Berg’s 11th Law Is Also Inerrant And Immutable

The Strib endorses John Howe for the CD2 congressional seat currently held by John Kline.

Nothing against Howe, who was a capable legislator and an estimable mayor of Red Wing – but this endorsement is a classic example of Berg’s 11th Law:

Berg’s Eleventh Law of Inverse Viability: The conservative liberals “respect” for their “conservative principles” will the the one that has the least chance of ever getting elected.

Jason Lewis is the endorsed candidate, with immense name recognition and a record as the father of modern Minnesota conservatism.  Darlene Miller is John Kline’s preferred candidate.  The fourth, the putative Trump-supporting candidate Hey Look At Meeeee, along with Howe, rounds out the field.

I’ll be interviewing Jason Lewis this coming Saturday on the NARN, by the way.

While In Duluth Tomorrow

I’ll be broadcasting live from the GOP State Convention on Friday from 6-8PM, and again on Saturday fro 1-3PM.

I’m neither a delegate nor a member of the State Central Committee, so I won’t be voting on anything

But I will be doing my level best to help any group that seeks to limit the power of the Judicial Elections Commission.  Perhaps not end the JEC, per se – but in exchange for leaving the JEC alive, I want the heads of those responsible for the Michelle MacDonald debacle displayed on pikes outside the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.

Rhetorically speaking, of course.

Speaking of Michelle MacDonald:  she’s running for the Supreme Court again.  That’s certainly her right; hopefully the convention chair won’t make the same mistake that happened in 2014.

Speaking of MacDonald – her followers are making the technically true but contextually laughable assertion that MacDonald got a higher percentage of the vote than any other GOP candidate in 2014.   Which is true…

…and also deeply misleading – and I can not wait for the first MacDonald supporter to try to bring that up on the air.

MacDonald got 46% and change, it’s true – running mostly against the GOP, and little or not at all against David Lillehaug (who ran, effectively, no campaign at all).  As I pointed out after the last election, all contested judicial elections get an average of 35-40% – it’s an outlet for people’s obstinacy, apparently (I always, always vote for challengers, whether I know or care about them or not, and I can not be the only one).

So MacDonald got about 4% more than “background noise”.  And while I have no empirical evidence for this, I’m going to speculate with confidence that had she not been running against Darth Lillehaug – one of the most anti-gun politicians (excuse me, “jurists”) in the business, she’d have come in in the thirties without a whole lot of shooters voting against Lillehaug and not for MacDonald.

So while my actual means for dealing with the JEC and MacDonald are limited, I’m going to use what I can to encourage those who can do something about it to seriously punish the JEC, and send MacDonald back to famlaw.

Speaking of family?  Read this time-line of MacDonald’s most famous case.  I have no idea if MacDonald was involved in any wrongdoing – specifically, the systematic alienation of a custodial father’s children against him – but as a matter of principle, everyone who interferes with another parent’s access to their kids should rot in hell.

Stork King

There’s an old parable; I want to say it’s Russian, since it sounds like it’s part of the Russian character.  I don’t know.

But it’s a good parable.  There once was a swamp full of frogs.  The frogs in a swamp were happy; plenty of slime to jump through, plenty of bugs to eat.

But something was missing.  So they asked “why can’t we have a king?”

And presently, a king was sent to them; a stork.

Storks, of course, eat frogs.

The moral:  be careful what you wish for.

Along those lines, a longtime friend of the blog writes:

I have a friend here at work who for years has said our problem is that we elect politicians. Well, now he belly-aches because he thinks a Trump presidency is a bad idea. Unless there is a serious change, soon, he’s going to get exactly what he said he wanted, originally — in nominee-form, anyway.

 

Jesse Ventura II

I like to think that’s why Minnesota bucked the Trump wave last night; we’ve been through this before.

Caucusians

I’m going to the caucuses tonight.

Who am I going to caucus for?  Well, not Trump.   I think he’s an epic fraud who will betray the conservatives who’ve lined up behind him.  He’s like an executive brand David Souter, via Vince McMahon.

And I won’t be caucusing for Kasich – who I think is a solid VP candidate – or Carson, who I believe is way out of his depth, and who needs to run for Mayor of Detroit, where he’ll do a lot more good than he’s doing now.

My short list – Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal – are both obviously out of the picture.   So it’s down to Cruz or Rubio for me.

Who’s it gonna be?

Not sure.  Partly because I am, genuinely, not sure.  And partly because the vitriol inside the party has gotten so very, very mindless and pointless.  Dennis Prager writes about  it – and it’s something every Republican, and especially every conservative, should read before they go to the caucuses:

So this is where we stand today: Many anti-Rubio Republicans regard Rubio as a traitor on the immigration issue and therefore have contempt for his supporters. Many anti-Cruz Republicans regard Cruz as an extremist conservative who is, moreover, a misanthrope, and therefore have contempt for his supporters. And many anti-Trump Republicans – perhaps most – regard Trump as a dangerous fraud, and therefore view his supporters with contempt.

Needless to say, with these attitudes, there is little chance any Republican can win.

So, then, despite eight years of failure under a Democratic president, and with Hillary Clinton — widely regarded as a completely untrustworthy woman who has put pursuit of money and power above the interests of her country — as the Democratic candidate, Republicans will still lose. And Republicans will have no one to blame but themselves.

One observation I made of Ron Paul supporters in 2008 and 2012 – that they seemed to be personality cultists, who believed not only was Paul the only valid choice, but that any other choice was no better in any way than a Democrat, or nobody at all – has metastasized across much of the GOP body politic this cycle.

And so while the “passion index” favors the GOP by landslide proportions – it is, at this point, almost entirely aimed at other Republicans, rather than at the doddering would-be Hugo Chavez or cynical, calculating would-be Eva Peron who, some need to be reminded, actually would be worse for the country than Rubio, Cruz or even Trump.

So if Trump wins the nomination?  I’ll vote for him – not because I think he’ll be a good president, not because I think he’s going to hold to his promises (not even on immigration), and not even because I think he, himself, will nominate better SCOTUS justices than Hillary.  I’ll do it because he’ll have to run to the legislative majority to get anything done – and if we don’t have a GOP Senate or House, we’re truly screwed.  And if Trump doesn’t win convincingly, then the coat-tail effect will tend to increase the power of the worthless whackdoodle Democrats.

And that is the only reason.

So I’ll be going to caucuses tonight.  Hope to see you there.

What If?

On the weekend before the official kickoff of the GOP nomination season, Donald Trump would seem to have the momentum.  Now, both of “my guys” for this race – Walker and Jindal – are long gone, so my short list is (in very rough order) Rubio, Cruz, Paul, Christie.

Trump’s ascendancy has, of course, brought out the usual jeremiads about the oncoming implosion of the GOP (to which cooler and more historically-grounded heads reply “What?  Again?  This happens every eight years or so“).

But I keep getting asked – what if Trump is, at the end of the day, the nominee?

Simple.  I’ll hold my nose and vote for Trump.

It’s not just because I regard third-party candidacies as irrelevant exercises in personal philosophical navel-gazing – that’s between you and your conscience, and is none of my business.

And it’s not that I’m a “my party, right or wrong” guy; I’m a Tea Party Conservative who votes GOP because it is, to evoke Buckley, the most conservative party that can win.  And if Trump, heaven forefend, is the most conservative person on the ballot who can win next November, then I’ll vote for him.

But Trump promises to be a rerun of the Jesse Ventura years, only coast-to-coast.   So why bother?

Three reasons:  Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Scalia – one of the better conservative minds in the history of the court – lamentably can’t last forever.  Having Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders nominate his “replacement” – or that of Kennedy, the most powerful “Moderate” in the history of the universe – would turn the SCOTUS bright blue for decades to come.  Kiss any chance of rolling back Obamacare, getting control of immigration or voting or the borders, or the Second Amendment, goodbye right now.

And by the opposite token, if Kennedy retires, or Ginsburg gets called by her overlords back to her mothership, during a GOP administration, there’s at least a chance of getting a much better, more conservative justice on the bench.  And don’t be caterwauling at me about what disappointments Roberts and Souter turned out to be as conservatives; without a GOP president and GOP Senate, “eventual disappointment” is the best you can hope for.

Remember – Trump may well nominate a complete idiot.  But the Senate has to confirm them.  And if both a hypothetical President Trump and a GOP Senate are idiots, then we’re screwed – but those are both “maybes”; you can bet a hypothetical President Sanders will nominate Saul Alinksky, and Clinton’s nominees will make Sonia Sotomayor look like John Marshall.

So yeah.  I’ll hold my nose and vote Trump.

And then set to work on fixing the rot that led us to this point.

Pretense Aside

SCENE: Mitch BERG is waiting in line at the Rack Shack on South Robert.   Stephanie Marie ANNAN – Community organizer for the 5th CD Libertarian Party – enters with a great clatter, vigorously stomps off her boots, and gets in line, finally noticing BERG. 

ANNAN:  Hey, Merg!  I don’t like all that stuff you’ve been saying about how us Ron Paul people just like to throw…what do you call it?”

BERG:  “Turd bombs”.

ANNAN:  Yeah!  The GOP did it first, back in 2008!

BERG:  Yeah, so I’ve been told.  That was about three years before I got involved in the GOP beyond going to caucuses, by the way.  I know there’s been going on eight years of tit-for-tat between the Ron Paul clicque and the “establishment”, which I’m told I’m part of, even though I got involved in the party after the Tea Party.

ANNAN:  You’re already boring me.

BERG:  That seems to happen a lot.  You all apprently got “bored” with Kurt Bills after you you all went to Tampa in 2012…

ANNAN:  Hey – there’s a special primary coming up in a house district 68B!

BERG:  Yeah, it’s been in all the papers.

ANNAN:  I suppose you’re supporting the Republican candidate, like some mindless sheeple?

BERG: No, I support the endorsed Republican candidate because I’m an intelligent, informed voter. I think the endorsed candidate, Mindy Pilph, is an excellent choice.  Although I don’t actually live in the district.

ANNAN:  I plan on supporting her primary opponent!

BERG:  Who?  Jesse Duff?

ANNAN:  Yes!

BERG:  Duff supports doubling the gas tax, banning civilian firearm ownership, rolling back school choice and instituting an entirely grievance-based curriculum, and adopting the North Korean style socialist philosophy of “Juche“, an isolationist firm of Stalinism based on all-seeing, all-knowing, omnipotent state.  Which seems – pardon me for saying so – counterintuitive for someone who was a high ranking functionary in the Ron Paul campaign four years ago.  Since Duff would seem to be the polar opposite of Libertarian, I gotta say, that’s a zig when I expected a zag.

ANNAN:  But he’s independent from the Minnesota Republican Party.

BERG:  Well, with good reason. He stands for everything the party rejects.

ANNAN:  But he’s independent!

BERG:  But he’s the exact opposite of Libertarian.

ANNAN:  So?

BERG:  So yet again, it seems that “libertarian principle” isn’t really as big a deal as trying to TP the MNGOP….

ANNAN:   Squirrel!

(ANNAN leaves the room.  And SCENE)

The GOP’s Keystone Kommittee

One of the downsides of being a GOP activist and officer is that you have to get involved, even passively, in GOP inside baseball.   Ever.  For any reason.

And of course, it’s important; without a viable challenge to the DFL, Minnesota is a few downturns away from turning into California.  Or Minneapolis.

So I go to the meetings.  I vote on stuff.  I do my bit to try to help get better people elected to office; not just Republicans, but conservative Republicans who support limited government.

And I try to get as informed as I can about some of the “inside baseball” issues in the GOP; the budget deficit (how the hell…?), the collapse in the Cities, the turnout issues in the first and second ring ‘burbs…

…and of course, the Judicial Elections Committee.

That Buzzing Sound That Never Goes Away:  The JEC is an obscure fixture in the MNGOP, focusing both on endorsing judicial candidates and fighting for judicial reform.

As re the second?  The subject is a deadly combination of intensely technical and very important.   It’s intensely picayune – and absolutely vital.  The judiciary has turned into an unaccountable, opaque, lifetime sinecure in Minnesota; judges have extremely disproportionate power as a result, and the ability to make sweeping decisions with almost no accountability.  And the power extends beyond just the courtroom; the past several state redistricting processes, including the 2010 redistricting – gerrymandered enough to make Bull Connor and George Wallace sit up in the grave and say “Hey, bucko, you’re getting a little carried away, here”.  “Shall Issue” carry reform was struck down in 2004 by a judge whose home was a DFL hamster wheel and who, ignoring the fact that every state budget is a combination of omnibus bills full of unrelated amendments, struck down the law because it wasn’t closely enough related to the bill that was originally amended.

So there is a problem that needs to be solved.

There’s a lot of history to the notion of judicial endorsements, and the creation of the JEC, and its activities since it was established; I’ve written about them in the past, and I won’t rewrite it all now (search my site for references to the phrase “My brain went blank and my ass went numb”).

But it’s the JEC’s recent history that concerns me most.

Last Saturday was the GOP’s State Central Committee meeting.  I didn’t attend – but the future of the JEC was one of the subjects up for discussion.  And my butt went a little numb just reading the accounts on Twitter.

Business:  Of course, the JEC’s main claim to “fame” was the endorsement of Michelle McDonald to run for State Supreme Court.  This happened at the MNGOP State Convention in Rochester in May of 2014.  McDonald turned out to have a pending year-old DUI charge – about which the convention was not told.   We’ve written about this at some length in the past.

Let’s fast forward to last Saturday.  A series of handouts was waiting for the SCC delegates as they arrived at the event, or distributed during the convention; a friend scanned and sent them to me (the scan is included below the jump).

In it, the JEC explains the reasons for its existence – and, to be honest, does it fairly well, in places (and let’s be honest – the handout was written by logorrheacs, and you have to dig to find the good stuff.  But it’s in there).  In all my years of listening to JEC members trying to explain why judicial endorsements, and judicial reform, are good and vital, and why retention elections are bad, this is the first time even the faintest hint of a light has gone off above my head.

And so partly as a result of this handout, my previous determination to tear down the JEC, with flamethrowers if necessary, has been tempered just a bit.

I said “the JEC”.

The JEC’s membership is another story.

Twenty Octogenarians Driving A Clown Car:  If you recall – and I completely forgive you if you do not – the history of and beef with the McDonald endorsement goes a little something like this:

  1. The JEC recommended Michelle McDonald – a controversial family-law lawyer – for nomination to run for the Supreme Court (SCOM).
  2. At the State Convention, after the delegates had endured a 20-odd-hour endorsement battle for Senate, the JEC brought McDonald to the stage for a speech and a motion for endorsement by acclamation.  Many delegates were out – grabbing a bite, or in the bathroom, or stretching their legs after the endless Senate battle – and many that were in the room reported feeling bum-rushed – but the motion for acclamation passed, and McDonald was endorsed.
  3. The following week, the media reported that McDonald had a pending DUI charge awaiting trial.
  4. Reports emerged that the JEC had been aware of this charge, but had voted to nominate McDonald anyway, and had voted to not inform the delegates, including blocking an attempt to issue a minority report to the convention that would have brought up the legal issues for the delegates’ consideration.
  5. McDonald and the MNGOP brass spent the next five months fighting each other, under a blazing media spotlight, rarely managing or bothering to engage the DFL’s candidate, Darth Lillehaug, on any level.
  6. McDonald went on to lose the election against Lillehaug.  According to some reports, her campaign raised less that $1,000, and spent about $8,000.

The handouts give a couple of insights into the JEC’s performance – or “performance” – at the 2014 State convention, in the first two pages (the pink ones, whose order is reversed; page 2 is actually page 1).   It’s also full of opinion-driven weasel words – “the chair appeared…”, “in the committee’s opinion, the chair…” and the like.

There are two quotes from the handout, though, that display…something about the JEC’s opinion of itself; whether that something is arrogance, incompetence or malfeasance, I’m not sure and I’ll leave it to better judges than I.

It should be noted that the purpose of any endorsing committee is to spare the convention the task of sorting through a candidate’s personal life.  the job of any endorsing committee is to do the work in confidence and present a yes or no to the convention.  Committees focus on a candidate’s message, their willingness to campaign hard and their ability appeal (sic) to voters.  The idea that the Judicial Election Committee (or any other nominating committee) should air a candidate’s personal information to the convention is badly misinformed.

Exactly what a nominating committee is supposed to do is a subject worthy of discussion. And the passage may be right; a nominating committee should concern itself with competence and electability.

But a legal proceeding that is guaranteed to provoke a media feeding frenzy is both not “personal information” – it’s a public record, available online from the courts – and of direct impact to the candidate’s electability.

So this quote – along with the rest of the information in the handout, brings up three possibilities:

  1. The majority of the JEC genuinely believed that an arrest record is “personal information” that was nobody’s business.  If this was the case, then we’re dealing with some stupid people.  Arrest records are public!  Public!  Public!  Anyone who thought this was “personal information”, and believed that the media and DFL would treat it that way, needs to be publicly (rhetorically) horsewhipped.
  2. They knew about the arrest record, but figured it wouldn’t be a problem, since McDonald assured them the charge was BS:   You’ll note how many media figured led with the whole “Michelle McDonald is innocent until proven guilty, and gosh, she looks like she has a strong case” tack, right?  Somewhere less than zero?  Part of a nominations commission’s job is to try, as far as possible, to prevent media poo-storms like…the one we had.
  3. The JEC figured the news would be a problem, but wanted to jam McDonald down anyway, leading a supermajority to vote against the issuance of a minority report.   This is the worst kind of malfeasance.

We also see in another quote that the JEC is wallowing in either wishful thinking or an arrogant desire to bullshit the rest of the party:

…in spite of the flap over a now resolved (not guilty) DWI case, Michelle McDonald for Supreme Court won 46.54% of the vote.  This is higher than Johnson, McFadden, Severson, Gilbert and Newman – all the other MNGOP endorsed candidates

How stupid do these people think the rest of the party is?

The DWI is “now resolved” – but it wasn’t at election time.  And the media certainly didn’t harp on “innocence until proven guilty”.

As to her turnout?  As we pointed out the first time the JEC tried to use this chanting point to gull the gullible, it was BS.  McDonald got 46% against Lillehaug, it’s true – but John Hancock got 42% against Mimi Wright, and virtually every contested judicial race in the state got 35-40%.  McDonald outscored random, obstinate, uninformed noise by 4-6%. And while it’s possible she outperformed “background noise” due to her brilliant campaign, it’s also possible that a few thousand shooters voted against Darth Lillehaug, and would have no matter who was nominated.

My Conclusion, For Those Who Care?:  The JEC exists for good reason.  Minnesota’s judicial system needs changes, and the GOP needs to help drive those changes.

But most of its members need to go.  Decency would involve resignations of the sitting membership for their malfeasance, or at least stupidity, in the McDonald flap.   The JEC process is almost completely opaque to delegates, and even officers at the BPOU and Congressional District level.   I’m an officer, and I have no idea how Judicial Districts elect officers and do business.  It’s not just me.

The JEC, in my opinion, is a nook and cranny of the GOP that was built by, and is controlled by, a group of people who have turned it into their little political playground.  This doesn’t serve the mission that the JEC has set out for itself.

Just my opinion.  But I’m not alone.

As we’ll see, I’m sure, come the next State Convention.

 

Telling Tangent: Want to know something ironic?  I might well have voted for McDonald even with the pending DUI charge, had the JEC tried a little honesty, and had McDonald spent more time tackling Darth Lillehaug than Keith Downey.  But if I’d known about her involvement in the Grazzini-Rucki custody battle, I’d have voted for Charles Manson before I’d vote for McDonald.   If McDonald was involved with kidnapping and brainwashing a couple of kids against their custodial father, she deserves much worse than losing an election.

Continue reading

Doakes Sunday: Buried

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Why would Senate Republicans vote on a budget bill at 1:00 am?

Because they’re ashamed of it.  They know the line “I’ll gladly pay you in 2025 for $85 billion today” is a lie, the same lie they told in every other “out-years” budget going back for decades.

Kudos to Ted Cruz for speaking the truth about it.  Shame on Senate Republicans for going along with it.

Joe Doakes

Keeping freedom is a full-time job.  The bulk of it involves keeping your side on the right side.

Well, Crap

Walker’s out of the race.

And I couldn’t  be more bummed.

Walker was the *only* candidate in the race that has actually walked the walk when it comes to pushing back on the public employee unions, whose pensions are going to bankrupt this nation long before any war will.

But he built a stadium for the Bucks!”, some chant. Yeah, he’s not perfect. No candidate is.

“But he’s weak on foreign policy”. He could appoint his motorcycle Secretary of State and have a better foreign policy team than the current occupant.

“He’s a warmonger!” No, he isn’t. Appearing strong and resolute leads to peace; begging for peace brings war.

 

But he’s got no charisma!”. Good God, people – voting for charisma is as likely to get you Barack Obama as it is Ronald Reagan. I’ll take an “uncharismatic” president who not only knows how to *talk* about drawing and holding lines, but *has done it, successfully, against brutal, ruthless opposition*, over some “charismatic” candidate for whom it’s all theory, however charismatically expressed.

Given a choice between Calvin Coolidge – an uncharismatic president who shrank government, getting it out of the way of epic prosperity – and a “charismatic” hamster like our current president, is it even a choice?

This is a lousy day for America.

OK, Fiorina and Rubio people. I’m listening

Dear Karl Rove

To: Karl Rove

From: Mitch Berg, uppity peasant

Re:: Agenda item

Karl,

Say what you will, but you did, once upon a time, teach Republicans an important lesson; if you don’t win elections, all the principles in the world are just wind in sails.

But the mercenary, “anything to get elected” dross of your philosophy has caused a lot of problems for the GOP.

And with this latest remark of yours, perhaps it’s time for you to take up gardening. Just saying.

That is all.

Open Letter To The MNGOP Judicial Elections Committee

To:  The MNGOP Judicial Elections Committee
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant Who Resents The Time He’s Wasted Listening To You People Over The Years
Re:  Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Dear JEC,

Quick – without looking at a ballot, tell us – who was running for the other Supreme Court  of Minnesota (SCOM) seat on Tuesday?

We’ll come back to that. 

Some of you are giggling like schoolgirls that Michelle MacDonald, after all of the back-and-forth over her endorsement and legal issues, got 46% of the vote for Supreme Court against Darth Lillehaug (who came in at 53%). . 

Hold the giggling.  Did you remember who was running for the other SCOM seat that was up for grabs?

It was Mimi Wright against John Hancock; Wright won 56/42.  And Hancock didn’t have the benefit of five months of media attention to his (non-existent) endorsement fiasco, party wrangling and legal travails. 

And perhaps more importantly, he wasn’t running against Darth Lillehaug

Look at every other judicial race in the state.  The challengers in the (very few) races that weren’t opposed generally netted 35-40% of the vote.  And why?  Because they weren’t incumbents. Random noise. 

So 35-40% of Michelle McDonald’s 46% were votes the GOP could have gotten by nominating Sharon Anderson or Leslie Davis or Clu Berg, my golden retriever. 

So don’t go claiming any credit for outperforming the GOP as a whole.

Now, this blog has already spent plenty of time castigating the JEC for the sleazy way you got McDonald endorsed – trotting her across the stage as a convention hall full of delegates with numb asses from 20 hours of wrangling over the Senate endorsement were getting ready for another half day of untangling a 5-way Governor race, and – unforgiveably – voting to not disclose to the delegates that Ms. McDonald had a pending court case for driving while intoxicated, rushing her through an acclamation endorsement without bothering to mention that the woman had “Media Poo-Storm” written all over her. 

We apparently didn’t need to know that. 

She spent the next five months, camera diliigently thrust in front of her, roaming the state, trashing the GOP, getting headlines from a media whose mission is also trashing the GOP, mostly winning her legal case…

A camera. Michelle MacDonald is standing behind it.

…and making people who follow these sorts of things wonder what was going on in there?

So let’s recap:

  • The JEC performs a dishonest sleight of hand, and gets Michelle MacDonald endorsed.
  • MacDonald spends months getting the kind of media attention no SCOM candidate ever, ever gets.
  • She runs against David Lillehaug – one of the few other SCOM candidates this side of Alan Page with a media profile.
  • She gets 4% better than a complete unknown running in an unknown race against an unknown opponent. 

This tells us a couple of things:

  • A good 30-40% of the vote in any contested judge race will be anti-incumbent, no matter who it is. 
  • Apparently that 30-40% doesn’t care if someone was charged with DUI, or wouldn’t know if they did. 
  • Either people liked Michelle McDonald, or they hated David Lillehaug. 

So – how could things have gone differently? 

What if you, the JEC, had tried just a skosh of honesty?  What would have happened?

Maybe you’d have lost the nomination.  And then again, maybe a straightforward minority report, coupled with an honest explanation of the exigencies from Ms. McDonald, would have won the delegates over.

Of course, the media would have have bellowed “GOP ENDORSES ACCUSED DRUNK DRIVER”. 

Which they did anyway! Only this time the GOP would have been at her back (although that would have taken some cojones).  And then it would have been off to the general election, Where 30-40% would have voted for her or Sharon Anderson or Paula Overby or Clu Berg. 

And 4-6% would have voted for her because they’d heard of her. 

And then Minnesota’s Second Amendment lobby, convinced they were backing a viable candidate instead of a skittery liabililty, could have called in the tribes and fired off some of their carefully-hoarded political capital against David Lillehaug, their sworn enemy.  If there’s anyone who wants Lillehaug to go into retirement, it’s Minnesota’s shooters.  Most of their races won; their support turned out the tribes in support of not just a few longshots.  To take down Darth Lillehaug? 

It could have been a match made in heaven.

Instead, you – the JEC – tried to manipulate the convention, and did it very badly. 

And I haven’t the words to express my contempt for what you all did.

That is all.

Unicorns Vote 100% Third Party!

SCENE:   Mitch BERG is biking in the southwest suburbs.  He pulls over into a coffee shop.

As he sits down, he notices Stephanie Marie ANNAN, Community Organizer for the Minnesota 5th CD Libertarian party.   She is wearing capri pants and a t-shirt with “He Gave His Only Begotten Son”, and a picture of Ron Paul walking across the water toward the camera.

ANNAN:  Hey, Mitch.

BERG:  Hey, Stephanie Marie.  Ready for the election.

ANNAN:  Yep.  I’m voting Libertarian. 

BERG:  Kinda figured.  So – why? 

ANNAN:  Because big changes need to happen.

BERG:  Yeah, that’s true.  That’s why I’m voting for Jeff Johnson as many times as Mark Richie will let me get away with it. 

ANNAN:  He won’t bring any changes.  The GOP is just as big a part of the problem as the DFL is. 

BERG:  Er…why do you say that?

ANNAN:  When people put the GOP in power, they were just as bad as the Democrats.  There is no difference between the parties. 

BERG:  Yeah, the GOP can be frustrating.  Although you’re oversimplifying.  Bobby Jindal has made a huge difference in Louisiana; under his leadership, the New Orleans Public Schools went all charter.  Other GOP governors – Pence, Haley, Walker, Martinez – have made inroads in reducing the size and power of government.  The GOP – and GOP candidates – have made a difference at limiting government and its impact over the years.   Reagan’s tax cuts were a huge help…

ANNAN:  Reagan grew the deficit!  He raised taxes!

BERG:   Bingo.  You’re making my point for me.  Reagan, being a Republican president dealing with a Democrat Congress run by a big-government ward heeler like Tip O’Neill, had to make compromises.  One of those compromises was that he had to trust O’Neill to keep up his end of the bargain on cutting spending – which, of course, he didn’t.  And for all of that, his “tax hikes” were a fraction of his tax cuts, and they happened at a time when the economy was humming along.  If you don’t think Reagan’s tax cuts in the early eighties helped immensely with the recession, you’re dreaming. 

Anyway – the GOP in 1994 made a huge difference in paring back Bill Clinton’s megalomania.  Remember “Hillary Care?”  Either does anyone else.  And the Tea Party class of the GOP, the people elected in 2010, have largely kept their promises. 

ANNAN:  But the Minnesota GOP had the governor’s office from 2002 to 2010, and the House until 2008, and both chambers in 2011 and 2011, and nothing changed. 

BERG:  Plenty changed.  “Republican” used to mean Arne Carlson.  It used to mean “go along with the DFL in turning surpluses into more permanent spending”. 

ANNAN:  The GOP raised the budget in 2011, and built the stadium. 

BERG:  Yep.  And both were wrong.  And in neither case did the Tea Party class of 2010 go along, at least without a fight. 

ANNAN:  Bla bla bla.  The GOP always compromises.

BERG:  Parts of the GOP – the older, “Moderate” wing of the party, especially, which still exerts way too much control over the party at the Capitol – certainly does.  Parties don’t change overnight.   The GOP still caves in on way too much.  It’s improving, as conservatives slowly replace moderates. 

And let’s be honest; Minnesota is a blueish purple state at best.   Minnesota is split between various shades of red and hard, deep blue.   When a conservative goes to Saint Paul, and wants to get anything done, compromise is inevitable.  There is no way anyone who gets elected to office as a conservative in Minnesota doesn’t have to defile the purity of their principles at some point or another. 

ANNAN: Yeah, well, I’m sick of voting for the lesser of two evils all the time.  I’m going to vote my absolute, pure principles and vote Libertarian. 

BERG:   And that way, you’ll promote liberty.

ANNAN:  Yep.  

BERG:  So let me get this straight; you won’t vote for Republicans because previous generations of Republicans have had to compromise the purity of their principles when they actually got into a room with the other side and had to actually try to get things done, to say nothing of having to stop the other side from getting worse things, like daycare unionization and gun control, done. 

ANNAN:   Yep. 

BERG:  And you’ll vote for someone who’s never had to test the purity of his precious principles by trying to enact any kind of policy at all, much less over the votes of a legislature that is at least 50% completely hostile to everything your candidate says. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I could see myself supporting Rand Paul for President.   

ANNAN:  Ew.  He’s abandoned his principles.  Not like Doctor Paul.

BERG:  You’re proving my point.  “Doctor” Paul never got elected to anything outside of a House district in Texas.  And for all his big talk about policy – auditing the fed, disengaging abroad, yadda yadda – he admits, albeit quietly, that he never could have done it.  He had no support in Congress. 

ANNAN:  Why do you hate liberty?

BERG:  Actually, I clearly respect liberty more than you do. 

ANNAN:  Hah!  How can you say that? 

BERG:  Because the only way you’re going to get your agenda passed is to elect a libertarian monarch who takes office, sweeps away a century of noxious policy by decree, and then steps down.  Hopefully.  And that’s fine, if “magical thinking” is good enough for you.   But that’s really all voting for a third party gets you.  A third party vote is a wasted vote.

ANNAN:  It wasn’t with Jesse Ventura!  He had principles and he stuck with them!

BERG:  No, he didn’t.  He ran on a promise of returning the entire plus to the people. And once he got elected, he had to deal with the fact that was a governor with no caucus in the legislature – two Democrats flipped over to the Independence Party over the next year, and that was it. So we had to run with his hat in hand to Roger Moe, the DFLSenate majority leader, and cut deals like a madman. Meaning that about a third of the surplus got paid back. And the rest of it got turned into permanent spending, the way the DFL wanted.

So where was the principal?

ANNAN:  He sent a message!

BERG: Yep. And that message was “voting for a third-party candidate is of nothing but symbolic value”.

ANNAN:  (Plugs ears, turns, starts running).  Bla bla blaaaaa can’t year youuuuuuu bla bla bla bla bla).

[And SCENE]

Trojan Horse

To: Members of the MNGOP Judicial Elections Committee
From: Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  Weasel Words

JEC,

First things first; I’m an elected party officer, so I’ll support our party’s endorsed candidates.  So – yaaaay, Ms. McDonald.

Of course, Ms. McDonald’s candidacy has turned into a Bolivian Goat Rodeo;  the DFL and Media (ptr) on the one hand are caviling and gamboling about the story like happy little pixies.  And some of the Ron Paul clacque – who were non-factors in this year’s caucuses, for the most part – have latched onto the whole episode as a way to try to stick it to the state GOP.

Now, I’ve asked a number of members of the JEC – in this space, in other online fora, and in person – to explain…:

  • Why the committee voted to endorse Ms. McDonald, if they did, and…
  • …more importantly, why the committee voted to suppress the “minority report” – supported by the committee chair – that would have informed delegates about Ms. McDonald’s legal issues.

The “answers” I’ve gotten have been, to be charitable,  weasel words.  The kind of thing that would shame a punch-drunk fourth-grader.  Silence, or idiotic little cutiepie resopnses (“Ask Chairman Downey!”).

So far, I’ve thought of this whole episode as incompetence on the part of the JEC – and knowing a few of the people who are on the JEC and/or heavily involved in JEC business, it’s not a stretchy theory.

The other possibility that jumps out at you, seeing some of the people involved?  It was an intentional sandbagging of the GOP by people who have a bone to pick with the party’s leadership.

The more I hear about this sorry episode, the more I’m leaning toward “sabotage”.

The MNGOP’s Judicial Goat Rodeo

I was at the GOP booth when endorsed Supreme Court of Minnesota (SCOM) candidate Michelle McDonald came to the building.

It was awkward; the GOP wanted her out, she and her volunteers wanted her in. 

 

The flap, of course, was over McDonald’s pending trial on a variety of charges related to an attempted drunk-driving arrest.  This Strib story lays out the initial round of particulars; Aaron Rupar at the City Pages updated the story in July along with a heaping helping of his peculiar partisan glee.  So did Cyndy Brucato at the MinnPost.  As did…

…well, hell – just about everyone with a keyboard and some server space, from the Daily Kos down to every leftyblogging hamster in the Metro.   Indeed, the media has been having a ball.  And they had another, when she got pulled over again, for allegedly violating the terms of her limited driving license (which is directly related to the pending charges, fair and accurate or not).  And they were waiting outside the GOP booth when I arrived yesterday morning, like carrion-feeding animals, looking for a spectacle.

Not sure they got a “spectacle” in the classic sense of the term, but it was a thoroughly modern flap; McDonald’s supporters and volunteers, defying instructions from the MNGOP that she not appear at the booth, and operating under their own directive to appear every single day at the booth, arrived.  Most of the pack of volunteers held cameras in front of them, including Ms. McDonald.  They marched into the booth.  Some of her volunteers very intentionally blocked the GOP booth staff from getting to Ms. McDonald. 

Oh, yeah – the Twin Cities media was looking on with carrion-feeding glee, recording every single contortion.  And they talked with Ms. McDonald – who responded, holding her camera out in front of her, recording her every interaction with the media, notwithstanding the knot of volunteers standing around her doing exactly the same thing. 

To summarize:  in a year where the MNGOP has been recovering its organizational and financial mojo, the party endorsed a candidate who may as well have been tailor made to garner immense, entirely negative media attention. 

To put it in terms recognizable to anyone who has grown exhausted from the MNGOP’s capacity to shoot itself in the foot, it was best termed a “goat rodeo”.  A “dumpster fire”.  Perhaps even a “Hungarian cluster-cuddle”. 

And it didn’t have to be that way. 

Let’s break it down.

Continue reading

Why I’m Never Running For Office

About ten years ago, a sitting (at the time) GOP representative and long-time friend of this blog told me “you do realize, Mitch, that between the blog and your show, you can never, ever run for political office, don’t you?”

The fact that my written body of work is, no doubt, some oppo researcher’s dream has certainly served to keep me from getting too enthusiastic about pursuing a life in politics. 

And that’s largely a good thing.

Of course, opposition research on both sides – but especially the Democrats – is dedicated to making running for office as personally gruelling as possible for anyone who’d want to try.

Which is why the leftymedia’s on-cue jumping up and down like a bunch of poo-flinging monkey’s over Sheila Kihne’s old, excellent but long-dormant blog is so unsurprising. 

Of course, since it’s a primary battle, some Republicans are pitching in to defend incumbent Jennifer Loon against Kihne’s challenge. 

I suppose that’s one good thing about the blog; it’s cut down on any temptation.

Becoming The Enemy To Defeat The Friend

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Thad Cochran, RINO Senator from Mississippi, was challenged in the primary. He won by 6,000 votes of which 30,000 were cross-over Democrats, voting for the RINO instead of the Conservative challenger, McDaniel.

Take a look at the flyer distributed to help the mainstream establishment Republican against his conservative Republican opponent in the primary. This would be low even for a Democrat:

20140629-153531-56131085.jpg

Politics may not be beanbag, but this is a serious violation of Reagan’s 11th Commandment if there ever was one.

Onward

Fitz is gone.  Long live Fitzsimmons.

Now, it’s time for libertarian-conservatives caucusing with the GOP to move on to the next crisis. 

Republicans are still hashing over the Fitzsimmons/Lucero bout in Wright County last weekend.  It’s in the blogs, and on the talk shows – mine included. 

But that’s a die that’s been cast, and can’t be called back (short of a primary challenge that I don’t suspect FItzsimmons will launch) for two more years. 

Barring that primary challenge, Eric Lucero’s the guy.  Not only does he need to win this fall to keep the House GOP caucus at its current level – but we need to flip four seats to turn the House red. 

And ideally these four flips (and hopefully many more) should be good, solid, Tea Party conservatives.  But I have no say in that; that’s up to the candidates at the BPOU level, and the activists who support them.

And along the way – like, as soon as we get done with the various BPOU endorsement battles – the various factions of the GOP need to bury whatever hatches we’ve accreted over this past few months, and start pulling in the same direction.   I’ve called for this – arapprochementbetween the “five families” of the MNGOP (the Tea Party, the Socialcons, the Moderates, the Chamber of Commerce estalbishment and the “Liberty” crew, or whatever’s left of them) to agree to disagree on the details until February of 2016, and quit the pointless fratricide and grudge-mongering that’ve made being a Republican such a trying thing this past five or six years, and work toward a much greater good.

A Liberty activist should accept that a Social Conservative is going to be a more sympathetic ear in office for liberty than any DFLer will be; a Chamber of Commerce “Good Government” fixer shouldn’t worry that a Tea Partier is going to make their life suck worse than a DFLer will; they won’t.

Don’t get me wrong; now is the time of the political season for the different flavors of Republican to go to the mat for their beliefs, to leave it all out on the mat in pursuit of exactly what you want in office. 

But the time is almost here to put up for the greater good, or shut up. There will be chits to be paid in 2016.  But unless the GOP is back in power, it’s all a pointless sideshow. 

Conservatism needs to be back on this state’s policy center stage.  After that, everything will be much easier to work through. 

Nothing succeeds like being successful.  We need to re-learn that.

Open Letter to Pretty Much Everyone Involved In Last Weekend’s Rhubarb In Buffalo

To:  Dave Fitzsimmons, the Lucero delegates, the Minnesota Family Council, the Taxpayers League, the Media, and Mr. Lucero
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  The HD30B Convention

So many things to write to so many people.  Let’s start at the top:

To Dave Fitzsimmons:  Thanks for all you’ve done so far.  I hope you come back and do more.  You’re one of the best.

To Anyone Who’s Used This Incident To Say The GOP Is A Tiny-Tent Party: Nope.  This is a sign that a candidate – Eric Lucero – got a slew of single-issue activists to bum-rush the caucuses on his behalf.  It’s exactly how Michelle Bachmann and Kurt Bills got their respective nominations (for Congress in 2006 and US Senate in 2012, respectively). 

You’ll note – if you are intellectually honest – that of the four Republicans who voted for the Marriage Amendment, Pat Garofalo cruised to an easy endorsement in Farmington, which is every bit as blood-red conservative as Wright County, and Jennifer Loon will do the same this next month in her neck of the woods (Andrea Kieffer, unfortunately, is retiring – but she’d have been re-endorsed in a walkover).

This is what happens, sometimes, in a party that truly embraces local control.  The DFL would never have allowed this to happen, for better or worse – DFL money interests would already have the primary challenge planned and the votes paid for – and events like last Saturday aside, most of us believe it’s better our way.

To The Lucero Delegates:  I heard the talk from Buffalo while I was on the air on Saturday.  Many of you apparently came strictly to vote for Lucero against Fitzsimmons; you agitated loudly to cut to the voting without bothering with all the other business that the district convenes to take care of.  Many of you had never darkened the door of a GOP event, ever.  You had your mind made up about one issue, and one issue only.

I wonder – what would you say if I asked you what Eric Lucero intends to do, if elected, about taxes?  Booming social and HHS spending?  The budget bloat?  How he plans to work, potentially, in a minority, and at best with a single GOP chamber against a DFL senate and possibly Governor?  What his legislative priorities might be, other than…

…well, what precisely are Luceros’ priorities?  Because near as I can tell, the only agenda on which Lucero ran was punishing Fitzsimmons for one single solitary vote in the entire 2013 session.

We’ll come back to that.

The Minnesota Family Council and the Taxpayers League:  What the f***?  I mean, what the f***ing, f***ing f***?  The Taxpayers League gave Fitzsimmons a perfect 100% score and labeled him a “Friend of the Taxpayer” – presumably because Fitz perfectly supported the TPL on its brief, cutting taxes and spending .  And yet there was your former boss, Phil Krinkie, writing a scathing hit piece on TPL stationery, attacking Fitzsimmons, for reasons utterly opaque to me.

And the Minnesota Family Council?  You gave Fitzsimmons a 92 out of 100 – up near the top, even in a legislature full of perfect 100s.   And yet over one vote, over a stance Fitzsimmons took before the GOP fell into a complete minority absolutely ensuring the passage of gay marriage – via pushing legislation that was mostly your organization’s work, by the way – and, most likely, the eventual oppression of those who dissent against it, you threw him under the bus as hard as you could.

What precisely is a good rating from either of your organizations worth, again?

Shame on both of you organizations.  You both harmed both of your causes immeasurably this week among the people who’ll be showing up next week, next month and next year, if you catch my drift.

The Media:  Um, not every candidate you disagree with is Tea Party.  Lucero certainly isn’t.  The Tea Party largely stays out of social issues.  Many of us Tea Partiers have strong social beliefs, but our priority is trying to forestall the mindless liberal governments in St Paul and Washington from completely collapsing the entire economy, if we can.

Mr. Lucero:  I saw you speak two weeks ago, at a Tea Party event.  Near as I can tell, you have two issues; re-fighting the 2013 marriage debate, and…data security.

Assuming you get elected – and Wright County is, at least, fairly safe GOP territory, with minimal chance of the DFL flipping the seat – by all means, Mr. Lucero, tell us; what do you stand for that is material to the coming session.  Because Gay Marriage ain’t coming up.

Taxes?  Fighting a DFL Senate and possibly Governor?  Fighting against the DFL’s drive to institute as much control over this state as it can?  Getting the budget under control?  Exporting conservatism from the third-tier suburbs into the parts of the state that need it?

You have some huge shoes to fill.  Go ahead – convince those of us who work more than one issue that you’re fit to hold Dave Fitzsimmons’ briefcase.

Go.

That is all.

The Circular Firing Squad

The Marriage Amendment and the legalization of gay marriage is a gift that just keeps on giving.

Walter Hudson writes about the socialcon push to unseat Dave Fitzsimmons – I almost called it a “Fatwa” before catching myself – and its commentary about the state of the MNGOP in 2014.

First things first:  Fitzsimmons is a Tea Party and libertarian-conservative stalwart – a guy who ran on rock-ribbed libertarian-conservative principle, and delivered on it during his freshman term in the House.

Hudson:

Cycle after electoral cycle, activists pine for candidates who will stand on principle and do the right thing regardless of political consequence. Cycle after cycle, candidates claim they will meet that challenge and take bold action to serve their constituents. Cycle after cycle, voters remain disappointed by bland performances delivering lack-luster results.

Perhaps we get what we deserve. Perhaps we only say that we want bold statesman who will do the right thing without regard to their next election. Perhaps we actually reward bland performance while punishing aggressive leadership.

A case study presents in Wright County, where activist-turned-legislator David Fitzsimmons serves Minnesota House District 30B. This Saturday, Fitzsimmons will seek his party’s endorsement in the face of three challengers hoping to wrest it from him.

Two years ago, Fitzsimmons was a shoe-in for endorsement and handily defended a primary challenge before earning his freshman term. His victory seemed predestined, given the conservative leanings of his district and a well-earned reputation for effective activism on behalf of his party and its candidates.

Hudson notes that in a party full of talkers – myself included – Fitzsimmons is a do-er.  He’s a guy who’s actually made things happen; a long-time activist, he engineered Tom Emmer’s campaign up through the convention (before handing it off to less-successful management), and has been a founding chair of the GOP Liberty caucus.  He’s been a right-libertarian Godfather, including to Hudson himself:

Coming up through the Tea Party, I learned the ropes from candidates and activists who owed their political education to Fitzsimmons. His name became synonymous with expertise, hard work, and discernment. He blazed a trail of credibility which up-and-coming activists were able to follow into the Republican Party, growing its ranks and sharpening its conscience.

And, as Hudson notes, with that sort of resume he could have followed the usual Freshman route and made himself a very small target while he learned the Saint Paul ropes and built a political career.

But that’s not who David is. He didn’t go to Saint Paul to be something. He went there to do something. When the opportunity to make a difference presented itself, he seized it at great risk to his political future.

Long story short:

  1. With the collapse of the Marriage Amendment and the sweep to power of the DFL, the passage of a gay marriage statute was a foregone conclusion.
  2. Fitzsimmons – a gay marriage opponent – tried to offer an amendment that would have made same-sex marriage a matter of civil law, preserving clergy’s right to abstain from performing or recognizing same-sex marriages on religious grounds, thus protecting the First Amendment freedom of religion in a way the DFL wasn’t going to.

Hudson:

Democrats consented to the amendment. However, Fitzsimmons knew that his amendment could be stripped out of the final bill unless he sat on the conference committee which would reconcile the House and Senate versions. To ensure his place on that committee, he would have to vote for final passage.

Surely, he understood the political fallout which would occur in Wright County – likely the most conservative political district in the state – if he voted yes on final passage. He also understood that voting yes was the only way to ensure some protection of his constituents’ religious liberty.

As the vote for final passage took place, Fitzsimmons watched the vote totals to make sure his would not decide the question. Only once it was certain that the bill would pass did Fitzsimmons cast his vote for final passage, securing his place on the conference committee to preserve his amendment.

I’ve seen arguments over the mechanics of the amendment; I’ve seen none that convince me Fitzsimmons offered his amendment for reasons other than the ones Hudson detailed.

I’ve only been acquainted with one of Fitzsimmons’ challengers – Dayton city councilman Eric Lucero.  While I’m told Lucero is a capable enough activist, the first impression I took away was that he didn’t really speak to any issues beyond marriage (and information security), that he was fairly inarticulate about even those issues, and that he couldn’t possibly fill Fitzsimmons’ shoes.

And the propensity to judge an entire political career – a stellar one, one of the ones that needs to be emulated all over this state, one of the ones this nation is going to need thousands more of if it’s going to survive – by a disagreement over the mechanics rather than principles behind a single vote – is one of the Minnesota GOP’s biggest handicaps today.

District 30B’s activists have a chance to make a clear declaration on this, one way or another, at their convention.  Here’s hoping they choose wisely.