Despicable Steve

It hasn’t been a good campaign for DFL Secretary of State candidate Steve Simon. 

For starters, he barely got over 40% in the primary - against a perennial candidate and a nobody.  Which might not have been a showstopper for the DFL machine to overcome, except that they were up against Dan Severson, who has statewide name recognition from a 2010 SOS run and a Senate bid (that came up short in the convention in 2012). 

Then, last week, the polls showed that Severson was ahead of Simon; he was the only GOP statewide candidate to lead in the polls at that time.  

At the very least – given the polling that, we are told, shows Mark Dayton supposedly cruising to victory – it’s a sign that the DFL/Big Money Democrat onslaught has a chink in the armor. 

At the most?  It shows that the DFL’s “We’re Inevitable!” vibe may not be entirely factual. 

Severson’s press conference last week - in which he showed smoking guns tying the SOS office to a policy of tossing veterans’ votes, and Rep. Simon’s signature on legislation that exempted the military from absentee voter reforms – went badly for Simon, and worse for the DFL’s Ken Martin, who tried and failed to take a chunk out of Severson in a comical morning of duelling press conferences. 

Simon is apparently desperate; he’s now telling his base that Severson proposes “forcing rape victims to pay for rape kits”. 

It’s BS, of course.  Not just the usual, comical, inept BS the DFL tosses around at this point in campaigns, all juvenile photoshopped heads and racist japes

No.  This is a sleazy, toxic, intentional, cowardly lie.  Severson responds (and I’ll add emphasis):

I moved it forward with the understanding that the bill would propose sharing the cost of all expenses associated with sexual assault between the counties of the victim and the perpetrator.

I specifically killed the bill before it EVER got a hearing because of the language specific to victims having to pay for anything.

In a just world, whatever DFL messaging genius that came up with this attack would get some sense groin-kicked into him.

As it stands?  Since a lie will make it around the world before the truth has finished checking Facebook in the morning, it’s back to the long, slow slog of telling people the one central truth of Minnesota politics.

If a DFLer says it, it’s a lie. 

If a DFLer who’s losing says it, it’s probably defamation.

Undercover

 Yesterday, Gabby Giffords came to town. 

You’d only know it from the media, naturally.  When “Everytown” scheduled Rep. Giffords’ appearance, they made a point to keep the location secret, and to only invite media that could be trusted to report the event exactly the way Michael Bloomberg was paying for it to be reported. 

GOCRA sent out a press release:

Gun control advocate Gabrielle Giffords will [met] secretly [yesterday] with politicians, inviting only the press, while excluding the public, especially any dissenting voices.

The press event was announced to news outlets only [yesterday] morning. This is a common tactic from gun control groups, which enjoy lavish funding but little popular support.

Now, I get it; Bloomberg and “Everytown” want to control the media environment around Rep. Giffords.  They want absolute control over how Giffords is presented, so that her message isn’t diluted by any inconvenient dissent.  It’s standard PR optics. 

It’s the point where optics meets reality that is always a problem for the Orcs:

“When an event is announced in advance, gun rights supporters outnumber gun controllers, 20 to one,” according to Professor Joseph E. Olson, who founded GOCRA 25 years ago. He pointed to gun control hearings in 2013 and 2014, where Second Amendment supporters in maroon shirts flooded the state capitol. “Our legislature is not for sale. Why is Gabby trying to buy it?”

Well, clearly part of  our legislature is for sale. 

GOCRA President Andrew Rothman agreed. “Gun control in Minnesota has always been driven by out-of-state interests,” he said. “For years, it was the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation that funded gun control efforts in Minnesota. More recently, New York City’s billionaire former mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has bankrolled gun control lobbyists. Follow the money.”

I’m just into my third decade of observing the irony of the fact that the Democrat party is, and has always been, about waving the bloody shirt of class warfare – and yet on the gun issue, it is they who have always been on the side of the patricians, against the unruly plebeians. 

And those plebeians must be kept out of the public eye at all costs.

Meet The New Huckster, Same As The Old Huckster

During last week’s gubernatorial debate in Duluth, Governor Dayton referred to the Iron Range has having been victimized by “hucksters” with hare-brained economic development schemes to try to compensate for the crash of the mining industry.

Yesterday on their show blog, Jack and Ben (who, notwithstanding working for the lesser talk station, have been on fire this past week or so) discovered something important; exactly who one of the key “hucksters” was:

The smoking gun is a January 1986 document titled “Housing and Community Development Briefs” authored by the Minnesota Department of Energy and Economic Development and several other organizations. According to the document: “The Department of Energy and Economic Development recently approved [a direct, fixed-interest rate, fixed asset new/expanding business loan].” The publication then lists several businesses that were recipients of the loans, including Lakewood Industries [the company that built the chopstick factory]. It states, “Lakewood Industries, a startup company expected to create 76 jobs in the next two years, received final approval for a $250,000 loan.”

Now, Dayton was Minnesota Department of Energy and Economic Development commissioner from 1978-79, and again from 1983-86.  In other words, his fingerprints are all over the infamous Chopstick Factory. 

Now, $250,000 might not seem like all that much compared to the $5 million in total financing, including $3 million from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRB).

But the story doesn’t end there (emphasis added):

So let’s look at the IRRRB. The Director of Economic Development of the IRRRB during the chopstick factory fiasco was Mark Phillips. Mark Phillips was intimately involved in the details of the chopstick project, according to a statement he provided in a Chicago Tribune article from June 5, 1998: “They [the Japanese] wanted real white wood with no stain to it. We have a good species here, real white wood that veneers well.” And a December 8, 1986 Associate Press article shows that Mark Phillips was keenly aware of the financing the IRRRB had provided to the project.

So what happened to Mark Phillips? In 2011, Mark Dayton appointed him Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Once a boondoggler, always a boondoggler; Phillips was a prominent supporter of public funding for both the Vikings stadium and the Saint Paul Saints ballpark in Saint Paul. 

As to Governor Messinger Dayton?

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.

Hamline Debate Highlights

I watched and live-tweeted yesterday’s gubernatorial debate from Hamline University, which was telecast on Fox9.

For starters, it wasn’t the worst debate format I’ve ever seen.  Fox 9′s crew of hairdos (I have long since stopped paying attention to Twin Cities anchor teams) largely stayed out of the way of the three reporters – Rachel Stassen-Berger, Tom Scheck and Bill Salisbury – who did most of the questioning.  And most of the questions – the ones that didn’t get into personal lifestyle issues (do we really care if either candidate ever smoked pot?), anyway – were pretty good. 

Oh, yeah – Johnson shredded Dayton.   I know, I’m partisan – but I’m pretty clinical about public speaking.  Johnson is cool, calm, collected, an on top of his facts.  Dayton – as Johnson quipped, at one point – pretty much ran through his ex-wife’s chanting points. 

The three highlights, in my book?

Number 3: The Aisle:  When asked if they were capable of working across the aisle, Dayton’s response amounted to “I could – if it weren’t for that stupid opposition!”.  It’s the GOP’s fault he can’t work across party lines!

Number 2: Pot Calling The Kettle A Pot:  At one point, in one of his few spontaneous moments of the debate, Dayton scolded Johnson about a perceived (and false) inconsistency in his record, ending it by telling Johnson to “pick a side and stick with it”.  I laughed so hard, I nearly soiled myself. 

That’s Governor Dayton; the guy who’se argued both sides of medical marijuana, the minimum wage hike and tip credits, the Vikings stadium subdidy, Gift, B2B, gas and Warehouse taxes, cigarette taxes, fixing MNSure, sex-offender releases, expanded notification of mental health issues to the NICS database (the list of people who can’t legally buy guns), and even on the availability of his daily calendar.  

Number 1: That Definition Of Insanity:  Questioned by the panel and Johnson about the MNSure debacle, Dayton let slip that he thought the real solution was single-payer healthcare.

That’s right – when the government makes a collossal botch of centralizing most of healthcare, let’s let them centralize it all!

The one thing the DFL was able to salvage from the debate was an “oops” from Johnson; asked to define “middle class” in terms of a dollar threshold, after Dayton waffled and proved he didn’t have a clue, Johnson said “I haven’t a clue”. 

Of course, there is no hard-and-fast dollar figure as to where the “middle class” begins and ends; it’s more a matter of circumstances; the middle class are those who don’t live off of investments and spare Renoirs,oroff of charity and subsidies.

The Unthinkable

It was about this time four years ago that a small group of bloggers and activists got a call from the Chip Cravaack campaign; the challenger was within the margin of error against 200-term congressman Jim Oberstar.

It was unthinkable.

And was one of the headiest days in my life as a political activist; the Tea Party wave was flipping the unflippable. 

I didn’t think I’d see another day like it. 

I’m going to lead with all the usual disclaimers; it’s an internal poll, which can make it both more and less trustworthy. 

But an internal poll shows Torrey Westrom leading 12-term DFL Rep. Colin Peterson, 44-43, as the race turns into the home stretch:

A new survey released today by the Westrom for Congress campaign reports Republican challenger Torrey Westrom pulling ahead of 12-term incumbent Democrat Congressman Collin Peterson. Westrom now enjoys a lead among likely voters in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District (44%-43%), while thirteen percent (13%) are undecided

Of course, that’s a lot of undecideds – but then, that’s the point of releasing the polling news; to create the “bandwagon effect” that drives campaigns over the finish line in style.  Fact is, even if it’s close, Peterson has got to be sweating bricks right now;  rarely do challengers get within a three-digit margin of northwestern Minnesota’s ag pork king.

If this poll is even within 3-4 points of accurate, it’s bad news for the DFL.

My November 5 dream:  Torrey Westrom, Stewart Mills and Tom Emmer not only start measuring their drapes in Washington, but flip Minnesota’s congressional delegation not only red, but solidly right-of-center.

What Conservatism Needs In Minnesota

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

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

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

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

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

How did they do this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coincidence?

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s happened once.  It can happen again.

Needs to happen again, really.

Thanks, But No Thanks

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun grab group issued a long series of endorsements in congressional races, including over 50 Democrat incumbents.

Conspicuous by his absence? Rick Nolan, in the 8th Congressional District..

And after all he’s done for them…:

Some incumbents didn’t make the Everytown list. The group didn’t endorse Rep. Rick Nolan (D., Minn.), who co-sponsored the House bill to expand background checks. Mr. Nolan, who has an F score from the NRA, is trying to fend off a challenge from Republican Stewart Mills, whom the NRA gave an A rating.

The endorsements were extremely heavy on incumbents, and almost never involved contested races.

Why, it’s almost like gun control is political poison or something…

Nail-Biter?

According to Rasmussen, Franken leads McFadden by eight points – but only by three points (48 to 46) among people who are “certain” to vote:

Yesterday, Roll Call included Franken on their top-ten list of the most vulnerable U.S. Senators facing re-election in 2014. McFadden had a “fiery” performance in his debate with Franken yesterday in Duluth and he followed-up today with a press conference today about rate increases for MNsure consumers.

 If the poll is accurate (and since Scott Rasmussen retired, it’s been less so – but it’s also swung a bit toward favoring the left), this could be very good news for the GOP in MInnesota…

(Via PoliMN)

Waves

Watching last night’s gubernatorial debate in Rochester, it’s easy to see why Governor Messinger’s Dayton’s handlers didn’t want to have too many televised debates, and wanted to make sure they were only televised on outlets like C-Span and Farmington Cable Access.  He was awful.

At one point, I could have sworn I heard him mumble that he lowered taxes by $2 Billion.  What the flaming hootie-hoo?  Someone sic Catherine Richert on that claim!

Jeff Johnson wiped the floor with Dayton.  If the Johnson campaign doesn’t have comparison shots of Dayton and Johnson answers on TV and Youtube in the next week, they’re insane.   

And today comes news that the Duluth News Tribune (and perhaps the entire Forum chain of papers) has endorsed Johnson.

Among Johnson’s priorities are to reduce taxes and shrink government. While that sounds like Republican boilerplate, the reality is that if Minnesota is to compete in a competitive national economy, it has to improve its tax climate and streamline its ossified regulatory systems. Johnson can’t do it alone, but as governor he can force lawmakers to talk about it.

Johnson is young, educated, experienced in public service and the private sector, and focused on issues vital to his state’s future. Minnesotans would do well to make him their next governor.

And if voters in Greater Minnesota return the MNGOP to control in Saint Paul with Jeff Johnson as Governor, we can make some progress. 

(And, naturally, if the GOP keeps itself focused.  Which may be the biggest battle of all.

Continue reading

More Of That “Blowing Sunshine Up Minnesota’s Skirt” Thing…

I read yesterday’s headlines about the new, Preferred-One-Free MNSure rates, and got ready to write.

Then, I got an email from a friend who works in the Healthcare industry, which explains it much better:

The headlines on MNSure saying premiums rose only 4.5%.  This reminds me of an old story.

A friend of mine was flying a helicopter in the fog in downtown St. Paul and his radio and navigation equipment failed suddenly.  He knew he was in the midst of the downtown and going any direction could mean an immediate crash.  He stayed put hovering for a few minutes, inching lower.  When the fog lifted he was right outside the MN Dept. of Commerce.  Not recognizing the building he grabbed a piece of paper and a big sharpie.  He wrote in big block letters “Where am I?” and put it put it on the outside of his windshield.  A commerce employee saw the helicopter’s predictament and wrote a note back and placed it in the building window.  “You’re in a helicopter.”

Technically correct and absolutely meaningless.

That’s my take of this headline.  The real problem is that the low cost insurer, Preferred One, dropped out.  Maybe the remaining plans only increased by 4.5% but to the 60% who were on Preferred One, the real story is that their premiums are rising about 20%.  Minnesotans will understand that if they take time to read the full story.

Which the DFL is counting on people not doing, naturally, as they relentlessly pound away with that “4.5%” number on ads around the state.

Recent history shows it’s not hard to fool Minnesotans.

For Those Tired Of That “Smoke Up Their Skirt” Feeling.

Daytonomics - a noun, referring to economic conditions that look rosy on the surface, but worse and worse the more one examines them.  See also: “Potemkin”.  

The DFL is running the bulk of their state campaigns – the Legislature, the Constitutional Officers and Governor – on the notion that two years of Daytonomics have left Minnesota an economic powerhouse.

Like squatters who move into an “Architectural Digest” house, there’s still some zing in the state’s economic elevator pitch – leftovers from ten years of at least partial GOP stewardship.

But under the surface?

There are three signs that the various editorial boards are doing their level best to avoid, or at the most downplay:

  • State revenue keeps falling short of projections.  It’s lagging because personal income tax withholding is slowing down.  They’re slowing down because personal income in Minnesota is not keeping pace with expectations as of the last budget session.  The fact that it means we’re heading for another deficit is the least of the issues; the economy isn’t that damn good.
  • Along those same lines?  The Minnesota Zoo is laying people off. Costs are up – thanks, Barack Obama! – but attendance is also down.  4.5%.  The Zoo – especially the Minnesota Zoo, which is a pretty spendy day out for a family – is something people do when they’re feeling flush, and feel like showing the kids a good time.  You’ll note that attendance at the Como Zoo – which is free, unless you’re a Saint Paul taxpayer – isn’t hurting.
  • Oh, yeah – after a year or so of bragging about Minnesota in comparison to Scott Walker’s Wisconsin that Minnesota is dead last in new job creation in the Midwest.

Wanna see the interesting part of this last story?  Look in the graph comparing the states in the Midwest.  Check out the historical job numbers:

  • 10 years ago, when Tim Pawlenty and a GOP House ran the show?   Booming economic growth.
  • Five years ago, when Tim Pawlenty at least held the line on DFL spending?   At the depths of the Great Recession, no less?  We were among the region’s leaders!
  • Two years ago, at the end of the GOP’s control of the Legislature?   Still good.

Today?

Dead last.

Dead.  Last.

Last.  Dead.

This is Mark Dayton’s economy.

The DFL’s Edina Brahmins

Why does the DFL hate the First Amendment?

Trackers – interns for various campaigns and groups filming footage of politicians giving speeches and doing other public appearances – have been a fixture of Minnesota political life for at least a decade now. Most politicians – and by “most” I mean “everyone I’ve encountered, from every party, so far” – accepts that with good grace, and tries not to say something stupid.

Apparently “good grace” is beyond DFL Rep. Paul Rosethal, from District 49B in Edina:

“You’re in the Edina City Hall. You’re not allowed to be here without their permission to film. So I’d appreciate your leaving,” Rosenthal said in an exchange posted on YouTube.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s a public building” replied [photographer Ethan] Hellier.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Rosenthal, moving in front of the camera.

Clever, Mr. Rosenthal.

At least, compared to representative Ron Erhardt, from District 498, who seems to be going more and more Tony Soprano as he gets older (With emphasis gleefully added):

Rep. Ron Erhardt, a Democrat, took a different approach.
Do you know what would happen to that thing if we dropped it? Probably wouldn’t work very well. Now would you back off please?” Erhardt said.

At least he isn’t threatening to blow Mr. Helier’s head off.

Dear Edina – these are the thugs you sent to StPaul in 2012. Let’s shoot for better this time, okay?

Keith Ellison And That Famous DFL Civility

Here’s a blast from the past:  Keith Ellison, in an interview on KFAI (a little community station that serves as the drum-pounding id of the loony liberal West Bank, and for which I was a news guy for a while in the early ’90s) exhibits that reach-across-the-aisle comity that Lori Sturdevant is always demanding (from Republicans), repeatedly calls MNGOP Deputy Chair (at the time, Secretary) Chris Fields a…

…well, let’s take a look (with some emphasis added):

Ellison: “You’re real stupid for bringing up your domestic violence allegations. I wasn’t gonna say a thing about it. I wasn’t gonna mention it.”

Fields: “You know, if you want to talk about divorce —”

Ellison: “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Fields: “—talk about your own. Talk about the fact—”

Ellison: “You are a scumbag.”

Fields: “—that you only pay $500 for child support. Talk about that. You used that money to hurt my ex-wife, who I still love.”

Ellison: “You are a low-life scumbag. You are a low-life scumbag.”

Fields: “I did not spend money to look into my divorce. You did.”

Ellison: “You are a gutter-dweller, and you’re an idiot for bringing up your domestic violence charges.”

Fields: “There was never any.”

This is the DFL in action.

Hear the whole thing here.  And if you live in CD5, bring a friend to vote for Doug Daggett.

CORRECTION:  I thought it seemed familiar.  The story is two years old.  Blah.  I think I may have even written about it back then – to try to get people to vote for Chris Fields, who was running against the peevish Ellison back then.

The story is old.  The sentiment – get rid of Ellison – is timeless.

Throwback Thursday

Governor Dayton says “the buck stops” with him in re MNSure:

— Gov. Mark Dayton [said] that he ultimately feels responsible for the success or failure of [MNSure].

Dayton apologized for problems Minnesotans are having on the state’s health care exchange. The governor is promising to fix multiple website problems, as soon as possible.

“I apologize to those Minnesotans who have been seriously inconvenienced or are distraught by the failures of MNsure. It’s unacceptable,” Dayton said Thursday.“Did I cause? I don’t think I caused the problems at MNsure and I did everything I could to prevent them,” he said. “Ultimately the buck stops here.”

Oh, yeah – you read that right; the story came out last December

Before MNSure’s current woes – the cratering of the code, and Preferred One’s bailing out of the whole debacle. 

So – when Governor Dayton says “the buck stops here”, does he mean it like he did…:

  • during the Vikings Stadium fiasco, where he committed the state’s taxpayers to hundreds of millions of dollars, then told the Legislature to “deal with it”, a la Michael Scott?
  • during the Minimum Wage fiasco, when signed a deeply flawed bill, and then publicly wavered a few months later when his spawn told him they were having trouble making ends meet at their posh Minneapolis restaurant?
  • during the last Budget session, when he served as an untrained mouthpiece for the public employee unions that put him in power?

Because none of those, nor his behavior in re MNSure, involve actually stopping any bucks.

Lowballed

SCENE:  At the Mississippi Market co-op in Saint Paul.  Mitch BERG is shopping for steel-cut oatmeal.  He notices Avery LIBRELLE turning into his aisle, looking for free-range humane tofu.  He tries to turn and leave, but it’s already too late. 

LIBRELLE:  Hey, Merg!  The Free Market is collapsing!

BERG:  Er, OK – how do you figure?

LIBRELLE:  Preferred One left the MNSure network!

BERG: Um, that’s not a failure of the free market.

LIBRELLE: Sure it is!  They came into the plan with a low-ball proposal.  It didn’t work, so it’s a failure of the free market! 

BERG: Well, no.  It’s not.  The plans they’re pulling from MNSure are basically the same thing they’ve been selling to employers for decades, although more expensive, to cover all the extra Obamacare requirements, and a little extra to cover the fact that they’d only get paid after the money filtered through the MNSure system, which just isn’t working.  It’s the kind of plan they can sell by themselves just fine, and keep themselves in business. 

LIBRELLE:  Well, businesses shouldn’t profit from healthcare!

BERG:  Preferred One is a non-profit under Minnesota law.   And even so, they couldn’t financially justify the overhead that the MNSure system brought into the equation. 

LIBRELLE:  They should have come to the market with a plan that asked for more money!  Government subsidies would cover it anyway!

BERG:  And you have just explained why government subsidies promote inflation. 

LIBRELLE:  No I didn’t.

BERG:  Yes you did.  Businesses should raise their prices to smooth out dealing with the government’s incompetent bureaucracy, because another part of government is going to subsidize the transaction – which prices the business’s service out of reach of the unsubsidized.  It’s done for health insurance exactly what it’s done for higher education. 

LIBRELLE:  That just means we need single payer healthcare.

BERG:  Right.  So the same government that can’t produce a health care exchange on time and on budget, and get payments to providers efficiently enough to make the service worth providing, will now be directly in charge of every facet of your healthcare. 

LIBRELLE:  Well, at least it’ll promote transparency. 

BERG:  How so? 

LIBRELLE:  See the social justice that the IRS brought to political campaigning by denying teabagger groups their tax-exempt status?  Imagine the transparency we’ll get when The People can start denying them healthcare!

(LIBRELLE turns, starts walking away, but walks into shelf full of jars of organic peanut butter.  LIBRELLE falls as shelves of jars fall to the floor)

(And SCENE)

Call It A 2016 Election Dress Rehearsal…

DFL Representative Steve Simon is running for Secretary of State against GOP endorsed candidate Dan Severson. 

He’s had kind of a rough race so far; during the primaries, he came in with barely over 40% of the DFL vote, against a perennial candidate (Dick Fransen, who’s sort of a downmarket Ole Savior) and an unknown.  He’s got no name recognition to speak of (as compared to Dan Severson, who is a former state rep, SOS and Senate candidate). 

So he’s gotta get some name recognition – “popularity” – somehow, between now and November.

Now, as of last summer, Simon had a set of Twitter followers that, quite frankly, would befit a candidate who could only eke out 42% in his own party’s primary; around about a thousand or so.

Then, suddenly, BOOM: he was over 70,000 followers.

A case of Steve-mentum?

Probably not. It would seem the Simon campaign has chosen to try to buy some popularity – at least on Twitter:

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A “TwitterAudit” shows that at least 55,000 of Simon’s 70,000 followers are probably fakes.  An email from a GOP analyst explains:

This typically indicates that someone has purchased a list of fake subscribers.

Some of the earmarks of “list buyers” are:

  • Twitter accounts that are in a foreign language (paging thru his followers, it’s remarkable how many are in Russian, Asian and Arabic (yes, Arabic)
  • Twitter accounts that have no image of a real person next to them, but instead just have what is called the “Twitter egg” – again, paging thru Steve’s followers, it’s clear that a majority of his followers are “eggs”.

Check out the Twitteraudit yourself.

If this is how he runs his Twitter account, imagine what he’ll do for the voter rolls!

“But wait, Merg!  Lots of people, yourself included, have lots of spam followers on Twitter!  I mean, look at how popular you seem to be with 18 year old Filipinas!”.  Spam followers are certainly an issue on Twitter – everyone’s got ‘em – but having one’s number of overall followers multiply by almost two orders of magnitude in less time than it’s taking me to type about it is not just the sign of some staff intern getting happy fingers on the “Follow!” buttons. 

“But Merg!  Maybe Simon’s account was hacked!”.  Maybe.  Show us the evidence that a “malicious” “hack” just happened to inflate a less-than-popular candidate’s numbers into Twitterverse regional A-lister levels, and we can talk. 

I’ll wait. 

But I’m not going to hold my breath, if it’s all right with you. 

Continue reading

A Better Japan

To:  MN DFLers
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  The Inevitable End Result Of Keynesianism

DFLers,

I know – most of you don’t know what “Keynesianism” is.  It’s the economic theory that using government tax and monetary policy to “stimulate” the economy is the most effective way to ensure the economy grows steadily and doesn’t have ugly cyclical downturns.

Unfortunately – as we’ve seen in Japan – it doesn’t work.   Hiking taxes, and turning (some of) them into “stimuli”, makes things worse, not better.

Yep, the Democrat party – and the DFL with it – is built on Keynesianism (too much of the GOP has reached an accomodation with it as well, but that’s something for us to root out and kill on our own).

Keynesianism’s inevitable end results gave us the malaise of the ’70′s.  And it’s Keynesianism – delivered by its greatest, worst advocate in US history, Barack Obama, as well as locally by is oompa-loompas in the DFL – that are dragging the American economy down – and, if you’ve noticed by the fact that Minnesota’s tax revenues haven’t kept up with forecasts yet this year, Minnesota’s as well.

Just warning you.

That is all.

The Peasants $trike Back

In 2003, and again in 2005, when Minnesota passed its “shall issue” firearm permit law, a slew of businesses “posted” themselves; they put signs on their front doors indicating they didn’t want firearms on their premises.

Two things happened – or, rather, didn’t happen:

  1. There were no crimes in public related to legal post-2003-permitted firearm carriers.  None.  Zero. 
  2. While few anti-gun-rights people made a point of shopping posted stores, pro-Second-Amendment people made a very serious point of steering clear of posted establishments.  Many of us quietly and politely engaged with owners of posted stores, telling them that while we respected their decisions, our consciences would not allow us to shop at stores that disarmed the law-abiding and thus became victimization zones. 

Most “posted” stores quietly dispensed with their signs in the year or two after the Minnesota Personal Protection Act was re-enacted in 2005.  Things stayed pretty well put, Minnesota-wise – except, of course, the number of law-abiding citizens with carry permits, which was well over 160,000 177,000 the last I checked (far eclipsing pre-2003 legislative research estimates of 50,000-90,000 permittees). 

But the Obama Administration has been eagerly working to roll back gun rights, especially in the past two years.  And with Michael Bloomberg bankrolling his efforts, there is a concerted effort to turn law-abiding gun owners into the New Lepers – to try to re-stigmatize gun owners, the way the media were able to do in the 1960′s and 1970s. 

All are, of course, attacking the problem of violent crime by going after those who dont’, won’t, and never have committed any (and by their existence indeed deter it) – but no matter.  It’s not about crime – if it were, Washington DC and Chicago would be crime-free paradises. 

But if you read this blog, you’re probably smarter than that.

Unfortunately, a lot of uninformed and incurious people vote.  And Michael Bloomberg’s money is aimed largely at them.  And so the re-stigmatization effort is in full swing.  We’ve seen this with a small but vocal number of stores dusting off their posting signs – and, this summer, with the Minnesota State Fair posting its “no guns” signs, very possibly illegally.

It’s time for Real Americans – the ones that believe in all ten Amendments in the Bill of Rights – to come forward again and put their money where their mouths are.  Or perhaps to be more accurate, to not put their money where their mouths aren’t. 

It’s time to stop spending money at places that are posted. 

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So take note, local merchants; if you’re posted, I won’t spend a dime at your establishment.  If I see you or your ownership siding with the anti-gunners in the media, I’ll also cut you off, and do my best to keep you cut off until you recognize the civil rights of law-abiding Americans.   

That includes you, Minnesota State Fair.  While I broadcast from the Fair annually, and am happy to do it, I will no longer patronize any vendors at the Fair as long as the Fairgrounds are posted.

As much as it pains me to think of ten days of broadcasting at the Fair without Sausages by Cynthia’s Italian Dog, or a London Broil, or the Swiss Crepe from the Crepe stand, or a beer at O’Gara’s on a hot day, I’m not going to spend another dime at any Fair vendor, until the State Fair tears down the “Only Criminals May Be Armed!” signs. 

Be advised, Twin Cities merchants.  You have your rights to run your business any way you want.  But you’re not going far without customers. 

Can you afford to piss off 120,000 of us?   Especially since we’re the ones that tip, clean up after ourselves, and pass word of mouth along?

UPDATE:  I do need to credit the “No Guns = No Money” Facebook page for the image, and the whole “getting a movement rolling” thing.   Check out the page, and support them and, most importantly, the goal.

ABM: Wrong About Minnesota

I haven’t had the time to do as much in the way of digging into the DFL ad machine this cycle as in some past cycles.  It’s been a crazy summer.

Fortunately, Bill Glahn is on patrol

Glahn takes apart one of the latest flight of anti-Johnson ads from the Alliance for a Better Minnesota – the attack PR firm funded by liberal plutocrats that has run toxic sleaze campaigns against every Republican to run for office in Minnesota in the past eight years or so. 

ABM’s ads have been punctilious about punching up the phrase “Tea Party” in their ads, especially about Johnson, this cycle – even though Johnson is not especially identified with the Tea Party.  Glahn reaches one of the same observations I do:

Apparently the pejorative “Tea Party Republican” must test particularly well with low information voters. Or, perhaps its use in the ad is a sign the Democrats are concerned about turning out their base in an off-year election.

The Democrats have spent millions this past five years, trying to turn “Tea Party” into a pejorative.  If you go by what you hear in the media, it’s worked. If you go by election and polling results in red and reddish-purple states, it hasn’t.   Minnesota?  Well, the 2010 gubernatorial election showed Minnesota has 8,000 more low-information voters (along with Duplicate-Americans, Fictional-Americans and Deceased-Americans) than smart ones.  It might be a winning strategy. 

It might also show that that’s the best they can do; sputtering “Tea Partier” may be the “lowest blow” they think they can come up with. 

Anyway – the ad.  Like everything ABM puts out, it’s got an assortment of outright lies, and factoids stretched so far out of context as to be devoid of truth: 

Ms. Livermore [a "classroom teacher"] makes the dubious claim that Johnson “cut education by over $500 million” back in 2003, and then gave that money to corporations in 2005. Keep in mind that a similar ABM ad was judged “Misleading” by Minnesota Public Radio (of all places) for making those exact same claims. [The bill Johnson voted for in 2003 actually increased (rather than cut) public school spending.]

As always with ABM, though, there’s a level of stuff they don’t tell the voter (emphasis added):

No, the real lie in the ad comes from the “appeal to authority” of having an ordinary “classroom teacher” attack Johnson’s education policy. According to her LinkedIn profile, Ms. Livermore served on the governing board of the teachers’ union Education Minnesota from 2004 to 2007. [By the way, she spells the word “education” incorrectly on her profile.]

Although her service to the state teachers’ union may have given her some familiarity with decade-ago state legislation, it doesn’t exactly qualify her as a garden-variety “classroom teacher.” “Former union official attacks Republican,” just doesn’t have the same ring. Funny thing, the viewer is never informed of Livermore’s connection to the union, who happens to be the largest donor to Democrat campaigns in the state.  

And to be fair to ABM, why should the viewer be informed of this?  The campaign isn’t about informing voters.  It’s about framing the opposition, just like Saul Alinksky taught them to.

Chanting Points Memo: The Dayton Economy Just Keeps Getting Better And Better!

Just keep repeating it to yourself, DFLers; the Dayton economy is awesome!

The Dayton economy is awesome!

The Dayton economy is awesome!

Housing starts are off 15 percent in August (the full story appeared on MPR last night – but naturally isn’t available online today):

Confidence in the local homebuilding market took a hit in August, as permits for new single-family houses declined 15 percent from a year ago and permits for new multifamily units were down 78 percent. 

And the price of farm land – one of the key indicators and drivers of the farm economy – is slipping in Minnesota.  But hey, at least they’ll be getting taxed more for it…

 

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.