Open Letter To The House And Senate MNGOP Caucuses

To:  House GOP Caucus, Senate GOP Caucus
From:  Mitch Berg, ornery peasant
Re:  Focus

Dear Cauci,

Congrats on taking the majority.  I’m truly overjoyed.

Now, let’s get real.

Focus:  Ever watched someone doing karate?  When they do a strike, they focus all their energy, from their waist on down through their hands, into their knuckle.  One or two of them.  Because that’s how you inflict as much force as possible on your target – focusing the energy.

We’ll come back to that.

Focus Some More:  When the Allies landed in Normandy in 1944, it took eight or so weeks of brutal fighting to break through the German defenses.

And when the Allies forced that breakthrough, did they then pause, and redirect to the invasion of Denmark?

No!   They focused on driving to Berlin, and destroying any enemy that got in their way!

They focused on the mission at hand!

No.  Really Focus:  You have the majority in both chambers of the Legislature (if only by a vote in the Senate).

You got it for three reasons:

  1. The Dems brought us MNSure, and you were able to tie it around their necks
  2. The economy in greater Minnesota isn’t nearly as spiffy as it is in the Metro
  3. Just like nationwide – the metro “elites” are utterly disconnected with the experience of Greater Minnesota.

That is why you have the majority.  Not to protect marriage.  Not to argue about who goes in what bathrooms.

Heathcare.   Economy.   Elites.  

No more.  No less.

I Said Focus, MKay?:  It was six short years ago that voters last gave you both chambers of the Legislature.  Even with a DFL ideologue for a governor, it was a golden opportunity.   You were given that majority because:

  1. Obama overreached – on healthcare
  2. The economy in Greater Minnesota sucked!
  3. The DFL had made a hash out of the budget.

What did you – or at least the previous leadership – do?

Well, good work on the budget, to be honest.  But that wonky triumph was overshadowed by the national, media-stoked furor over the Gay Marriage issue.  The legislature bet a ton of political capital…

on an issue that had nothing to do with you getting your majority.

Nothing!

If you’re a North Dakota or Montana Republican, with a near-permanent majority and an opposition Democrat party that barely qualifies as a party at all, you can spend political capital on anything you want, and there’ll be no consequences.   It might even work (long enough to get struck down by the Supreme Court, anyway).

But not in Minnesota, the purplest of purple states.

Focus Focus Focus Focus Focus!:  This is not North Dakota.  Perhaps if you hold your majorities long enough to bring a quarter century of unbridled prosperity to Minnesota and we might become so lucky.  But we’re nowhere close to that yet.

You were elected by a fickle electorate over…what?

Let’s run the list again:

  1. MNSure
  2. The economy in greater MN
  3. Our idiot elites

You have political capital – a mandate, indeed.

And like the Allies after D-Day, you need to focus that capital on beating the enemy in front of us; MNSure, taxes, regulations, mining-phobia.

And like Bruce Lee, you need to focus that energy straight to the metaphorical knuckle, as narrowly and overwhelmingly as you can to win on the issues we, the voters, sent you there to win!

For The Love Of God, Focus!:  I’ve heard talk of legislators discussing floating some legislation:

  • Rest Rooms:  Don’t be idiots.  We already have laws making mischief in bathrooms illegal. And all it’s gonna take is one angry father or grandfather at some Target somewhere to make that issue pretty well self-enforcing.  It’s a private property issue,   And it’s a distraction.   Deal with the restrooms when the majority is rock solid safe.
  • Abortion:  It’s an important thing.  I get it.  It’s also not why you were sent to Saint Paul.  Not this time.  If you win long and big enough, you’ll get your chance.  This is not that chance.   Do not screw this up.  
  • Other social issues:  Stop.  Just stop.  Now.  Seriously. 

GOP legislators:  today, you control the agenda in Saint Paul.  It gives you a huge opportunity.  With the opportunity comes risk; if you take the GOP majority off beam, and bog the party down in a fight that has nothing to do with why you have the majority, fighting a veto you can’t win over an issue that does nothing but focus all of the Big Democrat Money, all their bottomless funding and masses of drooling droogs, over something that the voters that sent you to Saint Paul don’t care about nearly as much as healthcare and the economy, you will deserve to lose again in 2016.  

Focus.

Focus.

Focus focus focus.

Kill MNSure.  Kill regulations.  Lower taxes.

No.  More than that.  Focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus.

No.  More than that.

Sing along with me:  Kill MNSure.  Kill regulations.  Lower taxes.  Kill MNSure.  Kill regulations.  Lower taxes.  Kill MNSure.  Kill regulations.  Lower taxes.

Win the war we sent you there to win.

Oh – and focus.

No.  More than that.

Congrats In Order

Congratulations, as I write this, to two long-time friends of this blog.

Rob Doar, political director of MN-GOPAC, was also campaign director for Randy Jessup, for whom the second try was the charm against Barb Yarusso up in Shoreview.

And long-time Shot in the Dark history correspondent First Ringer was the manager of the Dario Anselmo campaign – and between the two of them, they did the state the estimable favor of ejecting Ron Erhardt from public life in Minnesota.  Maybe he’ll blow Ringer’s head off?

Hopefully not.

Anysay – salute!

Money Changes Everything

One of the issues I’ve been silent about so far is the Constitutional Amendment that would take legislative pay out of the legislature’s hands and move the decision on salaries for legislators (and many other government employees) to an independent council.

Brianna Biersbach writes an excellent piece on the subject in MinnPost.

The government-accountability hawk in me says “note no and do it now!”.    Voting for pay raises is political suicide; the limited-government spending hawk in me says “good”.

But there’s a little more to it than that.

A friend of the blog – a solid Republican – wrote me yesterday:

I am a single income, homeschooling, tithing Christian man in a [modest house in a first-ring ‘burb]. It would be tough for me be a legislator and leave my IT job for 6-9 months a year for $32-49k. Am I off base?

Not at all.  I’ve been approached to run for office.  I’ve had to respond “unless I win seats in a couple of districts, I can’t financially justify it”.

Currently, “serving” in the Legislature is effectively limited to a few classes of people:

  • People with highly remunerative jobs they can put “on hold” for weeks or months at a time.  Think lawyers.
  • People whose spouses make enough to support the political habit
  • People whose employers are really conscientious about allowing their employees to take sabbaticals for public service.  Show of hands?  That’s what I thought.
  • People working for unions who see the benefit of having members in high places.  Including lots and lots of teachers.

Oh, there are a very, very few legislators with relatively limited financial means who work for the $32K and change the legislature pays, and find pick-up work between sessions.  But they are rare indeed.

In effect, it limits “public service” to people whose entire goal is…well, public “Service”.

So there’s a theoretical case to be made for the council.

Realistically?  They’re not going to make the legislature financially remunerative enough to draw successful private-sector workers into public life.  And that’s largely a bad thing; especially in Minnesota, our legislature needs more of them.

The other option, I hasten to remind you, would be to get by with less legislature, and legislation.  North Dakota’s legislature meets every other year, for a very abbreviated session.  It pays the same as it paid 120 years ago – $5 a day (plus per diems) – so it’s nobody’s idea of the career.  And North Dakota is a much better-governed state than Minnesota.

But that’s never getting on the table; too much pork for the political class is at stake.

Pass A Buck, Get A Buck

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

There is a proposal to amend the Minnesota constitution.  The plan is to take away from the Legislature the power to set its own salaries, giving it instead of an independent citizen’s committee. Sounds good on its face, will be a disaster in actual practice.  Which is why nobody is talking about it, of course, that would distract the voters from potty-mouth comments and emails.

 The proposal says the Citizen’s Committee will be staffed by the Governor (Democrat) and the Supreme Court (Liberals, except for Stras).  They must pick Democrats and Republicans.

 But they’re not required to pick Libertarians or TEA Party members.  The Republicans must be acceptable to the appointing authority – Democrats and Liberals.  I confidently predict they’ll end up being Arnie Carlson-Dave Durenburger-style-RINOs. 

 After that:

 A Liberal astroturf group will issue a media blitz complaining about the difficulty of obtaining quality legislators with the pay so low. 

 A Poli Sci professor will claim the concept of a “part-time” or “citizen” legislature is obsolete in these days of complex issues, we need a full-time professional legislature to deal with complicated issues, and higher salaries to attract competent people to take the job.

 A women’s rights group will notice that Minnesota women legislators get paid less than New York women legislators, a clear case of gender discrimination. 

 The Committee will hire a Liberal front group to perform a study of legislators’ salaries in other, richer states, which will conclude that ours is too low. 

 The Star Tribune and MPR will gravely intone that good government requires adequate resources, none moreso than the people in office, and they’ll recommend we double the pay and be happy to pay for a better Minnesota.

 The type of people who will run for these cushy government jobs will be busy-bodies who think they can solve society’s problems, i.e., Liberals, whatever their nominal party designation.  They’ll adopt more programs, which will make problems worse, which will make society more complex, requiring even higher pay and benefits and possibly lifetime appointments with personal servants and frequent retreats to Caribbean Islands, which the legislators will be able to afford even if their constituents can’t, because their strenuous labors deserve it.  After all . . .  Some animals are more equal than others.

 Joe Doakes

My two cents?  Vote no.  As many times as you can.

A Slip Of The Lip. Or Typing Finger. Whatever.

Preya Samsundar continues to beat the stuffing out of the Twin Cities institutional media in reporting on Minneapolis DFL legislative candidate Ilhan Omar’s fuzzy marital history.

DFLMinistryofTruth140

Only this time, she may have done it with the unwitting help of the City Pages’ DFLer-with-byline Cory Zurowski:

Whether or not Mr. Zurowski realizes it, he has shed new light into the Omar case. The story, which was originally published on Wednesday, October 26, Mr. Zurowski wrote that Ilhan Omar’s father is named “Nur Said Elmi Mohamed”. A day later, Zurowski’s article was changed and now Omar’s father’s name appears in the article as “Nur Omar Mohamed”.

Read the whole thing.

And then ask yourselves why nobody in the Twin Cities media is covering this story.

To use a Glenn Reynolds line, it helps if you think of reporters as Democrat operatives with bylines.  Who, in this case, don’t want to be barred from the Saint Paul Grill.

A Quick Favor

The House candidate in my district (65A), Monique Giordana, is running against Rena Moran, about whom the best that can be said is that she’s what you get when machines control cities.

Monique is a very sharp woman.  She gets healthcare – she’s a pharmacist at a cancer center, and sees the results of MNSure and Obamacare first-hand, every day.  She lives in the neighborhood (obviously).

And she got into the race late, but is running a good campaign so far.  She also needs to get to a $1,500 threshold, in increments of $50 or less, by Monday to get a subsidy from the state (I know, I know – but that’s how the game is played in this state.

So if you’ve got a buck or two, and could spare a few to help out an underdog in a race where it’d be fantastic to have a real impact, please go here and learn more about Monique, and if you can, peel off a buck or two for her over here.

She’s gonna be on the NARN this weekend, by the way, along with 65B candidate Margaret Stokely.

The DFL’s Praetorian Guard: Still Praetorian. Still Guarding.

What do the headlines say about the legislative session?

The Strib: the session “imploded“.

The PiPress:  It “collapsed“.

MPR:  It “melted down“.

All fairly passive verbs; imploding, collapsing and melting down are all actions without authors.

It’d be much more accurate to say the session was killed.  By the DFL.  For political reasons.

Choo Choo Trains Are The New “Shutdown”:  As of yesterday, the Legislature had reached an agreement on a Bonding Bill.   The bill had been through conference committee.  The DFL Senate and GOP House had agreed to a bill without funding the Southwest Light Rail Transit line – a big GOP promise.  The bill – as bills coming out of Conference Committee are supposed to be – was ready for the governor’s signature.  It was ready to be passed with no further fanfare, assuming both sides went at it in good faith, of course).

As always, the DFL did not.

Two Minute Drill:   With five, count ’em, five, count ’em again, five minutes left in the session, the DFL introduced an amendment reintroducing Southwest Light Rail into the Bonding Bill.

Could this be because the DFL really likes their trains, and really really wants to see the choo choo built to Eden Prairie?

Could be.

More likely?  As DFL legislative candidates are starting to fan out across the state, trying to woo voters in a year when they have a Presidential option not much more inspiring than Ole Savior, the DFL wanted to induce a crisis – the death of the Bonding Bill, funding one of this state’s precious few legitimate jobs – and turn around and blame it on the GOP.

So the Transportation Bill didn’t “implode”, “melt down” or “collapse”.   It was given a poison pill.  It was blown up.  It was shot in the face.

Preparing The Battlefield:  But by taking a murder and calling it an accident, the media gives the DFL, and their propaganda arm Alliance for a Better Minnesota, a wide-open playing field on which to romp and play with public perception of the issue.

Mission accomplished!

Our Illogical Ninny Overlords

Told that the State Capitol Police wanted to hold “active shooter” training for the legislature and its staff, Rep. Kim Norton decided to introduce a bill repealing last year’s law allowing law-abiding carry permittees to have their legally-carried firearms in the Capitol complex.

And the logic was…

…entertaining:

screenshot-www.facebook.com 2015-12-31 15-34-52

 

If law-abiding citizens can’t bring guns to the capitol, criminals won’t shoot anyone.

Just like nobody sells crack, drives over the speed limit or after too much to drink, or robs liquor stores any more; because they are laws against each.

Norton is wrong, by the way; at least 18 states allow law-abiding citizens to carry their legal firearms in the state Capitols in one way or another.

That’s the reason so many Real Americans have such a hard time taking gun-grabbers seriously; they’re not serious.

 

Lie First, Lie Always: It’s Science!

Rep. Kim Norton – the Rochester legislator who will be serving as Michael Bloomberg’s bag-woman in the coming session – has decided to try to put some numbers behind her increasingly strident and faith-based posturing on guns.  She posted these “survey” “results” on her Facebook page.

How did it work?  I did say it was a liberal trying to do numbers, right?

The results, to date-12/22/15, of a survey sent out by my office to 3 precincts in my district:

Three precincts?  A whole three precincts?

Now, a legislative district has dozens of precincts.   I don’t know exactly how many precincts there are in Kim Norton’s HD25B, but there are a total of 56 in the city of Rochester, and Norton has roughly half the city.  Let’s be (what else?) conservative, and say she’s got 24 of ’em.

Her district also includes a grand total of 39,762 people, over 21 square miles.  It’s a cozy district.

So Norton sent out a “survey” to three precincts – maybe 1/8 of her district.  Which three precincts?  What are their demographics?  Do these three precincts represent her district?  More importantly – why does Rep. Norton think these three precincts represent her district?

Anyway.  So Rep. Norton mails out a survey to three selected precincts.  And here’s what she got back:

1. Are you in favor of background checks for gun show sales, private gun sales, and gifts?
Yes (73) 78%
No (21) 22%
Total 94

Forget the actual question for a moment.  There were 94 answers.

Out of nearly 40,000 people in her district, and out of maybe 3-4,000 (I’m estimating) in the three precincts she favored with her survey, she got less than 100 answers.

That’s one quarter of one percent of her district.

And do you suppose those people are a representative sample of the precincts, much less the district?  Or might they – just possibly! – have been an intensely self-selected sample of people who are motivated not only to pay attention to bulk mail from their DFL Representative, but also driven to fill out an utterly symbolic survey about an issue that Rep. Norton is wrapping herself around?

Remember – most people just don’t care that much.  And if most conservatives are at all like me, they don’t open junk mail from legislators, especially legislators they disagree with.

So I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that of the .25 of 1% of Norton’s district that opened the mail, read it, were motivated to complete it and send it back to the Representative’s office, a pretty disproportionate chunk were motivated by supporting Rep. Norton’s agenda.

But I’m no professional…

…well,  no.  Wait. I am.  I design samples for research as part of my job.  So I may be a little harder to BS than the average bear.

(Am I wrong?  Please, Rep. Norton; have your people call my people and set me straight.  You have my number.  Operators are standing by).

Sadly, Kim Norton’s typical supporter may not be so lucky.

2. Do you support requiring gun owners to register their guns with the local government?
Yes(66) 71%
No (27) 29%

Total 93

You know what’d be interesting?  If Rep. Norton had thrown in a question about whether the respondent was a gun owner.

I’m gonna take a flyer, here, and guess the answer would be about 30%.

3. With the goal of reducing suicides and impulse shootings, would you support extending the current seven day waiting period between a gun purchase and receipt of the gun?
Yes (64) 69%
No (29) 31%
Total 93

By law, of course, there is a seven day waiting period.

In practice?  Every store, federally licensed dealer and gun show in the state requires a “Permit to Purchase” issued by the police, or a Carry Permit issued by the state, to sell a handgun or “assault weapon”; they won’t sell without one, waiting period or no.   The very idea of waiting periods is statistically dubious, to the point where even the Ninth Circuit has asked what’s the purpose, especially with someone who already owns firearms.

And the idea that “waiting periods” affect suicides is just a wierd fantasy, of course.  Gun suicides – 2/3 of gun deaths – don’t occur at the end of the waiting period.  They are disproportionally older, usually white males, usually socially isolated, usually depressed – and they’ve owned their guns for decades.

3a. If yes, how many days should the waiting period be?

10 Days (8) 13%
14 Days (18) 28%
28 Days (38) 59%
Total 64

By this point in this exercise, I’m actually wondering why she didn’t put “eleventy-teen years” as an option.

5. Do you support a ban or restriction of sales on:
High Capacity Ammunition Clips of 10 or more bullets? (66) 69%
Exploding Bullets? (68) 72%
Assault rifles or Semi-Automatic guns? (59) 62%
Total 95

Exploding Bullets?

EXPLODING BULLETS?

Y’see, this is why so many Second Amendment activists have such contempt for their opponents’ arguments.

Imagine if you will someone arguing for regulation of healthcare, who proposes banning phrenology clinics, adding standards for blood leeches and healing crystals, and licensing  sexual healing practicioners.  Now, people who actually work in healthcare know that Phrenology was debunked 120 years ago, that leeches and crystals are irrelevant, and Sexual Healing was a Marvin Gaye song – and they get annoyed that someone is not only wasting their time arguing BS, but just a little disgusted that the legislator is finding people incurious enough to get on board to try to logroll the legislation.

10 rounds is not “high capacity”.  “Semi automatic” does not equal “assault” (you awake yet, hunters and skeet shooters?).  “Assault” does not mean “likely to be used in crimes”.

And…exploding bullets.

(Shaking my head, at a loss for civil words, awaiting a line about “guns that go pew pew pew”)

6. Do you believe gun safety and usage training should be required by all gun owners – even those who do not have a hunting license or permit to carry?
Yes (73) 81%
No (17) 19%
Total 90

And even a lot of shooters will aver that that sounds reasonable.

Of course, in Chicago and DC we see the whammy of this approach; in Chicago, you have to take a range test to get a permit – but there are no firing ranges in Chicago.

It’s not a stretch to imagine Minnesota’s government requiring training – and forgetting to issue trainer’s licenses.

7. Given these two values, is it more important to:
control gun ownership?
(49) 56%
protect the right of the people to own guns? (39) 44%
Total 88

FYI – These survey results generally mirror those share by scientific polls done across the country.

I’d be interested in seeing the “scientific polls” Rep. Norton is referring to.  But I am under no illusion she knows anything beyond “tacking ‘scientific’ onto a dubious assertion will gull a few of the gullible”.

She’s wrong, of course.  Not that that matters to her, or to the audience she’s trying to reach.

Residual Force

Former mayor of the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers Andy Aplikowski is throwing his hat in the ring for a lateral transfer, declaring his candidacy for the Minnesota State Senate in SD 35.  He’s running to replace retiring Senator Branden Peterson.  

He’ll probably have an easier race in reliably read SD 35, in the far north suburbs of the Twin Cities, THAN he did winning the famously fickle MOB race..  He’ll definitely have an easier time representing that district than he did the MOB.  

Good luck, Andy. Have your people call my people..

Liberty’s Broad, Broad Brush

Sometime today, check out Walter Hudson’s “Fighting Words” podcast.  I’m appearing on the show, along with Senator Brandon Petersen, talking about the “Liberty Minnesota” legislative scorecard.   I’m speaking in the dissent.  Sort of.

We’ll come back to that.

First Things First: Kudos to “Liberty Minnesota” for doing what too many “liberty” groups won’t; at least starting to get its hands dirty in the world of policy and legislative process.  Too many “liberty” groups, or at least too many “liberty” people, seem to think that sitting respendently above the fray snarking at activists to “Vote Harder!” and “Hey, how’s changing the party from the inside going for you?” with knowing, clubby chuckles amongst their fellow echo-chamberites is striking a blow for liberty.

So credit to Liberty Minnesota for doing the scorecard.

Now, the criticisms of the scorecard basically broke down as follows:

  • The final tabulation showed that Republicans and Democrats were tied at 33%.
  • The selected votes were cherry-picked to make Republicans look bad and Democrats look…not as bad as they are.
  • The selected votes were naive and betrayed a certain innocence about politics.

Let’s address each of them.

How’s That Again?:   Now, to be fair, the first comparison may be more properly leveled at some of “Liberty MN”‘s “liberty” supporters, who promptly took to social media and said “Look!  We were right!  There really is no difference between Republicans and Democrats!” and, in one particularly absurd factoid, “Tara Mack is worse for liberty than Phyllis Kahn”.

And my observation – and it’s only a personal observation – is that “Liberty MN” is pretty diligent about documenting and castigating Republican shortfalls on liberty issues, while glossing over the DFL’s crimes pretty lightly.  Again, it’s a personal observation.

Still, to the best of my knowledge, that’s not the line Liberty MN has taken in re the scorecard.

But even using “Liberty MN’s” numbers exactly as they are, from their scorecard (manually transposed to a spreadsheet), it’s not quite so close (while allowing that there might be some frictional errors from my manual transcription of numbers):

  • Entire Legislature:  Republicans 39% – Democrats 28%
  • Senate:   Republicans 48% – Democrats 19%
  • House:   Republicans 36% – Democrats 33%  (Either I made an error with the numbers, or Liberty MN did).

Among leadership, by the way, it’s even more lopsided:

  • Senate:  Dave Hann 65% – Tom Bakk 19%
  • House: Kurt Daudt 50% – Paul Thissen 33%

Hemp In, Raw Milk Out:  Still – any scorecard that shows the GOP and the DFL tied for “liberty” scores in the House must show us a problem – mustn’t it?

Take a moment to look at the issues that “Liberty MN” scored:

Click on it to see it full-size.

If you read the list, you notice a couple of things.  The issues certainly are “liberty” issues, all right; there’s a grab bag of economic, privacy, First, Second and Fourth Amendment, freedom of choice, tax and spending, environmental and other bills.

And at first glance, I observed that…:

Battle Lines:  These are not issues that largely break out on partisan lines.  Sunday Liquor Sales and the keeping of License Plate Reader data and many, many others among them break down on different lines; religious/union versus liberty, rural versus urban, religious/union versus free-market, Phyllis Kahn versus serious people – very few of the selected issues broke out by party.  Which is fine – as the estimable Walter Hudson says, it’s good to measure politicians on liberty issues qua liberty issues.

But it’s certainly not like 2013-2014, when many liberty issues – gun grabs, MNSure, forced daycare and PCA unionization, advancing business taxes and spending – did largely break out on partisan lines.

Still, I could cut the results some slack – except that the results are being used to try to wedge the GOP.  But then that’s not really Liberty MN’s fault.  What is their fault is the next two bits:

Take Two Freedoms:  Not all “Liberty” issues are included.   I’m not just talking about the omission of four of the five gun bills, including the Emergency Powers restriction, which struck me as by far the bigger liberty bill (but was also fairly bipartisan).

But you wills scour the “scorecard” in vain for any mention of:

  • The gas tax – a crushing attack on economic freedom, especially for the poor.  The GOP voted against it; the DFL supported it.
  • E-Cigarette regulation – a pointless regulatory assault on a legal, safe product that many are using to quit smoking – which may be the real reason for the assault.
  • Mandatory Pre-Kindergarten – perhaps “liberty” people don’t have kids.  Maybe they all home school.  I don’t know.  But I do know that the move to jam more kids into the public schools is not a position libertarians should support, it is  a position the DFL supports, it was DFL Governor Tina Flint-Smith’s Dayton’s short list of “Top priorities”, and it was at the very least a politically motivated appropriation and at most an expansion of state indoctrination.
  • The battle over the Pollution Control Agency’s Citizen Review Board, which is essentially an appointed, unaccountable group of environmental extremists who have veto power over mining – ergo “economic freedom” in Northern Minnesota
  • Any mention of efforts to reduce the power and scope of the Met Council.  Granted, none of those measures got anywhere in the Legislature – but then, neither did many of the issues that “Liberty MN” did select, like Phyllis Kahn’s bid to lower the voting age to 18.
  • The budget.  It certainly grew.  The GOP participated in the growth – although they controlled one chamber, and there’s a DFL governor, so the GOP’s power was limited.  And let’s be honest; it grew less than in either of the two DFL-controlled sessions; it was the third smallest increase in the past forty years.  That’s not ideal, but it’s not chicken feed under the circumstances.

Four of those six are, by my reckoning, fairly vital liberty issues.  All of them but the budget were pretty much GOP initiatives.  Several were flat-out GOP victories.  Including any of them would have changed the voting, especially in the House of Representatives.

Not sure if Liberty Minnesota thinks that’d be a feature or a bug, but I do plan on finding out.

I Wanna Make Some History:  So because of the bills selected and, arguably, not selected, you have all sorts of unintentional comedy.

  • Alice Hausman, a woman who never met a gun she wouldn’t grab or a private-sector dollar she wouldn’t seize, tied with laissez-faire Tea Party firerand Cindy Pugh.
  • Rena Moran, who would jam a single-payer healthcare system down your throat with both of her feet, outscoring Tony Cornish.
  • Tax hiking, gun grabbing govenrment power pimp Jim Davnie outscoring Kelly Fenton.

And on, and on, and on.

And so because of this selection of largely nonpartisan bills, The scorecard gives, intentionally or not, the impression that the GOP – a party that his lip service, often very imperfectly, to liberty – it’s basically the same as the DFL, Minnesota’s softcore Socialist party, the party that historically pimps for tax hikes, bloated budgets, high regulation, suburbs subsidizing intercity spending, gun control, The party that opposes school choice and economic development in the iron Range, when a cursory reading of history shows what an absurd Lee that is.

Question:  do you think if any votes on the six issues above – all of which had at least as much visibility in the legislature this session as some of the bills “Liberty MN” selected – had been considered, any of those absurdities would have persisted?

Clubbing: Oh, yeah – about the title.

A liberty supporter might say “liberties are liberties – we’re not going to pick and choose between them”.

And in the abstract, and for those of “liberty” groups, that may be perfectly fine.

But do I think the gas tax and mandatory pre-kindergarten or the Met Council affect more liberty for more people than, say, Sunday liquor sales? I certainly do, and I’m going to guess most people do too. Do I think a fourth amendment issue like license plate reader data is more important than a lifestyle issue like lowering the drinking age? I do – and I’m going to guess most people who pay attention to the ongoing decay of the fourth amendment do, as well.

Liberty people may not give weight different liberties. I do – and I think the failure to do so is a critical witness of the sort of scorecard.

I think that especially with as large and broad a swathe of votes as Liberty Minnesota used for their scorecard, they might have done well to break the issues up into categories – Personal Freedom, Economic Freedom, Social Freedom, Limiting Government and the like, and giving sub-ratings to legislators by category.  That may be counter to Liberty MN’s purposes; I think it serves Liberty in Minnesota’s purposes.

But To Summarize:  Again, I applaud Liberty Minnesota for doing this.  I hope it’s a step toward mobilizing some actual political clout on behalf of liberty issues in the legislature, and at election time – something the “liberty movement” in Minnesota has largely avoided so far.

Furthering the Discussion:  I’m currently looking forward to having Karl Eggers of “Liberty Minnesota” on my program on July 11 to discuss this.  And if you’re reading this, Karl, I just telegraphed my punches.  Merry early Christmas.

The Smell Of Defeat?

For well over a decade, “Protect MN” – it’s changed its name several times since it started way back when – has been the dotty, not-too-bright face of the gun control movement in Minnesota.

While the wave of Michael Bloomberg money in 2013 moved the center of gravity over to “Everytown for Gun Safety” and its “local” affiliate, Heather Martens has remained an inescapable farce in Minnesota politics.

Force. I meant force.  Honest.  I’ll catch it in post-production.  Sorry.

But a correspondent who follows these things found this bon mot during some recreational reading of state Campaign Finance Board filings.

Continue reading

Governor Tease

This is actually a post about state politics.  But there’s a tangent.

 

Along about thirty years ago, Holly Dunn – a twangy honky-tonk girl, and one of the highlights of country-western music at a time when the genre was still suffering through the last of its “crossover” mania – had a huge, but controversial, hit with “Maybe I Mean Yes”.

It was a bouncy ditty about romantic mind games.  It was also controversial, even in those much less silly times, among feminists for, according to the PC police of the era, “making rape and domestic abuse acceptable”; the teapot-tempest thereafter caused a few country stations to pull the single, making Holly Dunn one of the first casualties of modern political correctness – which is a shame, because most of your Gretchen Wilsons and Miranda Lamberts owe her a huge debt.

But this article isn’t about eighties honky-tonk music.  It’s about Governor Flint-Smith.

Dayton. Governor Dayton.  Sorry.  I have no idea how that happened.

In a legislative session in which the Governor’s “top priority” changed from spending the surplus to, literally, “everything” as a top priority, to synchronizing traffic lights to taking farmland out of production to transportation something or another to passing a universal pre-kindergarten bill that neither the legislature nor school administrators statewide wanted (but the teachers union does) to trying to justify Rebecca Otto’s electoral existence, it should be no surprise that he’s changed “top priorities” again:

Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday said he was dropping his insistence that lawmakers change language dealing with county audits but cited three other, previously unmentioned, objections to the Legislature’s special session plans.

Just last Thursday the DFL governor said that he and the House’s “major remaining difference” had to do with the state auditor. But on Monday, he said that he and the House were still in disagreement over three other issues: funding for programs for the disabled and mentally ill, energy net metering and lower electric rates for industries in northeastern Minnesota.

Apparently, the GOP House and DFL Senate majorities are doing better at reaching agreements than Dayton figured.

Oh, yeah.  If we take care of these three “top priorities”, he’s got a bunch more waiting in the wings:

“Before I can call a special session, it remains necessary for us to reach agreements,” on the three other issues, Dayton wrote. He also listed four other issues –an increase in broadband grants, funding for a new sex offender facility, rail grade crossing safety projects and clarification of language dealing with Rochester’s Destination Medical Center — that he urged be addressed.

When the Governor says “shut down”, he means maybe, and then maybe he means yes.

The Problem With Ryan Winkler…

…was, paradoxically, only incidentally about Ryan Winkler.

Our Big Game of Telephone:  From the mid-nineties on, when Michele Bachmann was still organizing the Maple River Education Coalition, before she even ran for the State Senate, the late Karl Bremer was dinging on the future Presidential candidate and conservative lighting rod.

And conservatives, in turn, dinged on the irascible Bremer.  I’m not one to speak ill of the dead – but it’s a simple fact that the guy was prone to using imagination when the facts didn’t give him the story he wanted.   For years, finding and pointing out all the logical and factual holes in his peevish tirades was for conservative bloggers what “mending nets” is for Spanish fishermen.  In short – he was like a blogger, only more so.

But if you ask a left-leaning member of the Minnesota Media “elite”, you got a different story; Bremer was lauded as a hero, treated as one of the club, given the secret handshake.  He won an award from the “Society of Professional Journalists” – something like “best digger of documents”.

It was all, every bit of it, related to Bremer’s nearly two-decade-long mania for “covering” / writing about / stalking Michele Bachmann.  The enemy of the Twin Cities’ media’s enemy is the Twin Cities media’s friend.

And had Bremer turned all of that manic energy on Paul Wellstone or Keith Ellison?  Not a single member of the Twin Cities media would have acknowledged his existence, much less pissed on his grave.

Warm, Fuzzy:  With that in mind, take a good read through Doug Grow’s profile of the retiring Representative Ryan Winkler.

Entitled “Why the Legislature will miss Ryan Winkler”, it’s full of assurances, via Pat Garofalo, that Winkler’s big and rapidly-moving mouth was “all business, nothing personal” – which is a fine thing, and mildly reassuring (although mere nonelected proles who encountered Winkler on Twitter had mixed experiences with the lad)…

…and maybe even true, as far as it goes.

But read the article.

You’ll scan it in vain for any mention of Winkler’s “Uncle Tom” jape.  And that’s fine; people make mistakes; to err is human and to forgive divine, yadda yadda.  If every political “opposition researcher” in the world suddenly broke their femurs and spent six months in traction, and the world could forgive politicians their past oopses, the world would be a happier place, and maybe a  little bit better one too.

That might actually be a wonderful thing.

But as I – and quite a few other people – noted when Winkler announced his retirement, Winkler was only the symptom.  The disease?  The Minnesota Media’s double-standard.

Because if Winkler’d been a Republican, you can bet “Uncle Tom” would have popped up in Grow’s epitaph; it’d be carved large on the media’s collective memory of the guy for all eternity.

Winkler has painstakingly avoided ruling out a return to Minnesota politics.  Five will get you twenty that when he does, “Uncle Thomas” will not rate a single inch of copy.

Anywhere.

The Good Guys Win One

Governor Dayton has reportedly signed HF878, the Public Safety omnibus bill that included five second-amendment-related provisions:

  • Barring thengovernornfeom confiscating guns during states of emergency
  • enacting carry permit reciprocity with several other states
  • allow Minnesotans to buy long guns in non-contiguous states
  • eliminated the capitol felony trap
  • allows Minnesotans to own and use their federally-licensed suppressors.

This is a big win for human rights.

Thanks to Governor Dayton for heeding the overwhelming will of The People, and signing the bill.

Thanks also to a newly-active NRA, to MN-GOPAC and to GOCRA, as well as to the legislators who made it happen.

And thanks to you, the Real Minnesotans, for speaking out so loudly and clearly.

What does this mean for next session? More on the show this weekend, and on the blog next week.

“Sharp-Tongued”

Ryan Winkler is leaving the House of Representatives.

Winkler spent nine sessions in the Legislature.  During the last five or six of them, his job, coming from an utterly safe seat in Golden Valley, seemed to be “the DFL’s Costco version of Sidney Blumenthal”; to say and do the things that no DFLer in a contested district – or human with an education and a conscience – would dare to say.

Winkler racked up a long, storied history:

…enough that he seemed to be well on the way to becoming Minnesota’s Joe Biden.

Of course, Paul Thissen said what caucus leaders are supposed to say about their hatchet men:

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he’ll miss Winkler’s “impatience with injustice. He is always willing to take on the tough fights and not back down. He drove the discussion forward about how to make our economy work better for people. His work to raise the minimum wage and improve opportunity for average Minnesotans is a tremendous legacy.”

Um yeah.  When a Minnesotan loses a job to pay for his precious minimum wage hike, we need to say they’ve been “Winklered”.

But this isn’t about my observations.  Look at the adjectives the media uses in describing Winkler’s career; “outspoken” (as in “outspoken advocate on behalf of…” yadda yadda), “sharp-tongued”, “Harvard-Educated”, and the like.

If he’d been a Republican, I’d have looked for adjectives more like “Controversial”, “stridently partisan”, and maybe “gaffe-prone”.   More to the point?  A “sharp-tongued” Republican would be “contibuting to the nasty partisanship” around the Capitol.

But he’s a DFLer in Minnesota.   He was just a character, one that the reporters could always get a cutesy quote from.

Ryan Winkler is the poster child for the Minnesota media’s double standard.

Governor Congeniality

Senator Thompson – who will be a guest on the NARN on Saturday – pretty well nailed the Governor’s tantrum:

And Andy Aplikowski, on Facebook, made the sterling point that Governor Dayton is touring the state trying to convince Minnesotans he “cares about children”…

…with his Lieutenant Governor, Tina Flint-Smith, former executive butcherette of Planned Parenthood (aka “The Vandalia Abattoir”).

Impulse Control

This past week has been a really, really bad one for Governor Dayton and anyone who thinks he’s ready for prime time as a governor.

First, it the promise (since delivered) of a veto of the K-12 E-12 bill over a few hundred million in spending that a bipartisan majority in the Legislature had already turned down (in support of a program that nobody but Education Minnesota really wants).

And now?   He’s accusing Republicans of “hating teachers”.

Which certainly perked up my ears, what with having a father, two grandparents and a little sister who’ve been teachers.

Oh, yeah – Sondra Erickson, also a teacher, was not amused:

 Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, who chairs the House Education Policy Committee said Dayton should apologize for the remark.

In a statement, Erickson said:

“As a public school teacher with nearly four decades in public school classrooms, I am disappointed with Governor Dayton’s disrespectful remarks. Minnesotans expect their public officials to respectfully debate the issues facing our state without resorting to personal attacks. Republicans and Democrats passed a bipartisan budget that underscored our commitment to students and teachers including significant investments in proven early learning programs. Teachers deserve nothing but great respect because of their dedication to prepare our children with knowledge and skills for the future. Closing the achievement gap requires only the highest regard for those who teach and lead our children. I respectfully request that the governor apologize for his remarks.”

Of course, he’s not going to do it.  I fact, look for them to double down.

Because that’s page 1 of the Democrat messaging handbook.  Question how veterans benefits are paid for?  “Why do Republicans hate veterans?”.

Dispute global warming?  “Why do Republicans hate science?”.

Don’t like abortion, and think identity feminism has done a lot of damage?  “It’s a war on women!”.

Push back against a pork-barrel program that will at best do nothing useful for the vast majority of kids, but will plump up Education Minnesota’s and the DFL’s coffers?  “Republicans hate teachers!”.

And the thing is, 40-odd percent of Minnesota voters are stupid enough to buy it.

Why would he apologize?

Make My Day

Here’s the good news: over the weekend, an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of Republicans and Democrats, in both the House and Senate, voted for the public safety omnibus bill as finalized by the conference committee.

How overwhelming was the majority?

Here’s how overwhelming:

IMG_3647.JPG

That is a veto proof majority in both the House and the DFL-controlled Senate.

How important is this? This bill will:

  • Abolish the capital felony trap – by recognizing that the Capitol police have instant access to the database of carry permit holders, just like every other cop in the state of Minnesota.
  • Bar the governor for ordering the confiscation of firearms during emergencies. The governor of Minnesota has immense, wide-sweeping emergency powers, almost completely unregulated by law. This will prevent the situation that new Orleans residents ran into after Hurricane Katrina, with government officials and police going door-to-door to confiscate firearms, rendering citizens defenseless in the face of looters.
  • Legalize the ownership of federally licensed suppressors – mufflers for guns.
  • Allow Minnesotans to buy a long arms from non-contiguous states.
  • Make Minnesota permits reciprocal with many more neighboring states. This is great if you, hypothetically, constantly wind up having to stop at gas stations in Moorhead or East Grand Forks, to avoid inadvertently becoming a felon in North Dakota. Again, hypothetically.

So that’s the good news.

The Bad News – Governor Flint- Smith Dayton has said that he will veto the bill, over the suppressor provision.

Of course, the photo above – the votes for a bipartisan, vetoproof majority passing the bill – might give Governor Flint-Smith Dayton pause. Getting a veto overridden is embarrassing.

You know what else would give her him pause?

We’ll talk about that at noon.

 

Governor Dayton’s Priorities

Governor Flint-Smith Dayton is threatening to veto the budget deal over the lower level of funding promised for pre-kindergarten.

I’m not sure that our legislature – much less our governor – is smart enough to fight the battle based on something like “what’s best for children”…

…but in case any legislators are focused on that, psychology and even teachers are starting to think that jamming down academics with young children is at best of no value, and at worst counterproductive in the long run:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201505/early-academic-training-produces-long-term-harm (I’ve added emphasis):

A number of well-controlled studies have compared the effects of academically oriented early education classrooms with those of play-based classrooms (some of which are reviewed here, in an article by Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Geralyn McLaughlin,and Joan Almon).[1] The results are quite consistent from study to study: Early academic training somewhat increases children’s immediate scores on the specific tests that the training is aimed at (no surprise), but these initial gains wash out within 1 to 3 years and, at least in some studies, are eventually reversed. Perhaps more tragic than the lack of long-term academic advantage of early academic instruction is evidence that such instruction can produce long-term harm, especially in the realms of social and emotional development.

When you start regimenting kids bright and early, is it a surprise they grow up less able to think for themselves?

For example, in the 1970s, the German government sponsored a large-scale comparison in which the graduates of 50 play-based kindergartens were compared, over time, with the graduates of 50 academic direct-instruction-based kindergartens.[2] Despite the initial academic gains of direct instruction, by grade four the children from the direct-instruction kindergartens performed significantly worse than those from the play-based kindergartens on every measure that was used. In particular, they were less advanced in reading and mathematics and less well adjusted socially and emotionally. At the time of the study, Germany was gradually making a switch from traditional play-based kindergartens to academic ones. At least partly as a result of the study, Germany reversed that trend; they went back to play-based kindergartens. Apparently, German educational authorities, at least at that time, unlike American authorities today, actually paid attention to educational research and used it to inform educational practice.

Of course, universal “free” Pre-K isn’t about educating children, much less making them grow up to be better, happier, smarter people.

It’s about providing more jobs for Governor Flint-Smith’s Dayton’s biggest contributors, and thereby more dues for the DFL.

Universal pre-K may be the best possible advertisement for home schooling.

Perspective

While legalizing firearm suppressors has gotten most of the attention this legislative session, I think the most vital part of the Public Safety Omnibus bill is Rep. Newberger’s “Katrina Bill”, which would bar the state government from confiscating citizens’ firearms during a state of emergency.

How important is this?  As we speak, in Maryland, the government is clamping down on the availability of ammunition…

IMG_3593.JPG

…which is another way of making civilian firearms useless.  Of course, during Hurricane Katrina, the local police went door-to-door, confiscating firearms.  Current Minnesota law allows the state governnment even more-onerous leeway than Maryland law.

And a quick note to the “Minnesota” gun groups that advocate focusing only on “Constitutional Carry”; even if that were to pass, it wouldn’t affect state emergency powers.

This bill needs to pass.

Intended Consequences

Remember when the Minnesota DFL made all sorts of noises about wanting people to quit smoking?

Apparently they only want them to quit the right way.  Lyle Koenen (DFL), has introduced a bill (SF 2025) that would jack up taxes on e-cigarette vapor products by 800%.

Clearly, the goal is to try to gut sales of e-cigarettes – which would seem to be cutting into the state’s lucrative racket, picking the pockets of tobacco users.

It’s very worth a call to your legislator.  Ask them why they want to drive people back to tobacco.

At The Capitol

It’s been a big couple of days at the Minnesota State Capitol for Second Amendment supporters.

Yesterday, the House Public Safety Committee passed all or parts of four bills as part of the Public Safety Omnibus bill:

  • HF830 (Lucero), the Interstate Purchase bill (legalizing buying firearms from states that aren’t contiguous to Minnesota.  I bet you didn’t know that was illegal?)
  • HF372 (Nash), which would abolish the capitol felony trap (the requirement to notify the head of Capitol Security if you’re a permittee who’s carrying is obsolete and serves only to dangle the threat of a felony over otherwise law-abiding citizens)
  • HF722 (Newberger), perhaps the most important of all, the Katrina bill, barring state government from seizing firearms during a “state of emergency”.

It’s an omnibus bill – which means when it goes to the Senate, the bills have a decent chance of either passing, or putting a lot of DFL senators on record as anti-gun extremists. While the majority in the Senate is pro-Human-Rights (even the DFLers), most of the committees are controlled by anti-gun extremists like Ron Latz.

Now, here’s the big part; tomorrow, the House is voting on four stand-alone bills.  Yes, it’s redundant to the omnibus bill; it’s theatrics, to show the Senate (and governor, and the media) how much popular support these bills have.

They’ll be voting on Lucero, Nash and Newberger’s bills, as well as Mark Anderson’s bill  (HF1434) to allow Minnesotans to put mufflers on their guns and preserve their hearing, as they do in 39 other, smarter states.

Here’s The Deal:  The debate and vote are at 3PM tomorrow.  If you can make it down to the Capitol at 3, preferably wearing a maroon shirt, ideally a GOCRA t-shirt (or anything but camouflage, basically); it’d be great to show the House (and the Senate) that we’re serious.  We always do.

There’s a decent chance these bills can pass – and leave the Human Rights movement in a better position to further expand the rights of the law-abiding in future sessions.