Rose Colored Glasses

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

Because raising taxes creates jobs, dammit!

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

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

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

And it the numbers get more interestinger:

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

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

Glahn’s not done:

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

“Unexpectedly” vanished, of course.

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

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

And the news consumers they report to.

My Apologies To Heather Martens

To: Heather Martens
From: Mitch Berg, Your Longtime Nemesis
Re:  Apology

Ms. Martens,

For most of the past decade and change, I’ve been running down your accuracy, your knowledge of Second Amendment issues, and the extent to which you confused “purchased lobbying power” with “fact”.  Whenever you’ve opened your mouth about anything gun-related, I’ve snickered, comparing  your command of logic and fact with, say, Jessica Simpson or Jeanne Kasem.

But Rolling Stone’s Krystyn Gwynne has certainly qualified for a job on “Protect MN”‘s executive committee. 

That is all.

The Invisible Primary

The electorate hits the snooze button on the Minnesota Republican gubernatorial primary.

It’s been 20 years since the Minnesota GOP had a competitive primary for, well, anything.  And with just over a month to go before voters chose Gov. Mark Dayton’s general election opponent, that rust is showing.

Whether it’s the airwaves, newspapers, or even political blogs, interest/coverage in the GOP primary has been as invigorating as an Ambien with a warm milk chaser.  What little polling on the race has been done bares out that fact, with 22% having no opinion of the four main candidates running, and 33% either undecided or choosing none of the above.

The result isn’t surprising.  Of the four major candidates, only businessman Scott Honour is running any sort of campaign advertising – a modest radio ad buy hitting Dayton on his handling of MnSure.  But having blown through the better part of $1 million on infrastructure and staff, Honour has been reduced to recycling his material.  The nearly exact same ad ran in May.

The rest of the field isn’t exactly making news, either.  Kurt Zellers’ campaign seems to exist solely by press release, with few direct campaign actions.  Marty Seifert’s endorsement by former Governor Al Quie is the campaign’s biggest story to date, as Seifert seems intent on winning the primary by eschewing the state’s major media markets to focus on outstate voters.  Jeff Johnson’s endorsement by Rep. Erik Paulsen carries some weight, but largely seems to reinforce that most of the state’s Republican endorsers are staying out of the fight.

If you can call this primary a ‘fight.’  Despite the ill-will following the Republican Convention in May, the interactions between the campaigns have been downright Marquess of Queensbury:

Last Friday, TPT’s Almanac hosted the first debate between the Republican candidates for governor since the Republican Party of Minnesota’s state convention in Rochester…I watched it three times this week, looking for some spark of energy, some sign of life in the Republican race for governor. I found none, as it was a non-event.

I reviewed Twitter, expecting to see a flury of public jockeying by the campaigns or their supporters. Nothing.

No press releases were sent out by the campaigns after the debate, boasting about the performance of their candidate. Nobody claimed victory, nobody really said anything. There were no debate parties, where supporters of a candidate gather to watch the event.It is almost like the debate didn’t happen.

Avoiding the traditional circular firing squad may be the prudent choice, but against the backdrop of such a vanilla campaign, one has to wonder how any of the four candidates expect to even reach November.

Most assuredly, August 2014 will not resemble the August of 2010 as Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza spent wildly, with Margaret Anderson Kelliher doing her best to keep up via her organization.  Indeed, the question of 2014 may be what candidate (if any) can create the organization necessary to match the GOP’s GOTV efforts on behalf of Jeff Johnson.  The endorsement may no longer carry the same monetary value, but the organizational value of numerous BPOUs making phone calls definitely has a price-tag for those seeking to replicate the effort.  In a low-intensity, likely low-turnout field, the GOP’s GOTV efforts will likely prevail.

The GOP’s greater challenge may be to have a nominee that’s prepared to contend after August.  A GOP candidate having won by a minimal amount, and armed with a poor campaign account – as would likely be the case for three out of the four candidates – isn’t in the best position to challenge Mark Dayton.

ADDENDUM:  Marty Seifert may slightly regret getting former Gov. Al Quie’s backing, given Quie’s decision to now also support US Senate long-shot Jim Abeler.  Nor does it likely help that the Star Tribune is reminding readers that Quie also backed Tom Horner four years ago.

Dear “Progressives”

We warned you. Oh, yes we did.

“When you raise the taxes on the parts of our society that produce wealth, the wealth moves”

That’s especially true when the taxes you’re raising make the producers of wealth – companies, in this case – less competitive in a global marketplace with other companies that produce wealth and get less of a tax hit.

Two weeks ago, it was Medtronic packing up its corporate plantation moving to Ireland for a much, much, much better tax rate.

This week? Word that Walgreens is planning a similar inversion with a company in Switzerland.

And after news that Nash Finch and Advance Auto Parts are leaving Minnesota largely because of the DFL’s tax orgy, and Red Wing Shoes and Laurence Transportation shelving major expansions because of that same tax policy, i’m wondering how much longer the DFL can hide behind the the headlines about Minnesota’s phantom, low unemployment rate.

(Which translates to “low unemployment in the metro, where all the Fortune 1000 companies are, with the market a little less reassuring outstate…)

Best Voting System In America!

They warned me that if I voted Republican, there’d be a wave of claims of voter fraud when ethnic minorities tried to vote.

And they were right!

GOP operative Heather Linville put it well on Twitter:

@H_Linville: Oh…. OK. So now voter fraud exists, because a democrat might lose her seat. Got it! http://t.co/CwKIYpMm3j #stribpol

From the Strib:

The attorney for Phyllis Kahn says he got word Thursday night; there might be hundreds of people who are registering and voting using an address that’s not their home.
Absentee voting kicked-off Friday morning in a hotly contested democratic primary race for the state house between incumbent Phyllis Kahn and Mohamud Noor.

Republican operator Heather Linville put it best on Twitter

@H_Linville: Oh…. OK. So now voter fraud exists, because a democrat might lose her seat. Got it! http://t.co/CwKIYpMm3j #stribpol

Stop me if you’ve heard this before (emphasis added):

Brian Rice, attorney for the Phyllis Kahn Volunteer Committee, claims there’s voter fraud.
“I think there is a coordinated effort to use this address to bring voters into the DFL primary election on August 12, that’s what I think is going on,” Rice said. “It’s wrong, it violates Minnesota Law, it’s a crime.”
According to voter registration records from the Secretary of State’s office and the DFL Voter Activation Network more than 140 people used 419 Cedar Avenue South in Minneapolis as their home address, when they registered to vote.
The address is for what’s called Cedar Mailbox Center. The building manager and mail center’s employees weren’t comfortable speaking on camera, but they said they were surprised by the allegations.

Of course, during the 2010 elections the Minnesota Majority noted scads of such irregularities – including nine people listing a laundromat as their “home” address.  The response?

“It can’t be!”

Why?

“We have the best election system in the country”. 

Until it’s Phyllis Kahn being defrauded, of course.

TANGENT:  Remember when the only reason to claim voter fraud was racism?  Why do Rep. Kahn and the DFL hate Somalis, anyway?

Solution!

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The legislature raised the minimum wage law.  Now the Governor says it may need to be fine-tuned.  Why the change of heart?

His sons own restaurants.  The minimum wage increase will hurt their business.  He should take a page from President Obama and issue an Executive Order exempting favored businesses from the law. 

Joe Doakes

It would at least be honest…

Surprise!

Minnesotans:  The Minnesota DFL is so proud of MNSure – their signature accomplishment of the past two years – that you’re going to have to sign up for it before you can see what it costs!

Representatives Tara Mack and Joe Hoppe got an op-ed in the Strib over the weekend.

This year Minnesotans won’t know the price of plans until MNsure’s next enrollment period begins on Nov. 15. They’ll have just four weeks to find a plan and complete enrollment.

State health and insurance officials agreed last year that a preview period was a positive step. Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said releasing rates early “increases transparency and allows individuals, families and small businesses more time to consider the options that will be available on MNsure.” MNsure Chairman Brian Beutner said: “The sooner that you can get concrete information … out is going to allow people to actually make some decisions — as opposed to generalized information.”

So why aren’t the Dayton administration and MNsure pushing for an early rate release again this year?

November 15?

As in, after the election?

But…why?  

It’s possible that those who built MNsure are afraid voters will see how much their insurance costs are going up before the election.

Yes.  Yes, I think it is just possible.

The media has been eating up the narrative that “MNSure is getting people insured!”.  But it’s costing an astounding amount of money and labor to do it, and most of them have no idea that the biggest costs of Obamacare/MNSure haven’t even set in yet.

And the DFL is going to keep it that way until after as many as possible of them have been duped into voting for Governor Messinger Dayton again.

Counting

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Five crashes result from mixing trains with cars in the same space.  So far.

You seem surprised. This is not a bug, it’s a feature.  The system is working as designed, to drive vehicle traffic off the streets.

Soon black market cars will steal away every chance they can, through back yards to alleys and dusty roads, working on their night moves.  The rest will be up on blocks.  To save the planet for the children.  And the bicyclists.

Joe Doakes

I’m surprised they didn’t mount a chisel plow on the front of the trains.

It’s doing wonders for traffic on Marshall and Pierce Butler.

It’s The Minnesota Way!

So you want to effect some change in Minnesota politics?  Perhaps right a wrong that you see?

What’s the best way to do it?

Spend years mustering supporters and changing public opinion?  Like the Tea Party?

Or sit in tents out on the sidewalk, warmed only by relentless NPR coverage, like “Occupy?”

Nonsense.  Just have a plutocrat father who had his office bought for him by your stepmom!

During an interview with the Post-Bulletin’s Editorial Board last week, Dayton said his sons Andrew and Eric Dayton have been making the case that tipped employees should be treated differently. His sons own the Minneapolis restaurant “The Bachelor Farmer.”

“It may be that we have to fine tune it. I understand my sons’ frustration with the tip credit issue. They make a very articulate case,” he said.

During the legislative session, the Minnesota Restaurant Association had pushed hard for a tiered tipped employee system. Under that proposal, an employee whose wages and tips equaled at least $12 per hour would be paid at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Dayton said his sons have said that the minimum wage increase means their wait staff will be making significantly more per hour than the dishwashers and other staff.

Wait…

…I seem to remember a governor’s race four years ago.  Where a candidate suggested exactly that.  And was pelted with pennies, to the gleeful tittering of the local media and left (ptr).

So the next time you’re a liberal dilettante and you find your hobby restaurant is being financially stressed by the DFL legislature’s innumerate noodling in the labor markets, just make sure an assembly of oligarchic plutocrats gets Dadders elected!

Problem solved!

SUPPLEMENTAL QUESTION:  By my count, this is the third or fourth law that Governor Messinger Dayton had to sign to know what it’d do.

ABM Flies Above That Circling Fin

SCENE:  In the office of “Governor” Mark Dayton, at the Minnesota State Capital.  Carrie LUCKING, Executive Director of “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”, is sitting at a large, mahogany desk.  She is leaning back, feet up on the desk, looking idly upward at the paintings and carvings that decorate the ornate office in the classical romanesque structure. 

Across from her is a larger, more ornate mahogany desk.  The nameplate says “Alida Messinger”; it shows signs of being only intermittently occupied. 

A knock is heard on a door leading to a small closet (off right).  LUCKING barely stirs. 

LUCKING:  What?

GOVERNOR MARK DAYTON (dimly heard through door):  Can I go to the bathroom?

LUCKING:  Go.

(DAYTON opens closet door, walked quickly, shoulders hunched through the door to the left, as Hannah UNDERLING, a staff assistant, walks in)

UNDERLING:  Er, Miss Lucking?  House Minority Leader Daudt is calling for hearings on MNSure.

LUCKING:  Put out a press release calling him “extreme”.

(UNDERLING makes a note). 

That’ll be all. 

(UNDERLING leaves). 

(Time passes.  LUCKING indolently pecks a message into her cell phone, until T. Giles HUMID, a highly trained puppeteer and member of the Governor’s staff, enters the room).

HUMID:  Er, Carrie…

(LUCKING clears her throat)

HUMID:  …er, Miss Lucking?  A group of of Saint Paul school parents are demanding better results from the public schools for their children.

LUCKING (staring idly at the ceiling, twisting her hair):  Put out a call to Keri Miller saying they’re…extreme. 

(HUMID takes a  note, leaves the room).

(There is a knock on the door).

LUCKING:  What?

GOVERNOR DAYTON (voice muffled outside the door):  Can I come in?

LUCKING (Bored):  Yes. 

(DAYTON walks past, stops at LUCKING’s desk)

DAYTON:  Say, uh…

LUCKING:  I’m busy.

DAYTON:  Ok.  (He walks through the closet door again)

(LUCKING, bored, starts folding an origami swan.  It quickly starts resembling a badly-formed paper airplane.  She wads it up and throws it in a trash can that is overflowing with wadded-up pieces of paper)

(Tina FLINT-SMITH, the Governor’s chief of staff and Lieutenant-Governor candidate, enters the room)

FLINT-SMITH:  Carrie, I’m going to be out at a town hall meeting in Cambridge, and I need a term to use to refer to the GOP’s criticism of our budget.

LUCKING:  I’d run with “extreme”.

FLINT-SMITH:  Um…OK.  Do we use that a lot?

LUCKING:  No.

FLINT-SMITH:  Um…OK.  (Leaves the room). 

(More idle time).

(Finally, UNDERLING enters).

UNDERLING:  Ms. Lucking, I got a request from some DFLers from Greater Minnesota.  They need some talking points during upcoming debates.

LUCKING (sounding bored):  DFLers from where?

UNDERLING:  Um, Greater Minnesota?  (LUCKING stares, not compreheding.)  The part outside the Twin Cities Metro.

LUCKING:  Huh.

UNDERLING:  They want to know – what do we call Sheila Kihne?

LUCKING:  Er…hm.  Let me think.  I’d say “too extreme!”

UNDERLING: OK.  How about Jennifer Loon?  The rep whom Kihne is primarying? 

LUCKING:  I think we should call her…too extreme!

UNDERLING (sotto voce while writing): …too extreme.  OK – how about Dave Senjem, from Rochester, the leader of the “moderate” faction of the GOP in the House?

LUCKING (absent-mindedly twirling a piece of thread):  Oh, he’s “too extreme”. 

UNDERLING:  Hmm.  OK.  How about Julie Rosen?   Republicans are constantly complaining she’s too moderate.  What is the message about here?

LUCKING (staring into space):  Too extreme. 

UNDERLING:  And how about Tom Bakk.

LUCKING (visibly bored):  Too extreme. 

UNDERLING:  But he’s actually the DFL’s Senate Majority Leader.

LUCKING:  Oh.

(Ryan WINKLER walks in)

WINKLER: Hey, I was talking with Colin Peterson. He’s getting a run for his money from Torrey Westrom. How’s about we call him “shortsighted”?

UNDERLING: Really?

WINKLER: What?  You’re gonna say that’s racist, too? 

UNDERLING:  You don’t know…?

WINKLER:  What?  He’s a black lawyer, too? 

UNDERLING:  He’s blind. 

WINKLER:  I don’t get it. 

LUCKING:  He’s too extreme.

UNDERLING:  Right…

LUCKING:  But we must counter him as well.  (Turns toward DAYTON’s closet)  Hey!   Find some Ray Charles glasses and a long white cane!

(Silence from behind DAYTON’s door)

LUCKING:  HEY!

DAYTON:  Ok. 

(And SCENE)

“Unexpected”

For the fourth straight month, Minnesota’s revenues came in below forecast – and the rate of the shortfalls is accelerating.  That is according to Minnesota Management and Budget, which is nominally non-partisan (but whose leadership depends on Mark Dayton for their employment, and whose rank and file work for AFSCME). 

Exactly as fiscal conservatives said they would.

Over the past four months, the shortfalls add up to over $200 million dollars – enough for a couple of Senate Office Buildings (hat tip: Ben Kruse). 

So what does this mean? 

Forward To The Past!:  Remember 2010?  When the DFL/Media harped on the “six billion dollar deficit” that two years of DFL control of the legislature had left us? 

The deficit that two years of GOP control in the Legislature erased and converted – in the year after the DFL took control, when GOP policies were finally taking effect – to over a billion in surpluses? 

The “D” word is back.  Oh, not that the Strib is going to make anything of it, not yet – not until there are Republicans to blame – but this adds new impetus to the predictions that the state budget – which the GOP dragged out of six billion dollars worth of deficit in 2011-2012 – is heading back to deficit in the budget’s off-year. 

So what does this mean?

Remember that $1.1 billion surplus that the DFL inherited from two years of GOP control?

Well, memories are all we have. If revenues keep falling at this rate, and the shorftall keeps growing at the rate it’s been accelerating this past few months, we’re going to be at over a billion dollars in deficits by the end of this year. 

And the worse news? 

Underperforming:  The budget forecasts were based on the projections of economic activity using the activity of the years of GOP control as a baseline, with growth predictions factored in.

The growth isn’t happening as predicted. 

So for all the DFL/Media’s happy talk about Minnesota’s economy, the MInnesota economy is like a Summit Avenue mansion; the main floor, where the Fortune 500 folks like Target, Best Buy, Ecolab, 3M and the like hang out looks just great – but the foundation is rotting away.

I Went To Rochester, And All I Got Was A Hotel Bill

People have asked me what I thought about last week’s GOP convention.

First things first:  I’m happy that Jeff Johnson won the endorsement.  I never, ever “endorse” candidates myself – it’s really arrogant, it’s hell on bookings, and who cares what I think? – but I was honestly torn between Jeff and Dave Thompson, and will be happy to support either of them, or Seifert, Honour, Farnsworth or Zellers for that matter, if they wind up on the ballot after the primary.   Dayton

“But what about the Seifert flap?”   My friend Ben Kruse, broadcasting at the lesser talk station, made waves by lighting up Seifert earlier this week.  I’m less certain; I think it was a tactical play that didn’t work, but may not necessarily have backfired.  It’s a long way to the primary. 

“How about McFadden?” I get the impression that the Norm Colemans and Vin Webers and other K Street eminimentoes who are behind the McFadden campaign are presuming that keeping a candidate enigmatic until the last final push to the election is a good tactic, starving the media beast of opposition research opportunities.  Part of me wonders if the tactic isn’t to keep him quiet now (when 1% of the electorate cares) until Labor Day (when maybe 10% cares), but sometime before the week or two before the election (when the vast majority start to pay attention).  It’s an interesting experiment, if that’s the case. 

I would urge McFadden to get straight with Minnesota’s gun owners.  They’re a big, organized, conservative bloc – and you do not want them staying home, or squandering their votes on some bobbleheaded Libertarian, come election day. 

More on the show tomorrow.

Rangers: They Hate You. They Really Really Hate You.

Why were the DFL’s array of sock-puppets out in such force writing about the GOP convention?

To draw attention away from their own, up in Duluth.

First came reports that the DFL were denying media credentials to reporters from newspapers that had criticized Dayton.

Which is one way of silencing dissent.

Another way to silence dissent?  Agree not to talk about the inconvenient truth – that the DFL is intensely split on  mining.

That’s what the DFL did at their convention in Duluth over the weekend; looked at the upcoming bloodletting between their ultra-liberal, metro-area base – which is as dogmatic a pack of environmentalists as you will find in Democrat politics – and the Iron Range.

The Range, of course, is Minnesota’s red-headed economic stepchild; an area of the state whose economy has been draggy since the demise of the US steel industry forty years ago.

Of course, there is an immense wealth of minerals under the ground in Northern Minnesota, putting thousands of underemployed miners back to work, and creating jobs for many, many thousands more in the many areas that support mining – everything from mine equipment maintenance to truck driving to convenience stores catering to people going to and from work.

But currently – thanks to DFL-authored environmental rules and business regulations – it is literally better business to load ore-rich rock into trains and ship it to North Dakota than to build a processing plant in Minnesota.

So while the DFL had only one significant endorsement battle – to pick a Secretary of State candidate – the battle lines were in fact forming to duke out the battle between blue-collar Rangers and the businesses what want to hire them on the one side, and plutocrat Metro-area environmentalists (including Alita Messinger, who bankrolls Minnesota’s environmentalist messaging as completely as she controls the DFL’s).

And the DFL responded the same way Brave Sir Robin did:

In the end, activists on both sides came to the microphones to urge hundreds of feisty dele­gates to delay the vote indefinitely, a remarkable showing for a party that has seen conventions erupt into damaging fights with political scars that can last decades.

“I think people on both sides understand that we can have respectful differences, but we need to make sure we don’t do anything that is going to take away from our candidates’ ability to win this fall,” said Ken Martin, DFL Party chairman. “So there was a lot of discipline here. People understand the ramifications of the issue.”

Well, we certainly hope they do.

Because those ramifications were:

  • To shut everyone up so that…
  • …the same pack of Metro-DFL hamsters that have been working to keep Rangers unemployed and on the dole can get re-elected in what should be a tough year for them.

In other words, “Just two more years, Rangers, and we’ll think about it.  Or four.  Or eight.  We’ll get back to you…”

And hopefully it’ll get tougher for the DFL.  Stewart Mills has a genuine shot at sending Rick Nolan packing over this very issue.  More than that?

Think about it, Iron Range.  This isn’t your grandfather’s DFL.  The DFL is controlled by Metro-area poshes who haven’t dug for anything but grad-school grants in their lives.  They hate your guns and hunting and outdoor life.  They hate your largely pro-life beliefs.  And above all, they hate what you and the generations before you try to do for a living.  You, Ranger, are to the Metro DFL what the black or Latino family, or women, are; reliable votes in exchange for cheap lip service.

Money – jobs, in this case – talks.

Iron Rangers should know what walks.

Doakes Sunday: Stasis

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Strib says we built 3,000 apartment units in the past year but the vacancy rate stayed at 2.5% and rent stayed below $1,000.

That means we’re adding apartments as fast as people are moving in, and that the people moving in are low-income.

Where are all these low-income people moving From?

And why does Minnesota want to build apartments for more of them?

Joe Doakes

Cheap labor?

Doakes Sunday: Killed

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Another feel-good law passed by Minnesota Democrat-controlled legislature.  If your cell phone is stolen, the cell phone company must do something to switch it off so thieves can’t use it.

Private industry already offers that service – you call the cell phone provider to report your phone stolen and they shut it off.

There are two ways to kill a phone: the Hard Kill that turns the phone into a brick permanently, and the Soft Kill that shuts it off temporarily, but we have no control over which option your cell phone company takes so if the phone is lost but recovered, it still may be unusable.

Worse, industry experts don’t think it’ll solve the problem because thieves can work around the shut-off with SIM cards and computer program.

Providing a mandatory service costs the cell phone provider money.  The state isn’t funding this service.  So your cell phone rates will go up to pay for other people’s carelessness.

The U of M Police Chief who claims guns are often used to steal cell phones on campus is LYING.  He must be, the U of M is a “gun-free” zone.

Joe Doakes

It’s amazing how little the DFL accomplished this past session that wasn’t entirely “feel-good”.

On The One Hand…

…if I did have a gun and a carry permit, I’d never carry openly.  Part of it is that is that it’s the sort of thing you want to keep under wraps if you ever need it.

Part of it is that the anti-gun movement has trained the weak-minded to be such incredible ninnies.

And part of it is that it is, to some people, a scary imposition.  And while I disagree with them, there’s no point in picking fights I don’t need to.

Indeed, there is a definite point to meeting people halfway in terms of perceptions.  When the group that eventually became GOCRA got organized almost twenty years ago, one of its ironclad rules was “No Camo”; nobody was to wear camouflage to any of the group’s events.  The point?  Help people see that shooters were like them, not like their stereotypes. 

So while I understand and respect the opinions of many of my open-carry activist friends – “a right un-used is a right easily abridged” - I’ll demur on carrying openly, since while there are as many good reasons to carry openly as there are to wear camouflage, there are exactly the same reasons not to. 

Don’t get me wrong; I disagree with Chipotle’s decision to ask shooters not to bring guns into its stores.  They’ve got a lot of customers to keep happy, and the bobbleheads who decided to use a Chipotle to stage their pro-open-carry protests ruffled some feathers. 

The Denver-based company notes that it has traditionally complied with local laws regarding open and concealed firearms.

But in a statement Monday, the company said that “the display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers.”

 Of course, it’s not really about complaints from real people.  There are professional ninnies involved:

The announcement came after a petition by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which has called on other companies to ban firearms in their stores as well.

 Of course, there are two dumb calls here; the “protesters” picked a fight they really didn’t need to – and Chipotle caved in to an astroturf group’s toothless yapping. 

That said?  I’m not boycotting Chipotle, for the same reason as David Harsanyi:

As a 2nd Amendment fan, I believe Chipotle is making a mistake. Yet, it isn’t exactly undermining our Constitutional rights by asking consumers to keep their guns out of their businesses. (Please read Charles Cooke’s dismantling of the perpetually confused Sally Kohn’s attempt to conflate two very distinct ideas.) Though Chipotle acted for the wrong reasons, it has every right to create an experience for its consumers that it finds safe and inviting.

Fact is, if the CEO of Qdoba’s was a libertarian plutocrat who supported all my favorite organizations, I’d still choose Chipotle because when it comes to food I owe more to a good product than a philosophically sound owner. Chipotle was founded on an exemplary idea and its execution and consistency have won my business — even when I disagree with its choices.

And here’s the key distinction, with emphasis added:

Now, if this company was forking over millions to some finger-wagging Michael Bloomberg-funded gaggle of authoritarians I’d would probably have to reconsider. But, as far as I know, that’s not the case.

 That’s the line, right there.

I didn’t patronize Minnesota businesses that posted “No Firearms” signs in the wake of the Shall Issue law passing in 2003.  Neither did so many others that the vast majority of those signs have disappeared. 

And I personally didn’t patronize Hewlett-Packard, Pepsi, Pizza Hut, KFC or Taco Bell when they donated big bucks to the Brady Campaign.  Either did hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of others – which is why those donations have evaporated.  Working to show up Moms Want Action’s! message as the vapid lies they are, and destroy their credibility with thinking people?  Goes without saying. 

But asking people to keep their guns out of plain sight in deference to the customers who may be hoplophobic ninnies, but whose money hits Chipotle’s bottom line with the same satisfying “ching” yours does? 

I’m not thrilled, but I get it.

Democrat Fatcat Largesse

Think you’re done paying for football?

Hah.  Dream on, peasant ripe-sucks.

Helga Braid Nation is doing cartwheels that “we” will be hosting a Super Bowl in 2018 at “our” stadium. 

And Mark Dayton is going to soak up whatever sunlight the event gives him among the “Happy To Have Someone Else Pay For My Bread And Circuses” set:

Dayton and members of the city’s bid committee held a news conference Wednesday to celebrate landing the Super Bowl. The NFL chose Minneapolis largely because of its new stadium.

Oh, yeah – even though none of us will be able to afford to attend this particular circus, we’ll all be subsidizing it:

The governor says the state has made no commitments for tax breaks to the NFL apart from a sales tax exemption for Super Bowl tickets that remains on the books from when Minnesota hosted it in 1992.

But Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, says organizers may ask for sales tax exemptions for some of the other festivities.

Here’s a note to Minnesota’s Republicans; here would be a great time to draw the line on the whole “limited government” thing.  Also the “subsidizing billionaires” thing. 

So the next time you find yourselves surrounded by The Walking Meat all dressed up in purple and pounding the Idiot Drums, think to yourselves; in 2012, Mitt Romney and a whole bunch of Minnesota Republicans lost, not because independents didn’t vote GOP – they did – but because conservatives, angry about serial betrayals on the whole “limited government” thing (Vikings stadia, caving in on budget hikes in 2011 before the negotiations even began, etc), stayed home in droves.

(If the Bears aren’t playing, I don’t care.  And if the Vikings are playing, I’ll bring Scarlett Johannson as my date).

Of Convenience, Part II

First things first.  I’ve got nothing against Hannah Nicollet.  If you go by what little she’s said in public about her political beliefs – she supported Ron Paul in 2012 – I probably agree with her 90-odd percent of the time.  Indeed, now that she’s been endorsed to run for Governor, my biggest dream is that she selects a Lieutenant Governor candidate named Lyndale, Hennepin, Franklin or Lake. 

So no – nothing against Hannah Nicollet.

IndyParty Gubernatorial candidate Hannah Nicollet

But I do have something against the Independence Party.

The party – which started as the Minnesota unit of Ross Perot’s “Reform Party”, and gained major party status with Minnesota’s great collective self-prank, the election of Jesse Ventura, and has held onto it by the skin of its teeth ever since – has been the traditional refuge of people who like their government big, but “good”.  Moderate Democrats like Tim Penny, liberal Republicans like Tom Horner, and lots of well-meaning moderates who like thinking big thoughts and playing responsibly with the gears and levers of government have flocked to the IP, if only briefly. 

It’s always been the party of the moderate wonk class. 

I – like most actual libertarians – have very little in common with the moderate wonk class. 

And since 2002, the party has been accused of existing primarily as a spoiler.  In the 2002 governor’s race, there’s a legitimate case to be made that the presence of former moderate Democrat Tim Penny siphoned center-left votes away from Roger Moe.  There’s an even better case to be made that left-of-center-left education policy wonk Peter Hutchinson may have cinched Tim Pawlenty’s razor-thin re-election over Mike Hatch in 2006.

Of course, the strongest case of all is that Tom Horner slurped up the traditional “Indepedent Republican” voter, all nostalgic for Arne Carlson and Dave Durenberger and pre-conversion Judi Dutcher, just enough to tip the scales for Governor Messinger Dayton.

And now, in 2014, when the headlines are jiggling with tales of fractiousness between the Ron Paul faction (not to mention the Tea Party) and the “establishment” of the GOP, into the midst of a race against a vulnerable DFL governor, comes Hannah Nicollet - who makes libertarian-sounding noises, and is being marketed directly at the “Ron Paul” libertarian faction in the GOP. 

Do I believe there’s some Democrat monkey-wrenching money from the likes of the unions or Alita Messinger involved?  Absolutely.  I can’t prove it, but I wouldn’t be in the least  surprised if it comes out at some point.  There’s a precedent for it.  It worked. 

But that’s not really the point of this post.  Not yet.

No – I’d actually like to ask (or have someone ask) Ms. Nicollet what she, personally and as a candidate being marketed to Libertarian Republicans, thinks of these bits and pieces of the “Independence Party of Minnesota” platform.

From the “Elections” section, the IP platform says…:

We support Instant Runoff Voting or another runoff process that allows us to vote our conscience and ensure that winners are supported by a majority.

So does Ms. Nicollet support a voting process that leaves ballots uncounted and, worse still for a “Ron Paul supporter”, makes the vote-counting process utterly opaque to regular voters? 

Or this:

We support partial public funding of elections to reduce candidate dependence on fundraising, thereby making politicians more independent and responsible to voters.

So the “Ron Paul supporter” would force taxpayers to pay for elections with the implicit threat of violence? 

We support the establishment of an independent nonpartisan commission to implement legislative redistricting.

Hiding more of government in more committee rooms promotes “liberty” exactly how?

And here’s the big kahuna:

Resolved that the IP support an amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution stipulating that candidates for public office can only receive financial donations from eligible voters who reside within the jurisdiction of the office they seek.

This violates the First Amendment in so many ways it’s hard to count them all.  Minneapolis gun owners and Benton county pro-marijuana activists would be cut off from campaigning with support from groups from out of district?  (While any government or trade union can filter money anywhere they want via any variety of subterfuges)? 

Not only does this not support liberty, it is actively hostile to it. 

In the “Prosperity and Quality of Life” section, the IP says…:

We are dedicated to fiscal responsibility and insist that our tax dollars be spent with restraint and care, but our goal is also for a bright future, and so we are committed to: supporting economic growth, excellence in education, access for all to quality and affordable health care, investing in an efficient transportation infrastructure, protecting the environment, and providing efficient energy resources.

The IP, in other words, sees a vital role for government in economic intervention, education, healthcare, transit, environmentalism and green energy. 

Which was a big part of of the “don’t”s section on any Libertarian policy checklist. 

Along the same vein, under the “Supporting Economic Growth” section:

An important role of government should be to support commerce and invite corporate investment in the state by assuring reasonable taxes, a well-educated and productive workforce, good transportation infrastructure, and an excellent health care system.

OK, that one is open to interpretation; hypothetically, that could be interpreted as “by getting out of the free market’s way”. 

Anyone wanna place bets on that? 

Or this one here:

We believe that many rural economies are challenged by a lack of access to the highest quality telecommunications, technology and transportation. We support policies that will allow rural businesses to compete effectively in the global economy and we also support government initiatives to assure that affordable and state-of-the-art internet connections are readily available to all citizens.

Government intervention in the telecom industry is, at the very least, a matter of picking winners and losers (anathema to the liberty-minded), and a big boondoggle waiting to happen. 

Not to mention the nanny-statish subsidies inherent in this…

We believe in funding the research, development, and promotion of new value-added products and processes using Minnesota farm products.

Next, we move to “Education”:

We support government funding, standards and incentives that also reward advanced achievement, improving the education of our “average” students, and realizing the full potential of all students..

So not only is the IP – the banner under which “Libertarian” Hannah Nicollet is campaigning – a full supporter of the current, one-size-fits-all, nanny-state factory education model, but it supports starting the indoctrination bright and early:

We believe early childhood programs will generate excellent returns on investment by reducing future, more expensive educational needs and developing better-educated and more productive citizens.

Even the GOP “Establishment” is smarter than that. 

Onward to “Transportation”:

We support further development of a fully integrated, multimodal transportation system that could include automobiles, light and high speed rail, personal rapid transit (PRT), and High Occupancy Vehicle, high-speed bus lanes.

Even given the context of a state that has not only embraced but french-kissed Big Government for the past seventy years, Transportation policy may be the issue where Minnesota has gone to third base with complete nannystatism.  The Met Council has near-dictatorial authority over local jurisdictions, and is, and has been, run by a bipartisan assortment of people utterly friendly to the idea of using transportation to take “urban planning” out of the hands of the market and give it to the bureaucrat. 

And the IP – Hannah Nicollet’s party – enshrines this noxious statist ideal in its platform. 

In the “Environment” section, the platform is vague enough…

We support strong enforcement of environmental protection laws.

…to mean anything to anyone; it covers everything from preventing oil spills to stifling mining in perpetuity. 

What would “Doctor Paul” think?

And finally – the “Liberty, Justice and Security” section of the IndyParty platform says…

…well, stuff about legalizing pot (whatever), separation of church and state (natch) and…

…nothing.

Silence on government’s recent attacks on the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth and Tenth Amendments. 

Why?

Because while constitutional Libertarians live and breathe these issues, they’re issues on which the IndyParty as a vested interest in strategic silence. 

So the question is, Ms. Hannah Nicollet (or anyone who deighns to answer for her, the endorsed candidate of a major Minnesota political party), how does she square her endorsing party’s positions on these platform issues with her erstwhile Libertarian beliefs, and with the fact that she is being marketed to Libertarians? 

And to you Libertarian-leaning GOP (and Libertarian) voters at whom Ms. Nicollet is currently targeted; you folks gotta admit, you’re long on talk about “principles”.  So do your “principles” tell you that having a “libertarian” candidate marketed to you by a rankly statist party might be ever-so-slightly…

…cynical?  Unprincipled? 

Calculated?

More to come.

Continue reading

Of Those With Cow, And Those With Moo

This session, Senate File 2639 (and its house companion, HF3238) have been the subject of a lot of misunderstanding (including on this very blog).   The bills would define how local authorities enforce federal law regarding dealing with firearms in the hands of those accused of domestic abuse.

The bills have also been the subject of an amazing amount of grandstanding rhetoric.

We’ll talk rhetoric first.  Then we’ll talk about the bill.

Aiming Low:  Representative Tony Cornish has, for a long, long time now, been the prime mover for Minnesota’s Second Amendment movement in the Legislature (after the retirement of Pat Pariseau).  Nobody has ever, ever called him “soft” on Second Amendment issues and escaped without being laughed out of the conversation.

But Cornish isn’t stupid.

After the debacle of the 2013 session – where the DFL marched into the legislature with reams of gun-regulation and confiscation bills copied and pasted from California, New York and Pennsylvania, and got publicly humiliated by the “Army of Davids” that the Minnesota gun rights movement mobilized, and a bipartisan assortment of pro-Human-Rights legislators – the anti-rights crowd, led by a more capable batch of professional politicial consultants and armed with shopping carts full of Michael Bloomberg’s cash, came to the Capitol with a brand new plan.  Their goal; find an emotional, red-meat issue that crossed party lines and would involve ratcheting up some sort of gun regulation, to eke out a win and help take the stench of death off of gun-control political efforts.

And there has been no better year since the seventies for the DFL to try to jam something down.  Remember – the DFL controls both chambers of the Legislature, and the Governor’s office.

All they’d have to do to pass any law – magazine restrictions and backdoor registration, to say nothing of taking guns from those accused of domestic abuse – is close ranks.

The fact that any such move would be political suicide is the result of two decades of organizing by the Minnesota 2nd Amendment movement – GOCRA, the MN-GOPAC, the NRA, the Twin Cities Gun Owners, and more. 

But politics is a two way street.  Both sides can play it – and Michael Bloomberg and the Joyce Foundation bought themselves some consultants who know how to play.

Remember – Tony Cornish, and all the other pro-human-rights legislators, are facing a DFL majority.   To avoid getting steamrolled, one of two things is needed:

  • Being OK with being steamrollered, or
  • canny negotiation.

Cornish and the rest of the pro-human-rights lobby chose negotiation. 

We’ll come back to that.

We Interrupt This Story For Some Law  – Domestic abuse is no laughing matter.  The law provides victims of domestic abuse some remedies under the law.  It also provides those accused of domestic abuse with the the right to due process.

Here, more or less, is now the process works (and every situation is different, so curb your inner lawyer.  Or outer lawyer, if you went to law school):

  1. Joe alleges his spouse, Jane, is beating him.  He goes to get a restraining order
  2. A judge signs off on an ex parte order (which means “one party”) “order for protection” (OFP).  The OFP prohibits contact (to say nothing of abuse) between Jane and Joe.  Firearms are, however, not an issue – yet.  It’s a temporary order, until the hearing (aka “due process”)
  3. Joe has Jane served a copy of the OFP.
  4. Jane has the option to request a hearing to review and contest the order.   She can (and probably should) bring a lawyer – it’s serious business (this, by the way, is the part many accused of domestic abuse skip, which screws things up for them badly).
  5. If  the judge believes, after the hearing that Jane is a significant threat to Joe’s safety, the judge may make the order “permanent” (which really means generally three years or so).
  6. If the order finds that the threat is really serious, the federal “Wellstone Amendment” may prohibit Jane from possessing firearms.

And it’s here that the contention slips in.

SF 2639 and HF 3238 were originally given to the DFL by Michael Bloomberg’s organization.   I’m not sure that Alice Hausman would have been arrogant enough to submit the bills in their original form,  which did not allow those accused any due proces at all, with guns required to be stored elsewhere as soon as the complaint was filed, before any hearing took place. 

Power Changes Everything - Like its namesake, the “Wellstone Amendment” is big on pronouncements and short on details.  It says those accused of a certain level of domestic abuse shouldn’t have firearms.  It leaves the details to the states.

And the original versions of the two bills, as sent from Michael Bloomberg’s organization, did terrible things with those details;  they would have invoked the Wellstone Amendment when the initial, temporary order was invoked (i.e. before any hearing), required the accused to store their guns with the police (for a “reasonable” fee that would be anything but in real life) and served as de facto gun registration.

And in a state like New York or Connecticut, with a weak or nascent gun rights movement, that’s exactly what would have passed.

But Minnesota’s Real Americans have spent the past two decades organizing one of the most potent grass roots movements in the state.  It’s a movement that has swayed entire elections in the past (the 2002 House race).  And after the humiliations the DFL suffered in 2013, they figured they weren’t going to get away with the ”loud and stupid” strategy favored by the likes of “Moms Demand Action” and the like.

So the DFL came to the gun rights movement, looking for a solution that would give them a “win” on domestic violence, but not stir up the hornet’s nest needlessly.  And the movement – GOCRA, the NRA and the like – gave them the solution.  To return to our example above, Jane will need to store any guns she owns with friends, the police, or a licensed dealer, but only after the hearing for the permanent order.  The new bill will require Jane to transact this within three days, and for the police to notify the judge two days after that.

No guns move before “due process” – a hearing, with counsel – has taken place. 

Ever. 

Let’s make sure we’re clear on what just happened – and I’m going to put this in loud blue text to make sure everyone catches it; even though the DFL controls both chambers and the governor’s office, they had to come to the Gun Rights movement to get some form of their bill passed.   And the bill got turned from Michael Bloomberg’s fascist nightmare into something that can exist in a free society. 

It wasn’t perfect.  But when you’re outnumbered two chambers to none, and have a DFL governor who will follow whatever way Big Left pulls his leash, “perfect” isn’t an option.

Everyone’s A Kamikaze With Someone Else’s Plane - When you walk into a restaurant, and see two items on the menu – peanut butter sandwich, and lard sandwich – you can try to order a Porterhouse with a baked potato.  You can order it, and order it, and order it again.  All it’ll do is give you a pissed-off waitress, and no food at all.

And that’s the strategy that some “gun rights” groups, including Iowa-based “Minnesota Gun Rights”, took.   They spent the session demanding that the pro-Second-Amendment minority impale itself on demands to completely reject the legislation – which was the “porterhouse steak” option in a restaurant full of peanut butter and lard.

Their “plan”:  pretend that fuming and spluttering and making grand pronouncements and handing the DFL a cheap chanting point for the fall would be anything other than an invitation to a catastrophe for liberty. 

This, of course, gives us not only the prospect of watching a Michael Bloomberg-penned bill get signed into law and the wholesale violations of rights that would follow, but to the Democrats going into the fall elections with reams of Alita-Messinger-paid ads saying that GOP legislators “voted to give guns to wife beaters”.  It’s a message that only the stupid would believe – but as the 2010 election showed us, there are 8,000 more stupid Minnesotans than smart ones.  And that’s all they need to maintain control of the House – giving the DFL even more time and power to jam down even worse gun laws.

And worse, in its way?  These astroturf groups engaged in “blue-on-blue” campaign that was either deeply stupid or intensely cynical, trying to brand not only the GOCRA but Tony Cornish as weak-kneed on gun rights.

Over a bill that was going to pass in some form no matter what anyone did, but which the DFL had to come to the Gun Rights movement for anyway.

Representative Cornish, writing on Facebook, gave us perhaps the best quote there is on the subject:

When the train is coming down the track, it’s admirable to stand and raise the middle finger, but…sometimes it’s better to do the damned best you can to change it’s route and avoid a much less desirable fate.

And those were the only two choices;  throw a finger at Bloomberg, get run over by the train, and have a law that would allow people’s Second Amendment rights to get run over as well – which isn’t even a symbolic victory, since it would make taking back the House that much harder – or enact a bill that basically gave a framework to federal law that protected due process.

When you get a choice between peanut butter and lard, take the peanut butter.  And this fall, find a better restaurant.  One with some cooks that know how to cook a porterhouse.

Correction

A spokesman from the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance responds to Joe Doakes’ piece this morning.

The letter from GOCRA follows, with added text bolded by me:

———-

Doakes is referring to the modifications to 518B.01 on page 4.

At 4.16, you can see the existing language:

4.16 Subd. 6. Relief by court. (a) Upon notice and hearing, the court may provide
4.17 relief as follows:

and at 6.16, in the same subdivision, here’s where the new language starts:

6.16 (g) An order granting relief shall prohibit the abusing party from possessing firearms
6.17 for the length the order is in effect if the order (1) restrains the abusing party from

Due process is preserved.

———-

In the chaos of this past few weeks, I’d missed the final version of the bill. 

It’s not perfect – but as the spokesperson says, due process is preserved.  And in a session where the only thing that separates “good” laws from “bans on magazines over seven rounds” is canny and tenacious negotiation rather than slogineering in pursuit of prinicple, it’s really the better of many possible endings.

UPDATE:  More on this story tomorrow.

The Harsh Reality

NOTE:  As noted in a subsequent post, Mr. Doakes is in rare error about the effect of the bills he refers to.  Please see the linked post for the response from GOCRA – which includes comments from Joe Doakes indicating that he misread the law.

Unlike some bloggers, I never remove posts – but I will make sure the context is clear. 

———-

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Amending the statute relating to loss of firearms rights.

Allegation of child abuse – must have actual notice of the hearing so you can attend to contest issuance of the order.

Conviction for domestic abuse, stalking – you lost your case at trial, so you had notice and could contest the verdict.

Standard ex parte 518B.01 domestic abuse restraining order – no such requirement. Your domestic partner complains and you instantly lose your right to possess any firearms, for self-defense or hunting or anything. You don’t even have to turn in the firearms – the court must order the cops to go to your house and seize them, without a warrant.

It already passed the House so it should become law this session. Ripe for abuse and unlikely to save lives. But who will stand up against it?

Joe Doakes

“Standing against” it is the easy part.  Derailing a DFL political train, not so much.

The state is full of gun groups (some of them actually based in Iowa) that “stand against” this bill, loudly and with impeccable principle.

The problem, of course, is getting the votes to force changes to the bill.  Some of the most noxious provisions did get stripped out early (back in March), but the DFL is waiting with the “What you support wife-beaters?” line at a moment’s notice.  Count on it.

And remember – they have the votes, and leadership that owes Michael Bloomberg a victory, even a small one, after all the money they poured into this state in the past couple of years.

So some version of this bill is going to pass.

And if you’re a gun owner, the only solution is taking back the legislature with actual pro-Second-Amendment legislators.

Not posturing.  Not bellowing about principle, or demanding a “constitutional carry” bill in a DFL-controlled legislature where we barely avoided a seven round magazine restriction last year.

UPDATE: More on this story tomorrow.

Be Thankful, Peasants

Two billion in new taxes.

A 1.2 billion dollar surplus (thanks, GOP majority from 2011-2012!), which means “unexpected” money collected in taxes, and is money that is lost from the economy.

That’s a total of $3.2 billion extra dollars sucked out of the Minnesota economy – about $600 for every man, woman and child in the state, or close to $1,000 for every taxpayer.

And we’re supposed to be thankful that the DFL majority deigns to “give” us $550 million “back”.

That’s about 17 cents on the dollar.

If you gave your cashier a $20 bill for a $15 meal, and you got 85 cents in change, I’m going to guess you wouldn’t be “thankful”…