And the passage may be right; a nominating committee should concern itself with competence and electability.

But a legal proceeding that is guaranteed to provoke a media feeding frenzy is both not “personal information” – it’s a public record, available online from the courts – and of direct impact to the candidate’s electability.

So this quote – along with the rest of the information in the handout, brings up three possibilities:

  1. The majority of the JEC genuinely believed that an arrest record is “personal information” that was nobody’s business.  If this was the case, then we’re dealing with some stupid people.  Arrest records are public!  Public!  Public!  Anyone who thought this was “personal information”, and believed that the media and DFL would treat it that way, needs to be publicly (rhetorically) horsewhipped.
  2. They knew about the arrest record, but figured it wouldn’t be a problem, since McDonald assured them the charge was BS:   You’ll note how many media figured led with the whole “Michelle McDonald is innocent until proven guilty, and gosh, she looks like she has a strong case” tack, right?  Somewhere less than zero?  Part of a nominations commission’s job is to try, as far as possible, to prevent media poo-storms like…the one we had.
  3. The JEC figured the news would be a problem, but wanted to jam McDonald down anyway, leading a supermajority to vote against the issuance of a minority report.   This is the worst kind of malfeasance.

We also see in another quote that the JEC is wallowing in either wishful thinking or an arrogant desire to bullshit the rest of the party:

…in spite of the flap over a now resolved (not guilty) DWI case, Michelle McDonald for Supreme Court won 46.54% of the vote.  This is higher than Johnson, McFadden, Severson, Gilbert and Newman – all the other MNGOP endorsed candidates

How stupid do these people think the rest of the party is?

The DWI is “now resolved” – but it wasn’t at election time.  And the media certainly didn’t harp on “innocence until proven guilty”.

As to her turnout?  As we pointed out the first time the JEC tried to use this chanting point to gull the gullible, it was BS.  McDonald got 46% against Lillehaug, it’s true – but John Hancock got 42% against Mimi Wright, and virtually every contested judicial race in the state got 35-40%.  McDonald outscored random, obstinate, uninformed noise by 4-6%. And while it’s possible she outperformed “background noise” due to her brilliant campaign, it’s also possible that a few thousand shooters voted against Darth Lillehaug, and would have no matter who was nominated.

My Conclusion, For Those Who Care?:  The JEC exists for good reason.  Minnesota’s judicial system needs changes, and the GOP needs to help drive those changes.

But most of its members need to go.  Decency would involve resignations of the sitting membership for their malfeasance, or at least stupidity, in the McDonald flap.   The JEC process is almost completely opaque to delegates, and even officers at the BPOU and Congressional District level.   I’m an officer, and I have no idea how Judicial Districts elect officers and do business.  It’s not just me.

The JEC, in my opinion, is a nook and cranny of the GOP that was built by, and is controlled by, a group of people who have turned it into their little political playground.  This doesn’t serve the mission that the JEC has set out for itself.

Just my opinion.  But I’m not alone.

As we’ll see, I’m sure, come the next State Convention.


Telling Tangent: Want to know something ironic?  I might well have voted for McDonald even with the pending DUI charge, had the JEC tried a little honesty, and had McDonald spent more time tackling Darth Lillehaug than Keith Downey.  But if I’d known about her involvement in the Grazzini-Rucki custody battle, I’d have voted for Charles Manson before I’d vote for McDonald.   If McDonald was involved with kidnapping and brainwashing a couple of kids against their custodial father, she deserves much worse than losing an election.

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Donald The Body

Joe Doakes from Como Park emailed me something I’ve been saying myself:

Trump reminds me of Jesse Ventura.  He says what the crowd wants to hear so they’ll vote for him and does it really well; plus, he’s running against a legacy putz in Jeb and a bitterly hated crone in Hillary just as Jesse ran against legacy Skip and hated Turncoat Coleman.  But once Trump gets in office, will he have trouble getting his ideas into action, as Jesse did?

“I want to bomb ISIS.”  Okay, but how?  I’m guessing that means ask the White House secretarial staff to call the Joint Chiefs to schedule a task force meeting with group commanders who will prepare a battle order . . . might also want to mention it to the countries who own the airspace you’ll be flying through, which means somebody at the State Department . . . possibly the Russians, too . . . and do we alert the Press or not and who handles those questions . . . ooh, that whole War Powers thing might require notification of Congressional leaders, somebody ought to call whoever we need to call about that . . . .

In a new Republican Administration, the campaign staff would know the policies, know the Establishment crowd, know the insiders, know who to appoint to run the bureaucracy, know who to call to get things done.

Jesse ended up filling offices with Democrats hastily rebranded as Independents, because Jesse had no list of party faithful to appoint.  Who will Trump end up with?

That’s not enough of a concern to make me vote for the putz or the crone, but it does make me wonder if throwing out the present rascals will result in any better rascals getting in?

Joe Doakes

Trump has the same problem Ron Paul had; talk is not only cheap, it’s easy.  Anyone can do it.

Actually getting it done when and if you get elected?  That’s the hard part.

And I suspect neither Ventura nor Trump ever expected they’d have to deliver on their bluster.