The New 4th CD?

I spent most of Saturday at the Fourth CD GOP convention.

The Ron Paul crowd swept into almost all of the leadership and delegate positions in the Fourth CD on Saturday; only Mike Boguszewski remains from the old executive committee.

The Paul crowd replaced everyone else, myself included, with their slate of candidates – for whom they voted with almost vapor-lock-tight discipline (and no, no sour grapes; I am not “District Secretary” material, and wanted to move over to Vice Chair for Media and Commiunications; I finished closer to the money than anyone who wasn’t on the “slate”, which I took as a mild compliment).

Now, I’ve met a lot of the district’s Ron Paul supporters.  They are, in a lot of ways, the type of people everyone’s been trying to attract to 4th CD GOP politics for years; young, idealistic, motivated.   Unlike 2008, most of delegates that had been forwarded from the House/Senate district conventions showed up for their third straight session of sitting in their delegate chairs until their butts went numb.

And that’s all to the good.

Less good?  Some of their leadership was motivated by fairly palpable anger over the “way they were treated in 2008”, when quite a few GOP activists gamed the system to keep the first wave of Paul supporters out of power.  To their political credit, they spent their four years organizing, and did a good job of it.

Less to their credit?  While anger is a good motivator, “anger at the inner workings of a political party” has, I’m going to guess, a short shelf life.   And at least in the Fourth CD, the anger was manifested by ballot.  The twitter stream during the convention indicated that at other districts, Paul supporters booed Dan Severson and Pete Hegseth, whose main transgression was “not being Kurt Bills”, the Paul crowd’s candidate for Senate, or refusing to stand to support John Kline at the 2nd District convention when he was re-endorsed.

Still, it made for an interesting day.  Rumors on the floor had it that there’d been negotiations going on to keep Jim Carson – who did an excellent job leading what was bound to be a long rebuilding effort, after having led Roger Chamberlain’s upset victory for the Senate two years ago – in place as district chair.  For one reason or another – rumors on the floor varied, but most of them seemed to come back to “we’re still pissed off about 2008” – the negotiations broke down and the Paul crowd voted their straight slate and replaced Carson with former one-term Roseville mayor John Kyslyczyn.

So now, with the exception of Boguszewski, we have an entirely new Fourth CD; in much of the district, the leadership is new from the “BPOU” (MNGOP talk for the lowest level of the organization, which might be a House district, a Senate district or a County) level on up.

So what do we have, other than the hardest-to-spell leadership team in all of Minnesota politics (Kyslyczyn / Boguszweski)?  It’d tempting to say “a big slate of leaders who’ve never won a political race outside the party”, but then outside of Kyslyczyn’s term as mayor and Carson’s management of Chamberlain, the old and new teams are both tied at zero, so we can call that a wash so far.

My big concern, now as then?  While the crowd of Paul supporters at the convention Saturday carefully replaced their “Ron Paul” posters and stickers with “Kurt Bills” goodies, and voted to endorse Tony Hernandez by a 190-5-5 margin (after running a skillful campaign to win support from most of the establishment and Paul crowds), I have yet to hear a lot of support for, or even especially much awareness of, races farther down ticket or, more importantly, for candidates who get endorsed even if they’re not on the Paul slate.

Now, I know that there are a lot of good, committed people among the Paul crowd who are committed to using their positions in the GOP to work for the party, not just a candidate or two.

But I get a different impression from some of their leadership.  Ronald Reagan once said that if someone agrees with you 70% of the time, it doesn’t make them 30% your enemy.

And from some of the Paul crowd’s leadership, I do get the impression that, whether motivated by single-candidate zeal or roiling anger over 2008 or one of the mind-boggling number of byzantine interpersonal pissing matches that seems to motivate so much of CD4 GOP politics no matter who the nominee or the cause celebre or what the defining issue is, the Paul crowd’s leadership, in the district and beyond, sees “70% friends” as “30% enemies”.

About a month ago, I issued a challenge to the Paul supporters in the 4th CD.  Some Paul supporters complimented me on the piece.  Some took umbrage.  At least one of the Paul crowd’s “leadership” took out after me pretty aggressively over the article, denouncing me as Not A Libertarian At All in that Maoist-y way people adopt when they’re higher on political zeal than common sense.

But now he, and all of you in the Paul crowd, are the establishment, and I don’t have to mince words like some sort of party officer anymore.

Ron Paul’s not going to get nominated.  There is not a chance in hell he’s going to even get past the first ballot.  You fought the fight – successfully, here in Minnesota – but in August your national delegates will announce their votes, and the whole effort will wash down history’s drainpipe, and Paul will retire from Congress, and life’ll move on.

But there’s an opportunity to make a statement that’d be even bigger, at least here in Minnesota.

I’ll restate my challenge; exert some of that newfound power and influence down ticket from Paul and Bills; you have a golden opportunity to use your numbers and energy and organization to push Tony Hernandez to an upset victory over Betty McCollum.  There hasn’t been a better  opportunity to do that since the late Dennis Newinski got within six points back in 2000; between redistricting, anger in Stillwater over McCollum’s opposition to the new Stillwater Bridge, Obama’s anti-coattails, and the fact that most of Saint Paul is much worse off now than it was four years ago, this will be as good a chance as we get until 2020.

The chance, in short, is to do the unthinkable; to flip the unflippable Fourth.

Of course, for all your district-flipping numbers, you can’t do it alone.  Obviously, either could the former leadership.

It’ll be a brutally tough job to do even if we do all pull together.

And I know most of your hearts are in the right place.  But, Paul supporters, I’d like you to honestly ask yourself; does your leadership see the rest of the GOP as a bunch of 30% enemies?

Because if they do…I was going to say, “that road leads to Palookaville”. But 4th CD Republican politics has only rarely been anything but Palookaville for as long as anyone can remember.

Now there would be some change we could believe in.

Open Letter To Ron Paul Supporters In The 4th CD

To: Ron Paul Supporters, especially in the 4th Congresisonal District
From: Mitch Berg
Re: Your Shot At Making A Real Difference


Some of you know me.  I’m Mitch Berg.  And long before I had a blog, and even longer before I hosted a talk show, and longer-still before I got heavily involved in “establishment” party politics, I was a Libertarian, with a big “L”:.  I even ran for office as a big-“L” Libertarian  – and won a moral, if not literal, victory.

I support liberty.  I also support being in a position to actually affect policy, rather than being an eternal protest-voter.  All of your chanting and zeal witthin the GOP are of no value – zero, nada, zilch – if you don’t have the ability to actually affect policy in the world outside the party.  And while having your guy win the presidency would do that, you also need to push candidates with your worldview into the US House and Senate, Governors and state constitutional offices, state Legislators and Senators, the county commission, city hall, the school board – the stuff you actually have to win if you want the government to, y’know, audit the Fed and stuff.

Which is why I endorsed Paul – Rand Paul, that is – last winter.  Libertarian purism, like any kind of purism, is a fun self-indulgence – and like any self-indulgence, it will have no affect on society around you.

So I have no beef with libertarianism.  I don’t even have so much a beef with Ron Paul, either.  I approve of many of the issues he runs on.  The stuff he wrote 30 years ago is a big problem – don’t kid yourself.  But I want to support him, or at least what he stands for.

The problem, I’m sorry to say, is many of you, his supporters.  Part of it is that so many of you do in fact propose using the power of the executive branch in a way not a lot different than liberals propose using the judicial branch – as a cudgel.

But the bigger part is that, for too many of you, Ron Paul is a personality cult.  I’ve run into too many Paul supporters who support Paul, but can barely articulate what he stands for; indeed, I do a better job of speaking for what Paul believes than they do.

Worse?  Just like four years ago, you flooded GOP precinct caucuses, and are in the process of flooding the BPOU Conventions, and trying to push your delegates on to the CD, State and (you hope) National conventions.  And that’s fine; that’s how the process works.

What’s “worse” is that, like four years ago, so very very very very very many of you will never be seen again after your next round of conventions.  You’ll show up, do your bit for Ron Paul – but not the GOP – and disappear, likely not to be seen again.  There are some exceptions – but they are rare.  Your commitment is to Ron Paul, not to the GOP, even in the context of “Changing the party into a more-libertarian institution in the long term” – with which I’d be completely on board.

And so those of us who have committed to the party – some of you call us “the establishment”, which makes me laugh, since I’ve been a libertarian insurgent in the party for 12 years now, and being “the establishment” means “campaign after campaign of door-knocking, phone-calling and lit-dropping – do feel a bit of resentment, like when you cook a big dinner and some stranger eats the whole thing and doesn’t even say thanks.

Anyway, I’m not here to bag on all you Ronulans.  I’m here, actually, to propose a win-win solution; you get to push liberty, the GOP gets to make inroads in the arena of actually changing policy in a meaningful way.

We have a big opportunity in the Fourth Congressional District.  I’ll take a moment to remind you what the Fourth CD is, since a disturbing number of you Paul supporters have little concept of politics down-ticket from the Presidency.  It’s Betty McCollum’s Congressional District:

It’s been controlled by big-government stooges from the DFL for over sixty years now.

But the latest round of redistricting made it a lot more competitive.  It used to be pretty much Saint Paul – a 70-30 statist-DFL district.  But redistricting added in a bunch of the more-conservative, more liberty-friendly East Metro, including thousands of people who moved to Lake Elmo, Woodbury, Stillwater and Afton to get away from the DFL and the rot they bring.

Now, Tony Hernandez is currently the candidate running for the GOP nomination in the 4th CD.  I’ve interviewed him a couple of times – and the language he uses is the kind of thing that should make you Paul supporters (and me) happy to support him.  Big on liberty, shrinking government – most of the Ron Paul elevator pitch is in there.   Before redistricting, he might have been looking at a 65-35 campaign, if he was lucky.

Now?  The odds are not nearly so quixotic.  With a little luck and a ton of work, it’s doable.

So here’s the deal, Paul supporters; if all of you turn out between now and the election with as much enthusiasm and whiz and vinegar in support of Tony Hernandez – who likely will get nominated, as opposed to Paul – and work your asses off alongside all us “establishment” Republicans?  We might just pull off a miracle.

No, bigger than that.

And not just a miracle in terms of sending Betty McCollum back to work as a receptionist at Alliance for a Better Minnesota; not just a miracle in upending sixty years of statist big-government representation in the 4th CD.

It’ll be a miracle in terms that matter much more, both to you Paul supporters and to the GOP; you’ll have done some real, palpable good in bringing your beliefs to bear in a way that can actually affect policy.

If you’re interested in helping out?  I’ll see you at the conventions.  We’ll have a great time. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and we’ll have fun doing it.

If you’re not? If you’re one of those dolts who believes that by staying home on election day because your candidate didn’t get nominated you actually “send a message” anyone will care about?  It’s not true, by the way – politics, especially at the grassroots level, reflects the will of those who show up.  Not just once, mind you, but every month, every election.  Anyway – yeah, I’ll be working against you.  Totally.

Whaddya say?

That is all.

The Fourth

I went to my first Fourth Congressional District GOP meeting since the redistricting last night.

We got two bits of news:

  1. We’re down to one candidate to replace Betty McCollum.  With the withdrawal of Dan Flood, Tony Hernandez is the guy with the hat in the ring.  There’s about a month for someone to jump in.
  2. With the addition of all that new territory between the old Fourth and the Saint Croix – Stillwater, Woodbury, Dellwood, Lake Elmo and Afton – most of which skew at least slightly GOP, the Fourth has gone from a 65-35 DFL district (sometimes more like 70-30) to a 60-40 DFL district.

So there’s two bits of good news there.

The Good Candidate: I’ve known Tony Hernandez for a couple of years.  He ran against Dick Cohen in SD…er, 64, right?  Anyway, in 2010, Hernandez ran against Cohen’s sinecure.  And like all Republicans in the city, he got trounced.  But – he was the only Republican in the whole city to get a precinct inside twenty points, and when you’re a Saint Paul Republican, you look for whatever scrap of good news you can find.  When we heard the announcements last night that it was down to Tony, the committee-person next to me said “Hernandez is going to have to work“.   That, naturally, goes without saying.  It’s going to take a superhuman effort.


The Numbers Are A Tad Less Superhuman: 60-40 is daunting indeed.  But it’s a lot less daunting than 70-30.  The latter is more than 2:1, which in political terms might as well be 50:1.  Betting on 3:2 odds is a whole different critter.

I mean, it’s still  a long shot.  But the Fourth now has the same numbers as the Eighth had two years ago.

Back after Cravaack won, I noted the keys to his victory; lots of hard work, sure – the guy logged a jillion miles, and he’s still doing it.  But hard work without focus is just wasted energy.  Cravaack had good staff – and he ran his district campaign like a military operation, with a chain of command breaking up the district and the work to be done into chunks which an individual (with a day job and a family who was also working their ass off to volunteer) could manage.  And they managed it.

I joked at the time that what the GOP needed was eight former Navy Chief Petty Officers (Army master sergeants, Marine gunnies or Air Force technical sergeants, naturally, would work too), one in each CD – not so much to run, but to manage the campaigns.

And so I was excited to see Flood – a retired Navy senior chief – throwing his hat in the ring.  It’s always fun when your quips come to life.

But Flood’s back out (although it’d be great to have a good CPO working on the campaign, if for no other reason than he could no doubt get things ship-shape, as it were), and unless someone else jumps in and exhibits some fund-raising and organizing mojo very fast, Martinez could be the guy.

And he’s gonna have to work.  And so will all the rest of us.

And that work looks a lot less hopeless now than it did two years ago.

Because while a 60:40 margin is a pretty comfortable one for a good politician…

Betty McCollum is not a good politician.  She is a ventriloquist’s dummy for the various Metro special interests.  She isn’t a representative; she a stenographer and lever-puller for the MFT/AFSCME/MAPE/SEIU/Common Cause and the rest of the DFL’s rouge gallery.  She doesn’t have any beliefs she’s not instructed to have.  She’s overmatched in a debate with her own reflection.  Hearing her talk is like listening to someone reading a list of chanting points and ignoring the punctuation (“The central corridor will bring a lot of new jobs and those are infrastructure jobs and we also support the right to choose and we get behind working families and don’t you know working families need help and that’s why President Obama supports targeted tax cuts and healthcare is a right…” isn’t a direct quote, but if you’ve heard McCollum speak, admit it, you’re laughing now, aren’t you?)

So there you go, Fourth District.  The impossible just got a lot more do-able.

Dear East Metro: Welcome To Hell

A quick look at the redistricting map shows that the Fourth Congressional District – “represented” by Betty McCollum, the dumbest person in Congress – now extends straight east all the way down Highway 96 (?) through the parts that are now part of the Sixth.

All of you folks who moved to Woodbury, Lake Elmo, Afton and Stillwater to escape the DFL?  David Gilmour said it best; no matter how you tried, you could not break free.

That includes the city of Stillwater.  Which means it looks as if the big donnybrook the DFL wanted, pitting idiot McCollum against Mchele Bachmann, is in the cards.  Unless Michele moves a few miles north to Marine on St. Croix to stay in the Sixth.

To tell you the truth, it’s hard to say what I’d hope for.  I think it’d be fun fun fun to have Michele pull off what’d have to be an epic upset (not out of lack of her own merit, but because most of the DFL voting bloc in Saint Paul is so invincibly dim in its voting habits); it’d be even better to have her sitting as a foiuth-term incumbent with what’ll be a 20 point margin in the Sixth.

Update:  John Marty and Mary Jo McGuire will have to compete for SD66, and Mindy Greiling and Alice “The Phantom” Hausman for the new 66A.  On the other hand, my new representative-for-life is John Lesch.

Doh!  My side of the street is HD65A!  Senator Sandy “Foul-Mouthed” Pappas and Rep. Rena “The DFL Vote-Bot” Moran.

Meet the new DFL drones, same as the old DFL drones.

Central Corridor: Picking The Winners, Telling The Fairy Tales

Your tax dollars at work:  the Feds signed on to paying half the cost of the Central Corridor at a lavishly-covered pep rally yesterday, featuring…

…bureaucrats.  Like FTA administrator Peter Rogoff, who spoke at the rally yesterday:

“This project truly embodies the president’s vision for winning the future through infrastructure investment…”

“Gotta destroy the city to save it”, I guess.

It will create thousands of construction jobs now while paving the way for many thousands of jobs that will come to the Twin Cities through the economic development successes surrounding the new rail line,” [Rogoff] told an enthusiastic gathering of…

…of who?

…more than 100 local, state and federal officials…

I’m sure that some University Avenue businesspeople will show up in the story eventually.  Just positive.

By 2030, weekday ridership – projected to exceed 40,000 – will top Hiawatha LRT ridership as people gain new access to nearly 300,000 jobs in the two downtowns, at the University of Minnesota and in the neighborhoods in between.

“Central Corridor represents an historic economic opportunity to connect St. Paul residents to jobs, businesses, services and educational opportunities throughout the region,” said Mayor Chris Coleman. “At the same time, it’ll transform one of St. Paul’s most iconic streets and strengthen the communities that surround it.”…

…provided that those “jobs” decide to align themselves along a corridor where already-lavish mass-transit and freeway development hasn’t drawn them after fifty years of trying.  It’s a simple fact – cities aren’t developing the way they did fifty years ago.  The urban rim – the third-tier suburbs and exurbs, the Maple Groves and Woodburies and Elkos – are where the people, and the jobs, are going.  If you don’t believe me, believe Joel Kotkin.

Or believe neither of us; just try to find an example of a light rail development in the Twin Cities area that promised vast economic benefits, and delivered only slightly-altered patterns of decay.  That’s right – the Hiawatha Light Rail line.  Been on that route lately?  The brief spurt of condo development along the route deflated quickly when the housing bubble burst; the only real “development” anywhere along the route has been among bars (catering to the hordes of people who ride the train from the Mall to Twins and Vikes games, as well as the Hiawatha’s bar-hopping crowd) and some developments along East Lake that are more driven by changing demographics and lavish city investment than the light rail line, unless you want to claim there’s a surge of people riding the train to and from the East Lake Target Store or Pineda Burritos.

Anyway – let’s scan the list of other notables and see if there are any University Avenue business people (emphasis added by me):

“On this day that is 30 years in the making, we must recommit to making Central Corridor all that it can be: to heal the wound that a freeway opened in the West Bank decades ago, to fully integrate light rail with every mode of transit, and to connect transit-dependent communities to every opportunity,” said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak

…”We are turning into reality our vision of a network of interconnected transitways,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin.

Hm.  Just more bureaucrats, so far.

We’ll keep looking:

The Central Corridor light-rail line will revitalize University Avenue as a lifeline between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Streetcars operated on University Avenue continuously from December 1890 to Oct. 31, 1953. With a streetcar operating as often as every three minutes, there was an energy and vibrancy to the street life along the avenue.

Supporters expect Central Corridor line will rekindle that same kind of energy and enthusiasm as neighbors meet neighbors, students meet professors and business people meet customers aboard busy trains and at busy rail stops.

A reference to the glory days of the streetcar.  Let’s come back to that.

Let’s keep looking for businesspeople:

“When completed, this project will bring the community together in a way not seen since the age of the street car, but also in a manner modern and contemporary,” said Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough.

McDonought is – I’ll be kind – trafficking in fantasy.  For starters, streetcars were simple little rattletraps, mechanically even simpler than buses, that stopped every block or two, more or less like buses.  Light Rail is big, heavy, “fast”, like little trains rather than buses on tracks.  Light Rail doesn’t bind communities.  It gets people through them in a hurry .

And that’s even if “communities” were the same as they were during the glory years of the streetcar, which they’re not. Urban development has changed in the past fifty years.  The big cities – all of them, not just Minneapolis and Saint Paul – developed at a time when the Big City was where the factories, bureaucracies and banks were; where the capital got invested.  Transit – the fabled streetcars – brought them from the “suburbs” (which, back then, were places like “50th and Bryant” and “Battle Creek”, not Wayzata) to jobs at Ford, Honeywell, the mills along the riverfront, the big banks downtown…

…all of which are now gone, or have radically realigned, taking the need for a big, centralized city with them.

“The federal grant commitment of $478 million is the largest federal grant ever received in Minnesota for a transportation project,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Sue Haigh.

Rep. Betty McCollum, whose district includes the rail line, collaborated with state and local officials to secure federal funding for Central Corridor as a member of the House Appropriations Committee.”Today’s federal commitment to the Central Corridor represents a great achievement for Minnesota,” McCollum said. “The Central Corridor is an investment in infrastructure that will help meet the demands of our growing community and create new economic opportunities for generations to come.”

“With this commitment, the federal government has recognized that the Central Corridor is not only an important part of an efficient transportation system in Minnesota, but also a vital piece of our efforts to ensure economic vitality in the Twin Cities and beyond,” Sen. Al Franken said. “This new rail line will offer a critical transportation alternative for commuters and create badly needed jobs in our region.”

Not a single University Avenue businessperson.  I wonder why?

It’s simple – the Central Corridor is going to be a disaster for businesses in the Midway.  That’s s given; even CCLRT supporters are saying so, now, after years of denying it, accompanied with that “you gotta break eggs to make an omelet” sneer and the same patronizing “change is scary to some people” you get from junior managers trying to make a budget cut turd seem like paté.   The death toll is rising every week; rumors have it the newly-remodeled Rainbow on Uni at Snelling will close, at least for the duration of the project; others are dropping, week by week.

Beyond that?  Even when (and if – remember the Hiawatha Corridor?  We’ve been waiting seven years for that dog to hunt; it’s still lying on the porch) the economic development takes off, it’ll be in the form of gentrification around the small number of stops on the line.  There, property values and rents will drive out the few businesses that survive the construction.  Chains, with their national and international capital depth, will move in; local businesses will get squeezed out.

Eggs will be broken.

Government is picking winners and losers – and trying to tell you it’s for everyone’s good, because soon we’ll go back to the fifties, the golden age of the lunchpail job and the bedroom community and the trade union, and everything will be all right.

And you know how fairy tales turn out, right?

Go Time

Tuesday is special election time in Senate District 66.  If the name “Ellen Anderson” rings a bell as your Senator, and you would like to see some productive change to the way our state runs, you need to turn up at the polls on Tuesday.

If you live in the light-gray area on this map…

…or know of a conservative, or potential conservative, who does?  You need to get yourself, or those people, to the polls on Tuesday to vote for Greg Copeland.

(If you thought Anderson was just hunky dory – well, don’t worry.   It is your DFL leadership’s position that they “own Saint Paul”.  Their candidate, Mary Jo McGuire, has had the measurements for the office drapes handed down to her as a matter of party policy.  Showing up at the polls would not only be a waste of time – it’d be a confession that you lack faith in the DFL.  Just stay home).

Anyway – the special election is Tuesday.

Now, if you’re a conservative and/or Republican in Saint Paul, you’re used to feeling crushing discouragement as we put up good candidates – sometimes, as in the last CD4 US House race, great candidates – and lose to mindless hamsters like Betty McCollum by absurd margins.

It’s a fact.  I’ve been there.  And I’ve felt it.  The Fourth CD Republican Party has been in the wilderness for close to sixty years; there is not currently an elected GOP candidate anywhere in Ramsey County, and relatively few in the Fourth CD.

But we can change that next week.  There are Republicans out there.  More importantly, there are conservatives out there – some don’t know it yet, and some have given up on going to the polls after decades living under Saint Paul’s idiot machine.

And if we can reach them, we can shock the world.  Or the city, anyway.

So the Greg Copeland for Senate campaign needs volunteers for door-knocking and, especially, phone-banking.  The campaign has had unbelievable turnout so far – but we need more than unbelievable to win this race.  We need miraculous.

And as We The People found out last fall, we can do miracles.

And naturally, fighting the DFL machine costs money; if you can spare a few bucks, the campaign appreciates every nickel; if Greg wins, you’ll make it back in tax savings…

Disclosure: I’m a volunteer for the Copeland for Senate campaign in the SD66 Special Election.

Just Like Betty

Yesterday, I told you that the League of Women Voters had scheduled a debate for tonight in the SD66 special election, between GOP-endorsed candidate Greg Copeland and DFL primary victor Mary Jo McGuire.

Yesterday? McGuire’s people told the LWV that McGuire was bailing on the debate.

Why can not a single CD4 DFLer ever face their critics and challengers?

What are they afraid of?

That anger over the dislocation over the Central Corridor will make the hot reception Betty McCollum got over Obamacare seem like a warm stroll in the park?

A District Full Of Davids

The DFL has said it in as many words; they “own” – or think they own – Saint Paul.

The vote results don’t seem to challenge ’em much.  I think the best Republican result in Saint Paul – a great year for the GOP – was in the high twenties.

But while it’s been over 25 years since a Republican represented any part of Saint Paul in the legislature, and over sixty since a Republican represented the district in Washington, it’s not entirely a matter of the DFL’s strength.  Fact is while the demographics (lots of government employees and clients) favor the DFL, there are Republicans, and conservatives, out there; in 2000, Dennis Newinski got 46% against Betty McCollum in the 4th CD election.  It can be done.

The DFL’s forgotten it, of course.

On April 12 – a week from Tuesday – there will be a special election in Senate District 66.

Now, you’d never know it from listening to the DFL.  They had their primary last Tuesday (former state rep Mary Jo McGuire beat Rep. John Lesch (66A) and some other hamster).  Their apparatchiks said “the election is over!  Congrats, Senator McGuire!”

Maybe they’re right.

But wouldn’t it be cool if their smug, entitled assumption were wrong?

You can help.  Money helps, of course – the Greg Copeland campaign has already raised vastly more money than any other legislative campaign in Saint Paul – but it could use more.

But the campaign also needs volunteers – especially for Thursday through Monday, the big push.   We need phone bankers and door-knockers to help get out every single Republican vote in SD66.  Every person that has ever voted GOP; every single person that has ever shown up at a caucus, every person who ever sang “America, F*** Yeah!”, whatever.

Is it an uphill fight?  But it’s one we can win.

And perhaps more importantly, it’s a way to build a 4th CD GOP that can make the DFL have to fight for the city.

Because if the GOP consistently gets over 40% of the vote in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the DFL will never win another statewide office in Minnezota. No DFL governors.  No Senators.  No Constitutional Officers.  Nothing.

The future starts this week in Saint Paul.   Hope you can help!

Disclosure: I am a volunteer on the Copeland campaign.

They Can Have ‘Em

New bill in Texas would provide a destination for illegals:

This should get their attention.

A measure filed by State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) would allow any law enforcement agency that has custody of an illegal immigrant to take the illegal to ‘the office of a U.S. Senator or Representative’ and leave them there.

1200 WOAI [San Antonio] news reports the measure also allows county sheriff’s deputies or city police officers to ‘request an agent or employee of the United States Senator or United States Representative to sign a document acknowledging the release or discharge of the illegal immigrant at the senator’s or representative’s office.

The measure covers individuals who are ‘not a citizen or national of the United States’ and who is ‘unlawfully present in the United States.’

Kolkhorst concedes the measure is a ‘cry for help’ to convince federal officials to secure the border, but she says she is serious about getting the measure approved by the Legislature.

That might work in Texas.

Here in Minnesota, Keith Ellison or Betty McCollum would register them as voters.

In Search Of A Problem

Construction  starts on the Union Depot in downtown Saint Paul today:

Construction crews are starting a $243 million renovation that will turn St. Paul’s historic Union Depot back into a hub for trains and buses.

Demolition begins Tuesday after a groundbreaking ceremony with elected officials including U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. Crews will start clearing space for train tracks and bus lanes.

The renovation will transform the building into a station connecting future light rail and high-speed trains with buses and bicycles.

So we’re spending money we don’t have to build a depot for transportation that nobody uses to get to a place nobody goes.

Do I have that right?

The Castle

If there’s an upperclassman in the Legislature that seems ready to pick up Pat Pariseau and Linda Boudreau’s mantel as the champion of the Second Amendment in Minnesota, it’d seem to be Representative Tony Cornish.  Cornish – from Good Thunder, and a police chief in his non-legislative life – has been the Second Amendment movement’s legislative point man in the post-Personal-Protection-Act era.

And as a Second Amendment point man, he’s been busy this past week.

Sally Jo Sorenson at leftyblog Bluestem Prairie has a  critique.   To an extent, it’s one I expected; to another…:

Bluestem readers know that I favor gun rights, and my position might not be the most popular one in America right now, especially among my friends on the left. So be it.

…less so.  We in the Second Amendment Civil Rights movement are always well-advised to give our props to the outstate Democrats who supported the Minnesota Personal Protection Act, the Pre-Emption statute, and so many other of the bits of legislation that have made Minnesota suck less than it could have as re the human right to self-defense.

So: Props.

That being said, an article in the Mankato Free Press has left me scratching my head. What is state representative Tony Cornish, who chairs the Public safety committee in the Minnesota House, really asking for in Cornish: What if somebody had been at shooting and returned fire?

It’s not as academic a question as some on the left – maybe including Sorensen, maybe not, we’ll see later – think it is.

Cornish is suggesting no major changes in the way security is provided for state lawmakers. But his take on the Arizona assassination attempt of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, which killed six people and wounded 13, matches previous opinions he’s offered after shooting sprees: He wishes someone in the crowd had a weapon and had been ready to respond.

I can see the grandstanding on guns. I can see the pandering to those of us who support gun rights. It’s politically astute, and Cornish is as polished a politician as ever had a Good Thunder post office box as a mailing address.

What I can’t see is the logic, given the set of facts at the scene of the spree murder in Arizona. Slate reports in Gabrielle Giffords and the perils of guns: How an armed hero nearly shot the wrong man:


The article – by the generally not loathsome Will Saletan – notes that Zamudio very nearly shot the wrong person:


But before we embrace Zamudio’s brave intervention as proof of the value of being armed, let’s hear the whole story. “I came out of that store, I clicked the safety off, and I was ready,” he explained on Fox and Friends. “I had my hand on my gun. I had it in my jacket pocket here. And I came around the corner like this.” Zamudio demonstrated how his shooting hand was wrapped around the weapon, poised to draw and fire. As he rounded the corner, he saw a man holding a gun. “And that’s who I at first thought was the shooter,” Zamudio recalled. “I told him to ‘Drop it, drop it!’ “

But the man with the gun wasn’t the shooter. He had wrested the gun away from the shooter. “Had you shot that guy, it would have been a big, fat mess,” the interviewer pointed out.

And it would have.   It illustrates one of the major travails of self-defense – it’s full of risks.  There are thousands of self-defense shootings a year in the United States.  The shooter kills the wrong person about 1-2% of the time.  The rate for cops, by the way, is about three times higher; not because cops are irresponsible shooters (usually), but because they arrive on the scene of an incident later, when the situation gets more fraught and confusing.  A classic example: in Saint Paul a few years ago, the police got into a gun battle with a couple of armed robbers.  One of the robbers, hit by police gunfire, dropped a shotgun.  A passerby – a twenty-something guy – picked up the shotgun, perhaps hoping to get a piece of the robbers.  The cops, not knowing who was who, shot and killed him; in the confusion of the situation, there was no way to know he wasn’t one of the robbers.

Sort of like Mr. Zamudio almost did.  Only not being a cop, Zamudio is not legally indemnified against such mistakes.


One thing Zamudio didn’t have was the training required of every carry permit holder in Minnesota, and under Arizona’s laws, there’s no telling how effective a random good citizen can have been in the situation.

Which cuts both ways; Minnesota’s concealed carry training focuses on legalities, not tactics.  The record nationwide among law-abiding citizens, with or without training, is generally very good.

Certainly, Loughner, who had purchased his Glock legally, was aware of the fact that anyone in the crowd or nearby (like Zamudio) could be carrying. He was not deterred.

Insanity, like drugs and booze, both make their victims a little dodgy on consequences.

Cornish suggests that more people start carrying at the Capitol; it’s legal, and there’s nothing stopping a law-abiding citizen who follows the rule for the premises to do so. But his concerns about the state capitol’s design and the nature of the foot traffic inside make me wonder whether counting on an attacker being a “coward” in the face of returned fire is much defense at all.

I’ve noticed that among the left when they’re talking about guns and citizens’ right to self-defense; criminals turn into infantry.  The sound of 230 grains of steel-jacketed hurt sailing by at 750 feet a second is enough to make just about anyone turn and high-tail away; the military works long and hard to train people to go about their business with bullets whizzing past.  Most criminals won’t.  Oh, some will; the odd veteran (like the ex-Marine who shot the two Saint Paul cops in 1994), the very high, the extremely dissociative.  But most people, criminal or otherwise, have a pretty finely-tuned self-preservation instinct.

But here’s where Rep. Cornish is important; situations like Mr. Zamudio’s are also full of legal pitfalls.

Imagine this.  You’re in Saint Paul.  Betty McCollum has decided to come out from under her rock, and in a moment of not being distracted by shiny objects, she decides to do a public appearance (this requires some suspension of disbelief).  You attend.  Being a law-abiding citizen with a carry permit, you bring your piece, tastefully hidden in your pocket.

As Rep. McCollum stands on the platform surrounded by Teachers Union goons, you see someone next to you raising a gun.  With nightmarish slowness as the adrenaline warps your perception, the woman – wearing a “Public Option NOW” T-Shirt – fires three shots.  Thankfully, she shanks the shot high and away, and misses the Representative and everyone else – but she’s firing a Glock, so you know there’s more where that came from.  You draw (as you responsibly note that your “backstop” is a cement-block wall, and that there are no innocent parties in the line of fire), and fire two shots at center mass, just like Joel Rosenberg taught you.  The target drops to the ground.  You call 911 first, and then your lawyer – again just like Joel taught you – perhaps saving as many as a dozen lives (one for each bullet the woman’s Glock still had in the magazine).

Were you right?

In terms of overriding moral principles?  Hell yeah.

Under Minnesota law?  You’re only as safe as your County Attorney’s relative level of anti-gun zealotry will let you be.  Since someone’s dead, the police would pretty much have to arrest you.  Ramco Attorney John Choi and his minions could note that Minnesota law requires four elements for you to claim self-defense; you can not be a willing participant, you have to reasonably fear death or great bodily harm, you have to make a reasonable effort to disengage, and lethal force has to be reasonably appropriate – where “Reasonable” means, in every case, “would convince a jury”.   And if they wanted to (and it is entirely a matter of their discretion) they could point out that while, yes, it’s nice that you saved all those lives, you didn’t try to retreat, and the woman wasn’t actually shooting at you, so your fear of death or mutilation wasn’t reasonable.  And if you get a jury full of Merriam Park harpies with “You Can’t Hug A Child With Nuclear Arms” stickers on their Volvos and Subarus and Prii, then it’s off to jail with you.

Perhaps Rep. McCollum will send you a Christmas card in jail?

Rep. Cornish has tried in successive sessions to introduce bills that’d take some of the ambiguity out of Minnesota’s self-defense law; to remove the very ambiguous requirement to try to retreat, and also to stop requiring people to assess the motives of someone who breaks into their home.  The DFL legislature gundecked…er, sorry, scuppered those very sensible bills (with a leg up from a compliant media).

And whether you call it “grandstanding” or “being a great American”, now is Rep. Cornish’s time.  There’s a conservative majority, and a Governor who bragged on the campaign trail about having twin .357s in a gun locker in  his house.

And that’s why Cornish is important.

Hey, Wait!

Hasn’t the Twin Cities media – especially the “alternative”, liberal version – been barbering for years about how Rep. Michele Bachmann just doesn’t do “mainstream” media?

Why, yes – they have

But – did I hear Michele Bachmann doing an extended interview with Cathy Wurzer on MPR’s Morning Edition this morning?

Why, yes I did!

Someone tell Andy Birkey!

No, don’t.  Rather, tell Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, all of whom I’ve invited onto the Northern Alliance Radio Network in the past two years, none of whom have so much as responded.  (In the interest of completeness, note that Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak appeared, as did “Growth and Justice” majordomo Dane Smith.  We had a great time talking with both of ’em, because – shibboleths about conservative talk radio aside – Ed Morrissey and I will put our cross-aisle interviews up against anything in the commercial or public media today in terms of civility and fairness (while allowing that we are, in fact, conservative).

So whatdya say, Reps Ellison and McCollum?  How about it, Senators Franken and Klobuchar? 

For that matter, we’ve had an invite out to Common Cause Minnesota for six weeks now – submitted on this blog, via email, via a voice mail message, and on Twitter.  Not a word.

How about Denise Cardinal of “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”?  Perhaps she could come on the show and discuss the Dayton-family-finance slime campaign she orchestrated?

For that matter, howzabout we get an invite to Mark Dayton?  I’ve heard Tom Emmer do a center-left show; d’ya suppose Dayton’s got the gumption to go across the aisle…

…like Representative Bachmann did?

Tailgunner Betty

I didn’t pay much attention to last week’s video of Betty McCollum conspicuously avoiding saying “Under God” when leading the Pledge of Allegiance back in 2002.  The shelf life had passed for quite some time.

But McCollum’s reaction?  From Taranto in the WSJ, this was in her press release.  Emphasis is added:

Conservatives are using an eight year old video clip to incite hate, racism, and intolerance among Tea Party Republicans. This right-wing effort to call into question Congresswoman McCollum’s Christian faith, her belief in God, and her patriotism is blatantly anti-American and all too similar to the extremists who earlier this year mailed a soiled American flag to her Congressional office and threatened the Congresswoman with violence.


Here’s Betty McCollum:

Rep. McCollum

Rep. McCollum

She’s as much a cracker as I am.   Or is she claiming reverse-racism from a Tea Party that is a whooooole lot more ethnically-mixed than current lefty chanting points would have you believe?

We just don’t know.

And “Un-American?”

I can see Rep. McCollum leading a “House Unamerican Activities Committee” hearing in 2011; “Are you now or have you ever been a member of a Tea Party affiliated organization?”

One good way to prevent that, of course, would be to eject her from office tomorrow.

McCollum: “Mission Accomplished!” Redux

Betty McCollum thinks Al Quaeda is no longer a threat (from Betty McCollum Needs Change):

“Al Qaeda no longer poses a threat to the United States.”

That’s a fascinating conclusion.

Watch McCollum with her opponent, Teresa Collett, at their Health Care debate.

Watch McCollum trying to defend her role in the Health Care debate (starting around 1:27).  Remember when lefties (wrongly) said Sarah Palin was an intellectual flyweight for writing speaking notes on her hand?  McCollum reads administration chanting points from a piece of paper.

Got concerns about your future, young Minnesotans?  Betty will blow sunshine up your skirt!

The Fourth District deserves better.

In Case There Is Any Doubt

I was, to the best of my knowledge, the first blogger in Minnesota to publish predictions to which he has stuck through the campaign (other than the traditional “I’m gonna vote for the party with which I’m identified!” that, let’s be honest, is pretty much de rigeur among partisan bloggers).

So while I reserve the right to do another round of ’em before the election (because, yo, it’s my blog, at least until the Democrats sic the FEC on us all), there’s how the race looks to me, so far:

CD 1:  Demmer is going to trip Walz in the home stretch.  It’ll be close – maybe within a point – but Demmer’s going to win.

CD 2: Kline by a conservative 25.

CD 3: Paulsen by 12.  Meffert has run a fairly inept campaign.

CD 4: See below.

CD 5: See below.

CD 6: Bachmann by ten over Clark, who has run an utterly inept campaign.  Indeed, it could be said that when it comes to running a district-wide race, Clark doesn’t know $#!+.

CD 7:  See below.

CD 8:  I believe Chip Cravaack is going to win this thing.  Oberstar’s performance in the Duluth debate was so arrogant, so self-absorbed and scolding and condescending and tone-deaf, that I believe this is the year.  Cravaack has run a flawless campaign, and if there is a story where the backstory is shaping up to spell “Cinderella”, it’s Cravaack’s.

Which is not to say Cravaack don’t need help.   Volunteer. Knock doors.  Drive people to the polls.  Every legal, legitimate vote counts.

Attorney General: I think incumbency gives Lori Swanson a huge advantage over Chris Barden.  I also believe that if even half of the allegations Barden and the WCCO I-Team have surfaced are true, Swanson (and her puppetmaster, Mike Hatch) will be so damaged that the office is assailable in four years.  Will Barden pull it off this year?  I think it depends on tsunami-like GOP turnout and diminished DFL response.  If there was a year that this could happen, this would be it.

But I think a late surge of people who feel betrayed by the Obama/Reid/Pelosi axis of failure could help put Barden over the top.

Secretary of State: Dan Severson has run a campaign almost as intense and energetic as Cravaack’s.  Overcoming incumbency in these constitutional office races – which are usually painfully low-profile – is usually very difficult.  If anyone can do it, it’s Severson.   I’m calling it a tossup, dependent on turnout.  Huge GOP turnout?  Severson wins.  Your mission is clear, people.

State Auditor: I think Pat Anderson has stated her case pretty impeccably.  I think she wins by 2-3.

Governor: :I’ve been predicting Emmer by three points all along.  I am going to stay right there.  I think it’ll be dead-on for a number of reasons; over the past two weeks, there’ve been indications that independents are breaking powerfully to the right, just as Emmer needs.  The Dayton campaign, its putative lead in the last few polls notwithstanding, is campaigning  like it’s behind, leading me to think that the DFL has internal polls that show a different story than the public numbers.   I suspect that the polling will be driven by the “leaner” questions – the economy, gay marriage – that the polls downplay at this state in the election (Rasmussen doesn’t release ’em at all).  I suspect DFL turnout – especially for the off-putting stiff Dayton, who’d be a loser of a candidate even in a good DFL year – is going to be disappointing, and there is evidence that GOP turnout, especially in the Third, Sixth, Eighth and perhaps First and Seventh districts, is going to be really, really intense, in a sense that none of the current polls have the mechanism to model properly.

So I say Emmer by three.

Below: The 4th, 5th and 7th CDs are tricky.  Which, in and of itself, is a very good thing; they used to be the simplest districts to predict; they’d always be DFL blowouts by 30-50 points.  And they still could be.  In a normal year, I’d shake my head and predict that Teresa Collett, Joel Demos and Lee Byberg would be doing well to get over forty points.

And yet.

If Chip Cravaack is genuinely threatening in the 8th CD, then truly anything can happen.  And Collett, Demos and Byberg have all run tough, hard-working campaigns, and all of them have raised vastly more money than their predecessors.   If there is an avalanche of independents ready to vote conservative (not necessarily Republican), then Cravaack’s tide could help carry them all, plus Emmer, over the top.

Betty McCollum and Collin Peterson are having to actually campaign in their districts for the first time in years, and while neither of them have humiliated themselves as badly as Oberstar did in last Tuesday’s debate, they’ve both committed gaffes (Peterson’s “my voters are crazy” quip, McCollum’s “Mission Accomplished, now let’s get the Marines working on global warming!” remark) that show they are now residents of Planet Beltway.

In this case, truly, hedging is the honest answer.  Collett, Demos and Byberg are all in admittedly extremely tough races against well-entrenched incumbents; under normal circumstances, getting within twenty points would be a moral victory for any them.  And I believe they will all score that moral victory.

And I’m not going to rule out bigger and better things.  Not yet.


Of course, all of these depend on turnout.  Which means if you’re a conservative and/or Republican, this is go time.  Volunteer for a campaign.  Get out there and knock doors, man the phone banks, update databases, replace vandalized signs, go to rallies – help out.

The good guys can win this one.  Let’s make it happen.

Obama At Northrup

President Barack Obama spoke at Northrup Auditorium to a crowd of about 11,000 people today.

This is Lenin, speaking to the Communist Party Congress.  It has nothing to do whatsoever with todays pep rally for Lord Fauntelroy.  Pure coincidence, honestly.

This is Lenin, speaking to the Communist Party Congress. It has nothing to do whatsoever with today's pep rally for Lord Fauntelroy. Pure coincidence, honestly.

That’s 9,000 fewer than Bill Clinton drew.

Clinton Packed The 19,000-Seat Target Center. “President Clinton used to refer politely to Bob Dole as ‘my opponent.’ But over the last two days, Clinton has stopped doing even that, and in what appears to be an act of supreme confidence, he barely acknowledges that he is facing any opposition at all in this reelection campaign. At a boisterous rally that packed the 19,000-seat Target Center arena here yesterday, Clinton tried to ride above partisan politics just a week before the election.” (Brian McGrory, “Buoyed By Polls, Clinton Tunes Out Dole; Campaign ’96 / The Incumbent,” The Boston Globe, 10/29/96)

Mark Dayton, seen in public for the first time in a week, apparently stood by attentively…

Not Mark Dayton

Not Mark Dayton

…while the President “helped him” by cheerleading for…the Obama Administration.

A Japanese plane, shot down by antiaircraft fire, plunges to the sea in flames.  What, you think Im using this as a metaphor?  Get a life!

A Japanese plane, shot down by antiaircraft fire, plunges to the sea in flames. What, you think I'm using this as a metaphor? Don't be all paranoid!

Dayton’s campaign has apparently figured out that their best bet is to keep Dayton out of the public eye, and away from things like microphones and cameras.

Rumors that he’s been in hiding with Betty McCollum are strictly unconfirmed.

Being from North Dakota, the sea fascinates me.  What, you think Im writing about the Alita Messinger, Mark Dayton campaign?  No, no no no.  No relation.

Being from North Dakota, the sea fascinates me. What, you think I'm writing about the Alita Messinger, Mark Dayton campaign? No, no no no. No relation.

Wish I coulda been there.

McCollum: Mission Accomplished!

Teresa Collett debated Fourth District Rep Betty McCollum last night.

Collett, a constitutional saw professor at Saint Thomas’ law school and a blazingly charismatic woman, by all accounts clobbered McCollum, a monotonic logorrheac whose sole purpose in Congress is to yell “Off What?” when Nancy Pelosi yells “Jump”.

But the money line of the evening?  “Constituent of CD4”, from the fairly aptly-named MNCD4 Needs Change blog, transcribes:

The stupidest comment of the night came on the defense question, when Betty McCollum said: “Al Qaeda no longer poses a threat to the United States..” Wow, I’ve been so involved in following the campaign, I must have missed that news! …  McCollum did say, however that the military was drawing up contingency plans for global warming. That’s a relief! I guess in Betty McCollum’s world Global Warming is a bigger threat to the US than Al Qaeda.

Someone tell Juan Williams, OK?

This line needs to go in the great Minnesota DFL wall of shameful quotes, along with Cy Thao’s “When you win, you keep your money; when we win, we take your money!” and Larry Pogemiller’s “I think it’s silly to assume people can spend their own money better than government can”.

The hardest part about being a Republican in Saint Paul is that so many of us are so depressed and beaten down from generations of futility, it’s hard to get any of us to actually spend any time and energy on doing the footwork it’ll take to contest city and district, to say nothing of taking it back.  It makes it easy for the DFL to put a hamster like McCollum into office; she’d be getting 20% in the Sixth or Second districts this cycle.

Jim Geraghty called MNCD4 one of the potential upsets to watch for back in August. As someone who’s spent 25 years in Saint Paul, I almost don’t want to dream about it.  But I do; people – candidates and volunteers I know around CD4 – say that they’re seeing a lot of interest – mostly from people who are not traditi0nal Republicans.  There may be a lot of them; Obama’s that big a disaster, and McCollum is that bad a representative.

Hey, at least Al Quaeda isn’t a threat, right?

Open Borders, 1854 Edition

This just occurred to me: Maureen Dowd may be the  Betty McCollum of columnists:

As I sat above the Hoover Dam under the broiling sun, I was getting jittery.

There was Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, speaking at the dedication of a bridge linking Arizona and Nevada 890 feet above the Colorado River.

As the politicians droned on and my Irish skin turned toasty brown, I worried that Governor Brewer might make a citizen’s arrest and I would have to run for my life across the desert. She has, after all, declared open season on anyone with a suspicious skin tone in her state.

The Irish never turn “toasty brown”.

And the only “suspicious skin tone” this country should open a season on is that waxy, corpse-like newsroom pallor.

Kidding.  I kid.

Betty McCollum Punches Her Ticket

If you blinked last Monday, you missed Betty McCollum’s “town hall” meeting.  Indeed, if you sneezed at the wrong time, you may have missed the part where she or any of her staff called it a “town hall”, themselves.

I had a prior engagement – but Doug Bass attended.

Not that it was easy:

I actually didn’t know it was advertised as a “DFL Town Hall Rally” until I got to the event.  But doesn’t the phrase “DFL Town Hall Rally” sound contradictory, oxymoronic?  If they said “DFL Rally,” it would be clearly understood as a partisan event.  If they said “Town Hall Meeting,” I believe it would be generally understood as a non-partisan event.  So the very phrase “DFL Town Hall Rally” sounded odd to me.

As I headed to Macalester, I was thinking to myself “Whose idea was it to have a town hall meeting at 5:30 pm?  There are a lot of people who aren’t going to be able to make it.”  I then realized that this wasn’t a bug, it was a feature, a mechanism of keeping inconvenient people away from the event.

Doug noticed something I did not; I’ll add emphasis:

When I got to Macalester College, one of Teresa Collett’s volunteers saw me, and we started chatting.  He showed me the press release for the event, which was issued on Friday, the traditional day where news goes to be buried. And not just any Friday, mind you, the Friday three days before the event, and the Friday the day before September 11, where the nation’s attention is elsewhere.  The only media outlet that covered the event was Minnesota Public Radio, which let the abovementioned “Town Hall Rally” oddity pass without comment.

And this may be the quote of the day:

I thought to myself “This isn’t a Town Hall Meeting, this is a flash mob!  A secret, moonless midnight flash mob!”

And the conclusion?

This event was a Potemkin Town Hall meeting, an event created for the purpose of being able to claim that a Town Hall meeting took place.  The scheduling, the publicity, the audience made it nothing of the sort.  It was a treachery within further treacheries.

Read the whole thing.

So we had the “flash mob”, and we’ll have two more coming up with friendly audiences – a union hall and another.

That’s a lot of “appearances” for Betty McCollum.

Maybe being in a “D+13” district doesn’t feel as secure as it used to…

(And yes, now would be a perfect time to pitch in a few bucks for to Teresa Collett’s campaign.  The CD2 leadership hates me when I write this, but you live in the Second, where John Kline is going to win by thirty on a bad day, it’d be cool if you could peel off a buck or two for Teresa, who actually seems to have a shot.  And/or for Joel Demos, who’s running the funnest underdog campaign I’ve seen since Harley McClain.  And for that matter for Randy Demmer and Chip Cravaack, both of whom have quietly moved into positions to have decent shots against Walz and Oberstar).

Make Your Voice Heard

Betty McCollum (DFL, MNCD4)  does her best to insulate herself from dissent.

Tonight is your chance to show her anyway.  She’s got a “Town Hall” going on at Macalester tonight, at the Macalester Chapel, 1600 Grand Avenue in Saint Paul.  And the good guys are rallying against her.

Get there at 5:30.

I can’t make it – I have a prior campaign-related commitment.  But if you go – and I hope you do! – leave a comment.

Fingers Crossed

Gary Gross at LFR sent me a copy of NRO’s Jim Geraghty’s list of 13 potential November upsets.

And coming in at #11:

11. Theresa Collett vs. Betty McCollum, Minnesota’s 4th District.

Reasons the challenger should have no chance: This is a D+13 district; McCollum won it in 2008 by 37 percentage points.

Reasons the challenger has a chance: Upon winning the primary, Collett, a University of St. Thomas law professor,challenged McCollum to four debates. She’s still waiting for a reply. On the stump, Collett makes her points in a crisp, clear, direct style. Outgoing governor Tim Pawlenty is giving Collett some help. Collett is severely underfunded, but McCollum has only $160,634 in cash on hand as of July 21, which is fairly low for an incumbent.

This is the first I’ve seen anyone think of MNCD4 a potential upset…ever.

I remain to be completely convinced.  Oh, in a just world Teresa Collett – a blindly-articulate, fiercely-intelligent con-law professor, would mop the floor with McCollum, a woman often distracted by shiny objects, and about whose speaking style it is said that she could read the phone book from the well of the House, if only because it sounds like she already is, and who is serving her fourth term on the strength of being endorsed by the DFL in a district that would have sent Richard Hung  to Washington if he’d come up with the endorsement.

Is this year going to be that different?  I’ll cross my fingers and whisper “from Geraghty’s lips to God’s ear”.

This Is My “Representative”

Do I envy people in places like the Second District, where John Kline will win by forty points over whatever hapless stooge the DFL puts forth this November?

Or even the Sixth, where Michele Bachmann will endure a full court press from the national (also local) Democraticicicic party to win by (I predict) eight this fall?

Heck – I envy people who live in districts with functioning two-party systems.

I do not live in a place with a functioning two-party system, of course.  I live in Saint Paul; Ramsey County; the Fourth Congressional District.  The place is controlled with Cominternish efficiency by the DFL; so much of city and county is either employed by or dependent on the government, its unions, its contractors and its social welfare that it really is a company town.

And so we are “represented” by Betty McCollum.

I have in the past said things about Rep. McCollum that have been less than flattering; “the dumbest person in Congress” and that sort of thing. And as I’ve attacked that sort of ad-hominem when directed against conservative women (although, to be fair to me, ad-hominem is the first and largely only tactic most liberals have against conservative women), it’d be disingenuous of me to do it myself.  So I won’t.

I’ll just let you listen to the person who “represents” me yourself :

She’s right in the thick of the BP disaster, doncha know:

“We need to be doing due diligence so that the taxpayer isn’t cleaning up British Petroleum’s mess, and we don’t have more job loss, more environmental loss in the Gulf that goes un-cleaned up…”

Ah.  So BettyMac opposes the Administration’s various demands for moritoriums on drilling, then?

On the economy, Esme Murphy – who isn’t a DFL hack in the sense that Lori Sturdevant is, but whose sympathies seem generally pretty clear – asks about the economy.  I’m not going to “fisk” McCollum – address each point in line – but rather let the full trascribed glory of her oratory stand on its own and answer each point afterward:

Murphy:  There’s been some criticism from Republicans that the recovery isn’t enough, and what the president has done with the stimulus package, while it did make some improvements in thers of the economy, it’s pust us in the position of a trillion dollar deficit.   Your thoughts about whether or not there needs to be second wave of stimulus spending.”

McCollum:  “Well first, the defiict was caused by the un-paid-for Bush Tax Cuts, by two wars, both Afghanistan and Iraq, being put on a credit card with no shared responsibility for the American public to pay for the wars, as our servicemen and women have given their all and maxde huge sacrifices . So that’s the big bulk we inherited that mess. and then you add the Wall Street crisis, being unregulated for all those years, andt the failure of our financial institutions to protect consumers investments and peoples retirements and the rest.  So if you look at that, that is the big part of our debt.

Now what do we do in the meantime?  Well, stimulus, finunding to keep Americans working and keep the economy moving forward and create confidence is what the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was about, that’s what I voted for, and we’re going to see some big things happening for instance in Saint Paulfor example with Central Corridor being the largest work project in the state of Minnesota , with state and local and government funding, investing in our community um so I’m very pleased that people’re going to see more of those projects moving forward  there’s a lot of the traffic inconvenience we’re all suffering, our investments make putting Minnesotans to work through the recovery act and um I’m not gonna be apologetic for making sure that americans have a chance get up annd go to work in the morning peole in Minnesota do, there’s still too many people without jobs.

Rep. McCollum:

  1. I wasn’t aware that FDR fought World War II on a cash and carry basis!  Oh, wait – he didn’t.  In the interest of national security, he ran a deficit, like Wilson and Lincoln before him, during wartime.  Of course, FDR institutionalized deficit spending for peacetime “emergencies”, although it was LBJ that made it a regular feature of peacetime life.  But you didn’t know that, Rep. McCollum.  Did you?  Be honest.
  2. Well, thanks for noting the troops’ sacrifice (although never, ever their achievements).  Now – how many more would have died had the US followed your spectacularly uninformed advice in Iraq?
  3. No, Rep. McCollum; leaving the financial sector “unregulated” (by, for instance, compelling them to make sub-prime loans and then subsidizing the lending) did not cause the debt or the deficit; believing that any financial institution is “too big to fail”, and then subsidizing the non-failure, and finally pretending that “stimulus” subsidies and rampant socialization and higher spending can revive an economy (even ignoring the higher taxes to pay for it all) is doing it.  Thanks for nothing.
  4. The Central Corridor is “putting people to work”, all right – your union constituents, anyway.  Not so much all the little businesspeople up and down the street.  But they’re non-union, so they don’t count, do they?

Murphy on the potential Dem losses this fall, asking how many Bettymac thinks Dems will lose:

Well, I don’t have a crystal ball in front of me, I don’t know what’s going to happen, I’m working really hard for my seat, I take nothing for granted, I’m out doorknocking, visiting with condsitutients and heaging the direction they wan tot see the country go in, and what I’m hearing is that they don’t want to go backwards, they don’t want to  to the failed policies uh that got us in this economic jam we’re in, that got us in the  war we’re in in Iraq unjustifiably, they want to see our country moving forward. So what Democrats have to do here and nationally is talk about how we’re still on a road to recovery, we have a plan to put America first, to make America competitive, to educate our children to be the best and brightest in the world, and the voters will judge us on those  messages.  I’ve heard nothing from our colleagues about going forward, it’s all about going back,  repealing health care, going back and putting the Bush tax cuts in place and we need to be moving forward, not backward.

Rep. McCollum:

  1. Since you’re working so hard for that seat of yours, perhaps you can take me up on my two-year-old invitation to come on the Northern Alliance Radio Network to defend all your claims?
  2. You have a “plan” to “put America first?”  Really?  Excellent!  Let’s see it!
  3. You have a plan to educate our children to be the best and the brightest?  Wow!  So since the Minnesota Federation of Teachers and Education Minnesota are two of your biggest supporters, by all means tell us – why they haven’t been doing that all along?

Listen.  And compare her to the smart, articulate Teresa Collett (whom Ed and I interviewed last Saturday – after the halfway point of this hour), running her underdog battle against McCollum in the Fourth.

It’s what “moving forward” really sounds like.

(Gary at LFR pointed the appearance out out to me, and hammers it too)