Archive for February, 2015

Brian Beutler’s article is a testimony to how warped hardline progressives’ thinking is. Check this out:

At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years. So the verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works.

As a theme, this riff should have struck a chord with the conservative movement’s myriad Reaganologists.

This, supposedly, is Beutler’s attempt to prove that Barack Obama is the next Reagan. Let’s check that comparison. The ‘Obama Recovery’ is still the slowest recovery in history. It’s created few full-time jobs. Most of the jobs it’s created are part-time jobs. Economic growth has stagnated because a) regulation has skyrocketed and b) Obamacare became the law of the land.

Most of the full-time jobs that’ve been created were created in spite of Obama’s policies. Think Texas, which is pretty much putting anti-Obama policies in place, and North Dakota, where the Bakken Boom is happening because they didn’t have to deal with Obama’s oppressive, stifling regulations.

Any comparison with Reagan is foolish. In September, 1983, the economy created 1,100,000 jobs. For 6 straight quarters, GDP topped 5%. Thus far, the economy hasn’t grown by 4% two quarters in a row. It hasn’t had back-to-back quarters topping 3.5%.

Comparing Obamanomics with Reaganomics is like comparing a small plate of tofu with a thick, juicy steak with a side of hash browns. They’re both food but that’s where the similarity ends.

The economy’s rapid growth in recent quarters has scrambled these assumptions, and now the White House is pitching the Reagan comparison to political reporters in Washington.

What rapid growth? Seriously? Economists will slap down Beutler’s claims in a New York minute.

“All historical analogies are imperfect,” Obama’s senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer told me recently, but “people connected the economic success of the ’80s to Reagan’s policies and Democrats also became convinced that the only way to win was to move to the middle. … We want to make sure people understand the policies we put in place, how they work, how they’ve improved their situation, so when Republicans get back into it we’ll have shifted the four corners of the political debate to the left.”

First, there’s no question that President Obama’s policies are definitely to the left of where people are at. Further, there’s no question that it’ll take time to fix the myriad of messes President Obama has created.

Finally, here are the biggest ways to show Obama isn’t like Reagan:

  1. Economic growth was robust during the last 6 years of Reagan’s time in office.
  2. Economic growth during President Obama’s time in office has been pathetic.
  3. Reagan’s national security policies brought the Soviet empire to its knees.
  4. President Obama’s policies of appeasement has helped terrorism expand its control while threatening most of the civilized world.

Other than that, Obama’s accomplishments are virtually identical with Reagan’s.

Spring Semester Is Wasting Away! Part 2
by Silence Dogood

The enrollment decline at SCSU for the past five years has been well documented. From the website of the Office of Strategy, Planning and Research you can find the following figure:

For Summer 2014, the enrollment was 918 FYE. For Fall 2014, the enrollment was 5,815 FYE. For Spring 2015, the enrollment is currently 5,025 FYE. That gives a total of 11,758 FYE for FY 2015. There is some enrollment still to occur from high schools students, which may bring the enrollment to the administration’s spring projection of 5,033 or even slightly higher. Being charitable, I expect the final FY15 enrollment to settle just under 11,800 FYE. Using a final enrollment of 11,800 FYE for FY15, the enrollment drop from FY10 is 3,296 FYE and represents a five-year decline of 21.8%.

When you look at the enrollment change from Fall Semester to Spring Semester, there has always been a drop off. The following plot shows the percent change in FYE enrollment from Fall to the following Spring Semester:

Overall enrollment has been dropping but this plot shows that even when SCSU enrolls a student in the fall, the rate at which students are not retuning for Spring semester is increasing substantially more than doubling in five years. As a result, bringing in more students in the fall won’t necessarily solve the enrollment problem unless SCSU can’t retain higher percentages of them in future semesters.

In “12-Step Programs,” the first step is to admit there is a problem. For years, as the enrollment was in a nosedive, the administration kept saying that they were “right sizing” the university. After that failed, next came the need to “innovate and grow our programs.” Without saying so, this was an admission that SCSU must have overshot the “right size” whatever it was. The third stage has been to try to blame demographics, part-time students, the economy, the wrong kind of housing or anything that might be used to try to deflect responsibility for the staggering decline relative to the other MnSCU universities.

Unfortunately, the cash that was stashed as a result of the cuts during reorganization is almost gone and without substantial cuts for FY16 (10-12 million) and FY 17 (5-8 million) totaling something between $15,000,000-$20,000,000, SCSU will be going to MnSCU for a loan that must be repaid in FY18 and beyond with excess revenue to expense. Perhaps when the cuts start piling up and it turns out that even more cuts have to be made, people will recognize that there really is trouble in ‘River City’ and that trouble is not pool but it might rhyme with “P”. Apologies to Robert Preston.

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Scott Walker’s media strategy has confounded the Gotcha Media thus far. Gov. Walker’s unconventional answers have exposed these Gotcha Bandits’ political agenda. Recently, Gov. Walker threw the Gotcha Media into a hissy fit with this answer:

Walker notably delivered a critique of the media over the weekend, after being asked whether he believed President Obama is a Christian.

“I’ve never asked him that,” Walker told the Washington Post. “You’ve asked me to make statements about people that I haven’t had a conversation with about that. How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian? To me, this is a classic example of why people hate Washington and, increasingly, they dislike the press,” he said. “The things they care about don’t even remotely come close to what you’re asking about.”

The Gotcha Media immediately flew into faux outrage mode, hinting that Gov. Walker thought President Obama was a Muslim. That isn’t what Gov. Walker said. He simply said that he didn’t know because he’d never talked with President Obama about the subject.

It wouldn’t be difficult to call members of the Gotcha Media and other progressives the ‘Dog Whistle Media’ because they’re experts at hearing things that other people haven’t said.

This is an important point. When the Gotcha Media asks a question about President Obama’s religious beliefs or about the candidate’s theory on evolution or other questions, there’s just one goal in mind: to try and entice the candidate into sounding like a Neanderthal. The best way to deflect those types of questions is with a reply of “I don’t answer gotcha questions. Next.”

UPDATE: This Hill article shows how adept the Walker campaign is:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is fundraising off what he describes as “gotcha” questions from the media.

Then there’s this:

Some are questioning whether Walker’s moves have been beneficial — but his campaign is looking to frame it as a moral stand.

“He refuses to be drawn into the sideshow of answering pointless questions about whether and how much President Obama loves our country. To Governor Walker, what matters are ideas, issues, his record, and results,” the email from Friends of Scott Walker continued. “Now is the time to stand up against the publicity hounds and the journalistic pack, and help Governor Walker fight back. Your support will show the clueless and mindless journalistic herd that you know what matters most and that it is not the pointless minutiae that they are pushing.”

It’s outstanding that Gov. Walker is setting the terms of his coverage:

“To Governor Walker, what matters are ideas, issues, his record, and results.”

That’s the battlefield Gov. Walker will fight on. If journalists are upset that he isn’t playing their gotcha games, he’s saying, that’s their problem. The American people, I’m betting, are looking for a positive, upbeat, politician who focuses on them instead of the Gotcha Media’s games. Further, I’m betting they’ll find Scott Walker’s rules refreshing.

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Much ink has been spilled writing about the Dayton-DFL pay increases for commissioners. Little of that ink has been used to show how productive and competent these commissioners are. This article repeats the usual talking points on the subject, albeit in a personalized way:

I have always favored public officials being paid what their time and talent are worth. Why should their time in government be worth less than their time in private enterprise where they could earn more? Typically, public officials, including mayors, city councilors, county commissioners and even legislators, are underpaid for the time they spend serving their constituents. They have to spend their own time and money in costly and stressful campaigns just to get elected to serve. Once elected, they are expected to spend their time away from their families attending meetings, listening to constituents and answering phone calls and emails.

My Bloomington council member gets a salary of $12,396. He hasn’t had a raise since 2003, and he deserves one. Private enterprise, which will probably oppose the pay raises, has to pay higher salaries to attract good talent. Look what top executives and middle management earn in private enterprise. Why not pay good salaries to those who work for the government? Public service is honorable, but it doesn’t put food on the table.

All the Republican howling is about increased salaries ranging from $119,517 to mostly $150,000, to a high of $154,992 in five cases. Most of the commissioners haven’t had a pay raise in 10 years. Dayton in a letter to the legislators said that not one commissioner asked for a raise. He also has offered to meet with the Republican caucus to give his side of the story.

First, if Bloomington wants to raise the pay for its city councilmembers, that’s their decision. That isn’t something I’m concerned with. On a scale of 1 to 2,000, how much Bloomington city councilmembers make ranks in the range of 1,950-1,999 for me. That’s if I’m feeling charitable.

As for Mr. Heinzman’s question about why “not pay good salaries to those who work for the government?”, the answer is simple. Most of the commissioners are political hacks. They aren’t hired because they’re productive or competent. I’ve frequently cited Myron Frans as the poster child of commissioner incompetence. I could’ve cited Lucinda Jesson as incompetent just as easily. I cited Heather Carlson’s reporting in this post. Here’s what Ms. Carlson reported:

The recent revelation that the state failed to send out letters to 16,000 low-income Minnesotans seeking medical assistance to let them know their applications had not been processed and they were not covered does not surprise Olmsted County Community Services Director Paul Fleissner.

“Every county has been screaming that we didn’t think notices were going out, and the state kept saying yes, yes, yes, people are just forgetting this. We had a really strong sense that they weren’t and finally it’s been confirmed that they weren’t going to our people,” Fleissner said.

What part of that indicates Jesson is competent?

When progressives talk about people making more in the private sector, are they talking about NPOs that get government funding? Nonprofits technically aren’t part of government in that their CEOs aren’t appointed by the governor. In every other meaningful way, though, they’re part of the public sector.

Republicans could make this a major campaign issue in 2016 if they emphasize the commissioners’ incompetence, not just the outlandish-sized raises

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This ABC article highlights just how much the Obama administration’s disgust with Israel has grown. Relations between Israel and the US have never been this frosty. President Obama apparently intends on giving Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu the cold shoulder treatment when he visits DC:

In what is becoming an increasingly nasty grudge match, the White House is mulling ways to undercut Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to Washington and blunt his message that a potential nuclear deal with Iran is bad for Israel and the world.

There are limits. Administration officials have discarded the idea of President Barack Obama himself giving an Iran-related address to rebut the two speeches Netanyahu is to deliver during his early March visit. But other options remain on the table.

Among them: a presidential interview with a prominent journalist known for coverage of the rift between Obama and Netanyahu, multiple Sunday show television appearances by senior national security aides and a pointed snub of America’s leading pro-Israel lobby, which is holding its annual meeting while Netanyahu is in Washington, according to the officials.

The administration has already ruled out meetings between Netanyahu and Obama, saying it would be inappropriate for the two to meet so close to Israel’s March 17 elections. But the White House is now doubling down on a cold-shoulder strategy, including dispatching Cabinet members out of the country and sending a lower-ranking official than normal to represent the administration at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the officials said.

It’s apparent that President Obama’s disgust with Israel isn’t going away anytime soon. It isn’t surprising that he’s got the chilliest relationship with Israel of all the US presidents since Israel became a nation in 1948.

Vice President Joe Biden will be away, his absence behind Netanyahu conspicuous in coverage of the speech to Congress. Other options were described by officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.

President Obama’s childishness has never been more on display than right now. He’s acting like a petulant little child who’s throwing a hissy fit because he isn’t getting his way.

U.S. officials believe Netanyahu’s trip to Washington is aimed primarily at derailing a nuclear deal with Iran, Obama’s signature foreign policy objective. While Netanyahu has long been skeptical of the negotiations, his opposition has increased over what he sees as Obama’s willingness to make concessions that would leave Iran on the brink of being able to build a nuclear weapon. His opposition has intensified as negotiations go into overdrive with an end-of-March deadline for a framework deal.

It’s frightening that the Obama administration thinks that letting Iran become a nuclear power is an “accomplishment.” I’d consider it a failure of historic proportions. Giving the leading terrorist nation nuclear weapons is stupid. Prime Minister Netanyahu is right in being worried about Iran going nuclear.

A true ally, which the Obama administration and most Democrats aren’t, wouldn’t let Iran get a nuclear weapon. This is just further proof that this administration doesn’t see the world that exists. It sees the world it wants to exist.

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There’s little doubt that the environmental activist wing of the DFL isn’t concerned about protecting the environment as much as they’re concerned with killing industries. That point is illustrated perfectly in this LTE:

The proposed Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Superior National Forest because of copper/nickel/precious metals mining projects was an incredible waste of time brought to everyone by extreme environmentalists.

While we are pleased that U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials finally put a stamp of common sense on this issue by saying there is no need for such a far-reaching environmental impact study, here’s what they should have also said to the environmentalists who sought it: “Why are you wasting our time and money to even have to consider this. It’s a frivolous request.”

The PEIS would have been a duplication of what is already being done as far as an environmental impact statement for the PolyMet project near Hoyt Lakes and what will be done for the nonferrous Twin Metals project near Ely and Babbitt.

And the environmentalists who sought the PEIS know that. But they don’t care. They just want to harass and try to delay good projects, which will get the toughest and most stringent review of any mining venture ever in Minnesota.

This isn’t surprising. It’s part of the environmental activists’ tactics. The goal isn’t to win cases. The goal is to keep bringing lawsuits until the company surrenders. Don’t take my word for it. Take it from Gov. Dayton’s first MPCA commissioner. Here’s what he wrote after wearing the investors down:

Along with our allies at the Izaak Walton League of America, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Wind on the Wires, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Fresh Energy argued, first in South Dakota, then before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), that the new plant was a bad idea. Our message was simple: The utilities had not proven the need for the energy, and what energy they did need could be acquired less expensively through energy efficiency and wind.

We kept losing, but a funny thing happened. With each passing year, it became clearer that we were right. In 2007, two of the Minnesota utilities dropped out, citing some of the same points we had been making. The remaining utilities had to go through the process again with a scaled-down 580-megawatt plant.

I titled that post “Attrition, not litigation.” Time has moved on but the environmental activist wing of the DFL remains the same. They still trust in the tactic of wearing companies down until they surrender. They still oppose the miners’ way of life. They still want the miners’ votes. They just don’t want the miners’ agenda.

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This polling says everything in terms of the Democratic Party’s utter disdain for the Constitution and their appreciation for anarchy:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 26% of Likely U.S. voters think the president should have the right to ignore federal court rulings if they are standing in the way of actions he feels are important for the country. Sixty percent (60%) disagree and say the president should not have the right to ignore the courts. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

But perhaps more unsettling to supporters of constitutional checks and balances is the finding that 43% of Democrats believe the president should have the right to ignore the courts. Only 35% of voters in President Obama’s party disagree, compared to 81% of Republicans and 67% of voters not affiliated with either major party.

I’d bet the proverbial ranch that Rasmussen wouldn’t have gotten these results if Scott Walker were president. Democrats, aka the ‘ends-justifies-the-means-when-we’re-in-power-party, only care about the rule of law when a Republican is in the White House.

Imagine what the Democrats’ response would be if President Walker permanently suspended the ACA’s major provisions, starting with the employer and individual mandates, then continuing with the collection of revenues from the medical device manufacturers’ excise tax before finally writing a regulation that eliminates the requirements for the qualified health plans.

I’m betting that less than 10% of Democrats would think that Gov. Walker “should have the right to ignore the courts if he tried gutting the ACA. It’s all about whose ox is getting gored, isn’t it? Thinking that the laws apply to others but not to you is as anti-American as it gets. Either the law applies to everyone or there’s chaos and division.

President Obama and his supporters support splitting America. He’s worked on that since his inauguration. His divisiveness showed early. Rather than accepting suggestions from Republicans on his stimulus bill, he shafted them, saying that “I won.” President Obama’s my-way-or-the-highway style of governance took hit after hit in the courts on issues of presidential overreach. No other president has had 13 straight unanimous rulings go against him in the Supreme Court.

Even judges he appointed rejected his arguments in these cases.

Days before his election, President Obama said that he and his supporters were just days away from transforming America. While it’s true he changed the Democratic Party, he, thankfully, failed in changing America. The Democrats went from being the evil party to the party of lawlessness.

I’m not the world’s best predictor but some things aren’t predictions. They’re sure things. I wrote this post to lay out the statistics indicating that the Dayton-DFL cigarette tax increase would hurt Minnesota’s convenience stores. That prediction took less than a month to come true:

“Petro Serve USA” CEO Kent Satrang says the shift to North Dakota was almost immediate. Satrang says the convenience store industry lobbied the legislature for a smaller tax increase.

I wish I could say that these businesses weren’t getting hurt but I can’t. Thanks to the Dayton-DFL cigarette tax increase, they’re getting hurt. Don Davis’ article highlights the situation:

Recent news reports of cigarettes being smuggled into Minnesota come as no surprise.

Dale Erickson, general manager of Henry’s Foods in Alexandria, told Governor Mark Dayton in a March 2013 town hall meeting in Moorhead that a proposed cigarette tax increase would mean Interstate 94 “will become a black market highway” as cigarettes taxed at a lower North Dakota rate would show up in Minnesota. “There is no way to trace the cigarettes,” Erickson said.

Erickson and convenience store owner Frank Orton told Dayton that they would lose business to Fargo, North Dakota stores that collect smaller taxes. “Minnesotans could drive across the bridge to Fargo and buy their cigarettes for $18 less per carton,” Erickson said.

The Dayton-DFL ‘solution’ is as foolish as their tax increase is hurtful:

[S]tate officials say they need $1 million to improve their tobacco law enforcement. Officials say cigarette smuggling costs the state $2.6 million in tax revenues.

Repealing the cigarette tax would help these small businesses that are getting hurt. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option with the DFL. Republicans should refuse to spend a penny on additional “tobacco law enforcement” by saying that we don’t need to tie up the courts with these prosecutions.

This week, we’ve been subjected to some of the most idiotic thinking about the expanding ISIS threat against civilization. While middle east nation after middle east nation is visited with treachery, President Obama and Vice President Biden hosted a conference on “violent extremism.” Here’s something President Obama said Thursday that’s gotten my attention:

First, we must remain unwavering in our fight against terrorist organizations. And in Afghanistan, our coalition is focused on training and assisting Afghan forces, and we’ll continue to conduct counterterrorism missions against the remnants of al Qaeda in the tribal regions. When necessary, the United States will continue to take action against al Qaeda affiliates in places like Yemen and Somalia. We will continue to work with partners to help them build up their security forces so that they can prevent ungoverned spaces where terrorists find safe haven, and so they can push back against groups like al-Shabaab and Boko Haram.

President Obama’s words sound reassuring. Unfortunately, like his State of the Union Address, his words don’t reflect reality. Saying that “the United States will continue to take action against al Qaeda affiliates in places like Yemen” is total BS. The US embassy in Sana’a was hastily evacuated. Top secret or classified documents were left behind.

This is foolishness:

The Syrian civil war will only end when there is an inclusive political transition and a government that serves Syrians of all ethnicities and religions. And across the region, the terror campaigns between Sunnis and Shia will only end when major powers address their differences through dialogue, and not through proxy wars. So countering violent extremism begins with political, civic and religious leaders rejecting sectarian strife.

When a house is burning, the first step is to call 9-1-1, not hold a discussion on the flammability of various building materials. In a crisis, putting out the fire first is more important than rewriting building codes so houses are less likely to catch fire.

Whether President Obama is using this summit as a way to not take the fight to ISIL or whether he’s just acting like a professor because that’s his nature, it’s irrelevant. He’d be much better off applying President Reagan’s strategy towards the Soviets. When asked what his strategy was towards the Soviets, President Reagan said let’s offer them a reset switch “Simple. We win, they lose.”

Since launching airstrikes against ISIS, the US has averaged 7 strike sorties a day against ISIL. That’s proof that Obama is fiddling while ISIS continues its expansion.

If I were writing the title for my LTE on Gov. Dayton’s pay increases to his commissioners, I’d title it ‘The immoral Bakk-Dayton pay increase’ because that’s the perspective they should be viewed through. Here’s my conclusion to the LTE:

Meanwhile, nobody is talking about how the DFL commissioners are overpaid. Myron Frans got a $35,347 raise after telling the Legislature electronic pull tabs would bring in $35 million of tax revenue per year for the Vikings’ stadium. Last year, it generated $1.7 million. Frans was just off by 95 percent. In the private sector, Frans would’ve gotten fired. In the Dayton administration, he got a 40 percent pay increase.

Last week on Almanac, Mary Lahammer interviewed a gentleman who studies salaries. This gentleman, whose name I’ve forgotten, insisted that people with that many employees and that many responsibilities in the private sector would be “presidents, vice presidents or CEOs” and that they’d “get paid twice as much as they’re making” in the public sector.

Let’s examine that statement. The first assumption is that public sector commissioners get scrutinized like private sector CEOs, presidents and vice presidents. They don’t. Once commissioners are confirmed, they’re there until they leave for a consulting job or they screw up like April Todd-Malmlov.

That leads to the first unanswered question: where’s the expectation that upper level management in the public sector are really good at their jobs?

That leads to a second assumption, which is that the incentive for doing a job right in the private sector exists to the same extent that it exists in the public sector. That’s the wrong assumption. It’s wrongheaded thinking. If a CEO makes a big enough mistake, the company he works for loses money, perhaps lots of money. There are consequences to making bad decision in the private sector.

Those consequences don’t exist in the public sector. When Myron Frans totally botched it with the e-pulltab revenue estimate, the money didn’t come from his pocket. It came from taxpayers’ pockets. Not only didn’t he get terminated, he got a $35,000 raise and a new job title.

Incompetence and corruption are tied to each other. In Frans’ case, one led to the other. It’s immoral for a commissioner that incompetent to not get fired. It’s despicable that a commissioner that incompetent got a raise. If Frans were a moral man, he’d tell Gov. Dayton that he didn’t earn the money.

Frans won’t do that. He’ll just keep collecting paychecks he didn’t earn. Shame on Frans, Dayton and Bakk for being that disinterested in protecting the taxpayers’ hard-earned money.