As good an article as I’ve seen (hard to believe it’s from the MinnPost) about the people who keep showing up to try to make the GOP work in places like Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Governor Dayton signed the budget bills, but vetoed funding for the legislature because he didn’t get the bills he wanted.
Some might think Dayton’s move was petty and vindictive. I disagree. It was genius. In chess terms, he’s put the Republicans in a fork – agree to a special session to give the governor what he wants in exchange for funding the legislature, or take your complaint to a court packed with judges appointed by Democrats. Both are losing moves.
Joe is absolutely right.
When all the moves are losing moves, refuse to play the game. The Republican Speaker of the House should say “We convinced Governor Dayton to cut spending for a third of state government, which is a good start. Since he’s defunded the Legislature, we won’t be coming back into session and that means the rest of the government will shut down when this current budget runs out in two years. Meanwhile, I plan to enjoy a well-deserved vacation.”
And Joe is even more absolutely right.
Of course he wouldn’t mean it. But it ups the ante. Every time somebody says “but what about” you point them to the Governor and say “Sorry, the Governor shut us down. Take it up with him.”
I dream of a world where Minnesota Republicans have that kind of political killer instinct.
To: The MNGOP Legislative Caucuses
From: Mitch Berg, Peasant
Re: You Never, Ever Learn, Do You?
Deaar MNGOP Legislative Caucuses – House and Senate
Today, after months of wrangling, word dribbled out that the Stand Your Ground and Constitutional Carry bills were not going to get a floor vote. While the bill wouldn’t pass into law, we wouldn’t need to re-argue it next session – which would be a huge benefit, especially given (cough cough) it’s an election year.
It was a kick in the teeth for Second Amendment voters.
Which is a bit of a problem. Can you think of a group in this state that has done more, with less outstate support, than the shooters? That did more to get your majority?
Thanks for nothing.
I get it – politics are complicated. Compromises happen. It’s just that as for me and a lot of people like me, you made the wrong one.
So – not another dime. Not another phone call. Not another minute of time until you get your collective head right.
That is all.
…and I am not, but if I were, I’d bet good money that the headline at the Strib tomorrow will be something like:
Minnesota Republicans Reject Black Chair Candidate
I can honestly say that I’d have voted for anyone in the field – Rick Rice, Dave Hann or Chris FIelds (who I figured would be the final two in the running) or the actual winner, Jennifer Carnahan.
Not to say I doubted Carnahan’s merits; she went from attending her first GOP caucus 14 months ago, to running a very impressive MN Senate campaign in downtown Minneapolis, to the little Chair campaign that could. And I’ve interviewed her, and she is very much a force of nature in person. Not to say I doubted she’d win; I just thought the notoriously pragmatic State Central would make a more mainstream choice, like Hann or Fields.
So I’m surprised, and happy about it all in all.
I would, of course, be lying if I said that I was surprised by the depravity of today’s DFL.
— Jordan R.W. Parshall (@J_Parsh) April 29, 2017
Look, white boy offended by someone calling out GOP tokenism. https://t.co/541LYgUGB1
— Jordan R.W. Parshall (@J_Parsh) April 29, 2017
While I don’t know “Jordan Parshall”, I’m pretty comfortable saying he represents the mainstream of today’s DFL. I think it’s hilarious – right after telling a Korean-American woman not to get uppity, he congratulates none other than…
…wait for it…
…wait for it…
(And lest you wondered, Urban Liberal Privilege means “never having to apologize for saying something corrosively racist, sexist and entintled”:
Go play cards or something. https://t.co/La6zo0UDV2
— Jordan R.W. Parshall (@J_Parsh) April 29, 2017
But who cares. Congrats to Jennifer Carnahan!
Bill Cooper, former chair of the Minnesota GOP and longtime CEO at TCF Bank, passed away earlier this week at 73.
In addition to leading the MNGOP during the Carlson years, Cooper did two things that made him a hero to me.
Nick-Slapped: Back in 2005, then-Strib columnist Nick Coleman wrote a deeply dumb column wondering how Scott Johnson of Power Line managed to blog during his work day (Johnson was at the time TCF’s corporate counsel), and urging TCF customers to pull their money out of the bank in protest over employing an “out” conservative.
Cooper pulled TCF’s ad money from the Strib – $250K a year – and followed up by cutting off the City Pages as well.
And the whining and carping lulled me to a sound, happy nap. I’d like to think that costing the Strib a cool quarter mill had a lot to do with Coleman’s retirement. For that alone, we should thank Cooper.
Friends: In a more serious and productive vein, Cooper was one of the movers and shakers behind “Friends of Education”, a chain of charter schools that were focused on specific communities and educational models.
Friends of Education schools were, and perpetually remain, among the top-performing charters in the state. And that was in part due to Cooper’s business sense; “Friends” charters that didn’t succeed got shut down; the successful ones carried on.
To: House GOP Caucus, Senate GOP Caucus
From: Mitch Berg, ornery peasant
Congrats on taking the majority. I’m truly overjoyed.
Now, let’s get real.
Focus: Ever watched someone doing karate? When they do a strike, they focus all their energy, from their waist on down through their hands, into their knuckle. One or two of them. Because that’s how you inflict as much force as possible on your target – focusing the energy.
We’ll come back to that.
Focus Some More: When the Allies landed in Normandy in 1944, it took eight or so weeks of brutal fighting to break through the German defenses.
And when the Allies forced that breakthrough, did they then pause, and redirect to the invasion of Denmark?
No! They focused on driving to Berlin, and destroying any enemy that got in their way!
They focused on the mission at hand!
No. Really Focus: You have the majority in both chambers of the Legislature (if only by a vote in the Senate).
You got it for three reasons:
- The Dems brought us MNSure, and you were able to tie it around their necks
- The economy in greater Minnesota isn’t nearly as spiffy as it is in the Metro
- Just like nationwide – the metro “elites” are utterly disconnected with the experience of Greater Minnesota.
That is why you have the majority. Not to protect marriage. Not to argue about who goes in what bathrooms.
Heathcare. Economy. Elites.
No more. No less.
I Said Focus, MKay?: It was six short years ago that voters last gave you both chambers of the Legislature. Even with a DFL ideologue for a governor, it was a golden opportunity. You were given that majority because:
- Obama overreached – on healthcare
- The economy in Greater Minnesota sucked!
- The DFL had made a hash out of the budget.
What did you – or at least the previous leadership – do?
Well, good work on the budget, to be honest. But that wonky triumph was overshadowed by the national, media-stoked furor over the Gay Marriage issue. The legislature bet a ton of political capital…
…on an issue that had nothing to do with you getting your majority.
If you’re a North Dakota or Montana Republican, with a near-permanent majority and an opposition Democrat party that barely qualifies as a party at all, you can spend political capital on anything you want, and there’ll be no consequences. It might even work (long enough to get struck down by the Supreme Court, anyway).
But not in Minnesota, the purplest of purple states.
Focus Focus Focus Focus Focus!: This is not North Dakota. Perhaps if you hold your majorities long enough to bring a quarter century of unbridled prosperity to Minnesota and we might become so lucky. But we’re nowhere close to that yet.
You were elected by a fickle electorate over…what?
Let’s run the list again:
- The economy in greater MN
- Our idiot elites
You have political capital – a mandate, indeed.
And like the Allies after D-Day, you need to focus that capital on beating the enemy in front of us; MNSure, taxes, regulations, mining-phobia.
And like Bruce Lee, you need to focus that energy straight to the metaphorical knuckle, as narrowly and overwhelmingly as you can to win on the issues we, the voters, sent you there to win!
For The Love Of God, Focus!: I’ve heard talk of legislators discussing floating some legislation:
- Rest Rooms: Don’t be idiots. We already have laws making mischief in bathrooms illegal. And all it’s gonna take is one angry father or grandfather at some Target somewhere to make that issue pretty well self-enforcing. It’s a private property issue, And it’s a distraction. Deal with the restrooms when the majority is rock solid safe.
- Abortion: It’s an important thing. I get it. It’s also not why you were sent to Saint Paul. Not this time. If you win long and big enough, you’ll get your chance. This is not that chance. Do not screw this up.
- Other social issues: Stop. Just stop. Now. Seriously.
GOP legislators: today, you control the agenda in Saint Paul. It gives you a huge opportunity. With the opportunity comes risk; if you take the GOP majority off beam, and bog the party down in a fight that has nothing to do with why you have the majority, fighting a veto you can’t win over an issue that does nothing but focus all of the Big Democrat Money, all their bottomless funding and masses of drooling droogs, over something that the voters that sent you to Saint Paul don’t care about nearly as much as healthcare and the economy, you will deserve to lose again in 2016.
Focus focus focus.
Kill MNSure. Kill regulations. Lower taxes.
No. More than that. Focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus focus.
No. More than that.
Sing along with me: Kill MNSure. Kill regulations. Lower taxes. Kill MNSure. Kill regulations. Lower taxes. Kill MNSure. Kill regulations. Lower taxes.
Win the war we sent you there to win.
Oh – and focus.
No. More than that.
Frank Drake is running and extremely aggressive, and fairly tart, campaign against Keith Ellison in the fifth Congressional District.
Will it work? I saw the 1980 Olympic hockey team; I do believe in miracles. I’m a Republican in the inner city, so I have to.
Top Keith Ellison accomplishments:
1) I promise to end these wars, and not start any new wars.
2) Minneapolis is now a UN sanctuary city funded by Minnesotans.
3) I can show up anywhere, and I’m the story.
4) The DNC was impartial. That’s why “Keith’s for Hillary” now.
5) Who’s this Frank Drake dude anyway?
6) Community Action of Minneapolis was a great front and money laundering operation until it was seized by the Government for fraud. Bill Davis remains a trusted advisor. President Obama will pardon him before leaving office.
7) Marijuana remains a Class 1 Narcotic, just like Heroin.
8) Keith Ellison was never involved, in any way, with the overthrow of Syria or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
9) Unemployment is low, especially in our urban centers. That 4.5% Unemployment Rate is true, despite 1/3 of all Americans not working. Over 94,000,000 Americans don’t work.
10) Our Government is in the business of War. Private prisons are a growth industry.
11) My ideas are proven in Venezuela and many controlled economies.
Keith Ellison’s ideas resonate like a frying pan dropped from a five-story building hitting the pavement.
Drake has a way with words that we could use a lot more of an inner-city Republican politics.
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.
In journalism class, my freshman year of college, the professor referred to the classic definition of the difference between news and, well, not news; “Dog bites man” is not news; “Man bites dog” is news.
With that in mind, this story qualifies as “Dog sniffs dog”.
Or maybe “Dog licks self”.
Tonight, we’ll be doing a special edition of the NARN, live from the GOP State Convention in Duluth, from 6-8PM!
Who will be on the show? What’ll we be talking about? We’ll be talking a fair amount about the goings-on at the GOP State Central Committee – and of course, the Judicial Elections Commission.
Don’t forget – King Banaian is on from 9-11AM on AM1440, and Brad Carlson has “The Closer” edition of the NARN Sundays from 2-3PM.
So tune in the Northern Alliance! You have so many options:
- AM1280 in the Metro
- Streaming at AM1280’s Website
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- On Twitter (the Volume 2 show will use hashtag #narn2)
- Via my UStream video and chat channel.
- Send us an SMS text message – 651-243-0390
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- And make sure you fan us on our new Facebook page!
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.
Walter Hudson says if there’s to be a civil war in the GOP, let’s fight it to win:
hat said, the risk of a general election loss was first assumed by embracing Trump to this point. As our nominee, Trump will decimate what remains of our credibility. Our candidates up and down the ticket will be saddled with his horrendous personal behavior and called upon to answer for his irresponsible rhetoric. Efforts at developing new constituencies and expanding the base to suit rapidly shifting demographics will wither and die. Trump will further homogenize and calcify a party which needs now more than at any other time in its history to diversify and grow.
The only way to mitigate the damage Trump will cause, and repair the damage already done, will be for Republicans to oppose him as Republicans. We have to lay claim to our party and reject him as its standard bearer. We have to present a contrast, from within the party, to his vile persona and unprincipled authoritarian agenda. That means stepping outside our comfort zone, defying conventional expectations, and ruffling more than a few feathers.
The whole thing is worth a read.
As far as I’m concerned?
I grew up reading stories like “Endurance” (30 guys surviving on an ice floe for over a year, before rowing lifeboats across the subarctic South Atlantic to safety), and “Escape from Sobibor” (people escaping an extermination camp and surviving in the woods until liberation came) and “Rickenbacker” (surviving on a raft in the Pacific for three weeks) and “Alive” (people surviving in the Andes after a plane crash). Non-fiction, by the way.
Those are the stories I’ve kept in my mind as I’ve gone through some of my life’s own travails (and I’ve had some doozies – but nothing like the above. Which is, of course, the point).
The Trump “Crisis” and the battle for the soul of the GOP? Pffft. Bring it.
I’m not going to theatrically pack up and leave the GOP. Partly because I (and many people much better than I) have worked too hard to bring the MNGOP a long way from where it was a generation ago. Don’t believe me? Check out Arne Carlson’s and Dave Jennings’s budget numbers, and then let’s talk. It’s not changed enough, fast enough, but it’s changed.
And partly because I did it once. I left the GOP in disgust in 1994, and went to the Libertarians. The Libertarian Party is a clown car. It will never get anyone elected to office. It *can* never get anyone elected – because it is a glorified frat party that exists mostly to purity-test each other to a fine sheen. They can’t even run a state convention, much less a government (and they’ll say “that’s the point!”, and they’ll be correct, but not the way they think they are). And libertarianism is a lovely philosophy, which at its logical conclusion depends on a complete suspension (or ignorance) of human nature. It’s no less a fantasy world than “democratic socialism” is. I’ll write in my dog before I vote for a Libertarian.
Anyway – I’m coming around to Walter’s point of view. Give it a read.
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.
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.
Republican Chad Anderson upsets the DFL – ahd “Democratic Socialist” trash collection – in a special election, flipping Ann Lenczewsi’s seat in a district only marginally less DFL-secure than any other in the first tier of burbs:
With all the precincts tallied in the special election to replace Lenczewski, Anderson netted 51 percent to DFL Bloomington City Council member Andrew Carlson’s 49 percent.
The win gives Republicans, who are already in the House majority, an extra legislative vote this year and a key boost of confidence before November’s election, when the entire Legislature is up for election.
Both House Republican and Democratic-Farmer-Labor campaign arms spent thousands of dollars on ads targeting the Bloomington area, an unusual step in special elections. About 5,000 voters turned out Tuesday.
Losing Lenczewski’s seat has to have people at the DFL’s office on Plato Boulevard changing their underwear today. It’s not quite like flipping a seat in Minneapolis – but it’s not that far from it, either.
Andrew Carlson – the DFL contender, and an incumbent Bloomington City Council member – was instrumental in jamming down Cuban-style socialized trash collection in Bloomington last year.
UPDATE: What could be better than flipping a DFL sinecure? Doing it while spending 1/4 as much as the Democrat did.
More on that tomorrow.
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.
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?
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.
BERG: So yet again, it seems that “libertarian principle” isn’t really as big a deal as trying to TP the MNGOP….
(ANNAN leaves the room. And SCENE)
I rarely if ever endorse candidates, per se. I figure it’s not my job – who am I, after all? I inform; you decide.
But I live in Saint Paul. The Fourth Congressional District; Senate District 65; House 65A. I’m “represented” by Betty McCollum, Sandy Pappas and Rena Moran. And while I do my best to get involved in politics in my own neighborhood, let’s be honest; I probably have a greater impact elsewhere.
Of course, Andy Aplikowski is a longtime friend of this blog. And of mine, for that matter. One of the co-founders of True North, one of the smartest political numbers guys I know, half of one of the genuinely nicest couples I know. Andy’s running to replace Brandon Petersen in the Senate. And I hope he wins.
Andy’s got the endorsement of the SD35 party apparatus. But he’s gotta get through a primary against long-time former rep. Jim Abeler.
Now, I’ve interviewed Abeler a few times. He’s a great guy; there are those who choose to demonize those they disagree with, and neither Abeler nor I are them. And in his interviews, Abeler makes a solid case for some of the votes he’s taken. Not solid enough to convince me, but nothing to brush aside, either.
But one vote that concerned me, as someone who’s gone around and around with the public school system, is a vote he took that ended up denying vouchers to students in Minneapolis and Saint Paul schools. Did Abeler have his reasons? I’m sure he did – but they pale against the opportunity that arises when you allow the free market, personified by giving the parents the fiscal clout to say “no” to the district system, to have its effect.
So while I’m not sure what Abeler’s policy reasons are, I know that the vote did earn him some powerful friends. No, I mean some very powerful friends, friends with deep pockets and heavy-duty outsized clout in Minnesota politics.
Anyway – if you’re in SD35, or have friends there, by all means let ’em know where the School Choice vote goes.
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:
- The JEC recommended Michelle McDonald – a controversial family-law lawyer – for nomination to run for the Supreme Court (SCOM).
- 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.
- The following week, the media reported that McDonald had a pending DUI charge awaiting trial.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Keeping freedom is a full-time job. The bulk of it involves keeping your side on the right side.
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
It’s a rookie flub.
But you’re no rookie.
You’re gonna wind up spending a lot of that Super-PAC money digging out of this one.
SCENE: Mitch BERG is prowling the aisles at Fleet Farm in Lakeville, looking for .22 Long Rifle ammo.
He rounds a corner, and runs into Bill GUNKEL, former Republican and now chairman of the Inver Grove Heights chapter of “Former Republicans for Ron Paul”,
GUNKEL: Hey, Merg!
BERG: Hey, Bill.
GUNKEL: The RINO statist John Kline is retiring from office!
BERG: Yeah, Representative Kline wasn’t the most conservative congressman we’ve had.
GUNKEL: He may as well have been a Democrat!
BERG: Enh. And in an R+2 district…well, bygones is bygones. The real question is who’s gonna replace him? I’ve heard talk of State Senator Dave Thompson, Mary Pawlenty…
GUNKEL: Why elect another RINO?
BERG: Um, what? Dave Thompson is a RINO?
GUNKEL: He never criticized Kline!
BERG: Er, why would he do that?
GUNKEL: Why not?
BERG: Violating Reagan’s 11th commandment by attacking other conservatives, even imperfect ones? Alienating Kline supporters in his own district, to no benefit to himself? Spending political capital on something that gains him nothing?
GUNKEL: Gains him nothing? He’d get the respect of the Liberty voters!
BERG: You mean the people who bum-rushed the 2012 State Convention to send a slate of delegates to Tampa to make a symbolic vote for Ron Paul, and then largely went home and never came to another GOP meeting? Who pushed Kurt Bills to the nomination, then abandoned him when he actually acted like he was part of the party that endorsed him? A group that seems more focused on bashing Republicans than winning elections?
BERG: Right. OK, so Dave Thompson is insufficiently pure. Gotcha. So who do you support?
GUNKEL: David Gerson. The only candidate to support if you care about Liberty!
BERG: Gerson says all sorts of things I support. I’ve got no problem with him. I’d love to have him on the show. It’s just that last go-around, he raised less money than a typical Saint Paul Republican legislative candidate.
GUNKEL: So? Money isn’t everything.
BERG: Right. But it’s a leading indicator. If someone can’t raise money from supporters to run a campaign, it’s a fair question to ask whether they can raise votes.
GUNKEL: Well, it’ll be different this time!
BERG: Well, that’d sure make the race more interesting! I think a solid, credible challenge from the Libertarian wing of the party would be a very good thing. But the candidate – and especially his campaign – have got to ramp up the game.
GUNKEL: Oh, we will, by the time of the election on March 1.
BERG: Um, what?
GUNKEL: We’ll get the support out in droves by the time the battle for all the marbles, on March 1, happens.
BERG: Um, March 1 is the caucuses.
GUNKEL (looking confused): Riiiight?
BERG: Not the general election.
GUNKEL: (Shrugs extravagantly, indicating non-comprehension)
BERG: March 1 is when he’ll try to knock off other GOP…Oh, never mind.