Petition

Senate File 32, as proposed by Senator Branden Petersen in the current session, would basically reiterate the Fourth Amendment…

…which is good, because the last couple of Presidents, going back to Clinton, have put the Fourth Amendment on life support.

The bill would require law enforcement and prosecutors to show legitimate probably cause before doing any electronic eavesdropping.

Senator Ron Latz, of course, controls the Senate Judiciary Committee.  And he apparently believes that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

Please sign this petition urging Senator Latz to bring the bill up in committee for an up or down vote.

Because it would be good to know where our Senators stand on privacy and, y’know, freedom.

 

How To Get Ahead In Minnesota Politics

So late last week, Governor Dayton appointed 34 year old Adam Duininck to head the Met Council – the unelected, unaccountable body that has dictatorial control over metro-area land, transit and growth policy.

Duininck is taking the job as the Legislature prepares to increase its scrutiny of the Met Council, which in 2015 has an operating budget is $936 million.

But he said his top priority will be to define the role of the Met Council to local government officials.

Over the next few weeks, Duininck intends to visit with citizens and local elected officials across the metro area aiming to allay their concerns that the Met Council isn’t listening to them.

Actually, I suspect the best way to do this would be to actually listen to citizens and local elected officials.

But this post isn’t about the Met Council, per se.  It’s about the workings of the DFL machine.  Emphasis added:

Duininck 34, has represented Minneapolis on the 17-member Met Council since 2011, and largely focused transportation issues. He also has a career in DFL politics, serving as executive director for Win Minnesota, which raises money to help elect Democrats.

Let’s be clear:  ”Win Minnesota” is the fundraising arm of the MNDFL’s noise machine; it collects money from the usual DFL suspects – public employee unions, plutocrats and the like – and distributes it to the likes of the “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”, the DFL’s attack-PR wing.

Oh, yeah:

Duininck also is married to Jaime Tincher, Dayton’s Chief of Staff.

Which is, of course, becoming a bit of a Dayton Administration tradition; one of Dayton’s previous chiefs of staff was married to the boss of the Alliance for a Better Minnesota.

This bit made me laugh:

Dayton said he considered Duininck’s political and family ties before making the appointment.

Oh, I just bet he did.

And to make it even worse? 

But the governor said Duininck was endorsed by plenty of people — including current Met Council members, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, several state lawmakers and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who represents Minnesota’s 5th District…He was the overwhelming recommendation,” Dayton said. “So he got selected by me despite some other issues that I knew would be raised and are going to be raised — because he’s the best person for the job.”

Of course he was.

When the DFL says “jump”, he’ll say “off what?”

Golf Clap

The House GOP caucus is making some encouraging noises these days; speaker of the house Kurt Daudt is putting the kibosh, for the session, on funding for the Southwest light rail pork train:

Daudt said the 16 mile light rail line is not a priority for House Republicans .

“We are not interested in moving forward on the Southwest light rail project. I think we need to get real with our priorities in Minnesota on how we spend our transportation dollars. Our plan is to spend them on roads and bridges.”

Gov. Mark Dayton said he isn’t willing to fund the Southwest Light Rail project until the Minneapolis Park Board’s objections are resolved. The park board is funding a study to determine whether a deeper, more expensive tunnel is a better option to protect city parkland than the Metropolitan Council’s plan that features a shallow tunnel.

Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said Senate Democrats are committed to funding the project.

Dibble, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, released his transportation funding package today. It would rely on $800 million in new revenue through a wholesale gas tax hike, and higher license tab fees. The plan also borrows $576 million for new roads and bridges and includes a half cent sales tax in the metro area to pay for transportation projects.

It’s good to see the House GOP come out of the gate taking a serious stance on something.  It’d have been nice to have seen more of this during, say, the Vikings Stadium jamdown, but better late than never.

More importantly?   The GOP controls half of a third of Minnesota’s government.  We get it – negotiation and compromise is going to be involved.  But it’s so good to hear House GOP leadership smell the coffee, and stop leading negotiations with the “compromise”.

Status Quo Ante

While this blog has repeatedly referred to Sally Jo Sorenson of Bluestem Prairie as “one of about five Minnesota liberal bloggers that don’t deserve police surveillance” – not the highest compliment I can give, but the highest warranted under the circumstances – one should not presume that I agree that Ms. Sorenson will go out of her way to tell a story that the DFL doesn’t want, or  pay to have, told.

So with yesterday’s post about the Minnesota Senate “tightening” media credentialing rules, which was signal for including just the bits that fit the DFL’s narrative about media and communications:

Via David Montgomery’s post at the Pioneer Press’s Political Animal blog, MN Senate tightens rules for press credentials and The Uptake’s MN Senate Tightens Media Credential Rule, we learn that ““individuals affiliated with a political organization” can no longer be credentialled as journalists or keep their press pass at the Minnesota Senate.

Now, the mainstream press is noplace to get information about this issue, since they’ve been blissfully above it all from the beginning.  And the Uptake has a bit of a conflict of interest, as it was the DFL’s favoritism toward them (they gave credentials to the stridently partisan Uptake, but denied them to conservatives) in 2010 that led to the whole “Senate Media Rules” fracas in the first place.

Back when the GOP took over the Senate in 2011, then-Senate-GOP-comms guy Michael Brodkorb convened a working group to come up with new rules for media credentialing.  I was part of the group, along with David Brauer.  And we did a really good job; they were among the best, fairest rules in the country, balancing the investment the big mainstream media outlets had made in coverage with the access for alternative media sources.

And to prevent the system from being hijacked by the parties, the rules barred people who were on party payrolls from getting credendialed.  Period.

In 2013, the DFL took control of the Senate:

Montgomery reports:

That’s a pretty broad definition, but the background appears to be related to a blogger named Shawn Towle, who received a Senate press pass while also being paid by the Senate DFL.

Republican senators made a stink about Towle in April of 2014, putting out a press release accusing DFL leader Tom Bakk of “secret payments” to Towle.

Introducing the proposed change today, Bakk described it as “something the rules committee had considerable conversation about near the end of the session last year.”

In other words, Bakk is reiterating the process that we came up with in 2011.  With a great deal of noise, he returned the Senate to the rules it had before.

Thank goodness.

One presumes that the DFL will find some way to sneak Towle, their favorite hit-piece writer, into the room – but it’ll be the traditional Democrat way; rules be damned!

And that is the rest of the story.  

Marching Orders

As we get ready for tomorrow’s beginning of the 2015 Legislative session, Senator Dave Hann gave the state a pretty fair look at conservative GOP priorities in an open letter to Governor Flint-Smith…er, Dayton in the PiPress over the weekend.

The whole thing is worth a read.  I’m going to pullquote the bit on education, which sounds like a little Scott Walker might just at long last be leaking across the border, thank God:>

Republicans will also be ready to consider bolder ideas and reforms such as breaking up our large urban school districts into smaller and more nimble organizations, able to better focus on solving our persistent achievement gap. Empowering parents and local school boards through public-employee-union rules reform and expanded school choice options are tools other states are using effectively. Every year there is talk about closing the achievement gap. But the policy of the DFL is always the same: increase spending. Every year we get the same results: flat or declining achievement. It borders on criminal to tell half the parents in Minneapolis we’ve improved education by providing more expensive schools from which their children will not graduate.

The whole letter is music to my ears – provided the GOP delivers on it (and prevails over the DFL majorities in the Senate and Governor Flint-Smith’s…er, Dayton’s partisan obstruction.

Hann was silent about the elephant in the room (for conservatives, at least), and perhaps justifiably so, from his perspective; the need for the GOP majority in the House to hold, or at least work hard to try to hold, the line on spending – especially the mindless pork-mongering that marred the GOP’s generally decent performance in the majority in the 2011 and 2012 sessions.

Wanna fire up the base?  Get the House caucus to chug a down some of whatever Scott Walker has for breakfast, sack up, and tell Governor Flint-Smith…er, Dayton where to put those proposed spending increases; show the “targeted tax breaks” (aka, swag to DFL constituencies) off to a place where the sun rarely shines.

Be, in short, what you were elected to be.  You were sent to office over the peoples’ revulsion over tax hikes, spending orgies, losing our doctors and our clinics and spending days signing up for MNSure, union money-grubbing from childcare and home care providers, and building useless trains while our roads flake away into impassability.

Remember that. Seriously.

 

Targeted

H2O –  two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen – makes water.  You drink a lot of it daily.

H2O2 is Hydrogen Peroxide.  It just adds an extra oxygen atom – but if you drink it, you’ll get sick; it’s toxic.

They lookalmost the same – but they are very different, just with the addition of that one little Oxygen atom.

Little changes mean a lot.

Like Crack Whores With A Stolen Credit Card: Minnesota has a “billion dollar surplus” – meaning that the state is on track to take in about a billion dollars more than even the DFL planned to take in after jacking taxes up by two billion dollars in the last two sessions.

Now, back in the nineties, we had surplus after surplus after surplus.  And the largely DFL-controlled legislature, aided and abetted by Governor Arne Carlson (who was an old-school “moderate” Republican, who’d probably be a “moderate” DFLer today, if any such thing existed), turned every single one of them into permanent spending – which is a little like finding a $50 bill on the street, and adding $50 to your monthly entertainment budget as a result.

But it’s a new year, and another decade.

Notwithstanding the fact that the GOP wave largely skipped Minnesota (except for the House races in Greater Minnesota), the aftereffects are still being felt in Saint Paul.  There’s less of the triumphalistic talk about equalizing society through taxation that the DFL gave us in the last two sessions.

It’s Such An Innocent Little Word: But make no mistake; the DFL wants to turn the surplus into spending.

They’ll call it “targeted tax relief”.

The phrase is a clever one; it includes the phrase “tax relief”, so the average Minnesotan will see “tax relief”,and assume that their taxes are going to be, y’know, relieved.

But “targeted” is to “tax relief” as “extra Oxygen atom” is to “water”:  it turns it from an unalloyed good into a cudgel of DFL social engineering.

Governor Flint-Smith Dayton has her his fingerprints on some of it:

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s already made it clear that child care tax credits are on his list.

Currently, about 38,000 families receive the credit. Dayton said he wants to lift the income eligibility to include 137,000 more families. He said the cost would be $175 million over two years.

“The state program is capped very low and phases out very quickly,” Dayton said. “It really doesn’t reach working middle-income, one- and two-parent families. Talk about tax reduction that benefits the middle class — that to me is probably one of the most significant things we can do.”

And isn’t that just like the state of Minnesota – spend two years trying to force daycare providers into AFSCME, and then making taxpayers pay for it again?

Just Hand It Over: In the meantime, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk has different ideas:

Bakk said tax reductions will compete with other spending proposals during the budget-writing session, and he said the final product won’t satisfy everyone. He said he favors tax relief targeted to economic development in struggling areas of the state.

And by “struggling areas of the state”, he means the Iron Range, which after 50 years of being put out of business by DFL policy still votes DFL, and wants the rest of the state to pay for it.

Anyway – “targeted tax cuts” are to “tax cuts” as “H202″ is to “H20″; they are another term for “payoff for DFL constituencies”.

Number Soup

The new GOP majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives is going to try to capitalize on the red/blue, rural/urban divide down which the votes broke last month.

This is a mixed bag of good and bad – more about that later today – but we had a little blast from the past in the reporting on the subject.

One of the left favorite mediums in discussing America’s culture war is one floated most famously by the loathsome Paul Krugman in the middle of the last decade – The idea that Blue America pays more taxes, and Red America is a net consumer of government, taxpayer paid aid.

Krugman’s thesis ignores a lot of inconvenience details; the effect that massive amounts of federal land and military bases in sparsely populated states has on calculating net government “aid” (as if the wing of B1 bombers in North Dakota are as good as cash in the pocket for the locals), to say nothing of the distorting affected the sheer numbers in the various farm bills. Not to mention the fact that blue America has higher per capita income (not to mention cost-of-living); suddenly, Paul Krugman opposes progressive taxation?

In reporting on the Minnesota GOP’s new tack, Minnesota public radio Tim Pugmire notes:

The latest numbers from the nonpartisan Minnesota House Research Department show the seven-county metro area pays 64 percent of the state’s taxes and gets back 53 percent of the major tax aids, credits and refunds. By comparison, the 80 non-metro counties pay 36 percent and get back 47 percent.

seems like a pretty cut and dried number, right?

So how much of that disparity was a result of road and farm spending in sparsely populated counties?

How much stems from the state’s decades of spending truckloads of money on the iron Range, where the standard of living and per capita income is relatively low, but state spending is extremely high?

Or from the significant disparity in income and cost-of-living between the Twin Cities and the rest of the state?

What might be a more useful comparison; compare different types of spending per capita between the Metro and greater Minnesota: The metro might be getting pretty seriously shorted on agriculture spending – but I’m going to guess the per capita transportation spending has shifted greatly towards the metro in recent years.

The point? Like Paul Krugman’s misleading black and white comparison of two numbers, the real story is a lot more complicated than the media is showing you.

How Can You Tell “Moms Want Action” Is Lying?

Oh, please.  Like I even need to finish the punch line.

But some of you have been under rocks for a while (vide Governor Messinger’s Flint Smith’s Dayton’s re-election).  So for your benefit:

“Their lips are moving, and/or their fingers are typing something”. 

To wit:  Moms Want Action sent out a post-election thank-you to their supporters (and quite a few Real Americans who get their updates as well):

Many thanks to those of you who made hundreds of phone calls in support of Sen Al Franken. His re-election means that both of our US senators are lawmakers who support gun-sense legislation. Gun violence prevention was not a major campaign theme for any federal candidate, [And why do you suppose that is? - Ed.] although a few did mention it. Notably, US. Rep. Betty McCollum’s campaign materials called it out, and state attorney general candidate Andy Dawkins of the Green Party did, too (McCollum won re-election; Dawkins failed to unseat Lori Swanson)

Side note:  Betty McCollum runs in a district that would elect a wheelbarrow full of manure to Congress, if the DFL endorsed it. 

And what Moms Want Action failed to tell you is that while Lori Swanson may be an interventionist, activist who’s continued her predecessor and mentor Mike Hatch’s policies on nattering away at private business, she is one of the better state AGs in the country on gun rights.  So the Moms would be more honest to say that the pro-gun candidate utterly destroyed the only AG candidate who explicitly mentioned support for gun control and the Bloomberg Oompa-Loompas. 

But here’s the big one.  I’m bolding it for emphasis:

All of Everytown’s endorsed candidates in Minnesota won re-election. Yay!

Oh, did they? 

Follow the link to Everytown’s extraordinarily badly-designed site.  Look for “Filter by State”, and select “Minnesota”. 

Scroll down. 

Do you see Will Morgan?   “Moms Want Action”/”Everytown” offered him endorsement; the then-incumbent was arrogant enough to figure he didn’t need the votes of pro-2nd-Amendment Real Americans to win in District 56B. 

And Roz Peterson absolutely brutalized him with an eight point upset win.

So what is it we say, again?

“If a gun-grabber group says it, it’s probably a lie”. 

Pass the word.

An Idea Whose Time Is Long Overdue

This is from a piece of constituent mail, reprinted on a Minnesota legislator’s facebook page:

What do you think about replacing the word “free” to read “Taxpayer Funded” in all goverment paper and documents?  Like instead of schools “Free” lunch program, it would read “Schools Taxpayer Funded Lunch Program”.  It would be more truthful. 

I say submit the bill and run with it, hard.

Giving Them Ideas

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Modern cars have computers that act like a Black Box data recorder and the data can be used as evidence against you in court. The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently upheld the conviction of a woman charged with Reckless Driving, based on data the State Patrol downloaded from the computer inside her wrecked car after the accident.

I’m seeing a market for a Black Box Eraser device. Involved in an accident? Afraid it might be your fault? Push a button and ZAP, the Black Box memory is wiped and can’t be used against you. Order before midnight tonight. Don’t leave home without it.

Joe Doakes

I bet Alice Hausman reads this and submits a bill regulating such devices in the Transportation Committee before the next session.

Creative Dissension

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

It’s be wonderful if Minnesota would strengthen its Constitutional protection of gun owners, as other states have. I’ve pointed out for years that the level of scrutiny is the key to winning court cases.

As was noted in the comments, adding “and we really mean it” to the Constitution does nothing when the judges are routinely ignoring the law, and the legislature won’t pull their funding to bring them into line. That’s what we need in this state and this nation: a good old-fashioned constitutional crisis. The Congress and the Minnesota legislature need to shut things down. Stop funding the court and the Executive Branch until they come into line with the powers enumerated in the state and federal Constitutions. Yes, we’ll get ripped in the media, but we’re going to get that anyway so we might as well get something for it.

Won’t happen with compromisers like Mitch McConnell in charge, of course; but if we can keep sending Tea Partiers, maybe someday . . . .

Joe Doakes

The hope is what keeps me in the GOP.

The “Governor” Dayton Pool

UPDATE: The contest now has a prize.

The winner of this contest gets a $150 gift certificate at the St. Paul Grill. So you can eat – for a night, anyway – like the DFL plutocrats who rule you!

Gift certificate courtesy the sponsorship of…

… Well, I can’t actually say. They want to remain anonymous. I can neither confirm nor deny that it’s the Koch brothers. I can also neither confirm nor deny that is Grover Norquist.

RULES UPDATE: When the prize was nothing but bragging rights, I wasn’t going to fuss too much about duplicate entries.

However, now that there’s an actual prize, I will allow people with duplicate entries to make one change to their submission.

——-

Now, if you’ve followed Minnesota politics this past four years, you know that Mark Dayton has been “Governor” is the same sense that Danny Bonaduce was the “bassist” for the Partridge Family.  He’s been a marionette, a flapping jaw revealing the will of the special interests who installed him in office.

And his health is not at all good.

And once he cut the crap and made it official by bringing Tina Flint Smith on as his running mate (putting Yvonne something or other out to pasture), the plan’s been pretty much common knowledge:  ”Governor” Dayton is going to resign and turn the office over to Tina “The Butcher” Flint Smith.

The only real question is when.

And that calls for a pool.

The Pool:  Pick the date that Mark Dayton resigns from office.  Whoever is closest wins, and earns – I dunno, a drink from me when we have another get-together.

Closest – before or after the actual retirement, counted in calendar days – wins.

Leave your predictions in the comment section, in the form of a date and year.

Example:  July 1, 2015 (that’s my prediction, BTW).  I’ll make sure this thread gets saved for the long haul – not that I (obviously) think we’ll need to save it for that long…

The deadline will be the beginning of the next session.

UPDATE:  See current selections and standings here. 

 

The Sweetest Win

One of the brighter spots in Tuesday’s proceedings was the crushing victory of Peggy Bennett over Shannon Savick in Albert Lea. 

It was an old-fashioned whooping – 53-40.  Not even close.  And that was with an Indyparty candidate who took 6% out of the race, likely mostly from Bennett. 

I’m still doing the end-zone happy dance in my head. 

Shannon Savick was one of the DFLers from Greater Minnesota who supported Michael Paymar and Alice “The Phantom” Hausman’s gun grab bills in the 2013 legislature. 

And she was one of the DFLers who joined Hausman and Paymar in getting up and theatrically walking out of the hearing room when the Real Americans of the Second Amendment movement started their testimony against their proposals.  Indeed, the DFL made a shameful spetacle of ignoring their opponents’ testimony.

Watching their bills – and all of their support from Michael Bloomberg – go down to whining, piddling defeat – was sweet.  And it was what mattered most.

But seeing Shannon Savick tossed out of office with all the ceremony of a day old egg salad sandwich is right up there.

OK, Ms. Savick.  NOW you may get up and leave the room.

UPDATE:  It wasn’t just Savick – and it wasn’t just in Minnesota.  Gun grabbers were crushed nationwide.  It was lopsided in the Senate, of course – but the most astounding progress was among governors.

To sum it all up?  The NRA-endorsed candidate won in Maryland

Perhaps bigger, but definitely more subtle?  The flip of the Senate will at least slow down President Obama’s ongoing campaign to pack the Federal Appelate courts with gun-grabbing activists. 

It was a good Tuesday for Pro-Second-Amendment Real Americans from coast to coast.

Democracia Ahora!

¡Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

When I went outside this morning to put up my American flag, a pickup full of illegal immigrants stopped to ask if this is where they vote Democrat For Immigration Amnesty. No dude, that’s the Rec Center down the street. And they don’t open til 8. Yes, ocho. Yeah you have a good day, too.

In Saint Paul, the line between satire and truth is so gray and blurry, it hardly exists.

Profile In Courage

The DFL Legislature raises business taxes.  Governor Dayton scuttled away from his party.

The DFL legislature’s idea for plundering taxpayers to pay for Zygi Wilf’s real estate improvements – “E-pulltabs” – raised roughly 1/1000% as much money as it was supposed to.  Governor Dayton huffed and puffed and blamed it all on other people. 

The DFL raised the minimum wage, without adding a tip credit for restaurant workers who frequently make many times more than a “living wage” from tips.  Governor Dayton quietly tossed the idea partly under the bus when his sons pointed out it was hurting their restaurant. 

When people started talking about legalizing marijuana, Governor Dayton was for it before against it before he was for it before he was whatever he is today. 

Dayton favored releasing sex offenders, before he opposed it, before…oh, hell, I don’t know.

And Dayton took great pride in MNSure before he washed his hands of it.

Oh yeah – and although the administration he largely appointed and which reports to him was busted trying to jockey MNSure’s premium rates, Governor Dayton apparently pleads complete ignorance

It’d be great if someone in the Minnesota media would press the Governor on this – but of course, he isn’t talking with the press this week.  Not that anyone in the press would ask him if he were talking to the press. 

The GOP has been railing – correctly – on Dayton’s competence. 

The competence of MInnesota’s press may be the bigger issue.

Mills: Didn’t See That Coming

The Strib endorses…

Stewart Mills in CD8.

I must confess, I didn’t see it coming – and reading the Strib ‘s piece, I’m going to guess they didn’t either:

Among the district’s immediate challenges is a choice between two imperfect candidates for Congress. On balance, we conclude that this changing district would be best served by a fresh voice, and we give the endorsement edge to retail executive Stewart Mills.

One wonders how often the Star Tribune specifically notes candidates are “imperfect”. I imagine it’s less of a surprise to most readers than the Star Tribune may believe.

One charge relentlessly leveled at Mills is that he is the beneficiary of inherited wealth through his family’s Fleet Farm empire. But we doubt that many Minnesotans really consider such a background a disqualification from public office.

While it would be a bit much to expect the Star Tribune to attack the DFL for making Mills’s wealth – for which he worked – an issue while endorsing a trust fund baby for governor, one could always hope.

Still, the endorsement does go on to tell Mills’ story fairly:

Having begun his Fleet Farm career scrubbing toilets and emptying trash, Mills today is vice president in charge of the chain’s health care plan, covering 6,000 employees and their dependents. He has developed a hands-on understanding of the intricacies of the health care marketplace, coming to see wellness and prevention as keys to controlling costs.

Mills says his objections to the Affordable Care Act are central to inspiring his run for Congress. His candidacy follows what he calls the “Hunting Camp Rule”: If you complain about something, you get the job of fixing it. His condemnation of the ACA is too sweeping, given that he backs the law’s key goals. But the market-based approaches he prefers — including more price transparency and tort reform — could contribute to needed improvements in the law.

I know, I know – I shouldn’t complain too hard; the Star Tribune just endorsed a relatively free-market conservative.

But would a little honesty, or at least economic literacy, kill the “newspaper of record”? (Emphasis added):

Mills is challenging Rep. Rick Nolan, who returned to Congress in 2012 after a 32-year hiatus. Nolan lists several accomplishments, including working with Minnesota Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar in securing $10 million in federal funds for improvements for the Port of Duluth-Superior.

Nolan has been a leader in efforts to clamp down on foreign-made steel dumping in this country. He has also worked to expand invasive species protection in the Great Lakes. And he says he’s committed to campaign finance reform and efforts to improve the legislative process.

Nolan’s “accomplishments”, in other words, involve coughing up taxpayer. goodies for the special interests in his district.

Speaking of special interests:

We differ with Mills on a number of issues — not least on his unyielding stance against firearm regulation.

Running in the Eighth Congressional District? That’s a feature, not a bug.  So, by the way, is supporting the Constitution.

But here’s how we know it’s really, really a Star Tribune endorsement (emphasis added):

But we’re also persuaded that Mills has the intelligence and pragmatic instincts to learn, grow and adapt in office.

Mr. Mills – I hope you get elected. And that you then resist “growing in office” with every fiber of your being.

If elected, Mills will face a learning curve in Washington. But he has the energy, the zest for ideas and the deep commitment to northern Minnesota to make a success of it.

Yeah, it’ll take a lot of learning to get up to the level of a Nancy Pelosi or a Sheila Jackson Lee.

But those are the marginalia. It’s an endorsement. It’s only a newspaper endorsement, but it’s the last thing I ever expected.

Joe Persell: Context Goes Both Ways

The big DFL strategy in this election, so far, seems to be to scare to death the voters who they haven’t bored to death.

There was a debate on Wednesday in Bemidji.  Since a couple of districts – 2A and 5A – are in play in the Bemidji area, candidate from both were apparently in the ring.

The topic turned to gun control:

In response to a question on gun control, [HD2A GOP challenger Dave] Hancock said shooting incidents usually occur in places where guns are banned.

“If we look we look at the areas where tragedy has occurred with guns, they are usually in gun-free zone(s),” he said. “Where you have people armed and carrying concealed weaponry, the criminal in use of a gun thinks twice.”

That’s pretty much the fact.  Hancock got it right.  No surprise there.

Here’s where it gets interesting – and when I say “interesting”, I mean “A DFLer starts saying things that misinform the uninformed”.  The DFL’s Joe Persell responded to the question; I’m going to add emphasis:

Persell disagreed, saying carrying weapons can exacerbate tense situations.

“Folks that are out there carrying, playing cop … I don’t think we want them to be doing that,” he said. “There’s more instances of people being killed because they are carrying, and they think somebody said something nasty, and they felt threatened, and so they shot them.”

Really, Rep. Persell?

I wanted to ask Rep. Persell to name one example of either of a Minnesotan…:

  • being killed because they were “playing cop”
  • killing someone who “said something nasty” to them.

Conversation:  I sent Rep. Persell an email asking for clarification.  He contacted me, saying he’d been taken out of context in the Bemidji Pioneer.  We wound up having a conversation last night.   I pointed out that there has never been such a case involving a legal post 2003 carry permit holder in the state of Minnesota (although there were a few incidents with pre-2003 permits – the ones issued by sheriffs).

Rep. Persell told me that the conversation referred to the Second Amendment as a general, nationwide issue, and that he was referring to cases like those of Michael Dunn, the Florida man who shot a teenager over, the court case said, “loud music”.

Those cases certainly grab the headlines – the media, being left-of-center and largely anti-gun, makes sure they do.

But even those lavishly-publicized incidents are exceedingly rare.  I ran the numbers, nationwide, a few years ago; in a typical year, a carry permittee is two orders of magnitude less likely to commit any kind of crime than the general public.

So while Persell wasn’t “lying”, per se, he was focusing attention on a type of incident that is exceedingly rare in real life.   While his original quote in the Bemidji Pioneer may have been out of context, the context of his remark is misleading and inflammatory.

The problem with guns, statistically, nationwide, isn’t a guy with a carry permit killing someone unjustifiably.  It’s the thousands of criminals without permits who kill people without regard to the law at all.

Hope that word gets out…

Continue reading

“It’d Be A Shame If Your Insurance Company Were To..Break, Or Something”

The reason Preferred One – provider with all of the least-expensive plans in the MNSure exchange – left the exchange last month, giving most of its subscribers a 60+% increase in rates to keep a MNSure plan, was that they were basically strong-armed into providing the unsustainable low rates to begin with:

Sometime after the insurer PreferredOne submitted its proposed rates for the first year of the MNsure exchange, state regulators asked the company to consider lowering the numbers.

Ultimately, the insurer responded with “a total rate decrease of 37 percent”, according to a July 2013 letter from an outside actuary to the company.  Those final rates were the lowest in the Twin Cities – and across the country, in many cases – and helped PreferredOne to grab nearly 60 percent of the MNsure business.

 

Now, those subscribers face an average premium increase of 63 percent if they stay with PreferredOne — a yo-yo scenario that health policy experts say points to the challenge in setting prices under the federal health law. The big swing also suggests that the low prices were out of step with the reality of the business.

 

“This was the first year of a new market, so no one knew what they were bidding on,” , said Gary Claxton, a vice president with the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation. “That means it was hard to create the rates, and it was hard to review them.”

 Here’s the deal:  as Representative Zerwas pointed out on a morning radio show today, Preferred One is keenly aware that the MNSure board – a political board, composed (per statute) of absolutely no people from the  healthcare or health insurance industries – can decide who does and doesn’t get to participate in the exchange. 

Which gives them a lot of power when, for example, they tell a company like Preferred One  to kick the tires on an unsustainable rate structure. 

 

 

Calibrated

Back in 2006, they told us that electronic voting machines were going to be an easy, non-transparent way to hijack elections. 

And they were right:

Republican state representative candidate Jim Moynihan went to vote Monday at the Schaumburg Public Library.

“I tried to cast a vote for myself and instead it cast the vote for my opponent,” Moynihan said. “You could imagine my surprise as the same thing happened with a number of races when I tried to vote for a Republican and the machine registered a vote for a Democrat.”

The conservative website Illinois Review reported that “While using a touch screen voting machine in Schaumburg, Moynihan voted for several races on the ballot, only to find that whenever he voted for a Republican candidate, the machine registered the vote for a Democrat in the same race. He notified the election judge at his polling place and demonstrated that it continued to cast a vote for the opposing candidate’s party. Moynihan was eventually allowed to vote for Republican candidates, including his own race.

There’s a simple answer, of course:

 “This was a calibration error of the touch-screen on the machine,” Scalzitti said. “When Mr. Moynihan used the touch-screen, it improperly assigned his votes due to improper calibration.”

“I’m not robbing this bank, officer; I’m just doing a bad job of calibrating the safe”.

“That’s not a crack pipe under my seat, officer; its a poorly-calibrated CPAP mask”. 

“Those weren’t dead people voting; just poorly-calibrated living people”. 

I’m not going to say the Democrats are a criminal syndicate.  I’m just wondering how they’d have to behave any differently to be one…

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.

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.