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Archive for September, 2015

Almost 18 months ago, President Obama announced that the United State would start an air campaign to degrade and destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Thus far, President Obama’s military strategy has been virtually nonexistent. This morning, Russia told the US military to stay out of Syria so it could conduct the airstrikes. Surprisingly, President Obama didn’t agree to Russia’s order.

According to reports, “Russian warplanes have begun bombarding Syrian opposition targets in the war torn nation’s north, working on behalf of dictator Bashar al Assad, according to a senior military official. The official said airstrikes targeted fighters in the vicinity of Homs, located roughly 60 miles east of a Russian naval facility in Tartus, and were carried out by a “couple” of Russian bombers.”

It’s worth noting that Russia isn’t targeting ISIS. Yesterday, Donald Trump said that we should let Russia take out ISIS first, then the United States can take out Assad. I wrote here that Trump’s policy is as weak as President Obama’s.

Letting Russia reassert itself in Syria gives them a foothold from which they can destabilize the region. Certainly, Russia is attempting to prop up Syria and Iran. That isn’t in the United States’ interests economically or in the fight to eliminate global jihadists. A protected Iran isn’t in our allies’ interests. It certainly isn’t in Israel’s interests if Iran is protected by Putin.

It’s time for President Obama to stop his appeasement policies. It’s time, too, for Mr. Trump to start learning the players in the Middle East. Either that or it’s time for him to drop out. At this point, Trump’s grasp of the Middle East, or lack thereof, is frightening our allies.

Last night on the Kelly File, Roger Stone tried explaining how Trump’s tax plan would be paid for. Unfortunately for him, he talked himself into a corner that there’s no getting out of. Stone insisted that Trump is a fiscal conservative, saying that Mr. Trump would offset the cost of his tax plan by cutting spending. At that point, Guy Benson highlighted Mr. Stone’s spin, saying that we should be skeptical of spending cuts coming from a guy who’s “proposing Obamacare on steroids.”

Sunday night on 60 Minutes, Trump was asked about his health care plan, at which point Mr. Trump said “I’m going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.” When Pelley pressed Mr. Trump further about who would pay for this coverage, Mr. Trump said “the government’s gonna pay for it. But we’re going to save so much money on the other side.”

The question Mr. Stone left unanswered is how a man that wants government to pay for everyone’s health care is a fiscal conservative. It’s unanswered because it isn’t possible. That’s like saying a company’s intellectual property is safe because they hired an IT guy away from the Chinese government to secure their intellectual property.

According to Bruce Mohs’ editorial, the St. Cloud School District will host 2 informational meetings to inform citizens what their property tax increases will pay for. Unfortunately, these informational meetings won’t give citizens the opportunity to provide input into what their property tax increases will pay for.

According to Mohs’ editorial, this is informational only. Given how much effort has been put into keeping this vote secret and given how much effort has gone into limiting taxpayers’ options, it isn’t surprising that citizen participation is being limited.

According to Mohs’ editorial, “The first forum will be from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 5 at Whitney Senior Center. This session will be facilitated by Jay Caldwell from WJON-AM and will include a formal presentation from Neighbors For School Excellence, breakout group discussions, and a question-and-answer period.”

Notice that it doesn’t say that taxpayers will have the opportunity to explore other, less costly, options that would cost less than this Taj Mahal of a project. Mohs and other school board members apparently think that this project is too important to their legacy to give citizens the opportunity to have a real say in the matter.

Here’s a hint to Mohs and his cohorts. School board members don’t have legacies. Presidents and secretaries of state have legacies. School board members, if they’re lucky, are footnotes in history. Unfortunately, taxpayers foot the bill for these people’s egos.

When Bill Clinton first appeared on the national stage, he brought a nickname with him — Slick Willie. It wasn’t used affectionately. Twenty five years later, Slick Willie has disappeared. Bill Clinton isn’t slick anymore. Based on this article, Worked Up Willie is a better fit.

In an interview that’s scheduled to air today on CNN, Worked Up Willie does his best to take pressure off Hillary, saying “I have never seen so much expended on so little. She said she was sorry that her personal email caused all this confusion. And she’d like to give the election back to the American people. I think it will be all right. But it’s obvious what happened.” The problem Bill has, that Hillary has really, is what they can’t say.

Hillary can’t say that she’s sorry for compromising the United States’ national security by exposing the United States’ sources and methods to hacking invasions by China and Russia. Hillary can’t really say that she’s done everything possible to keep United States’ satellite imagery out of Chinese and Russians’ hands.

President Clinton knows these things. That’s why he’s attempting to deflect attention away from those questions. He’s doing for Hillary what Hillary did for Bill during Monicagate. The problem is that she isn’t the skilled politician he was. People don’t trust her. They don’t like her, either.

That’s because Hillary hit the trifecta of negativity. She isn’t likable. She isn’t trustworthy. She’s definitely a terrible politician. You can do much worse than that.

Nancy Pelosi’s statement about the House Republicans’ plan to vote to defund Planned Parenthood is typical Democratic spin. Ms. Pelosi’s statement that “House Republicans are planning yet another taxpayer-funded Select Committee to burn more of the millions of taxpayer dollars they’ve already spent playing politics – this time with the goal of taking lifesaving preventative care away from millions of American women” is particularly offensive.

It’s offensive because the alternative to investigating Planned Parenthood’s activities is to turn a blind eye towards Planned Parenthood’s activities. That’s the Democrats’ pattern. If anyone wants to scrutinize one of their ‘sacred cow’ institutions, the Democrats’ reflexive reaction is to accuse the people who want to examine that institution’s activities as being haters.

Kirsten Powers’ USA Today article on the Gosnell murder trial provides a powerful picture of what happens when people stop paying attention. In April, 2013, Ms. Powers wrote that “Since the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell began March 18, there has been precious little coverage of the case that should be on every news show and front page.”

After whining about Republicans establishing “another taxpayer-funded Select Committee” to investigate Planned Parenthood’s activities, Ms. Pelosi wrote that “there must be a thorough investigation of the blatant wrongdoing of the group that clandestinely filmed and selectively edited these videos, likely in violation of numerous state and federal laws.”

Ms. Pelosi lives in an alternative universe where it’s unfair to investigate organizations that get taxpayer funding but it’s imperative to investigate people who uncovered that taxpayer-funded organization’s questionable activities.

This article by CNN’s Maeve Reston and Stephen Collinson is a worthwhile read. That doesn’t mean they don’t get some important things wrong, though.

It’s apparent that they think anyone calling themselves a TEA Party conservative agrees with Ted Cruz’s strategies 100% of the time. That’s apparent when they said “Despite the constitutional constraints on action in Washington and the presence of a Democratic President with a veto in the White House, they are furious that the GOP has failed to overturn Obamacare.”

Actually, I’m not upset with the GOP Congress for “fail[ing] to overturn Obamacare.” I’m furious with Mitch McConnell and John Boehner for not pushing the conservatives’ reform agenda. There’s no excuse for why they haven’t pushed Tom Price’s health care reforms. It’s filled with popular features that are infinitely more popular than the mandates in the ACA. There’s no excuse for not pushing Paul Ryan’s tax simplification legislation. Republicans and Democrats alike support tax simplification. Most importantly, it’s supported enthusiastically by small business entrepreneurs.

There’s no excuse for Mssrs. Boehner and McConnell haven’t pushed cutting government based on the GAO’s reports of duplicative programs. I’d love hearing Democrats defend programmatic duplication that runs into the tens of billions of dollars. (That isn’t a typo. It’s billions with a B.)

Finally, and I’m especially passionate about this, there’s no justification for not pushing Ron Johnson’s regulation reform. Sen. Johnson’s reforms aim to neuter something he calls “weaponized government.” When the EPA insists that a couple in Idaho can’t build their dream home on land they purchased because there’s a low spot somewhere on the property, that’s weaponized government. There’s nothing about that that lives up to “of, by and for the people.”

Though I’m upset with CNN, that’s nothing compared with how pissed off I am with Mssrs. Boehner and McConnell.

This NYTimes article is this week’s political bombshell:

WASHINGTON — Speaker John A. Boehner will resign from Congress and give up his House seat at the end of October, according to aides in his office.

Mr. Boehner was under extreme pressure from the right wing of his conference over whether or not to defund Planned Parenthood in a bill to keep the government open.

The race for the next speaker is essentially open.

Few people south of Brainerd know that there’s a special election that’s going to be held in the next month. People living in International Falls, Grand Portage and Grand Marais know it well because their representative in the 2015 session, David Dill, passed away this summer after a tough fight with cancer. The DFL hoped to avoid lots of bloodshed by not holding an endorsing convention, which I wrote about here.

I wrote then that “Paul Fish, the DFL chairman of the district, issued a statement on why they chose not to hold an endorsing convention, saying ‘The residents of House District 3A lost a true champion with the passing of Rep. David Dill. The voters of 3A deserve the opportunity to select the DFL candidate who best represents their interests. Therefore, a DFL endorsing convention for the 3A seat will not be held. Participation in the September 29th primary is encouraged.'”

Fish won’t get his wish of not having a food fight after Bill Hansen’s unhinged moment. When talking about PolyMet, Hansen, a hardline environmental activist, flamed out, saying “We need the jobs. Jobs are important. But those aren’t the jobs we want. In this modern age, these projects are going to be man camps … that clear out the community, create a lot of crime, prostitution, gambling. All kinds of community problems and tend to drive out other sustainable jobs.”

That’s stunning. Saying that in a mining district right before a special election can’t be good. Labor’s response was predictable:

“Mr. Hansen has degraded our members for his own personal and political gains. He clearly has a delusional and skewed view of current-day construction workers and the value they bring to their families and community.” — Mike Syversrud, President of the Iron Range Building and Construction Trades Council

I won’t predict the outcome of this special election. I’ll just say that this special election has the potential for some serious fireworks.

In midterm elections and presidential elections, 65 polling stations are open in St. Cloud. In this year’s off-off-year election, the St. Cloud ISD742 School Board will only open 13 polling stations. According to this St. Cloud Times article, Kevin Januszewski, executive director of business services for the St. Cloud school district, said this move is designed save on the cost of the election. What Mr. Januszewski isn’t saying is that having the election next year would eliminate the school board’s cost of the bonding referendum vote entirely. That’s because there’s a presidential election next year.

Voter participation is at its highest during presidential elections. Further, the cost to the school district drop dramatically because they don’t pay for the entire election. If costs are significantly less and voter participation is at its highest, that’s the sweet spot. Public officials are always saying that they want high voter participation rates. Here’s the opportunity to guarantee that. Why didn’t the ISD742 School Board pick 2016 for this gigantic bonding referendum vote?

Is it because they want low turnout? Apparently so. I noted in this post that voter participation from within the education community was sure to be close to 100% while voter participation from the average taxpayer will at its lowest. It’s historically been that way for decades.

To the taxpayers:

  1. Has the school district asked you for your input into this important decision?
  2. Has the school board informed you about the bonding referendum beyond vague generalities?
  3. Has the school district been upfront with you about the property tax implications for you personally?
  4. Have they explained the ramifications of this property tax increase on St. Cloud’s tax base?
  5. Has the school board explained why they’re holding this vote when voter participation is at its lowest?

Personally, the answer to those questions are no, no, no, no and no. Without answers to these important questions, I can’t support this referendum at this time. Vote no on November 3.

This Q-Poll from Quinnipiac University shows Donald Trump as its biggest loser in the sense that he loses to Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden (who isn’t even in the race) and Socialist Bernie Sanders.

According to the Q-Poll, Hillary “gets 45 percent to Trump’s 43 percent.” Meanwhile, Vice President Biden defeats “Trump 51 – 40 percent.” Finally, Bernie Sanders “tops Trump 47 – 42 percent.” That isn’t good news for Trump. Hillary loses to Carly Fiorina 44% to 43%, 44% to 42% to Jeb Bush and 49% to 42$ to Ben Carson. Meanwhile, “Biden gets 46 percent to 43 percent for Fiorina and beats Bush 46 – 41 percent and Trump 51 – 40 percent. Biden and Carson are tied 45 – 45 percent.” Finally, “Sanders gets 43 percent to Fiorina’s 44 percent and ties Bush 44 – 44 percent. Sanders trails Carson 49 – 39 percent.”

Trump’s polling trajectory is plateauing, too:

The latest national Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday provided some fuel to wishful rivals. Trump still leads among registered Republican voters with 25 percent, statistically unchanged from last month’s Quinnipiac survey that put him at 28 percent. Yet it’s the second major national poll this week showing a slight decrease from last month, Trump experienced an 8-point drop in the CNN/ORC survey released Sunday. (A Fox poll released Wednesday evening also showed Trump with relatively stalled momentum, and a Bloomberg survey of the GOP field showed Trump in a holding pattern at 21 percent).

The question that hasn’t been answered is whether Trump’s floor of support is his ceiling. That’s unknowable at this point. What isn’t unknowable, though, is whether others are gaining ground. Fiorina, Rubio and Carson definitely are gaining on Trump. Here’s Chris Stirewalt’s observation on that:

You already know about one of the main areas of agreement in the polls: Carly Fiorina, Sen. Marco Rubio and Ben Carson all emerged stronger from last week’s contest.

Trump loves bragging about leading this primary or that. What’s odd is that the media hasn’t asked him why his GOP rivals fare significantly better than him in the general election match-ups. Fiorina and Rubio are significantly stronger candidates against Hillary than Trump is.

If the goal is to elect a conservative as president, Trump isn’t your guy. He’s defeated by the Democrats’ ‘Big Three’ in fairly convincing fashion. It’s too early for GOP candidates to tout the electability issue but there will come a point when Fiorina and Rubio will start playing that card. Their argument will essentially be ‘Don’t waste your vote supporting a guy who can’t beat Hillary.’ It wouldn’t be surprising if that argument isn’t a powerful argument in mid-January.