ABM Flies Above That Circling Fin

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

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

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

LUCKING:  What?

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

LUCKING:  Go.

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

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

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

(UNDERLING makes a note). 

That’ll be all. 

(UNDERLING leaves). 

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

HUMID:  Er, Carrie…

(LUCKING clears her throat)

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

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

(HUMID takes a  note, leaves the room).

(There is a knock on the door).

LUCKING:  What?

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

LUCKING (Bored):  Yes. 

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

DAYTON:  Say, uh…

LUCKING:  I’m busy.

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

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

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

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

LUCKING:  I’d run with “extreme”.

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

LUCKING:  No.

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

(More idle time).

(Finally, UNDERLING enters).

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

LUCKING (sounding bored):  DFLers from where?

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

LUCKING:  Huh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LUCKING (staring into space):  Too extreme. 

UNDERLING:  And how about Tom Bakk.

LUCKING (visibly bored):  Too extreme. 

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

LUCKING:  Oh.

(Ryan WINKLER walks in)

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

UNDERLING: Really?

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

UNDERLING:  You don’t know…?

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

UNDERLING:  He’s blind. 

WINKLER:  I don’t get it. 

LUCKING:  He’s too extreme.

UNDERLING:  Right…

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

(Silence from behind DAYTON’s door)

LUCKING:  HEY!

DAYTON:  Ok. 

(And SCENE)

Lucking: “So Stupid You’re Not Acting Stupid…”

Carrie Lucking may be the second most powerful person in Minnesota.

She’s the “Executive Director” of “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” – meaning that when Alida Messinger says “jump”, Lucking tells “Governor” Dayton how high, and off what, he’s to leap. 

She is, in effect, the real “Lieutenant Governor” of Minnesota.

But beyond that, she is in charge of ABM’s endless campaign to disinform (or as they used to say, “lie to”) the people of Minnesota – or, more accurately, to the low-information voters that are the DFL’s most important constituency. 

And she unleashed a howler yesterday:

State Senator Dave Thompson portrays himself as an unabashed conservative: a vocal, passionate defender of liberty at all costs.

Given this image, it’s notable that the former conservative talk radio host hasn’t published a blog or posted his legislative newsletter online since 2013. Whatever happened in 2013 that would make Thompson go mum in 2014? Hmmmm….

Could it be politics?

Well, duh.  Of course it’s politics. Specifically, the politics of making yourself “opposition-researcher proof”.  If you’re considering running for office, you take down your blog; you stop Tweeting; you hide your Facebook page.  All of your messaging goes through your campaign; it’s all vetted, measured and slept on before it’s put out in front of the public and the media, to avoid ”ready-fire-aim” moments like Judi Dutcher’s “Ethanol” flub, or any of Michele Bachmann’s history of PR botches – because the media is always looking for a good political flub, and ABM will be there to make sure the media don’t miss any such flubs. 

Or even non-flubs. 

So when Lucking breathlessly purrs…:

Thompson announced his campaign for Governor in the summer of 2013, a few months after he stopped publishing his From the Senate Floor blog and Senate newsletter

Thompson has gone mum

online.

Posting snafu? New legislative aide who forgot to put the newsletter online?

…she’s being disingenuous.  She knows as well as anyone that every candidate, GOP or DFL - at least every smart one – locks down their commentary when they’re getting ready to go on the trail. 

One thing is certain, though. Dave Thompson the radio host sure had a lot more to say than Dave Thompson the politician running for Governor.

Well, duh. 

Now, Carrie Lucking is a terrible writer and a breathless apparatchik – but she knows her audience; people who don’t know any better.  People who don’t have the time, inclination, or resources to check the story behind the “stories” ABM shovels to them.  People who only follow politics for the day, or days, or week or two before elections, people who make up their minds about elections over gut reactions and visceral responses to chanting points and sound bites, as well as the self-lobotomized droogs that wouldn’t know how not to vote DFL. 

Behind everyone who doesn’t really know the facts and doesn’t want to or know how to find them out for themselves, is a potential DFL voter. 

But that’s what Lucking gets paid to write.

The real question; will Rachel Stassen-Berger at the Strib, or Tom Scheck at MPR, ever point out to the less-informed in the audience what a facile bit of rhetoric this is?  Will MPR’s “Poligraph” give this statement the “Oh, Hell No” it deserves?   Will anyone in the Minnesota mainstream media ever tackle the Alliance’s endless, cynical campaign of disinformation, not to mention probe their deeply incestuous relationship with the Governor’s office and the DFL?

Place your bets.

Agents Of Decay

I’m of several minds about MNGOP Chair Keith Downey’s broadside at the MNDFL and the “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” in the Pioneer Press last Thursday. 

On the one hand, acknowledging it is a sign that the Minnesota Left’s campaign – relying as it does on relentless name-calling and smearing – works. 

On the other hand – it does work.  You don’t need to be a pollster to know that the “Emmer Had Two DUIs” jape likely cost Tom Emmer the 2010 gubernatorial election all by itself. 

And on the third hand, not acknowledging it won’t make it go away. 

And there’s a fourth hand.  We’ll come back to that. 

Downey:

Demonizing personal insults flow far too easily from Minnesota Democrats these days. The latest: Rep. Ryan Winkler calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “Uncle Thomas.” Offensive enough on its own, worse, Winkler’s attack is but a symptom.

DFL Party Chair Ken Martin and Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s Executive Director Carrie Lucking have perfected a systematic program in Minnesota that takes political name calling to a new level.

This strategy is straight out of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.” Alinsky’s Rule #5 states: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” Rule #12 says: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Ken Martin at a meeting with Alida Messinger

 

And the two – Martin, who’s spent a career as Alida Messinger’s cringing lapdog and bag man, and Lucking, a woman who gives off that “my life peaked in high school” vibe, a former junioir high social studies teacher who was a spectacular two-time failure as a campaign manager (oh, crapt, now I’m doing it.  I’m sorry) – have certainly raised name-calling to a low, profane art.

The Democrats’ implementation in Minnesota is intentional and well-developed:

Step one: Attach a negative personal label to an opponent that appeals to emotion and has nothing to do with governing.

Step two: Spend a few million dollars to make the label stick.

Step three: Have your candidates pretend to take the high road.

Although Ryan Winkler never got that memo.

Representative Winkler

DAMMIT!  I’m doing it again!  The slope of civility sure is slippery!

Of course, neither Lucking nor Martin can do anything else; Conservatives on Twitter know that neither of them has the brains or the information to debate at a level higher than name-calling…

…sorry.  I slipped again. 

Downey:

Unfortunately, this formula has proven effective for Democrats. It is now a rapid-response machine. As any Republican candidate steps forward to run for public office in 2014, within hours, usually minutes, Martin and Lucking flood the online and traditional media. Here is a recent sampling: “just another rich guy who likes to fire people”; “just another hypocritical, Gingrich politician”; “vulture capitalist and Minnesota Romney wannabe #2″; “anti-government government official”; “isn’t quite ready for the bright lights”; “failed businessman, failed gubernatorial candidate and right-wing talker”; “a voice for the hard-core right-wing, not hard-working families”; “an extreme choice for Minnesota.”

As I noted a few weeks back, it’s having a noxious effect on politics in Minnesota; I know personally of one potential candidate for significant office for which the specter of the ABM smear machine is a serious consideration; they seriously wonder if it’s worth the damage their families will take at the hands of the droogs that take ABM’s lies seriously. 

Minnesota voters deserve better, and even in politics the truth matters. Public officials and candidates put their lives and careers on hold to step forward and serve the people of Minnesota. Attack their ideas, fair enough; but build a messaging machine to insult them personally?

Now, let’s depart for a moment from Lucking and Martin who, let’s be honest, are just sled dogs pulling the way their musher tells them to. 

Who lets them get away with it?

The media brahmins in the editorial suites at 425 Porland, 5th and Cedar and 7th and Cedar like to wax rhapsodic about the need for civility, an informed electorate, and a better brand of politics – usually intoned while looking down their aquiline noses at (conservative) talk radio. 

And conservatives – most of talk radio and their alternative media included – almost invariably take the high road.  And the closer you get to the seats of conservative power, the less likely you are to see anyone getting their hands dirty. 

Ken Martin, Carrie Lucking and “Governor” Dayton getting ready for a meeting with Alida Messinger.

But ABM’s toxic sleaze campaign is paid for by Mark Dayton’s ex-wife and the group lavishly funded by his biggest supporters –  the unions and liberal plutocrats – and run by the significant other (girlfriend or wife – Lucking is cagey on her domestic specifics) of “Governor” Dayton’s Chief of Staff. 

And you will find not a f****ng word about it in the Twin Cities media

Not one word.

Rachel Stassen-Berger at the Strib, Bill Salisbury at the PiPress, the entire “Capitol Stenography Press Corps”, everyone is hands-off ABM.  TheMinnPost?  Hell, that’s turned into another DFL PR firm.

Nobody prodded the coziness of the relationship – one might call it “chain of command” – between Dayton’s office and the attack-PR firm his ex-wife pays his chief of staff’s girlfriend/wife/whatever to run. 

It’s another example of the media abdicating what some used to call its “responsibility”.

The DFL’s Ministry Of Truth

Check out Carrie Lucking of the Alliance For A Better Minnesota Ministry Of Truth, essentially admitting that Governor Dayton’s Jerbs Plan is exactly what I said it wasa sound bite that isn’t intended to pass the legislature, merely to give the DFL a chanting point designed to give the DFL something to wave in front of ill-informed voters this fall (“Look!  The GOP voted down a jerbs program! They’re taking yer jerbs!”)

Can I call ‘em or what?

The DFL has turned its entire messaging operation over to the “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”, which – as we showed in 2010 – is owned and operated by the unions and “The 1%”,  liberal plutocrats with very deep pockets.

In the 2010 campaign, they raised lying, disingenuity, intellectual dishonesty and cowardice to amazing new levels. They are testimony to the liberal ideal that the ends justify your means – and the only end that matters is gaining and retaining power.  Minnesota’s last gubernatorial election was swung entirely by the fact that ABM was able to find at least 8,000 Minnesotans who don’t read blogs and who took anything they heard from a mainstream media just would not, cou.

There is one rule to remember when reading or watching any ABM production; they are padding the facts, bludgeoning context.  If they say it, it’s a lie – or at the very least, it’s wrong, and anyone who bothers to check knows it.   If Denise Cardinal or Carrie Lucking (ABM’s current and former executive directors stenos for Alita Messinger and Elliot Seid) tell you their names are Denise Cardinal and Carrie Lucking, double-check them. There is an oops buried in there somewhere.  Not sure how, but bank on it.

Their ideal – and the mission for which they are so very well-paid – is to find the Big Lies that will spin the election, and tell them often enough so that just enough dim-witted and gullible Minnesotans buy it.

And this blog’s mission in this coming election is to make sure everyone with a brain to think knows exactly what ABM is; the Big Lie Factory.  The DFL’s “Ministry Of Truth”

It’s what passes for messaging in the DFL these days.  Bankrupt of any real ideas, it’s probably the best they can do.

Can Minnesota do better?

We’re 8,000 votes away.

Chanting Points Memo: “Tergeted Jerbs”

With much fanfare from the media and the DFL’s press-release bloggers (most of them), the Dayton Administration released its “jobs plan”.

Call it “porkulus with a side of lefse“.  It’s a dumb plan – and there’s language in here that shows the DFL knows it (emphasis added):

Saint Paul – Governor Mark Dayton and DFL Legislators together today announced a plan that if passed by the legislature, will put thousands of Minnesotans back to work this year.

And there’s the tell.  This “plan” – more below – will come to the legislature bundled with some of the other nonsense Governor Dayton couldn’t get through the GOP-controlled legislature last session.  The legislature will toss it.  The DFL/media (ptr),the Strib editorial board and the chanting point bots will say “The GOP took your jerbs!” in November.

This plan is intended for no more.

To encourage businesses to hire new employees, Governor Dayton and the DFL Legislators propose offering a New Jobs Tax Credit. This would be a one-time $3,000 tax credit to any Minnesota business for each veteran, unemployed worker or recent graduate they hire during calendar year 2012, and a $1,500 credit for each new hire through June 2013. This $35 million program would create over 10,000 new, private-sector jobs this year.

Which is a great way to create a bunch of low-wage temporary jobs.

Business owners, I’d love to hear from you.  $3,000 is better than a kick in the teeth.  But given the other uncertainties in the economy.- Obamacare and the coming tax hikes and all the other regulatory nonsense that’s been pecking you to death and all the rest that’s looming in the next two years, not to mention Minnesota’s already-miserable business taxes  - isn’t it more like whizzing in the wind?

Like- a chanting point?

It’s a sign that the DFL has learned one lesson – sort of.  They’ve learned that “eat the rich”, in and of itself, isn’t a strategy for a session.  They have to put a meaningless veneer of “job creation” on top of it.

Other proposals in the plan include a new bonding bill with details to be announced next week, a proposal that will help Minnesota compete for business expansion through the Minnesota Investment Fund, an expansion of the FastTRAC program to provide career-specific training to prepare adults for the jobs of the future and the creation of the Minnesota Opportunity Grants Pilot Program which will help Minnesotans get the training required for high-demand careers.

Read:  a) Construction jobs for Dayton’s union backers, b) spending to try to convince businesses that the tax climate isn’t so bad, and c/d) more spending that benefits Dayton’s supporters in the education industry, coupled with platitudes, as if government has ever successfully predicted about what anything will be tomorrow. 

Dayton:

“From day one, my top priority has been to get Minnesota working again.

No, Governor Dayton.  With all due respect, from day one,  your priority has been to do what the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, Win Minnesota,and the unions have told you to do.  Last year, they told you to Eat The Rich.  Class warfare bombed.

With that out of the way…

Our jobs plan will help businesses create good jobs for thousands of Minnesotans who are looking for work.

No, it won’t.  It’s of little value alive – at $3K credit is bupkes – but of value as a wedge issue dead. Which is why you have your chanting-point bots yapping so hard about it now.

We need to focus on what we know will work: investing in infrastructure, providing incentives to private sector businesses to create more jobs, and training workers for high-demand careers.

Again with the code words.

Look- if you slash business taxes and cut regulations, the economy improves.  Revenue booms based on economic activity.  Then you build the infrastructure. Then you needn’t worry about training, because companies will train their own workers,on their own dime (although they’re happy to let the state pay for it, too).  That is the only “incentive” you need.

And it’s the one the GOP’s been talking all along.

And it’d hardly do to campaign on that, if you’re the DFL,now – would it?

The important part, of course, is preventing Minnesotans from getting fooled by this Potemkin plan.

Out For Drinks With “Lucky” Carroll

I met my old friend, Inge Carroll (whom everyone calls “Lucky”) at a local watering hole to compare notes about politics the other day.  Lucky is a DFL operative.

CARROLL: So did you see teh article?  Teh Republican party said came into offices saying they were going to create jobs,but they have cost 16,000 jobs!

MITCH: For starters, why do you always pronounce “the” as “teh” after you drink cosmpolitans?  And then, huh?  You’ve missed the news? Minnesota’s unemployment rate is down.

CARROLL:  You are teh lier!  Didn’t you hear it on teh MPR?  Teh Republican policies have cost 16,000 jobs!  That means all of you Rethuglicons are TEH LIER!

(CARROLL orders another cosmopolitan)

MITCH: Um, what on earth are you talking about?  Minnesota is recovering from the recession faster than other states, largely because the GOP stood off Dayton’s orgy of taxes and regulations.

CARROLL:  Hah!  You didn’t read the article, did you?  You don’t even know what I”m talking about!

MITCH:  Well, that’d make two of us, if it were true – but yes, I read it. It says that because of LGA cuts, local government are having to either raise taxes, or cut government jobs, or both.

CARROLL:  Yep?  16,000 jobs!

MITCH:  OK.  Well, sorry to hear that – being out of work sucks. But what, you think government jobs are sacrosanct?

CARROLL:  Oh, I think people kind of like having teachers and firemen and cops and services.

MITCH:  Well, at face value, it looks more like people in towns around Minnesota like to have them – provided they can get someone else to pay for them.  When they have to pay for them themselves, not so much.

CARROLL:  (Glares at MITCH):   Why do you hate the troops?

(And SCENE).

Lucky had to get back to her job at “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”, where she power-sands memes.

Back To The Future

Here’s what I’m hoping happened on Tuesday:

  1. The Senate took a move to reassure people in and outside the party that the GOP is a sane, sober, grown-up party that, despite the press’ giggly and untoward obsession with the Koch “scandal”, is in the business of running a solid government in pulling former minority leader Senjem off the bench.
  2. Senjem – called a “pro-business conservative” by some of the leftybloggers (which means “moderate enough to not make them wet their pants with fear”), and a relative moderate by the rest of the world, is a calming, reassuring figure – partly to the caucuses (one of which he’s run before), and mostly to the rest of the world.
  3. The Senate, however, has recognizes the invigorating reality that the majority Senjem leads is mostly freshmen, swept into office on a wave of Tea Party conservative fervor, and who both went there to do what they were sent there to do and who haven’t, so far, gone native.   The assistant leaders include Roger Chamberlain, a straight-talking conservative from Lino Lakes, upperclassman Paul Gazelka of Brainerd, Ted Lillie of Lake Elmo and Claire Robling of Jordan, who may have been the architect of any non-tax “solution” we have on the Vikings stadium, among other things.  If you’re a Tea Partier, this is a pretty acceptable rounding-out of the leadership.

That’s what I’m hoping anyway.  Sources at the Capitol tell me that the caucus was rife with conflict during the last session, as the more-conservative freshman majority within the majority struggled with the more-moderate upper class senators.  Hopefully this is a sign that the struggles have been worked out, and the Senate can get down to the business of kicking Tom Bakk and Mark Dayton Alita Messinger’s butts.

Perfect is the enemy of good enough.  I’d hoped for Dave Hann for majority leader – but I have a hunch the splatter from the Koch incident stuck to a number of the principals; of the four leaders involved in the press conference a few weeks back that announced the flap to the public, Hann, Gerlach and Michel are absent from the leadership.  It’s a shame; Hann was one of the better upperclass members of the chamber last session.

Anyway, onward and upward; it’s time to not only kick Dayton’s the Alliance For A Better Minnesota and the SEIU’s agenda back under the bus, but defend every seat of that majority, and hopefully extend it.

More on that next week.

What The Hell Do We Do About The MNGOP, Part V

More about the GOP Chair race,and the future of the position, later in the week.

The question for today is “what should a party look like these days?”

The DFL has followed a model similar to many IT companies; they are basically a shell.that administers groups of programmers in India, Ukraine and the Philippines.

The DFL is more or less the same. They’ve farmed out a lot of that policy, publicity, advertising, and interacting with the public stuff to other groups:  Alliance for a Better Minnesota,whose mission is to collect money from “progressive” plutocrats and unions to waterboard context about Republicans; “Win  Minnesota”, which collects money from plutocrats and unions to distribute to, well, Alliance for a Better Minnesota.  Then there’s the unions – the MFT,AFSCME, MAPE, the SEIU, Teamsters…

…and of course, the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits, Take-Action Minnesota, Common Cause,the League of Women Voters, MPIRG,and all the other non-profit agenda pimps…

…to say nothing of Big Feminist, Big Environment, Big Gay, Big Minority and Big Grievance (by which I mean the big, institutional lobbying arms of those social movements)

So what does this mean for a political party?

It means that the party can focus on running endorsements and a few other things, and leave all of the complicated stuff – advertising, communicating with voters, fundraising – to other other groups.  This is especially useful when it comes to trying to appeal to “big tents” full of voters; the unions can reach out to their constituents, and have their messages carefully sequestered away from Big Environment’s countervailing message, and neither will be the wiser.  (I think that’s part of the reason that so much of the messaging coming from the DFL proper is so very very stupid; all the talented communicators are working for 527s.

Of course, this means that the 527s are a little more equal than the voters – and to the DFL’s activists. And if Republicans wonder about how their party’s budget’s been spent, and want more transparency?  The money spent getting Democrats elected is accountable only to a raft of non-profit boards, union leadership and private parties with deep pockets.

Not a few Republicans have pondered if that’s the future of political parties; since so many businesses are doing more or less the same thing.  It’s probably irrelevant at the moment; there are not enough Republican-leaning 527s.  I’m not sure it’s something the GOP wants to do; I like the idea of standing in contrast with

More later this week.

Chanting Points Memo: “Peasants! Your Masters Are Displeased!”

Last week, we reported that according to the latest Minnesota Management and Budget figures, Minnesota’s state government took in almost $900 million more than it spent in the last year.

As I noted, it’s not all good news, for quite a number of reasons.  Some of the extra money came from the Feds.  Some of it was borroewed from future tobacco settlement fund payments – a source that should not only not be a piggy bank to plunder, notwithstanding that it should not exist at all.  And even if it was entirely due to the economy rebounding (and Minnesota’s is doing better than the national average, thanks in no small part to the GOP sweep last fall), the fact is that surpluses only mean that government is taking more from the economy than it needs; real surpluses should be rebated to the taxpayers – as in “people who pay taxes” – immediately.  But that’s a nicety for better times, not to mention genuine surpluses.  We’ll come back to that (no doubt after Obama and Dayton are bundled off to retirement).

A couple of the DFL legislators who caused the problem in the first place, Lyndon Carlson (the DFLer who first entered the Senate in 1928) and Dick Cohen, who inhabits a DFL sinecure in Highland Park, L were granted space in the Strib to pee in the GOP’s Whwaties:

We all breathed a sigh of relief when last week’s updated economic forecast showed a positive balance for the state in the current budget year. This was unexpected good news.

However, if we look at the budget by comparing both the “checking account” and the “credit card statement” — the way families and businesses do everyday — we’ll see our state’s structural budget problem is far from solved.

When a Republican talks about “structural budget problems”, you can be sure she’s talking things like “demand based budgeting – where every bureaucracy’s budget equals the previous budget, plus the bureacracy’s forecast, and inevitably self-serving, expected increase in delivering its service”.

When DFLers like Cohen and Carlson talk about “structural budget problems”, they mean “bureaucracies not getting what they demand, when they demand it”.

Keep that in mind as we continue.

Responding to the forecast, Republicans were quick to pat themselves on the back. House Speaker Kurt Zellers praised their “fiscal restraint” and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch lauded how the state had “lived within its means.”

Both of which are both true and false; the state did get federal money, and did borrow against future Tobacco Shakedown proceeds.

Carlson and Cohen’s deceit lies in the details:

Most Minnesotans, looking at the numbers, would see it differently. Here’s a look at each side of the ledger. Judge for yourself:

Checking Balance: $876 million. The updated economic forecast shows Minnesota has a current “surplus” of $876 million. Like a household checking account, these are funds to cover expenses during the budget cycle we’re currently in.

But unlike most checking accounts, our state’s balance has not been completely generated through money that’s been saved up.

Of course not.  The GOP, faced with an intransigent governor who is in office solely to serve the “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”, “Win Minnesota”, “Take Action Minnesota”, “Common Cause” and the unions, bent on the budget last session, spending a couple billion more than they should have,

Had we done it the way the conservatives said to do it, we’d have multibillion-dollar surplus and no borrowed money.

They’d also have been able to eliminate statements this:

Current Debt: $4.2 billion. Our state’s “credit card statement” reveals a lot of new red ink due to the budget Republicans passed after taking our state to a government shutdown. In the next budget cycle, Minnesotans will face a $1.3 billion budget deficit.

This has been a familiar story. In eight of 10 years, the state has faced a deficit. Instead of making permanent adjustments to our budget, we have used one-time dollars, accounting shifts, and borrowing. All this patchwork and duct tape hasn’t solved the problem.

This takes us back to the “structural budget problems”, above.  The only deficit is in terms of current spending versus the bureaucracy’s projected future demands.  To use Cohen and Carlson’s “family budget” example, it’s like giving your kid a $20/month cell phone plan and a $30 flip phone today, and having her tell you your bill is going to $250 plus $80 a month next year because, naturally, you’re getting them IPhones, whether you have the money to pay for it or not.

You know what you’d tell your daughter.  It’s exactly what we, The People, need to tell Carlson and Cohen.

They do not have first dibs on what we earn.  Our first and foremost job as citizens of Minnesota is not to keep the bureaucracy fat and happy, any more than it is to buy your kid and IPhone just because she wants one.

Continue reading

Same-Sex Marriage: Six Theses

As we start heading toward the next round of elections, both sides – the GOP and the DFL – are planning to make the biggest electoral hay that they can out of the Same Sex Marriage issue.

The GOP majority in the legislature put the issue of a Marriage Amendment on the ballot for next year.  The issue might just overshadow all other issues on the ballot, short of the presidency itself.

Just a couple of observations:

  1. Both Sides Need It To Be An Issue:  there’s evidence that the GOP left a lot of votes on the table in the 2010 gubernatorial election when Tom Emmer didn’t make gay marriage a key campaign issue.  Naturally, gay marriage is a bloody shirt that the DFL can wave at its constituents; they think it’ll get people to turn out.
  2. Neither side wants this issue to be resolved:  You caught the bit about this being a vote getter – or at least a perceived vote-getter – for both sides, right? It’s not just this election; however this amendment turns out next year, it’ll be an electoral carrot and stick for both parties to dangle out there for years to come…provided it’s not actually resolved, one way or the other.
  3. The GOP Has More To Gain By Keeping It As A Public Issue: While I agree with Andy Aplikowski that Minnesotans are generally a fairly socially libertarian bunch, I think that when you add up the math for the GOP, it’s a lot easier to get to “landslide win” if the evangelicans turn out for you.  And while evangelical conservatives will turn out for economic issues, throwing them some social red meat surely can’t hurt.  Can it?
  4. The DFL Has More To Lose: The Democrats nationwide are scrambling to give their base – to say nothing of independents – a reason to turn out next November.  Saddled with a turkey of a President, a Senate with approval lower than Mullah Omar, a slew of Senate seats at risk, the unions’ attempt to outsource agitation to the “Occupy” movement dissolving in a welter of filth, crime, sexual assault and counterculture dissipation, and Progressivism in the heartland rocked back on its heels by two-chamber flips in Wisconsin and Minnesota, the DFL needs to be able to wave the bloody shirt of “bigotry” at its gay and gay-sympathetic constituents.
  5. The DFL Needs It More: If the Democrats nationwide are in a public relations bind – still running against George W. Bush, looking forward to a campaign that has to answer the question “are you better off now than you were four years ago?” with “Hey! Mitt Romney has weird hair!”  - the DFL is worse.  They’re not really even a party anymore; The DFL is a shell that basically administers outsourcing contracts with “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”, “Take Action Minnesota”, “Win Minnesota”, “Common Cause”, “Draw The LIne” and other checkbook advocacy groups that do most of the “party’s” actual work; think “the Hessians”.  DFL could use something to get people to remember they exist.  (But they’ll likely subcontract this out to “Minnesotans For Marriage Equality”, a fully-owned subsidiary of “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”.  Yes, it’s fictional, but you know that’s basically how it’s going to work, don’t you?)
  6. The DFL Doesn’t Want Single-Sex Marriage Legalized: Think about it.  They’ve been nominally for gay marriage for thirty-odd years.  And from 2006, and especially 2008, through 2010 the DFL had absolute control of the Legislature; it was two chambers against Tim Pawlenty.  Now, the DFL maintains that a majority of Minnesotans support same sex marriage.  So if they actually believe that, why not push it through in the 2008 or 2010 sessions, when they had overwhelming control, were riding high on two landslide victories and the Obamascenscion?  ”Because Pawlenty would have vetoed it!  Why waste the votes?” is the usual answer.  So why not bypass Governor Pawlenty and go for an amendment?  Or use that purported majority of Minnesotans that favor the issue to either override the veto, or use it to get Republicans voted out of office back in 2010?  There really are only two reasons; one would be that there just isn’t that much of an electoral demand for same sex marriage – but we just know the DFL wouldn’t blow smoke up the state’s skirt, would it?  The other reason is that it’s not in the DFL’s interest either to push this issue (in the oh-so-unlikely even they’re lying) or, I suspect most likely, they don’t really want same sex marriage legalized; that would take it off the table as a get-out-the-vote issue.
Discuss.

Reality Is Conservative

Every once in a while, when I drop some factoid or another into a “debate” with a lib, I’ll wrap it with a bit of a verbal end-zone happy dance; “Sometimes”, I’ll say, “reality is just plain conservative”.

With that in mind – the five-member Judicial Redistricting Panel has ruled on the rules to be used in redistricting

…and it’s generally good news for those who support following the rules as they’ve sprung up over the past forty years or so:

For the first time, the panel said the metropolitan area should be regarded as 11 counties, not seven. As a result more exurban counties could be tied into districts in suburban and urban areas.

That was an approach Republicans favored, said Elizabeth Brama who represents the Republican party on redistricting. She said it’s unclear what effect the change will have.

“I don’t think it’s a question of one party or the other benefiting,” Brama said. “I think it’s more a question of just fairly representing where the people in the state of Minnesota live and how they organize themselves.”

Which, to be honest, is what the GOP has been shooting for all along; as Dr. Kent Kaiser has pointed out in numerous forums, the plan passed by the Legislature – really the GOP majority – did a good job of sticking to the letter and spirit of the body of law that this state has developed in its decades of sending these questions to the courts to decide.

It was the DFL that’s gone partisan; Mark Dayton vetoed the Legislature’s plan for purely partisan grounds.  (Actually, I suspect it was less “partisan” than that the unions, Alliance for a Better Minnesota and other groups that control the DFL didn’t give him permission to pass it).  And a group of groups that, by any rational measure, call at least some of the DFL’s shots – the groups behind “Draw The Line MN” - took their shot at skewing the system to favor “communities of interest” which, inevitably, are DFL constituencies.

Now, I’m going to do just a bit of place-keeping her for future debates.  I’ll add emphasis to this next bit, from Ken Martin, former head of “Win Minnesota”, one of the groups that funneled money from unions and liberals with deep pockets into the DFL’s campaign coffers, especially for their sleazy, toxic campaign against Tom Emmer last year.  He is the current chair of the DFL.

DFL party chair Ken Martin wasn’t surprised by those changes.

I think it’s pretty pro forma and certainly establishes a lot of the same principles that were in place ten years ago,” Martin said. “Again, without discussing this further with my team and being able to look at it more in detail, I can’t comment any more than that. But on the surface I think it’s fine. I don’t think it give any party an advantage over another.”

I’m emphasizing those passages now, for later.  Because you just know that if the Judicial Panel draws the lines based on these rules, the DFL and the groups that call its shots – the public employee unions, Alliance For A Better Minnesota, the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits, the League of Women Voters, Take Action Minnesota and Common Cause – will be screeching exactly the opposite, and demanding that you forget history in the bargain.

Because it’s a fairly simple thing – if you follow the rules set down in the past several court-decided apportionment decisions, the GOP should benefit; the parts of the state that support the GOP have grown, while the DFL parts have shrunk.  This represents many things – but we can not discount the fact that one of the key “communities of interest” are “people who moved to get the hell away from the cesspools the DFL has created” in the Twin Cities and Duluth.

The judical panel’s deadline to produce a redistricting map is February 21.

The Plutocrat

Over the weekend, Baird Helgeson at the Strib did a piece – the first I’ve personally found – on Alita Messinger, the largest non-union bankroller of the various “progressive” pressure groups that have been doing all the DFL’s actual work for it this past couple of years.  As I’ve been reporting for the past year or so, Messinger – an heir to the Rockefeller fortune – was the main funder of “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”‘s epic, toxic sleaze campaign that was the dominant – indeed, only – substantive output of the Dayton for Governor campaign last year (because, as this blog and the entire 2011 legislative session showed, he really had no other proposals).

Alida Messinger, an heir to the fabled Rockefeller fortune, has quietly given at least $10 million to candidates and causes over the past decade. Some recent gifts have been extraordinary: $500,000 to a group that last year backed her former husband, Mark Dayton, for governor. And before that, $1 million to help bankroll the ballot campaign for the Legacy amendment, which raised the state sales tax to create 25 years of new funding for conservation and cultural projects.

Once upon a time, the rich paid to improve life.  Alida Messinger pays to get government to get the improvements out of the taxpayer.

Now, Messinger is preparing for a new showdown that will be expensive, contentious and, for the first time, public.

She is vowing to do all she can to help the DFL regain control of the Legislature and get President Obama re-elected.

And I’m wondering if all those libs who’ve been wetting their pants over the Koch Brothers and ALEC will get the, um, juxtaposition?

Her millions could also become a force in the fight over the constitutional amendment on the ballot next year to define marriage as a union of man and woman — not gay couples. Messinger, 62, contends GOP politicians are harming Minnesota. “We are not a quality-of-life state anymore,” she said. “Citizens need to get involved and say we don’t like what you are doing to our state.”

She’s got a point.

Citizens; it’s time to get involved to blunt the influence of ofay, arrogant plutocrat dilettantes like Messinger.

Read Helgeson’s entire piece.  And then get pissed off.

They’ve got the dirty money – from plutocrats and the unions.  All we have is the desire to save this state.

The Later Debate

Why, yes – I did spend a bit of time talking redistricting over the weekend, now that you mention it.

On the NARN, it was my pleasure to interview MNGOP Chair Tony Sutton and his deputy, Michael Brodkorb (punctuated by a surprise appearance by Wisconsin governor Scott Walker; I’ll be posting the podcast link as soon as I find it) about the redistricting process and all the outside money the left is pouring into Minnesota to try to skew the process in their favor.

And then, last night, I drove out to Ramsey to appear on “The Late Debate” with Jack Tomczak and Ben Kruse.  I was on a panel with Gary Gross of Let Freedom Ring, Mike Dean of “Common Cause Minnesota”, and Kent Kaiser, who is part of Draw The Line Minnesota’s (DTL-MN) “Citizens’ Commission”.  In the interest of accuracy, I’ll note that in my piece last week, I lumped Kaiser in with the Commission’s liberal hypermajority, because I personally didn’t know any better; Kaiser is of course well-known in GOP circles as one of the good guys; I regret the error…

…especially since he was the unquestionable star of last night’s debate.

I’m not going to try to reconstruct the whole thing from memory – you can check out their podcast at their site, and Gary Gross did an excellent rundown of the proceedings over atLFR.

I’ll recap this bit, though; I walked in there with two main points:  I walked out with four:

Who’s Politicized?:  As Kaiser noted, the GOP legislative majority’s proposal follows the letter of the law, and the spirit of the last several judicial decisions, pretty closely.  The DFL’s map was…well, nonexistant.  They never drew one up.

It was Governor Dayton’s veto that was, as Kaiser noted, exceptionally politically capricious.

And this entire process recaps a pattern we started seeing during the 2008 election, and rose to a crescendo in last year’s gubernatorial race; the DFL isn’t so much a political party as it is a political holding company, outsourcing its actual policy and boots-on-the-ground work to its “strategic partners” – the unions, and the array of astroturf pressure groups like “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”, “Take Action Minnesota”, MPIRG, and “Draw The Line”.

Outside Money: Behind all of Draw The Line and Common Cause’s noble chatter about getting people involved – nay, getting them interested - in the redistricting process, the fact remains that a raft of “progressive” organizations are doing their level best to try to jimmy the redistricting in their favor, in a census period in which GOP-leaning districts exploded and DFL-districts continued withering.  The demographics aren’t a state phenomenon – and either is the left’s effort; “Draw The Line” is a regional, not state, entity, focusing on trying to attenuate (at least) the gains the GOP should get from pure demographics.  More below.

Competition: One of DTL-MN’s priorities – because it’s one of the priorities of its supporting groups (Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, the MN Council of Non-Profits and Take Action MN), is “competitive elections”.  On a policy level, this goal – making sure that politicians are accountable to electoral pressure from their voters – is laudable enough.

It’s at the implementation level that it either breaks down or shows its ideological stripes, depending on your point of view.  Minnesota is a divided state – but not evenly or consistently divided.

Let’s look at the example of a hypothetical state of about five million people, which is closely divided on a statewide basis – but where the division stacks up as follows:

  • An urban core – three, really – of about a million people that votes about 70/30 Democrat.
  • An outer-suburban and exurban ring that votes, in a good year, maybe 52-55 percent GOP.  Let’s assume a huge year, and say it’s 55-45 GOP.
  • The rest of the state – about half the population – which, to arrive at the sort of dead-even split that the last three statewide elections have shown, would be divided about 52-48 in favor of the GOP.

Of course it’s not hypothetical at all.  Minnesota is exactly that; a couple of big blue boils, the Twin Cities and Duluth, two Congressional and 20 legislative districts that routinely deliver 70+% to the DFL, surrounded by an exurban ring that, in a blowout year, might go 55-45 GOP (only two GOP-owned legislative districts topped 70% GOP, as opposed to 20 for the DFL), and an outstate that tips a little bit GOP, but is close enough to send Tim Walz and Collin Peterson to Congress.

So to make Minnesota “competitive” across the board, the legislative map would have to look like a couple of bicycle wheels, with spokes radiating out from the Marshall-Lake Bridge (and Canal Park in Duluth) all the way out to the state’s borders; the Congressional map would look like a big Key Lime (mmm, Key Lime) pie.

That is, of course, not acceptable practice.  New boundaries must, as much as possible, preserve existing community boundaries.

The answer, of course, is that Common Cause want the Republican parts of Minnesota to be competitive, and to leave the DFL-dominated Twin Cities and Duluth, and their 20 districts, pretty much alone.

“When did you stop beating your minorities?”: As Gary noted at LFR last week, there is a noxious little bon mot tucked away in the DTL-MN’s site:  ”Historically, redistricting has been done out of the public eye, without meaningful public input, and used to dilute the voting power of communities of color“.

The next sentence helpfully adds “Minnesota has a reputation for fair and clean government, but we believe we can do better“.

So if Minnesota has a “reputation for fair and clean government”, why mention trait that was a part of redistricting in Mississippi and Illinois and Alabama?  Because any thinking person knows that it’s immaterial to Minnesota’s history, right?

Of course; but the quote wasn’t included for the benefit of the thinking and literate audience; it was included to provide an inflammatory, polarizing soundbite for the ignorant – TV reporters and Strib columnists, for example – to latch onto.  Otherwise, if it has nothing to do with Minnesota’s history, why include it at all?

———-

That said, it was a fun time, and a generally good debate.  Up to the end, anyway.

I have been duking it out with Mike Dean of Common Cause for quite some time, mostly on Twitter.  I have been inviting him on the Northern Alliance to discuss Common Cause’s agenda and funding for a little over a year now; like many Twitter arguments, it’s been curt and acerbic.

And I’ll cop to the fact that I’ve had a bad attitude about Common Cause.  While they are disingenuous about being “non-partisan”, that’s fine; it’s a free country, you can say anything you want.  Hell, I can call myself “non-partisan” – but, of course, I don’t. More importantly, most of my impressions of Common Cause were formed in the early-mid 2000′s, when they agitated for a lot of really noxious policies, especially campaign finance reform speech rationing.

In person, Dean’s a heckuvva nice guy.  And he held his own pretty well, and stayed on his point, for the first 118 minutes of the show,. One of the points on which he stayed was an idea on which we all agreed at the beginning of the show; that we all wanted people to get more literate about and involved in the redistricting process, across the political board.

And so with that in mind, I reiterated my invitation to Dean to appear on the Northern Alliance one of these next weekends.

He turned it down – and then kept going.  ”What do we gain from it?”  he asked, noting that in my blog’s coverage of Common Cause I (paraphrasing him closely ) published “fairy tales” and “made things up”.

Nope.  Never.  In almost ten years, this blog has published things I don’t reasonably believe to be true only when I’m pretty clearly writing satire.  No exceptions.

Oh, I may err at times, and on a point or two I was in fact wrong; as Dean noted, the Joyce Foundation doesn’t get money from George Soros.  But I can concede that point, without changing the conclusion that actually matters; while Joyce (and Common Cause MN, which is supported by Joyce) may not get money from Soros or his various shell groups, its’ goals nationwide are indistinguishable from those of the Open Society Foundation, Media Matters, the Center for Independent Media or any of the other Soros joints; to slap a phony “non-partisan” sheen on a partisan pressure industry.

So at the end of the day – literally, at two minutes to midnight – it became clear what the real mission is.  It’s not to reach out to people of all political stripes.  It’s to reach out to those who don’t know what their stripes are, but who can be inveigled into exerting themselves to fight against a vague, sorta-racist boogeyman.

And so the battle will continue.

Thank to Ben Kruse and Jack Tomczak for the invite – and to AM1280 for letting me appear off of Salem turf for an evening.

DrawTheLine MN: Giving “Potemkin” A Bad Name

According to Russian legend, Catherine the Great’s consort, minister and general, Grigory Potemkin, built fake villages, just shells and faςades and a few serfs going through happy-serf-like motions (see also SEIU – Ed.) along the banks of the Dniepr river – which he’d just seized from the Ottomans in a costly war he’d advocated and led, to impress Catherine with the wisdom of his campaign.

“Potemkin village” – or “Potemkin” – has thus become a synonym for “a hollow, insubstantial faςade, intended to deceive”.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at “Draw The Line Minnesota’s “Citizens’ Redistricting Commission” – a body that should make Grigoriy Potemkin’s descendants sue for trademark infringement.

“Draw The Line MN” is an astroturf “activist” group, a collaboration between Common Cause Minnesota, the League of Women Voters Minnesota, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and TakeAction Minnesota - one of the groups behind “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”, which ran the astroturf smear campaign against Tom Emmer last year.  All of them portray themselves as “non-partisan”; all are relentlessly “progressive” astroturf activist groups, all of them fronts for Big Progressive money (and incredibly disingenuous about it).

…who’ve teamed to to masquerade under the “non-partisan” guise of “Draw The Line” (DTL) to try to influence the redistricting process in Minnesota and throughout the Midwest.

DTL’s latest scam?  The “Citizens’ Commission on Redistricting”.

The term is picked carefully; it sounds official, doesn’t it?  Like it’s something sanctioned by the state?

It’s not – no moreso that if I’d sent them out to campaign.

And who are these people?

DTL’s website provides an explanation…

The Commission Members serving on the Minnesota Citizens Redistricting Commission are volunteers, who are committing a significant amount of time and effort to this process. To that end, Draw the Line Minnesota has devised a process we feel is both transparent and limits the necessity of significant days of travel for Commission members.

 

The Commission will rely heavily on technology, so that much of its work can be done on the internet and by conference call. To that end, public meetings will be livestreamed (where possible) and taped and posted on our website. Any communications received by the Commission or Draw the Line Minnesota, related to map-drawing or redistricting principles, will also be uploaded to our website.

 

…and a list.  Let’s look into that list a bit.  I’ll add some emphasis here and there:

Lori Berg of Maplewood is a program officer for Minnesota Community Foundation and The Saint Paul Foundation and has worked in the field of philanthropy for twenty-seven years. She was born and raised in rural southwestern Minnesota and through her work is familiar with communities around the state.

Berg – no known relation – has no record of political contributions on the MN CFB, Opensecrets, Newsmeat, or the Federal Elections Commission.

Bruce Corrie of St. Paul is the dean of the College of Business and Organizational Leadership at Concordia University-St. Paul. Dr. Corrie has a Ph.D. in Economics and is an expert on the ethnic markets and has been featured in a wide range of international, national and local media. His website and blog can be found at www.ethnictrends.info.

No political contributions found: Corrie’s work seems to focus on multi-culti stuff.

 Sally Fineday of Pennington is a member with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Executive Director of Native Vote Alliance of Minnesota. With Native Vote, Sally has helped promote nonpartisan civic engagement and voter participation.

Again – no contributions found; she’s been involved in community politics in Beltrami County.

Kathi Hemken of New Hope currently serves as the community’s Mayor. Previously, she worked as a planner at Honeywell for twenty-years and served on the city’s planning commission. We’re pleased to have Kathy’s local government experience on the Commission.

No contributions listed – and very little on isplay about her tenure as mayor of New Hope, a struggling blue-collar burb west of North Minneapolis.

Kent Kaiser of St. Paul is a professor of communication at Northwestern College. Previously, he served as the communications and voter outreach director in the office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. While with the Secretary of State’s office, he serviced as liaison to the U.S. Census Bureau and on the boards of Kids Voting Minnesota and Kids Voting St. Paul.

Yet again – not a single political contribution found.

Lorna LaGue of Waubun is the Special Projects Director for the White Earth Reservation where she serves in various roles involving community organizing, planning, and development. She works with diverse agencies throughout the State and is a member of the Rediscovery Environmental Learning Center Board and Chair of an enterprise board for the Tribe.

Couldn’t find any political contributions:

Matthew Lewis of Edina is the Communications Director of the Independence Party and a master’s candidate at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Last year he served as press secretary to gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner. Previously, in Washington, DC, he worked as a reporter at The Center for Public Integrity covering topics including infrastructure and climate change legislation in conjunction with outlets such as POLITICO.

Lewis is on record giving $2000 to Tom Horner last year.

Elda Macias of Minneapolis is Marketing Director for a large Fortune 300 company, developing new marketing strategies for emerging markets. Elda was formerly active in the DFL Latino Caucus, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Minnesota, and the Scholarship Selection Committee for the Latino Economic Development Center. She is originally from El Paso, Texas.

Macias gave $250 to Obama, and $350 to Patricia Torres-Ray, in addition to her DFL involvement listed above.

Anne Mason of St. Paul is the Assistant Director of Communications at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She served as a political appointee for Tax and Budget Policy for the US Department of the Treasury, Communications Director for Congressman Mark Kennedy, and Political Director for the Erik Paulsen for Congress campaign.

The person on the list with any form of Republican affiliation of any kind, Mason seems to show not a single political donation.

Sedric McClure of Brooklyn Park is a Multicultural Counselor in Student and Academic Affairs at Macalester College and has worked in multicultural settings in higher education for fifteen years. A current public policy student as well, Sedric is an avid reader of history and civil rights.

No contributions listed.

Kenya McKnight of Minneapolis is Operations Director of the Northside Economic Opportunity Network, which provides business and economic development services in the areas of training, technical assistance, and loan packaging. She is actively engaged around social and economic justice issues within ethnic communities and serves on the boards of organizations including North Point Health and Wellness and serves as a DFL Director of Senate District 58.

A DFLer (as noted above), McKnight seems to have no record of political donations.

Carl Rosen of Spring Park is a retired social worker, who worked in long-term care nursing homes and at the Hennepin County Psychiatric Unit. He is also a retired Priest and worked at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville for thirteen years.

Hm. Not a thing.

Karen Saxe of Northfield is Chair of the Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science at Macalester College and is actively affiliated with the Mathematics Association of American and the Association of Women in Mathematics. She was also recently elected to serve on the board of the League of Women Voters of Northfield and Cannon Falls.

No political contributions founded.

T. Scott Uzzle of Saint Paul is an attorney with Blaschko & Associates. He was previously an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Virginia. He has authored a detailed memorandum on voting rights in Richmond, Virginia. Prior to law school, he was the Committee Assistant to the Privileges and Elections Committee of the Virginia House of Delegates.

No political contributions found.

Candi Walz of Lindstrom is an adjunct professor of Political Science at Century College and the small business owner of Let’s Talk Kids, LLC. She was Legislative Correspondent at the state Capitol for fifteen daily newspapers in Northeastern Minnesota, and worked in Government Relations at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and the Minnesota State College Association.

So there’s the “Citizens’ Commission”.

Now, I look for patterns for my day job.  What did we see above?  A group of people chock full of low-level involvement with “progressive” institutions (the DFL, various non-profits), or with institutions that are aligned with the left (the tribes, academia, especially political science), or who depend for their livelihood on institutions where a strong left-of-center pedigree is vital for survival, much less advancement (Macalester, the Humphrey Institute) – but who have, across the board, give off few of the obvious signs of high level partisanship, like lots of campaign donations, to be held against them.

Now – what are they doing?

More tomorrow..

Astroturf Rising, 2011

Minnesota is heading for a battle over redistricting that may just make the just-passed budget battle look like a stroll in the park.

And, just like with every such battle lately in Minnesota, there is at least one “non-partisan” non-profit claiming to have the interests of average, non-affiliated Minnesotans at heart.  There are a couple of reasons for this; for starters, the Minnesota DFL is a largely impotent organization;

In the 2010 elections, of course, it was “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” and a small circle of other groups – “The 2010 Fund”  - a group that funnelled millions of dollars from unions, the Dayton family, and their cronies to try to win the election for Mark Dayton (largely by running a toxic sleaze campaign).  Their power in “progressive” circles is remarkable; Governor Dayton has brought a fair number of ABM’s staffers to work in his office; the former head of the “2010 Fund”, Ken Martin, now runs the DFL.

And for the redistricting battle?  The new astroturf group is “Draw The Line”, an organization that spans several states where the Democrats are fighting for their organizational lives, including Minnesota.

So who’s behind “Draw the Line?”  And what are they after – and by “they”, I don’t mean “Draw The Line”, so much as the people behind them?

More next week here on Shot In The Dark.

One Day At DFL Headquarters

(SCENE: Denise CARDINAL, head of Alliance for a Better Minnesota chair of the Minnesota DFL, wallks into her office, sits in an overstuffed chair)

(KEN MARTIN walks in to room).

MARTIN: “Hello…”

(MARTIN stops abruptly as CARDINAL motions downward with her index fingers.  MARTIN sighs, gets on hands and knees in front of CARDINAL’s char.  CARDINAL puts feet up on MARTIN’s back).

(REP. JOHN LESCH, who is minding the phones, buzzes in) “Mizz Cardinal, the party from the legislature is here to see you”.

CARDINAL: “Send them in please”.

(Tom BAKK, Paul THISSEN and Ryan WINKLER walk in.  Each bows deeply toward CARDINAL).

CARDINAL: Rise!

(All three take seats in overstuffed chairs around the room).

CARDINAL: OK.  What do we have?

BAKK: We think we have a plan!

THISSEN: Yes!  A plan!

WINKLER:  Heh!  Heh heh heh!

CARDINAL:  Let me hear it!

(THISSEN motions to WINKLER)

WINKLER:  Well, there’s this group, the “American Legislative Exchange Council“, or “ALEC”.  They are your run of the mill conservative activist group, run by Grover Norquist…

(BAKK, THISSEN and CARDINAL hiss theatrically)

WINKLER: …and they propose legislation and stuff, and lots of Republicans legislators have signed up with the group…

BAKK:  And if we can spin them as some big, shadowy conspiracy that tells affiliated legislators do to Grover Norquist’s bidding…

THISSEN:  Yeah! Grover Norquist!

WINKLER: Heh!  Heh heh heh!

CARDINAL:  Silence!  I like it! Winkler?

(WINKLER bows deeply)

CARDINAL: Start telling people that ALEC is a powerful, unaccountable group that wields boundless resources to pull the strings at the Minnesota State Legislature…

LESCH (Buzzes in) Mizz Cardinal?

CARDINAL (enraged) WHAT?

LESCH:  The Gentlemen are here.

CARDINAL:  Thank you. Send them in.

(CARDINAL makes a hand gesture to BAKK, THISSEN and WINKLER, all of whom get up from their chairs and lie, face-down, on the floor, head-to-foot, from the door to CARDINAL’s chair)

(CARDINAL rises as Tom DOOHER enters the room in a long, black cape.  He is accompanied by Javier MORILLO, who is wearing a long purple cape.  DOOHER steps across WINKLER, THISSEN and BAKK’s backs to walk to CARDINAL, to whom he offers his hand.  CARDINAL kisses his pinky ring).

DOOHER:  Well?

CARDINAL, BAKK, THISSEN, WINKLER:  We hear and obey.

MORILLO:  You heard the man! SOUND OFF!

CARDINAL, BAKK, THISSEN, WINKLER:  We hear and obey!

DOOHER: Very well.  Stand up, for Minnesota’s students.  (As BAKK, THISSEN and WINKLER stand, DOOHER takes BAKK’s seat.  BAKK takes THISSEN’s, THISSEN takes WINKLER’s, who stands awkwardly).

DOOHER: Let us talk of the 2012 session…

(And SCENE).

The Settlement

The Legislature and the Governor passed a budget last night.

Downsides

The K12 Budget Shift:  The budget “borrows”  money from the next year’s K12 budget.  It’s just plain bad policy – but such was the price of “compromise”.   Naturally, the GOP’s good faith is met by DFL perfidy; though they and the governor demanded, indeed whined about “compromise”, now that the deal is signed the DFL (and their de-facto management company, “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”) is trying to spin it, hoping people don’t notice the fact that the shift is smaller than the one in Governor Dayton’s original budget.

Having To Listen To Thissen And Bakk: Paul Thissen’s sound bite, from the floor overnight, claimed that the GOP was “leaving four billion dollars in debt for future generation”.  Is there any way someone can glitter this hamster?   Money that was requested as part of the bureaucracy’s forecast, that is not spent, is not a debt.

Wading Out Of The Swamp Of DFL Chanting Points; From Blois Olson’s Morning Take, the DFL has marshalled its chanting points:

  • “This is the most reckless and irresponsible budget in state history.  This is a beg, borrow and steal budget that just kicks the can down the road and leaves our children billions of dollars in debt”  Sounds like Algore is writing for them today.  This is what you get for “compromising” with the DFL.  All the more reason to get out and win this next election in a big way.  I’m feeling better about that today.
  • “Rather than asking millionaires to pay their fair share of taxes, Republicans are instead choosing to borrow billions of dollars from our schools while leaving our children and grandchildren billions of dollars in debt”.   For a few months.  And hey, I’m fine with never doing that again.  Since it was a key part of Dayton’s budget, that’s another “compromise” that needs to be reached.
  • “Republicans can no longer claim to be the party of fiscal responsibility”  The DFL is trying to  make people think “raising taxes in the middle of the recession so that the machinery of government can stay fat and happy” is “responsble”.  It’s a crime against the language.
  • “This budget spends billions of dollars we don’t have, and simply puts the state’s bills on a credit card”.  Yep.  One that has to be paid off early next year.   Not a great idea, but survivable.
  • “I’m disappointed that Republican’s refusal to compromise resulted in such a fiscally irresponsible budget solution, but I respect Gov. Dayton for doing everything in his power to end this shutdown and get Minnesotans back to work” Five will get you ten Dayton’s a one-term governor.
  • ‘Unfortunately, we will be paying for the Republicans’ beg, borrow, and steal budget for decades to come.”  But I’m guessing we’ll be as short as specifics on that as we were on specifics for Dayton’s “budgets”.

Upsides

Reforms: King Banaian’s Sunset Commission made it into the final cut.   The commission – which will shut down government agencies that have outlived their usefulness (or, initially, never had any) is now law.

News on other reforms later today and/or tomorrow.

The Tax Conveyor Belt Is Closed: The DFL banked on being able to browbeat the GOP into keeping “Business as Usual”.   The idea that government must be kept fat and happy at all costs, no matter how the rest of us are doing, was finally blunted.  Not defeated – it would have been better to have gotten a $32 billion budget with no shifting and no borrowing from the Tobacco blackmail fund – but blunted.  The bureaucracy had best learn that the DFL’s browbeating is obsolete.

The HHS Budget Elevator Is Closed:  Health and Human Services spending has had one of the most corrosive features in state politics; an automatic increase in funding.  If anyone suggested reducing the increase, the DFL immediately trotted out single mothers and homeless people to attack the “decrease”, which was in fact merely a smaller increase than the automatic increase formula.  That automatic increase has been repealed.

Outstate Gets It: The metro base that put Dayton in office is in full dudgeon – what else?   But Governor Dayton’s abrupt switch on the budget last week shows, I think, that outstate, even key DFL constituencies were un-thrilled with the DFL’s case.   While some DFLers are saying this shutdown will lead to a return of the Legislature to DFL control, I’m thinking it’ll be neutral at worst and – given that redistricting will favor the GOP as well – maybe a slight gain.  To sum it up – it was the people who voted for Dayton who for the most part even noticed the shutdown.   At worst, they will vote even more vigorously DFL in the next elections.

Shutdownapacalypse: Lessons Learned

The budget deal’s not done yet; it remains to see if the July 14 compromise will get through the special session that, we are told, is upcoming.

But I’ll suggest that we can learn the following lessons so far:

You Can Never “Compromise” With The DFL: Remember three days ago?  When the leftybloggers and the media (pardon the redundancy) were on demanding “compromise?”  How “Governor Dayton has already compromised, so the MNGOP needs to”, even though the GOP caucus had already gone four billion hard dollars above their original hard goal, and Dayton’s “compromise” was a couple billion in vapor money that exists, in government terms, only on paper.   Still – “compromise” was the word.  ”Everyone needs to grow up and learn to compromise” was the chanting point for weeks.

And now that Dayton accepted the deal, what are the leftyblogbuildup saying?

“It’s teh GOP’s budjet!”

In dealing with the DFL, you have to remember that they will do their best to use everything you say or do against you in the court of public opinion.  It is a fact that while they own the governor’s office, we have to compromise some.

That just means we have to extend our control of the House and Senate to be able to override his vetoes next election – which is a tough goal, but doable, especially given the demographic collapse of the state’s DFL strongholds – and, most importantly, winning the Governorship and the state offices back in 2014.  The DFL only compromises for two reasons; when they can turn it against the GOP, or when they have no other choice short of being crushed.

The goal?  Give them no choice other than being crushed.  We’ll work on that at the polls.

This Is Not Your Father’s MNGOP:  The GOP of 20 years ago would have caved in weeks ago, to avoid being called nasty names.  The GOP of 20 years ago didn’t have the stomach for a serious fight, and even if they did, they were largely a “moderate” party, not a conservative one.

Someone tell Arne Carlson; that GOP is dead and gone, forever and ever, and I’ll whiz on its grave.

This year, the GOP majority was new; there were more Republican freshmen in the Senate than there had been GOP senators in the previous session.  And they stood against the usual array of obstacles – the Strib, WCCO, the unions, the bureaucracy, all of Alita Messinger’s and the Rockefeller family’s millions in smear money – and, unlike the GOP of 1990, hung on.

The unspoken hope; that the GOP will take the experience to heart in the next session; knowing that all of the unions’ screeching and all of “Alliance For A Better Minnesota’s” smearing and all of Mark Dayton’s phumphering and all of the Star-Tribune’s dutiful, slanted stenography aren’t going to hurt them.  Next time, when they need to get tough with the DFL minority, they’ll have been through the worst the DFL has to offer, and they’ll stick to their guns.

Our Education System Needs Work: I was listening to “Davis and Emmer” this morning, on the lesser talk station.  They had just finished an interview with MNGOP Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb, in which Michael explained that the “$35 Billion” budget is really just one among many budgets – the “General Fund” – that the state runs, which total $60 Billion every two years among them.

Davis started sounding frustrated; after Michael got off the air, he said (paraphrasing closely) “it all sounds like gobbledygook”.

Now, something can sound like “gobbledygook” for one of two reasons:

  1. The reasoning, facts, logic and English usage are indecipherably bad: Think most leftyblogs.
  2. You just don’t understand what the speaker is saying:  The person telling you the “gobbledigook” is explaining things adequately, but you have no basis in knowledge to understand it. (Think most leftyblogs when you try to explain basic concepts like “economic liberty” and “humor” and “sex”).

…or some combination of the two.

When it comes to state budgets, I’ve always been pretty much #2; until recently, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.   I’m like one of those people who looks at the daily Dow Jones results, and thinks that’s the barometer of the economy, even though it just represents one measure of it.

Likewise with the state budget.  The General Fund – the one where Dayton asked for $38 Billion, the GOP started at $30, and that will be right around $34 when all is said and done for the next two years – is just one of several budgets totalling about $60 billion every two years.

I know this – but it’s a recent thing.  You have to want to learn this stuff to learn it.  And most people don’t.

And who’s fault is that?  Beyond our own, anyway?  Our education system, and our media (which can’t be bothered to explain it), and yes, Bob Davis and Tom Emmer, who go on the air without knowing it – and, for that matter, me, who has done the same until recently.

Perfect Is Still And Always The Enemy Of Good Enough:  I actually heard a Republican on the Davis and Emmer show calling in to say “we got beat”.  The fact is, until we have a veto-proof majority, or better yet control the governor’s mansion and both houses of the Legislature, politics is going to be a matter of compromise.   Our legislators did the best they could, and it could have been – and for most of the past forty years, has been – much worse.   The lesson?  We need complete control – and there is a large, well-funded, powerful bunch of interests who will be doing their best to prevent that, so we’ve got our work cut out for us (which will make it all the more fun to achieve!).

There is a current in Twin Cities conservatism that if you don’t get everything you want, right away, it’s the same as “losing”.   There is a certain talk show host at a lesser talk station, a good friend of mine, whose line this seems to be.

By that logic, the reform of Minnesota’s handgun carry laws wasn’t a victory; it was seven defeats (and, finally, a win).    But that’s a ludicrous way to look at it; it’s the end result that matters, not the fact that the struggle took some time.

It’s not that we can waste a lot of time, or grow complacent, or put the hard work that goes along with changing our smug, entitled government machine off for another time; far from it.  But you have to take a longer view, and learn some patience, as well; we made a good start.   We’ll get further next year; the DFL’s minions may not know they got beat, but their leadership sure does.

The DFL is spinning like mad – and not very effectively.  Let’s not do their work for them.

———-

Is it the victory we wanted?  Nope.  Is it better than the alternative, had we not won last November?  Hell yeah.

Don’t panic, people.  This is a marathon, not a wind sprint.

I’m Confused…

…by the latest round of “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” ads, the “state workers” castigating the legislature for the shutdown (being planned by and for Governor Dayton’s political benefit).

Are road crews actually going to go out and remove all the guard rails from the highways before the shutdown happens?

That seems just a little…bitchy?  I mean, we paid for ‘em once, right?

J’Accuse, 2011

Yet again, as we watch the political contortions of Anthony Weiner, we see the great political truism; it’s not the act, it’s the cover-up.

And as we’ve seen over and over and over again, there’s nothing the media likes more than unravelling a coverup.  Of a Republican (or a Democrat who, like Weiner, has been deemed a liability).

So let’s talk cover up.

While the GOP presented a balanced budget in May - long before the DFL had done in the previous couple of biennia – Mark Dayton, who never presented a balanced budget and thus in effect never presented a budget at all, vetoed it after weeks of stonewalling.

Evidence is emerging from various Human Services and Department of Transportation sources that Dayton planned this shutdown all along.  The fact that the Administration and the Legislature were eight tenths of a percent apart shows that Dayton has no interest in negotiation.  In the meantime, he – his surrogates at “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”, the attack-PAC funded by the unions, Dayton’s ex-wife Alita Messinger, the Dayton family and Mark Dayton himself – are running ads, constantly, trying to blame Republican intranigence for the shutdown.

And you only hear about it on the blogs.

On Channel Four, where Esme Murphy spends her every Sunday morning painting the toenails of DFL politicians?

Nothing.

On Minnesota Public Radio, which just finished a huge lobbying campaign to defend their federal and state subsidies because their “no rant, no slant” news coverage is just too vital to allow to allow any cuts?

Where are Mike Mulcahy, Tom Scheck and Tim Pugmire?

The Strib?  It’s no secret we don’t expect much of the newspaper of the “Minnesota Poll“; the paper that ran its sole story about Mark Dayton’s history of alcoholism and mental illness in January of 2010; half a year before the DFL primary, and a good nine months before 90% of the voters even knew there was an election coming up.  Still, one might think someone at 425 Portland would figure there was some utility in, y’know, covering the news.

Rachel Stassen-Berger?

The PiPress?  Does Bill Salisbury actually transgress the DFL?

Channel 5? Paging Tom Hauser; there’s a there, there.

Where is the media?

The Business Guy

Last week, we took a look at the Strib op-ed by Roger Hale that supported Governor Dayton’s budget plan, whom the Strib felt it was important to remind you was a former CEO at Tennant Corporation…

…but not that he was a large-scale DFL donor who’d given $110,000 in the last gubernatorial race alone to Alliance for a Better Minnesota, the Dayton-family-supported attack-PAC that launched the most epic sleaze campaign in Minnesota history against Tom Emmer.  That, apparently, the Strib didn’t believe was relevant.

“But what about what he said about business?”, some leftybloggers responded.

Doug Baker, CEO of St. Paul-based Ecolab, responded in the Strib over the weekend.  (Full disclosure:  I worked for Ecolab for four years. A good chunk of my retirement is still in Ecolab stock – and it’s performing better than most of my portfolio at the moment.  Their IT department would give Scott Adams a year worth of material, but it’s a good company – as it happens, 20 times the size of Roger Hale’s Tennant).

And Baker is unimpressed by either Hale or Governor Dayton:

I have two reactions to [Hale's piece]: First, many in the business community strongly disagree — and second, focusing on revenue generation misses the point and delays action on the more important issue — unsustainable increases in government spending.

It’s no secret that Minnesota always has been a high-tax state. An April 2010 report from the Itasca Project, which highlighted our region’s strengths and weaknesses, identified Minnesota’s uncompetitive tax structure as one of the main barriers to job creation.

Blam.

The “progressives” never, never get that.

My experience, which is shared by the majority of my fellow business leaders in Minnesota, is that personal taxes do matter. It’s an issue that frequently comes up when recruiting people or transferring people to Minnesota.

A majority.

And that’s when it comes to getting talent to come to Ecolab Tower in downtown Saint Paul, or the R&D center in Eagan.   Like most big Minnesota companies, Ecolab has created no manufacturing, distribution or non-sales jobs in Minnesota in years.

Following Gov. Mark Dayton and enacting the second-highest tax rate in the nation would hurt our state.

This is especially true today when state and national borders no longer constrain the movement of labor, capital and intellectual property. In this digital age, people can and do work from anywhere — and they can and will choose to work where they can keep more of their income.

And that’s just speaking of people who work for major corporations.

Ecolab started in the 1920′s, back when the barriers to enter business were very, very low.  The corporation was able to build its business during decades when Minnesota’s taxes were blissfully unintrusive.

How about people starting the next generation of businesses?  The little S-corporations that are the big C-corporations of tomorrow?

They’re moving to Hudson, or Fargo, or Sioux Falls, or Dallas/Fort Worth.

Bring this up to a progressive.  Note that North Dakota is lowering taxes as their revenues boom; they’ll respond “but how many Fortune 500 companies have?”  The response is “that’s a function of population density, but nice try.  Still – how many jobs are those Fortune 500 companies creating in MN?”

The answer: fewer:

There also have been recent headquarters moves that cost Minnesota thousands of jobs — MoneyGram comes to mind — which I strongly believe was motivated more by personal income tax rates than anything else (in my opinion).

But you don’t have to take my word for it. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, Minnesota employment growth has lagged the U.S. rate for a decade. More than 1,200 small and medium-sized businesses left the state from 1997 to 2008.

Baker gets the real problem – the one Hale glossed right past:

More important than the tax issue, though, is Dayton’s proposed double-digit increase in state spending. The legislative majorities have offered a 6 percent increase in spending over last year’s budget — this includes a substantial increase in spending on both K-12 education and health care.

For any family or anyone who owns a business in this state, a 6 percent increase in revenue would be considered very good news and would be considered a budget they could live with. However, in government-speak, a 6 percent increase is considered a “cut” because it represents less than the government wanted to spend.

Baker notes the same thing I did in shredding Hale last week; back in the seventies, Japan and Germany were getting done with recovering from World War 2. China and India were mired in experiments with various degrees of extreme socialism, and starving and riven with political contortions and very much third world countries.

Back in the sixties and seventies – which is where Dayton’s entire strategy came from, and when Roger Hale was an active CEO – it was a very different world.

Baker gets this:

Raising taxes and double-digit increases in government spending may have been a manageable strategy in the 1980s and 1990s, when our competition for jobs came primarily from Wisconsin and Iowa.

But the reality our state faces today is a very different one.

Our global competitors and the majority of U.S. states — led by a number of prominent Democrat governors — are moving toward lowering taxes, prioritizing government spending and building a more supportive business environment in order to attract jobs.

Minnesota must do the same if we hope to grow jobs in the future and compete in the 21st century.

Baker’s piece utterly shreds Hale.  You can tell it hurt the DFLers who were defending Hale last week.  They’re responding.

With name-calling.

All The News That Fits The DFL Narrative

The regional leftysphere is tweeting up a busy little storm today; as the MNDFL noted on Twitter, “Former head of the MN Business Partnership: the @mngop budget is a “job-killer”".

The uninitiated might think “Wow. That’s quite an indictment of the GOP budget!”

And the tweet linked to a Strib article, entitled “The governor’s budget plan won’t send businesses scurrying“, by one Roger L. Hale, which didn’t do much to disturb that conclusion.  I’ll let you read it yourself; if you’re observant, you’ll note the subtle red herring; tax hikes might not send businesses “scurrying”, but it’ll inhibit them from forming in the first place, or hiring more Minnesota workers.  What good does having 3M or Best Buy or Ecolab plopping their headquarters here do us if they’re not expanding, building and hiring?

But the DFL and Strib (pardon the redundancy) are even less transparent and more perfidious than meets the eye.

The Strib piece notes that Hale is “…a former: CEO of Tennant Co, director of five NYSE companies, chairman of the Minnesota Business Partnership and the Governor’s Workforce Development Council, and successful start-up investor.

And to those who don’t pay much attention, a businessman is a businessman is a businessman.  And probably a Republican.  Right?

Wrong.

Roger Hale, as I noted last summer, contributed six figures to “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”; $110,000 as of this time last year, and tens of thousands more to other DFL candidates and organizations.

But the Strib didn’t see fit to let the reader know that.

The fix is in.

False Idol

The DFL and media (pardon the redundancy) have got a new buzz phrase, “quality negotiation”.  It’s what they supposedly want out of the current impasse in Saint Paul.

Let me just say for the record that if the DFL aren’t whinging like a bunch spoiled ten year olds, it’s not a “quality negotiation”.

Speaking of which, the Strib adds to the “quality” of the negotiation – my definition of it, at least- with via Min this piece by one Brian Rusche, the “executive director of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition”, a group that is to religious group what the association of chiefs of police or Alliance for a Better Minnesota are to cops and Minnesotans – a DFL pressure group.

Rusche apparently thinks his churches own the trademark on “princple”:

Minnesota’s legislative leaders are locked in a protracted dispute with the governor, not about the quantity or quality of government output, but out of devotion to a single number: $34 billion.

Legislative leaders insist that all other policy considerations must take a back seat to the singular goal of keeping general-fund revenues and expenses at that amount for the next biennium.

Bla bla bla.

This next bit is the irritating part, the part that needs to be refudiated with prejudice; the part where Rusche abuses his cachet as a “religious ” leader:

This is numerology without principle. It treats one general-fund number like an idol, a number to be prized above the concerns and needs of our citizenry.

This is a mind-numbingly, corrosively stupid statement.

The GOP is operating from set of principles. To be fair, these are fairly new to Minnesota government; government is our servant, not our master.  Government needs to live within its means; it needs to prioritize, just like we taxpayers need to.  If “citizenry” “needs” some parts of government, we need to cut back on the parts the “citizenry” doesn’t need.

Rusche illustrates – no doubt unintentionally -

Finding a worthy general-fund baseline number with which to base all policy decisions is very, very tricky. Minnesota has relied on one-time strategies to prop up general-fund revenues, especially during recessions.

We’ve drained reserves, cashed out the tobacco endowment and spent federal stimulus dollars in efforts to address a structural deficit that has haunted us for a decade. Add accounting shifts and gimmicks, and we’ve been able to disguise revenue shortfalls and delay a true reckoning, until now.

That’s because government has been run by people – Republicans as well as Democrats – who regarded government as a big  fun machine with lots of levers and knobs to play with.   A big huge benefit machine where, if you hit just the right combination of those buttons and levers, you’d get all sorts of good and wonderful things for the people.

And after a generation or two of that, we’re broke.

And the principle has changed. It has to.  Government the way Arne Carlson practiced it – spending money like a crack whore with a stolen gold card during the cha-cha times, turning surpluses into permanent spending, and making up for it with taxes when things turn ugly – is utterly unsustainable.

And – are you listeniong, Mr. Rusche? – it’s immoral and stupid to carry stupid, thick-necked profligacy on the backs of the taxpayer.

Chanting Points Memo: Emmer On Drunk Driving

When it comes to politics this year, you need to remember the following rule of thumb; when the DFL or one of their affiliated blogs writes about Tom Emmer, you need to distrust, and then verify.  Because the ratio of BS to truth is the worst I’ve ever seen.  Ever.

When I was a kid, growing up in small-town North Dakota, one of my dad’s best friends was a lawyer.  The guy took all sorts of cases; wills, divorces, probate and wills, criminal defense, criminal prosecution, civil litigation, commercial litigation, contracts, and pretty much anything else that came through his office door.  He was also in the rotation for public defender duty, and for helping out the prosecution, and he did a stretch as municipal judge (carefully watching for conflicts of interest).

So if I were to write this lawyer “was a defense attorney”, someone could read the above and bellow “HAH, Berg,  you are teh lier!  He is a civil litigator!”  And you’d be right.  And you’d also be proving you need a reality check.

The law, especially small-market law, is full of such things; small-town prosecutors contract with general practice lawyers to help with caseloads without adding headcount; small-town public defenders offices may not even have a lawyer, but get lawyers from the local bar (legal, not liquid)  to help out; it’s not unknown for an indigent accused murderer to be represented by someone whose “specialty”, if you can call it that, is probate.

And let’s not forget those lawyers have to keep their fields straight, as a matter of professional ethics, while avoiding conflicts of interest.

We’ll come back to that.

———-

Last week, Jeff Rosenberg at MNPublius figured he’d “caught the Emmer campaign lying”.

Emmer’s opponents have been carping for months about the fact that Emmer:

  1. Got drunk driving-related convictions in 1981 and 1991 – twenty and thirty years ago.  When he was 19 and 29.
  2. He paid his debt to society, decades ago, exactly as he was supposed to.
  3. During the 2008 session, he pushed two bills:  one that would have given convicted drunk drivers some of their rights back after ten years of good behavior, and one that would have upheld the radical notion of considering drunk drivers innocent until proven guilty.We’ve talked about this before.

The left has spent the past week or so spending a half a million dollars of Alita Messinger’s money talking about the DWI “issue”; the offenses, and Emmer’s supposed “soft on DUI” policies.

That’s all bad enough.   But as we’ve learned this past few weeks, “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” is a reliable liar.  More on that at noon today.

I’m less used to calling Twin Cities’ DFLbot-blog MNPublius on basic integrity.

But this piece at by Rosenberg, entitled “Emmer’s DWI bill written at the request of DWI attorneys,“ walks up to the line between ambiguity and deception, piddles on it, walks back, jumps into a monster truck, spins cookies on the line, and drives across past the “FLAMING FIB-VILLE, 2 MILES” sign at 80 miles an hour.

Here’s “the scoop”:

I already wrote about this a bit below, but I buried the lede. The more I think about this, the more I think it’s a major story that Tom Emmer’s DWI bill was written at the request of DWI defense attorneys, especially because he’s obviously trying to mislead the public about that:

On his campaign website, Emmer said: “At the request of local prosecutors, Rep. Emmer agreed to author their bill to reform the court system and how DWIs are handled. The legislation prepared by the prosecutors and other interested parties with the assistance of nonpartisan House research staff would have provided incentives for early and immediate prosecution of first-time offenders.”

The Emmer campaign identified the “local prosecutors” as Tom Weidner and Sean Stokes, and said they are based in Stillwater, Washington County. Stokes and Weidner are attorneys specializing in DWI defense, according to the website of their law firm Eckberg, Lammers, Briggs, Wolff & Vierling. [Emphasis mine]

Local prosecutors? Excuse me? Once again, Emmer may not technically be lying, but he’s also definitely not being straight with us. He’s trying to make it sound like this bill was written to help local law enforcement officials, when in fact it was written at the request of DWI defense attorneys.

“Emmer may not technically be lying”?  No.  He is in fact telling the truth.  Knowing that Stokes and Weidner worked both as contract prosecutors and “DWI Defense Attorneys”, I asked a source familiar with the case in which capacity the two lawyers operated while discussing this bill:

The only thing I know about that is that Weidner said no cities asked them to ask for bill & Stokes id’ed self as [prosecutor] during testimony.  Probably fair to say Weidner and Stokes argued for bill based on their prosecutor experience, but not b/c of any city’s request.

Now, if Jeff Rosenberg would like to suggest that Tom Weidner and Sean Stokes – who are, let’s remember, officers of the court – blurred the ethical boundaries of their field while giving testimony to the Legislature on these bills, I’m sure the Bar Association would be interested in hearing about it.  Bring actual evidence, of course.

However, if you believe WCCO, in a story they ran when this “issue” first came up before the MNGOP convention, that’s just not true; Weidner and Stokes do prosecution work.

But OK – so maybe Rosenberg doesn’t know how the practice of downmarket law works.  That’s hardly a grave offense, is it?

Well, no.  But a misleading presentation of facts is.

Using the facts above, Rosenberg writes that Emmer wrote the bill  ”…at the request of DWI defense attorneys”, and that Weidner “…must have been acting in his capacity as a defense attorney” and declares “Stokes and Weidner are attorneys specializing in DWI defense, according to the website of their law firm Eckberg, Lammers, Briggs, Wolff & Vierling….You can see that these are clearly not the people who should be responsible for crafting our DWI laws”.

He accompanies this claim with a screenshot from the law firm’s website that shows Weidner and Stokes “specialize” in DUI law.  This has, in fact, been the chanting point among local leftybloggers and twitterbuildup; “Emmer operated on behalf of DWI defense specialists”

So I checked the website.

Turns out Kevin Weidner also “specializes” in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death, Auto Accidents (including, ironically, sueing people who kill or injure people in DUIs!), and  general Criminal Defense (of everything from juvenile crimes to murder).  And there’s more; check out his page at the firm.  And that doesn’t include the contract prosecution work.

And in addition to DUI, Sean Stokes “specializes” in Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, and general Criminal Law.   Here’s his bio page.

So the left’s defamatory meme notwithstanding, Weidner and Stokes are not “DWI  Defense specialists”; indeed, as we’ve seen above, they litigate for both the plaintiff and defendant in DWI cases for their practice, in addition to prosecution work for whom the client, the plaintiff, is Washington County.

(Is it even possible to “specialize” in a firms’ entire criminal and family area?)

So, to use Rosenberg’s term, MNPublius and the rest of the Minnesota Sorosphere that is spreading the “Emmer works for DWI defense lawyers” meme aren’t “Technically” lying; they are just presenting a set of facts that is so cherrypicked and misleading that nobody reading their account stands a snowball’s chance in hell of learning the truth.

So – why does the local left feel the need to spread such a defamatory lie?  Because  lies are  the only weapon they have against Tom Emmer?

And Jeff Rosenberg – why is MNPublius, once a leftyblog with integrity (Aaron Landry notwithstanding) participating in such a transparent wad of buncombe?

At the very least, shouldn’t your piece have been titled “Emmer’s DWI bill written at the request of after consulting attorneys who defend and sue DWIs, among pretty much every other area of criminal and family law, as well as DWI prosecution”?

It doesn’ troll off the tongue, but it’s more accurate.

———-

Do the state a favor, Minnesota Left; put a fork in this stupid meme.  Move on to your next lie.

We’ll be waiting.

“F” Is For “Full Of Flaming Fail”

Dog Bites Man:  DFL-linked pressure group lying like a bunch of crack addicts caught with a stolen Lexus.

Man bites dog;  Twin Cities media checks the facts against objective reality.

If you read the Twin Cities center-right alternative media, you know that “Alliance for a “Better” Minnesota” is the most honesty-challenged roomful of bags of suppurating demi-human byproduct since Wes “Lying Sack of Garbage” Skoglund was still on peoples’ rolodexes.

But if you get your news from the Strib, the PiPress, MPR, WCCO or KARE11, you’d never know.

But KSTP5?  Glory be – truth matters to someone!  Channel Five’s “Truth Test” segment went over A4aBM’s latest TV ad effort and, well, probably lost the A4aBM account for Channel Five.

The ad tries to link Emmer … to Governor Tim Pawlenty. It claims Emmer sided with Pawlenty and opposed a plan that would force CEOs and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.

This claim is false, at least according to the date of a house vote cited in the ad. On May 10th, Emmer did vote against a bill that would have increased income taxes by $443 million through the creation of one of the highest tax rates in the nation. But it makes no mention of CEO or corporate taxes. Every house Republican voted against it, along with 16 Democrats.

And it gets better:

The ad also claims the two supported a plan that created a huge deficit and cut funding for items such as health care, education, and job training.

This claim is also false. It’s a reference to the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Pawlenty’s 2009 unallotment plan the legislature did not vote on. The ruling did have the effect of reinstating nearly $3 billion from the previous year’s deficit, but it didn’t create a new deficit.

And that man is getting down and gnawing that dog’s leg to the bone:

Based on the series of misleading or false claims, this ad gets an “F” on the Truth Test.

The center-right blogosphere has been catching A4aBM in lies ever since their web site, Twitter and Facebook accounts and ads all went on the air, two minutes after Emmer won the nomination last May.

So why does the DFL and its minions try such transparently, stupidly, sloppily deceitful propaganda?

Because it’s not aimed at smart people.  It’s aimed at the people the DFL counts on for winning elections; people who don’t pay attention; people whose understanding of issues stops at the last slogan they heard; people who bring nothing to democracy but a vote for the DFL.

It doesn’t have to pass scrutiny, if they know their audience won’t scrutinize it.