Archive for the ‘Cronyism’ Category
The legitimate question that the conservative blogosphere and the Twitterverse is asking is whether Trump will be hurt by skipping the GOP debate on Fox. While that’s a totally legitimate question, it isn’t the right question this time. The right question is why we’re putting up with this adolescent’s snotty attitude. Why would anyone think that Mr. Trump would listen to anyone? Further, how is Mr. Trump different on health care than the narcissist currently living in the White House?
It’s clear that Mr. Trump isn’t a conservative. At this point, that isn’t debatable so let’s move past that. I wrote this article Tuesday afternoon to highlight Mr. Trump’s recent statement to CBS News that he favors universal health care and that “the government” would pay for it. Here is Mr. Trump’s statement on why he won’t participate in Thursday night’s debate:
That’s his official statement. Here’s why he jumped ship:
- Mr. Trump isn’t a good debater. He’s much better on the stump when he can talk about how great he is or the YUGE leads he has in the latest gazillion polls.
- Mr. Trump will be pursued by the other networks.
- Mr. Trump prefers playing the victim card rather than answering tough questions.
The truth is that Mr. Trump’s temperament disqualifies him from getting serious consideration to be the next president of the United States. Frankly, it isn’t a stretch to watch Mr. Trump’s behavior and question whether he’s mentally stable enough to handle the pressures of being the leader of the free world.
Personally, the question for me isn’t whether his supporters will continue supporting him. My question is whether Mr. Trump’s supporters are as unstable as he is. At this point, I’m betting that the answer to that question is yes. They are as nutty as Mr. Trump is.
Sen. Ben Sasse’s sassy questions for Donald Trump deserve an answer. Whether Mr. Trump will answer them or whether he’ll start criticizing Sen. Sasse, (R-NE), is anyone’s guess. Still, it’s worthwhile to find out the answers to Sen. Sasse’s questions.
Sen. Sasse’s first question for Mr. Trump was “Questn1. You said you want single-payer “gov’t pays4everyone” HCare. If that isn’t your position now when did it change? Why?” Next, Sen. Sasse asked “You’ve said you “hate the concept of guns.” Why the change? When did it happen? What’s the 2nd Amendment mean to you?” After that, Sen. Sasse asked “A few years ago, you proposed a $6 trillion tax hike. Still want to do that? Agree w/ Biden that higher taxes=more patriotism?”
I suspect that Sen. Sasse’s next question will earn him heaping helpings of criticism from Trumpsters. Sen. Sasse asked “You[‘ve] brag[ged] ab[ou]t many affairs w/ married women. Have you repented? To harmed children & spouses? Do you think it matters?” Sen. Sasse’s final question isn’t one that Trump’s supporters will like. Sen. Sasse asked:
Q5: I believe 1 of the most damaging things POTUS Obama did is ignore Constitution, act on his own,& bypass Congress Next GOP POTUS must roll this back & reaffirm a Constitutional system b4 we lose this special inheritance forever. Do you agree that exec unilateralism is very bad? Because you talk A LOT about “running the country” as though … as though 1 man should “run America.” Questn5: Will you commit to rolling back Exec power & undoing Obama unilateral habit?
Trump is a fascist who loves making deals. Principles aren’t part of his mindset. As long as critics say he got the better of the deal, Trump’s a happy camper. It doesn’t matter whether the ‘it’ is in keeping with the virtues laid out by the Founding Fathers.
Remember, this is the narcissist who wrote The Art of the Deal. Finally, it’s frightening to read this article about the things Mr. Trump has recently supported. Suffice it to say that the Founding Fathers would have a profound disagreement with Mr. Trump.
If anyone needs to learn what’s important to Jesse Watters, this article offers insight into just unprincipled he is. During his appearance on The Five, Watters made it clear what was important to him by saying “Everyone’s now saying, Oh he doesn’t check this box, he doesn’t check this box. Do you know what box is important to check? Filling up 40,000-people stadiums on a Tuesday night. That’s the box that counts on Election Day. I don’t think principles matter if you can’t get elected and institute those principles. And I think a lot people now are putting pure conservatism over the country.”
That’s a straw-man argument that President Obama would be proud of. Currently, each of the top-tier GOP presidential candidates defeat Hillary in head-to-head match-ups. More importantly, Trump does the worst in those match-ups. It isn’t surprising to find out that Trump would get crushed in the general election.
In 2 of Quinnipiac’s polls, Trump’s favorable-unfavorable rating with Hispanics is orders of magnitude worse than pathetic. In one poll of all voters, not just Republican primary voters, Trump’s favorable-unfavorable rating was 15% approve, 82% disapprove. In the other poll, Trump’s favorable-unfavorable rating with Hispanics was 9% favorable, 84% unfavorable. Trump is under water with women, too, with a 29% favorable, 63% unfavorable rating.
Hint to Mr. Watters:
- It’s mathematically impossible to win an election if you lose the biggest voting block (women) by 34 points.
- It’s quite possible to lose in a landslide when you lose the women vote by 34 points and Hispanics by a bigger margin than Mitt Romney lost Hispanics by.
Conservatives don’t need dimwits like Watters telling us what to believe. Watters’ join the crowd or get lost mentality is the opposite of what the Founding Fathers wanted when they wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They wrote the Constitution to prevent mob rule, otherwise known as ‘the tyranny of the majority.’
They understood that unprincipled democracies were as big of enemies of virtuous self-governance as dictators were. They knew that because unprincipled majorities could shove things down their throats almost as easily as a dictator could dictate the uppity peasants’ behavior. The Founding Fathers understood that principled representatives making principled arguments produced the most accountable form of government.
Mr. Trump’s media lapdogs don’t demand accountability. They demand mindless adherence. That isn’t principled self-governance. That’s fascism.
After I wrote this post, I was invited onto Dan Ochsner’s Ox in the Afternoon radio program to discuss the alarming disparity between the ISD 742 estimates and the bid that was put together for Sarah Murphy and Claire VanderEyk.
During the campaign to pass the Tech bonding referendum, the ISD 742 school board said it would cost between $85,800,000 and $96,800,000 to temporarily fix Tech for 5-10 years. When Ms. Murphy and Ms. VanderEyk toured the facility, they took notes on what was in disrepair and needed fixing. Since they’re both architects, they’re qualified to determine what’s in need of repair, what’s structurally deficient and what’s in good repair.
Ms. Murphy and Ms. VanderEyk are both Tech alums so they’d like to preserve the building if that’s possible. That’s why they took their notes to a contractor to see how much it would actually cost to repair the existing Tech campus. Saying that their estimate came in at less than $97,000,000 is understatement. It came in at $15,696,000, which is approximately $100,000,000 less than the School Board said it would cost to build a brand new Tech High School.
It’s worth noting that the new Tech High School would be able to hold 1,800 students, which is significantly more than it needs. It’s also worth noting that the School Board wanted $46,500,000 in bonding authority to fix Apollo High School, which is less than 50 years old. (Tech is over 100 years old.)
Considering the fact that the bid put together for Ms. Murphy and Ms. VanderEyk to refurbish and repair a 100-year-old building was less than $16,000,000, it isn’t a stretch to think that it wouldn’t cost $46,500,000 to repair Apollo. In fact, it isn’t a stretch to think that both projects combined could be done for less than what the Apollo renovation would’ve cost.
As I said in the earlier post, I’m not arguing to do nothing. That ship has sailed. It isn’t returning to port. What I’m arguing for is to rethink the entire project and see if we shouldn’t adopt a more taxpayer-friendly option that still helps students attend a high school where they can prepare for a college education and a productive working career.
Simply put, I’m arguing to kill last fall’s plan once and for all. It isn’t needed and it can’t be afforded. It’s that simple.
When I wrote this post about the ISD 742 School Board’s numbers on how much it would cost to fix Tech High School, I unintentionally omitted the enrollment figures for the district. The point of the article was to highlight the fallibility of the School Board’s numbers. Specifically, I quoted Sarah Murphy’s criticism of the repair cost figures.
Kevin Allenspach’s article quotes Ms. Murphy as saying “Those numbers are really round, so it’s hard to take them seriously.” Rather than just criticizing the figures, Ms. Murphy and Claire VanderEyk, both Tech alumni and architects, got a bid on how much it would cost to fix Tech.
The ISD 742 School Board estimated the cost at between $85,750,000 and $96,750,000. The estimate put together for Ms. Murphy and Ms. VanderEyk was $15,696,000. That’s a difference of more than $70,000,000. As terrible as those numbers are, that isn’t the whole story. This St. Cloud Times article on open enrollment is just another nail in the School Board’s bonding project coffin.
According to the School Board, the new Tech High School and the renovated Apollo High would have had an enrollment capacity of 1,800 students each. Here’s what the Times’ open enrollment article says:
The Sauk Rapids-Rice school district has seen a steady increase in the number of students open-enrolling from other districts. This fall, the district gained more than 500 students more than it lost to other districts. Almost a quarter of Sauk Rapids-Rice students aren’t residents of the school district. On the flip side, the St. Cloud school district lost about 1,660 more students this year to other public school districts than it gained through open enrollment.
The combined enrollment at Tech and Apollo was 2,700+ students last year. The trend is declining enrollment. Taxpayers aren’t out of line in questioning the School Board’s decision to build a new school that’s bigger than they need at a price nobody can afford.
It’s important to remember that the School Board’s price tag on a new Tech High School was $113.8 million. Compare that with Ms. Murphy’s and Ms. VanderEyk’s estimate to fix the existing Tech High School is $16,000,000. Additionally, the School Board’s estimate of fixing Apollo was $46.5 million.
Why would anyone trust the School Board’s figures for either project, especially given their proclivity for wild exaggerations? It’s time to scrap the School Board’s plan entirely. That doesn’t mean we can afford to do nothing. That isn’t an option. It just means we should fix what needs fixing at a price that’s taxpayer friendly.
Yesterday, the ISD School Board put its best happy face on during their interviews. Whether they believed that they were going to win or whether they knew a defeat was in the cards, the indisputable truth from Tuesday night was that taxpayers rejected the School Board’s proposal by a pretty significant margin.
Tuesday afternoon, School Board Chairman Dennis Whipple told KNSI’s Dan Ochsner that most referenda and special elections attract approximately 4,000-6,000 voters in St. Cloud. When all the ballots were counted, ISD742 residents cast 15,853 votes; 7,393 (46.6%) were yes votes while 8,460 (53.4%) were no votes.
It’s one thing to lose a tight race. It’s another to lose by 1,000+ votes.
Tuesday afternoon, I told Dan Ochsner that we would look at the Times’ Our View Editorial as the turning point if this bonding referendum lost. At the time, I wrote in this post that it’s “foolish to think that this group of “experienced leaders” is running an under-the-radar campaign because this is a terrific deal for St. Cloud. If this deal was that important and that well thought out, these “experienced leaders” would’ve canvassed St. Cloud at least 3-4 times.”
The fact that only 3 mailers were sent out and that few Vote Yes signs were put up around town indicates that the School Board didn’t put much effort into this campaign. In hindsight, I never saw anyone from EdMinn dropping lit or knocking on doors.
Whipple said that the School Board would “return to” listening to the people. Hint for Chairman Whipple: it’s time for the School Board to start listening rather than talking amongst the education community, then telling the taxpayers what their bill will be for the School Board’s plans.
Special Interests’ Citizens Board held its final meeting Tuesday. It was a bittersweet day, depending on your political persuasion. For environmental activists, it was a bitter ending. For people that believe in holding government accountable, it was a beautiful sight. First, let’s listen to the special interests’ whining:
“Dissolving the Citizens’ Board is bad for rural and metro Minnesota,” said Kathy DeBuhr at a protest before the board’s final meeting Tuesday morning. “This legislature has taken away the voice of the common person. The little guy.”
DeBuhr was among those who protested a proposed 9,000-cow “mega-dairy feedlot” in western Minnesota in 2014. In a controversial move, the Citizens’ Board ordered the dairy operation to seek an expensive and time-consuming environmental impact statement even though MPCA staff had not ordered one. The dairy ultimately decided not to go forward with the project.
Ms. DeBuhr’s whining is annoying at best. This wasn’t a panel of ordinary citizens. It was an activist board. The fact that they ran off a major dairy operation after the operation had gotten its permits from the MPCA speaks to their activism.
Further, what type of citizens panel reserves a spot for a union member? The Board had a member of Duluth’s Transit Authority and an “agriculture representative”, too. I still haven’t heard anyone explain why there’s a need for a citizens panel. Isn’t the MPCA doing its job properly? If it isn’t, shouldn’t the MPCA be overhauled or outright abolished?
The Citizens’ Board was established to guard against undue political influence of the agency and to create a public and transparent decision making process on controversial issues. Supporters of the board say its abolishment will remove the final public process for environmental review and permitting actions for industry and factory farms.
The notion that the Citizens Board was impartial is absurd. It wasn’t. It was filled with activists. As for the statement that this removes “the final public process for environmental review and permitting,” that’s a bit melodramatic. Why is it necessary for limitless environmental reviews?
When Jeb Bush surprisingly announced his candidacy for president, pundits of all political stripes said it was a political masterstroke because it caught his rivals off-guard. Fast forward to today. Those pundits are singing a different tune:
“We’ve learned that the prospect of a big financial advantage is not going to keep people out of the race and that the notion of a new face is stronger than we might have thought,” Vin Weber, an outside Bush adviser, said in an interview. “That requires modest adjustments in strategy, not wholesale changes.” After weeks of bad press, “donors were getting a little edgy,” Weber said. “No one is ready to jump ship. Nobody has lost heart. But they have watched other candidates rise in the polls.”
At first, pundits said that Jeb’s team was seasoned. The reality is that Jeb’s team is all but fossilized. Vin Weber is to GOP politics what Bob Shrum is to Democratic politics. He’s got a great reputation and a lengthy losing streak. Jeb’s problem is that he hired guys with great reputations rather than picking the best and the brightest.
Washington’s pundits didn’t think things through. They thought that hiring people with lengthy resumes equated to hiring the best people. They’re seeing now that that isn’t the truth. The bad news is that that’s the least of Team Jeb’s worries:
On the stump, Bush has stuck to his pledge not to shift to the right to win the nomination, but his middle-of-the-road positions on immigration and education have come off more as out of step with the base of his party than shrewdly pragmatic. His wonky question-and-answer exchanges with voters sometimes resemble college lectures rather than a disarming appeal for votes.
Jeb’s biggest problem is Jeb. He’s robotic. He’s interested in antagonizing conservatives. There isn’t a mindset of ‘let’s win this together’. It’s mostly about Jeb.
That’s harmed other parts of Jeb’s campaign:
His operation’s ability to rake in large checks also fueled inflated expectations. Supporters acknowledged this week that an allied super PAC was likely to fall short — perhaps substantially — of predictions that it would bring in $100 million in the first half of the year.
If Jeb isn’t able to carpet-bomb the rest of the GOP field into submission, he won’t win the nomination. He simply isn’t a top tier candidate otherwise. Otherwise, he’s just another legacy candidate living off past headlines.
There’s no secret that Minnesota environmental activists are trying to stop the Sandpiper Pipeline project that would transport oil from the Bakken oil field across Minnesota to Wisconsin. This article highlights what’s behind the environmentalists’ protests and who’s funding them:
Now the Sandpiper Pipeline from North Dakota’s Bakken shale region across Minnesota to Superior, Wis., is meeting similar resistance. As with Keystone, the protesters say they’re concerned student, hiker and Native American grass-roots activists. The facts do not support their narrative.
Putin-allied Russian billionaires laundered $23 million through the Bermuda-based Wakefield Quin law firm to the Sea Change Foundation and thence to anti-fracking and anti-Keystone groups, the Environmental Policy Alliance found. Sandpiper opponents are likewise funded and coordinated by wealthy financiers and shadowy foundations, researcher Ron Arnold discovered.
Several small groups are involved in Sandpiper. But the campaign is coordinated by Honor the Earth, a Native American group that is actually a Tides Foundation “project,” with the Tides Center as its “fiscal sponsor,” contributing $700,000 and extensive in-kind aid. Out-of-state donors provide 99% of Honor’s funding.
The Indigenous Environmental Network also funds Honor the Earth. Minnesota corporate records show no incorporation entry for IEN, and that 95% of its money comes from outside Minnesota. Tides gave IEN $670,000 to oppose pipelines. Indeed, $25 billion in foundation investment portfolios support the anti-Sandpiper effort.
Isn’t that interesting? At the very time that Russia’s economy is tanking because the oil revenues they rely on have shrunk dramatically, “Putin-allied Russian billionaires” reached out to organizations that fund environmentalists to protest the building of the Sandpiper Pipeline project.
In reaching out to the Tides Foundation, these “Putin-allied Russian billionaires” reached out to an old ally. Teresa Heinz-Kerry is a major contributor to the Tides Foundation. Not coincidentally, she’s married to John Forbes Kerry. His current job title is U.S. Secretary of State.
But I digress.
Like most things progressive, the progressives’ attempt to sabotage the Sandpiper Pipeline project is being led by an organization (Tides) that specializes in AstroTurf campaigns. Think of it this way. The party of the little guy is sabotaging a project that would make people’s gas prices cheaper and their home heating bills less expensive. That’s happening because a company supported by one of the wealthiest families in America is funding them.
When she’s campaigning, Elizabeth Warren frequently states that the game is rigged against the average person. When that message caught fire, Hillary adopted the campaign theme of being “everyday Americans” champion. The truth is that the game is rigged against the little guy. One-percenters like Teresa Heinz-Kerry do their utmost to make sure average people pay more.
Gov. Dayton and the DFL certainly haven’t fought against these AstroTurf organizations who’ve protested the building of the Sandpiper pipeline. That’s because they’ve decided to side with environmental activist organizations that are funded by big corporations that don’t give a damn about Minnesota.
The RNC should pull the plug on the Republican presidential debate that ABC is hosting. It isn’t just that George Stephanopoulos didn’t clothe himself in glory with his nondisclosure of his donations to the Clinton Foundation. It’s that ABC is caught in another controversy that proves ABC isn’t trustworthy:
Games may have been played yesterday in connection with the week’s resounding media story. On Thursday morning, Politico media reporter Dylan Byers broke the story of George Stephanopoulos’s big-money donations to the Clinton Foundation (at first they were reported as $50,000 but grew to $75,000 by day’s end). The headline of Byers’s story: “George Stephanopoulos discloses $75,000 contribution to Clinton Foundation.”
Big deal. The Internet exploded with commentary, criticisms of Stephanopoulos, liberal-media slams and claims that the PR department of ABC News had done something untoward in handling the story.
Thanks @ABC for leaking statement to @DylanByers after @AndrewStilesUSA and @FreeBeacon asked you about Stephanopoulos donation to Clintons
— Matthew Continetti (@continetti) May 14, 2015
.@AndrewStilesUSA spotted the donation yesterday. I told him to ask @ABC for comment. They said they’d give a statement—to @DylanByers!
— Matthew Continetti (@continetti) May 14, 2015
In other words, ABC issued a statement to a newspaper that they thought would write a friendlier story about the Stephanopoulos story rather than let a real journalist write the story he’d discovered. That’s a pretty scummy thing to do. I don’t think it’s coincidence that ABC gave the Washington Free Beacon a comment … 10 minutes after the Byers Politico article broke. Here’s why:
When the Washington Free Beaconers put their heads together Thursday morning, there was still no comment from ABC News. “I say, ‘Let’s begin to move this story,’” recalls Continetti. The piece wasn’t complicated: A network news anchor had contributed to a charity run by the first family of the Democratic party and hadn’t told viewers when that charity emerged in news coverage. What was complicated was its landing. “Literally as we were about to hit ‘post,’ we are alerted to the Dylan Byers piece that just went up,” says Continetti, who moved to publish their piece without the ABC News statements. Those arrived later.
This sounds like Stephanopoulos and the ABC PR department trying to direct the story to a friendlier media outlet. They know that the Washington Free Beacon is a right-of-center newspaper. Stephanopoulos might’ve suspected that Stiles’ article would’ve been harder hitting than Byers’ spoon-fed article.
The RNC shouldn’t be in the business of fighting reporters’ fights. Still, it shouldn’t let networks host debates if they’ve shown themselves to not be trustworthy. It isn’t just that Stephanopoulos isn’t trustworthy. It’s that ABC has proven that they aren’t trustworthy. They’re more trustworthy than MSNBC but they’re far from trustworthy.