Evidence In The Affirmative

Last week, we reported that a KSTP/Survey USA poll shows Stewart Mills leading Rick Nolan by eight points.

As we’ve noted for years and years, polls are deeply imperfect (sorry, Nate Silver), and there’s only one poll that matters, and it’s coming up two weeks from tomorrow.

But if there were any evidence needed that Rick Nolan is nervous about his prospects, it’s yesterday’s interview with Esme Murphy on WCCO

…which he spent sniveling like a four-year-old who didn’t get ice cream about outside money’s effect on politics.

Apparently he’s feeling cut out of the DCCC’s flood of Franken money…

(Courtesty @JohnHockey on Twitter)

Our Incoherent Newspaper Of Record

On “Up and At ‘Em”, on the lesser talk station this morning, Ben Kruse said (I’ll paraphrase) if you left out the parts about Governor Dayton, this past weekend’s endorsement of the incumbent governor actually reads a little like an endorsement of Jeff Johnson. 

And Ben had a point:

Johnson, 47, is gubernatorial material…Voters who want a state government that’s leaner and more trusting of the marketplace to solve public problems can opt for Johnson without concern that he is unprepared, excessively doctrinaire or temperamentally ill-suited to the office….Unlike Dayton, Johnson is unfettered to Education Minnesota, the teachers’ union.

[Remember the emphasized bit.  I'll be making a return appearance]

 He’s eager to pursue changes in teacher licensure and tenure rules that might strengthen the state’s teaching corps — versions of which Dayton vetoed…Johnson is also more open to changing the state’s tax code in ways that would better align Minnesota competitively with other states, by broadening the sales tax to more consumer purchases while reducing its rate.

All of that’s true.  

But they went with Governor Messinger Mark Dayton anyway. 

Minnesota is back where it belongs. It has resumed its strong position among Midwestern states in employment, incomes, educational attainment and quality of life. Gov. Mark Dayton can’t take sole credit for the rebound from recession — nor does this modest leader make that claim. But the DFLer’s stewardship since 2011 has made a positive contribution to recovery, and his aims for a second term would continue that course.

That is, of course, the narrative that the Alliance for a Better Minnesota has spent millions to establish in this state.

The truth, of course, is that most of the “positive contributions” happened in the first two years of Messinger’s Dayton’s term.  Since the DFL took unfettered control of state government, unemployment has dropped mostly due to people taking crummy jobs or leaving the workforce. 

But we digress.

Like An Ink-Stained Nadia Comaneci:  I originally entitled this piece “Our Senile Newspaper of Record” – but I changed my mind; it takes some mental chops to do the logical gymnastics the Strib goes through to get to painting Dayton’s term as a positive and Dayton as a capable leader:

State government stability is itself a competitive asset, one Minnesotans should not want to jeopardize again.

What the hell does that even mean?

The answer:  whatever the narrator wants it to mean.  

For example, the Strib would have you believe that before Mark Dayton, Minnesota was a cold Bolivia, apparently:

Dayton deserves credit for the fiscal stability that has returned on his watch. His push to correct the oversized income tax cuts enacted in 1999 and 2000 was important to that change, as was the discipline to enlarge the state’s reserves and repay more than $2 billion owed to school districts.

Dayton “paid back” the shift entirely because he delayed the GOP’s attempt to “pay it back” until the DFL could claim credit

The Special Interest Drinking Game:  Now – with a reminder from Jack and Ben’s show this morning – let’s read this next graf and go back to the Strib’s muted praise for Johnson:

The state’s stronger balance sheet leads a long list of first-term accomplishments justifying Dayton’s re-election. Also there: All-day kindergarten. Beefed-up funding for preschool for needy families. Same-sex marriage. Human services funding reform, saving Minnesota taxpayers an estimated $1 billion a year. A higher minimum wage. An end to a decade of disinvestment in higher education. Support for the Rochester infrastructure that’s crucial to Mayo Clinic expansion. A renewed partnership with local governments, slowing the increase in property taxes. Alternative teacher licensure and teacher performance evaluation.

If this were a drinking game – “Special Interest Shots”, where you took a drink every time the paper mentioned a bit of DFL special interest pork – you’d be dead of alcohol poisoning now. 

Making History Out Of Nothing At All:  Now – Minnesota’s Obamacare exchange is a disaster.  Perhaps you’ve heard.  It was in all the papers – for a while, anyway. 

Heeeere’s whitewash!

Dayton’s credits also include extending the benefits of health insurance to more than 250,000 previously uninsured Minnesotans, by embracing the federal Affordable Care Act.

This is simply false.

92% of Minnesotans were insured before MNSure - and every single Minnesotan that was involuntarily uninsured before 2012 could have been covered through one existing program or another. 

The “250,000 previously uninsured” are insured today – at exquisite cost to the taxpayer – are there mostly because the law says they have to be. 

Not because Mark Dayton did such a helluvva job.   

I’ll give the Strib points for consistency.  While their praise for his first term was a checklist of special interest sops, their outlook for the second term is…:

The second-term agenda Dayton outlines befits him. It’s substantial but not slick, and focused on jobs. He wants state government to be an ally of Minnesota’s high-tech industries by better meeting their need for highly skilled workers, and of the health care and medical technology industries by shoring up the University of Minnesota Medical School. He wants a literacy push to boost chances that children read proficiently by grade three, and he seeks more funding for early ed.

He also wants clean energy and robust infrastructure investments, including expansion of light-rail transit, to continue.

…more of the same. 

Alliance?  What Alliance?:  Finally?  The Strib editorial team apparently did their internships writing for Fidel Castro (emphasis added):

Dayton, 67, is making his sixth and what he says will be his last bid for statewide office. After a lifetime of public service, he’s a well-known quantity who is offering Minnesota something rare — a governorship unbound by calculations about how to win the next election.

Dayton’s governorship has never been bound by anything but the fact that he is controlled, no less than a marionette, puppet or organ-grinder monkey – by the special interests that floated his candidacy and call, via the “Alliance for a Better MN”, all the shots in his office. 

 We expect that will look a lot like what Minnesotans saw in Dayton’s first term. If it does, this state will be well served.

If Dayton is re-elected, Minnesota will deserve what it gets.

UPDATE:  Fixed the link to the Strib piece.

For Whom The Shill Polls

As part of a campaign to portray his election inevitable, because the economy is juuuuust hunky dory, Governor Messinger Dayton and his praetorian guard, the Twin Cities media, is pushing hard the notion that unemployment is down. 

Jeff Johnson rightly responds that underemployment – people working for less than they’re qualified for, because they’re taking any job they can get – is endemic and growing - a claim supported by the fact that tax revenues have not only fallen short of forecasts every month since the DFL budget took hold, but that the revenues are falling farther and farther behind. 

The media, especially the Strib, is in full cover mode, doing its best to downplay the underemployment statistics while cheerleading the top-line unemployment figures.

The interesting part?  The Strib itself, in the form of Lori Sturdevant – hardly a GOP sympathizer – last spring

So which is it, Strib?  A huge problem, or no problem at all (until December)?

Go ahead.  Tell me the media isn’t actively working to get Governor Messinger Flint-Smith Dayton re-elected.

Doug Grow, Narrative Policeman

Surgeons do surgery.

Baseball players?  They play baseball.

And Doug Grow?

For four decades and change, generations of Minnesota voters know that Doug Grow is synonymous for flogging and fluffing the DFL narrative.

Yesterday’s MinnPost piece on the Severson press conference (which I wrote about yesterday) is one for the record books.

The DFL and media (ptr) narrative this year, by the way, is “DFL Victory is Inevitable”; keep that in mind as you read Grow’s description of the presser:

Finding the current election cycle a little boring?

The DFL sure hopes to keep it that way!

Unexpected:  Doug Grow leads off with one of those “too good to fact-check” claims:

As it turned out, the back-to-back pressers were actually back to back to back. First Severson. Then Martin. Then Severson again.

Unbeknownst to each other, Republican secretary of state candidate Dan Severson had scheduled a 10 a.m. news conference, while DFL party chair Ken Martin had scheduled his own 11 a.m. newser to talk about the secretary of state race. In the same room.

As it turned out, the back-to-back pressers were actually back to back to back. First Severson. Then Martin. Then Severson again.

It’s about as “unbeknownst” and unpredictable as, say, the MinnPost hiring a staff full of DFL shills.

Sources in the Severson campaign tell me that Severson had the conference room – where both pressers were held – booked from 10AM ’til noon.  When the DFL got wind of the presser, they swooped in and got the 11AM booking.

Initially, Severson had planned to devote his news event to the subject of voter participation among members of the military. Among other things, Severson contends that President Barack Obama’s administration, current secretary of state Mark Ritchie and DFL secretary of state candidate Rep. Steve Simon have all participated in efforts to suppress voting by members of the military.

And this, as I described yesterday, he did.  Mark Richie’s office sent county election officials a “how to” on finding ways to reject military absentee ballots; it’s there, in black and white.  The media was given a copy at the press conference – as they were given a copy of the absentee ballot reform bill co-authored by Simon that specifically exempted the military (who vote overwhelmingly conservative) from the reforms.

Amazingly enough, outside of the ofay mockery in the piece’s title (“Fraud! Suppression! Aspersions! Dueling press conferences wake up a sleepy secretary of state race”), the actual facts Severson brought up, the paper trail he presented supporting both Severson’s key allegations, never got mentioned.

“My Opponent Has Been Caught Masticating!”:  After Severson’s presser – whose actual subject you’d never know from reading Grow’s piece – Ken Martin took the stage.

I’ll say it again; “Ken Martin took the stage”.  We’ll come back to that.

But at 11 a.m., Severson moved to the back of the room in the state office building in St. Paul as the DFL’s Martin moved to the front…Martin said that at a Tea Party event in June, Severson claimed that Sen. Al Franken had won his 2008 election as a result of voter fraud. At that same meeting, Martin said, Severson claimed the DFL had re-captured control of the Legislature also because of fraudulent votes.

“The last thing we need is a conspiracy theorist as secretary of state,’’ Martin said. “I call on [GOP gubernatorial candidate] Jeff Johnson and [Republican Party Chair] Keith Downey to refute Severson’s unfounded and irresponsible allegations. I question Severson’s ability to be secretary of state when he makes dangerous allegations of crimes that don’t exist.’’

It was cheap theatrics.   And Severson answered them with the kind of burst of full metal rhetorical jacket that I wish a lot more Republicans were throwing back at the Media-Progressive Complex this year:

“I’m not casting aspersions,’’ Severson said. “I’m saying let’s solve the problem.’’

Now that’s a novel approach.

Cast This:  Of course, mentioning the problem is the problem, to the DFL and the media that works for it:  

But suggesting that DFLers win races because they cheat sounds a bit like an aspersion…But Severson said it’s not just his observations at campaign rallies that cause him to have doubts about the integrity of the system. He cited the “study” of an organization called Minnesota Majority that claimed there were more than 6,000 fraudulent voters in the 2008 Senate race in which, after a recount, Al Franken defeated incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman by just over 300 votes…Martin pointed out that in the recounts of the Coleman-Franken race and the Tom Emmer-Mark Dayton race of 2010, both parties “spent millions of dollars” as ballots across the state were recounted.

“Not a single instance of voter fraud was found,’’ Martin said.

Martin is lying, and Grow is just fine with that.

Doug Explains It All:  Anyway – charge met countercharge.  But here’s the interesting part; Grow elects to speculate:

Did Severson schedule his as a desperate bid to tie himself to the military and to inflame those in his GOP base convinced DFLers only win because they cheat?

The base is pretty inflamed already.

No – here’s the interesting part.  Here’s the part that undercuts Grow’s entire, snarky, dismissive premise:

Did Martin schedule his because the DFL is concerned that Simon needs to raise the profile of a down-ticket race?

Did who schedule it?

Steve Simon?

No.  Ken Martin, chair of the DFL.

Not Steve Simon, SOS candidate.

In fact, Steve Simon wasn’t present for the press conference.  About his own race. 

Martinized: Ken Martin did the whole thing.  Steve Simon was nowhere to be found.

Ken Martin, State DFL Chair, apparently feels the need to intervene directly in what is, in a normal election cycle, a boring, humdrum race that tracks, or sometimes lags, the top of the ticket.

Why would he do that?

I can think of a couple of reasons, by no means mutually exclusive:

  • Martin knows where Richie buried the bodies.  Corruption is as rampant in the SOS office as the GOP claims, and they need to do their best to keep a lid on the pot.
  • It’s Not A Humdrum, Sleepy Race At All:  I’ve heard two rumors from well-placed sources; first, that GOP internal polling shows Severson ahead.  Second, that Martin’s behavior in the past week shows that the DFL knows it.
  • That Air Of Inevitability?  Check It:  If Severson’s race is defying the “DFL is Inevitable” narrative, maybe other races are, too?  And if word gets out that the GOP has in fact defied the DFL’s “inevitable” victory, all electoral hell could break loose next month for the DFL.

Where was Steve Simon?

Why is Ken Martin intervening personally in this race, rather than sending some 22 year old communications minion, the way he normally would for the SOS race?

Stay tuned.

Crocodile Airtime

Tom Scheck notes that this year’s gubernatorial race isn’t a “visionary” contest:

The race stands in mark contrast to the contest four years ago, when two bold candidates for governor – Dayton and Republican nominee Tom Emmer – offered vastly different choices for Minnesota voters.

Um, yeah.

And what does the Minnesota media do when a conservative Republican offers a vision – a real, stark choice – and offers it with uncompromising gusto?

They sniff and label him “extreme” and basically help the DFL do its branding work.

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

The Star/Tribune is covering what appears to be an escalating war between a number of Minneapolis street gangs.  Yesterday’s piece, bylined Libor Jany, breaks things down

…well, almost.  I’ll add emphasis:

The three people shot Tuesday were believed to have had some involvement in the Soundbar shooting, community leaders said.

But those were only the most recent.

Others include:

• Eulalio Gonzalez-Sanchez, 36, of Minneapolis, was gunned down about 6:25 a.m. Sunday at the corner of 22nd Avenue NE. and 7th Street as he walked home from the bus stop. No one has been arrested in the case.

Earl Lee Malone, 18, of Edina, was fatally shot and left in front of a house on the 2600 block of Knox Avenue about 11 p.m. Saturday. Police later arrested a 21-year-old man in connection with the shooting, but it’s unclear when charges will be brought.

• Jemario Langston, 17, of Minneapolis, was shot and killed Sept. 16 by assailants who chased him to his aunt’s house. After hearing gunshots, the aunt opened her back door to find his sprawled body. No one has been arrested.

The Bogus Boys have been locked in a long-simmering struggle with several other South Side gangs, including the Bloods, “10s” and “20s,” said Ferome Brown, an activist who attended Tuesday’s meeting and works to steer young people away from gangs.

Many of the gang members he works with, Brown says, grew up in the same neighborhoods.

That’s a good run-down of a neighborhood in crisis…

…but wait.  See the empasized stuff?  Earl Malone?   We talked about him earlier today.   He was shot in self-defense.   The media knows this – as in this WCCO-TV piece filed a day earlier than the Strib’s piece.

Now, it’s entirely possible that the carjacking that Mr. Malone apparently attempted may have been gang-related.   

But lumping a self-defense shooting – one in which a community member defended themselves against an immediate threat to their life and health – is not the same as gang bangers carrying on an endless blood feud.  It’s just not.

Does the Strib know the difference?

They Know What Matters

Twin Cities’ media all atwitter over over a candidate – GOP, naturally – allegedly hanky-pankying with a realtor.

It’s NEWS, dammit!

Unlike Governor Dayton’s mental health, Rep. Ryan Winkler’s racism, Senator Sandy Pappas’ support for terrorists, Rep. Phyllis Kahn’s attempts at voter suppression (no, not in DFL terms, the real one), the extremely cozy relationship between Governor Dayton and his ex-wife’s attack-PR firm, to say nothing of complicated stuff like the effect DFL tax and wage policy is having on business and jobs around Minnesota.

Nothing to see there.  Move along, peasants.

The Client Is Obviously My Client

Last week, I lit up MPR’s “Poligraph” feature for checking the “accuracy” of an utterly subjective bit of political smack-talk by GOP Gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson. 

Last Friday?  Poligraph used subjectivity to “fact-check” GOP 8th CD candidate Stewart Mills. 

To be fair, Catherine Richert did smack down one of the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee’s more risible claims, that Mills opposes Obamacare because he is floating on a raft of insurance industry money:

To support part of its claim, the DCCC points to information collected by OpenSecrets.com, a website that tracks campaign money. The website shows Mills has taken $7,100 from the insurance industry. But that’s the entire insurance industry, not just health insurance companies.

 According to Mills’ campaign finance records, he’s gotten $1,000 from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association PAC, and that’s it.

OK.  So far so good.

But this next part?

Popularity!:  I suspect that if you passed a law that compelled the government to send out a $10,000 check to every citizen at Christmastime, it’d be “Popular”.  (Or perhaps a law allowing people from small radio stations to take their pick of equipment at public radio stations). 

But would “popularity” make it a good idea?  More to the point – would opposing it be wrong because it’s “popular?”

We return to Richert’s piece; as we read it, look for any objective evidence that Mills’ position is wrong: 

The DCCC also claims that Mills wants to scrap popular parts of the Affordable Care Act, including a provision that prevents insurance companies from rejecting patients with pre-existing conditions and another provision that allows children to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.

Here, the DCCC is on stronger footing.

How so?

Campaign spokeswoman Chloe Rockow says Mills isn’t opposed to making sure young adults and those with pre-existing conditions have access to health insurance – he just thinks there are better ways of doing it.

 For instance, Mills wants to strengthen privacy rules for people with pre-existing conditions and to reinstate the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association, which is a special health insurance program for people with pre-existing conditions who can’t get insurance elsewhere. That program is being phased out, because those people are now get insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Richert’s conclusion (with emphasis added)?:

 The Verdict

 … the group is correct that Mills isn’t keen on Obamacare, including two provisions that are relatively popular with the public.

Let’s be clear, here:  Richert is checking the DCCC’s statement.  She finds half of it questionable (the insurance money), and half of it accurate (like every single Republican I can think of, Mills opposes Obamacare and thinks we can do the same job much more efficiently by tweaking existing programs). 

In other words, the DCCC says that Mills supports GOP policy?

That’s not even dog bites man.  That’s “dog sniffs dog”. 

Which is fine, if journalistically a little pointless. 

But Richert points out in several places that the programs that Mills would scrap are “popular”. 

Why? 

What earthly journalistic difference do the programs’ “popularity” have?

While Richert is correct in pointing out that the DCCC’s money claims are wrong, she’s essentially pointing out in her second point that the DCCC is, indeed, pointing out correctly that Mills is campaigning as a Republican, with what looks like a little gratuitous reassurance to MPR’s DFL-leaning audience thrown in for good measure.

So I give this episode of “Poligraph” a grade of “Huh?” 

With all due respect to MPR’s News department (and, stereotypes aside, I’ve tried to pay it where it’s been due, as with the exception of everything Keri Miller touches it often has been), it seems that “Poligraph” is explaining the obvious. 

UPDATE:  Gary Gross at Let Freedom Ring also covered this bit earlier in the week, and has unsurprisingly similar conclusions.

Coincidence?

This was the first year since the passage of shall issue firearm carry that the Minnesota State Fairgrounds loudly, visibly posted itself as a “gun free zone”.

The Fair’s spokesperson Brooke Blakey was even just a little bit obnoxious about it before the fair started. Near as I could tell, it was the first time anyone associated with the state fair has ever gotten really aggressive about alienating fairgoers with legal carry permits.

You hardly need me to tell you what happened next, do you?

According to State Fair Police Public Information Officer Brooke Blakey, at least two suspects took more than $10,000…The suspects struck when the building was closed to the public, restraining at least one person who had been working in the booth, and a beer supplier.

Police say this is the first robbery of its kind at the Minnesota State Fair.

The fair has it’s first armed robbery in 150-odd use the the month that a fair officer gets snotty about law-abiding gun owners?

Pure coincidence, I’m sure.

CORRECTION:  Flawed as her (and, mostly, the Fair Board’s) reasoning may be, I misread the piece in which Ms. Blakey was quoted.  The obnoxious bit (“She also had talks with gun-rights supporters who – contrary to fair policy – wanted to strap on their sidearms and walk down the middle of Dan Patch Avenue“) was written by Delma Francis, in the Minnesota Womens Press, reprinted in the Twin Cities Daily Planet – both of them shrill leftist outlets supported by liberals with deep pockets. 

I apologize for the error.

The “Fact-Check” I’ll Wait Patiently For MPR’s “Poligraph” Feature To Get Around To Doing, Part II

The Claim:  Every weekend for the past forty years, Garrison Keillor has closed his “News from Lake Wobegone” segment by claiming all the men are strong, all the women are good-looking, and all the children are above-average”.

But we wanted to know – is it true? 

The Evidence: In Keillor’s favor, we note that not only is his claim – like Jeff Johnson’s statement that Governor Dayton is “in trouble” – subjective, but it is in fact dramatic license, a tag line to a series of fictional essays. 

However, the winner of the 2014 World’s Strongest Man competition is Žydrūnas Savickas, of Lithuania. 

The world’s foremost empirical test of female beauty is the Miss Universe pageant – and the most recent winner, in 2013, was María Gabriela de Jesús Isler Morales of Venezuela. 

And since Minnesota stopped requiring graduation testing in 2013, it’s impossible to empirically say what “average” is, or whether Lake Wobegone’s children – fictional though they may be – are above it.

The Verdict – So since neither the world’s strongest man nor most beautiful woman resides in Lake Wobegone, and there is no means to measure the children, we give this claim a rating of “Misleading”.

The “Fact-Check” I’ll Wait Patiently For MPR’s “Poligraph” Feature To Get Around To Doing

That a man’s reach exceed his grasp, etc, etc.

“The Alliance for a Better Minnesota – which, as most MPR listeners are unaware, is essentially a political PR firm funded by wealthy Democrats, government employee unions, and Governor Dayton’s ex-wife Alita Messinger, has been running a well-funded advertising and social-media campaign for the past few electoral cycles labeling their Republican opposition, jointly and severally, as “Wrong for Minnesota”

“What does this mean?  And is the claim accurate?”

“The Evidence:  While one can expect any politician and their supporters to reflexively label their opposition as “wrong” – moreso in today’s polarized climate than ever – the terms “right” and “wrong” are themselves terms with deeply subjective meanings.  The meanings of the terms are, in fact, more tied to philosophy than politics”

“Poligraph consulted leading philosophers from all major worldviews – from structuralists to neo-Dadaists, and even a few with tendencies toward nihilism – and while there was no agreement on an absolute definition of “right” or “wrong”, much less one applicable to Minnesota, and Minnesota politics specifically, the general consensus was that the term “wrong” is intrinsically tied to the perception of both the “speaker” and the “listener” or consumer of the statement.”

“However, ‘the idea that one speaker could judge something ‘wrong’ for an entire state of 5.5 million independent agents, just on their say-so, is just plain bizarre”, according to a consensus statement signed by every single philosopher we consulted.”

“The Verdict:  The Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s claim that any individual politician is “Wrong for Minnesota” is Misleading. ”

“It’s also deeply pretentious, illogical, philosophically vacant, and to some points of view just a little bit morally repugnant.” 

 

 

MPR: Everything Is Juuuuust Fine

Mark Twain once observed that there are three types of media “fact-check” efforts:  Democrat PR puff-pieces, Bald-Faced Democrat PR puff-pieces, and legit ones.

A good fact-checker will note that Twain said no such thing.  My first paragraph was really a bit of hyperbole.

As such, it wasn’t intended to be a “factual” statement, per se, as one intended to express a subjective opinion and win people over to my side of an argument (or at least mock those who oppose me).  It’s a form of rhetoric; using language to try to persuade and convince. 

So while it’s not strictly “factual”, it is two things:

  1. It makes what I believe to be a legitimate point; from the smugly left-centric “Politifact” all the way down to most local efforts, the “Fact-Check” industry is for the most part intended to aid Democrats.  My statement isn’t intended to be a “fact” so much as a rhetorical device to open my case to the reader. 
  2. It sets off my personal opinion (based on years of reading and studying media fact-check organizations) that they are in the bag for Big Left. 

Hyperbole is but one tool the rhetorician uses to state his case.

OK.  I have a question:  Of the three choices I gave in the first graf, what is the latest edition of MPR’s “Poligraph” – a DFL PR Effort, a Bald-Faced PR effort, or legit? 

Read reporter Catherine Richert’s latest effort, and you be the judge.

Continue reading

Their Master’s Voice

The latest poll numbers must be scaring the DFL; the Strib has officially switched into full-time shill mode.

In a paper full of “reporters” whose prime directive seems to be “fawn on the DFL”, Ricardo Lopez seems to be aiming for Columnist’s Row with yesterday’s paeon to the wonders of the Minnesota economy:

With business on the upswing and a state unemployment rate that’s among the lowest in the nation, Republicans lack a key issue voters often gravitate to during election season.

Four years ago, when the unemployment rate topped 7 percent and the state faced a projected $6.2 billion deficit, then-gubernatorial candidates Republican Tom Emmer and DFLer Mark Dayton presented voters with starkly different plans to stem the hemorrhaging of jobs and balance the state budget.

Since Dayton took office, the economic picture has brightened considerably. Minnesota employers have added more than 150,000 jobs, helping the state recover all the jobs lost during the recession. The real estate market has rebounded, and state finances are also strong. The most recent report available showed a projected state budget surplus of more than $1.2 billion, generated in part by the higher tax rates Dayton pushed through in 2013.

“There’s no question it would be easier for me as a challenger if everything appeared to be in shambles, that’s clear. But it’s not.” said Jeff Johnson, the Republican nominee hoping to unseat Dayton this fall. “I actually rise to that challenge of sharing a message that aspires to something much better than we have right now.”

Except that as we’ve pointed out, the economy is only “good” when you cherrypick the numbers pretty carefully

  • State Revenues are falling shorter and shorter of forecasts every month.  The deficit – which the GOP Legislature, not Governor Dayton, erased – is going to be back by the end of the current budget cycle. 
  • Underworked:  While the state unemployment rate looks good at 4.5%, the share of working Minnesotans that are underemployed is shockingly high - well behind not only both Dakotas, but Iowa as well – and wage growth has stalled (while government spending has not). 

But it’s the cherrypicking, not checking and balancing, that the people of Minnesota are going to get from the media. 

Expect a “Minnesota Poll” showing Dayton 80 points ahead sometime soon, here. 

 

Our Douchebag Opposition

Anti-NRA “Daily Beast” writer wonders why the NRA – which famously rails against domestic overreach – isn’t defending black people in Ferguson Missouri (with the not-so-muted conclusion that it’s all in the racism).

The real answer:  for the same reason the National Organization of Women isn’t protesting against whaling.

The NRA focuses like a laser beam on the Second Amendment.

You’ll note – although the “Daily Beast” writer does not – that the NRA supported to the hilt the action by Otis McDonald, which led to the Supreme Court incorporating the Second Amendment as a “right of the people”.

Odd how that got forgotten.

There’s Gambling Going On In This Establishment…

I’m not “Minnesota Nice”.

Partly it’s because I’m not from Minnesota.  I’m “North Dakota Dour and Taciturn”.   Minnesota is a South Beach conga line dance compared to North Dakota. 

And when I hear “Minnesota Nice”, what I think is “Minnesota Passive-Aggressive”. 

Bill Salisbury – one of the deans of Minnesota political reporting – and Don Davis, who fills the same bill with the Forum News Service, noted over the weekend that the ”Governor race could be ‘Minnesota nice’”. 

And my impression is proven correct.

That, and my belief that too many journos either think Minnesotans are stupid, or are actively trying to make them that way, as in this featurette on our two major gubernatorial candidates.

You can read the whole thing – but here’s the part that got my attention:

The Hennepin County commissioner and former legislator from Plymouth [endorsed GOP candidate Jeff Johnson] is an affable guy who shuns angry attacks on political opponents. That description also fits Dayton.

Sounds hunky-dory! 

Except that Governor Dayton doesn’t have to attack anyone.  He’s got his boss’s ex-wife’s group, “Alliance for a “Better” Minnesota”, to do that for him. 

You know – the group that ran the epic, toxic sleaze campaign against Tom Emmer in 2010; the one that called Jeff Johnson “evil” over Christmas last year. 

The Democrats could run Shirley Temple against a Republican Beaver Cleaver; we’d soon hear see a commercial with Eddie Haskell complaining that Beaver bullied him as a child.

Junk Science, Junkier “Journalism”

In recent years, this blog has made great sport of criticizing the MinnPost‘s coverage of Second Amendment issues, noting that much of their coverage has been both anti-gun and comically poor, and pointing out they are sponsored by the Joyce Foundation, which actively sponsors many anti-gun groups (including Protect MN here in Minnesota, and the national-scoped “Violence Policy Center”, or “VPC”). 

On the other hand, Joyce has sponsored the work of reporter Mike Cronin, who is three parts into a series on America’s gun culture (check out his installments so far on his introduction to shooting, attending a permit training class with Andrew Rothman, and his conversations with violence victims).   The series, thus far, is genuinely fair and balanced; I’ve talked with Cronin, and he seems interested in keeping it that way.  That’s all to the good. 

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A Watchdog That Only Barks At Mailmen

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

They completely missed the real scandal, which is President Obama’s imperial disregard for the law, but at least this is a step in the right direction. Sorry about the annoying survey pop-up, no wonder nobody reads that newspaper.

Gun-running to Mexico and refusing to enforce the borders don’t bother the editors. Closing the ocean is no problem. Targeting Americans for drone strikes is fine. But sneak a peek at a journalist’s email and they turn on you like savages.

Better late than never.

Joe Doakes

it’s hard to come up with even a short list of things that’ve disgusted me about this administration, and about this country during this administration, but on the very short list would have to be the fact that the media only act like watchdogs when the media, itself, is affected.

There needs to be in accounting for that, someday.

Rose Colored Glasses

You can’t escape it on Twitter or in the Media – the DFL and its various spokespeople, and the media (pardon the redundancy) crowing about Minnesota’s job numbers.

Because raising taxes creates jobs, dammit!

Except, as Bill Glahn notes, the numbers just don’t add up.

The state and its minions have been crowing that the state gained 8.500 jobs in June, and a total of 10,700 jobs so far this year.

Doing the arithmetic, that total means Minnesota gained 8,500 jobs in June, but a mere 2,200 jobs in the five months of January through May, combined.

And it the numbers get more interestinger:

 Each month DEED also reports on the jobs created in the previous 12 months, for a rolling look at the number of jobs created for a year-long period. For the 12 months ending June 2014, DEED reports Minnesota created almost 53,800 jobs. That figure would mean that we’d created 43,100 jobs in the six month of July through December 2013, but a mere 10,700 jobs in the most recent six months. Rather than suggesting an economic boom, those numbers indicate a real weakness in our state’s economy.

Bad, politically-driven reporting from the state?  Casual illiterate reporting from the media? 

Glahn’s not done:

 But consider this anomaly:
 
Reporting
 
Jobs Gained
 
Month
Month
YTD
Last 12 Mo.
June
8,500
10,700
53,779
May
10,300
45,617
April
(4,200)
41,934
March
2,600
41,582
February
(100)
44,714
January
600
52,160
Total
17,700
 
 
 
Adding together the number of jobs created each month in 2014, as reported by DEED, produces a total of 17,700 jobs for the year so far. So that means that sometime during the last few months, 7,000 jobs have vanished from the official state rolls.

“Unexpectedly” vanished, of course.

Glahn predicts the state’s rosy “8,500″ number for June will be gradually revised out of existence.

To be replaced – this is my prediction – by more inflated, misleading predictions intended to lull the incurious.

And the news consumers they report to.

Hell: Freezing?

The Star/Tribune Editorial Board, perhaps shockingly, called for a special prosecutor in the IRS Scandal:

That’s a necessary step, and the request should be expediently heeded by the Obama administration. Although there are two investigations underway in the Republican-controlled House, a nonpartisan review by an investigator with bipartisan respect and technological expertise is sorely needed. The public needs reassurance that the nation’s tax-collection agency is run with integrity and that anyone who may have abused its formidable authority has been held accountable.

So far, so good.

But then we swerve into the weeds:

The decision on whether to appoint a special prosecutor, officially called a special counsel, lies with the Department of Justice.

That’s long for Eric Holder.  The guy who’s been stonewalling several other investigations of Obama administration corruption, Fast and Furious chief among them.

IRS officials have insisted that the lost e-mails were just an unfortunate computer meltdown and that the extra scrutiny of groups with “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their names was a regrettable mistake. If this is trumped-up, as Democrats often and sometimes accurately deride other House investigations, there’s nothing to fear by appointing a special prosecutor to put this long-simmering scandal to bed.

Or – as Holder will do – whitewash it. 

Still – while the Strib’s editorial board exhibits its inner pollyanna about the DOJ’s inner gestalt, at least it’s heart is in the right place, kind of:

It’s foolish to think this is going to blow over — or that it should. A May 2013 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration unequivocally concluded that the agency used “inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions.’’…a thorough reading of the report underscores that conservative groups were targeted.

The real question is:  can we, The People, trust an Obama Administration appointee to police his boss? 

There was a time we could count on the media to ensure someone like Holder’s behavior would be above board. 

Perhaps we need a special investigator into that

Doakes Sunday: Transsubstantiation

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The headline is the story.  Priest killed with colleague’s gun.  Guns go off by themselves, you see, which is why owning a gun is bad.  It will get you killed when it goes off by itself. 

No mention in the headline of the homeless, mentally ill ex-convict who robbed and beat the priests before taking the gun and killing one of them.  Yes, the facts are in the story, but the eye-grabbing headline, the part half the population reads but no further, that’s where the media’s ingrained bias shows. 

Joe Doakes

The homeless guy who animated a firearm must be a miracle worker…

PRSure

I work in the software business. 

And among people who work in the business, the word was going around well over a year ago; “MNSure” was going to be a Bulgarian Goat Rodeo.  At the very least.

The word was more than right; in fact, according to Deloitte Consulting, it sailed past Bulgarian Goat Rodeo, and is more of a Hungarian Cluster Cuddle

This is the point of the blog post where I’d find one or more excerpts from the report that summed up what a complete FUBAR the whole project has been. 

But there is just too much in the report.   If I quoted everything damning in Deloitte’s report, I’d be driving a tank over the “Fair Use” laws. 

So I urge you to read it. 

(Remembring, of course, that Deloitte was one of the firms that was beaten out by “Maximus”, the firm that actually “built” MNSure.  Now, a smart state government IT operation would have engaged Deloitte as a disinterested third party to serve as a reviewer on the condition that they not bid for re-development work, to avoid conflict of interest.  I don’t actually know if the state was that smart.  Any bets?)

But in any case, read it.  And then take a look at the Strib’s piece on the subject, which carries nothing but the Messinger Dayton administration’s spin on the top-level issues.

Deal With The Devil

One the one hand, the MinnPost is running sponsored news again.

And yet again, the subject is guns, and the sponsor is the Joyce Foundation, which is (aside from Michael Bloomberg) the biggest funder of anti-gun groups in the United States.  Before Bloomberg bought the local rights for “Protect MN” and “Moms Want Action”, they were the major funder of gun control groups in Minnesota.

And part of that funding went toward buying favorable media, mostly in the form of risibly bald-faced propaganda.

Of course, Joyce has taken a whack at funding respectable journalism as well.

Investigative reporter Mike Cronin has embarked on a Joyce-sponsored multi-part series on the gun culture.  And like not a few previous such efforts, it starts out as a “gorillas in the mist”-style exploration into what is clearly for Cronin a foreign culture, as he takes his Carry Permit training class from Andrew Rothman (a long-time friend of this blog, president of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, and the guy who, if I had a carry permit, would have  taught me my carry permit class two hypothetical years ago).  Which is as good an intro as there is to the “gun culture” as a newbie can have.

Cronin is going through the class, intends to get his permit, and to purchase a gun as part of his investigation into the “gun culture>

And by all accounts, it’s a fair account, so far, although you be the judge.

No doubt Cronin will be looking at the “other side” of the debate; I’ll be watching.

It’ll be interesting to see what Joyce is paying for, this season.