Chicago on Lake Superior

In lieu of a mining industry – which Metrocrat environmentalists from the Twin Cities have been keeping nice and shut down for decades – the DFL substitutes a lot of state money to try to tease some economic activity out of the Iron Range.

Part of that, traditionally, is the cataract of money that has gone through the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board – more commonly called the IRRRB, but more accurately referred to as a “Taxpayer-financed DFL Slush Fund”.

The Strib’s Jennifer Bjorhus will never do lunch in Minneapolis again, having written this generally excellent piece.  The IRRRB may not have reinvigorated The Range, but they sure have greased a lot of DFL palms (emphasis added):

For years, prominent Democratic candidates and political groups have used the obscure center tucked among hills and pines to canvass and raise money from small donors. DFL organizations, state and national, have paid the phone bank’s current and former owners about $80 million over the last decade, campaign records show.

The call center relocated to Eveleth in 2006 thanks in part to a $625,000 loan from a unique state agency called the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB). It doles out about $40 million each year, much of it from a tax on taconite, in the name of bolstering and diversifying the Range economy.

In its first incarnation, the call center on the Range failed to meet job targets, but the IRRRB gave the company, Meyer Associates, more time to repay the loan. It shut down anyway last year. The IRRRB let Meyer’s owner walk away and wrote off the $250,000 Meyer owed, records show.

Then a former Meyer executive reopened the phone bank under the name of his new company. The deal allowed him to pay $50,000 for equipment that had been purchased with $500,000 in IRRRB money. The largest political client for the call center remained the same: a group called Dollars for Democrats.

Of course there’s a rational explanation!

Officials at the IRRRB say jobs, not politics, are behind its dealings with the two firms.

“There’s still 100 people working there,” said former state Rep. Tom Rukavina, a DFLer who served on the IRRRB board for years and once hired Meyer to make calls for his own campaign. “That to me is a success story. Any time I went in that office people clapped and thanked me that they had a job.”

So should the taxpayer provide cut-rate financing and pennies-on-the-dollar equipment and infrastructure for the GOP?  The NRA?  Pro-Life Action?  The Tea Party?

If the IRRRB weren’t a DFL slush fund, and an equal opportunity graft machine, you’d see some equal-opportunity gravy-training.

Somehow, there seems to be none…

Chanting Points Memo: Our Collective Burden

I got a brief shot at listening to the Jack Tomczak show this morning, on the lesser talk station.

They were talking about Minnesota’s “budget surplus”.

And they played an audio clip of Gov. Dayton, which pretty completely summed up the disconnect the DFL has on this issue.

In the audio clip, the governor referred to the surplus as “our collective good fortune”.

And this highlights a yawning golf of cognitive dissonance between DFLers (and others they’ve fooled) and the rest of Minnesota.

To a DFLer, budget surpluses are borne down from heaven in velvet-lined ivory chests on the wings of unicorns.

To the rest of us? The government’s “surplus” is our deficit. Every penny of that surplus came from what could’ve been a more productive use. Small business’ payroll; a manufacturers capital budget; your household budget and mine.

It’s not a “collective good fortune”; it’s a burden. It’s money taken out of the productive economy to run government, in excess of what government demanded in the first place; if the DFL has its way, it will be turned into permanent spending, to be wrenched from your wallets, your budgets, your bottom lines in perpetuity.

Surpluses are a bad thing. Deficits – provided they lead to spending cuts, rather than tax hikes – are a good thing.

Except for the permanent government class, of course.

Trial Balloon

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Obama Administration wants to ban popular rifle ammunition on the grounds it could be used in handguns.

We saw this under Clinton, too, with the “cop killer” bullet craze and fear of Thompson Center pistols. Then, as now, it was all cover for a ban they wanted all along.

I saw this ammo at Cabellas a while back and thought “I should stock up, for when case they ban it.” But of course, I didn’t own a .223 so I didn’t buy any. Crap, another million dollar investment opportunity, wasted.

Joe Doakes

On the other hand, if you are, or know, a lawyer, litigating the inevitable test cases will no doubt put some peoples kids through Ivy League schools…

It Gets So Very, Very Old

It gets old, always, always, always repeating “if a conservative said this, the media would collectively crap a cinder block”.

But it’s always true.

But former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg said something that would put him squarely in David Duke territory; emphasis added for the dense and dazed:

“It’s controversial, but first thing is all of your — 95 percent of your murders and murderers, and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all of the cops. They are male, minorities, 15 to 25. That’s true in New York, it’s true in virtually every city in America,” Bloomberg is heard saying in the newly released audio.

And his prescription?  Well, it’s meant to sound a little more benevolent than something a Klansman would say, but spiritually it’s the same exact thing:

“That’s where the real crime is,” he added. “You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed. First thing you can do to help that group is to keep them alive.”

“Keep them alive” – by disarming the victims.

Forget dog whistles; this piece is full of racist foghorns.

And it puts an exclamation point on the most important premise related to the gun control issue today; it is today, as it was in 1968, and 1866 and 1842, an instrument of keeping ethnic minorities disarmed, helpless and in “their place”.

Rarely as they as obliging as to say it in as many words, as Bloomberg is recorded saying (and the media is doing its best to scrub all mention of the tape’s existence); even Heather Martens is smarter than that (thus far).

Do the world a favor; make sure a black DFL voter hears this.

Of Hats And Clowns

The liberal noise machine that largely spent eight years calling George W. Bush “Bushitler” is worked up into a lather because a St. Paul Pioneer press reporter referred to the practice of constantly taking “selfies”(using a snap of Sselfieaddict Pres. Obama as his example) as making one look like a “assclown.”

Sports reporter Kevin Cusick, who wrote the blurb, later walked it back, apologizing for the use of the term, and changing it to “self absorbed celebrity.

He was right both times. I’m not fond of the term “assclown” – or its dumber cousin, “asshat”, both of which sprang out of a trend in the early days of blogging to jam terms together more or less at random to try to insult people. There are many more artful terms that can and should be used.

But while the occasional selfie is a harmless indulgence, Cusick was right the first time; the President is starting to act a little bit like Miley Cyrus.

A Bargain At Half The Price!

I was listening to Jack Tomczak talking with AFSCME’s Javier Morillo on the lesser talk station yesterday, about the Dayton pay raises.

Morillo said, out of one corner of his mouth, that there is no way you could find people in the private sector who deal with headcounts and budgets like these administrators do, at the same pay, even with the raises.

And there may be something to that.  Most people who can hold their own in the private sector and look for more out of a career than a pension (outside of law enforcement and fire, the military, teachers and a few other fields) look at government work as a purgatory of eternal frustration and career stagnation.

But out of the other side of his mouth, he said that the salaries still aren’t competitive with the private sector.

So if the salaries are not competitive, the “talent” still isn’t going to get attracted from the private sector (or, apparently, local government). So why have the raises?

It doesn’t make sense as a “talent acquisition” measure; Morillo admitted as much.

But as an expanded payoff to the political class?

There, it makes perfect sense.

Money In Politics: Talk Dirty To The DFL

The DFL is in the midst of an extended campaign of sniveling about the amount of money in politics.

A look at this list of independent expenditures registered from the 10 Minnesota House races that flipped last election shows you why:

The DFL spent more.  Sometimes a helluvva lot more.  And it didn’t work.

IMG_3251.PNG

Courtesy John Rouleau of the MN Jobs Coalition, via Twitter.

The candidate with the most indy spending in each race is color-flagged.

Of 10 races, DFL groups outspent GOP groups in eight of them, notching a little over 10% more independent spending.  And that doesn’t even tell the whole story.

  • Remember all the whining Zach Dorholt did the Twin Cities media did on Zach Dorhold’s behalf about big money in his district?  His independent expenditures were 20% higher than Knoblach’s.
  • The GOP spent more on Peggy Bennet than the DFL wasted on Shannon Savick – by about $4,000.  That speaks to what a terrible campaign Savick ran, and what a lousy term she had in office – and the power of the grass roots that turned out to bounce her.  Don’t screw with the Second Amendment outstate!
  • On the other hand – Erickson vs. Hancock (over 2:1 in favor of the DFLer) and Fritz vs. Daniel (almost 3:1 for the DFL?)  Holy cow.
  • Against that, the GOP indies only outspent the DFL in two of the flips; the Bennet/Savick race, as already noted, and a 15% margin in the Heintzelman/Ward race.

So no wonder the DFL is so concerned about rationing money in politics; theirs didn’t work.  They need less competition.

Smarter Than Our Leaders

Back during the 2008 presidential campaign, John McCain was right about one thing, anyway; despite all of governments foul-ups the fundamentals of the American economy are basically strong.

We have ideas, and entrepreneurial energy, I don’t labor force that (2008 and 2012 elections not withstanding) we’re pretty smart and capable, and one of the worlds larger, wealthier consumer markets. Those, among other things, give the American economy’s a degree of resilience that is going to be hard to extinguish, even after 14 years of flagrant overspending and six years of crypto-socialism.

That’s the economy. Not the governments massive piling up of debt. That’s a whole ‘nother thing.

Why does it matter? Because the fact that the American private market is bigger, stronger, and smarter than its government – for now – may be the only thing that saved it from complete collapse six years ago.

Above All That

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

President Obama isn’t Un-American, he’s Post-American.

Before the Constitution, people living here were subject to the whims of the British Crown.

While we’re living here, we’re supposed to be citizens of a democratic republic; but that’s too confining for a person who has the vision and power to stop the seas from rising and start the Earth healing.

We’re headed into a Post-American era, where national geographical boundaries will no longer matter. Anybody who wants to move here should be able to, and should be able to work here, too. And President Obama’s new pick for Attorney General agrees it’s totally legal and constitutional legal and Constitutional for the President to up and decide that, on his own. Worse, she won’t rule out the possibility that President Obama’s actions give illegal aliens greater rights to jobs than American citizens, like Veterans’ Preference points, only for soldiers in the other side’s army.

I wouldn’t mind so much except I keep wondering what else will change in a Post-American era. Will life here become like Europe after the Fall of Rome? That might not be as much fun as some people seem to think.

Joe Doakes

“Progressive” have seen themselves as “post American” for a long time; it was one of the key factors of the 2004 election. It didn’t work for John Kerry; I think people basically ignored it with Barack Obama.

Compare And Contrast

In the State of the Union, President Obama poo-poohed the jobs that would be created by the Keystone XL pipeline as “temporary construction jobs”.

Yet six years ago, his “economic recovery plan” relied on “shovel ready” “infrastructure” jobs that were also “temporary construction jobs” (except for the “permanent government management” jobs, which would go as patronage to members of the political class, natch).

And at the speech, the President asked “Why not have thirty times as many…” of what?  Temporary construction jobs working on “infrastructure” (along with thousands more patronage gigs administering the mess).

Indistinguishable

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Got this fundraising e-mail today. I think there’s a flaw in the proposal but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

***

Dear Friend

Our country is in trouble and we need your help in a big way. The rich are cheating this country of a Billion Dollars of tax revenue EVERY MINUTE.

Right now, federal tax law supported by Republicans is costing the government at least 50 cents – and in some cases as much as 72 cents – out of every dollar earned. By closing the payroll tax loophole, Democrats in Congress could fully fund every vital program to invest in infrastructure, eliminate racial inequality and prepare our children for the future.

All it would take is one simple fix in the payroll tax laws, setting the amount of withholding equal to total wages earned. And it would affect only a small number of Americans – fewer of them every day – but the Evil Republicans backed by the Koch Brothers are blocking this common sense reform.

Tell Republicans to Give Congress Back its Money! Tell Republicans to Close the Payroll Tax Loophole!

And please help us spread this urgent message by contributing $100, $50 or even $25 today. Your contribution could make the difference between saving the country and letting the terrorists win.

***

Joe Doakes

it’s so hard to tell truth from parody these days…

So In Other Words…

…our semi-retired President is going to propose paying for “free” communithy college for everyone…

…by taxing peoples’ savings to put their own kids through college?

Two points, here.

Face Value:  If we take the  President at his (ostensible) word, that means the nation’s community college system will inherit the worst of both worlds; the government control that’s made the public school system such a sclerotic disaster, and the financial firehose that’s led to the “higher education bubble”.  And let’s not even concern ourselves just now with the deepening ideological conformity that this would impose on the higher ed system?

What could possibly go wrong?

Shelf Life:  But fear not.  As with everything else in Obama’s presidency, it’s not about educating young people.  It’s about trying to demigogue the education issue, to give the Democrat Party a chanting point in the next election.   Republicans who vote against taxing people who saved for education to benefit those who didn’t is an ideal demogogueing point.

And that’s really all there is to Obama’s “free community college” proposal.

Pick Your Staging

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Why wasn’t President Obama in the photo of world leaders at the massive Paris march protesting the Charlie Hebdo killings?

Maybe he was at the REAL march and missed the fake photo staged at a completely different place?

No, he wasn’t, but I can’t blame him. I wouldn’t have blown off a golf game to fly over for a lame photo op, either.

It’s all Potemkin Villages with these people, nothing is ever what it seems.

Joe Doakes

Potemkin it’s not just a battleship anymore.

Sense And Insensibility

Barack Obama is highly unpopular in the military.

And yet many of his policies are going over just fine among the troops:

The long-term effects of Obama’s social policies on the military remain unknown. But one thing is clear: He is a deeper unpopular commander in chief among the troops.

According to a Military Times survey of almost 2,300 active-duty service members, Obama’s popularity — never high to begin with — has crumbled, falling from 35 percent in 2009 to just 15 percent this year, while his disapproval ratings have increased to 55 percent from 40 percent over that time.

And before someone chimes in “it’s just anti-gay bigotry in the military, angry over the lifting of the sanction against gay troops”…:

A Military Times poll in 2009 found 35 percent of troops felt that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve in uniform. Five years later, that figure has jumped to 60 percent.

Similarly, open opposition to homosexuality in the military has collapsed. In 2009, 49 percent of troops felt gays, lesbians and bisexuals should not be allowed to serve. In 2014, such disapproval fell to just 19 percent. 

Or against women in combat?

From 2011 to 2014, the percentage of survey respondents who felt that all jobs in combat arms units should be opened to women remained unchanged at 24 percent.

But the percentage of troops who felt some combat-arms jobs should be opened up to women — while allowing the military to continue to place some jobs off-limits — increased from 34 percent to 41 percent, while the percentage of respondents who felt the military should not change its policies excluding women from combat arms units fell from 43 percent in 2011 to 28 percent in 2014.

I’m going to suggest that while his policies may not be unpopular among the military, the fact that he’s a terrible leader is.

Fox In Henhouse

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails

Muslim Congressman whose election was funded by terrorists is named to House Intelligence Committee with access to data on Muslim terrorists.

Shouldn’t be a problem. Remember all the Japanese-Americans appointed to War Committees after Pearl Harbor?

At the very least, it’ll save ISIS the bother of hacking into CentCom to find out what the US knows.

Joe Doakes

To be fair, there were all sorts of German-Americans intimately involved in wartime policy during both world wars.

Congressman Ellison’s problem is not that he’s Muslim; there are plenty of American Muslims who are just as American as the next guy.

It’s the fact that his relationship with chair were sponsoring organizations is “nuanced”: while he doesn’t come out of directly say he supports Hamas, preferring to claim to “support the Palestinian people”; he leaves it to the less informed to figure out on their own that “the Palestinian people” are led by Hamas, which killed off most of the competition, and allows little to no dissent.

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

If you still needed proof that Establishment Republicans were just as committed to status quo as Democrats, this would be the clincher.

Joe has a point – although I’m going to wait to see how the GOP conference votes on actual policy issues, rather than internal niggling.

If they screw the pooch on Keystone XL, IRS hearings, defunding Obamacare and the like, wake me up.

Misery

Young people are more miserable than ever under Obama, according to the “Young America Foundation” misery index:

Youth unemployment in 2014 was 18.1 percent (18.1 on YMI), with almost six million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 not in school or work. Many young people are simply giving up on finding employment.

Student loan debt for 2014 rings in at a record-breaking $30,000 (30.0 on YMI). Student debt has risen at an average of six percent per year since 2008, and today, 70% of college seniors graduate with student loan debt. In addition, the job market still hasn’t recovered, leaving many recent graduates with little or no income to pay back their loans.

National debt per capita for 2014 is the highest it’s ever been at $58,437 (58.4 on YMI). Young people will be stuck paying for government debt they had no part in creating, and they’ll have to do it with less discretionary income than ever before because of record-high levels of student loan debt.

Add it all up, and the YMI comes out to an astonishing 106.5 up from 98.6 in 2013.

I think the index needs to weight unemployment higher – it’s a much greater contributor to personal misery than the national debt, which is pretty abstract to most people (so far).

But it remains a fact that the kids that voted for Obama have got to be regretting the choice, someday soon here…

Mission Nearly Accomplished

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails to urge us to “pretend”:

Pretend for a minute that President Obama doesn’t believe the United States ought to be a superpower, that it ought to be equal with other nations (not a big stretch – that belief motivated the Atom Spies to give nuclear secrets to the Russians and no doubt is shared by billions of people worldwide, today). How would he go about bringing America down to second or even third-world levels following the model of, say, Argentina?

  • Alienate traditional allies. Check.
  • Weaken military power, numbers and morale. Check.
  • Nationalize major industry. Check.
  • Weaken domestic energy independence, increase foreign dependence. Check.
  • Widen wealth gap. Check.
  • Reduce earners, increase idlers. Check.
  • Use government employees to intimidate political opponents. Check.
  • Crush middle class with regulations and taxes. In progress.
  • Debase the currency by printing money. In progress.
  • Debase the citizenry by flinging open borders. In progress.

So what’s next on the agenda? What will it take to bring the USA down to the economic, military, social and political level of, say, Spain?

Joe Doakes

About the only thing he hasn’t done is enlist Visigoths and Vandals into the military as auxiliaries.

Diminished Expectations

In 1981, Ronald Reagan had to deal with a fairly sharp, intense recession, with some fairly intense “negative growth”:

1981 Q04: -4.5895

1982 Q01: -6.5220

1982 Q02: 2.1923

1982 Q03: -1.4300

For those of you who weren’t around back then?  It was a nasty little downturn, especially coming on the heels of the sluggish, stagflation-addled seventies.

1982 Q04:  0.3890

1983 Q01:  5.3465

1983 Q02:  9.4443

1983 Q03:  8.0625

1983 Q04:  8.5095

1984 Q01:  8.1868

1984 Q02:  7.2118

Long before he started stretching the Constitution out of shape, Obama broke one other, less formal rule – really more of a truism:  as a very broad rule, sharp recessions, left on their own, tend to have sharp recoveries.  Reagan’s recession was a sharp, intense one, accompanied by the worst unemployment since the Great Depression (only tied in late 2009 by Obama’s recession).

And Reagan got out of the way, and let the market heal the economy (except of course the defense sector – but then, that’s never part of the “free market”) heal itself.

And it came roaring back much bigger and better than ever.

Obama, of course, took office in the midst of another sharp, intense downturn.

And six years later, he’s doing the end-zone happy dance as he claims a 5% growth in GDP.

Now, let’s presume for a moment that that 5% “growth rate” is organic (although it most assuredly is not).

It’s six years into a sharp recession.   Left to its own devices – without “Quantitative Easing”, without “Too Big To Fail” and skyrocketing energy prices, without Obamacare – we should have been seeing much better growth than this…

…in 2010 or 2011.

But during the Obama Recession, like the Great Depression, the economy was left to pretty much the opposite of “its own devices”.

Replay

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Rush Limbaugh said, about President Obama: “I hope he fails.”

Naturally, he was ripped for it by every liberal and by every mushy RINO trying to make nice with the press.

Read the linked transcript.  It’s surprisingly prescient.  Looking back on what Obama has wrought these past six years, my question is: was Rush right?  Should we hope President Obama fails in his effort to completely destroy the America that I grew up in?

Joe Doakes

Politically-correct or not, I certainly have been.