Sputter

Mark Dayton (via his “surrogates”) spent a million dollars on advertising and trumping up a phony controversy over the past month - and got bupkes for it:

According to the latest FOX News-Rasmussen Poll , Mark Dayton would beat Republican Tom Emmer 40 to 36 percent, with the Independence Party candidate Tom Horner [dropping to] 10 percent.

Now, there’s a lesson in this for all of us; be careful of what you wish for.  For years, I wished that U of M Professor Larry Jacobs weren’t the most overquoted person in the Twin Cities media.  And in response, we get Hamline University …

Political analyst David Schultz said it looked like Emmer was clearly ahead back in May. He believes two things have changed. He believes the democrats are now better known than a few months ago and Emmer’s recent dispute with waiters and waitresses didn’t help.

Mr. Schultz; in May, Emmer had his post-convention bounce.  And yes, generally having concurrent advertising blitzes for a month while Emmer didn’t run ads (til the past few days) will mean the Dems are “better known”.  Of course, having the DFL-leaning media engineer two straight hit jobs – Pat Doyle’s squib and the waiter bit – will bring out the negatives; that’s what they were designed to do.

Where Thanks Are Due

Target is getting a lot of crap from the usual pack of The Very Challenged, who are appalled that corporations can now donate money to campaigns that best support policies they (their boards, really) deem to be in their shareholders’ fiduciary interest (in the same way that unions have always been able to).

Expect a lot of  really ugly, stupid invective against Target – and expect it to get worse before it gets better (at least rhetorically; what are these shining lights of liberal “ethics” gonna do, switch to WalMart?)

However, one good turn deserves another; this advertisement is provided to Target free of charge.

Now, if your grocery section can actually stock some tabouli mix, we’ll be cooking with gas.

Of course, it’s not just Target that donated to Minnesota Forward; Polaris, racked by the DFL’s taxes, is holding on by the skin of its teeth.

Hope it drives some business to you guys:

Davisco Foods, based in LeSeuer?  A plucky little outstate company that’s fighting in the international market, and could use all the help (or at least the least possible amount of interference) it can get?

Hubbard Broadcasting – owner of Channel 5, KS95, Chicktalk107 and AM1500 The Sports Megilla?  Well, they do compete with my show and with Salem, which owns my show.  And they did pass on the chance to hire me as KSTP’s program director back in 1991, not that I hold a grudge.

So I’ll stick with a simple “attaboy” for HBI.

And I’ll draw the reader’s attention to the fact that these four corporations have spent about half as much on this race as the Dayton family alone, and a small fraction of what AFSCME, the SEIU, the MFT, Education Minnesota, the AFL-CIO, the UFCW and the Teamsters will end up spending.

And the rest of us – the Minnesotans who actually pay taxes – don’t have the option of boycotting any of them.

UPDATE: As I noted this morning, Minnesota’s big corporations, being in Rome, have to do as the Romans do; in addition to a decades-long tradition of being good corporate citizens, they also have been exceedingly friendly to liberal causes; as a commenter below noted, Target lets their GLBT group use the Target logo; most of your major Minnesota corporations (and I’ve worked with many of them) are very aggressive about promoting women and minorities, donating to non-profits, sending staff out to work on Habitat projects, helping subsidize mass transit, and on and on.

Careful what you wish for, lefties.  You geniuses, you.

Compare And Contrast

A few weeks back, Tom Emmer appeared on MPR’s “Mid-Morning with Keri Miller”.

Now, while I have credited MPR’s Newsroom with making a game attempt at providing balance, MPR’s programming is pretty much a pro-DFL morass.  Miller is less overtly a DFL flak than her predecessor, future former “Air America” prop Catherine Lanpher, but only barely.

Her interview with Emmer should have been an embarassment.    Tough questioning is one thing – and a good thing! – but Miller’s stock questions were accompanied with condescention, badgering and hectoring.

So all three DFLers are going to be on Miller’s show today.  Think Miller will be as concerned about specifics as she was with Emmer?

Think we’ll see questions like “Mr. Dayton, if we end state contracting, will we just stop doing the work, or will the work go to more-expensive unionized state employees?”, or “let’s say you tax “the rich” at confiscatory rates; how much of that five billion deficit your DFL caucus ran up; how much of the deficit will it kill off?  Be specific!”  ”Mr. Entenza, you talk a lot about “Green Jobs” – but the record of “Green Jobs” in the US at large and in Spain has been dismal at best.   How is your plan not doomed?”  ”Speaker Kelliher – so get specific here;  your “plan” makes a lot of vague blandishments about squeezing money out of people; how exactly do you close the deficit and spend as much as you’ve promised?’

How often will Miller sharply, mockingly purr “That won’t save much!”?

Any bets?

And when, not if, the DFLers squeeze by without any serious challenge, will Erik Black sniff about how vague they all were?

I’ll be an interesting day.

Shakedown

In many ways, the classic Minnesota corporations have always been the very model of “good corporate citizens”.  These corporations – 3M, Daytons (now Target), Medtronic, Mayo, Best Buy and many more – gave profusely to Minnesota charities, schools, universities, arts, research…the whole works.

But they’ve also gotten squeezed, hard; has bad as taxes are for individuals in Minnesota, they are much worse for businesses; Minnesota has among the worst corporate tax rates in the country.   And the entire DFL slate – Dayton, Kelliher, Entenza and stealth-DFLer Horner – are running on platforms that involve “creating jobs” by taxing the living daylights out of corporations and their investors.

As we run up toward the primaries, groups working with the DFL – especially the Dayton-funded “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” – has poured a sea of money into advertising against Tom Emmer, and it’s just started.  This past week, another group – MNForward – finally put an ad on the air pointing out Emmer’s positive approach to creating more jobs; getting government out of the way of the businesses, small and large, that’ll lead any recovery that happens.

And the DFL is shocked, shocked that some businesses are willing to help keep the Democrats from plundering the state.

The DFL has been hooting and hollering that Target, among a few other businesses [disclosures here - PDF alert] has given money – about $100K – to MNForward.

Among them was DFL representative Ryan “Don’t Call Me Henry” Winkler, who tweeted around eightish last night:

Target fundshttp://tinyurl.com/26bcfkw Emmer adhttp://www.mnforward.com. Emmer anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-min. wage. Target guests agree?

Anti-gay?  Huh?

A bit later, Darin Broton – a PR flak – tweeted back:

@repryanwinkler – Has Target given the House DFL Caucus money this cycle? Past cycles? DFL incumbents?

Winkler responded to Broton:

Nope. Never…

Later yesterday evening, WCCO-TV’s Esme Murphy ran a report on how Democrats were supposedly staying away from Target because of this advertising donation – which prompted me to wonder how many Democrat wonks Murphy hangs out with; the lines at Target in the Midway, deep in the most Tic-infested district in Minnesota, were as long as ever.  Perhaps they were all Republicans? I doubt it.

The Strib also reported that, despite the economic downturn that’s prompted them to lay off people at the corporate office and close a distribution center, than Target is not easing off its charitable giving:

Last year the Minneapolis-based retailer gave $169 million nationally in cash and in-kind contributions, making it, by some reckonings, Minnesota’s most generous grant maker. For the past five years its largess has significantly outpaced that of the McKnight Foundation, Minnesota’s No. 2 donor, according to the Minnesota Council on Foundations. Between 2004 and 2008, Target’s annual giving rose steadily, from $96.3 million to $169 million, while the McKnight Foundation’s went from $75.4 million to $93.6 million…

…Arts organizations around the country are particularly dependent on Target for providing free or reduced admission to museums, theatrical performances and events. Its beneficiaries in the Twin Cities include Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Children’s Theatre Company, Guthrie Theater, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Children’s Museum, Circus Juventas, Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre and the Latin American Folklore Dance Company

No matter to Rep. Ryan Winkler, who responded to Murphy via Twitter:

@esmemurphy Target has been good corp. citizen, but MN political spending is new. Your show just showed risk of giving to candidates.

No.  It showed that it’s dangerous being a for-profit business in Minnesota, under the watchful eye of the DFL.  That it’s dangerous to cross the all-beneficent, all-knowing Mother Party.

It shows the risk of crossing party hacks like Steve Winkler, who think that corporate political giving is “new”, and that corporations should just shut up and take it – for giving $100,000 (which is, by the way, $761,000 less than various members of the Dayton family and Dayton’s ex-wife Alida Messinger have given in this cycle to “Win Minnesota” alone).

And it shows the risk of actually having to run a political campaign on donations from people and companies that actually have to earn their money, as opposed to merely inheriting it; the DFL will try to keep you from earning that money.

It’s the Chicago Minnesota DFL way.

Me?  I’m off to Target.   I’m going to buy something I may not even need all that badly.  And I’m going to write “thanks for donating to MNForward” on the charge slip.

It’s Rerun Season

 The Dems have officially run out of stuff to talk about.

So they’ve gone back to reruns of earlier tempests in teapots.

A “Jim Horan” fobbed a “story” off on “Talking Points Memo”  via  Twitter:

RT @tpmmedia: Flashback: Emmer Had Past DWIs — And Sponsored Bills To Soften DWI Laws http://tpm.ly/a244GP

Now, if you’ve been paying attention, all the smart people dealt with this “issue” quite some time ago.  The DWIs were in 1981 and 1991; Emmer sponsored legislation to make it possible for people who’d been convicted but kept their noses clean to get out of under some of the more onerous burdens of sentencing earlier.  I wrote the first time this issue emerged, when the issue came out before the GOP convention…:

…regarding a couple of DWI-related charges, that…Tom Emmer, got 19 and 29 years ago – questioning not only his character due to the arrests, but some legislation he backed that’d have had the effect of treating drunk drivers as innocent until proven guilty and making DUIs private information after ten years of good behavior – in other words, allowing people who’d made  a dumb mistake to function and get their lives back. Drunk driving is an emotional issue – made all the more so by groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the rest of the drunk driving lobby.  It’s understandable; anyone who’s lost a loved one to a drunk driver is justifiably motivated to seek change.   But the .08 blood alcohol level limit is a ludicrious waste of resources, and the resources spent on hammering on first-time, only-time offenders with low levels of intoxication are largely a complete waste.

Question:  Does saying the above mean I “support” or am “soft on” drunk drivers and drunk driving?

But it’s ludicrous to treat attempts to make the system fairer and more rational as “sympathy for drunk drivers”.  Almost as ludicrous as assuming two mistakes made a generation ago are defining traits about a late-fortysomething guys’ judgment.

 All the smart people dealt with this issue three months ago.

But DFL propaganda is never aimed at smart people.

Oh, yeah – who’s pushing the story?  Who is “Jim Horan?”

He’s working for Independence Party candidate stealth DFLer Tom Horner:

Screenshot from LinkedIn

Screenshot from LinkedIn

That sound you hear?  It’s the sound of Tom “Weasel” Horner’s campaign scraping the ground below the bottom of the barrel.

Irrational Exuberance

Flip through the leftyblogs (or don’t; I mean, I pretty much have done it for you; you can thank me later).

Check out how many of them are chanting variations on “WaiterGate is the defining moment of the campaign” and/or “Emmer will never never evah! recover from WaiterGate!”

Huh.

Dear Panicky Republicans

OK, so it was a rough week.

It’s July.  Four months ’til the election.  The DFL doesn’t have a candidate yet – and when they do, it’ll be Time magazine’s ”The Worst Senator In America“, 2005 edition.  Half of Minnesota doesn’t even know who Tom Emmer is – yet.   And the DFL’s “third party” gambit, Tom Horner, has backfired, drawing three DFLers for every two Republicans – and that’ll get worse as the realization sinks in that Mark Freaking Dayton might be governor.

Issues, you say?  We’ve got immigration; we’ve got job creation; we’ve got economic growth and resposible government; we’ve got education reform and school choice and Local Government Aid reform and the DFL’s deep, enthusiastic links to everything that sucks about Barack Obama’s administration.  They’ve got lies and contrived controversies that’ll be forgotten on August 11.

So if you’re one of those lily-livered GOPers who’ve spent the last week wringing their hands over the denouement of “TipCreditGate”, stop.  Sack up, people; the real race doesn’t even start for a month, and media stunts like the faux outrage over the tip credit is the best they’ve got.

Bag the panic, folks.  This is when the fun part begins.

Pain And Principle

Principles can be painful.

I, as an occasional independent consultant, would just love to land a gig leading the User Experience design effort for a big world-facing institutional application.  I’d love the opportunity to pitch my skills to one of these institutions, convince them that I’m the right guy for the job, and bask in the eventual glory of a job well designed.  To say nothing of the payoff of 12-24 months’ lucrative work.

But if the big instutional customer were a front for AFSCME, the SEIU and the Minnesota Federation of Teachers, and the job was a website to help “community organizers” track union members who violated “Card Check” rules for future retribution, and to link these objectors to other union “assets” (goons) to service the transaction (throw bricks through their windows and kill their dogs), principle would tell me I would need to bow out of the gig.  No matter how much it paid.

Principle has its price.

Would bowing out of the project be a huge mistake?  Business hari-kiri?  From a bottom-line sense, it might very well be.   If “Mitch Berg Design” were publicly-held, it might even violate my fiduciary responsibility to my shareholders.  But if it’s my call, given that I oppose Card Check to say nothing of union thuggery, it wouldn’t even be a serious question.

One of the better, more thought-provoking conservative blogs I’ve encountered lately is “Minnesota Conservatives”, a duoblog featuring Minneapolis conservative Barbara Malzacher and 4th CD blogger “Shabbosgoy” – who’s a fairly well-known goy/guy in Saint Paul GOP circles, but I don’t know if his real identity is something he’s put on the blog yet, so I’ll hold off on that for now (note to self; find out why they’re not in the MOB).

Last week, Shabbosgoy wrote a post,  “On Saving The Emmer Campaign From Itself”, that caused a bit of a stir among Emmer’s followers.

Shabbosgoy’s (I’m going to save my fingers and call him SG from here on) premise is that Emmer’s “Waiter’s Wage” kerfuffle was a huge hit to the campaign.

Not fatal, of course…:

Not being glass-half-empty liberals, however, MC believes the campaign can right itself and move forward to victory in November. But the change has to be immediate, if not sooner. And the person who came up with the town hall seppuku should be tasered.

Let’s walk through them one by one:

1. Cancel the seppuku. Sure Emmer will be mocked but such pales in comparison to being tagged as the guy who wants servers to make $2.13 an hour. Such tagging has been ongoing all this week.

Let’s define our terms.

“Seppuku” (the political version, not the Japanese ritual self-disembowelment) is saying “I have no idea what E85 is” while in the middle of Minnesota’s Corn belt; it’s betraying a crucial tone-deaf ignorance.

Favoring a return to the tip credit – the exact system Minnesota used for tipped workers until 1990, and that is used in 43 other states to allow for the fact that tipped waistaff don’t rely on hourly wages for the bulk of their income – is a stance for principle; in this case, the principle that mandated minimum wages kill jobs.

Is it going to cost Emmer votes – especially given the way the agenda-driven media has reproted the story?  Perhaps among food servers; I’m sure waitrons at places in outstate Minnesota where the locals still consider a buck a lavish tip for a $30 tab will be un-thrilled by the prospect.  And understanding how tip credits work is important (and most people don’t); it only counts for time when the worker can get tips; not for time spent folding napkins or cleaning out the ice machine in back (which is paid at at least the regular minimum wage, and which is time that most decent food service workers like to avoid, the better to be out working tables and raking in tips).

Among people who run businesses?  Especially among bars and restaurants, whose profit margins have always been razor-thin?  Who’ve seen their bottom lines squeezed by $5/hour for every single waitress or bartender they have out in the house for the past couple of decades?  Or among parents of teenagers (ahem) who have a harder time than ever finding entry-level minimum wage jobs as the minimum wage has risen?

I’m not so sure.

2. If the death wish can’t be scrubbed, then Emmer should come out for making tips and gratuities tax-free. Who cares what it does to revenue? Just get on the right side of this issue politically.

That in particular is a good, princpled, conservative approach to the issue.  It’s also a federal issue controlled by the IRS, and most likely not something a governor can carry off.

3. Stop running for the endorsement. Emmer won. He can’t win with the narrow base that propelled him to victory. He’s in a general election race now and any campaign staff that can’t grasp the obvious ought to be waiting tables. We jest! Don’t shoot!

But as I’ve seen it all along, Emmer’s campaign has been about running on conservative principles all along – and selling those principles to the middle to convince them to move to meet him on the right, rather than scuttling toward the center.

The principle in this case is “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” – or, more directly, “Get government out of the way of business creating more jobs”.  The loss of the tip credit has effectively tripled the cost of every waiter on a restauranteur’s or barkeep’s floor, giving them the option of slashing either profits or the number of waitstaff.  Emmer is proposing rectifying this.  The DFL and Media’s predictable response is “look at the money waiters might lose!” (when it’s not “where are the $100,000 waitstaff jobs?”); Emmer’s response, and that of his supporters, should be “but look at the jobs, averaging $8-15 an hour with tips, we’ll be creating!”.

4. Run on winning themes and speak of nothing else: lower taxes for all, less nanny-state interference in our lives, reduced state spending and the legitimate fear of the intellectually lazy DFL in control of the executive and legislative branches.

But I think that was Emmer’s point, if phrased inartfully and exploited deceptively.

5. Don’t take the post August 10th bait from Mark “Renoir-Toulouse Lautrec” Dayton. He’ll run a class warfare campaign and the tip-credit snafu only plays directly into that. Like most Democrats, he hasn’t had a new idea in decades. Point out he’s to the left of our wholly incompetent affirmative action President.

And here, SG is absolutely correct.

Finally, one friend of MC suggested something brilliant: bring in New Jersery Governor Chris Christie and campaign for real reform and not just tinkering around the edges. New ideas scare Democrats; so scare them!

I agree; Governor Christie is like the long-lost child of my own political idol, former Jersey City mayor Brett Schundler, who did for his city half a generation ago what Governor Christie is trying to do for the whole state today.

But here’s a question;  when it comes to tip credits, and the media and DFL’s (ptr) class-baiting response to the “story”, What Would Christie Do?

(Besides say “tip credits work in New Jersey”; the state is one of the 43 that allows ‘em).

Voters will reward you. Look at what he’s doing in his state and think about what could be applied here to good effect. If Christie can have such success in New Jersey, MC holds out hope for this state of government workers.

Hope is good.

And to achieve hope, you need to start with a princple, and then move to achieve it.

And DFL/media caterwauling aside, I don’t think this past week has been a bad step on the way.

Waiting

So Tom Emmer spent an evening waiting tables.

The real entree of the video, of course, starts around 2:55; he cuts to the real chase – we should stop taxing tips.

I’d love to see Margaret Anderson-Kelliher working as a barback.  Come to think of it, it might be good experience for after August 10.

Chanting Points Memo: Cue Captain Renault

There’s still a month until the primaries.  Tom Emmer’s been crisscrossing Minnesota, doing what he does best – meeting people.  In his bio with Bill Salisbury in the PiPress, he estimates he’s met 100,000 Minnesotans.  I’d imagine that translates to 80,000 votes.

And the DFL still has a solid month before they have their coronation for Mark Dayton.  They are mired in an epic passion deficit, and (this has to be the most depressing part of all for the DFL rank and file) at the end of it all they have a Mark Dayton candidacy to look forward to.

And so the DFL has their minions pecking away at Emmer, trying to make electoral mountains out of molehills (which explains the heavily-contrived furor over Emmer’s off-handed remarks about wages for tipped workers); without Tom Emmer to kick around, all Dayton, Margaret Anderson-Kelliher, Matt Entenza and Tom Horner (remember him?) have for material is each other.

A few weeks ago, we talked about (and conclusively shredded) the DFL’s other contrived controversy – the Dems’ harping on Emmer to release his plan for fixing the deficit (before they do it themselves, naturally).

And like an old pair of birkenstocks, it’s baaack.  Mark Dayton wants Emmer to cough up his plan.

Dave Mindeman at mnpACT shocks the world with a candid admission:

I have to say that I am with Mark Dayton on this one.

Someone check the space-time continuum.

The 2010 election for governor is too important to not start laying the cards on the table. We should be demanding some detailed options for balancing the next budget.

Demand away!

But Emmer, being the underdog in this race, is smart enough to know that he gets one shot at getting through to the mass of Minnesota voters.  It”ll be after the reality of a Mark Dayton candidacy has sunk in.  It’ll be when people outside the wonk class start thinking about this election.

Dayton’s tax plan is certainly open to criticism. That’s fair. But to me, the criticism is never going to ring true unless alternatives are put out to the public.

The problem is that nobody cares if Emmer’s plan “rings true” right now, because it’ll be released to a roomful of pundits and party hacks.

No – coughing up details right now is what those who are running behind do.  Entenza – stuck in third and on electoral life support – came up with some “details” a few weeks ago - something about green jobs and unicorns.  It seems not to have lit his campaign on fire.

And in perhaps the best symptom yet that the DFL endorsement remains the kiss of death, Kelliher is dipping a toe in:

Margaret Anderson Kelliher is getting closer to some specifics. She laid out an outline in a presser today:

“As Governor I will make those earning more than $250,000 to pay their fair share. I will demand an end to sweetheart deals that shelter tax dollars overseas, and close foreign corporate tax loopholes. “As Governor I will fight waste, fraud and abuse against state government. I will make necessary budget reductions while protecting students from cuts in the classroom, senior citizens in nursing homes, and basic essential services for Minnesota’s most vulnerable. “And as Governor I will use temporary budget tools to transition our state to long-term economic stability.

(Bonus question:  Find any item in that list that pertains to anything but the government and its institutions.  Jobs?  Tax Burden?  Regulation?  Stick a fork in it, Kelliher.  It’s over).

Emmer is doing what  he needs to do to have any hope of prevailing against the voters that matter – the ones that don’ t write for newspapers or blogs – against a full-court DFL and media press in less than four months.

The demand for “details”, today as a month ago, has nothing to do with informing the public, and everything  to do with tactics in a race where the DFL knows it’s going to need a lot of public relations hocus pocus to cover a deadly drought of ideas.