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The St. Cloud Times just published my LTE on Minnesota’s MNsure crisis. Check it out and leave a comment if so inspired.

Much internet bandwidth has been used on who won Monday night’s presidential debate. Two of the best political thinkers think that Trump won. Pat Caddell, Jimmy Carter’s pollster, has some interesting statistics that indicate some interesting things that contradict conventional wisdom. In this article, Caddell notes that “48 percent said Clinton did a better job, compared to 43 percent, who said Trump did the better job” before noting “95 percent of the people we contacted told us they were not going to change their vote based on the debate.”

Caddell then noted that “Trump won on the most critical factor, on whether Clinton or Trump was more ‘plausible’ as president, 46 percent to her 42 percent,” saying that “that, for him, was what this debate was really about.” Dovetailing off of that is the fact that, according to Caddell, “forty-eight percent of respondents said in the debate Trump showed he would be a strong leader, compared with 44 percent for Clinton.”

That’s the statistical side of things. Newt Gingrich’s op-ed provides the analysis:

The Intellectual Yet Idiot class that dominates our news media fell all over themselves critiquing Trump and praising Holt and Clinton. In doing so, they repeated the mistake they have made about every debate since August 2015.

Trump wins strategically because in a blunt, clear style, he is saying things most Americans believe.

With 70% of the country thinking that we’re heading in the wrong direction, it’s a major victory for a candidate to win the people’s trust. That’s confirmed by Salena Zito’s reporting, which Gingrich cited here:

Salena Zito is one of the country’s most perceptive journalists, in part because she is grounded outside of Washington and New York. Her column about the debate, “How Trump Won Over a Bar of Undecideds and Democrats,” should be required reading for everyone who wants to understand why Trump strategically won the debate.

After that, Gingrich mocked the elitists:

Trump has a hard time with media elites because they earn a living by talking. The media values glibness. In their world you can speak nonsense if you do it smoothly and convincingly. Trump is a blunt, let’s-make-a-deal, let’s-get-the-building-built, let’s-sell-our-product businessman. The first debate showcased a blunt, plain spoken businessman and a polished professional politician.

In other words, the fight was word salad vs. leadership. Here’s how that worked out:

Time: Trump 55 Clinton 45
Fortune: Trump 53, Clinton 47
N.J.com (New Jersey): Trump 57.5, Clinton 37.78
CNBC: Trump 68, Clinton 32
WCPO Cincinnati: Trump 57, Clinton 37
Variety: Trump 58.12, Clinton 41.88
Slate: Trump 55.18, Clinton 44.82
WKRN Nashville: Trump 64.58, Clinton 35.42
Las Vegas Sun: Trump 82, Clinton 18
Fox5 San Diego: Trump 61.45, Clinton 33.69
San Diego Tribune: Trump 65, Clinton 35


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Moments ago, Fox News announced that Roger Ailes resigned as Chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. They also announced that “Rupert Murdoch will assume the role of Chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.” Murdoch then issued a statement saying “Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country. Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years. Fox News has given voice to those who were ignored by the traditional networks and has been one of the great commercial success stories of modern media. It is always difficult to create a channel or a publication from the ground up and against seemingly entrenched monopolies. To lead a flourishing news channel, and to build Fox Business, Roger has defied the odds.

His grasp of policy and his ability to make profoundly important issues accessible to a broader audience stand in stark contrast to the self-serving elitism that characterizes far too much of the media. I am personally committed to ensuring that Fox News remains a distinctive, powerful voice. Our nation needs a robust Fox News to resonate from every corner of the country. To ensure continuity of all that is best about Fox News and what it stands for, I will take over as Chairman and acting CEO, with the support of our existing management team under Bill Shine, Jay Wallace and Mark Kranz.”

Ailes built an amazing company in the 1990s. He grew FNC in the 2000s. He’d started building a credible news agency in the 2010s. Unfortunately, he allegedly mistreated women. I’m not going into that. That’s for a jury to potentially decide.

Back in late May, 6 GOP legislators sent a letter to Paul Thissen, criticizing him for his temper tantrums that he directed at GOP staffers. That’s what elitists do when they don’t get their way. In Rep. Thissen’s instance, he’s spent 2 years in political Siberia. While Thissen mistreated GOP staffers, DFL legislators sat silent.

Lest anyone think that the DFL’s corruption is tied only to the House while they’re the minority party, the truth is that the DFL’s corruption is much deeper than that. The DFL is the majority party in the Senate. Still, DFL Senate Deputy Majority Leader Jeffrey Hayden has admitted to accepting money from Community Action of Minneapolis for “plane tickets, hotel stays and spa services for he and his wife.” That’s metro DFL-speak for saying he got caught red-handed doing something he shouldn’t have done.

They caught Hayden after the Minnesota Department of Human Services investigated Bill Davis, then the CEO of now-defunct Community Action of Minneapolis, aka CAM. When they investigated CAM, the investigation found that Davis had “spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money on trips, golf and other perks. The Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Minnesota Department of Commerce pulled their contracts with the group after a DHS audit found Community Action overcharged state and federal grant programs for more than $600,000 of administrative costs.”

Now, Sen. Sandy Pappas is stonewalling an Ethics Subcommittee hearing in her attempt to protect Sen. Hayden. Alpha News’s Julia Erynn has done an outstanding job covering this scandal. Make sure to check out her latest article, which focuses on Sen. Hayden’s ethics difficulties.

Electing DFL majorities, then expecting ethical behavior, is foolish. They’re experts at sitting silent while they watch other DFL legislators mistreat staffers or rip off public programs for thousands of dollars. At the 1996 Republican National Convention, J.C. Watts gave a memorable keynote speech, saying that the definition of character is “doing the right thing even when no one was watching.” Rep. Thissen and Sen. Hayden don’t fit that definition.

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Friends and frequent readers of LFR. After the 2016 election, LFR will celebrate its twelfth anniversary. To be precise, LFR celebrates its twelfth anniversary on November 19. I’m thankful for that anniversary and to the people who have read LFR.

That will happen in due course. Today, however, is time for my sixth anniversary with Examiner.com. While many of the subjects are the same, the Examiner articles are different in content than my LFR posts. I enjoy the different venues that I get to express my opinions and do my reporting.

If you have the inclination, follow this link to locate my archived Examiner articles. If you want my Examiner articles delivered to your ‘front door’, click on the subscribe button, then enter your email address. Examiner will send you an email notification whenever I publish an article.

In the meantime, here’s the congratulatory email Examiner sent me this morning:

Thanks again for following me on LFR and Examiner.

Last night, Hugh Hewitt took the dramatic step of saying Republicans should adopt new rules and dump Donald Trump as their nominee. Hugh Hewitt has always been a ‘company man’ when it comes to presidential candidates. After Hewitt’s statements last night, the Trump campaign didn’t take long to express their disgust with Hewitt.

Late this afternoon, Dan Scavino Jr., one of Trump’s hatchet men, took to Twitter to say “Assume hater Hugh Hewitt will not be attending the @GOP Convention. If he is – the RNC should BAN him from attending.”

Scavino knows that Hewitt is a member of the media. He knows because Trump has appeared on Hewitt’s show multiple times. This begs the question of why Scavino and Trump hate the First Amendment. Previous nominees have gotten hounded by the press. They dealt with it. Trump has abolished reporters from his events. He’s protected Corey Lewandowski after Lewandowski attacked a female reporter. Now this. Why does Trump hate the First Amendment, which is the cornerstone of this republic?

Hewitt isn’t the only one calling for dumping Trump:

“Since the Indiana primary when my candidate, Ted Cruz, dropped out, I’ve woken up every morning looking for reasons to support Donald Trump,” Lonegan admitted. But “it’s going in the other direction. What we’ve seen from Donald Trump — we all agree it’s racism, but worse than that, what you’ve seen is incredible poor judgment.”

“Our delegates have an obligation come July to do what’s right for the Republican Party, not just anoint Donald Trump,” Lonegan said. When CNN’s Kate Bolduan clarified by asking, “Are you calling for a revolt?” he responded, “I would love to see a revolt.”

Trump is a Hillary landslide waiting to happen. Trump’s shoot from the lip habit has turned large parts of the electorate off. (Think women and minorities.) Trump was too busy loving the sound of his voice to build a campaign organization. That means he’d lose any tight races to Hillary.

Here’s the video of Lonegan on CNN:

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It’s indisputable that Donald Trump has gotten lots of traction attacking specific media figures. This time, though, Trump won’t gain traction attacking a media figure. That’s because Trump’s attacked Charlie Sykes, saying “Charlie Sykes is a lowlife. Charlie Sykes is a guy who is not a real believer, he wants the establishment to win because it’s good for his third-rate show. He’s not a smart man, he’s actually a dumb man. He’s a dummy.”

In the past, like now, Trump has attacked media figures to take attention away from Trump’s misstatements. That’s worked well when he’s attacked ‘the media’ or if he’s attacked Megyn Kelly. It won’t work this time because Wisconsin conservatives know that Charlie Sykes is one of the smartest conservatives in Wisconsin. The only way that Trump benefits from picking this fight is if it helps him in later primaries. With New York’s primary 2 weeks away, attacking Sykes isn’t likely to benefit Trump there. Criticizing Sykes in Wisconsin isn’t as fatal as criticizing the Packers or cheese but it isn’t bright, either. Attacking Sykes is like criticizing Scott Walker. To use Sykes phrase about attacking Walker in Wisconsin, it’s “weapons-grade stupid.”

Sykes didn’t take the criticism sitting down:

“I believe he was quoting Abraham Lincoln,” Sykes said. “Seriously though, he took time out from talking about ISIS, the war on terror, international trade, immigration and the economy, to talk about me? A talk-show host who asked him some questions? Kind of sad. But kind of typical.”

Trump has proven that he’s the thinnest of thin-skinned candidates in recent presidential history. His ‘rattle-factor’ is off-the-charts high.

Wisconsin voters, from what we’ve seen, aren’t easily distracted. They aren’t shiny object voters like Laura Ingraham, Eric Bolling and Sean Hannity. Finally, Trump made this foolish statement:

“I would tell you, I think this has the feel of a victory,” Trump told reporters Sunday during a campaign stop at a Milwaukee diner. “This has the feel of a victory.”

Trump’s onto something … if you define victory as finishing second, 8-12 points behind the guy getting the most votes. Trump cited the PPP ‘poll’ as reason for optimism. The Marquette University poll is Wisconsin’s gold standard. Their final poll before the primary didn’t show a tight race between Sen. Cruz and Mr.Trump.

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Prior to Super Tuesday’s primaries and caucuses, Donald Trump’s ceiling of support seemed to be in the 35%-36% range. He won handily in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. It’s particularly noteworthy that those 3 states were open states where Democrats were allowed to cause mischief or where independents could vote.

Yesterday’s events were closed events, with only Republicans voting. This table shows yesterday’s results:

Combining the 4 events together, Sen. Cruz got 41% of the votes cast. Meanwhile, Trump got 33.3% of the vote.

I haven’t hidden my disgust with Trump. If I were king for a day, I’d banish him to Gitmo and throw away the key to his cell. I’ve got great company in not respecting Trump. Steve Hayes’ article lowers the boom on Trump, especially this part:

The worst of these moments may have come when Trump mocked the disability of a journalist who had criticized him. At a rally in Sarasota last November, Trump was discussing Serge Kovaleski, a reporter for the New York Times. “The poor guy, you’ve got to see this guy,” Trump said, before flailing in a manner that resembled a palsy tremor. Kovaleski suffers from arthrogryposis, a congenital condition that affects the movement and positioning of his joints.

When Trump was criticized, he said he couldn’t have been mocking the reporter because he was unaware of Kovaleski’s condition. That wasn’t true. Kovaleski had interviewed Trump a dozen times and said they had interacted on “a first-name basis for years.” Trump then accused Kovaleski of “using his disability to grandstand.”

This came up last Friday, as I drove my 8-year-old son to see the Washington Capitals play. I’ll be gone on his birthday, covering presidential primaries, so this was an early present.

My son and his older sister have followed the campaign, as much as kids their age do, and they’re aware that I’ve traded barbs with Trump. So we sometimes talk about the candidates and their attributes and faults, and we’d previously talked about Trump’s penchant for insulting people. On our drive down, my son told me that some of the kids in his class like Trump because “he has the most points,” and he asked me again why I don’t like the Republican frontrunner.

I reminded him about the McCain and Fiorina stories and then we spent a moment talking about Kovaleski. I described his condition and showed him how physically limiting it would be. Then he asked a simple question:

“Why would anyone make fun of him?”

Why indeed?

I’d flip this around a bit. I’d ask what qualities or policies would convince me to vote for Mr. Trump. In terms of national security policy or taxes, regulations, federalism, the Constitution and the rule of law, I find Mr. Trump utterly deficient. Listening to Trump answer a question on national security is torture. At times, he’s said that he’d “bomb the s— out of ISIS.” At other times, he’s said he’d talk Putin into taking out ISIS. Bombing the s— out of ISIS sounds great but that’s just part of the threat ISIS poses. That does nothing to stop ISIS from radicalizing Muslims in Europe or the United States. Apparently, Trump hasn’t figured that out, mostly because he doesn’t even have an elemental understanding of foreign policy.

On national security, Trump says he’ll be strong and frequently pronounces himself “militaristic.” But he doesn’t seem to have even a newspaper reader’s familiarity with the pressing issues of the day. He was nonplussed by a reference to the “nuclear triad”; he confused Iran’s Quds Force and the Kurds; he didn’t know the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah. The ignorance would be less worrisome if his instincts weren’t terrifying. He’s praised authoritarians for their strength, whether Vladimir Putin for killing journalists and political opponents or the Chinese government for the massacre it perpetrated in Tiananmen Square. To the extent he articulates policies, he seems to be an odd mix of third-world despot and naïve pacifist.

Like Steve Hayes, I’m a proud member of the #NeverTrump movement. While pundits like Sean Hannity and Andrea Tantaros talk about Trump like he’s a conservative god, I won’t. That’s because I care more about the principles that make conservatism and capitalism the most powerful forces for positive change.

Why anyone would vote for a disgusting, immoral liberal like Donald Trump is mind-boggling. Personally, I won’t.

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Earlier today, I wrote this article for Examiner.com. The article centered on whether a detectable anti-Trump trend had started in Iowa. Based on what the reporters on the ground were seeing and the comments from likely caucusgoers, the answer is that there’s definitely an anti-Trump trend happening in Iowa.

Whether we’re talking about reporters covering the campaign for newspapers or magazine columnists appearing on TV or whether it’s voters themselves, people aren’t hesitating in saying they don’t like Mr. Trump’s temperament, calling him unreliable or worse. That isn’t the image candidates want to send during their closing arguments. Since Mr. Trump confirmed that he wouldn’t participate in Thursday’s Fox News/Google GOP debate, Mr. Trump has announced that he’s hosting a fundraiser for veterans and wounded warriors in Des Moines while the Fox News/Google debate is happening.

Trump clearly hopes to earn some good will by hosting an event for veterans. That plan might be backfiring. According to that article, one veterans organization is refusing money raised at the Trump rally. Paul Rieckhoff, the founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, or IAVA, tweeted “If offered, @IAVA will decline donations from Trump’s event. We need strong policies from candidates, not to be used for political stunts.”

The advertising axiom is that there’s no such thing as bad PR. This time, that axiom isn’t playing out like they’d expect. The Trump campaign, specifically Corey Lewandowski, is setting expectations impossibly high:

“When Donald Trump goes to Des Moines and we start raising money for veterans and wounded warriors and we have multiples of millions of dollars raised for these people and the American people tune in because they want to support that and Fox goes back and say they should have had 24 million watching their debate and instead they got 1 million, it’s a disservice to the American people,” Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said today on “Good Morning America.”

Lewandowski also claimed this morning on MSNBC that other campaigns have “asked us proactively” to participate in the event and that “it’s very possible” that other candidates could skip the debate as well.

Mr. Lewandowski isn’t too bright. Setting expectations high like he’s just done is political suicide, especially when you consider the fact that Wounded Warrior Project doesn’t have the greatest reputation:

About 40 percent of the organization’s donations in 2014 were spent on its overhead, or about $124 million, according to the charity-rating group Charity Navigator. While that percentage, which includes administrative expenses and marketing costs, is not as much as for some groups, it is far more than for many veterans charities, including the Semper Fi Fund, a wounded-veterans group that spent about 8 percent of donations on overhead. As a result, some philanthropic watchdog groups have criticized the Wounded Warrior Project for spending too heavily on itself.

I suspect that Iowa voters will nod approvingly at supporting veterans and then getting mad that Trump didn’t attend the Fox News/Google debate. It’s inevitable that Trump will whine about how Fox didn’t treat him fairly but that won’t explain a rapid decline if that happens.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Mr. Trump will be pursued by the other networks.
  3. 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.

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