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Donald Trump wasted a valuable commodity this week — time. The week started right, with him winning the first third of the debate. Then he forgot his purpose and started chasing ghosts. The lesson that his advisors need to teach him is that he needs to focus on things that will help him connect with blue collar workers. The other thing that Mr. Trump must highlight is the Clinton Foundation’s pay-to-play scandal and the FBI’s faux investigation.

By highlighting the FBI’s faux investigation, Mr. Trump would connect with Bernie Sanders’ voters that think that the system is rigged. The FBI’s faux investigation would play well with suburban voters who think Mrs. Clinton isn’t trustworthy. It’d be great if he could flip those voters. At this point, Mr. Trump’s campaign would probably be satisfied if it drove Mrs. Clinton’s turnout with suburban voters down.

The Clintons are disgusting, immoral people who’ve lived in the mud their entire lives. Spending 5 more weeks there to win the presidency means nothing to them. Trump’s path to victory is to highlight the things that matter most to people. When in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump should highlight Mrs. Clinton’s statement that she’s going to put coal companies out of business. Wherever he goes, he needs to highlight his plan for energy independence, then contrast that with Mrs. Clinton’s green energy policies.

Part of Mr. Trump’s presentation on green energy should highlight the rigged game that Solyndra tapped into. Mostly, though, Trump should highlight the fact that coal-mining and fracking jobs are just waiting to be filled. Ask people if they want to subsidize Mrs. Clinton’s and President Obama’s special interest allies or whether they’d like to keep doing what’s worked for the last half-century.

If Trump gets back on message, he’ll put pressure on Mrs. Clinton because people want change. They don’t want Mrs. Clinton’s more-of-the-same policies.

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In 2008, Hillary was considered the presumptive Democrat nominee. Pundits said that she’d win the nomination, then win the general election. They were wrong both with both predictions. This Quinnipiac Swing State Poll must be close to Hillary’s nightmare scenario.

What do you think she’s thinking when she sees that Trump is tied with Mrs. Clinton in Ohio and that he leads Mrs. Clinton in Pennsylvania and Florida? Imagine Mrs. Clinton reading “The presidential matchups show: Florida – Trump at 42 percent to Clinton’s 39, compared to a 47-39 percent Clinton lead June 21; Ohio – Clinton and Trump tied 41-41 percent, compared to a 40-40 percent tie June 21; Pennsylvania – Trump at 43 percent to Clinton’s 41 percent, compared to June 21, when Clinton had 42 percent to Trump’s 41 percent.”

If Mrs. Clinton lost those 3 states, she’d lose to Trump. It’s that simple. I can’t picture Mrs. Clinton losing Pennsylvania but winning North Carolina. That just doesn’t seem possible. These statistics are part of this RedState post with a headline glaring “Hillary Loses Ground After Outspending Trump $57M to $4M.”

This is just part of the pattern for Hillary. She’s outspending Trump by orders of magnitude but she’s losing ground to him while outspending Trump.

What’s more troubling for Hillary is that she won’t get Bernie Sanders’ voters in the percentages that she’d hoped for:

Some of Bernie Sanders’ most loyal backers have turned into his biggest bashers on the heels of his Hillary Clinton endorsement.

The Vermont senator, who slammed Clinton repeatedly during the presidential primary campaign, offered his unwavering support to the presumptive Democratic nominee at a rally in New Hampshire Tuesday. “Hillary Clinton will make a great president and I am proud to stand with her today,” he said.

What followed was an avalanche of angry tweets, blogs and other social media posts from those who had been feeling the ‘Bern’ — and now just feel burned. In New York, Monroe County Sanders activist Kevin Sweeney told the Democrat & Chronicle he’s shifting his donations to Green Party candidate Jill Stein. “A lot of Bernie supporters are making $27 donations to Jill Stein’s campaign today,” he said.

This won’t blow over anytime soon. Some of Bernie’s supporters are true believers. A woman named Ashley Marie tweeted “Used to be a Bernie fan but now that he’s joined Hillary, who supports everything he’s supposedly against, I’m a Trump fan. #NeverHillary” Dan LaMorte tweeted “Bernie Sanders endorsing Hillary Clinton feels so much like when the girl you love starts dating the guy you hate most.”

Perhaps, the best tweet came from Craig, who said “Revolution? I guess political revolution meant something different to Bernie. I was willing to fight corruption to the death. #NeverHillary”

Apparently, Bernie’s supporters were true believers. Apparently, true believers don’t fit with Hillary’s people.

This doesn’t mean Hillary will lose this November. It just means Hillary’s team will need to order tons more Maalox.

This post is proof that progressives aren’t interested in having an honest conversation about policy. First, Sen. Stumpf saying that “we have a responsibility in the state of Minnesota to take care of property, the things that the public owns, to make our economy keep moving along” is intellectually dishonest.

It isn’t that Republicans don’t think that government shouldn’t maintain essential infrastructure. It’s that Republicans think that projects, like bridges, are multi-generational and shouldn’t be paid for with tax increases that are paid for by this generation. Republicans think bonding makes sense because multiple generations pay for a multi-generational piece of infrastructure.

Ms. Bierschbach wasn’t being honest when she said that “But that’s not how House Republicans see things. Many of them consider borrowing for infrastructure just more government spending, akin to credit card debt.” That’s false. The best way to illustrate the absurdity of that statement is by applying certain principles from home life. It’s one thing for a couple with a good credit rating and money in the bank to take out a mortgage to buy a home. It’s quite another to make frequent use of a high-interest credit card to pay for day-to-day things.

State bonding for things like museums, civic centers and hockey arenas isn’t wise. State bonding for things like highways and other critical infrastructure should be prioritized. It’s that simple.

Further, it doesn’t make sense to raise taxes to pay for building multi-generational pieces of infrastructure. Similarly, taking on long-term debt to pay for things like civic centers, museums, etc. is foolish, too.

Finally, it’s time to rethink the criteria we use for bonding projects.

Contrary to statements in this article, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce isn’t the consistent friend of the GOP. David Montgomery wrote “the GOP’s traditional allies in the business community are joining DFLers in the push to include transit in a transportation funding package.” The Minnesota Chamber is, at best, an on-again, off-again ally to the GOP.

Let’s check out the Chamber’s history. In past years, they’ve pushed for lots of bonding projects like civic centers and downtown renovations. That’s proof that they aren’t limited government conservatives. That isn’t surprising.

In 2008, the Chamber provided the DFL with the political cover they needed to raise Minnesota’s gas tax. That transportation bill also included lots of fees that went towards increasing transit funding. Eight years later, the Chamber is pushing another round of middle class tax increases to pay for transit projects. Apparently, the other fee increases didn’t work. (At the time the 2008 tax increase plan passed, I predicted that they’d be back sooner rather than later for more tax and fee increases. I was right. Hint: it didn’t require Nostradamus to get that prediction right.)

House Speaker Kurt Daudt routinely expresses a similar sentiment: that the Legislature should focus on new road and bridge spending and not on buses and trains.

Speaker Daudt is right. Minnesotans can’t afford another DFL middle class tax increase. Taxpayers aren’t ATMs. It’s time to start prioritizing rather than putting together oversized wish lists that can only be funded with major tax and fee increases.

When Gov. Dayton pushed B2B tax increases, the Chamber fought him on it because it was their ox getting gored. Now that the tax increase is hitting someone else, they’re pushing for it. Apparently, the Chamber is ok with tax increases … as long it doesn’t hit them.

This op-ed reminds us that Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party didn’t start smoothly. In fact, it’s true that the Republican Party initially rejected Ronald Reagan’s reforms. Then as now, the GOP preferred policies that maintained the status quo. Then as now, there was a rebel wing to the GOP. Back then, Ronald Reagan was that rebel. That rebel wing of the GOP was idea-driven and idealistic.

Today, the GOP Establishment, in its truest definition, prefers policies that maintain the status quo and that took care of big corporations through corporate welfare, aka crony capitalism. Today, the GOP’s rebel wing has a formal name. It’s called the TEA Party. At its best, the TEA Party is bustling with ideas that would solve America’s biggest problems. At its worst, the GOP has been the party of crony capitalism and corporate welfare.

These days, both parties are guilty of supporting crony capitalism and using the governments’ regulatory authority to limit competition.

In 1981, the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, (D-NY), called the Republican Party the party of ideas. When Republicans got crushed in the 2006 midterms, Mara Liasson said that that election was “the ideology-free election.” It was a referendum on GOP corruption. It was about Democrats running on criticism alone. They opposed the Iraq War for the wrong reasons but at the right time.

It’s obvious that Donald Trump isn’t an ideas guy. Ted Cruz isn’t the Republicans’ top idea man but he’s a good candidate with a very good campaign organization. That’s why I think Sen. Cruz translates into being the Republicans’ best hope of recapturing the White House.

Sen. Cruz isn’t just comfortable with Gov. Walker’s reform agenda. It’s that he gets the importance of getting government off the people’s backs so they can innovate and prosper. While a well-trained work force is essential, it’s indisputable that a good education is wasted if people aren’t willing to put their capital at risk.

I’m not advocating for a return to the glory years of the Reagan administration. I’m advocating for rejecting Donald Trump so the GOP can return to being the party of ideas.

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This article suggests that the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is preparing to sell out the Republican Party on transportation … again.

It’s telling that the reporter says that the “GOP’s traditional allies in the business community are joining DFLers in the push to include transit in a transportation funding package.” It’s as if the Chamber thinks that transit isn’t getting properly funded and that additional transit funding deserves a higher priority.

The Chamber is wrong on both counts. Frankly, since the Minnesota Chamber consistently insists on playing footsie with the DFL, rank-and-file Republicans should start calling the Chamber something different. I suggest that they be called ‘The Crony Capitalist Chamber. The Chamber isn’t about limited government. They aren’t opposed to tax increases. They’re just opposed to when the DFL wants to raise their taxes.

That isn’t speculation. There’s sufficient proof for that statement. In 2008, the Chamber provided the political cover to pass a major gas tax and transit tax and fee increase. That led to them overriding Gov. Pawlenty’s veto of that major middle class tax increase. There wasn’t a hint of regret that they pushed that bill.

In 2013, when the DFL wanted to raise taxes on businesses, though, they raised a stink about it. They criticized the business-to-business sales taxes. They opposed the Tax Bill proposed by Gov. Dayton and supported by the DFL. To hear the Chamber talk about it, you would’ve thought the end of the world was approaching.

Now the Crony Capitalist Chamber are siding with the DFL again. They’re lifting the middle finger against a middle class that’s getting squeezed. They’re lifting that middle finger because it’s someone else that’s getting hit with a tax increase.

Most importantly, let’s call this tax increase for what it is: a failure. In 2008, we were told that we had to raise the gas tax to meet Minnesota’s then-future transportation needs. Eight years later, the same people have returned to tell us that this tax increase will help fix Minnesota’s transportation needs.

The Chamber was wrong then. It’s likely that they’ll be wrong this time. Most importantly, the GOP has a plan that will work. It’s time to tell the Crony Capitalist Chamber that the Republican Party isn’t interested in part-time allies that don’t have Main Street’s interests at heart. The GOP needs to tell the Crony Capitalist Chamber that they’re siding with their neighbors, co-workers and friends instead of siding with their part-time allies in the Crony Capitalist Chamber.

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According to this article, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce intends to throw its weight around on putting a transportation bill together. The good news for the DFL is that the Chamber wants some spending on transit. The bad news for the DFL is that the Chamber doesn’t want a tax increase for fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges.

Harry Melander, the president of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council, recently said “When the labor groups and the Chamber get together, it’s usually when stuff gets done. If it doesn’t, then I think we have a much bigger problem with the people up at the Capitol.” Meanwhile, the Chamber isn’t pushing for a gas tax increase like they did in 2008, the last time the gas tax was increased.

The Chamber can supply a little political cover for a middle class tax increase in some years. This year, that’s a (pardon the pun) a bridge too far. Further, the DFL majority in the Senate isn’t likely to pass a middle class tax increase if they aren’t convinced that House Republicans will join them in voting for the tax increase.

Republicans have been steadfast in their opposition to raising taxes to support new transit projects. Charley Weaver of the Minnesota Business Partnership probably is serious about pushing transit but it’s still possible that he’s bluffing. When Weaver said “We wanted to be crystal clear that this is a priority for us. This isn’t an afterthought. This isn’t, ‘Gee, if you get around to it.'”, it’s possible that they aren’t willing to expend much political capital pushing transit as part of a transportation bill.

If Weaver insists, however, on pushing transit, he should expect tons of pushback from citizens. There isn’t a great groundswell of support for transit. There is a significant groundswell of support for fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. If Weaver pushes too hard for transit, he’ll lose the entire package.

According to this article, Donald Trump opted out of speaking at CPAC because he “will be in Witchita, Kanasas for a major rally on Saturday prior to Caucus.” Don’t criticize my spelling of Wichita, Kansas. I just copied/pasted the quote from Trump’s statement. Apparently, making America great again doesn’t mean you’ve passed a fifth grade spelling class.

The implication of the Trump campaign’s statement was that Trump simply had to cancel his CPAC speech to win in Kansas. So much for that myth:

Will Katrina Pierson, Trump’s mouthpiece, insist that Trump had to cancel his speech to preserve a resounding defeat? Surely, she can’t argue it was because Mr. Trump was competitive.

UPDATE: With 23% in, Sen. Cruz leads Mr. Trump 49.0%-26.0%. Trump has closed the gap from 25.8% to 23%.

Trump skipped CPAC because he anticipated getting booed frequently during the speech. That isn’t new for Trump. What’s new is that he can’t blame getting booed by lobbyists. Everyone knows that CPAC isn’t filled with lobbyists. It’s filled with activists, many of whom are young and idealistic. The truth is that Trump doesn’t like conservative principles.

Trump has frequently talked about making the federal government run better. That isn’t a conservative principle. Limited government conservatives want as many responsibilities and decisions dealt with at the state, local or family level. Conservatives don’t have faith in the federal government getting things right. They’d rather have local units of government make decisions than have the federal government put together a one-size-fits-all plan that isn’t a solution.

UPDATE II: With 61% in, Sen. Cruz leads Trump 51.1%-24%, with Sen. Rubio getting 14.5% and Kasich getting 9%. That pretty much verifies, not that there was much doubt, that Trump skipped CPAC because it would’ve looked bad for him to get loudly booed at the biggest conservative event before the convention.

UPDATE III: It’s official. Cruz wins the Kansas caucus.

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Laura Ingraham has apparently named herself the determiner of who is the GOP establishment and who is part of a populist movement of, by and for the people. In one of her articles, she throws the kitchen sink at the GOP establishment. (I won’t supply the link because I don’t want to drive traffic to her website.)

According to Ingraham’s article, the “takeaway for the GOP Establishment, and its enablers at places like National Review and RedState, will be that Marco Rubio’s win in Minnesota, combined with Cruz’s victories in Texas and Oklahoma and the close-ish race in Virginia, show that Donald Trump can be stopped. They just have to keep going negative.”

First, it’s frightening to think that Ms. Ingraham thinks of RedState is part of the GOP establishment. While I haven’t always agreed with RedState’s beliefs and political analysis, I’ve never questioned their commitment to TEA Party principles. Second, while I agree that NRO is GOP Establishment-ish, I can’t say that they’re card-carrying members of the GOP establishment. Writers like Jonah Goldberg, Jim Geraghty and Kevin Williamson are thinkers who don’t take their marching orders from anyone, much less from the ever-morphing GOP Establishment.

This statement is utterly mindless:

There’s no point in complaining about this. Trump represents a potentially existential threat to the Donor Class.

When Trump told Bret Baier that soldiers would obey his illegal orders, did that represent a “potentially existential threat to the donor class” or did it represent that rantings of a lunatic who didn’t care about the rule of law? Trump didn’t reverse himself until after conservatives wrote negative articles criticizing Mr. Trump for his willingness to order troops to commit war crimes.

At the same time, this primary season has demonstrated that the Establishment has some real problems. It’s clear that Rubio is a deeply flawed candidate. It’s clear he struggles to reach people who aren’t already committed to the Establishment Agenda. It’s clear that the voters are screaming “NO!” to the Establishment’s agenda; they have rejected it in almost every state by almost overwhelming numbers.

What’s equally clear is that conservative activists, like the activists populating CPAC, have noticed that Mr. Trump “is a deeply flawed candidate” who “struggles to reach people who aren’t” repeating Mr. Trump’s clichés.

The GOP Establishment didn’t start the #NeverTrump movement. Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-NE), is the spiritual leader of the movement. Calling a freshman senator from Nebraska who confronted Sean Hannity at CPAC, “chastising the Fox News host for suggesting his refusal to vote for Donald Trump was equivalent to a vote for Hillary Clinton.” Here’s the set of questions Sen. Sasse posed to Mr. Trump that have gone unanswered:

Q1: You said you want single-payer “govt pays4everyone” [health care]. If that isn’t your position now when did it change? Why?
Q2: You’ve said you “hate the concept of guns.” Why the change? When did it happen? What’s the 2nd Amendment mean to you?
Q3: A few yrs ago u proposed $6trillion tax hike. Still want to do that? Agree w/ Biden that higher taxes=more patriotism?
Q4: You brag about many affairs w/ married women. Have you repented? To harmed children & spouses? Do you think it matters?
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 1 man should “run America.” Will you commit to rolling back Exec power & undoing Obama unilateral habit?

Do those sound like questions that the GOP Establishment pose on a daily basis? Of course they aren’t, which proves my point that populists mindlessly use the term GOP Establishment whenever their indefensible positions are questions. (They’ll use the term elitist, too. The words are interchangeable.)

Opposing Trump isn’t part of a GOP Establishment conspiracy to thwart the will of the people. It’s the re-invigoration of the TEA Party movement after high-profile TEA Party activists sold out TEA Party principles for high-paying positions with politicians. We’re opposing Trump because he’s the embodiment of the corruption known as crony capitalism.

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Donald Trump hasn’t stopped telling us how great of a businessman he is. Included in Trump’s schtick is his bragging about how he’s making fantastic deals with the Chinese. Another part of Mr. Trump’s schtick is talking about how “America doesn’t win anymore” and how America will win again once he’s elected president. Kevin Williamson’s article is utterly devastating. Consider Williamson’s article the official death of Trump’s schtick.

Williamson starts by saying “Trump has a peculiar way of speaking about bankruptcy: He has a deep aversion to the word itself. He speaks of “putting a company into a chapter” without ever answering the implicit question: “Chapter of what? Moby-Dick?” The answer, of course, is the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, to which Trump has taken recourse at least four times over the course of his business career. The chapter in question is the famous Chapter 11, which applies to business bankruptcies. Trump proudly insists that he never has had recourse to Chapter 13, the personal bankruptcy code. This is his apparent justification for saying that he’s never been bankrupt. But of course one of the purposes of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is to keep men such as Donald Trump out of Chapter 13 bankruptcy.”

While that’s a hard-hitting bit of truth, that isn’t the information that will sting Trump the most. This is pretty damaging:

In 2004, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, a holding company for various Trump properties including the Taj Mahal and a riverboat-gambling company in Gary, Ind., went into bankruptcy, having acquired $1.8 billion in debt while raising only $130 million through an initial public stock offering. Same story: Trump had borrowed too much money, at a rate he could not afford (15 percent, in fact, which lets you know how credit-worthy the market deems Trump to be), and once again he was obliged to give up most of his ownership stake.

It’s stunning to hear that Trump had to pay a 15% interest rate on anything in 2004. As Williamson said that “lets you know how credit-worthy the market deems Trump to be.” (Not very!) Though that’s devastating, Williamson isn’t done. Here’s more:

Trump’s second bankruptcy came with his acquisition of New York City’s Plaza Hotel. The great dealmaker did essentially the same thing with the Plaza that he had done with the Taj Mahal: He borrowed too much money at rates he could not afford.

Sensing a pattern? If not, you’re a Trump supporter. It gets worse:

Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts was reorganized as Trump Entertainment Resorts . . . which promptly went bankrupt, filing for Chapter 11 protection in 2009. (That’s right: Trump, who wants to be president of these United States, was in bankruptcy that recently.) Too much debt at an interest rate that he couldn’t afford to pay? Check. Loss of ownership? Check. Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, both resigned from the board just before the bankruptcy filing.

The great businessman who insists he’ll negotiate fantastic deals specializes in negotiating terrible deals that have led him into bankruptcy court 4 times. Each time, Mr. Trump did the same thing. He “borrowed too much money at rates he couldn’t afford.” Shouldn’t he have figured out that he was repeating the same mistake after his second bankruptcy?

Trump, the great negotiator, didn’t learn after his second bankruptcy. Trump didn’t learn after his third bankruptcy. I don’t know that he’s learned after his fourth bankruptcy caused by “borrowing too much money at rates he couldn’t afford.” Rather than him campaigning on the slogan that he’ll “Make America great again”, shouldn’t he pay attention to his businesses and keep them from going bankrupt?

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