A Pawlenty Vote

Hugh Hewitt sounded off in the WashEx yesterday on two big myths about Tim Pawlenty:

First, his critics (who include no doubt backers of other horses) say Pawlenty is dull.

Other than Romney, I have interviewed Pawlenty more often than any other elected official over the past 12 years. With great certainty I can say he is easily the funniest, best interview of all the shortlisted candidates I have spoken with.

Hewitt notes something I’ve been saying all along; Pawlenty, in his element, is one of the best stump speakers in politics.  He’s not a thunderous stem-winder in the William Jennings Bryan mold – too many pols try and fail to rewarm that act.  But he’s affable, quick on his feet, and has a natural knack for relating to an audience.  He may be the most underrated orator in American politics today.

Because the hockey-playing, quick-to-smile former chief exec of the Gopher State is at ease with himself, he is similarly at ease in sit-downs with reporters, ready, willing and very able to give as good as he gets, and very disciplined when it comes to message delivery.

This is an enormous advantage in our media-soaked world, especially in these days of 24/7 news cycles and social media ubiquity. The candidates are always “on,” and the would-be veep needs especially to be out in the lists every day, doing talk radio, local television and endless fundraisers at which every cellphone is a potential game-changing link to the mainstream media.

I, myself, have not come close to making my own call for Veep (not that it matters); I have a few on my short list, with Jindahl, Paul Ryan and Pawlenty near the top.

Speaking to Hugh’s point about media presence – while I’m a big Bobby Jindahl fan, I note his one big oratorial asterisk – his one infamously disastrous appearance in 2008 – is something I’ve never seen TPaw do on stage.  Say what you will about him, the guy’s a 100% performer in front of a camera.

The second objection is Pawlenty’s failed presidential campaign, and the appearance of losing to Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich.

The answer here is the peculiar dynamic of the 2012 primary race, a dynamic Romney understands, having been caught in a crossfire in the race in 2008. Pawlenty ran into an early GOP primary electorate not looking to win the fall 2012 race so much as to promote vehicles through which to express anger at the president. That impulse — the demand for white-hot passion — played itself out as more and more Republican voters got serious about winning, but Pawlenty was its first victim.

This has been a huge issue throughout races, nationally and especially in Minnesota (see the MN Senate race, where activist passion slewed the race hard toward Kurt Bills, a candidate that would have been a dark horse under any normal circumstances).

There’s a third issue that dogs Pawlenty, especially among Minnesota conservatives – that Pawlenty is “not conservative enough”.  My response is “conservative enough for what?”   Conservative enough to win a conservative rhetorical beauty contest?  Of course not – he’s had his slips over the years.

Conservative enough when the chips were down to hold the line on taxes and stand by the principles for which he was elected (are you listening, MN Senate GOP caucus), at a time when a lesser governor could have found ample political cover to collapse like a Wal-Mart end table?


It remains to be seen whether Hewitt’s attention will damage Pawlenty in this race – ask Pete Hegseth about the “Hewitt Curse” – but you should read the whole thing.

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.

Insult To Nonexistent Injury

Yesterday, we noted that Governor Dayton has turned down all of the proposals from regional radio stations for what has become a Minnesota tradition, the governor’s talk radio show.

I had initially thought Dayton had a point for turning down the offer (albeit not for his petulant reaction); the audience would be smaller.

It’s not true, of course:

‘CCO says the Saturday slot has roughly the same number of listeners as Pawlenty’s time, around 50,000.

Indeed, they may be a better audience than the Friday one; weekend audiences stay tuned in longer.

But McClung points out that the Governor’s response – again, leaving out the petulance – makes no sense:

The other issue was that during the Pawlenty era, the show was on WCCO in the metro and was syndicated by Minnesota News Network and picked up by around a dozen or so Greater Minnesota stations, including stations in most of the key outstate markets. This time around MNN had teamed up with liberal stalwart Air America (owned by one-time congressional candidate Janet Roberts). Dayton had a choice between a solid metro station with a time slot he decided was an “insult” or a liberal metro station with little reach and a good Greater Minnesota network. He chose none of the above.

The KTNF/Minnesota News Network was an odd combination; MNN is a fairly sane, safe, sober operation, while KTNF is the “Ed Schultz” station.  Still, MNN has decent statewide reach.

But not only are KTNF’s ratings almost too low to measure (they’ve fallen off the cliff after the demise of Air America), but the audience is one of the least-desirable, economically, in the  metro – middle-class white people who aren’t smart enough for MPR.

And Dayton already owns that demographic.

I’ve been leaving aside Dayton’s petulant response, so far.  But let’s address it now.


Frankly, Dayton’s attack on WCCO is embarrassing for him and makes the situation a lot worse. As usual, there was another option. Dayton and his team could’ve said that in this modern age, radio is simply outdated. They could’ve decided to do a radio show via the Internet, without commercials, that citizens could listen to live at the time of Dayton’s choosing or via recorded podcast. They could’ve even teamed up with BringMeTheNews.com, who made a bid for the show.

And that broadcast could have been picked up by outstate stations – it’s not at all uncommon, these days – or, for that matter, MNN.

During my nearly six years with Governor Pawlenty I had a chance to be his sidekick for more than 250 weekly broadcasts. It was a great way to have a dialogue with the people of the state. But no radio station is under any obligation to provide a governor with any certain time slot or access to other stations. Dayton made a serious error in how he responded, but he could attempt a recovery by using new technologies. Of course, then there would be the inevitable Data Practices Act request to see exactly how many Internet users are tuning in….

My conspiracy theory: Dayton never intended to do the show in the first place.  Jesse Ventura was not a good talkradio host, but he knew how to work the medium.  Tim Pawlenty wasn’t a talk show host at all, but he was affable, unflappable,l and quick on his feet; his weekly hour was consistently good stuff, well worth a listen.

Whatever Mark Dayton’s virtues may be as a human, a citizen and a politician, his radio style isn’t high on the list.  Even in the friendliest and most controlled interviews – Keri Miller at MPR, who all but painted his toenails on the air – he sounded uncomfortable and tentative.  And  let’s not get me started on how his voice sounds on the air.

But since you did – he sounds like he’s still doing his morning gargle.  There.  I said it

So I think – sorta – that his intention was always to turn down the radio show; doing it couldn’t possibly gain him anything.

Royalty Doth Deighn

Via David Brauer, I see former governor Arne Carlson has a blog.

Well, don’t get too excited; he’s done four posts so far.  But the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, as they say.

Carlson dislikes being called a “backstabber” in “Politico” for his tireless work against Tim Pawlenty (and of course Tom Emmer) over the past nine years.  Carlson doesn’t like being criticized, naturally; he tells us so.

Now, the Minnesota GOP tossed Carlson, and a bunch of other former GOP officeholders who actively campaigned against Tom Emmer and, by extension, the party’s nascent conservatism, this past election.

Now, Carlson has the right to his opinion.  And he knows it, naturally: he makes no bones about his not liking the current crop of conservative Republicans, including Pawlenty:

It is no secret that I have serious qualms about the candidacy of Governor Pawlenty and do not believe his claims of prudent financial management come anywhere close to the truth. Hence, the scrutiny will continue……….

He even told Politico that he’d go on the road, pay any price and bear any burden to try to keep Pawlenty out of the White House (emphasis added):

I will go to Iowa and New Hampshire and have press conferences, if it comes to that,” he told POLITICO in an interview. “With Tim Pawlenty, I’m outraged that his record is one of the worst in Minnesota history, and he refuses to answer any relevant question.”

Now, Carlson is entitled to his opinion.  Of course, his own record is one of a governor who ruled in generally good times; 1990-1998 was a pretty cha-cha time in Minnesota, barring a brief recession early on as the Defense industry retrenched and the Iron Range went through its usual, eternal spasms.  The booming economy gave Carlson repeated budget surpluses – which he promptly turned into permanent entitlement spending, which promptly turned into deficit-fodder when times turned tough in 2000 and again in 2008.   State government zoomed in size.   His own record is that of someone who spent money like a crack whore with a stolen gold card.  We, The People of Minnesota, financed his spending spree with a healthy cut off of our take from the good times in this state.  Had he governed in tough times – as Pawlenty did, through two recessions – he’d have presided over a California-like collapse, in all likelihood.

That’s fine.  Again, he can have his opinion.

But the regional media would have you believe that we, the current MNGOP, have to continue paying obeisance and honor to someone who not only spits on what we believe, but actively tries to use his old (ancient!) party credentials against us, and our candidates, and our most successful alumnus so far!

What would the DFL do to someone like that?  Ask Randy Kelly!

Forget about calling Arne Carlson a “Quisling”, as Tony Sutton did – accurately, if a bit hyperbolically.

We’re not supposed to criticize him in any way – as if having been a spendthrift governor in cha-cha times gives him papal-esque infallibility.

Chanting Points Memo: “Piecemeal”

The region’s DFL, media (pardon the redundancy) and the leftyblogs that fill in the very, very few gaps between them have been spending the past few weeks grousing impotently about the Legislature’s GOP majorities’ “piecemeal” approach to tackling the budget, including the $6.2 billion deficit that is not.

The chanting point campaign reached its peak last week, with Governor  Dayton demanding in his State of the State that the GOP majority send him a unified budget proposal.

The DFL/media/leftyblog (ptr) chanting has coalesced been commissioned along three lines:

  1. Let’s just tackle the budget in one fell swoop!
  2. The GOP needs to get their budget in front of the governor now (in the aforementioned fell swoop)
  3. Governor Pawlenty didn’t let the DFL submit a piecemeal budget!

All three lines are, of course, absurd – the sort of thing you expect from a group fighting a rear-guard battle against logic itself.

Let’s break it down:

The Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins With A Single Step:  If you hear a rattling under your car’s hood, what do you do?  Hoist the engine out of the frame and start whacking it with a sledgehammer?  Or start taking it apart, piece by piece, until you find what’s broken?

If you’re a DFLer, apparently, “A”.

The “one big budget” approach is of a piece with the Democrat strategy from DC all the way down to your local city council; submit spending bills that are so unimaginably huge that, to closely paraphrase Nancy Pelosi, “you have to pass them to know what’s in them”.

We don’t have to do that.  The MNGOP caucuses could do it, but they do not have to.   There is no legal, ethical, moral or traditional requirement that the GOP submit a budget in one big, ready-to-veto blob.

Indeed, since the GOP was sent to Saint Paul to kick ass and take names, it makes perfect sense for them to tear the budget, and its reforms, down into its component parts.  We’ve discussed this, and we will no doubt discuss it again.

Long story short; it makes zero difference if the GOP puts forth a bill with a $34 billion budget, or (hypothetically) 34 billion $1 bills.  Or something in between.


And if your co-workers or relatives say that there is, please ask them why.  And watch them melt down.

Patience: The DFL is trying to pull the same infantile trick on the GOP majority (and, more germane, on The People) that they tried to pull on the Emmer campaign (and The People); trying to browbeat the GOP into putting its budget proposal (in the form of one and only one bill, thankewverymuch) in front of the governor now.

There is no statutory reason for this.  There is no reason at all – save a political one.  The DFL knows that they are over a barrel.  They are facing an energized majority operating with a crystal clear mandate; cut taxes and spending.  And that majority has come out of the gate this past five weeks like the Green Bay Packers’ pass rush, and focused on the goal – balancing the budget through cuts and revenue growth.

Against that, what do they have?  Browbeating and playing the spin game via their friends (and, often as not, future employees) in the media.

The only requirement?  That the budget be in place this summer.

And, caterwauling aside, the GOP was tackling budget issues the moment the first gavel dropped; King Banaian’s HF2 – the second bill on the agenda – will be, if not a revolutionary change in the way our government works, at least a walloping kick in the evolutionary pants.  It will set the status quo on its ear.  More on that in a separate post.

The DFL’s bellyaching about the GOP’s timing is nothing but a diversion for the not-very-well-informed – and they already vote DFL.

Get The Waaaaaahmbulance: “Governor Pawlenty didn’t allow a piecemeal budget – why should Governor Dayton?” is the other line of “reasoning”.

The situations could hardly be different, of course.

The DFL majorities in the last two sessions didn’t really try to submit “piecemeal” plans, as such; there were really two pieces.  The first, the DFL’s budgetary wish list.  They wanted to get that wish list passed first, to get it written into law bright and early.

Then, later in the session, they wanted to actually come up with the money to pay for it all.

Sort of like trying to buy a house first, and submitting your income documentation later.  We tried that in this country.  Notice how well it worked?  Governor Pawlenty sure did.  That’s why he sent the DFL majority back to the woodshed.

The GOP is doing the exact opposite.  The majority is figuring out the money first, and winnowing down the “wish list” to fit inside it – trying to start, indeed, with money from the current budget that hasn’t even been spent yet (a proposal that the Governor vetoed last week, citing his disdain for “piecemeal” budgeting, and showing his fundamental unseriousness when it comes to really controlling the deficit as opposed to trying to buy time for the DFL).

The rhetoric of the governor and the DFL minority is not the rhetoric of people who are interested in getting serious about this state’s economy.  Your job, and your childrens’ economic future in this state, comes in well behind making sure government wants for not the slightest thing.

State Of The State

I’m reviewing Governor Dayton’s first “State of the State” address.

Failure To Meet Me Halfway Is Like The Taliban Attacking Us, Or Something: Dayton kicked off with an invocation of 9/11 , and Bush’s invocation that “we are all united, and the nation has never been stronger”.

Curiously, he jumped from there to scolding the assembled Republicans; “The challenges we face threaten to overwhelm us”.  He scolded us on even thinking about shutting down government, demanding a pledge not to shut down the state government. As if keeping government going at all costs is the sole goal.  “It should not happen, and it need not happen”, as long as we “compromise our wills for the common good”.   And if we do so, we can tell the people “we succeeded”.   “If we succeed, the people will win.  If we fail, they will lose.  It’s that simple”.

Tax Cuts Equal Stagnation: Dayton noted that Minnesota’s per-capita income dropped, after the Ventura and Pawlenty tax cuts.  (Pay no attention the 2001 and 2008 recessions – or the fact that Minnesota started high up the list, and remains there.  Thanks, Governor Pawlenty!)

Give The Teachers Union What They Want, Or The Kids Get It!: Dayton next turned to the need to “invest” in education, bemoaning the cutbacks in Lakeville and the ten districts that have had to put children to work in the coal mines.  Er, wait – have had to cut back to four day weeks.  My bad.

He then went on to introduce the Teacher of the Year, and about 2/3 of Minnesota’s Superintendents, who seemed to be gathered in the gallery.  Interesting to note that the Teacher of the Year teaches at Maxfield, a school that has flunked its “No Child Left Behind” numbers for recent memory.

He then reiterated his promise to “increase K12 every year, no excuses, no exceptions”.

The Dayton Jobs Program: At this point in the speech, it seems to  largely involve schools; all-day kindergarten, early childhood education, and more.  He indulges in his regional snobbery – “how can Alabama have all day kindergarten, and we don’t?”  Should that be telling us something?

“Don’t You Dare Criticize My Owners!”: “For too long, teachers have been battered by criticisms of their service”.   Battered?  By your leave, your highness, may I, a mere taxpayer, speak?

Job Program Redux:  “We are falling behind in every key measure…” of transit construction.

“Roads and public transit are to the state what arteries are to the body”.   Naturally, we should spend 40% of our medical bill on expensive but low-capacity “arteries”…

Dayton is proposing bringing together more blue-chip panels of “experts” to come up with the real answer to fixing infrastructure.

Kissing Babies, Recognizing Soldiers: The ovations – apparently bipartisan – for SSGT Wenzel, his PFC son, and Red Bulls commander Col. Krska (sp?), and Police Officer of the Year Adam Bailey were by far the longest of the day.

I can go along with that.

MPR’s Mike Mulcahy: “the governor is certainly taking advantage of his prerogative to invite guests; he has about a dozen in the gallery”.

And…huh?:  Next came a screeching turn from defense and law enforcement to…health care?

Dayton asks rhetorical question: “the most daunting challege: how do we improve services without spending more?”   He wants to “provide the best private sector practices with public sector expertise” to make Minnesota the best in the world.   That should be interesting.  “It’ll succeed best if we cooperate with our state employees…treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve will be essential to our success”.  I read that as “hands off all government employment, bennies and pensions”.

And Now, More Job Program Talk!: “We need business to create more jobs…partner with education and government”.  “We are determined to streamlining permitting…while protecting the environment”.   Unfortunately, he notes, he was MPCA Commissioner Aussen on the case.  I call it a potemkin effort.

We Need To Spend Money To Save Money:  Dayton plugged his billion dollar bonding bill.  “A key factor in holding back recovery is the lack of construction jobs”.  In other words, let’s get those Teamsters paying their dues again!

We Want Business To Feel Appreciated: He notes that he’s asked the Depts of Ag, Tourism and, I dunno, Happy Thoughts to reach out to business.  I have a hunch it’ll be Dept. of Revenue that’ll be doing the reaching out…

“I stand ready to go anyplace in the state, nation or world…” to bring jobs to MN.

Want to emulate “Lean” business practices.

The Chase:  Dayton asks for “forbearance” from business, while he deals with the financial crisis, “which we inherited” from President Bush Governor Pawlenty.  He basically apologizes in advance for the budget he’s going to be submitted next week.

Because God Wants You To: Dayton cites bible verse, “to whom much has been given, much will be expected”, in leading up to his “tax the rich” proposal.  Mulcahy points out for the tenth time “more DFLes than Republicans” applauding…

And In Closing: “We were lefty a horrendous fiscal mess, a declining economy, and badly-managed state agencies”.  But if we do things his way, “we’ll retain our former greatness”.

Good thing that DFL legislature did such a spectacular job from 2009-2010!

Let’s Condense The SpeechI‘m going to raise taxes, and keep spending just like the times are good.  If you disagree, you are spitting on Tim Burnett’s grave.  We inherited the problem, so don’t blame me; just pony up“.

Response: Tim Pugmire interviewed Amy Koch afterward.  “When the governor called for tax increases, the response was nonexistent on the GOP side, and “tepid” even on the DFL side.  I think that tells us something about the reception he’ll get”.

Speaker Zellers: “The governor is looking backward for his solutions…from California to New York, governors are not raising taxes.  We need to adopt this in Minnesota, and not keep going back to get more from society”.

Pugmire talking with Paul Thissen: “I thought it was hopeful – that we can turn this state around again”.  Wow – we’re in the top of this nation on most rational measures; how much better do we need to be?

“I think the majority is pushing through some extreme bills that are not where Minnesotans are”.  The polls on November 2 might suggest differently, Rep. Thissen.

Times the word “Bipartisanship” (or similar) used: 5

Times the word “Compromise” (or similar) used: 3

Times the phrase “A Better Minnesota” – the PAC that his family, ex-wife and union masters – used: 6

Times the word “Invest”/”Investment” used: 12

Gary Gross liveblogged the SOTS here.

The Drumbeat

The DFL’s “Forecast” for this biennium calls for a 37% increase in Health and Human Services (HHS) spending.

And the DFL is portraying any spending proposal less than a 37% increase as a “cut”.

And the media is, for the most part, carrying that meme without question.

Bob Collins at MPR does, in fact, question it, although his piece’s headline, “Despite warnings of cuts to child protection, House committee passes cuts in human services”, manages to hit the “decreasing the increase is a cut” and “the GOP is balancing the budget on the backs of womynandchyldryn and the poor” memes with admirable economy.

Jessica Webster, a staff attorney for Legal Aid, said the bill will hurt more than just children. “One of the things that’s frustrating, when we get these pieces of legislation, there’s nothing here that shows the people who receive these services,” she said. “Low-income people who are sick, who have serious injuries, poor people who have ill or injured children, battered women in battered women’s shelters, people living in homeless shelters, homeless youth, displaced homemakers, the developmentally disabled, people with low IQ, people who are mentally ill. All of these people are unable to work.”

The thing is, the GOP’s bill doesn’t “cut” anything from the previous budget.

But Republicans said they were not cutting the programs, since the programs had already been cut by lawmakers in their last-minute deal with then Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

“These folks having genuine needs, but over the last year or so, what this bill does just maintains… so what was done in the last year would be continuing,” Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer said. “You hear some of these phrases …. what we do is we make spending permanent.”

The bill continues the cuts to which Governor Pawlenty and the DFL-dominated legislature agreed in the last budget.

And it sends the message that HHS spending will not be going up by a over a third.

Health and Human Services are going to have to stretch their dollars further, just like the rest of us.

The Rubber Hits The Road

The Minnesota GOP yesterday put the Minnesota budget – for the current bienniium  – up on the hoist and start working:

Minnesota House and Senate Republicans today introduced an early action budget bill that takes immediate steps to reduce the budget deficit by $1 billion. The bill reduces spending for state agencies by $200 million in the current budget while making other one-time spending cuts permanent, reducing the long-term deficit by another $840 million. The early budget bill represents the first phase of the Minnesota Legislature’s budget balancing plan for the next two years.

The bulk of the changes involve making Governor Pawlenty’s unallotments permanent, and starting to tackle the issue of the absurd “autopilot” increases that have the less-curious in the media and most of the leftysphere chattering about “$6.2 billion deficits”:

“We need to prevent automatic spending increases that are included in the state government budget, and passing this budget bill will keep some of state government’s expenditures at current levels,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chair Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville. “For the most part, the budget bill includes spending levels that were approved by the DFL-controlled Legislature and Republicans at the end of the 2010 legislative session,” said Holberg.

More on this budget – and the response from the DFL and media (pardon the redundncy) – tomorrow.

More On Those Disastrous Pawlenty Years

Forbes says F the Twin Cities are the number four Job Market in the US:

“The Twin Cities, and Minnesota in general, has a much more diverse economy than many other parts of the nation,” said Vang. “While our heart goes out to all those individuals who are unemployed right now, our economy tends not to be as hurt as bad as nationally because we are never dependent on one sector. We didn’t extend ourselves as far out during the home mortgage crisis as other cities did so that gave us more breathing room for our economy to return.”


Of course, the market isn’t great for everyone:

One of the thousands hoping for an economic recovery is Riordan Frost, 22, of St. Paul. Eight months after college graduation, Frost is still looking for…

For what?

…a public policy job.

“Left college with high hopes, thinking ‘here I am world,’ and it turn out that way, sadly,” he said.

Maybe young Mr. Frost will take the opportunity to find a career someplace other than trying to run society.  At age twenty freaking two.

Frost tried plan B, which was looking for retail jobs and a job at movie theatres — all without luck. He is now working as an unpaid intern at the MN 2020 organization as a transportation policy associate.

Or maybe not.

Anyway – DAMN YOU, Governor Pawlenty.

From Planet Dinkytown

Jeff at MNPublius aims big.  After taking his de rigeur shot at departing Governor Pawlenty (trying to portray one of Minnesota’s most significant governors of the past 100 years as “nothing special)”, Rosenberg reviews a list the Governor released of his major accomplishments, and asks:

In eight years, what would we like a similar document from the Dayton administration to include?

If I were a DFLer, I’d be hoping for “at least four years of actual credible service before retiring to Vail rather than losing the 2014 election”, as opposed to a 2014 “Look back at Governor Prettner Solon’s Year In Office”.   The Vegas Over/Under on Dayton’s actual time in office is hanging around two years; bookies are betting on “alien invasion” as the trigger.

Rosenberg has a wish list:

Here are a few accomplishments I hope Mark Dayton will be able to spotlight:

* A fairer tax system in which the rich pay the same percentage of their income as the poor and middle class. [Notwithstanding the fact that “the rich” are both undefined and already overtaxed]

* A sustainable budget that’s in the black, with a significant budget reserve to cushion the blow in the next recession. [That’s one of the left’s most irritating memes; the idea that government should skim just a leeeeeeetle bit more out of the parts of our society that actuall produce wealth, to make sure that the part that doesnt’ – government – needn’t want for a thing when all of the useful people are suffering.  Kinda shows where their loyalties lie, if one needed any clarification]

* A thriving economy, with new business being created and established businesses making Minnesota a destination [Ah.  How would Jeff propose that “Governor Dayton” do that?  Perhaps by passing a law requiring business list Minnesota as a destination?  What sort of miracle does Mr. Rosenberg propose that “Governor Dayton” do to mandate this?  Will it be the “fair tax system”, or the “surplus”, that’ll make Minnesota a “destination?”  ]

* A fully-funded social safety net and educational system. [Both have all the funding they need, and always have.  Holding the “social safety net” – aka “subsidy of poverty” – above the rest of the economy merely creates a permanent class of government service consumers, removing any motivation to get off poverty.  And our education system needs reform, not more money to feed Tom Dooher’s addictions]

* Innovations in education that reverse Minnesota’s decline nationally and internationally during the Pawlenty years. [“Insert Miracle Here”.  Minnesota’s “declines” are almost universally expressed in terms of “how lavishly we fund government”.  To the extent that there have been declines, they’re the same ones shared by all statist societies in trying to compete with more  nimble, more  market-driven societies.  Minnesota’s “Golden Age” happened at a time when the world was still recovering from World War II; a fat, happy, unionized workforce and a big, dumb government were survivable errors in 1970, since there was no competition; today, if we don’t change the path that the DFL and Rosenberg would put us on, they’ll merely make us a Cold California]

* Equal marriage for all Minnesotans. [Ah.  So that’s what’s holding the economy back.]

What accomplishments do you hope the Dayton administration will produce? Leave your own additions in the comments.

I hope he accomplishes a graceful exit in 2014, turning office over to a good conservative governor.  The media would caterwaul that the new governor is an “extremist”, but they’re too busy wondering if the DFL will become a third party by 2020.

True Grit

The Saint Paul Pioneer Press‘ Bill Salisbury wrote a valedictory yesterday in the Pioneer Press about the career of outgoing Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

So far, anyway.

He left it to Pawlenty to sum up the crux of his legacy:

“This is a state that was on a spending binge for a long time with a liberal-leaning political culture that goes back decades or generations, and to try to change the direction of the state was a big undertaking. But I think we did that,” Pawlenty said during an extended interview Tuesday with a group of Capitol reporters.

Making that change was not easy, the Republican governor said. He had to call a predominantly Democratic Legislature into special sessions, issue a record number of vetoes in one year and use a government shutdown to force the changes.

“This will be known as the time Minnesota finally came to terms with its excesses and got itself on a more sustainable and responsible path,” he said.

That legacy, he asserted, is more significant than any new program or building he might have created.

Pawlenty’s right – and in ways the article isn’t scoped to explore, in and of itself.

Not only did Pawlenty’s years start the process of breaking the state of the culture of “the people exist to keep the government fed” school of government, but he set the stage for this years’ GOP sweep (Republicans flipped control of both chambers of the Minnesota legislature, controlling the body for the first time in recent history) in ways that I don’t think he’ll get credit for – even among conservatives.

Maybe especially among conservatives.

Until 1998, the Minnesota GOP was a “moderate”, even “progressive” party.  James Lileks once joked on the radio, around the time he lived in or came back from DC, that he’d tell his friends in Washington “Minnesota is the place where you have your pro-abortion, pro-gun-control candidate – and the Democrat!”.

Former MN governor Arne Carlson (who served from 1990-1998) was a typical pre-Pawlenty Republican.  In many respects, he was a bigger “liberal” than the DFLer he replaced, Rudy Perpich, and he was hardly alone.  The GOP during the “Independent Republican” era – the years after Watergate, when the MNGOP rechristened itself the “Independent Republican” party, to break with the national GOP – was a throwback to the national GOP of the Eisenhower years, which was vastly more “communitarian” than libertarian or fiscally conservative.

And there are plenty who wanted, and still want, the GOP to remain that party – basically DFLers with better suits; a party that believed “Fiscal Responsibility” meant making sure you tax enough to run government…

…but that keeping government fed and fat and happy came first and foremost among government’s  missions.

And, predictably, there are many in the Minnesota’s GOP who pine for the old days:

But a lot of Pawlenty’s financial savings were “smoke and mirrors” instead of permanent cost reductions, said John Gunyou, finance commissioner under former Gov. Arne Carlson’s and a DFL candidate for lieutenant governor this year. Pawlenty relied heavily on delaying payments, raiding funds set aside for other purposes, unilateral spending cuts that the state Supreme Court ruled overstepped his authority and federal stimulus funds.

“He didn’t really bring costs under control,” Gunyou said.

Unmentioned by Gunyou – or any of the other outdated impedimenta, “GOP” or DFL, that keep repeating that particular chanting point – is that Pawlenty was hamstrung throughout his eight years, for four years by a DFL-controlled Senate and a GOP majority in the House that was addled by too many old-school, “IR”-era Republicans to do much more than hold the line on spending – which he did! – and for the last half of his administration by facing a rapacious, money-crazed DFL majority in both chambers of the legislature.  Against such grossly, irresponsibly, blindly spenthrift ideologues as Larry Pogemiller, Margaret Kelliher, Sandy Pappas and the rest of the Twin Cities metro-area DFL clacque that ran the Legislature, the only way to meet his statutory responsibility to balance the budget and keep his “no new taxes” pledge was to defer that which he couldn’t cut.

Pawlenty will leave his successor, Democrat Mark Dayton, with a projected $6.2 billion budget deficit.

Well, no – the Legislature did, and the 6.2 billion number is a made-up figure with no legal meaning, but the DFL and media (pardon the redundancy) don’t want you to know that.

But I digress.

Salisbury turned to talk of Pawlenty’s legacy.  In discussing the big takeaways from Pawlenty’s eight years, a group of assembled poli-sci wonks phumphered that Pawlenty didn’t leave much in the way of “big achievements”:  the inevitable quote from U of Minnesota poli-sci professor Larry Jacobs was “Huge promise, remarkable intelligence and understanding of the issues but uneven or limp follow-through”.  Salisbury points out that Pawlenty “…was excellent at diagnosing problems and generating ideas, such has providing health care for all kids or funding transportation projects after the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed. But he dropped many of his creative ideas, often because they would have cost more tax dollars, which his conservative base opposed”

The observation is partly right.  The part they miss; conservatives were never “his” “base”, where “base” means “people who ideologically support him through thick and thin”.  Pawlenty came into the governor’s race as the moderate.  He had to earn every conservative vote he got, starting at the 2002 GOP convention, where he held off a charge by conservative businessman Brian Sullivan after 17 ballots, largely by adopting the conservative Taxpayers League of Minnesota’s “No New Taxes” pledge – pledging to balance the budget by controlling spending rather than hiking taxes.  In many ways, Pawlenty never entirely won conservatives over;  he still hasn’t entirely won “conservatives” over, although I believe that, being as perfect is the enemy of good enough, he should have.  I believe Minnesota’s conservatives shorted Pawlenty.

Poli-sci prof Steven Schier from Carlton College provides the key caveat that the U of M’s Jacobs didn’t, pointing out that Pawlenty “never had a fully cooperative Legislature”.  That’s putting it lightly.  When the DFL took complete control of the Legislature in 2006, DFL Senator Cy Thao famously remarked “When you people [Republicans] win, you get to keep your money; when we win, we take your money!”.  Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller said in 2008 “it’s silly to think that people can spend their money better than government can”.

So when Salisbury quotes Jacobs…:

A governor must build coalitions to get things done, Jacobs said, but Pawlenty had a hard time finding “honorable compromise” with DFL legislators.

…one can forgive him for not adding “because the DFL had no interest in compromise, and were largely not honorable”.

But I will.

My real point is that Pawlenty’s legacy goes waaaay beyond simple, material things like programs and departments and government real estate.  Tim Pawlenty did something that’s needed doing since long before I came to Minnesota.  Because for all of my hard-core paleocon friends’ grousing about “impact fees” and “travelling with Will Steger”, it’s a simple fact that Pawlenty’s political leadership helped drive the Minnesota GOP to the right; it helped the GOP provide a real policy alternative to the DFL for the first time in recent memory.

Pawlenty was the first important political figure in recent Minnesota political history to define “fiscal responsibility” as “controlling spending” rather than “making sure we make the people cover all of government’s bills on time!”.

I think there’s a pretty airtight case that Tim Pawlenty is the most vital, transformative figure in Minnesota politics since Hubert H. Humphrey.

The leadership of the Tea Party, and of Minnesota’s newly-empowered conservative legislative majority, might quibble with the statement, but in every way that mattered, Tim Pawlenty paved the way for everything the Tea Party and the new conservative majority stands for.

And because of this – because Minnesota now has, for the first time in recent political memory, a genuine two-party system, with two sides that are actively holding each others’ feet in the political fire, and a genuine conservative opposition to Minnesota’s generations-long tradition of spend first, think later  – Tim Pawlenty has left this state a vastly better place than he took over.

Economies rise and fall.  Budgets work themselves out (and, with a new GOP majority that owes more than it admits to Pawlenty’s legacy now in charge, they’ll likely work themselves out a whole lot better than they would have).  But changing a state’s political system, vastly for the better?  That’s a wonderful thing.

I think Tim Pawlenty is getting grossly short shrift from conservatives in his all-but-certain bid for the presidency.  His record as a solid, commonsense fiscal conservative (on all the things that truly matter in the long view) deserves a serious look on the national stage.

Because while you can quibble about the details around and about the edges of his record, Tim Pawlenty’s real legacy is that of eight years of true political grit.  Pawlenty was doing the Tea Party’s work before there was a Tea Party.

And Minnesota needed that.  We needed it bad.

Pawlenty is leaving this state in good hands – at least, two chambers dominated by those good hands.  That new majority, in all their enthusiastic numbers, has two big shoes to fill.

Thanks, Governor Pawlenty.  I hope to write about you a lot more in the next two years.

Advice To Our Liberal Friends

With the new session coming up, all you liberals are going to be in for a new experience – being a legislative minority here in Minnesota.

It’s never happened, not in the political lifetime of any of you out there.

It’s gonna be a whole new feeling for all you libs – not being able to spin the wheels and levers of government to make it do what you want at will or, at the very worst, to be able to control a chamber of the legislature to bog down legislature.  All you have is the veto (and of course DFL control of the state’s bureaucracies, which is not an inconsiderable power by itself).   He’ll float his “Crack Whore With A Stolen Platinum Card Budget”, just like the people who paid for his election told him to.  It’ll get shot down.  He’ll turn around and veto the budget put forward by the responsible adults.  That’s how it’s done.

So, speaking as someone who’s been in the legislative minority in this state as long as I’ve been in this state – 25 years, now – here’s some advice for all you DFLers.

You can thank me later.

The entire legislature was elected, not “Selected:  Yes, the people really did flush the DFL out of office.  Buck up, little campers; 2012 is another election.  Although I think we’re gonna clobber you then, too.

Stay Calm:  Some of you people are nuts even when you’re in power.  We conservatives are pretty good at tamping down our odd nutbar.  You guys need some practice.  You’ll probably get it.

Elections Have Consequences: The DFL used its temporary legislative supremacy to try to jam down a phalanx of spending and taxes over the past four years.  They were stymied by Governor Pawlenty, who exercised his veto and conducted a masterful rear-guard job.  And when he did, you – especially your pundit friends in the media – were downright heart-rending in your demands that Pawlenty also represent the Minnesotans who didn’t vote for him, and pass the DFL’s legislation.  Now, as a conservative, I’m under no illusion that Dayton is going to vote my conscience when he takes office. 

So I’m counting the hours until we get the first mawkish blog post or Lori Sturdevant column asking Republicans to remember that “you represent the majority of Minnesotans that didn’t vote for you”.  In that way that the DFL always forget when they controlled all the knobs and levers.

Pack Your Bags!:  I thought nothing could match Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon’s narcissistic solipsism in threatening to move to France if George W. Bush won his various elections (and naturally, neither did), until I heard Minnesota DFLers threatening to leave the state if Emmer had won the election.  Well, controlling both houses of the legislature is arguably a better deal than having the governor’s office and one chamber.

So since I just bought a truck, do you and your crap need a ride to Hudson?

Get A Grip: No matter what the DFL, Tom Dooher, the Strib’s editorial board and DFL-pet columnists tell you, Minnesota isn’t really going to change all that much when the adults take over.  Oh, keeping government fed will no longer be the primary stated mission of government (and if the GOP majority doesn’t change that, those of us who sent them there will be happy to bring them home), but the schools will stay open, the parks will still be there for, er, parking, there will still be libraries, cops and firemen will still respond (unless you live in a city where the DFL will hold those services hostage).  Indeed, the schools will probably do better, you’ll be able to enjoy the park to relax from the job you don’t have now but are more likely to have then, you can spend your time at the library reading rather than job-hunting, and so on.  But by and large, not all that much is going to change.

Except, it seems, your (plural) blood pressure.

Buck up, little vegan campers.  We conservatives survived.  So will you – if you choose to.

Sturdevant: “The DFL Set A Fiscal IED!”

The old “take a theatrical look in the dictionary to set up today’s column”  trick is an old favorite for writers who’ve hit bottom in the idea bag but still need to crank something out. 

I am, of course, nowhere near the bottom of the barrel – and I’ve always found the whole “Hey, lookit what I pulled out of the dictionary!” thing to be a tiresome cliché. 

Still, I found myself drawn, mirabile dictu, to the dictionary this morning.  For some reason, I felt the need to look up “flack“.  ‘Strooth!  And here’s what it said:

flack    /flæk/  [flak]  

–noun Sometimes Disparaging .

1. press agent.

2. publicity.

–verb (used without object)

3. to serve as a press agent or publicist: to flack for a new rock group.

–verb (used with object)

4. to promote; publicize: to flack a new record.

Use flack in a Sentence


1935–40; said to be after Gene Flack, a movie publicity agent

Utterly unrelated to my trip to the dictionary (pinky swear!), I read yesterday’s Lori Sturdevant column in the Strib.  No, I know – I constantly accuse Sturdevant of being, well, a flack for the DFL.  But there is, I swear to Jah Rastafari,  no connection.  Really!

Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s self-congratulatory performance Thursday in response to that day’s whale-of-a-deficit state budget forecast sent me to the dictionary [Oh, snap! – Ed.] to check the meaning of the word “chutzpah.”

“Supreme self-confidence: nerve, gall,” Merriam-Webster Online said.

If chutzpah isn’t a fitting label for the show in the governor’s reception room, it surely comes close. It also may be apt for the temperament required for a governor who has presided over eight years of persistent fiscal trouble to mount a bid for the presidency.

Poor Lori.  Tim Pawlenty, governor and in the front ranks of Sturdevant’s phalanx of betes noir of eight years, is moving on to bigger and better things – certainly a run at the Presidency, and most likely a really, really great career in some capacity or another no matter what happens, while the DFL is set to endure at least four years in the Legislative cold and with, frankly, the worst governor in Minnesota history (even before inauguration), as she wraps up her career in a dying industry.   Tha’ts gotta stink.

No other governor in Minnesota’s 152-year history has handed his successor a $6.2 billion deficit forecast along with the keys to the Capitol’s executive suite.

But to be fair to Governor Pawlenty (an idea that no doubt causes Ms. Sturdevant abdominal pain), no other governor in Minnesota history has had to face such a grossly, profligately irresponsible legislative majority.   The DFL majority this past four years has set the “standard” for rodentine cowardice and expedient buck-passing.

Best of all – Sturdevant admits it herself, later in the piece. 

But we’ll get to that.

But if Pawlenty has any remorse or regrets about passing that much trouble along to the next occupant, he didn’t display them. Instead, he boasted that he was ending his watch with the state “on the right track” and with “money in the bank.”

And so he should!  Minnesota has – despite the DFL majority’s best efforts – an unemployment rate two points below the national average.  He kept (to a gratifyingly great extent) his 2002 “no new taxes” promise, and held the line against a crushing DFL majority for the past four years. 

Though Thursday’s numbers foretold a worsening problem in 2012-13, Pawlenty pronounced it “very manageable.” He allowed that most of it would have vanished already if his old nemeses, the DFLers who controlled the 2009-10 Legislature, would have done his bidding.

And Pawlenty was absolutely right.

Had he been paired with a legislature that was focused on anything other than catastrophic spending as a matter of principle, we wouldn’t be in this jam. 

But this is the DFL – the party that believes your money belongs to the government first and foremost.

Even though the 2010 Legislature gave its blessing to virtually all of the spending cuts and shifts Pawlenty imposed unilaterally (and, it turned out, illegally) in 2009, it deviated from the governor’s script in one respect. The cuts were designed to boomerang back for reconsideration by a new governor and the 2011 Legislature. (Those crafty DFLers didn’t anticipate that in the 2011 Legislature, they would be in the minority.

Did you catch that?  Sturdevant is saying that the DFL engineered the “budget crisis” to try to embarass the GOP!  

The DFL – the Party of Fiscal Sabotage!  Lori Sturdevant says so!  And if there’s an official voice of the DFL, Sturdevant is it in all but official name.  

How very statesmanlike of the DFL!  Way to look out for the future of Minnesota!

  The answer is simple; the GOP majority should show the new “Governor” no mercy, and no quarter.   He and his constitutional officers are the last vestiges of a party that gambled with Minnesota’s fiscal well-being, and lost. If that’s what the DFL did – essentially set a fiscal IED to try to pad their own political nest – then they deserve a good crushing. 

Spanish has a good word for that; Degüello.  Applied rhetorically, of course.  I – insignificant schnook blogger that I am – certainly plan to practice it for the next four years.

Look it up in the dictionary yourself.  It’s your cliché, not mine.

100 Reasons I’m Voting For Tom Emmer

As I do before every important election, I’m listing the top 100 reasons I’m voting for the top of the ticket.

Of course, I became an Emmer supporter long ago.  The GOP started the campaign early – right around State Fair time in 2009 – with a crop of great candidates and rumored candidates.  Paul Kohls was a sharp guy; I could have easily supported Pat Anderson; Dave Hann is right about everything that matters; most of all, Marty Seifert would have been an excellent standard-bearer.  I would happily have written these 100 reasons about any of them.

But Emmer became my personal front-runner as Ed and I interviewed him at the Fair on September 4, 2009.  Someone asked him a question about some kind of wedge-y social issue or another.  And without skipping a beat, Tom responded “I dont’ care; this election is about jobs and the economy”.  Emmer is the single best stump speaker in Minnesota politics today.  And for all the left and media’s efforts to paint him as some sort of extremist, Tom has not only stuck to that message, but has shown himself superb at explaining that message to people who don’t start out as believers.  Which is the main reason the DFL has had to run such a superlatively slimy, negative campaign against him.

And to be honest, those were the only reasons I really need to support Tom Emmer.  But I came up with 99 more.  Because that’s what I do.

To wit – the 100 main reasons I’m voting for Tom Emmer today.

  1. Because the DFL’s plan is a return to the past, in ways that just don’t make sense anymore.
  2. Because the DFL’s big-money, big-union, big-service model was based on economy that exploded at a time when America was the only serious economy on earth.
  3. And times have changed.
  4. And Tom Emmer knows that we have to change our government with those times.
  5. And Mark Dayton thinks that if you throw enough obstinacy and rhetoric and taxpayers money at life, the clock will turn itself back to the DFL’s glory days.
  6. Not to mention his own glory days.
  7. And as that great political commentator said, Glory Days will pass you by in the wink of a young girl’s eye.
  8. Because Emmer’s about providing three things; Jobs
  9. Jobs, and
  10. Jobs.
  11. And Dayton is not.
  12. Unless you’re an AFSCME, SEIU, MAPE other state employee.
  13. Indeed, we know of many companies that are going to leave Minnesota, sooner or later, if taxes don’t moderate.
  14. And we know many, many more that are waiting on the fence to see where their investments are going to go.
  15. Because it’s not just about creating jobs.  It’s about creating a climate where companies will create jobs, and new companies will form, and hire people to work for them, and more new companies will form to provide goods and services and wholesaling and distribution and support and markets and suppliers for the companies above.
  16. And Mark Dayton’s policies will curb that as effectively as any policy designed to curb business growth on purpose ever could.
  17. Because our state government needs to be re-engineered…
  18. …and Emmer has the plan to do it…
  19. …while Mark Dayton’s entire plan is to just pour more of our money down the rathole.
  20. Because of Emmer’s enemies; the SEIU, AFSCME, the Teamsters, and the bureaucracy are the only people who benefit from the current government.
  21. Because Tom Emmer is one of us.
  22. And I just know that some idiot leftyblogger will go “yeah, he’s a middle class white guy”, which shows you yet another reason Emmer needs to win; the phony “diversity” pimps must not be rewarded.
  23. No, Tom Emmer is a Minnesota guy who grew up the child of business people, worked for the business, worked his way through college and law school, worked his way up the hierarchy of his business – just the way most Minnesotans have to, whether they’re white middle class guys…
  24. …or Latino working-class gals…
  25. …or black single mothers who are fighting to keep their kids’ charter schools afloat…
  26. …or Asian immigrants who are working in their uncle’s restaurant while they earn their engineering degree.  It’s all part of a story…
  27. …that Mark Dayton never participated in, can not understand…
  28. …and has to have interpreted for him  by his advisers from the AFSCME, MFT, MAPE, SEIU, ACORN, CommonCause and MoveOn.
  29. Tom Emmer doesn’t have to have anyone explain “the Minnesota Dream” to him.  He’s lived it, and his whole plan is about opening up that dream to everyone.
  30. Because Mark Dayton is the wrong guy for the job.
  31. He was an unmitigated disaster as a Senator…
  32. …and an undistinguished State Auditor….
  33. …and a failure as Economic Development commissioner – so bad that his boss’ son wrote an Op-Ed claiming that he bailed on the job before a recession, to salvage his political future.
  34. And his only “plan” is to start jacking up taxes.
  35. And as much as he caterwauls about “taxing the rich”, the fact is that his proposed “taxes on the rich” won’t even begin to cover the deficit, will slow the state’s economy and sent it into a vicious, revenue-killing spiral…
  36. …that will result in the definition of “the rich” being pushed ever downward until pretty much everyone in Minnesota is “rich”…
  37. …while, paradoxically, poor.
  38. Because his plan will gut charter schools – a racist plan that will destroy the only meaninful “school choice” most inner-city parents of color, and from poor families, and immigrants and Native Americans, have to try to get their children a decent education.
  39. (But Dayton needn’t care, because he went to Yale).
  40. Dayton’s plan, indeed, is voodoo economics of the most trite, vapid order.
  41. And Minnesotans are smarter than that.
  42. (Or, after Ventura, McCollum, Ellison and Franken, I guess I should say they can be smarter than that.  Here’s your chance, Minnesota!)
  43. Because “Alliance For A Better Minnesota” is, paradoxically, an alliance for a much, much worse Minnesota.
  44. Because while I don’t really want big corporations buying my elections, I don’t want Alita Messenger buying them, either.
  45. Or Big Unions.  What’s the SEIU done for us lately, besides demand more money and more subsidies?
  46. Ditto the Minnesota Federation of Teachers?
  47. Or, more tellingly, the entire Dayton family?
  48. Because anyone the Twin Cities Media has been working so hard to gundeck this last six months has to be good.
  49. Because Pat Doyle smeared Emmer in the Strib
  50. …and I busted Doyle.
  51. Because if Tom Emmer wins, maybe the Twin Cities media will examine some of their prejudices, and focus less on electing DFLers and more on…reporting the news?
  52. Because if Emmer wins, perhaps people will, once and for all, start treating the Minnesota Poll like “news”, and more like an “in-kind campaign contribution”, which is all it is.
  53. Ditto the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute Poll
  54. And “Mid-Morning with Keri Miller”.
  55. Because while I have no doubt that the Twin Cities media will eventually ask questions about Mark Dayton’s alcoholic relapses and mental health record, it’d be good to settle that before he takes on the most powerful job in Minnesota.
  56. Or preferably rather than taking it on.
  57. Because it will pound a stake through the heart of the old, RINO Republican party
  58. Because Lori Sturdevant seems to have staked out a market at tut-tutting Republicans for not being like the Republicans of the 1970’s – and far be it from me to want to constrict somebody’s market.
  59. Because Tom Emmer survived the most epic smear campaign in Minnesota history.
  60. And that sort of behavior must not be rewarded.
  61. Think about it; if Mark Dayton wins, all of ABM’s lies will be considered justified.
  62. Because to the left, the end justifies the means – and since power is their end, this campaign will codify the means; lying, smearing, slandering.
  63. And “power”, in this case, means not only the power to tax you back to the stone age, but to scupper the economy of this state for a generation.
  64. Which, let us not forget, is yet another end that’d justify their means, if it succeeds. Because a state with lots of DFL dependants is a state with a happy DFL.
  65. Because if Tom Emmer beats out this epic smear campaign, perhaps the Minnesota DFL and its lefty allies will learn some f****ng manners.
  66. Because I don’t want the definition of “Marriage” decided by a bunch of moron legislators or bobbleheaded, agenda-driven judges.
  67. Because if Emmer wins, free speech wins.
  68. It was the “Citizens United” Supreme Court case that allowed corporations to contribute to political campaigns.
  69. And so a raft of Minnesota companies contributed to “MNForward”, a pro-business PAC.
  70. And a legion of howling lefty nutcases lined up to crucify these businesses…
  71. …well, no.  They didn’t line up to slander and badger Polaris or Davisco or Securian.  They lined up to attack Target Corporation as “anti-gay”…
  72. …even though Target is one of the most pro-equal-rights-for-gays companies in a state full of companies that bend over backwards to prove their “diversity”.   The attack wasnt’ because of anything Target did, but to try to bully and browbeat all Minnesota companies who dared to dissent from the DFL and their various hangers-on.
  73. BTW, Tom Emmer is no more “anti-gay” than Barack Obama or, for that matter, Mark Dayton.
  74. Because while the “Minnesota Miracle” of Minnesota Media Myth is indeed largely mythical, and would have happened anyway
  75. But today, Minnesota needs a real miracle, and we need it now.
  76. And real miracles come from the private sector…
  77. …and the best thing government can do is stand out of the way – lending the odd helping hand (by, say, providing an educated and competent work force – ooops, sorry about that, Minnesota Federation of Teachers) and letting private enterprise and the market do the hard stuff.
  78. Because while Governor Pawlenty has done a helluvva job keeping the wheels on this state, it’s only going to get more difficult as the Obama Depression grinds on.
  79. And we have two more years of The One to survive; and electing a responsible, grownup, conservative government is a great first step in telling the rapacious federal regime “not so fast, bitches”.
  80. Because it’s a big wave.
  81. And if Emmer wins, then so will Michele Bachmann.
  82. And Erik Paulsen.
  83. And John Kline.
  84. And since the Constitutional Officer races usually follow the governor’s race, an Emmer win will bring back Pat Anderson to State Auditor, replacing the fairly useless but boundlessly venal Rebecca Otto.
  85. And Dan Severson could win, replacing Mark Ritchie, who was basically put into office to further George Soros’ grand scheme of having fifty in-the-bag secretaries of state.
  86. And Chris Barden could become the Attorney General, giving us an AG that will work for Minnesota, rather than for Mike Hatch.
  87. And if Emmer wins big, there’s a decent shot that Chip Cravaack will win as well – and Congress desperately needs Jim Oberstar to leave and go into the lobbyling business, where his heart really belongs.
  88. And if Emmer wins, the coattails will help Randy Demmer, too; every little bit helps.
  89. And of Tom and Chip take it downtown, then Lee Byberg will stand a decent chance of toppling Colin Peterson.
  90. And if Tom, Chip, Randy and Lee pull it off, then the heretofore unthinkable – Teresa Collett knocking off Betty “Mission Accomplished” McCollum – is suddenly thinkable.
  91. And Joel Demos might just be able to pack his wife and kids up and head off to DC as well.  Because we’re Minnesotans, and we do believe in Miracles.
  92. And if that happens, somewhere on the campus of the Blake School, some mirthless harpy’s head is going to explode.
  93. And some hard-scrabble Latina will make a few bucks cleaning up the mess, giving her the money to feed her kids and drive them to a good charter school,  where they become good educated citizens, who vote Republican…
  94. …and help repeat the cycle…
  95. …so that before too terribly long the DFL – the great destroyer of jobs, the albatross on the back of the Minnesota economy, the racist ravager of school choice, the thuggish apparatchik that wants to make sure you do no better than they do, will become a third party.  Like it so richly deserves.
  96. Because I want Minnesota to be a good place for my children.
  97. I don’t want Minnesota to become a Cold California, a windy Greece, a passive-aggressive Michigan, a “nice” Massachusetts.
  98. And DFL rule merely ensures that that is exactly what will happen.
  99. And conservative government is not just sane, stable government, it’s the key to a prosperous, sustainable state.  Even the parts that aren’t government.
  100. Because it’s something you can do for A Better Minnesota.  All of us. Together.

So let’s make this happen.

Previous “100 Reasons” posts:

Backing And Filling

The DFL starts to work on its damage control from its viciously anti-Catholic attack piece.

Blois Olson – who is not “the DFL”, per se, but has a history of working for DFL candidates – in his “Morning Take”

MN GOP will push to find controversy with a direct mail piece in SD40. GOP operatives are working hard to advance outrage over a mail piece sent by the MN DFL in the race for SD40 where incumbent DFL Sen. John Doll is running against GOPer Dan Hall.

“Find controversy?”

I think the controversy pretty much jumps out and beats you over the head.  Check it out for yourself:

Click for full size

Not a lot of room for interpretation there.

There is no doubt that if they get traction with this it could have some statewide impact on the election, especially if they advance the narrative that the piece is anti-Catholic. While one side of the piece shows a clergy collar with a faux button “Ignore the Poor”. The other takes legitimate pointed criticism at GOPer Dan Hall’s positions related to the MN budget and ties it to his profession as a chaplain.

Which is part of the DFL’s outreach to the region’s – mostly the Metro’s – “social justice-gospel” addled – Catholics; the idea that the state’s budget itself is a sort of Good Work.

That’s no different than finding issue with any other candidates profession and the political positions they take. The piece is hard hitting, but clergy of other faith’s wear a collar, and the word “Catholic” doesn’t appear anywhere on the piece.

Olson goes on to point out that priests of other denominations wear clerical collars.  But the ad’s only context is the current race – where Archbishop Nienstedt has attacked gay marriage, and where Tom Emmer is a very orthodox Catholic.

And neither the Episcopal nor Orthodox hierarchies have taken any key political stances in this election (or have they?  Who would know?) as has the Archdiocese.  If this piece is a swipe at the Anglicans, Greeks or Russians, it’d be a response to an Orthodox or Episcopal stance that nobody’s really aware of; being a highly-qualified pundit, I’m pretty sure Olson knows that’d be a curious misallocation of resources at this point in the campaign.

The ad is a swipe at District 40 Senate candidate Dan Hall, who is a volunteer chaplain with the Burnsville Fire Department.  The DFL’ s line is that Hall is a “Hypocrite” for preaching on the one hand, and supporting Governor Pawlenty on rejecting the big federal Medicaid payment.

The DFL is taking it upon itself to tell us who is or is not a good Christian and Catholic, based on adherence to the DFL’s budget wish list.

Senators Koch and Fishbach gave a statement about an hour ago asking if candidate Dayton stood by his party’s attack.  Dayton is Catholic – or at least he’s given the homily at ultraliberal Saint Joan of Arc in Minneapolis.

I’m gonna suspect he lets this ride without mention…

UPDATE:   MDE has scanned the full postcard.

CORRECTION:  The postcard was sent by the DFL State, not Central, Committee.  It was an inadvertent slip.  Hard to tell all those committees apart.

Chanting Points Memo: 2+2=Fudge, Winston

MNDFL chair Brian Melendez sent this out to the faithful yesterday:

The more Minnesotans hear from Tom Horner, the clearer it becomes that he is just another Republican insider, and his only plan is to continue Governor Pawlenty’s failed policies.

Insider?  A guy who hasn’t darkened the doorstep of a GOP caucus since Arne Carlson was in office?

By that standard, Mitch Berg is “just another Libertarian Party insider”.

As far as that bit about “continu[ing] Governor Pawlenty’s failed (sic) policies”?  Let’s take a brief march back through time:




GOVERNOR PAWLENTY:  Nope.  No new taxes!


GOVERNOR PAWLENTY: Ixnay on the Axestay!


GOVERNOR PAWLENTY:  You shall not pass…taxes!


TOM HORNER: We need over two billion in new taxes!

I’d think even Brian Melendez could detect the pattern, here.

Tom Horner wants to raise sales taxes on almost everything we buy, which will hit middle-class families twice as hard as others. And while Minnesota’s middle-class families are struggling, Tom Horner’s priority is to cut taxes for big businesses.

As opposed to Mark Dayton – who’ll raise taxes on everyone, directly or indirectly – and Tom Emmer, who …won’t!

With less than five weeks left until the election, we wanted to make sure all Minnesota’s voters know exactly what Tom Horner stands for.

Who is Tom Horner? Just another Republican.

Read:  “Internal polling shows he’s taking a lot more Democrat than GOP votes”

Why Does The DFL Hate Gays?

I have a quick question for the Twin Cities’ leftyblog buildup.

Since gay marriage has emerged, at least for the DFL, as the most important issue in the gubernatorial election – at least as re the perceived record of the GOP’s candidate – I think it’s only fair to ask “why has the DFL been such an utter waste of time when it comes to passing gay marriage?”  If there really is an outcry for gay marriage, then why didn’t the DFL-controlled legislature use their four years of absolute legislative hegemony to push the issue?

Because if there genuinely is popular support for a measure  then there is no such thing as a “wasted vote”.

Here’s how it works; Representative A (DFL – Spike Lake) brings up a gay marriage bill.  Representative B (GOP – Mud Lake) bottles it up in committee and it dies.  DFL candidate C runs for Represenative B’s job, and uses the vote to stir up popular anger at Mr. B, who is turned out of office by the voters who are demanding gay marriage.

In the next session, Representative A and C and fifty other DFLers (and GOPers, scared by the demise of Representative B) pass the bill through the House , and send it to the Senate.  There, Senator D (GOP – Ham Prairie) bottles the bill up in committee.  That fall, GOP candidate E runs against Senator D in the primary, capitalizing on the growing grass-roots realization that gay marriage is what the people want, and gets the endorsement, and wins the vote in Ham Prairie, a reliably GOP district that, like all Minnesotans, really do support gay marriage.

The next session, the House and Senate both pass gay marriage bills.  They are carried to Governor F.  Ms. F vetoes the bill.  In the following gubernatorial election, the popular support for gay marriage sends Governor F. packing; pro-gay marriage former state insurance commissioner G is elected governor. And in his first session, when presented with a gay marriage bill, he signs it, just as he promised in the keynote to his winning campaign.


Is the example above a fanciful hypothetical?  Yes and no.  It was, more or less, how “Concealed Carry” was passed in Minnesota. Pat Pariseau and Linda Boudreaux proposed “Shall Issue” legislation for four or five different sessions (if I remember correctly, and I may well not) before the votes were there to get the victory in 2003.  It wasn’t because they thought they could win every single time – in 1997, they certainly could not.  It was because they knew they wanted the issue in front of the legislature, because the process surrounding the debate would eventually win legislators over (and see to the electoral firing of legislators who opposed the popular measure). And this was in a Legislature that was not controlled by Republicans, much less conservatives.

The MNGOP’s gubernatorial candidate opposes gay marriage. So, by the way, do most Americans, in one form or another; while many support civil unions (myself included), Gay Marriage proposals keep losing in referendum after referendum.

“Why waste the votes?”, one DFL wag asked me when I brought it up once.

I dunno – because if you believe in the rightness of your cause, that’s what you do; if you believe in the democratic process and you believe that the people really do support your cause, then there is no such thing as a “wasted vote”.

The DFL knows this, because while they are fine using gay marriage as a cudgel against conservative politicians to fire up, or shore up, their base, they have spent their last four years of absolute hegemony in the Legislature pushing exactly zero gay marriage legislation to Governor Pawlenty.

“Shall issue” handgun laws survived and grew during at least seven consecutive legislative tests against nominally hostile legislatures.  Why doesn’t gay marriage get even one test in a relentlessly friendly legisature?

Chanting Points Memo: I Accuse

Conservative have been claiming for decades that the press is biased toward the left.

It’s hard to look at the Twin Cities’ media’s record of mangled context, selective reporting and generalized ennui this past three months and reach any conclusion other than this; the Twin Cities media has an agenda.

Let’s go over the past few months’ campaign events and the coverage – or lack of it – from the regional mainstream media.

Lies?  What Lies?:  Factcheck.org determined that Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s entire ad campaign is essentially untrue.

Not a word in the Twin Cities media.

Bad For Business: Last week, the Sorosphere began claiming that Target was suffering financially due to its support for Emmer’s campaign.

A simple check of the Dow Jones for that week showed that all mid-to-upper-range retailers had trouble that week, contemporaneously with a bad consumer confidence report.

No Lie Left Challenged: the Entenza campaign tried to make hay over Emmer’s “support for No Child Left Behind”.

Emmer was opposing NCLB before it was cool – not that you’d know it from our media.

The “DUI”s:  The media dutifully reported twice that Tom Emmer had two “DWI” convictions – once in close conjunction with a smear ad from Alliance for a Better Minnesota.  They also ran with ABM’s claims that this was directly connected to Emmer “sponsoring legislation to reduce punishment for drunk drivers”, at the alleged behest of “DWI Defense Attorneys”.

The media couldn’t be bothered to fact-check the story.  The facts are:

  • Emmer was never convicted of DUI.  It was “Careless Driving” in both cases.  Emmer openly admits that both cases were alcohol-related; he’s quite publicly taken responsibility for his mistakes which were, let’s recall, 20 and 30 years ago, when Emmer was in his teens and late twenties.
  • Emmer’s main piece of legislation was to eliminate prior consent hearings – the civil procedure by which accused drunk drivers get their licenses returned while going through the criminal system on the DWI charge.  These cases add a huge burden to the legal system, especially in the metro area; former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Judge Magnuson supported the bill, as did groups within the Attorney General’s office.
  • Emmer’s other piece would have allowed convicted DWIs to get some of their rights back after ten years of good behavior.  Neither bill would have “lessened punishments” in any way.
  • The “DWI Defense attorneys” were also prosecutors, who also did personal injury and wrongful death litigation against convicted drunk drivers.  Nobody in the Twin Cities media could be bothered to note that the claim was absurd; a DWI defense attorney should want stricter penalties, which would generate more markets for their services!

“The Corrosive Effect of Money in Politics”: In mid-July, I posted some findings from research into campaign finance records that showed that the Alliance for a Better Minnesota was largely funded by a PAC called “Win Minnesota” – which, in turn, was largely funded by contributions from the Dayton family, and especially Dayton’s ex-wife Alida Messinger, an heir to the Rockefeller fortune.

This happened about a week before the Target flap – at which point the narrative turned to hand-wringing about the corrosive effect of (corporate) money in politics.

Although MPR’s Tom Scheck noted the findings obliquely at the time, and WCCO’s Pat Kessler ran a story on the subject this past week, the mainstream media in the Twin Cities has been largely uninterested.

Perhaps they’re too busy reporting on Target to note that Alida Messinger alone has given three times more money than Target, and almost as much as the entire MNForward PAC.

ABM’s Lies: By early July, the Alliance for a Better Minnesota was kicking its epic ad buy into high gear.  Their first rounds of ads was found to be almost completely devoid of fact – although that apparently never rated a mention in the regional media.

Emmer’s Legal Record – Or At Least The Parts Of It That Make Good Smear Material:  On June 28, the Strib’s Pat Doyle ran a piece about a few episodes from Tom Emmer’s legal past; an office manager what swindled Emmer’s law firm, a suit over a disputed car crash (which Emmer won), another in which Emmer had been injured, and a suit against a landscaper.

Doyle’s “reporting” was notable for the meticulousness with which it omitted any shred of information from the record that might have portrayed Emmer as anything but a heartless pushy bully.   Nobody in the Twin Cities’ media reported that…:

  • ….the office manager, who took a plea deal that involved an apology and restitution to Emmer in exchange for not being prosecuted for much more serious charges, violated the terms of her plea bargain by talking to Doyle.
  • That the legal wrangling in Emmer’s accident litigation was the norm rather than the exception
  • That the landscaper who sued Emmer only did so because he had no case against Jacquie Emmer, and tried to sue Tom Emmer under a novel and ultimately specious theory that Emmer had “unjustly enriched” himself – in a suit that was thrown out with prejudice, with the judge requiring the landscaper to pay Emmer’s legal bills; the case had no merit whatsoever, although neither the Strib nor any other Twin Cities media outlet apparently felt the need to set the story straight.

The Detailed Plan – For a brief few weeks in June, the media and chattering classes asked almost as one “where is Emmer’s plan?” This, of course, without asking the same of any of the Democrats, whose primary race was just starting to (ahem) “heat up”.

Oddly, this would have been right during the planning phase for Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s biggest-in-history smear campaign against Emmer;  I’ll speculate that someone was trolling for material.

“He Wants To Cut How Much?”:  Much of the Twin Cities media and the leftyblog chatterbots beneath them ran with the “story” that Emmer said he’d cut the state budget by 30%.

This was, of course, based on a brief “mis-speak” during a live radio interview, which Emmer corrected immediately. This, however, remained largely unreported.

Nonetheless, radio spots for Matt Entenza after last week were still claiming that “Emmer would cut the budget a devastating 30%!”.  Perhaps nobody cares because Entenza was DOA from week one – but one needs to ask “do facts matter at all?”

“Emmer Hates Gays”:  The crux of the meme that the Dayton campaign has used to nationalize the governor’s race is the fallacy that “Emmer is rabidly anti-gay” – based on his support for a gay marriage amendment supported by a majority of Minnesotans, and I suspect a majority of legislators on both sides of the aisle – and his alleged “support” of punkdamentalist preacher Bradlee Dean and his controversial “You Can Run But You Can Not Hide” street ministry.

Nobody in the Twin Cities media bothered to fact-check the claim at the root of this meme – a story by Andy Birkey at the Soros-bankrolled Minnesota “Independent” that, a cursory examination by an amateur hobby hack showed, was built on clumsily-mangled context and some circumstantial gossip fodder.

“Local Government Aid Cuts Are Destroying Minnesota!”:  When Alliance for a Better Minnesota launched a campaign claiming that Governor Pawlenty’s cuts to Local Government Aid had caused huge problems, nobody in the Twin Cities media seemed to have the time to fact-check the claims.  It took a lowly blogger not one, not two, not three, not four, but five articles to do the sort of fact-checking that we ostensibly have a regional media that gets paid to do fulltime.

“Uncertified Teachers“:  One of the “Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s first claims was that Tom Emmer favors “uncertified teachers”.

A fairly detemined search didn’t show that any regional media fact-checked this story which,  of course, was a lie – Emmer favors alternative licensing, so that we can actually get enough teachers in fields like science and math where our humanities-glutted Educational-Industrial Complex isn’t producing enough candidates.

“Extreme“:  The left’s chanting point from the very beginning was that “Emmer is Extreme”.

To Rachel Stassen-Berger’s credit, she did report that Emmer’s record, at least on a range of key selected issues, is a virtual mirror of that of Margaret Anderson-Kelliher – who, Kelliher reminded us in the debate, is more centrist than Dayton.

The Big Green Stiff: Right after the convention, the DFL candidates gathered to hold a “Green Issues Summit”.  Dayton and Entenza gamboled about the fact that Emmer never showed up at the event-  which the media duly carried.

Unreported:  That Emmer had quite publicly declined to attend because it was his youngest child’s first communion.

Chanting Points Memo: The Alliance For A Deceitful, Sloppy, Not Very Bright Minnesota

The “Alliance For A Better Minnesota” – an astroturf group sponsored by a consortium of DFL-linked pressure groups – has been behind much of the smear-mongering against Tom Emmer so far this campaign. They’ve occupied themselves with a klutzy false-flag website, a couple of twitter accounts (one of baldfaced propaganda, and one, “StuffEmmerSays”, that tried to mock Emmer statements but actually made him sound like Ronald Reagan to the point I spent the last month mocking it as a pro-GOP site; it seems to have worked, and the account seems to have demised).

And if that’s the best the DFL can do, this election’s not going to be nearly as hard as I’d worried.

“A4aBM” ran the first anti-Emmer ad of the campaign this week; and the Republican Twitterverse has been redounding with bits and pieces of the information A4aBM got wrong.

Long story short; the ad is warm runny bulls**t.

Claim #1: Audio: “Tom Emmer sided with Governor Pawlenty and opposed a plan that would force corporations and CEOs to pay their fair share of taxes”  ABMBackup: “On May 18, 2009, Emmer voted against the second attempt at a DFL- written FY2010-2011 revenue bill…

Sounds pretty gnarly, huh?

The Truth: Tom Emmer did not cast a vote on this roll call.

Oh, my.  You mean, A4aBM got a fact wrong?

Well, the ad is 0-1 so far.

Claim #2: Audio: “They cut funding for education” ABM Backup: “On April 18, 2007, Emmer voted against HF 6, the K-12 funding bill, which passed the House with a huge bipartisan majority of 119-13. On May 8, 2007, Emmer again voted against the bill as it was re-passed on a similar 119-14 vote…

Voted against it twice?  Emphasis added:

The Truth: After April 18, 2007, there were no additional votes taken on this bill that year.  During the 2008 session, this bill was used as a “vehicle” and a delete-all amendment was added completely changing the bill.  The vote they reference on May 8, 2007 was actually a vote on May 8, 2008 and it wasn’t a vote on the bill but, rather, a procedural vote on whether the bill should be taken from the table.  Emmer voted against taking the bill from the table.

You’re trying to say A4aBM lied about the real intent of voting on a picayune procedural technicality in the life of a background-noise bill to try to smear Tom Emmer?  Say it isn’t so!

0-2 so far.

Claim #3: Audio: “[Tom Emmer and Tim Pawlenty] cut funding for education.”

The Truth: There is nothing in the bill cited that included a cut to education.  In addition, KSTP’s Tom Hauser recently had this to say about the claim that Governor Pawlenty cut education funding: “As for Pawlenty cutting education funding, that’s not true.  According to the education department, per pupil funding has gone up since 2004.”

0-3 – well, more like 0-4, really.

Claim #4: Audio: “[Emmer voted to cut] job training.”

The Truth: Nowhere in ABM’s backup is there any support for this claim.  “Training” is mentioned only once in the legislation, and that is in reference to home ownership education.  This bill had nothing to do with job training.

Zero for five.

Claim #5: Audio: “[Emmer and Pawlenty cut] job training and health care”.  On screen: “Source: Minnesota House Journal, 4/25/2005”

The Truth: According to the Minnesota House of Representatives Journal, the House was not in session on 4/25/2005, meaning there could be no Journal of the House for that day.  The Alliance’s citation, therefore, does not even exist.

So the lesson for today is, whenever “Alliance For A Better Minnesota” speaks, distrust and then verity.

Because the DFL asssumes that you, the people, are too stupid to know any better.

Who Do Minnesota Liberals Hate?

As noted last week, my pal and radio colleague Ed Morrissey made it onto the list of the top 100 conservatives the left loves to hate. Morrissey earned his #49 spot, beating out Governor Pawlenty (#86) and Ted Nugent (who cares).  Glenn Beck was the winner, naturally, with the usual suspects – Limbaugh, Rove, Hannity, Malkin, Savage – up at the top of the list (and, oddly, the not-very-conservative, liberal-friendly David Frum at 99).

But it started me to thinking:  Who are the most hated conservatives in Minnesota?  Who does the leftysphere in Minnesota detest more than anything?

Thus, it’s time for a poll.  Everyone give me up to your top ten Minnesota conservatives that Minnesota liberals love to hate, in descending order – in other words, put your “Most Hated” at #1, the tenth most hated at #10.  I’ll use your rankings to weight the results.

I want everyone to vote – conservatives, liberals, don’t cares, Tea Partiers, Libertarians, the works.  Just leave me your top ten, either in the comments or at the email address “feedbackinthedark”, which is a Yahoo dot com email address.

You have until Thursday midnight to get your votes in.  This post will likely be bumped up or reprised during the week.


It’s hard to look at the MN House of Representatives’ own wrapup of the 2010 session (WARNING:  PDF

How can the first paragraph of this press release be read as anything other than a complete and total vindication of Governor Pawlenty’s budget stance last year? 

 Despite court challenges and ceaseless partisan attacks, he held firm until the DFL itself introduced the very law that not only ratified the un-allotments but made even MORE cuts in programs intended to help poor people, the heartless bastards!

 The media is already working hard to try to slander Pawlenty’s legacy.  It’s because if more people nationwide knew the real Pawlenty story, he’d be a headache for the Democrats nationwide.

Around The Horner

In the 2000 Presidential election, it’s entirely possible that George W. Bush was put into office by Ralph Nader, who stole just enough votes from the radical fringe of the left to make it close enough for the freakish electoral college result we got.

And it’s very likely that we dodged the spectre of “Governor Hatch” because mushy liberal Dean Barkley squatted on enough moderate-left votes to keep Governor Pawlenty in office.  Thank God.

The Dems would very much like to repay the favor.  The Indyparty candidate this year, Tom Horner, is a former Republican – in the same way that Arne Carlson and Dave Durenberger were Republicans. 

Only worse. 

And while the media has been strongly hinting to undecided conservative voters that “Horner is the moderate Republican”, Derek “Chief” Brigham at Freedom Dogs has been following the Horner candidacy with a two-part series (One and Two) running down Horner’s supporters.

Hint: with his years as a “PR consultant”, it’s mostly big-government special interests, including the MN Vikings (although as the Strib noted in an editorial last weekend, we dont’ knwo for sure – Horner’s firm “Himle and Horner” won’t release a client list), and big-government “Republicans” like Carlson.  And the DFL, naturally. 

Which means Horner is not only no more “conservative” or “fiscally responsible” than the most crack-whore-with-a-stolen-Gold-cardish DFLer, it also means Horner is a raft of conflicts of interests.

“But wait a minute, Berg – Emmer’s a lawyer!  He might have represented people who might give him a conflict of interest if he’s elected!”   Well, no – there are fairly strict rules for lawyers when it comes to conflict of interest; the rules are a lot less clear-cut for PR flaks. 

And it doesn’t matter.  Horner will get three percent of the vote, and the Independence Party will likely lose major-party status this year.  The DFL and Media’s (ptr) only interest in the subject is to make sure that those three percent come more from Emmer than from one of the Three Stooges.

Because they’ll need all the help they can get.

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

In the first three parts of this series, I showed that the example of government fiscal starvation Jeff Rosenberg used in his plaintive plea for more Local Government Aid (LGA) – Brainerd shutting off some of its streetlights – was not borne out by the numbers.  I also showed that the DFL’s claim that cities are raising property taxes to make up for LGA cuts isn’t even half the truth – indeed, it’s more like 1/7th the truth, as property tax levy increases have outstripped LGA cuts by a factor of 7.5 to 1  – and that’s after Governor Pawlenty’s “unallotment”, without which the disparity would have been more like 16 to 1.

On Tuesday, we’ll be looking at LGA in Greater Minnesota – on the many, many cities that get no LGA, and on one city that receives it, but has run its fiscal shop much more responsibly than the DFL-clogged Big Three cities.

That’s next week.

For today, though, I just want to answer some questions.

A couple of people, on blogs and in the comment sections, sniffed “but you’re not controlling for inflation”, with one suggesting if I didn’t use constant dollars the whole exercise was moot. 

Inflation is a factor, and as I noted people need to take it into account when considering the numbers. 

But as I noted the other day, property tax levies have risen 59% in the past eight years.   Even with the cuts to LGA, the total amount of LGA plus levies has risen 34%. 

Inflation during the same period was 21.94%.

“But the government inflation rate is higher!” 

Well, that’s part of the problem, isn’t it?  Government is more expensive than most things – mostly due to labor.  The median government job pays much better than the median private sector job; add in benefits, and the fact that government is the most-unionized sector of the economy (thus immune to the salary contraction that we in the private sector have dealt with in recent years. and “government inflation is higher” is a key reason to cut, not raise, the amount we spend on them.

And it brings up a key question that ties into liberals and conservatives’ views on what government really is: should government be immune to hard times in the private sector?  More to the point – should the taxpayer be required to keep government immune at all costs, when they themselves are suffering in a way that government employees are not?

This will be an especially important question next year, when the current “recovery” grinds to a halt under the avalanche of new Obama administration taxes; indeed, stagnancy or a double-dip recession will likely be tied directly to the growth and voracity of government.

So not only is the complaint about inflation numbers wrong, but it completely avoids the real point; government should not be immune to hard times in the rest of the economy.  Government is not a family member that we are obligated to support; it is at best an employee.  Not much different than the millions that are getting laid off, although the worst government can expect is that they’ll get a pay cut, and it’ll be temporary, and that when things do turn around (when the grownups are in control again), they’ll bounce back just fine.

More next week.

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

There are a little over five million Minnesotans. 

About 4.3 million of them live in “cities” of widely-varying sizes and government types, from plucky Montevideo up to metropolitan Minneapolis, from conservative Mound to neo-Wobbly Duluth.

These cities have a few things in common.  They levy property taxes to pay part of their municipal bills – and many of them spent much of the past forty years laundering their spending through the state via “Local Government Aid”. 

In their approach to the next election and the run-up to this November (which, for the DFL, will almost surely be as  much a matter of running against Pawlenty as anything), the DFL is banging on the ideas that…:

  • cuts to Local Government Aid shredded budgets and gutted infrastructure throughout Minnesota, and
  • Minnesota cities need to “pay their way”.

So let’s look at how Minnesota “pays its way”, according to data from the League of Minnesota Cities.

From 2002 to 2009,. Local Government Aid to all Minnesota cities fell 15%. 

  2002 2009  Initial 2009 after Unallotment $ change % Change
Total City LGA $564,990,952 $526,141,547 $481,521,933 ($83,469,019) -15%
Total City Levy $1,060,248,330 $1,689,917,723 $1,689,917,723 $629,669,393 59%
Total LGA+Levy $1,625,239,282 $2,216,059,270 $2,171,439,656 $546,200,374 34%

 You might ask “what about the changes between 2002 and 2009?”  It’d be a fair question; while I am focusing on the big picture here – the gross movement during the Pawlenty Administrion, the fact is that LGA started at $564 million in 2002, dropped to $464 million in 2003, dipped into the $430-million range through ’05, and held in the $480-millions until 2009, when the original amount ballooned back up to $526 million, before Governor Pawlenty’s unallotment shaved it back into teh $481 million range, roughly where it’d been throughout his second term.

But check out the second line – the total property tax levies from all cities.  In every year of the Pawlenty Administration, they rose by at least $100 million. 

As a result, while total LGA was off 15%, or about $83 million, for the period (and maybe $3 since the start of Pawlenty’s second term, even with unallotment and the removal of the “Minnesota Value Homestead Credit” (in which the state stopped paying cities and counties back for a credit on taxes for high-value homes – which affected suburbs with high property values vastly more than the Big Three cities of Minneaoplis, St. Paul and Duluth – of which more in a bit.

Those numbers are for all cities.   And throughout Minnesota, hikes outstripped cuts by a factor of 7.5 to 1 (683 milion to 85 million), even after unallotment.

Now, let’s look at the Big Three – Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Duluth.

Minneapolis’ population grew by 2% during the Pawlenty years – while property tax levies rose 93% to cover a post-allotment drop of 28% in LGA payments; the city’s total revenue zoomed up 35% during the Pawlenty years.  Hikes outstripped LGA cuts by almost 4 to 1.

  2002 2009 2009 with unallotment $ change % Change
Mpls LGA $111,567,143 $88,786,411 $80,249,971 ($31,317,172) -28%
Mpls Levy $121,910,797 $235,717,416 $235,717,416 $113,806,619 93%
Total LGA+Levy $233,477,940 $324,503,827 $315,967,387 $82,489,447 35%
Mpls Population 382,446 390,131 390,131 7,685 2%

 Saint Paul didn’t fare quite as well; nearly doubling the property tax levy to its stagnant population  only compensated the 22% drop in LGA with an overall quarter hike in LGA/property tax revenue.  Hikes outstripped cuts by almost 3 to 1.

  2002 2009 2009 with unallotment $ change % Change
StP LGA $73,554,056 $62,600,018 $57,569,445 ($15,984,611) -22%
StP Levy $45,857,683 $89,254,277 $89,254,277 $43,396,594 95%
Total LGA+Levy $119,411,739 $151,854,295 $146,823,722 $27,411,983 23%
StP Population 287,260 288,055 288,055 795 0%

 Duluth’s LGA, with unallotment, dropped by one percent over the Pawlenty Administration, and supplies more of the city’s budget than the property tax levies – which rose 70% – do.  Note that while Local Government Aid was virtually unchanged even with Pawlenty’s unallotment, and the loss of MVHC revnues had little effect given the city’s depressed housing values, property taxes went from about a third of the total LGA/tax venue mix to a little less than half; the overall take rose by 15%, even though Duluth’s population shrank.

  2002 2009 2009 with unallotment $ change % Change
Duluth LGA $29,635,152 $30,730,443 $29,200,998 ($434,154) -1%
Duluth Levy $9,062,723 $15,437,590 $15,437,590 $6,374,867 70%
Total LGA+Levy $38,697,875 $46,168,033 $44,638,588 $5,940,713 15%
Duluth Population 86,125 85,220 85,220 (905) -1%

So let’s compare the state’s Big Three cities with the rest of the state.

The population of Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Duluth grew by about a percent during the Pawlenty years, while all the rest of Minnesota’s cities grew by 8% – greater than the population of Saint Paul.  The Big Three cities’ state of the state’s population shrank by 1.2%, to just under 18% – less than one in five Minnesotans:

Populat6ion 2002 2009   Gross change % Change
Big 3 Population 755,831 763,406   7,575 1%
Total city Pop 3,993,198 4,315,637   322,439 8%
Big 3 % of Pop 18.9% 17.7%      

 But how do the finances break out?

The big three, even with a 22% post-unallotment cut, get a third of the state’s Local Government Aid – double the population’s proportion of the revenues:

Big 3 LGA $214,756,351 $182,116,872 $167,020,414 ($47,735,937) -22%
All others LGA $350,234,601 $344,024,675 $314,501,519 ($35,733,082) -10%
Big 3 % of LGA 38.0% 34.6% 34.7%    

Divided up by resident, this means that residents of the Big Three get, even after the unallotment cuts, two and a half times as much Local Government Aid per-capita than the rest of the state’s cities.

  2002 2009 2009 ost unallotment Change %change
Big 3 per capita LGA $284.13 $238.56 $218.78 ($65) -23%
All others LGA per capita $10.19 $96.85 $88.54 ($20) -18%

And the Big Three’s property tax revenue hikes – 93%,  almost $164 million over the Pawlenty years – outstripped their net LGA cuts (almost $48 million) by 3.4 to 1. 

What does this mean?

The Hikes Beat The Cuts: While the DFL caterwauls endlessly about the damage the cuts in LGA did, the hikes in property taxes statewide outstripped the LGA cuts by 7.5 to 1.   Without unallotment, that would have been closer to 16 to 1.  Bear in mind that this is money that goes to government – not merely to maintain it but to grow it – as opposed to anything useful, like growing our private sector or putting your kids through college.

Pay Your Own Way?  While Local Government Aid was originally intended to subsidize smaller, poorer governments in outstate Minnesota, so that their schools and infrastructures could compete with those of the once-wealthy Twin Cities, that’s been totally stood on its head during the past generation.  Minneaopolis, Saint Paul and Duluth get 2.5 times as much Local Government Aid per capita than the state’s smaller cities.


Because the Big Three cities are basket cases after generations of unfettered DFL control.

The DFL would have you believe there’s no alternative.

We’ll look into that on Monday.