Media Lip Prints on Mark Dayton’s Butt, Part III

Yesterday and Monday, we went over the chronology of the last-minute negotiations and back-and-forth leading up to the State Government shutdown, which started seventeen months ago last night.  The abbreviated time-line:

  1. On June 29, the GOP made an offer.  It traded giving some ground on revenue for some movement on social issues.
  2. On the morning of June 30, the DFL leadership – Dayton, Senate minority leader Bakk and House minority leader Thissen – demanded $1.4 billion in new revenues.
  3. Much discussion ensued.  It ensued under the “cone of silence”; the participants really didn’t let on much about what was going on.
  4. At noonish on the 30th, Dayton – without Bakk and Thissen – made an offer that dropped most of the revenue demands, and was pretty close – almost dead-on – with the GOP’s letter.  The letter mentioned no social issues – because they were off the table at this time.
  5. More discussion.  More cone.
  6. Mid-afternoon, the Legislature sent its counteroffer, including revenue from the “school funding shift” and the tobacco bond money.  This should have settled it – and indeed, was substantially the same as the offer that Dayton finally accepted to end the shutdown.
  7. Late-afternoon, the DFL ratcheted back to their morning demands.
  8. More cone.
  9. At 10PM, the Governor essentially claimed that he was shutting down the government because the GOP had rejected the offer in 7, above, and was unwilling to compromise.

And that was that.


In the hour or so after the shutdown, the GOP Caucus released the contents of the letters that had transpired on the 29th and 30th.  The release included pages 2-4 of this document here:

All Offers

No mention of social policy in there.  it was not an issue.

So the government shut down.  DFL and media narratives aside, it was a disaster for the governor.  Government actually saved money; hardly anyone outside of government missed it; the people largely were apathetic, as the Governor learned on a tour of the state to attempt to rally support that drew nothing but dispirited SEIU goons.   He returned to the  Capitol, and returned to the GOP’s last offer.

And not long after, he gave this talk in WCCO-TV with Esme Murphy – which we’ve featured a time or two:

Dayton lied:

I was unaware on June 30, in fact I was clearly aware to the contrary, that all these social policy issues, from banning stem cell research and everything else, and just really reactionary social policy, was taken off the table.

Esme Murphy let that line pass without comment – as, in fact, she always does, as her mission seems to be to make sure DFL pols get a nice massage on the air.

But nobody else noted the contradiction; of course he was aware.

  • The GOP mentioned no policy issues in its June 30 proposal!  As we noted above, it was nearly identical to the governor’s previous offer, differing on a few fiscal tweaks!
  • His rejection of that offer mentioned no social policy issues.  Because they were off the table.
  • Read the speech he gave as the shutdown started.  Nary a peep about social issues.
No, “social issues” only came up well  the shutdown was settled.

Mark Dayton was shot down completely on the shutdown.  And yet the media have allowed him to carry on with the “social policy” canard.


If I were a cynic, you’d think it was because the media was in the bag for Dayton, and wanted to give him cover.  You’d also think the media were even more in the bag for the DFL – and chanting the governor’s version of the shutodwn is a key part of the DFL’s attempt to retake the legislature, which a good chunk of the media (at least at the management and editorial-board level) clearly wants.

And I am a cynic.

Because the alternate explanation is that the media just isn’t as smart and attentive to details as I am.

And that just beggars the imagination.

So when will the media start “fact-checking” Dayton’s story?  Or their own, for that matter?

Media Lip-Prints On Mark Dayton’s Butt, Part I

The DFL – and, more accurately, its’ big-money PR operation “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” – have been trying to repeat a couple of Big Lies often enough that, over the course of the next two years, a plurality of Minnesotans agree with them.


One of them is the myth of the “do-nothing legislature”.  But I think even the least-informed Minnesotans are starting to figure out that over the past two years, the talk, even from the DFL’s noise machine, has turned from “We have a $6.6 Billion Dollar Deficit!” to “the surplus isn’t really all that surplus-y”.

Another?  The idea that the GOP is “extreme” and “focused on social issues” – as if the party can’t fiscally walk and chew social gum at the same time.   Please, people; we’re not DFLers.

But today?  We’ll be talking about the other Big Lie; that the GOP “shut down the government”.


Next week’s election is going to have a lot to do with setting the stage for the state’s next budget battle. It’ll be a fork in the road; the GOP path, leading to prosperity, and the Mark Dayton/Tom Bakk/Paul Thissen path, leading to California, Spain and Greece.

Today and tomorrow are also the vital seventeen-month anniversaries of the key dates in the final negotiations leading to the shutdown [1].  I’m going to walk through the events leading up to the shutdown.

The inevitable conclusion is that the DFL’s line is a complete fabrication, designed only to leave the uninformed with a sound-bite to take to the polls with them.  Even Alida Messinger knows that she’ll need more than 43% in 2014.  

We’ll start the whole thing out with a Mark Dayton quote from Esme Murphy’s show. Murphy was doing her usual job – painting the toenails of DFLers on the air – when she asked the governor if he had any regrets about the shutdown:

MURPHY:  The proposal that you ended up agreeing to was basically the one that was offered up on June 30, before the shutdown.  Do you have any regrets now about not taking that proposal and trying to work that out on June 30th that would have prevented the shutdown?

DAYTON:   Well, very significant difference, I was unaware on June 30, in fact I was clearly aware to the contrary, that all these social policy issues, from banning stem cell research and everything else, and just really reactionary social policy, was taken off the table.  That just was not part of my understanding on June 30th it was a very important part of the consideration after the shutdown…

The Governor is lying.  (The governer is also borderline incoherent).

On June 29, 2011, the GOP- controlled Legislature sent Mark Dayton an offer.  Sources on Capitol Hill tell me that this proposal did involve some give and take on policy issues both fiscal and social; in exchange for compromise on revenue, the governor would give some ground on some social policy issues.

It was a negotiation.  That’s where both sides bargain their various chips with each other, to try to get the end result they want.  This, the GOP did.

In other words, the GOP Legislature did what they had been elected to do.  And given that there were some sort of tax hikes – even indirect ones – in the proposal, it was politically risky for a bunch of Republicans who’d been sent to office promising to hold the line on taxes and spending.

And so the proposals went to the governor on June 29.

The next day?

We’ll talk about that that tomorrow.

Continue reading

The Republican Surplus

Minnesota Management and Budget announced today that, notwithstanding original reports that today’s budget forecast was going to be a billion dollars light, today it was announced that the state is 876 million in the black.

Let’s be clear about something; we have this surplus because the state’s economy grew.  And it grew because Mark Dayton’s gigantistic spendthrift agenda was thwarted in the Legislature.

And the credit goes to two groups:

  1. Minnesota’s businesses, for hiring people (or at least hanging on and laying off fewer of them), keeping them working, and paying for that work.  I think it’s safe to say they did this because of the efforts of…
  2. The GOP-controlled legislature, for holding the line on the budget even as well as they did.  While – as the Strib notes – economists note we’re not out of the woods economically, especially because we are tied to the national and international macroeconomy, it could have been a lot worse.  (And with an 8,000 vote swing, it could have been a lot better, but we can’t cry over spilled milk).
Expect a couple of things in the two months before the session starts:
  • A lot of DFL gargling about how it’s not really a surplus, since it was “balanced on the backs of property taxpayers and the poor”. Call BS on that; property taxes are set by city councils and county commissions and school boards; Local Government Aid, our state’s redistribution of wealth from the parts of the state that don’t work by the parts that do, is getting reformed; cities and counties – mainly Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Duluth – are going to have to start justifying their waste with their own taxpayers, rather than laundering it through the state.  (Did you notice how the parts of the state that don’;t get LGA raised their taxes less than the parts that do?)
  • The Vultures will be coming out to feed.  Did I say “vultures?”  I meant “Vikings”.  Expect not a few Grain-Belt-addled weekend statists to say “Hey!  We got a billion bucks to spare!  Let’s build the stadium right now!”.  No.  No, a thousand times no.  Any Republican who puts Wilfare on the agenda is going to have at least one blogger slagging him and his entire anscestry until the 2012 election, and doing his best to lead a group line-dance on his or her political grave.

Let’s call this for what it is – a huge win by the Minnesota Legislative GOP Caucus, and for the Minnesota taxpayer.

Let’s make sure we Real Minnesotans spend the next 11 months making sure the rest of Minnesota understands that.

Showy, Shallow, Shrill: Your 2011 DFL Caucus!

As little as governmetn at any level does that’s of any worth, there is a certain amount of responsibility involved.

When it became apparent that there’s a chance the Fed might shut down (or at least cut back its non-debt spending), both Denise Cardinal “Governor Dayton” and Rep. Keith Downey made moves, via their various means (executive and legislative), to start planning how to manage the state without some or all of the billions of dollars in federal money that Minnesota gets.   It only made sense.

Then intellectual giants in the legislative DFL caucus got their two cents in:

The bill passed committee on April 28, but not before being mocked as a “doomsday scenario” by Representative Ryan Winkler (DFL – Golden Valley), who offered an amendment to also ask the state to plan for “asteroid collisions, nuclear war, extraterrestrial invasions, coup d’tat and natural disasters caused by global warming.” Winkler withdrew the amendment after being mocked by Republicans for not taking the issue seriously.

Winkler may or may not be much of a legislator – he’s the Eddie Haskell of the House – but he certainly has a flair for the dramatic (emphasis added, but only to mock the little fella):

“I think you know that this bill doesn’t address a situation that’s anywhere close to reality.  It’s fantasy. I’m afraid it might be a partisan fantasy to see failure on this colossal of a scale. Frankly if the federal government became insolvent I‘m not so concerned about the effect on state programs; I would be concerned about the looters who are gonna be running through our neighborhoods. You are talking about almost an Armageddon kind of situation happening in the country where the United States basically falls apart…”

In Ryan Winkler’s special little world, government makes life itself possible.

I’d love to watch a solid, sharp, conservative debating Winkler.  It would look like a butcher pounding veal with a big hammer.

As The Gun Belches Smoke

Governor Dayton engineered the shutdown, specifically to cause as much pain as possible, under the command of his various union benefactors.

Andy Post ad MDE has the smoking gun:

New communications obtained by Minnesota Democrats Exposed today offer further proof the longest and largest state government shutdown in history was plotted out between Gov. Dayton and union leaders well in advance. The decision to shutdown was very much a political calculation made by the Administration at the hands of AFSCME.

A local president sent the following letter to his members to report on the results of the AFSCME Minnesota Council 5 CPC meeting in which the results of the shutdown were discussed. Here’s some of the letter:

If you haven’t read the whole thing, you should.

And then file it all away for November of 2012, and then 2014.

The Settlement

The Legislature and the Governor passed a budget last night.


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

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

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

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


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

News on other reforms later today and/or tomorrow.

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

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

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

“The Way We Used To Do Things In Minnesota”

The Twin Cities media have largely been dutiful stenographers during the shutdown, carrying the DFL’s message pretty much verbatim while gundecking the GOP pretty consistently.

Let’s let all that slide for the moment.  We’ll come back to it, naturally.

But let’s talk for a moment about the “Old” Twin Cities media’s moldiest meme; that there was once a time when the parties just got along, and agreed to do “what was best for Minnesota”.

It’s baked wind, of course; to the extent things ever worked that way, it’s because the MNGOP used to be both extremely moderate, in the Rockefeller/Stassen mold, and also very weak, especially after Watergate.  So when the Twin Cities Old Media says “they just got along and did what was best for Minnesota”, what they mean was “they shut up and passed a “progresssive”, tax and spend agenda without a whole lot of muss and fuss”.

So let’s accept them at their word for a moment.  Let’s say that they, the old-school, dead-tree media (I’m looking at you, Lori Sturdevant and Doug Grow and Rachel Stassen-Berger) really do believe in that myth, and really think it led to “good government”.

So how does the behavior of Senate Minority (aaah) leader Tom Bakk and House Minority leader Paul Thissen fit into that meme?

The GOP and Governor Dayton had reportedly reached an agreement on June 30 – the day before the shutdown.  The shutdown that had the Twin Cities media wetting its collective pants was minutes away from being averted.  Governor Dayton had agreed to drop tax increases – any of them – from the agreement.

Problem solved?

Until Bakk and Thissen entered the picture – as related by Gary Gross at LFR, with emphasis added?

[State GOP deputy chair Michael] Brodkorb said he could confirm that Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen were in the room when Speaker Zellers and Leader Koch returned to say that they’d accept Gov. Dayton’s offer. At that time, Gov. Dayton said that he’d changed his mind and that tax increases had to be part of the final solution.

It’s important to remember that Speaker Zellers and Sen. Koch returned only 45 minutes after Gov. Dayton’s initial offer. The only thing that’d changed was that Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen weren’t in the room when Gov. Dayton made his initial offer but they were there when he’d reversed himself.

Let’s make this perfectly clear; it appears that Bakk and Thissen, after spending the entire session lighting farts in their offices (*), coming out periodically to wag their fingers on Almanac and heckle the GOP’s various plans to their various stenographers the media, did exactly one substantive thing during the entire session; scupper a settlement two weeks ago.

It’s pretty clear that they believe they could play the shutdown for their political benefit in 2012, and get that benefit on the back of state employees, contractors, the service-using public, and those that depend on the state  for whatever reason.

Brodkorb then said that “The only thing that Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen had done since the start of the session was cash paychecks. You can quote me on that.”

With pleasure.

When will the Minnesota Media raise its collective eyebrow over Bakk, Thissen and the DFL’s exploitation of this shutdown?  The region’s conservative blogs have done everything but engrave the story on the back of a “Society of Professional Journalists” award and walk the story into the Strib’s office.

It’s clear at this point that if Thissen and Bakk could tie defective strollers to the GOP, they’d both roll prams full of infants down the Capitol steps, with cameras rolling and the Strib’s editorial staff pondering with mock sincerity  “why don’t the Republicans just compromise and fight Big Stroller?”

(*) Figuratively and rhetorically speaking.  I have no idea if anyone lit a single fart, and if they did, it’s none of my business.  It’s a figure of speech implying sloth, negligence, and passive-aggressive idleness, and as such it’s richly, if disgustingly, appropriate.

And They’re Back

At around 11ish, Governor Dayton launched the special session to bang out a new state budget.

The good news;  while the MNGOP, and conservatives, are unhappy with the fact that we’re “borrowing” $1.4 Billion more than the state has in revenues (from the next biennium’s revenues), the compromise seems likely to include some things that were “hills to die on”, rhetorically speaking, for conservatives.

The big ones, for me and many other conservatives: Zero Based Budgeting and King Banaian’s Sunset Commissions; some sort of move toward Voter ID would be great as well.

It’s high time you called your legislators – both GOP and, if you live in a swing-y district, the DFL ones as well.  They need to know where the people stand; goodness knows the Unions will have their people lighting up the switchboards.


Joe Doakes of Como Park writes about the bonding bill that is one of Mark Dayton’s demands to end his shutdown.

It’s infuriating.

Naturally, the Star Trib editors praise the bonding bill, saying “Not all government borrowing is created equal.”

They’re exactly correct, of course. Sometimes government borrows money to build unnecessary buildings that benefit a tiny few; sometimes it borrows money to build public improvements that benefit hundreds of thousands. This bonding bill is almost entirely the former.

This bill is not slated to pay for a Vikings stadium – sorry, Zigi.

But some of the spending is almost as misguided:

New buildings at the U of M and St. Cloud State. Should have come from the school budget via capital funding or alumni fundraising, like any private school would have to do, not a separate state-wide funded bonding bill.

Civic center upgrades to Rochester, St. Cloud and Mankato. These are local projects to benefit local communities – they should raise the money locally, not by a state-wide funded bonding bill.

And this part:

Development of more mass transit corridors in the Twin Cities. “Corridors” reads LIGHT RAIL which benefits (if anybody), local residents, not state-wide population and therefore should be funded locally (or not at all).

And there you go.

Why shouldn’t these things be decided, and paid for, locally rather than by state and metro-wide planning bodies?

Here’s the only line in the article with which I agree:

Bonding is an appropriate and desirable practice when it allows for investment in the infrastructure and amenities that will pay economic dividends in the long run. But it’s a travesty when it’s used for short-term consumption and leaves the future bereft.

True; sadly, the editors cannot distinguish between adding lanes to 35W versus adding The Mark Dayton Wing to the Mankato Civic Center.

Is this bonding bill enough of a stinker to scuttle the budget deal? No, probably not. It’s as infuriating to see the Governor hold up the entire state for pure pork as to see the GOP go along with it. But the enemy of good is perfect, and although this deal isn’t perfect, it’s good enough for now.

Joe Doakes

Como Park

It may well be good enough – depending on the reforms that get through the process.  Reportedly, Zero-Based Budgeting and the Sunset Commission are on the bubble – which, beyond any set of financial figures, are the big goals of this legislature for conservatives.

Mark Yer Scorecards

As we kick off the special session sometime this week, probably, Gary Gross at LFR tallies up winners and losers from the regular session.

Business?  They get a draw:

Minnesota businesses still pay too high an income tax but at least it isn’t getting worse. With this settled for at least another 2 years, businesses can breath a sigh of relief.

Gary counts coup for the legislative freshmen, and a few upperclasspeople who just plain got the message:

Steve Gottwalt and Dave Thompson emerged as the next generation of GOP leaders thanks to Sen. Thompson’s stout-hearted defense of conservative principles and Rep. Gottwalt’s seizing the moment to push Gov. Dayton into settling the shutdown. These gentlemen deserve high praise for being great spokesters/legislators for conservative principles.

King Banaian and Keith Downey are winners because they stood their ground on important reforms to state government’s makeup and King’s priority-based budgeting reform of the budgeting process. These gentlemen have proposed legislation that would change how government operates and how it spends money. These aren’t tiny considerations.

I’m looking – and I’m saying this out of hope as much as expectation – to the Freshmen to take great advantage of the out-year session.  I think by the time this budget deal is done, the GOP stock is going to be a strong “buy and hold”.  Yes, I’m biased; with good reason, I think.

And I’m with Gary here:

Speaker Zellers and Leader Koch deserve credit for keep the troops unified. It wasn’t difficult picturing scenarios where moderates could abandon the GOP on this or that vote. That they didn’t is a testimony to their whip operations and their leadership.

Koch and Zellers were at the business end of a regional media that, when they could be bothered to report at all, were hostile to the point of scandalousness, but for the fact that that same media also decides on what is or is not a “scandal” outside the wonk class.  And Gary’s right; they held the caucus together.  To be fair to previous GOP leaders, more of this class was in St. Paul on a mission than some of the previous classes.  To be realistic, pressure is pressure.

The biggest loser was Gov. Dayton. He lost on his signature issue. Initially, Gov. Dayton wanted to raise taxes on the rich. After getting defeated on that, he tried settling for shaking down whoever he could shake down. Both attempts were defeated.

That’s the crux, so far, as we head into the special session; while the GOP didn’t get a perfect 100 – I’d say 75 – an honest appraisal of Dayton as of last Friday had to say “20” to you.

You know the DFL is reeling; it was the height of cynicism to see the DFL’s minions in the media demanding compromise on Wednesday, and on Friday saying that the GOP giving the governor his putative spending figure was “borrow-and-spend”.

Further proof that “compromising” with the DFL is always a lousy idea.

Shutdownapacalypse: Lessons Learned

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

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

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

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

“It’s teh GOP’s budjet!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…or some combination of the two.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

I Give It A 75

I sorta spiked the ball in the endzone yesterday with the news that Gov. Dayton had, more or less, accepted the GOP’s budget deal.

Was I premature?  Of course.  But as I noted yesterday, even if they call the play back,  spiking the ball is fun.  And what the heck – I was happy, and there’s nothing libs hate more than unsanctioned happiness.

The deal – accepting the GOP’s budget, in exchange for an eduction budget shift (a bit of accounting flummery), $500 million in bonding, and backing off Keith Downey’s “15 by 15” plan to reduce the state workforce by 15% by 2015, and of the “social bills” – everything from stem cell research restrictions to Voter ID.

Dayton did not get his big goal – a tax hike to chastize entrepreneurs.  He got his “compromise” budget number, sort of – by using the shift, not via his pride and joy, the highest income tax rate in the nation.

Gary Gross over at LFR notes:

I don’t have a problem with the removal of the so-called social issues from the budget bill. There’s plenty of time to debate those issues. I’m ok with removing Keith Downey’s 15 by 15 reform with one condition: that Rep. King Banaian’s HF2 priority-based budget reform legislation, including his Sunset Commission provision, be part of the final package.

That’s the money line right there; beyond making government “live within its means” – which the GOP did, albeit not as far within its means as I’d like – we need to get budget reforms out of this session.

Getting serious, significant budget reforms out of this session has got to be the deal-breaker.   I’m hoping our legislative freshmen come back for the special session loaded for bear.

So Here’s A Question For All You Regulatory Types Out There

As part of its passive-aggressive, “let the peasants feel the pain” approach to the shutdown, the Dayton Administration shut down all of the state’s publicly-visible databases.

Including that of the Campaign Finance Board.  I know this, because whenever the Strib tries to pass some businessman or private citizen off as a “non-partisan” commentator on politics, a quick glance at the CFB usually shows that they are committed DFLers.

We can’t do that now.

Now, since most of Dayton’s campaign money, including the campaign to justify the shutdown – and make no mistake, it is a campaign, being paid for by liberals with deep pockets, like Alita Messinger and the rest of the Dayton family – is being paid for by what amount to campaign contributions, and those that “regulate”, or at least transcribe, these contributions are out of the office (or at least not maintaining databases), doesn’t that give Democrat groups ample chance to…

…well, cheat?

I mean, how would we know?


Dayton has agreed to the GOP budget:

Gov. Mark Dayton said Thursday morning that he is willing to accept Republicans’ June 30 budget offer, which would close a $1.4 billion budget difference by delaying payment of school funds and borrowing against the state’s tobacco settlement.

“This is the only viable option that’s potentially available,” Dayton said.

It’s not a complete, 1940-NFL-Champtionship-style blowout – I think we started negotiations too high, and may have handed Dayton a propaganda point on the school shift, yet again.  And not getting VoterID and King Banaian’s Sunset Clause – those hurt.

But let’s focus on the big picture here.   We held the line on new taxes.  The line is drawn in the sand; government will live within its means, even if “its means” have been stretched more than conservatives want.   With redistricting coming up, it’ll be a good message to take back to the voters.   And nobody had to do without their Miller and Coors.

Kudos to the legislative freshmen class!  I can’t imagine this sort of outcome happening with the MNGOP of ten years ago.  Salut!

More later.

The next order of business, of course?  Press this win onward.  Dayton’s down (in a gauzy-focused, politically-sanded-off kind of way); we have to keep kicking.

UPDATE:  Was I too exuberant?  Perhaps, but I’m not apologizing, since it’s fun to spike the ball even if the play gets called back.  Friends of mine in conservative political circles say yes, Dayton’s conditions are too onerous, and the deal is DOA.

So hang in there, folks.

More tomorrow.

When Passive-Aggression Collides With Alcoholism

The local media – who have mostly been serving as stenographers for Governor Dayton so far in this shutdown – have finally found the human interest story they needed.

There’s good news and bad news:

The state shutdown means Miller-Coors will have to stop selling beer in Minnesota.

State officials have told the company, it must come up with a plan to remove it’s 39 brands of beer from shelves and in bars in a matter of days.

Lack of Miller and Coors products will be a good thing for the regional beer scene.  But this isn’t about taste – this is about Governor Dayton’s passive-aggressive tactics hitting some Minnesotans where they live; in their alcoholic hazes.

The company failed to renew it’s brand license with the state before the shutdown. Each alcohol brand needs to pay a 30 dollar brand license fee. That fee is good for 3 years.

Actually, a TV news story notes that Miller claims to have sent the check for the renewal.   Miller Brewing’s brand license renewal fees were apparently not processed before the government shutdown – which is well in line with the Dayton Administration’s passive-aggressive approach to this entire fracas.

Without the license, Miller-Coors cannot sell in the state.

And there’s your human interest angle right there.  The TV stations have been trooping into the bars, interviewing a Cantina Band full of sodden souses to grumble “Itsh time for the gummamunt to get itsh jerb done!”, and in one case, a puffy fiftysomething north-woods gretel to shriek “You people need to GROW UP and COMPROMISE!”.

The pieces – clearly aimed at  the legislature, rather than the Governor – underscore a key fact of Minnesota political life; so much of it is focused on people who are hammered when they make their voting decisions.

The Dayton Dustbowl: The Gucci Marionette

People ask “why is Dayton squiggling so hard to avoid any form of negotiation with the GOP?  He’s clearly beaten; public opinion largely opposes his “all taxes” approach to the deficit, and the GOP isn’t getting browbeaten into submission anymore?”

It makes no sense, if you assume that Mark Dayton is making any kind of decision at all.

So it only makes sense that he’s not making the decisions.

Mark Dayton is a marionette.

Think about it.

He’s A Rental: Mark Dayton had less to do with his own election than any governor in Minnesota history.  He owes his election to four things:

  1. An immense infusion of cash from the unions, and liberals with deep pockets, including himself and his family, which funded…
  2. …the most toxic, sleazy disinformation campaign in the history of Minnesota politics, which outspent the Emmer campaign by a minimum of 3:1 and foisted upon Minnesotans a drumbeat of half-truths, untruths or thirty-year-old, context-deprived twaddle about Emmer, which combined with…
  3. …a suddenly deeply-incurious media that couldn’t bring itself to write about Dayton’s record in the Senate, much less his known issues with alcohol abuse and mental illness, which meant that…
  4. …the 43% of Minnesota voters who don’t think very critically about politics didn’t have any of their assumptions challenged.

Let’s face it; Dayton is less a governor than a delivery man for an agenda set by the special interests that helped him into office; the public employees unions, deep-pocketed liberal plutocrats, and the non-profits that feed off the entitlement culture.

And like Dayton, those stakeholders know that…

Progressivism Desperately Needs A Win: It’s been a horrible year for big institutional progressivism.  The Tea Party tsunami in 2010 has rocked “progressive” government in former strongholds like Ohio, New Jersey, Michigan, and even New York and California, where the likes of Andrew Cuomo and Jerry Brown have become spending hawks all of a sudden.   And Wisconsin – the home of LaFollette, the buckle in the public employee union belt – was a gut-shot for progressives.  If the progressives’ “support government at all cost” creed can crumble in New York, California and Wisconsin, where is it safe?

Which is why…

Minnesota Is Progressivism’s Last Stand: The prognosis for progressivism isn’t good.  Sure, the GOP suffered setbacks in 2006 and 2008 – precisely because the Bush Administration and its attendant GOP caucuses didn’t act like a conservative government.  The economy is making progressive entitlement programs unsustainable – and, even moreso, undercutting the idea that they must be sustained at the cost of the viability of the sector that pays the taxes.  The conservative parts of the country are growing; the liberal ones are largely shrinking.  And with even the biggest showcases of “progressivism” defecting from the gospel, “progressivism’s” big stakeholders – unions, non-profits, plutocrats and the like – are faced with a stark reality; they need a win to stanch the bleeding.

Those stakeholders put him in office.  They will get their money’s worth.

And as the Administration itself telegraphed weeks ago, they don’t care who they hurt to get it.  Government employees?  Entitlement recipients?  Consumers of “services” like jobs at Canterbury?  All just eggs to be broken for the greater omelet.

So are you a citizen, or are you an egg?

Chanting Points Memo: On Behalf Of All Conservatives…

…let me answer the standard-issue DFL chanting point that you read on virtually ever tweet, ad and TV ad the DFL puts out:

“The Republicans want to (do horrible things) to protect millionaires”.

Let’s settle this.

None of us gives a rat’s ass about millionaires.  Bupkes.  Zip.  Nada.

It’s about reforming government.

It’s about stopping the DFL’s spending crazy train.

It’s about making all of those safety net entitlement programs for the elderly and children and unemployed and mentally ill sustainable for the long term. as opposed to the current fiscal time bombs they are.

It’s about making sure that public employees actually have pensions to retire on in thirty years.

It’s about having a state where we don’t have a perennial budget crisis, because the state lives solidly within and below its means – and it’s just fine, because the state is so prosperous its’ “means” are pretty darn formidable.

We oppose government sucking up any more of this state’s viability than it really needs – and by “needs”, I don’t mean “wants”, “covets” or “craves”.   That means taxes on millionaires and the poor – including the DFL’s screechingly regressive gas and cigarette taxes.

The Big “L”

In 1994, disgusted by the GOP’s cave-in to the Clinton Administration on the 1994 Crime Bill, I ditched the GOP and went over to the Libertarian Party.

Michael Medved’s ridicule aside, it was a great experience.  I learned a lot about how politics does, and doesn’t, work.  Part of the learning was from being a Libertarian – I read a lot.  Part of it was from becoming active in the first place; when I noticed that, for whatever reason, people weren’t rushing to the Libertarian Party with me, I got to learning a little about how the mechanics of government actually worked.

Which led to me leaving the Libertarian Party in 1998.  I figured that I had a choice; be an absolute Libertarian purist, and think big Libertarian thoughts and never, ever have an actual direct effect on how government, taxation, spending and the machinery of how government affects us really works (other than by siphoning voters out of the two party system, which is a little like trying to stop a NASCAR race by stealing gasoline from SuperAmerica), or get back into the political party that was the least un-friendly to my beliefs.

Which was, and remains, the MNGOP which, imperfect as it is, at least puts liberty on its short list of things to pay serious lip service to (and that’s looking at it at my most cynical; there is a crop of freshman legislators who do, I think, get it).    I’m a proud member of the libertarian conservative wing of the Minnesota GOP.

Still, there’s a Big-L Libertarian Party out there.  And the state shutdown is hog heaven for them:

Less government is good government, as far as Tylor Slinger is concerned.

As a member of the executive board of the Libertarian Party of Minnesota, the resident of St. Paul’s Highland Park sees benefits in the state government shutdown.

In Slinger’s eyes, this isn’t “tea party” radicalism or anarchist rhetoric.

And it’s there we see the reporter’s (Frederic Melo) bias or, maybe, just plain ignorance.  The Tea Party is inextricable from libertarianism; in a Venn diagram of conservative/libertarian political thought, the Tea Party tucked in where the “libertarian” and “conservative” rings overlap.  The “radical” bit is pure editorializing – although to many in the Minnesota establishment, the idea of cutting spending, “services” and taxes is distilled radicalism itself.

“We think that the shutdown clearly illustrates how centralizing political power to an elite group places the rest of us at their mercy,” said Slinger, 24, who works as a communications specialist at a bank. Slinger is also running for a St. Paul City Council seat.

“While people’s immediate reaction will likely be based on … their daily reliance on governmental services, the longer the shutdown lasts, the more opportunities each individual will have to find more reliable alternatives.”

Slinger has the big picture points exactly right, of course – hey, I did say I was a libertarian-conservative, right?   Government entitlements do exist to perpetuate themselves; bureaucrats have no less well-developed a sense of self-preservation than the rest of us.

With more than 20,000 state employees suddenly finding themselves out of work, such statements have made the Libertarian Party few friends in Minnesota and, at best, uneasy allies on the national stage.

Which is a tautology; state government workers are (hypothetically) angry at a party that opposes the idea of excessive state workers.  Notify the media…

…well, OK.  Melo is the media.

Melo does bother to note the same conflict many of us who navigate the border between Conservatism and Libertarianism run across:

Unlike Slinger, Amy Brugh, a public policy director with the Minnesota AIDS Project in Minneapolis, sees no benefit to a shutdown whatsoever. Her largely state- and federally funded programs are assets to taxpayers, she said, not hindrances.

As a result of the shutdown, “47 of our 57 employees are either laid off full time or reduced time without benefits,” Brugh said. “It means that three of our programs are completely closed down, so clients won’t have access to their case managers, or to transportation to get them to medical appointments or to the pharmacy, or for benefits counseling.”

Those include specialized services that an AIDS patient can’t just lean on friends and family for, Brugh said. And without the right care, each one of those clients could end up in an emergency room, with taxpayers footing the lion’s share of the bill.

“A Libertarian not wanting to pay tax dollars should actually be in favor of our programs,” Brugh said.

And again with the tautologies; in this case, “government runs Ms. Brugh’s program because government has always run Ms. Brugh’s program”.

It’s one of those historical “what ifs” that people of libertarian bent run through their heads; what if, say, the AIDS epidemic had broken out in a society that had never undergone the New Deal, the immense socialization that accompanied World War II, the Great Society, Medicare Part D and Obamacare?  What if American society had developed through the 20th century without the underlying assumption that the federal government was there to do anything but defend the borders, sign treaties, adjudicate disputes and enforce contracts?  If society had developed without the “ideal” of having its social needs taken care of by government – and it had been able to turn the output of its stunning prosperity to private rather than public charity, the way it always had?

It’s an intellectual parlor game,of course –  because the Libertarians are right about one thing; government has made our society dependent on itself.

And as De Tocqueville warned, it may not be possible to unravel that dependence.

Mission accomplished, big government!

The question those of us on the Center-Right keep asking – is it possible to have government, but only just the right amount?

I Shall Form…A Commission!

I hereby announce the formation of a budget resolution commission.  We shall present recommendations to Governor Dayton and the Legislature to help resolve the budget crisis.

I’d like to note that this commission is better than bi-partisan – it’s tri-partisan!   Beyond that, it actually contains a majority of DFLers.

It includes representatives from the world of alt-media, academia, and politics.

From politics:

  • Phil Krinkie, former Republican legislator and current head of the Taxpayers League.
  • Vin Weber, former GOP 2nd District US Congressman.
  • Randy Kelly, former DFL mayor of Saint Paul.
  • Norm Coleman, former DFL mayor of Saint Paul.

From academia,

  • King Banaian, former Libertarian Party member, noted economist.
  • David Strom, former MNSCU instructor, former liberal Democrat.

From the Alternative Media:

  • John Hinderaker, blogger for Powerline, former liberal, and noted lawyer.
  • Jeff Rosenberg – liberal blogger from some blog or another.

This commision should be immune from criticism on the grounds of being “extremist conservative”; as noted, most of the members are liberals!

And the commission has issued its report a day ahead of the Carlson/Mondale commission!  The report calls for…:

  1. A $27 Billion budget that trims spending back to pre-recession levels.
  2. Abolition of several state bureaucracies – the Departments of Education, Development and Economic Development, Human Rights, Housing Finance, Iron Range Resources and Development, the Met Council and the Metro Sports Facilities Commission will be abolished forthwith.  Also, the Sunset Bill (HF2 in the previous legislature) will be adopted in toto, but with all time-times cut in half.
  3. Immediate State Hiring Freeze – the state has plenty of workers.
  4. Working toward privatizing public schools by 2015.
  5. Immediate radical cuts in business taxes, including an immediate two week sales tax holiday and a Business Tax Lottery granting one lucky Minnesota business a complete one-quarter exemption from business income taxes every month.

These recommendations – which, we hasted to remind you, were developed by a commission made up mostly of liberals – are of such obvious common sense that we recommend Governor Dayton adopt them immediately, in the interest of bipartisanship.

Because we’re bipartisan!

Carlson And Mondale: Marinading In Hypocrisy

I just finished watching former governor – as in, “not the governor anymore” – Arne Carlson on Channel 11’s morning show.  The former – as in, “hasn’t been elected in 17 years” – governor was promoting his “independent” budget commission.

I didn’t hear much; I was too busy yelling at the TV.  Having that smug, sanctimonous fop back on the TV still makes my wallet hurt.

But I do recall that his little spiel was clogged with references to “the way we used to do things in Minnesota”; code for “parties working together”.  As in “cooperation among elected officials, with no “extremists” hijacking the process to their ends”.

So what do we have here in Minnesota?

A legislative branch whose overwhelming majority agrees on a budget is being held up…

…by the Governor.

Is that the sort of “cooperation” that Carlson is talking about?

Or are his scruples purely partisan?

Where This Is All Leading

Joe Doakes from Como Park writes:

Governor Dayton wants another $2 billion, supposedly paid for by the richest 2%.

Nonsense, never happen.

The rich are rich, they’re not stupid. They won’t voluntarily hand over an extra $2 billion – they’ll hire tax lawyers and CPAs to hide their money. Worst case, the rich will move out of state and take their businesses with them.

How many of those rich people live within easy driving distance of Wisconsin, with its tax-cutting administration?

So if the Governor gets his way there won’t be any extra tax revenue but we already will have spent the money. How will we pay for it?

If the rich won’t pay, and the poor can’t pay, who will pay? You know who.

That’s been the fact all along; since taxes on “the rich” never generate what the politicians think they will, but spending always meets projections, the taxes will inevitably filter down to the middle class.


There are 5 million people in Minnesota. There are about 2 million tax returns filed but nearly half of them pay no tax at all (they only file to get a refund) and of the rest, a bunch are “married filing jointly” in which there basically is one earner. There are probably 1 million actual middle-class taxpayers in Minnesota.

$2 billion is 2,000 million. That’s two thousand dollars per taxpayer. Your taxes will go up $2,000 per year, call it $160 per month or $40 per week. A dollar an hour more taxes.

Mark Dayton shut down the entire state government, holding everyone hostage, for a dollar-an-hour pay cut.

But let’s be honest; if Dayton gets his way, this is just the beginning.  The auto-pilot increases will continue; it’ll be another six billion dollar “deficit” in 2013; the “rich” will have been tapped out (or left); there’s another buck or two or three an hour.

What’s that you say, it’s not a pay cut? Hey, if your paycheck is smaller by a dollar-an-hour, does it matter whether your boss cut your pay or the government took more taxes? Either way, you’re skipping one tankful of gas, skipping one restaurant meal with your family, skipping one grocery shopping trip, skipping $40 every week for the rest of your life.

Maybe the Governor truly believes we’ll be happy to pay for a better Minnesota. Maybe he thinks his union buddies are clamoring for a pay cut. “Me! Me! Pick me! I want my taxes raised. I want less money in my pocket. Raise my taxes, please!” Personally, I have not heard one single Minnesotan demanding to pay more in taxes out of their own pockets. Raise taxes on other people – sure; but not on me. It’s easy to spend other people’s money. But when it’s your own? Not so much.

But that, of course, has been behind the DFL’s house of political cards for the past forty years – forcing other people to pay for your goodies.

The Governor is holding hostage every citizen in this state, until we accept a dollar-an-hour pay cut.

A dollar-an-hour pay cut.

On top of the cut Obama’s going to give you.

How many of you are “happy to pay?”

The Dayton Dustbowl: The “Political Stunt”

The Minnesota Legislative GOP, in the waning hours last Thursday before the shutdown, introduced a “lights-on” bill – a bill that would provide a couple of weeks of short-term funding to keep state services going to those who need them, and are genuinely dependent on the state.

Governor Dayton dismissed the bill as a “stunt”.

Here’s Governor Dayton, not “stunting”:

At the Alexandra House, a women’s shelter in Blaine that depends on state money, executive director Connie Moore has begun spending the shelter’s savings to keep the doors open. The desperate move won’t buy much time.

“We’re gambling right now,” Moore said. “If we don’t get reimbursed, the impact will be long-lived.”

The GOP’s “stunt” would have kept Alexandra House operating and solvent.

Governor Dayton tossed that aside to protect…AFSCME’s ability to retire at 55 with full taxpayer support?

In St. Paul, Rhonda Nelson, who is deaf and blnd, just lost her eyes and ears to the world. The aide who helps her go grocery shopping, to doctor’s appointments, to the post office and other appointments has been deemed non-essential in the state government shutdown.

For someone who already spends most of her days in dark silence, losing the service is heartbreaking. “I’m basically stuck at home,” said Nelson, 65, a former disabilities educator from St. Paul, speaking through an interpreter.

The GOP’s “stunt” would have kept Ms. Nelson’s eyes and ears, as it were, functioning.

Dayton sacrificed Ms. Nelson’s eyes and ears to…what?  Chastise entrepreneurs.

Programs that help get families out of homeless shelters, allow single parents to stay in the workforce, provide safe havens for battered women and allow those with disabilities to enjoy everyday life have suddenly lost funding and are teetering on the edge of closure.

The GOP’s “stunt” would have fixed that, while the negotiations continued.

Dayton couldn’t have that.