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?

 

Trumpeloven

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:

3PartyElectoralCollege

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.

Caucusians

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.

Anyway…:

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.

ANNAN:  So?

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.

Doakes Sunday: Buried

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Why would Senate Republicans vote on a budget bill at 1:00 am?

Because they’re ashamed of it.  They know the line “I’ll gladly pay you in 2025 for $85 billion today” is a lie, the same lie they told in every other “out-years” budget going back for decades.

Kudos to Ted Cruz for speaking the truth about it.  Shame on Senate Republicans for going along with it.

Joe Doakes

Keeping freedom is a full-time job.  The bulk of it involves keeping your side on the right side.

Enter Horserace

All the usual stipulations apply; it’s a year before the election, and the polling so far pits one candidate with with near-universal name recognition against a bunch of unknowns who just represent ideals (and one celebrity).  The unknowns have no negatives; most voters barely know their names.

With all the caveats out-of-the-way? The latest KSTP poll – which has tended in recent cycles to be the better poll of Minnesota’s preferences – shows Hillary losing to pretty much any GOP nominee

In Minnesota.

Which has to be a smack upside the head for an “inevitable” candidate.

The GOP candidates will get negavies – especially once the Democrat noise machine starts sounding off.

Still – not what I expected at this stage of the election.

Evolved

For years, I’ve been listening to my various liberal friends grunt and shriek in horror as various school boards around the country adopt policies that call for their various school districts to recognize, in one curricular form or another, the existence of creationism.

To which I’ve responded with two questions:

“First – if someone who’s refinishing your driveway, or checking out your groceries, or working on the app that you use to calculate your heart rate, is a young earth creationist [because the type of liberals who always huff and puff about creationism tend to own fitbits, naturally, believe everyone who isn’t like them is in the service class], what difference does it make to you?”

The answer, generally, is something with pretensions to altruism with overtones of intellectual thuggery; “we want everyone in our society to start with the same basis of actual knowledge,” or some such.

Which leads to my second question: “So – let’s say that you go to the hospital with a life-threatening aneurysm in your brain.  And as you’re getting ready for surgery to stent a weak spot in a cranial artery to prevent it blowing like a water balloon, killing you in less time than it takes me to say this, you find out that your brain surgeon – a person who spent four years in a hypercompetitive hard-science-based pre-med program vying for a seat in a medical school, and then four more in a medical program designed to weed out the non-hackers, and not only surviving the cut but doing it brilliantly enough to get accepted to post-doctorate training and residency as a brain surgeon, and then years of experience operating on peoples’ brains – is a creationist?  Do you get up off the operating table, loudly proclaim “you, madame, have no respect for science!” and walk away, looking for a non-creationism brain surgeon?”

There was a time when it was a hypothetical question.  Ben Carson, the media is jumping up and down to remind us, is an old-earth creationist (who abjures ruling out a very old earth).  And – as the Clinton’s praetorian guard is reminding us these days, he believes a few other oddball things.

Now, Carson isn’t my guy at this point, although he’d be a better President than anyone on the Democrat ticket.

But let’s acknowledge a few things; he’s a very smart guy.  Literally, a brain surgeon.  To quote a less brilliant candidate, “that’s f****ng huge!”    But he believes in creationism, and that pyramids were used as granaries.

Hmm.

But I have a quesiton: is that any wackier than believing you can offer free college tuition without blowing up the deficit and distorting the higher education market out of recognition?  Or in believing that storing classified emails in a bathroom and telling the American people that the Benghazi attack was caused by an anti-Muslim video were good ideas?

Trump Card

A longtime correspondent of this blog writes:

I note that the MSM is promoting Latino group offers $5K for calling Trump a racist on ‘SNL’”
By a Norman Mailer I’m referring to a description of his contact with feminist protesters from this article in Salon:

“For example, back when I was in college at Berkeley, I attended a lecture by then bad-boy, self-advertised anti-feminist, self-proclaimed macho-man, world-famous novelist and essayist Norman Mailer. I should mention that he had been preceded a week before by Gloria Steinem. The stage was set.  As soon as Mailer took the podium there was a smattering of shouts, signs flashed up, a protest began. He looked over the crowd and held his hands up, and said, “OK, OK.  I get it.” Things quieted down a bit.  Mailer continued,  “So everyone who thinks I’m an asshole, hiss.”  Of course the room was soon filled with violent hisses.  When they stopped Mailer smirked and said, “Obedient little bitches.””

My hope would be that Trump would come out for the opening monologue and ask everyone in the audience to join together and call him a racist, he could even hold up a cue card with the exact words, then he could hold up another cue card with the contact information for Deport Racism PAC and assure the audience that each one of them is eligible for/guaranteed a $5,000.00 reward. I figure Studio 8H has about 200 seats in it so at $5k a head that could cost the Deport Racism PAC $1.2million. Its a safe bet they would renege on the offer giving Trump & the GOP in general a lot of counter attack ammunition.

Whatever you can say about Trump – he’s not my guy – he’s one I could actually see bringing this kind of thing to the campaign.

Debateable Impressions: Let Me Be The Two Millionth To Say…

Finally:  the evening’s host, CNBC

What the conservative pundocracy says:  The performance of the CNBC panel –  the smirky, mugging Carl Quintanilla, the smug and snarky Becky “Not Very” Quick, and Mike “Where Have You Gone, Candy Crowley?” Harwood, with an appearance by Jim Cramer (who sounded like he’d just lost a UFC match) was a laughingstock – even when mentioned in the same breath as CNN’s loathsome performance four years ago.

What I say:  The conservative pundocracy was too kind.  I got the impression that the media has settled onto a “strategy” of turning debates (well, the GOP ones, anyway) into political reality shows.  Part of me expected Flavor Flav or Khlamidia Khardashian to show up to ask a question [1].  It was clearly a goldmine for CNN last month – to me, it looked like CNBC wanted to make their panel the stars of the debate.  Here’s hoping that the rumors of the backfire on CNN aren’t exaggerated.

Verdict:  News flash: anyone who expects anything from the MSM but sniping and hackery is deluded.  And you can tell Reince Preibus I said so.

[1] Khlamidia is one of the sisters – right?

Debateable Conclusions: Populosity

Up next:  Mike Huckabee.

What the conservative pundocracy says:  He did well.

What I say:   I didn’t see it.  Granted, I missed half the debate – but my signal impression of Huckabee was his resounding rejection of…means testing.

I get it – he’s a “Southern” conservative; socially conservative, but not especially afraid of big government or spending.

It was just an odd moment at a debate for the support of a party that’s getting more hawkish on budgets and spending.

Verdict:   Back to talk radio, Mike.

Debateable Impressions: Walter Rising

Up next:  John Kasich.

What the conservative pundocracy says:  Kasich kept himself in the running with a strong, if cranky, performance.  Others point to his fairly bald-faced, McCainish up-sucking to the media.

What I say:  My short list, two months ago, was Walker, Jindal, Kasich.  With Walker gone and Jindal mired in the undercard and barely running a campaign, it looks like Kasich is the last man standing.  He gave a strong showing last night.  But am I the only one who saw his cranky demeanor and though about Jeff Dunham’s puppet-character “Walter”?

Verdict:   Let’s hope he can morph into something other than the campaign’s resident senior scold.

Debateable Impressions: Punching At His Weight

Next up:  Marco Rubio.

What the conservative pundocracy says:   Rubio came back from what could have been a very tough night, and did it with style.

What I say:  His take-down of the moderators’ harping on the Orlando Sun-Sentinel’s loathsome hatchet-job editoral call for his resignation (for missing about half as many votes as President Obama or Secretary of State Kerry, both of whom the Orlando SS endorsed) was sharp-eyed and surgical; his turn back to his actual policy – against the moderators’ wishes, natch – was smooth and authoritative.

Verdict:   I’ve been trying to figure out who’d replace Scott Walker on my short list.  Rubio might be it.

Maybe.

Debateable Impressions: Speaker Points

Up next:  Ben Carson.

What the conservative pundocracy says:  He held steady.

What I say:   While I respect virtually everything Carson stands for (he’s pretty hopeless on the Second Amendment), I’m always amazed when I see him at debates; quiet, unprepossessing, like an amiable professor who dropped into a WWE match.

Verdict:  He did well.  Not much more to say.

Debateable Impressions: Howling Into The Void

Up next:  Rand Paul

What the conservative pundocracy says:  He’s a dead issue, and should start focusing on holding his Senate seat forthwith.

What I say:   I’ve been a Rand Paul fan for a long time now.   But I sensed that his support was similar to his father’s in Minnesota during the last convention season; a mile deep and twenty feet wide.   Not to say he’s done poorly in any debate – he’s stated his case just fine.  But at no point has he gotten anyone to say “he’s the man” who wasn’t saying it two years ago.

Verdict:  I think the party needs Rand Paul in the race for the same reasons it needs Christie.  I’m just not sure how much longer he can justify it.