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When Donald Trump gets behind the microphone, he’s all headlines. In case his supporters haven’t noticed, and apparently they haven’t, Trump briefly touches on that day’s headlines, then starts talking about how fabulous he is, followed by a recitation of how well he’s doing in the polls. After that, he’ll rip into one of his opponents.

Those aren’t qualifications to be the next president. Admittedly, they’re what seems to be working in the minds of his mindless supporters. Still, the American people shouldn’t settle for Trump’s schtick. To steal an oft-repeated line from Gov. Christie (may he rest in peace), touching on that day’s headlines, ripping a political opponent and telling the world how great you are won’t solve the problems that the United States faces.

It won’t grow the economy. It won’t defeat ISIS. It won’t get Putin to back down. Trump’s ‘solution’ to everything seems to be ‘I’m fabulous. Trust me. I’ll get back to you with the details after the election.’

Why would a thinking person trust someone with that apparent lack of qualifications? That’s before talking about Mr. Trump’s penchant for lawlessness, which I’ve written about here, here and here. It seems as though Trump loves bribing veterans organizations with contributions from his foundation to appear at his political rallies. This is illegal because his foundation is a 501(c)(3). The veterans organizations are 501(c)(3)s too. They’re prohibited from participating in any sort of political activities.

The next commander-in-chief needs to be a man of character. Trump fails that test almost as badly as Hillary Clinton. It’s time for the voters to get serious. To steal another of Gov. Christie’s lines, we aren’t electing a high school class president. We’re electing the president of the United States.

Republicans are rejoicing at the fact that they flipped the House seat that Ann Lenczewski held the past 16 years. She’s leaving the legislature to be a lobbyist in Washington, DC.

According to Rachel Stassen-Berger, “Republican Chad Anderson will take the Minnesota House seat long held by DFL Rep. Ann Lenczewski. With all the precincts tallied in the special election to replace Lenczewski, Anderson netted 51 percent to DFL Bloomington City Council member Andrew Carlson’s 49 percent. The win gives Republicans, who are already in the House majority, an extra legislative vote this year and a key boost of confidence before November’s election, when the entire Legislature is up for election.”

Lenczewski never met a tax increase she didn’t like. As chair of the House Taxes Committee, Rep. Lenczewski even tried eliminating the charitable giving and home mortgage interest deductions in 2009. Those proposals were part of her attempt at “tax reform.”

Lenczewski said she wants to clean up the state’s tax code. “Which is to sweep the tax code clean of all of the preferential treatment and subsidies and things we can’t afford anymore and instead bring a fairer, more progressive income tax to Minnesotans based on the ability to pay,” she said.

Good riddance. Anyone that thinks eliminating the home mortgage interest and charitable giving deductions are “preferential treatment that we can’t anymore” isn’t listening to her constituents. Thankfully, the constituents of HD-50B will now have someone that listens to them.

Steve Hayes’ tweet about Donald Trump’s interview is frightening. According to Hayes, Trump told Fox’s Martha Maccallum that “he’ll get Russia to takeover much of the campaign against ISIS b/c of better relations w/Putin.” Trump’s ego is frightening. He actually thinks that Putin cares about ISIS. That’s delusional. Why would anyone be stupid enough to trust our national security to Putin? And yes, stupid is the right word.

Putin’s interest in that part of the world is to protect its satellites, Iran and Syria. ISIS isn’t something that the Russians worry about. The next commander-in-chief needs to be able to analyze situations in the Middle East. Trump hasn’t shown anything remotely resembling that type of ability.

Trump’s organization is confused at best. Trump’s analysis of the Middle East is delusional. That’s worthy of a vote for him? I don’t think so.

After Saturday night’s GOP debate, everyone is harping on the need to elect experienced leaders who have a steady hand in times of crisis. That’s essentially the pitch being made by the Establishment candidates. Earlier tonight, I wrote this article to highlight how insignificant experience is if you don’t share the right principles. Why would a constitutional conservative think about voting for Jeb Bush hours after he told CNN’s Dana Bash that he’d like to undo the Citizens United v. the FEC ruling?

The simple answer is they wouldn’t. That’s enough to disqualify Jeb from becoming the GOP nominee. That isn’t the only boneheaded thing he’s done lately, though. Rather than running the joyous campaign he promised when he got in, instead, he attacked almost everyone in the race. The only candidate he didn’t disparage is Gov. Christie.

Gov. Bush asked “We have the front-running candidate, it’s all about him,” Mr. Bush said. “And the two other gifted candidates, they’ve never had a chance to lead. Maybe they can do it, but why would we risk it?” The answer is simple. I don’t put much value on experienced people who think the Bill of Rights is antiquated. Freedom of speech isn’t granted by the government, Gov. Bush. It’s a right given to us by “Nature’s God.” In short, get your grubby progressive mitts off my right to criticize politicians.

Apparently, Gov. Bush didn’t learn that constitutional republics are messy things. They’re that way intentionally. The Founding Fathers didn’t want ‘efficient government’. Dictatorships are efficient but they don’t exactly listen to the people. Mob rule democracies aren’t significantly better. Mobs have a habit of not listening to thoughtful people in the minority. For examples of this, check out Pelosi’s iron-fisted rule of the House in 2009-2010 when shoving Obamacare down our throats.

One of the reasons why Constitution-loving conservatives have rejected the Establishment candidates is because the Establishment candidates don’t properly respect the Constitution. Jeb Bush just reminded us that he doesn’t respect the Constitution.

Let’s hope our friends in South Carolina give him the beating he deserves for abandoning the Constitution.

Some GOP senators want Jeb Bush’s super PACs to stop attacking Sen. Rubio with their ads. Sen. Orrin Hatch said “I would rather have any leadership PAC support the person they were formed to support, not by running down others. I would not do that. I’d tell them to do things that support Jeb.” Sen. Pat Roberts put it more succinctly, saying “I agree with Orrin. I don’t think it’s working for Jeb. I certainly don’t think it’s working for the best course of action that [Speaker] Paul Ryan [R-Wis.] talked about for the party to be successful.”

Saying that Jeb’s ads aren’t working is understatement. Right to Rise has spent $20,000,000 attacking Sen. Rubio. Sen. Rubio is more popular now than he was when R2R started attacking Sen. Rubio. That’s because the ads are terrible. Whatever the management of R2R is getting paid, it’s too much. They should be sued for advertising malpractice. They’re that unimaginative. They’re that forgettable.

Still, it’s Jeb’s right to run a pathetic campaign and look out of touch with voters. If only coherent, in-touch candidates could run, Chris Christie would have to return to being a governor instead of playing a spoiled brat in New Hampshire.

Reid Epstein’s article on Sen. Cruz isn’t a flattering portrayal of Sen. Cruz. Frankly, Sen. Cruz’s statements sound whiny and jealous. When Sen. Cruz said “I understand that in the media newsrooms and in the Washington establishment circles, Marco is the chosen one”, it came across as if Sen. Cruz is jealous that Sen. Rubio is getting glowing attention from reporters. At some point, Sen. Cruz should examine why he isn’t getting positive coverage in the press.

It isn’t a secret that Sen. Cruz loves bragging that he isn’t liked by “the Washington cartel.” He wears like it’s a badge of honor. If Sen. Cruz wanted more positive coverage, it might help to not wear his disdain on his sleeve.

That isn’t to say that Sen. Cruz should thirst for the MSM’s approval. Conservatives shouldn’t want that. There’s a difference in degrees, though, between wanting fair coverage and wanting the MSM’s approval.

Launching into bitter-sounding diatribes won’t improve Sen. Cruz’s image with voters. Already, Sen. Rubio is reaching out to the entire Republican Party, something that Sen. Cruz should’ve already started. Instead, Sen. Cruz did this:

Later, inside the packed bar while a repeat of Wednesday night’s hockey games played on the flat-screen TVs, Mr. Cruz launched into another tirade against Mr. Rubio, seeking to cast doubt on the Florida senator’s argument he’s the most electable in the GOP field.

“The media adores him,” Mr. Cruz said. “These are the same people who told us Bob Dole was the electable one, that told us John McCain was the electable one, that told us Mitt Romney was the electable one. You’re always the electable one until you win the nomination, and then you cannot possibly win the election.”

First, comparing Sen. Rubio to Dole, McCain and Romney is like comparing Cadillac Escalades with a Prius. While they’re both vehicles, that’s where the similarities end. Rush Limbaugh never said that Dole, McCain or Romney was “a legitimate, full-throated conservative.”

What’s worse is that Sen. Cruz’s unscripted complaining diminishes him. Rather than being bitter, Sen. Cruz should work on not being as antagonistic as he’s been thus far this campaign.

The reason why the press likes Sen. Rubio is because he’s actually an interesting, positive person. What person, whether they’re a member of the media or not, doesn’t appreciate listening to calm-tempered people over bitter-sounding people?

Rather than complaining about Sen. Rubio, Sen. Cruz should try changing his approach towards the media. Loosen up a little. Don’t be an antagonist. It might help.

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A super PAC announced tonight that they’re hitting Donald Trump with some hard-hitting ads featuring Sen. McCain. When I read the part about Sen. McCain, I was skeptical. After reading the Our Principles super PAC probably shift strategy “to remind voters in New Hampshire about the disgraceful things that he said about John McCain”, it makes sense. Katie Packer, who was Mitt Romney’s deputy campaign manager in 2012, is now “the leader of Our Principles PAC.” She noted that “McCain has long and deep ties to New Hampshire” because “he’s considered to be a war hero.”

The great thing about Our Principles PAC is that it doesn’t attack Trump. It simply uses Trump’s own words against him. With Mr. Trump stagnating in New Hampshire and Sen. Rubio rising fast, this round of advertising couldn’t be better timed. Saying that the race is fluid is understatement. That doesn’t mean that Trump’s support will crater. I’m just saying that with 40+ percent of voters either undecided or willing to change their votes, Trump’s victory-in-waiting isn’t a certainty. It’s a likelihood but it isn’t a certainty.

Packer sees Trump as wounded, saying “He was getting a lot of great publicity because of this air of inevitability and that nothing could take him down. [But] we started seeing his negatives go up considerably almost immediately after we went up in the air and started dropping mail.”

That air of invincibility is disappearing. It isn’t entirely gone but Trump’s act is getting boring. The cable networks aren’t falling over themselves to have him on like they did a month ago. TYhis isn’t good news for Trump:

“We have a little bit more time in South Carolina, which is nice, so we will be able to hit with more content,” Packer said. “You can expect to see some more delving into his business stuff as we move into South Carolina. Because we have more time to put more lead on the target.”

South Carolina is a rough-and-tumble primary. Mr. Trump will have lots of incoming in the days before the First in the South primary. It isn’t a state that’s a good fit for him. (Before I get the emails, yes, I know he’s leading there by a gazillion points. That will change before the New Hampshire Primary and it’ll change even more after the First in the Nation Primary.)

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Last year, Gov. Dayton signed a bill into law that expands “the options counties have for their audits to save local governments and taxpayers money, as well as expedite the audit process.” This afternoon, the AP is reporting that Gov. Dayton “supports his state auditor’s lawsuit” challenging the law he just signed, saying that “the measure passed last year was an unwise breach into Otto’s constitutional duties.”

I can’t wait to hear Gov. Dayton explain which part of the state Constitution the new law violates. There are 14 articles in Minnesota’s Constitution. The articles relating to the different branches of government are Article IV, which deals with the Legislative department, Article V, which deals with the Executive department and Article VI, which deals with the Judiciary. Article V is the article that deals with the Office of State Auditor. There are 7 sections in Article V. Section 1 deals with “Executive officers.” Article V, Sec. 1 states “The executive department consists of a governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor, and attorney general, who shall be chosen by the electors of the state. The governor and lieutenant governor shall be chosen jointly by a single vote applying to both offices in a manner prescribed by law. [Amended, November 3, 1998]”

Section 2 deals with “term of governor and lieutenant governor; qualifications”. Section 3 deals with the “powers and duties of governor”. Section 4 deals with the “terms and salaries of executive officers”. Nowhere in Article V, Section 1 does it say how often audits have to be done, who is authorized to audit local units of government or whether the state auditor must be a CPA. Each of those specifics is defined by Minnesota state statutes.

As I said earlier, Otto’s audit doesn’t rise to the level of frivolous. Otto’s lawsuit is likely based on the fact that she’s fighting to preserve public employee union (PEU) jobs. The minute that counties and other local units of government can get their audits done faster and cheaper, the PEUs will be tossed aside like scrap metal. I don’t have documentation that AFSCME or MAPE or whichever union represents the people working in the Office of State Auditor, aka OSA, is pressuring Gov. Dayton and Ms. Otto but it’s the only explanation that makes sense.

Why else would Otto care whether she’s doing the audit or whether a private CPA is auditing a city or school district?

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Chris Stirewalt writes in this article that Donald Trump is intent on re-litigating the results of the Iowa Caucuses. Stirewalt’s conclusion is that “if [Mr. Trump] doesn’t stop re-litigating Iowa, he could find that his next bunch of sour grapes will be of the Concord variety.”

Meanwhile, Rick Tyler has let himself get trapped inside the MSM’s echochamber. He’s fighting a war of words with Anderson Cooper instead of getting Sen. Cruz’s message out. There’s just 5 days left until the New Hampshire primary and Tyler is fighting the last state’s fight. That isn’t that bright.

Here’s another meanwhile. Meanwhile, the Rubio campaign has to be smiling ear-to-ear. They got a boost coming out of Iowa. They’ve picked up the endorsements of Tim Scott, Pat Toomey, Rick Santorum and Rep. Lynn Westmoreland. Chris Christie and Jeb! are nipping at his heals but they’re mired in the mid-single digits in New Hampshire. Best of all, Rush Limbaugh rejected the notion that Sen. Rubio is an establishment candidate, saying that Sen. Rubio is “a legitimate, full-throated conservative.”

In the first polling after Iowa, Rubio jumped 3 points in a single night. Add that to the growing, lively crowds that Sen. Rubio is drawing. It isn’t a stretch to think Sen. Rubio will maintain the Marcomentum that started in Iowa and carry it into South Carolina.

With any luck, this will be a 4 person race before we hit Nevada.

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Rebecca Otto has been threatening to file a lawsuit against a bill signed into law by Gov. Dayton. Apparently, Ms. Otto isn’t too bright in terms of the law and Minnesota’s Constitution. Article V of Minnesota’s Constitution talks about the executive branch of state government. Specifically, it says “The executive department consists of a governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor, and attorney general, who shall be chosen by the electors of the state. The governor and lieutenant governor shall be chosen jointly by a single vote applying to both offices in a manner prescribed by law.”

Nowhere in Article V, Section 1 does it outline the duties of the State Auditor. That’s properly left up to the legislature and governor to determine through state statutes. If the court sides with Ms. Otto, it will be clear proof that the DFL has turned them into a super-legislative body.

Rep. Sarah Anderson, the chair of the House State Government Finance Committee, issued a statement, saying “Just one day after the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor’s report was released on county audits which definitively stated that it is within the legislature’s power to define the duties and authority of the Office of the State Auditor, State Auditor Rebecca Otto has decided to waste taxpayer dollars to file a frivolous lawsuit against the State of Minnesota and a select group of counties,” said Rep. Anderson. “The legislature acted in a bipartisan manner last session to expand the options counties have for their audits to save local governments and taxpayers money, as well as expedite the audit process. This lawsuit has no merit, and I am disappointed it will come at the expense of hardworking Minnesota taxpayers.”

This is important:

On February 3, 2016, the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor released their report on county audits done by the OSA. Here are several key highlights from that report:

The Minnesota State Legislature has always defined the duties and authority of the State Auditor

Jim Nobles is a serious man. When he says that the legislature “has always defined the duties of the State Auditor”, it’s because he’s thoroughly researched the Constitution and state statutes. From a legal standpoint, Nobles’ research is probably air tight. Then there’s this:

  1. 34 percent of counties stated they were not satisfied with the cost of OSA audits
  2. The 2015 law change allows for price competition while still giving the OSA significant authority to continue to ensure that all audits meet certain standards and to hold counties accountable in how they spend public dollars
  3. 32 percent of counties said that audits done by OSA were not timely, and many expressed frustrations that the reports came too late to be useful in saving taxpayer dollars for their annual budget process

That’s poison from a political standpoint. It just isn’t surprising.

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