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Archive for April, 2011

The DFL’s dishonest drumbeat continued Friday night, this time with Mike Hatch and Denise Cardinal as their dishonest mouthpieces.

Hatch distinguished himself by complaining about photo ID, saying that the economy hasn’t been addressed, with 2 corporate takeovers underway and a litany of other things to whine about, before saying that there isn’t a problem.

At best, you can’t know that there isn’t a problem if you aren’t certain that the person getting the ballot is the person who’s getting the ballot.

First, Hatch isn’t paying attention or he’s lying. The more people dig into Minnesota’s election system, the more holes they’re identifying. Washington County is intensifying its voter fraud investigation. Minnesota Majority is investigating voter fraud and filing affidavits attesting to irregularities that they’ve found.

That’s before talking about the alleged manipulation from the Clark Lake Group Home.

If this lasts another month, the DFL won’t have a viable argument that voter fraud a) doesn’t exist or b) just isn’t that prevalent. Arguing that isn’t a matter of opinion anymore. It’s a drumbeat.

Another thing that was brought up were the constitutional amendment bills. Fritz Knaak spoke directly to the gay marriage ban constitutional amendment, essentially saying that the DFL should blame President Obama for that. Sen. Knaak said that President Obama’s announcement that he wouldn’t defend DOMA triggered this constitutional amendment.

Finally, Denise Cardinal’s contribution for the night was saying that none of the constitutional amendments will create a single job. That isn’t true because one of the proposed constitutional amendments would require 60% of the House and 60% of the Senate to raise taxes.

Essentially taking tax increases off the plate would certainly ease businesspeople’s minds, knowing that they wouldn’t have to constantly worry about tax increases.

Cardinal’s flippant line might play with like-minded liberals but I’m pretty certain that people understand that election integrity, while not as important as balancing the budget and getting the economy going, is still important, too.

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The commentary of the NFL entry draft has developed a predictable theme: that Bill Bellicheck is a draft genius who’s continually stockpiling draft picks for years to come. I question the validity of that statement.

The goal of the NFL’s elite teams must be to win Super Bowl titles. After the Saints traded with the Patriots to acquire the 28th pick, then taking Mark Ingram with that pick, retired Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said that the Saints were desperate and that the Patriots don’t have to because they’ve already won a bunch of Super Bowl trophies.

Actually, I’d argue that the Saints understand that their window of opportunity to win more Super Bowl titles isn’t getting bigger and that picking great players gives them the best shot at winning more Lombardi Trophies.

The Patriots’ picks are good, solid picks but they aren’t drafting difference-makers anymore. They’re drafting replacement parts for their aging lineup. Additionally, they aren’t using their picks to draft dominant defensive players for their front seven. Their pass rush isn’t what it used to be. Their secondary has been exposed as a result of that. What’s worse is that they aren’t as stout against the run as they once were.

Their working the draft hasn’t resulted in them winning more Super Bowls. It’s just given them a sterling reputation in the media. Friday night’s pick of Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett is really a reminder that Tom Brady isn’t getting younger and that the Patriots’ window of opportunity is closing.

The Patriots and Cowboys have similar draft strategies. Neither team has won a Super Bowl title recently. For all their ‘working the draft’, they haven’t gotten closer to winning another Lombardi Trophy.

The Patriots and Cowboys apparently haven’t figured out that the goal of the draft is to give them the best opportunity to win Super Bowl titles, not earn praise from the media.

Meanwhile, Sean Payton and the Saints seem to have learned that trading up to get a special player is important to winning more Super Bowl titles.

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Jeff Rosenberg’s post is filled with projections. Here’s the title of his post:

The MNGOP: Drunk with power and out of control

If you’re curious what supports that headline, here it is:

Their latest would make this year’s budget deficit a recurring yearly phenomenon by requiring a 60% majority to raise taxes. If you want to know what policies like that get you, just look to California and its disastrous budget crisis. Minnesotans won’t support this.

It’s ridiculous to think that California’s budget problems would disappear if they could just raise taxes. They’ve raised taxes a number of times. Each time they raise them, more companies leave the state.

California’s problem is that they aren’t willing to reform state programs because that would upset the Democrats’ union allies.

In other words, the only accurate comparison between Minnesota and California is that Democrats in both states aren’t serious about reforms because their union puppetmasters won’t sanction the reforms.

I’m interested in hearing Mr. Rosenberg’s explanation on why he thinks it’s awful to make it difficult to raise taxes. It’s lazy to immediately turn to raising taxes rather than doing the due dilligence to identify programs that’ve outlived their usefulness or that are suffering mission creep or that just never should’ve been started in the first place.

For now, I want the MNGOP to do their job and finally pass an honest budget that doesn’t rely on $1.2 billion that they simply made up.

Hearing Gov. Dayton and his DFL allies complaining about dishonest numbers is laughable. Remember that Candidate Dayton that initially said that his tax-the-rich scheme would net $4.6 billion in additional revenue. Then he revised that to $4 billion. When the Pawlenty Department of Revenue scored it, they said it would generate an additional $1.9 billions of revenue.

After Gov. Dayton proposed his budget, the DFL refused to sponsor the bill. That’s interesting. After the February forecast, Gov. Dayton removed the tax surcharge on people making $1,000,000 a year. He also eliminated the cuts to reimbursement rates to nursing homes.

By not sponsoring Gov. Dayton’s bill, we’ll never know if it actually balances. Gov. Dayton is constitutionally obligated to submitting a budget. By submitting a budget but not sponsoring it, the DFL lives in the best of both worlds strategically. They’re free to attack the GOP budget while not having to prove whether Gov. Dayton’s budget actually balances.

The unfortunate part for them is that a laundry list of complaints isn’t an agenda. The DFL is long on complaining about the solutions in the GOP budget. The DFL is short on solutions other than their annual tax-the-rich diatribe.

It really is extraordinary how quickly the Republicans went off the deep end.

Republicans ran on the things they’re now passing. Minnesotans liked their plan so much that the GOP was rewarded majorities in the House and Senate. If that’s going off the deep end, then it’s the deep end that voters all across Minnesota told them to go off of.

If anyone went off the deep end, it’s Gov. Dayton. Gov. Dayton picked an environmental extremist to run the MPCA. In his previous life, Paul Aasen ran the MCEA, one of the organizations that sued Big Stone II until they gave up on the plan. He even bragged about it in this STrib op-ed:

The demise of Big Stone II is a big victory in the fight against global warming. We are running out of time if we are going to stop ice caps from melting, sea levels from rising, and droughts and temperatures from increasing and hurting Minnesota farmers. The first order of business is to do no more harm. By stopping construction of a coal-fired power plant in our back yard, we have accomplished this.

Finally, this is Exhibit A on why U.S. senators must pass the global warming bill before them. We kept telling the utilities that a cap-and-trade system, which will require large cuts in carbon dioxide, was coming and that they were underestimating the cost to their customers. Once the Waxman-Markey bill passed the U.S. House earlier this year, the utilities could no longer ignore or downplay the shifting marketplace.

Let’s remember Gov. Dayton proposed making Minnesota the highest taxed state in the nation:

Dayton would pay for his increased spending in part by increasing taxes on what he considers wealthy Minnesotans to 10.95 percent. It would apply to joint filers earning more than $200,000.

He also would apply a 3 percent surcharge on those earning more than $500,000.

“It makes Minnesota’s tax fairer by raising taxes only, only on the wealthiest 5.5 percent of Minnesota taxpayers,” Dayton said this morning in unveiling the budget plan.

This isn’t a balanced approach:

According to this tweet, Gov. Dayton is cutting the MinnesotaCare budget:

Dayton budget cuts 7,200 people from MNCare, with incomes above 200% of fed poverty level

According to Rachel Stassen-Berger’s tweet, Gov. Dayton is being cruel to seasoned citizens:

#mnbgt cuts home and community-based service rates by 4.5% and nursing facility rates by 2%.

Raising the top tax rate from 7.85% to 13.95% is extreme enough. Cutting reimbursement rates to nursing homes while cutting home and community-based service rates by 4.5% isn’t just extreme, it’s heartless.

If Mr. Rosenberg still insists that Republicans went off the deep end simply because they wanted to make things difficult to raise taxes, that’s his right. It’s also a stupid thing to do.

I’d argue that it’s the DFL that went off the deep end. Then again, projection is practically the DFL’s middle name.

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It isn’t surprising that MPP is complaining that Republican legislators have substantively dismantled this administration’s fiscal notes. What they’ll find out, however, is that they’ll hurt their credibility by criticizing King Banaian. That’s what they’re doing in this post:

Currently in Minnesota, all legislative bills are fisked and given fiscal notes by an agency in the Executive Branch, MN Management & Budget (MMB). Here’s the problem with that, for today’s GOP Legislative “Leaders”: MM&B has been pointing out GOPer numbers haven’t been adding up; for instance, GOPers “claim” their Senate File 908 will save taxpayers (using THEIR numbers) an impressive $36.6 MILLION. But, that’s using THEIR numbers.

One of the GOP’s complaints against the fiscal notes is that they’ve gotten ‘creative’ with the numbers. For instance, the fiscal note on Mary Kiffmeyer’s included money for a huge advertising campaign, something that isn’t required by the Supreme Court ruling and that isn’t in Rep. Kiffmeyer’s legislation.

The fiscal note didn’t reflect the cost of the actual legislation. It reflected the policy preferences of this admininstration. As such, this administration has corrupted the fiscal note process.

Mitch Berg has highlighted how the commissioner of MMB serves at at the pleasure of Gov. Dayton. Despite this information, the DFL enablers insist that position is a nonpartisan position.

I wrote here about the bill’s provisions. I’d love hearing whether MPP has objections to any of these provisions:

Subd. 5. Duties. (a) The commission shall:
(1) provide the legislature with research and analysis of current and projected state revenue, state expenditures, and state tax expenditures;
(2) provide the legislature with a report analyzing the governor’s proposed levels of revenue and expenditures for biennial budgets submitted under section 16A.11 as well as other supplemental budget submittals to the legislature by the governor;
(3) provide an analysis of the impact of the governor’s proposed revenue and expenditure plans for the next biennium;
(4) conduct research on matters of economic and fiscal policy and report to the legislature on the result of the research;
(5) provide economic reports and studies on the state of the state’s economy, including trends and forecasts for consideration by the legislature;
(6) conduct budget and tax studies and provide general fiscal and budgetary information;
(7) review and make recommendations on the operation of state programs in order to appraise the implementation of state laws regarding the expenditure of funds and to recommend means of improving their efficiency;
(8) recommend to the legislature changes in the mix of revenue sources for programs, in the percentage of state expenditures devoted to major programs, and in the role of the legislature in overseeing state government expenditures and revenue projections;
(9) make a continuing study and investigation of the building needs of the
government of the state of Minnesota, including, but not limited to the following: the current and future requirements of new buildings, the maintenance of existing buildings, rehabilitating and remodeling of old buildings, the planning for administrative offices, and the exploring of methods of financing building and related costs; and
(10) conduct a continuing study of state-local finance, analyzing and making recommendations to the legislature on issues including levels of state support for political subdivisions, basic levels of local need, balances of local revenues and options, relationship of local taxes to individuals’ ability to pay, and financial reporting by political subdivisions. In conducting this study, the commission shall consult with the governor, the staff of executive branch agencies, and the governor’s Advisory Commission on State-Local Relations.
(b) In performing its duties under paragraph (a), the commission shall consider, among other things:
(1) the relative dependence on state tax revenues, federal funds, and user fees to support state-funded programs, and whether the existing mix of revenue sources is appropriate, given the purposes of the programs;
(2) the relative percentages of state expenditures that are devoted to major programs such as education, assistance to local government, aid to individuals, state agencies and institutions, and debt service; and
(3) the role of the legislature in overseeing state government expenditures, including legislative appropriation of money from the general fund, legislative appropriation of money from funds other than the general fund, state agency receipt of money into revolving and other dedicated funds and expenditure of money from these funds, and state agency expenditure of federal funds.
(c) The commission’s recommendations must consider the long-term needs of the state. The recommendations must not duplicate work done by standing committees of the senate and house of representatives.
(d) The commission shall:
(1) prepare fiscal notes and revenue notes on pending legislation;
(2) prepare local government impact notes on pending legislation; and
(3) prepare a forecast of state revenues and expenditures.
(e) The commission shall report to the legislature on its activities and
recommendations by January 15 of each odd-numbered year.
(f) The commission shall provide the public with printed and electronic copies of reports and information for the legislature. Copies must be provided at the actual cost of furnishing each copy.

Based on what I’ve read from the legislative language, I’d argue that this is a well-written piece of legislation.

What’s laughable, though, is seeing the bill attacked as partisan. Here’s why the ‘partisan’ attack is laughable:

Subdivision 1. Membership. The Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy consists of three members of the senate appointed by the Subcommittee on Committees of the Committee on Rules and Administration and three members of the senate appointed by the senate minority leader, three members of the house of representatives appointed by the speaker, and three members of the house of representatives appointed by the house of representatives minority leader. Vacancies on the commission are filled in the same manner as original appointments. The commission shall elect a chair and a vice-chair from among its members. The chair alternates between a member of the senate and a member of the house of representatives in January of each odd-numbered year.

How is it partisan when half of the people appointed are appointed by the DFL leadership, half by Republican leadership of the House and Senate?

Two-Putt is a political hack. He throws alot of grenades. Some day, it’s possible that he’ll actually read the bill before throwing grenades at it. Then again, I’m not holding my breath waiting.

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Democrats must know today’s GDP rate announcement is a disaster for them. I’m basing that opinion on the fact that Steny Hoyer is spinning it as the result of Republican policies:

While this marks the seventh straight quarter of economic growth, it is clear that more must be done to spur the economy and create jobs. To both keep the economy growing and speed up that growth, we cannot do anything that subjects the economy to unnecessary uncertainty. Yet Republicans continue to hold the economy hostage to their partisan and divisive agenda by threatening to default on our nations’ debts, despite the fact that much of the debt that’s been run up was as a result of their policies.

I hope today’s news will prompt Republicans to stop putting our economy at risk. I also hope it will remind Republicans that we need to take action on job creation. It’s disappointing that after four months in the majority Republicans have failed to bring a single jobs bill to the Floor, despite their promises that it was their top priority.

Businesses aren’t investing because they’re worried sick about the runaway spending of the Obama administration that have led to unprecedented and unsustainable deficits.

Hoyer’s statement that “much of the debt that’s been run up was as a result of their policies” is total crap. The reality is that the first two Obama deficits totalled more than the 8 years of the Bush administration. That’s before factoring in this year’s deficit, which is expected to be $1,650,000,000,000. That’s more than the 12 years of Bush-Reagan and then some.

Rep. Hoyer is tap-dancing faster than his feet can take. Saying that the Republicans’ plans are divisive is code for ‘they ran on this stuff when they won 63 net House seats. Now they’re implementing it.’ If 63 House seats, 6 Senate seats, 5 governorships and 680 state legislative seats changed from Democrat to Republican control, and if they all ran on the note of fiscal responsibility, it’s difficult to argue that their agenda was divisive.

I’m bettng that that’d sound pretty unifying to most observers.

Hoyer needs to understand that this type of spin doesn’t work in a TEA Party world.

Most importantly, Rep. Hoyer will find out in November, 2012, that the American people will reject the Democrats’ agenda.

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There hasn’t been alot of doubt about whether the economy is slowing for awhile now. What’s remaining to be seen is whether we’re heading into another recession or whether this is just a weakening of the economy.

Today’s GDP report won’t soothe fears of another recession:

Economic growth braked sharply in the first quarter as higher food and gasoline prices dampened consumer spending and sent inflation rising at its fastest pace in 2-1/2 years.

Another report on Thursday showed a surprise jump in the number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits last week, which could cast a shadow on expectations for a significant pick-up in output in the second quarter.

This isn’t unexpected after JP Morgan revised their GDP numbers downward:

As Barack Obama was delivering his speech on the nation’s long-term debt crisis, word came that JP Morgan has radically downgraded its projection of the nation’s short-term prospects for economic growth. Morgan now thinks the economy will grow at an annual rate of 1.4 percent this year. This comes hard on the heels of Macroeconomic Advisers lowering its growth projection for 2011 from 4 percent at the beginning of the year to 1.7 percent today.

What this does, however, is it casts doubt on President Obama’s deficit reduction numbers, partly because they’re based on optimistic growth rates. JP Morgan’s projection dropping to 1.4% annual GDP growth, combined with Macroeconomic Advisers dropping their projection to 1.7% and today’s GDP report certainly can’t be seen as good news by the White House.

This is undoubtedly worrying President Obama’s political advisers. If there’s another recession, President Obama will be a one-term president. If the economy avoids a technical recession but inflation, unemployment and gas prices remain high, he’s still a one-term president.

Whatever the political outcome, the average American family will need to brace for more bad news. That’s the worst news of all.

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Literally, the DFL started complaining about every bill the GOP offered that the DFL deemed wouldn’t create jobs. Rep. Winkler argued that implementing a photo ID requirement would have dire consequences:

Minnesota is facing historic economic and fiscal challenges. State lawmakers have just a few months to solve a gaping $6.2 billion deficit while preserving essential public services.

But Republicans in the legislature would rather focus their attention on a divisive social agenda that denies some Minnesotans the right to marriage, denies women the right to choose, and denies seniors the right to vote.

That’s beyond hyperbole. That’s what I’d call an outright lie. First, Minnesota is hardly the only state that doesn’t permit gay marriages. Second, there’s nothing in the GOP agenda that bans abortions. As an attorney, Rep. Winkler knows that the Supreme Court took that decision out of the states’ hands. Finally, Rep. Winkler knows that implementing photo ID won’t strip seniors of their right to vote.

Thus, it’s hardly surprising to find out that Rep. Winkler hasn’t given up on fighting against photo ID’s for the next election:

Mindful of an adjournment deadline that now is less than a month away, Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, on Wednesday tried to change the House rules. His proposal would have banned any floor votes on constitutional amendments before the budget is balanced.

On Hot Talk With the Ox this morning, I argued that implementing photo ID, while it isn’t as important as putting a balanced budget together, should be a high priority fo this session. The reality is that photo ID is essential for cleaning up the front end of the voting process because it eliminates the biggest target for election manipulation.

Right now, Mark Ritchie can’t credibly argue that voter fraud doesn’t exist in Minnesota anymore. I wrote about that here and here. I noted in those posts that active voter fraud investigations are being reported at an icreasingly high rate.

With Washington County cranking up an extensive voter fraud investigation, it’s impossible for Mr. Ritchie to maintain what’s left of his crediblity while arguing that voter fraud doesn’t exist in Minnesota.

Rep. Winkler was wise in not adopting the NY Times’ editorial board storyline:

Spreading fear of a nonexistent flood of voter fraud, they are demanding that citizens be required to show a government-issued identification before they are allowed to vote. Republicans have been pushing these changes for years, but now more than two-thirds of the states have adopted or are considering such laws. The Advancement Project, an advocacy group of civil rights lawyers, correctly describes the push as “the largest legislative effort to scale back voting rights in a century.”

If the NYTimes wants to argue that voter fraud doesn’t exist, that’s their right. It’s just that they’re wrong. In fact, I’d argue that they know they’re wrong but they won’t let facts get in the way of their time-tested storyline.

Rep. Winkler and the DFL quit arguing that voter fraud doesn’t exist. They’ve transitioned to saying that Photo ID wouldn’t have prevented the types of voter fraud cases these investigations are uncovering.

My rebuttal is straightforward. Photo ID would stop the voter fraud that happens in the vouching system. Photo ID isn’t a silver bullet, ‘if we get this enacted, everything is right in the world’ solution.

I thought of something earlier this week that would make elections more trustworthy. It’s actually patterned after a provision in Sarbanes-Oxley.

Many of the voter fraud convictions in Minnesota are from felons voting illegally. It’s apparent that Mr. Ritchie isn’t insisting that the SVRS is updated regularly.

That’s why Photo ID isn’t the only thing that needs to be done to help restore election integrity to Minnesota.

Rep. Winkler knows that. Unfortunately, it’s too apparent that he’s fast becoming Gov. Dayton’s shill.

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If you want to know what a cop-out on the budget sounds like, you needn’t look further than this MPR article. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Cassellius wrote that she does “not consider these bills a starting point for serious negotiations.” She also said the objectionable items in both bills “were too numerous to detail.”

If Commissioner Cassellius’s statement that the objectionable items in both bills “were too numerous to detail” were from Sen. Cassellius, I wouldn’t take her statement seriously. I’d tell her to return when she had something specific to start with.

Her dismissive attitude indicates that she’s taking orders from Tom Dooher and Gov. Dayton.

Let’s remember that, during the campaign, Gov. Dayton said that school funding would increase every year with “no excuses, no exceptions.” Then the Department of Revenue returned Dayton’s first two budgets, saying that they fell short of the mark. Before submitting his third budget, he conceded that he wouldn’t be able to pay off the payment shifts to K-12.

It wasn’t surprising to me to hear Gov. Dayton say in his State of the State address that he was back singing out of the EdMinn hymnal. (Is this proof that Gov. Dayton blinks after all?)

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SCSU Professor Emeritus Andrew Larkin’s op-ed illustrates the differences between conservative governance and progressive governance. Here’s the conservative approach:

Imagine a society of 10 people, where one has an income of $1 million and the other nine have incomes of $50,000. Now imagine a flat tax rate of 10 percent on all incomes. The government would receive revenues of $100,000 from the millionaire and $5,000 each from the other nine.

The government’s total revenue would be $145,000, and “the top 10 percent of earners” would have contributed more than half.

Here’s the progressive approach:

In our 10-person society, for sake of illustration, suppose we introduced a progressive tax where incomes of a million or more were taxed at 20 percent and incomes of $50,000 or less were not taxed. (Incomes in between, if there were any, could be taxed at graduated rates.)

The outcome would be increased revenues of $200,000 for the government, and everyone would be left enough for living expenses. The millionaire would be left with $800,000, and the others would be left with $50,000.

First, let’s suppose that these were revenues during a solid economic recovery. It isn’t reasonable to think that millionaires would eat the cost of a recession by themselves. One likely reaction would be to substantially and immediately cut payroll. Other options might be for the millionaires to contribute less to their employees’ 401(k)’s or toward their health insurance premiums.

Progressive taxation at the state level has another downfall in that it’s opening a gaping hole in that state’s competitiveness vs. other states.

It’s painfully obvious that Prof. Larkin has highlighted another shortcoming states with progressive taxation systems experience. States employign progressive taxation systems experience wild swings in revenues, which leads to erratic funding of a state’s constitutionally mandated services.

That’s pretty much what Minnesota has experienced most of my adult life. It’s almost to the point that I’d call them Minnesota’s “temper tantrums.” This must be a budgeter’s worst nightmare.

John Pederson, my state senator, recently addressed this issue at a townhall meeting. He said that, historically speaking, states with the most progressive tax systems states are prone to wild swings between big surpluses and massive deficits.

New York and California started the year with extremely progressive systems. Their budgets are total messes. Minnesota’s budget is a total mess, too.

States with less progressive taxation systems tend to not experience the giant mood swings in state revenues, which helps increase tax stability. That, in turn, increases cost certainty for companies. Companies in states with stable taxation systems are more likely to expand their companies in good times.

These companies aren’t as likely to layoff people, either, which leads to greater cost certainty.

Minnesotans should learn that tax progressivity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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Donald Trump has been an attention-getter most of his adult life. In that respect, nothing’s changed. What’s changed most is the fact that we’re a much more celebrity-driven society.

It isn’t that Trump ever was a brilliant president-in-the-making. It’s that he’d perfected the art, momentarily, of looking like a brilliant president-in-the-making.

While it’s true that I’d rather have a President Trump than a President Obama, that isn’t a particularly high hurdle these days. Trump just barely met that threshhold.

What bothers most is that supposedly serious journalists went ga-ga over him. I don’t know if it was his brashness that they found appealing. It certainly wasn’t intellect.

I’d call Trump a carnival huckster but I wouldn’t want to bring carnival hucksters down to Trump’s level.

If we had a real media, Trump would’ve been a 1-week story. Unfortunately, we don’t have a real media so it was turned into a carnival sideshow.

Trump should’ve never been taken seriously. I suspect that the reason that the networks gave him the run he got is because his type of eccentricity fits with their type of eccentricity.

Donald Trump is an insanely rich man who should stick to doing the things that insanely rich people do. To suggest that Mr. Trump is connected with Main Street’s drumbeat is foolish.

It’s true that there are plenty of millionaires and billionaires who stay connected with Main Street. Most of the people falling into that category make a living selling to Main Street. If anything is true, it’s that
Trump sells to elites and the rich.

Still, Trump’s candidacy taught us some things that Republicans better learn before 2012. The biggest lesson is that they must be solutions-oriented. It isn’t that Mr. Trump was a brilliant policy wonk. It’s that he spoke clearly in identifying his solutions. (For instance, Mr. Trump’s policy of taking Iraq’s oil to pay for the war is stupid but it was something populists latched onto.)

Another lesson to be learned from Mr. Trump is that leadership is a must. (In fact, I’d argue that leadership, policy and problem-solving are inextricably connected.)

Finally, it’s important that Republicans learn there are a limited number of battlefields worth fighting for. Mr. Trump found an issue that got people excited, then he exploited it for all it was worth.

The birther issue is one that this administration had an answer for. They won’t be that lucky with gas prices.

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