Chanting Points Memo: “It’s About Rights”

As I’ve pointed out in the past, I’m deeply ambivalent about pretty much everything in the Gay Marriage mix; gay marriage itself, sure, but straight marriage too, and amending the constitution to protect it as well.

Yesterday, if you were at the Capitol, you saw a Madison-like outpouring of support for gay rights and opposition to the Amendment.  And by “Madison-like”, I mean “largely Metrocratic”.

But while I’m ambivalent about gay marriage (I support civil unions, but don’t plan on ever getting a government marriage license, even if I do get married ever again), I think there is one uncontrovertible fact; the DFL’s motivations in opposing the Amendment were purely, and just a tad cynically, political.

Call From Pauline Kael:  The left’s approach on gay marriage, thus far, has been to get it instituted by fiat, either by politicians (former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome) or the courts.  It’s a fact that gay marriage has never passed a public referendum, not even in “progressive” cesspools like Oregan.

But there are polls that indicate that people are changing their tune; that people actually support gay marriage.

So is the landscape changing?  It depends on the polls you believe, of course; I’ve seen surveys of likely voters  that indicate most Minnesotans oppose it; there are others, of course.  We’ll see – in November, 2012.  I strongly suspect most people do, in fact, oppose gay marriage because…

What Happened In 2009? Last night, during the Madison-like surge of lefty outrage on Twitter, a “progressive” sniffed at me:

Sir- the agenda is Rights. DFL Benson: My conscious comes first, my constituents second, and my desire to be reelected, third.

Which makes a good chanting point.  But it doesn’t stand up to history.

Four years ago,the DFL took control of the government in Saint Paul.  Two years ago, the DFL had absolute control of Minnesota government, except for Governor Pawlenty.  Had they wanted to push a gay marriage law, they could have.  It would have been vetoed – but they’d have made their moral case to take to the voters.

And don’t forget that they could have  passed a constitutional amendment, as the GOP just did, and bypassed the Governor completely.

And yet they dawdled for four years, and made no significant effort toward Gay Marriage.  None. Zero.

If the DFL’s stance were “about civil rights”, about immutable libertarian principles, as Rep. Benson grandiloquently claimed, they’d have used their absolute majority to do something,

Contrast that to the GOP, which introduced the Constitutional Amendment immediately.

Leaving aside whether it’s good to vote on civil rights or whether Gay Marriage is a civil right, here’s a question: which is the stance of a party that believes that they are going to win a referendum?

I suspect the DFL ignored gay marriage (and their gay supporters) for four years because they knew the votes weren’t there throughout Minnesota; that if they voted for legislation pushing gay marriage, they’d get shredded statewide.   They’d be kissing any outstate seats goodbye; they’d shave some of their majority in the Arrowhead and in the Twin Cities; few people oppose Gay Marriage less than Afro-Americans and Latinos; they might even jeopardize Tim Walz’ seat.

My thesis – this was never about principles, about liberty, about fairness for gays.  This is about votes.  The DFL believes they’ll lose them – lots of them.

The Line In The Sod

The Legislature – really the GOP majority – has released its take on Congressional redistricting.

Two points:

Elections Have Consequences: If adopted – more later – this map will have some pretty hefty consequences.  While it leaves the three “safest” districts in the state – the solid DFL 4th and 5th, and the very red 6th – pretty much as is (if anything, more solid), it makes some changes that could have impact on the 2012 House races.

  • It cuts Tim Walz’ mushy-left stronghold Mankato out of the 1st CD, putting it into John Kline’s solidly-conservative 2nd District.  This means the 1st CD’s fundamentally conservative, rural nature can be maintained.  It’ll be interesting to see how the DFL rationalizes pushing back against this, while fighting to keep the 5th and 6th districts uncorruptedly institutional-blue.
  • Other than adding Mankato, the 2nd CD stays pretty solid.
  • The 3rd CD’s “purple” days would seem to be over, with the addition of a stretch of solid red to its southwest.
  • The 4th and 5th CDs become brighter-blue than before, from the looks of it.
  • The 6th appears to jettison most of St. Cloud – the one place where Michele Bachmann faces serious opposition – and consolidate solid-red Wright County
  • The 7th morphs immensely, losing the Red River Valley (and, it’d seem, Colin Peterson) and picking up Saint Cloud (blueish) and the far-northern Twin Cities exurbs currently in the 8th CD.
  • The 8th swoops west, covering the entire northern part of the state, diluting the solid-blue Duluth and Arrowhead areas with good conservative northwestern counties.

Gerrymandering? That’s the claim you’re seeing from some lefties.  I think it’s worthwhile to note that most of the changes – the First, Seventh and Eighth – actually undo some of the gerrymandering that took place on the DFL’s watch (the Ventura-era court-drawn settlement in 2000 favored the DFL; Arne Carlson completely caved to the DFL in 1990, court settlement notwithstanding.   The DFL isn’t going to like it – but redistricting isn’t supposed to be predicated on the happiness of the party that loses the election.

Dayton has said he won’t pass any redistricting plan that doesn’t have “bipartisan support” – and when DFLers say “bipartisan support”, what they mean is they want to nag the GOP into giving them a victory they didn’t earn at the polls.  There was no talk of “bipartisanship” when the DFL controlled the process with an iron fist; it’s disingenuous, and playing to the ignorant (but typical politics) that they demand it now.

The A List

Back when Hugh Hewitt was in town a few weeks back, I was asked to predict the biggest surprise in Minnesota this fall.

My response – while I thought an Emmer win might surprise some people, I thought the best potential was for Randy Demmer to upset Tim Walz.

Finally, the National Republican Congressional Committee agrees:

The National Republican Congressional Committee announced Thursday that they were elevating Walz’s challenger, Republican Randy Demmer, to their “Young Guns” list. For Demmer, it means the national party will provide him with additional support during the final stretch of the campaign.

Young Gun status will put Demmer on the map in GOP fundraising circles, which could be a crucial factor to overcoming his significant cash disadvantage.

It’d be great to win that district back.

The Cook Political Report rates Walz’s district as having an R+1 partisan voting index, but trending “likely Democratic” this fall.

“Randy Demmer has proven that he’s ready to take on incumbent Tim Walz, an out-of-touch Democrat who has blindly supported his party’s failed agenda of job-killing policies and reckless spending,” NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions, R-TX, said in a statement.

Look for a Minnesota Poll shortly showing Walz with a 20 point lead…

Chanting Points Memo: Fake But Accurate

I saw this bit on CBS News yesterday - entitled “Target Boycott Movement Grows Following Donation to Support “Antigay” Candidate” – and I thought “Wow.  Sounds like there’s a wave of spontaneous anti-Target fervor out there!”

Then I – or “we”, actually – looked a little deeper.

The piece – featuring someone named “Roadie Roaring” or “Rudy Rattan” or something’; the woman’s diction is less-than-ideal – shows her walking into a Target, exchanging a bunch of goods, and demanding that her Target card be cut up.

It’s presented as if it were a spontaneous bit of reportage.  Look at it, you be the judge.

We’ll come back to Ronnie Roller in a bit.

With about three seconds to go in the piece, it notes that it was “Produced for the Uptake by Bill Sorem”.  I got an email from someone who follows these things:

Bill Sorem has records on Mn Campaign finance of giving a couple hundred bucks to the SD42 DFL (which includes Eden Prairie, the city where the faux boycott took place), and a $2300 contribution to The Obamanation.  So…a known DFL supporter just accidentally has his video camera and tapes this bit of faux news that is designed to threaten businesses into not contributing to causes that might benefit GOP candidates, helping his DFL party.
 
But of course, Bill has no unclean motives….NOOOOOOOOOO!

So – Bill Sorem just may not have  been a random passerby with a camera. 

The Uptake, by the way, is a left-leaning “citizen journalism” videoblog that spent the last year trying to convince the Legislature that they were a “news” organization worthy of credentials to cover the Legislature.  Now, they are participating in an attack ad run by “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”. 

So who is “Roofie Raygun?”

Gary Gross at Let Freedom Ring emails me:

Phil said that Rondy Raiton “sounds strangely similar to Randi Reitan, a gay activist mother who frequently is on the op ed page of the Strib.”
 
I googled Randy Reitan & clicked on her images page. BINGO!!! So much for this being a chance happening. Rest assured that I’ll be posting about this this afternoon.

So when you google Randi Reitan, you get – voila!  The picture of someone who is not only not just some random Target customer, but in fact is someone who is relishing her fifteen minutes in the spotlight.

A skim through the Federal Electi0ns Commission database shows that Mrs. Reitan has given over $10,000 to various Democratic candidates over the past decade or so (Patty Wetterling in ’04 and 05, Tim Walz, Elwin “E-Tink” Tinklenberg, several to the DFL, a bundle to America Coming Together, a grand to Al Franken, a thou for Paul Wellstone, and much, much more.  Plus another $300 to Mark Ritchie and $200 to the House DFL Caucus, according to the MN Campaign Finance board.

And her husband Phil?   Around $4,000 more.  Son, Jacob?  Another thou and change.

At the beginning, where Mrs. Reitan introduces herself, perhaps it would have been helpful and honest if she’d called herself “a mother, grandmother, and DFL uber-activist“.  Just saying.

So to summarize:  Alliance for a Better Minnesota (and CBS News) want us to swallow the following:

That Bill Sorem Just Happened To Videotape A Random Outraged Customer:  It’s hard to say if the producer wanted this event to look like a candid camera incident; it certainly looks staged.  But it was presented by the Uptake, by A4aBM, and by CBS as an organic, grassroots, random protest against Tom Emmer and against Target’s donation to the “MNForward” PAC, which supports Emmer in the gubernatorial election.  This is bad journalism.

That The Uptake Is Anything But An Arm Of The DFL: After participating in an ABM attack campaign – which, as we noted two weeks ago, is funded by unions and, mostly, Mark Dayton and his relatiives - future protestations of being “journalists” should be taken with a large block of salt.

Long story short; the Uptake is staging the news for the ABM’s, and the DFL’s, benefit.

This is not journalism.

UPDATE:  Gary Gross at Let Freedom Ring does some more checking on Randi “Random Customer” Reitan.

UPDATE 2: An emailer writes:

Let’s see if I have this straight (pardon the pun):
 
Some little old granny, after seeing Target giving money to a group that supports Tom Emmer, who might not support gay marriage, goes down to her local Target store, where she just happens to run into an Uptake ‘reporter’, who just happened to have his video equipment on hand to witness the events that transpired.
 
Of course, there is no “CONTEXT” to the event.  What you don’t see:
 
#1  “Granny”, her husband, and her gay son have given well over $10,000 to DFL causes over the years.  $0 to GOP
 
#2   The gay son founded “Equality Ride”  http://www.soulforce.org/article/1024  which spreads the message:  “to empower young activists and challenge the unfair school policies that discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students.” [We've covered SoulForce's odd mission here]
 
#3   The husband of “Granny” is on the Board of “Soulforce”  http://www.soulforce.org/article/891  whose Vision Statement is:  “We seek freedom from religious and political oppression for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning people.”
 
Nope. “Granny” has no bias…no vested interest…no hidden motives.  She just happened to bump into the guy with the camera at Target.

It would have been different, to an extent, had Reitan not gone to such pains to set herself up as just another woman off the street – “a mother and grandmother” – in the setup.  But she did!

Why?

And why would “journalists” like the Uptake misrepresent a staged shoot as “news?”

Chanting Points Memo: “LGA Cuts Are Destroying Minnesota” (Part V)

Last week, someone asked “what about Rochester”.

Interesting questions.

The “Big Three” – Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Duluth – are interesting cases in that they have all been run by more-or-less DFL-dominated regimes for all of recent memory; the Norm Coleman/Randy Kelly years in Saint Paul were an anomaly in that you had moderate DFLers (Coleman eventually became a Republican) running the show. 

All three cities have been represented by various flavors of DFL – from moderate to crypto-maoist, with a huge “progressive” preponderance – at all levels, from Washington DC all the way down to city council.

Rochester is a lot more interesting.  It’s a stereotypically Republican town – although it certainly has a powerful DFL involved in the city and region’s politics, being represented by Tim Walz as part of the First Congressional District.

  2002 2009 Before Unallotment 2009 After Unallotment
Rochester LGA $10,700,664 $8,979,816 $7,307,970
Rochester Levy $22,480,214 $41,486,193 $41,486,193
Rochester Pop 89,325 102,437 102,437
    MVHC Cut: $1,671,846

 And Rochester gets significant Local Government Aid – although in 2009 it amounted to $71 per Rochester resident, as opposed to $343 per Duluther.

But the big difference is in population:  Rochester is actually the third-largest city in Minnesota now, and has grown 14% during the Pawlenty years, as the Twin Cities grew slightly and Duluth shrank.

As a result – while the Twin Cities “tax Capacity” has been fairly stagnant (less due to collapsing property values than to the fact that the Cities have no place to grow; surrounded by ‘burbs, they can’t annex anything), while Rochester’s has grown 53% during Pawlenty’s administration.

Rochester is expanding physically, of course, and that helps the tax base (and helped shrink the city’s LGA by about 30% during the Pawlenty years).  But the demand for the space it has is growing, and the health of the local and regional economy plays a role; the city wouldn’t be expanding if there weren’t jobs for people to do.

 Correlation doesn’t equal causation – but the fact that Rochester has a functional two-party government certainly can’t hurt its prosperity, compared with the stagmant one-party miasma of the Twin Cities.

Still – notwithstanding the fact that Local Government Aid, which was instituted to help move money from the state’s wealthy urban/suburban areas to the stagnant outstate area (call it “municipal welfare”), it currently awards the state’s Big Four cities, where just over one in five Minnesotans live…

  2002   2009 After Unallotment
Big 4 Pop 845,156   865,843
Total city Pop 3,930,406   3,930,413
Big 4 % of Pop 21.5%   22.0%

…with well over half of the Local Government Aid…

  2002 2009 Before Unallotment 2009 After Unallotment
Big 4 LGA $225,457,015 $191,096,688 $174,328,384
All others LGA $339,533,937 $335,044,859 $307,193,549
Big 4 % of LGA 66.4% 57.0% 56.7%

…which means twice as much Local Government aid per resident goes to Duluth, the Twins and Rochester…

  2002 2009 Before Unallotment 2009 After Unallotment
Big 4 per capita LGA $266.76 $220.71 $201.34
All others LGA per capita $110.05 $109.33 $100.24

…as to the rest of the state, even with Rochester’s proportion shrinking by almost a third.

——–

On a related note, someone from the League of Minnesota Cities has been discussing my series on Twitter.  He notes that LGA has not risen or fallen in a straight line over the Pawlenty years; if you look at LGA statewide and for individual cities, it bounced up and down quite a bit. 

That is a fact. It also doesn’t change my conclusions, which are…

  • …that for all the left’s caterwauling about Pawlenty “leaving a mess” after eight years by cutting LGA, that local governments have seized far more of this state’s wealth via property tax hikes than they ever lost from LGA cuts, and…
  • …even if you accepted the initial necessity of a “municipal welfare” program like LGA to transfer wealth from the once-wealthy Metro to the once-stagnant-to-impoverished Greater Minnesota, the program has reversed itself, and become a program to launder the profligate spending of the Metro DFL through the rest of the state’s taxpayers, as well as…
  • …a political cudgel the DFL uses to squeeze voters, by simultaneously holding hostage programs that directly impact the taxpayer (firefighters, libraries) even as they jack property taxes far beyond any actual LGA cuts

Most worrisome?  If a DFL governor is elected and the DFL retains control of both houses of the Legislature, you know that while the Metro’s property taxes will not budge significantly downward, the statewide taxes to cover the promised “restoration” of LGA (with “cost of living” increases) will zoom upward for all Minnesotans as well. 

Thursday – what about the parts of the state that don’t get in on the LGA gravy train?

Shades Of Things

The below is not a fearless prediction.  Call it a hunch.

If you live in the Second Congressional District, you know John Kline is going to win; if Shelly Madore wins the primary, Kline – even in a bad year, like 2008 – would win by 15 points, conservatively, and this won’t be a bad year for Kline.  If “Powers” survives, it’ll be 30-40 points. 

If you live in the Third, it might be a little closer; Paulsen’s got a tailwind, and had a great freshman term.  DFL-endorsed candidate Jim Meffert is a solid 10 point dog, and I think that’s being nice.

Likewise in the Sixth; Michele Bachmann, who won two squeakers against a full court press from not only the regional left and media (pardon, as always, the  redundancy) but the national ones, during two terrible years for Republicans, is going to win by a comfortable ten points, no matter which victim the DFL nominates.

Of course, the DFL pays it all back in the Fourth, Fifth and Eighth districts were, even when the GOP comes up with a strong candidate (as the Fourth District GOP did in endorsing Teresa Collett this past weekend), the media colludes to make sure that Keith Ellison, Betty “Dissent Is Violence!” McCollum and Jim Oberstar are never held accountable for any of their actions, even if knowing them would convince the overwhelmingly-DFL constituencies to vote otherwise, which seems doubtful at times.

But in the First?  Tim Walz, who ran as a “moderate” DFLer to unseat moderate Republican Gil Gutknecht in 2006, but has spent his entire term in office as Nancy Pelosi’s ultraliberal lapdog, and voted for the Obamacare plan that is pretty sure to gut the health care for most of the First’s residents, and gut-shoot the Mayo Clinic, has got to be vulnerable.  Randy Demmer is a strong candidate who survived a bruising convention (seven ballots last weekend) for the chance to run against Walz. 

So here’s what I’m asking; if you live in the Second, Third or Sixth Districts, it’d be great to run up a huge score on the Dems.  Heck, it’d be great to knock ‘em into third-party territory! 

But if you could see your way clear to spare a few bucks to send to the First, to help Demmer overcome his cash deficit, that’d be a great start. 

And if you have  few bucks to spare to help Teresa Collett in the Fourth, and Chip Cravaack in the Eighth

UPDATE:  Yep, I know – Randy Demmer.  I was thinking of another Demmer I knew way back when.  My bad.

Opportunity Walzes In

State Rep. Randy Demmer won the 1st District endorsement on Saturday, beating out Alan Quist and two more conservative candidates.

Demmer, a four-term state representative and business owner from Hayfield, a town southwest of Rochester, vowed to paint Walz as too liberal for his southern Minnesota district.

“We know Tim Walz is working with Nancy Pelosi,” Demmer said. “He’s right there doing everything she beckons him to do.”

For all his talk in 2006 of being independent and representing his district – which ranges from rock-ribbed conservative farmers, doctors and businesspeople in the south and the Rochester area to mewling liberals in and around Mankato – Walz has been nothing but a lapdog for Nancy Pelosi (although rumors that he actually ran and fetched a stick thrown by Madame Speaker are apparently false).

Demmer beat back a challenge from longtime conservative activist Allen Quist and two other contenders, who couched their bids in even more heated rhetoric.

Demmer, 53, took eight ballots over about five hours at the convention held at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

And that’s a good sign; while I prefer the more conservative candidates in general, Demmer is no Arne Carlson; his Taxpayers League rating is 64, which could be better, but it beats Walz sitting down.  And while abortion is not my litmus test issue, it does my heart proud to see that NARAL has give him a long string of zeros.  Put it this way – if he wins, it’ll be like Gil Gutknecht never left.  Perfect is the enemy of plenty good enough.

Downside?  Walz is sitting on $600,000; Demmer has about $10K in the bank.  He’s got a lot of ground to make up; even with a conservative tailwind, it’s going to be a busy year.

Any of my readers in the First – please sound off!

Bring On November, Baybee

So they’ve done it.  The Obama Administration, speaking for about a third of the American people, jammed a nationalization of the Health Insurance industry down the American throat.

On the one hand, American people, you were warned.  If you voted for Barack Obama and are among the millions getting buyers remorse today as you confront the very real possibility that your health insurance premiums are going to jump like a point guard with a rocket up its butt as your access to service decays into a morass of DMV-like misery, remember – we told you so.  We told you Obama was going to do whatever he and his minions could to nationalize as much of the economy as possible.  And he said, even during the campaign, that it all started with socializing healthcare.  He telegraphed the punch, people!

I got a few phone calls yesterday.  “I’m scared”, they said.  I saw a bunch of similar comments on Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t be.

In the immortal words of Harry Dean Stanton’s “Jeb Eckert”  in that American trash-underground classic Red Dawn, there is a better solution.

Eckert knew everything he needed to about government “services”. 

And he had some simple advice for channeling emotions at times like this.

Let it turn into something else“.

Now is the time for anger.  Constructive anger, mind you – partly because the left and media (pardon the redundancy) will be looking for every sign of anger, translating every fit of pique into an indictment of all dissent (even if they have to make it up).  But mostly because there is no time to waste.  There are only seven good campaigning months until November.

That anger needs to come out – politely, calmly, coolly as a wolf stalking its prey – at your legislators.  If your legislator voted against Obamacare – Kline, Paulsen, Bachmann and Peterson?  Call to thank them.  They need to know – even Democrats, like Peterson – that you appreciate them doing the right thing.

For the “bulletproof” Ellison and McCollum?  You may not think it does any good, and it may not flip any seats, but if Congress knows that there’s strong dissent even in “safe” districts, then they’ll know that the less “safe” districts are in trouble.

And in those less “safe” districts?  Jim Oberstar needs to know that the political trick he turned – the latest of many in a career built on a generation of pork-mongering – isn’t appreciated.  Especially all you Catholics in the Eighth District; he flipped his vote for thirty pieces of political silver. Find him a tree (rhetorically speaking).

And Tim Walz?  Does this man represent you, First District?  Does his vote to turn the Mayo Clinic into a public hospital make any sense at all?  Walz got his office by an upset win in a horrible year for Republicans; there’s no reason the district can’t redeem itself and the country by being rid of him for good.

Franken and Klobuchar?   They’re as safe a couple of votes for Obama as exist in the Senate.  But if you don’t think an avalanche of “no” calls will flip their votes, remember – Kent Conrad in North Dakota has to run for re-election in 2012.  He’s one of the most powerful men in Washington – right behind Byron Dorgan.  Who saw the train – you and me – coming, and decided to get out of the way.  If Conrad hears that the peasants are revolting in Minnesota, what will he think of his own, conservative, disproportionally Medicare-dependent constituency?

Make your calls.  And when (and, in the case of the gutless ones, if) there’s a town hall meeting?  Cancel your other plans.  Be there.  Be polite, but don’t back down.  They’ll have their goons there, just like The Man had in Birmingham and Selma.  It’s what banana republic tyrants do when they’re scared of those they see as their subjects.

When they have to bring in the goons in the purple shirts, that’s the good news.

So don’t be scared.  What’s in the past is in the past.  What’s important is that America learns its lesson before it’s too late.  We need to not only kick out of office every single person that voted for this abomination; we need to stomp the Democrat party without mercy, until it never gets up again. The urge to socialize America must be not just defeated at the polls; it must be obliterated.  It must be beaten into electoral gunk  that swirls down the drain of American history once and for all.

Politically, naturally.

Am I asking for too much?

Was Ronald Reagan asking for too much when he spoke in the seventies, at the very lowest ebb of America’s fortunes, influence and morale (so far), of ending the USSR ? 

Of course he was.  But doing the impossible begins with the impossible dream.

So don’t be scared.  Be angry.  And let that anger turn into the kind of motivation that wins wars, cures diseases, and sends stupid politicians back to their dingy law offices.

And then be there – at the demonstrations, on the phone, at the town halls.

The Democrats planted the wind yesterday.  We need to make sure they harvest a tornado.

Call Your Congresspeople

Jim Oberstar:
2365 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-6211
FAX: (202) 225-0699

Collin Peterson
(202) 225-2165

Tim Walz
Washington Office
1722 Longworth House
Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202-225-2472

Michele Bachmann
107 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2331
Fax: (202) 225-6475

John Kline
1210 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2271
Fax: (202) 225-2595

Keith Ellison
202-225-4755

Betty McCollum
1714 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
phone: (202) 225-6631
fax: (202) 225-1968<
Erik Paulsen
126 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2871
Fax: (202) 225-6351
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Too Hot To Handle?

Via Joe Bodell at MN “Progressive” Project, it seems that Rep Tim Walz’s  (DFL, MN 1st District) feet are cooling down in re the notion of passing the Senate Obamacare bill.

Bodell:

One of the remaining options for the health insurance reform effort is for the House of Representatives to pass the Senate version of the bill verbatim, thus avoiding having to send a modified bill back to the Senate for debate, where it would likely die thanks to 41 votes being stronger than 59.

Which, of course, the Dems could “fix” by invoking the “Nuclear Option” – changing the Senate rules to allow cloture, or the shutting down of filibusters, on a majority vote rather than needing the traditional 60 votes.  Which they are loathe to do, since it’ll come back to haunt them when the Senate changes hands again, and that change looks to be closer at hand than they’d figured a year ago.

So it’s back to parliamentary tactics 101:

Thus, [the Tics] need to figure out where House members stand — several have said various things about whether they would vote for the Senate bill, and TPM is making a list — and Minnesota’s Tim Walz looks like he falls into the “maybe” category.

I got the following statement from Walz’s spokesperson:

Congressman Walz has not taken an official stand on whether he would vote for the Senate health care reform bill verbatim if it were put before the House. However, the pay-for-value Medicare reimbursement provisions that currently exist in both bills are an extremely important consideration.

So the absence of a public option in the Senate bill doesn’t sound like a deal-breaker for Walz — but unless it looks like there could be 218 votes for the Senate bill, members are likely to be very skittish about making public pronouncements one way or the other.

“Skittish” is a good word for it.  Walz squeaked into office in 2006 by beating “Moderate” Republican Gil Gutknecht in one of the worst elections for Republicans in recent memory (until 2008).  He represents a largely red district in the rural southwest part of Minnesota, hundreds of thousands of acres of conservative farmers surrounding a tiny blue outpost in Mankato.  He’s right to be skittish; he must looking at Byron Dorgan and Earl Pomeroy’s contortions, and Collin Peterson’s deep ambivalence about throwing himself on a sword for Barack Obama in his very similar Seventh District, and calculating his odds.

CORRECTION:  Yeah, I know – Walz is the First, not Third, District.  I’m a Saint Paul guy.  Anything west of Lyndale is a purely academic concept to me.  As is the concept of “a responsive Congressperson…”

First Sign Of Hope

I’ve long felt that the MNGOP’s best shot at a pickup in 2010 will be in the First Congressional District (CD), where DFLer Tim Walz beat incumbent moderate Gil Gutknecht in 2006.  Walz was a middling-to-weak candidate, but a likeable enough guy who ran far enough to the center to eke out a win in the second-worst election for Republicans in recent memory.   Incumbency has its privileges, of course; Walz solidified his position last year against a very weak GOP candidate in the worst year for Republicans in recent memory.

Still, if there’s a vulnerable DFLer in the state, it’s Walz; he’s a mushy center-left Congressman of no real distinction, one who’s followed whomever’s ridden the biggest horse in his three exceedingly vanilla years in Washington.  A good conservative reflecting the overall realities of the district and, let us not forget, a better year for Republicans, could make 2010 the year Tim Walz goes back to whatever it was he did before he went to Washington.

The Cook Report is showing early signs of agreement, demoting the race in the First from “Solid” to “Likely” Democrat - and this long before the GOP has even begun winnowing its five contenders down to find a candidate.

The Way The Wind Blows

MN 7th District representative Collin Peterson will vote “No” on the House “Healthcare” bill this weekend:

Peterson says the bill doesn’t do enough to control health care costs, and that it continues unfair Medicare reimbursements that penalize Minnesota doctors and hospitals. Peterson says his biggest concern is the federal budget…

This is good news.  There was some doubt on this one; while Peterson is one of the bluest of the blue dogs, and represents a fundamentally conservative part of Minnesota, his vote seemed to some observers (including Rep. Bachmann, whom Ed and I interviewed last weekend) to be a bit of a tossup.

Earlier today, CD1 Rep. Tim Walz indicated he’d vote for the bill.

Walz, in his second term representing a slightly less conservative district than Peterson, is no doubt paying back chits to the DNC.  Someone check for strings above his arms. 

And get on the phone – to thank Peterson, to tell Walz you’re not amused, and to tell Oberstar you are a pro-lifer who is not amused by the “healthcare bill”‘s affordances for abortion:

Jim Oberstar:
2365 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-6211
FAX: (202) 225-0699

Collin Peterson
(202) 225-2165

Tim Walz
Washington Office
1722 Longworth House
Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202-225-2472

This is for all the marbles, folks.  Your healthcare, and your great-grandchildrens’ solvency.

The Magic Rat Drove His Sleek Machine Over The Jersey State Line

You know when I knew we were headed for a big night?

It was probably 6:30 last night.  I was waiting for V to come on.  And on Drudge, I saw that the MSM was claiming, mirabile dictu, that they had all sorts of polling to show that this election was not repeat not repeat not about Obama.

That’s when I knew we were going to run away in Virginia, and probably win Jersey.

Ecker on the Christie win:

It is easy to overstate the importance of this election, as it is after all a local race which centers around local issues and personalities just as much as it does higher issues. But voter attitudes towards their government in general can influence how voters approach those issues. In this case, Christie ran on the issue of property taxes and other economic issues, where voter opinions are certainly strongly influenced by the Democratically controlled Washington DC.

It’s also worth mentioning that Obama invested heavily in both races, stumping for both candidates a number of times, including in the final days before the election. It is a sign that his majestic holiness is no longer enough to sway voters with flowery speeches and hollow hyperbole.

Virginia – a traditionally Republican state – was a “must make a good showing” state for The One.

But Jersey?  Not only have they not elected a Republican in sixteen years, but that “Republican” was Christine Todd Whitman, a woman who sent Rockefeller Republicans scampering for their Hayek.

Think that if Obama Deeds had won, or even kept it really really close, and/or if Corzine had won by the usual huge margin, we wouldn’t be hearing Katie Couric chiming that The Dream Is Still Alive this morning?

The most immediate effect of this will be in the outcome of ObamaCare/PelosiCare/etc. Already Blue Dog Democrats were feeling the heat of public opinion regarding the absolutely horrendous bill that is before Congress. Both Pelosi and Reid were already having problems convincing Democrats from swing districts to vote for the bill. This election is likely to reinforce that hesitation. If even an incumbent Democrats in a core blue state can lose, a Democrat in a swing or even a conservative district is officially on notice. Voters are not in a forgiving mood.

You listening, Tim Walz?

Call Congress

Ed and I are talking with Rep. Bachmann on the air as I write this – and she stresses the importance of calling the representatives whose votes might be up for grabs on next week’s healthcare vote in the US House.  She notes that while she, Rep. Kline and Rep. Paulsen are going to vote against the bill, and there’s no real suspense about Ellison or McCollum either, that we could well put some pressure on Tim Walz (a liberal Democrat in a district that, in a rational climate, would have sent Gil Gutknecht back to office in ’06), Collin Peterson (a blue dog from the conservative northwest corner of the state) and…

…Jim Oberstar?  That’s right – the 224-term congressman from the Arrowhead represents a district that loves its pork, but is also very pro-life – and would not be impressed by the pro-infanticide aspects of Pelosi’s novel.

So call!

Jim Oberstar:
2365 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-6211
FAX: (202) 225-0699

Collin Peterson
(202) 225-2165

Tim Walz
Washington Office
1722 Longworth House
Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202-225-2472

Remember – be polite (because if you say so much as “gosh darnit”, the media will accuse you of assault), and that Congressional staffs (and Reps) know that every caller represents 100 other people.

Fearless Predictions – Take 2

It was about three months ago that I took my Smy first whack at my biennial “Fearless Predictions” for this election. 

In the original, I note my bona fides as a prognosticator:  I got closer to nailing the 2004 presidential election than anyone I know; I was two days off on Saddam Hussein’s execution; while I had a number of flubs in 2006, I got the ones that mattered – Pawlenty by a hair, Bachmann by eight – in style. 

This year?  It’s gonna be a tough one – but maybe not that bad.  Although the conventional wisdom says this is gonna be a rough year for Republicans – I previously predicted the Dems would suffer a moral defeat if they came out with any less than 350 seats in the House – there is evidence that Congressional Dems’ fecklessness on the war, the economy and, well, everything might be costing them

Here in Minnesota, the DFL candidates have run ugly, nasty, amoral races that deserve to be turned out into the street; in a year like this, that’s unlikely. 

So without further ado, let’s get down to it.:

US Senate:  Norm Coleman endured a lefty/media (pardon the redundancy) smear campaign of biblical proportions.  In a less-fraught year, I think it would have been an 8-10 point race; Franken doesn’t even have the DFL base behind him.  I think Coleman will win by two or three.

First District: Tim Walz will win going away – but if Obama wins, and governs the way he’s promised, Walz is either going to have to manufacture a genuine centrist facade, or face a serious problem in 2010.  The First District just isn’t that crazy.

Second District:  I’ll hold to my July prediction almost verbatim:  John Kline will beat Steve Sarvi by at least ten points.  Maybe more.

Third District: I think Paulsen’s going to pull this one off, but it’ll be tight.  Maybe two points.  The DFL has run a snarlingly adolescent campaign in this district; I suspect they realize that talk that the Third Distict is “turning blue” was overstated.  Again, if Obama wins and Paulson carries it off, Paulsen will take 2010 by at least 12 points against anyone the DFL throws against him – presuming he resists the urge to RINO out on us.

Fourth District:  Ed Matthews is as solid a candidate as the GOP has thrown into this DFL near-sinecure, ever.   He’s sharp.  He’s articulate.  He shredded Betty McCollum, perhaps the emptiest suit in our delegation, at their debate.  Seriously – if it’d been a boxing match, the referee would have stopped it in two rounds.  But it’s the Fourth, where the DFL could nominate a set of wind-up chattering teeth and count on 50% of the votes.  So far.  I think McCollum is going to carry this one off – but I think there are chinks forming in the DFL’s sense of invincibility in this district.  We’ll be talking about that in the future on this blog.  I hope Ed Matthews stays in politics; he can be a contender.

Fifth District:  Like Matthews, Barb Davis-White is as credible a candidate as the GOP has fielded in this district in recent memory.  A black conservative Christian, Davis-White should make some decent headway – and probably could have done better, had the GOP managed to get her funding within two orders of magnitude of that of the incompetent Keith Ellison.  I suspect Ellison will win - but Barb Davis-White and people like her need to stay at this.  If Obama wins the White House, 2010 is going to be another 1994 – and people like Davis-White and Matthews will benefit.

Sixth District: Michele Bachmann, the biggest lightning rod for the left’s mania and delusion anywhere in the Congress, has endured the nastiest assaults of any candidate I can think of.  Everything Sarah Palin has faced in the past two months – the sclerotic selective sexism of the feminist movement, the misogyny of the left – Michele Bachmann has been dealing with for over a decade.  The left just doesn’t like uppity women!  I think Michele will tip Elwin “E-Tink” Tinklenburg - former useless head of MNDoT and shameless ghoul - by four.

Seventh District: Collin Peterson will win.  Fifteen, twenty, thirty points?  Let’s not kid ourselves.

Eighth District:  Jim Oberstar will slouch onward, the Robert Byrd Strom Thurmond (or maybe just the Quentin Burdick) of the Northland, borne forth on a wave of entitlement swag and an avalanche of yummy pork.  He will be America’s first undead congressman.

And finally…

…well, no.  I never thought I’d say this a week ago, but the presidential race is, again, too fluid.  The momentum in this race has changed more than in a pee-wee hockey game.  Maybe this weekend the picture will be clearer.

And maybe not…

Fearless Predictions – Take 1

My record at predictions - as long as we’re not talking sports – is mixed.

Between “Good” and “Friggin’ Great”. 

I got the 2004 election within eight electoral votes – in a prediction made at the NARN’s first meeting, with Hugh Hewitt, at Billy’s Lighthouse in January of 2004.

Nailing the date of Hussein’s execution, while admittedly ghoulish and not something I especially enjoy, was further proof of my absolute dominance at games of blind luck (that, further, can’t profit me in any way).

And while I had a couple of glaring flubs in 2006 (the Senate race wasn’t close, Gutknecht lost in CD1, and Pat Anderson got toppled in the Auditor race), I had some amazing picks elsewhere; while I got the wrong margins with Betty McCollum’s wins in CD4, and I didn’t really “predict” the SOS race so much as voice a fear (correctly) that it could all go wrong and we could get Mark “Not Married to Madonna” Ritchie as Secretary of State, I also got the CD2 (Kline v. Rowley), CD3 (actually underestimated Jim Ramstad’s margin over Wendy Wilde), attorney and the Ramco and Henco sheriff’s races very close, nailed the CD5 (Ellison versus Alan Fine and some Ventura party chick) race almost on the nose, and – most importantly – predicted the Sixth District Race right on the nose (Michele Bachmann with an eight-point win over Patty Wetterling). 

I present the above for background for the below; I’m going to give my initial predictions for the US House and Senate races this fall.  Take ‘em for what they are worth; highly preliminary, based on entirely subjective data.

Just like very single one I listed above.

This is subject to revision at least once.

US Senate:  Norm Coleman will endure a lefty/media (pardon the redundancy) smear campaign of biblical proportions to gut out a six point win – eight if Ventura gets into the race.

First District: Tim Walz will win – but it’ll be closer than you think, setting up what will be a serious threat in 2010 to end Walz’s career at two terms, especially if Barack Obama wins the presidency.

Second District:  John Kline will beat Steve Sarvi by at least ten points.

Third District: Erik Paulsen will confound “conventional wisdom” (which is Strib editorial-board talk for “an opinion pulled from the collective butts of Lori Sturdevant and Larry Jacobs) and beat Ashwin Madia by six.  Talk that the Third Distict is “turning blue” will abate – especially if Obama wins, in which cast Paulsen goes on to win in 2010 by at least 12 points against anyone the DFL throws against him.

Fourth District:  I’m going to withold predictions on this race…

Fifth District:  …and this one.  Partly because I’m too close to both, and partly because they’ll be a lot more fun to write about if I don’t try to predict them just yet.  I think Ed Matthews (CD4) and Barb Davis-White (CD5) are, at worst, initial steps on a path toward re-establishming the GOP in the cities.  This is going to be the subject of another article, soon.

Sixth District: Michele Bachmann will recap her 2006 margin of victory over E-Tink, by at least eight points – maybe better if the regional center-right can get E-Tink’s record of uselessness at MNDoT out in front of the public (juxtaposed, for the fun of it, with his craven, ghoulish performance the night of the 35W Bridge collapse.

Seventh District: Collin Peterson will win.  Fifteen, twenty, thirty points?  I feel bad for whomever the GOP has endorsed, and I wish it could be different, but there you have it.

Eighth District:  Jim Oberstar will slouch onward, the Robert Byrd of the Northland, borne forth on a wave of entitlement swag and an avalanche of yummy pork.  He will be America’s first undead congressman.

Expect at least one round of revisions – hopefully nothing drastic.

Use Just Once And Destroy

Today on the Northern Alliance Radio Network:

  • Volume I “The First Team” – John, Brian and Chad – will kick things off from 11-1. No idea, as this is written, what they’re going to talk about.
  • Volume II “The Headliner”Ed is back from assignment, so we’ll be throwing down from 1-3; call in early and often! We’ll be talking debates, and I suspect Larry O’Donnell might pop up as well.
  • Volume III, “The Final Word”King and Michael will talk Minnesota trash after that until 5PM; they’ll be talking Instant Runoff with Andy Cilek, and with CD1 GOP candidate Brian Davis about his campaign to unseat Tim Walz.

So tune in to all six hours of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, the Twin Cities’ media’s sole guardians of sanity. On the air at AM1280 in the Metro, or streaming at AM1280′s Website, or via podcast at Townhall.

(Along with the Stroms, from 9-11, natch).

To Spike The Ball And Dance Tastelessly In The End Zone

Tomorrow, there’s going to be a special election in Minnesota Senate District 25. Republican Ray Cox is taking on DFLer Kevin Dahle.

Brodkorb has the latest at True North and MDE:

It is worth noting that Republican-endorsed Ray Cox has raised nearly $40,000 (to be exact – $39,885) for the special election in SD 25 this Thursday.

Meanwhile, DFL-endorsed Kevin Dahle may be embarrassed because his fundraising numbers haven’t been posted on the campaign finance board’s website.

Ray Cox is not, as far as I’ve seen, a solid conservative – but he’s the GOPer that’s showed up. Getting conservatives in office is goal #1, of course (for me, at least), but growing the GOP caucus isn’t far behind.

So if you live in District 25 (Map – PDF alert!) – the Rice/LeSeuer County area – you need to get out to the polls Thursday and make sure you vote early and often. Crushing the DFL candidate in the heart of Tim Walz’s district [SD25 is in CD2? Who knew?] would be a great way to kick off the new year.

Tim Walz: “Give Companies Money, And They Will Be Happy”

You’ve heard the debate about SCHIP. The Dems want to take a program originally intended to subsidize health care for legitimately poor kids (originally passed by Republicans, if I recall correctly) and expand it to cover children whose families could not pass (or flunk) any legitimate means test for the subsidy under current law. In other words, they want to do what they always do with entitlements – expand them far beyond their original intent, to addict more of our society to government assistance of one kind or another. The Republicans, true to principle, have fought back against the creeping socialization of healthcare smarting after November and leery about their prospects next year, have been acquiescing in depressing numbers. The President, fortunately, has pushed back by vetoing the bill. Most Americans support the President on this veto.
Which is, I suspect, why Congressman Walz is standing to post in the spin machine:

SCHIP was created 10 years ago to help provide health care for children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance. The program is economical — it needs less than $3.50 a day to cover a child — and cost-effective, because children who have access to routine preventive care from a family doctor don’t have to rely on emergency rooms for their medical care.

That is, of course, the boilerplate about the program – boilerplate that got it passed in a Republican Congress. I have nothing to add that better commentators haven’t already hammered on…

…except this next bit.

I believe these concerns, such as those expressed just a few days ago in these pages by my colleague Rep. Michele Bachmann are overblown.Some have expressed concerns that, under this program, wealthy parents will enroll their children in SCHIP instead of providing them with private health insurance. But if these concerns were well-founded, then private insurance companies would be leading the charge against an expansion of SCHIP. Instead, they are among its strongest supporters.

Walz either never passed Economics 101, or things none of the rest of you did.

Picture yourself as a healthcare company (and I’ve worked for them a couple of times – so while I claim no extra-special insight, I’m not the idiot Walz seems to need us all to be). Your choice:

  • Engage in the scrum of the market, advertising and selling and servicing insurance to people the old-fashioned way – by having to convince them to give you their money for your products and services, with all of the ups and downs that attend working in the free market
  • Letting government do your selling for you, and cashing their checks.

What’s not to like?

As, indeed, Walz notes:

Under SCHIP’s public-private partnership, private health-care plans work with individual states to cover uninsured children. That is why this legislation has been endorsed by America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association. In other words, SCHIP is as good for America’s health-care industry as it is for keeping America’s kids healthy.

Where “good” equals “conveniently remunerative”.