Archive for the ‘Debates’ Category

Friday night, Keith Downey, the chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota, faced off against Ken Martin, the chairman of the DFL. For the most part, it was nondescript, with the first questions focusing on each party’s strategy with absentee ballots. It turned feisty, though, when Cathy Wurzer talked about the Cook Report changing its rating of the Eighth District congressional race to toss-up:

WURZER: How worried are Democrats about that race?
MARTIN: I wouldn’t say we’re worried but we aren’t taking anything for granted. In a midterm, crazy things can happen and we’re working very hard in the Eighth Congressional District. We’ve got a great candidate in Congressman Nolan who has actually done the hard work of governing and getting things done on behalf of his constituents and I think that alone will help him win re-election.
WURZER: Are you surprised that experts — so-called experts — think that this is a toss-up in what we’ve long thought of as a pretty deep blue district?
MARTIN: No, I’m not surprised. Over time, the district has changed, no doubt about it. The addition of those southern counties has made it more competitive. There’s been a change in some of the demographics in the district sso I’m not surprised that pundits are saying that. I am surprised that they think it’s competitive because I think the candidate they have is really out of touch with the voters in that district. You have a guy in Stewart Mills who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. He’s never had to fill out a job application in his life and I don’t think that the blue collar workers of the Eighth District are going to take well to someone like Stewart Mills.

I’m not surprised that Ken Martin immediately attacked Stewart Mills as an out-of-touch rich guy. I also wasn’t surprised by Keith Downey’s response:

DOWNEY: Well, take away the personal insults and I think Stewart Mills is actually a fantastic candidate for the Eighth and you combine that with the fact that people are figuring out that people on the Iron Range are waking up to the reality that Democrats are committed to pretty much shutting down mining entirely up on the Iron Range. You look at the values that Stewart Mills holds and his lifelong residency in the district. I think he’s a great fit in that district.

What’s especially noteworthy is what wasn’t said. What didn’t get said is that Ken Martin didn’t dispute Chairman Downey’s statement that the DFL wants to shut down mining. The reason why that’s so noteworthy is because an attack unchallenged becomes the truth with voters.

Chairman Martin didn’t have any wiggle room because he’s still working hard at keeping the environmental activist wing of his party from bolting from the DFL’s coalition. Right now, the DFL’s coalition is fragile. Chairman Martin can’t afford it to start breaking apart.

That’s why Stewart Mills is a great candidate. He’s totally committed to making mining the Range’s economic growth engine for another generation. Rick Nolan isn’t.

Martin’s snotty remark that Stewart Mills has never filled out a job application in his life should be exploited by the Mills campaign. I’d recommend they turn that around and ask Nolan the last time he managed a company’s health insurange plan. I’d ask him the last time he opened another major retail store that’s committed to paying its employees more than the minimum wage.

I’d ask those questions because they’d expose Nolan to be the career politician he’s always been. I’d ask those questions to highlight the fact that Mills Fleet Farm is a popular store in the north country.

Friday night, Ken Martin and Keith Downey met on Almanac’s set. Martin hurled insults while looking defensive. Downey debated while looking confident about the position Republicans are in.

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Thanks to George Will’s response to Chris Wallace’s question about climate change, we have clarity on the issue:

Here’s a partial transcript of Brother Will’s response:

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: …I’m one of those who are called deniers. And the implication is that I deny climate change. It’s impossible to state with clearer precision the opposite of my view, which is that, of course the climate is changing. It’s always changing. That’s what gave us the medieval warm period. That’s what gave us, subsequent to that for centuries, the little Ice Age. Of course it’s changing. When a politician on a subject implicating science, hard science, economic science, social science, says the debate is over, you may be sure of two things. The debate is raging and he’s losing it. So I think, frankly, as a policy question, Chris, Holman Jenkins, Kim’s colleague at the “Wall Street Journal” put it perfectly. The only questions is, how much money are we going to spend? How much wealth are we going to forego creating in order to have zero discernible effect on the environment?

There’s actually another question worth asking in light of President Obama’s recent golf outing in California:

Regulations for new coal plants would increase electricity prices by as much as 80 percent, an Obama administration official told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Julio Friedmann, deputy assistant secretary for clean coal at the DEPArtment of Energy, told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight board that carbon capture and storage technology was still not ready for prime time.

“The precise number will vary, but for first generation we project $70 to $90 per ton [on the wholesale price of electricity],” Friedmann said. “For second generation, it will be more like a $40 to $50 per ton price. Second generation of demonstrations will begin in a few years, but won’t be until middle of the next decade that we will have lessons learned and cost savings.”

This means that the CCS technology the administration is pushing for would increase electricity prices initially, but that prices would come down a bit once better technology is developed. But electricity prices would still be higher than they are now.

It’s disgusting that President Obama insists that he’s the champion of the middle class. The middle class will get hit hardest by this rate increase. While it isn’t technically a middle class tax increase, there’s no question that this is another Obama administration policy that hurts the middle class.

President Obama is the champion of the middle class the way Bonnie and Clyde were bank security advocates.

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Now that the RNC has passed a resolution preventing NBC and CNN from hosting GOP primary debates, it’s time to talk about why it’s a great decision.

First, highlighting the fact that CNN has reverted to being a Clinton cheerleader (that’s how it earned its nickname of being the Clinton News Network in the 1990s) and NBC is planning on airing a Hillary miniseries is a great strategy. There’s no better way to highlight these networks’ bias than by highlighting these networks’ bias.

Second, let’s stop pretending that these networks have great debate moderators. Remember Candy Crowley’s interference in the Romney-Obama debate by insisting President Obama had called Benghazi a terrorist attack from the start:

President Obama mentioned terrorists in passing. He didn’t say that Benghazi was a coordinated, pre-planned terrorist attack. The CIA said that the day after the attack but he didn’t. Crowley’s performance was one of the worst performances in presidential debate history.

Then there’s David Gregory accusing Newt Gingrich of racism for talking about President as the food stamp president:

Anyone that thinks David Gregory or Candy Crowley are fairminded, centrist journalists likely think that George Stephanopoulos is objective, too. For those who’ve forgotten, here’s a reminder of Stephanopoulos’ objectivity:

The thought that a journalist would waste time during a presidential debate on contraception policy is appalling. It’s a nothing question designed to paint Republicans as hating women. Stephanopoulos wasn’t trying to ask a pertinent question on an important issue. His goal was to ask a pointed question to humiliate a presidential candidate.

The best moderators in the presidential debates were Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and the other people from Fox. They asked substantive questions. They didn’t hesitate in asking a clarifying follow-up question. They thing they didn’t do is ask gotcha questions that didn’t inform the voters about the important issues of the day.

Not letting the likes of David Gregory, George Stephanopoulos, Scott Pelley and Candy Crowley moderate the GOP primary debates is a positive step in the right direction.

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When I wrote the first part of this series, I accused the DFL of attempting to stifle debate. I noted that Rep. Erin Murphy, the House Majority Leader, was lying in justifying the DFL’s tactics:

“The floor debate is where Minnesotans have the least amount of access,” Murphy said. “When amendments are being drafted on the floor and then debated on the floor, it’s hard for representatives to be able to talk to constituents and get answers to questions as to what it means.”

Since I published the first post of this series, I’ve spoken with a number of GOP legislators, all of whom verified that the DFL’s rules change would stifle debate. One legislator confirmed that he’s received input from his constituents during floor debates. That’s why he considers his laptop essential equipment for floor debates.

Since Monday morning, though, I’ve found out more about the DFL’s proposed rule change. What they’re proposing is that, after the GOP has filed their motions 24 hours in advance, the DFL can file “an amendment to amend the amendment.” The DFL would then use that tactic to gut the GOP’s amendments most popular amendments so vulnerable DFL legislators wouldn’t have to cast difficult votes in the hope of hanging onto their seats in 2014.

In addition to gutting the GOP’s amendments to protect their legislators, the DFL’s rules changes would essentially gut the GOP’s ability to represent their constituents. The thing that’ll bite the DFL in the backside on this, though, is that the DFL won’t be able to explain how their gutting the GOP’s amendments strengthened the legislation. The DFL won’t be able to hide the fact that the DFL is pushing an unpopular agenda.

Yes, it’s unpopular. If the DFL’s agenda had widespread support, they’d welcome robust debate. The stronger the legislation, the better they’d look.

This isn’t the first time that the DFL majority has attempted to stifle debate. The truth is that they’re gutless wimps who don’t have the confidence to debate their legislation on the merits. That’s their right…for now.

It isn’t surprising that the DFL wants to limit debate in the Minnesota House of Representatives. When they’re in charge, that’s what they’ve traditionally done. This time, Erin Murphy is the DFL legislator that’s proposing to limiting debate under the guise of transparency:

Democrats in the Minnesota House are proposing to change how the House operates during floor debates.

The plan would require proposed amendments to be filed 24 hours before the debate on a bill starts. It’s a dramatic departure from current rules that allow members to draft and propose changes to legislation as members are debating it.

House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, said she’s making the change to give lawmakers and the public more time to consider proposed changes to legislation.

What’s worst is that Rep. Murphy is lying to justify her proposal:

“The floor debate is where Minnesotans have the least amount of access,” Murphy said. “When amendments are being drafted on the floor and then debated on the floor, it’s hard for representatives to be able to talk to constituents and get answers to questions as to what it means.”

In a pre-Twitter, pre-social media, pre-texting world, Rep. Murphy might’ve had a point. She isn’t right anymore. Citizens have multiple points of access to legislators during floor debates, with Twitter being the most popular. Texting likely comes in a close second.

Most likely, she’s just doing the best she can to BS herself through a terrible predicament. Rep. Murphy can’t admit that it’s never been easier for constituents to contact their representatives during a floor debate. Rep. Murphy can’t admit that livestreaming the floor debate makes it possible to watch the debate, either. Rep. Murphy can’t admit that constituents can read bills thanks to the House of Representatives’ website.

If she admitted that, Rep. Murphy and the DFL would have to admit that their real goal is to limit debate to limit their exposure to common sense amendments that would improve their legislation. The worst part about a truly open amendment process for the DFL -is that it would force DFL legislators to cast votes against amendments that their constituents would want them voting for.

That, in turn, would put already vulnerable DFL legislators in greater jeopardy of losing in 2014. Unfortunately for the DFL, the DFL can’t protect their representatives from their agenda of higher taxes, more wasteful spending and greater intrusions into people’s lives.

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John Boehner is failing. He’s playing President Obama’s game on President Obama’s court. He’s prosecuting the wrong case. Rather than discussing the terms of the fiscal cliff debate, Speaker Boehner should be talking about why Republicans’ pro-growth tax policies are America’s only hope for a variety of Obama-created ills.

First, Speaker Boehner should highlight the fact that President Clinton’s high tax rates didn’t trigger the great economy. He should remind the nation that it was Newt’s capital gains tax cuts that sent the economy into high gear. Prior to those tax cuts, the economy was doing ok. After cutting the capital gains tax, growth exploded.

Another thing that Speaker Boehner must do is remind people that Republicans’ insisting on balancing the federal budget helped strengthen the dollar, which led to a dramatic shrinking of America’s trade deficit. That especially affected gas prices.

Third, Speaker Boehner should shout from the rooftops that revenues during the Bush tax cuts were significantly bigger than revenues are today. If Speaker Boehner asked President Obama why he’s insisting on anti-growth policies that tamp the economy down rather than implementing new pro-growth policies that strengthen the economy, President Obama might well blow a gasket.

This is the debate we should start. This is the debate President Obama can’t win. This is the conversation that would expose President Obama’s motivation for imposing higher tax rates.

Rather than the pattern of proposal-counterproposal, then a counter offer to the counterproposal, with each side publicly stating that the other side needs to put forth a serious proposal, Speaker Boehner should ditch that pattern, especially the taunting language.

Instead, Speaker Boehner, followed by every Republican in Congress talking with their local newspapers and TV outlets about how cutting spending is what’s fair to taxpayers and how reforming the tax code, highlighted by fewer deductions and lower tax rates, would strengthen the economy.

Highlight the fact that this was the real reason why the economy was strong during the Clinton administration. Highlight the fact that the economy didn’t take off until Newt changed the trajectory of the debate.

President Obama is too arrogant to be frightened by that debate, which means Speaker Boehner should be able to turn this situation into a discussion on getting America’s economy going for the first time during President Obama’s administration.

With expensive utility bills, shrinking paychecks, high gas and grocery prices and unacceptably high unemployment rates, the indictment against President Obama’s mishandling of the economy should be lengthy and powerful.

Finally, he should unleash Paul Ryan. Speaker Boehner should insist on a televised fiscal cliff summit, with Ryan leading the prosecution of the case against President Obama’s reckless spending. Dave Camp should prosecute the case for why the GOP tax reform plan will strengthen the economy.

GOP senators and governors should take part in this summit, too. One tactic President Obama has overplayed is saying that ‘we can talk about that’ on a variety of policies, then dropping that position the minute he’s out of the room. Republicans should tell him that implementing a pro-growth economic plan is non-negotiable.

Finally, make the case that raising the top marginal tax rates won’t affect the Warren Buffetts of the world because their income comes from investments, not wages. Make the case that raising the top marginal tax rates will hurt small businesses, not the evil Wall Street fatcats President Obama always talks about.

President Obama’s policies are failing. Speaker Boehner’s ineptitude in highlighting those failures has the fiscal cliff conversation heading in the wrong direction. It’s time to change the direction of that conversation.

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I just published this post about progressive fascism in Minnesota, which is a good start on what’s wrong with public debate in Minnesota but that doesn’t go far enough in talking about what’s the heart of the problem.

What’s wrong is illustrated with this disgusting depiction of progressive fascism:

It was an experience I will remember a long time. Especially seeing the backs of the state troopers–as they lined up shoulder to shoulder to keep the crowd from touching us. And the screaming, “Shame! Shame!” at us. Doesn’t really go with earlier in the evening when they were singing Amazing Grace, and shouting “No Hate”. Of course, they seemed to think it was perfectly loving to scream “Bigot” 10 inches from my face and spit on one of the other reps. (By the way, he has MS, walks with a cane and is a little slower. No hate, right?

This video highlights what’s at the heart of the problem:

What caught my attention is Prof. Rauch’s statement that “Minorities aren’t delicate flowers” that need protection. Later, his statement that an attitude of “Bring it on” is what changes people’s minds. Pluralism, not purism, he said, is the way to change people’s minds. He’s exactly right.

What’s interesting is that Prof. Rauch isn’t a hardline conservative. He’s a gay rights activist and proud liberal. He isn’t interested in shutting down debate. He’s advocating for passionate, respectful debate.

The gay rights activists that spat on Rep. Hamilton weren’t interested in passionate, respectful debate. Their shouting down people they disagree with is the opposite of debate. That might win elections but it doesn’t win mandates. It simply says that one side did a better job of turning out voters than the other side.

This review of Greg Lukianoff’s book hits at the heart of what’s wrong with progressive fascism:

Lukianoff tells me of a recent survey conducted by the American Association of Colleges and Universities: ‘Out of 24,000 students who were asked the question, “Is it safe to hold unpopular positions on campus?”, only 35 per cent of students strongly agreed. But, when broken down, the stat indicates something even worse. Forty per cent of freshmen strongly agreed, but only 30 per cent of seniors.’ In other words, students unlearn freedom of speech during their studies.

It’s troubling to think that dissent is discouraged on college campuses. What’s worse is that students aren’t the only people who are told that they shouldn’t express dissent:

‘Even worse, only 16 per cent of university faculty strongly agreed with this statement. It’s not even a particularly strong statement, and if we’ve reached a point where only 16 per cent of faculty strongly agree with it, then we’re doing something wrong.’

When the vast majority of faculty say that holding unpopular positions” is dangerous for them, then something’s seriously wrong with university administrators.

It’s time for debate-loving people of all political persuasions to join together in fighting the latest version of fascism.

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This LTE contains a disturbing scene:

I attended both Voter ID public hearings in the city of Rochester during this election year. I went there hoping to learn more about the proposed amendment, along with hearing more from the opposing point of view.

I didn’t realize I was in for such a rude awakening. Most of the hearing consisted of people shouting and talking over the representatives from both sides on the issue.

I completely respect the idea of the First Amendment and the freedom of speech. Unfortunately, people seem to believe it applies only when the speaker’s point of view agrees with their own.

When speaking with Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer after the hearing in Rochester, she stated this was the worst reception she had ever received. One lady verbally attacked her right in front of me, along with a young man grabbing her arm on the way out of the forum.

I decided, with a group of like-minded individuals, to escort her out of the building.

This is the face of DFL activism. Though this incident involved the proposed Photo ID constitutional amendment, this isn’t the only time DFL activism has gone way past the line. I wrote about another incident where the DFL activists’ behavior was disgusting. This is a firsthand report from a legislator:

What became unnerving was that last night as we moved closer to the vote they got louder and faster. There was one woman who screeched every time the main doors opened. Made me long for a pair of socks. It was an experience I will remember a long time. Especially seeing the backs of the state troopers–as they lined up shoulder to shoulder to keep the crowd from touching us. And the screaming, “Shame! Shame!” at us. Doesn’t really go with earlier in the evening when they were singing Amazing Grace, and shouting “No Hate”. Of course, they seemed to think it was perfectly loving to scream “Bigot” 10 inches from my face and spit on one of the other reps. (By the way, he has MS, walks with a cane and is a little slower. No hate, right?

This past session, the DFL spoke in public about the need for compromise. They spoke of it as the political Holy Grail. The DFL’s hypocrisy was exposed because they took a my-way-or-the-highway approach when they were the majority party in the legislature. From 2007-2010, there weren’t calls for civility and compromise. Those words were quickly forgotten.

Thanks to ABM’s lies and the Twin Cities’ media’s unwillingness to call them on their disgusting pattern of lying, progressive fascism has displaced Minnesota Nice. Here’s hoping that Republicans take principled stands against the DFL’s bad policies.

More importantly, here’s hoping the GOP articulately explains why they’re opposing the DFL’s counterproductive policies. Only through clear articulation of our principles will we win debates. We won’t win elections if we don’t win the debates.

The good news is that positive solutions will quickly discredit progressive fascism’s chalking points.

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This is just a heads-up that I’ll be liveblogging tonight’s final presidential debate. I’ll also be periodically posting thoughts on Twitter.
7:10 PM CT — Before tonight’s debate, it’s probably wise to comment on what President Obama & Gov. Romney need to talk about. While the subject is the same for both, each man’s goals are distinctly different. President Obama needs a great night. He needs to stop Mitt Romney’s momentum. If he doesn’t stop Mitt Romney’s momentum, the topics of tonight’s debate are irrelevant.

Mitt Romney simply needs to show he’s capable of handling the responsibilities of Commander-in-Chief.

7:30 — Gen. Wesley Clark was just on O’Reilly. First, he tried filibustering. Next, he tried rewriting history about the Democrats not attempting to take partisan advantage over 9/11. Finally, he didn’t answer O’Reilly when O’Reilly asked him about why the American people can’t get a straight answer from this administration on Benghazi. Question: Will President Obama follow the same strategy tonight? If that’s what President Obama attempts to do, this election will quickly slide away from him.
8:02 — President Obama & Gov. Romney are introduced.
8:03 — First question is on Libya. Gov. Romney up first.
8:04 — Congratulates Obama on killing bin Laden, then talks about comprehensive strategy on terrorism.
8:07 — Obama: al-Qa’ida’s core has been decimated. Then he says Romney’s foreign policy “has been all over the place.”
8:12 — Romney: Mr. President, attacking me isn’t an agenda. Then he says he “certainly won’t say that I’ll have more flexibility after the election.”
8:16 — Did I hear right? Did Obama say that Libya stands with us?
8:23 — Obama: I think it’s important that America stands with democracy.
8:25 — Romney: I wish we would’ve done more to promote principles of freedom.
8:30 — Romney: It was an enormous mistake when President Obama didn’t stand with the Green Revolution.
8:31 — Obama: We have unprecedented relationship with Israel as a result of Obama’s leadership. Now he’s talking about cutting spending. Seriously? Now he’s playing the blame Bush card.
8:33 — Romney: we need to focus on trade. Good topic for Romney, bad for Obama.
8:36 — Obama: Going on & on & on about education & raising taxes.
8:37 — Romney: I’ve put in place education policies that work. Great shot.
8:42 — Obama: This isn’t a game of Battleship.
8:45 — Obama: If Israel is attacked, we will stand with Israel. Why not prevent attacks?
8:50 — Romney: Ships that carry Iranian oil can’t come into our ports.
8:55 — Romney: talks about apology tour. Then talks about how President Obama skipped stopping in Israel when on his apology tour.
9:00 — Romney: Russia said that they’re “no longer going to abide by Nunn-Lugar.” Great shot on President Obama.
9:01 — Obama’s back to Romney being erratic.
9:13 — Obama talking about always standing on the side of democracy. Tell that to the families of the Iranian protesters who died while rioting.
9:23 — Romney to Obama when Obama interrupts: Saying that I want to decimate Detroit is the height of silliness.
9:25 — Obama now equating tax simplification with tax breaks for the rich. That’s scary.

Prior to this presidential campaign, I’d always thought of Juan Williams as an honorable man despite being a hopeless liberal. I’ve never thought of him as a towering liberal intellect.

Williams’ op-ed reinforces that image:

So if Romney chooses to go back to the topic of Libya he is taking a big risk. It again could prove to be a blind alley where he gets mugged a second time. Meanwhile both sides fear any factual slip or glaring lack of knowledge in this last debate before the election. That fear is large in the Romney camp as they prepare a candidate with no foreign policy experience.

If anyone’s at risk on the subject of Libya, it’s President Obama. He’s the one who’s lied about the timeline of events. It’s his administration that’s went from one explanation to another to another.

If Mitt wants to paint President Obama into a corner, he’d highlight how the Obama State Department monitored the 5-hour-long gunfight in Benghazi as it happened. He’d highlight the cables from Ambassador Christopher Stevens requesting more security forces for Benghazi. He’d highlight the fact that, if Vice President Biden can be believed, the State Department didn’t communicate with the White House on the rise of al-Qa’ida terrorist attacks in Benghazi.

What Juan Williams apparently doesn’t get is that this administration’s policies got a diplomatic team killed.

Romney scored a major win in that first, Denver debate. His poll numbers continue to climb. But after Obama’s win in the second debate will that surge come to a halt?

The answer will likely be based on President Obama’s success in the third debate.

Two specific sets of voters, women and young people, will be at the heart of judging the winner.

In the first debate Romney was able to reach out to women voters and his rise in the polls is tied to his success in racing into a basic tie for the women’s vote, at least according to some polls.

In the foreign policy debate the president will want to appeal to women as a level-headed leader while portraying Romney as a man who wants more wars.

Talk about disgusting. Williams wants President Obama to “appeal to women as a level-headed leader” after this administration ignored the growing threat posed by al-Qa’ida affiliates in Libya, Mali, North Africa and western Iraq?

That might’ve worked if he’d put a higher priority on dismantling terrorist networks than he paid to picking off high-ranking al-Qa’ida terrorists one-at-a-time.

Americans are starved for true leadership. That isn’t something they’ve seen from this administration.

Mitt Romney can clinch a victory in November by showing the leadership traits and attention to detail that haven’t been seen during this administration.

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