Archive for November, 2015
Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and the DFL in general are upset that Republicans want to include long-term relief for the Iron Range in a special session. The DFL insists that the time to deal with that is during a regular session. Their problem is that Sen. Bakk wants to use the special session to address challenges facing the black community in Minnesota.
Gov. Dayton agrees with Sen. Bakk on that, saying “Sen. Bakk rightly expressed the urgency of the challenges facing communities of color in Minnesota. I thank Sen. Bakk and his caucus for their leadership. I agree that any special session concerning the economic hardships of steelworkers on the Iron Range should also begin to address the serious economic disparities facing black Minnesotans.”
The article says that “Jeffrey Hayden, who is one of three black state lawmakers, says the Legislature could provide job training grants for minority workers or start-up money for black entrepreneurs. The AP says it could also provide incentives to encourage businesses to hire minority employees.”
By definition, that means the DFL’s plans for addressing “challenges facing communities of color” is old-fashioned throwing money at a valued special interest group without fixing the underlying problem. It’s the DFL’s version of saying ‘here’s some money. Vote for us, then go away.’
Gov. Dayton and the DFL say that special sessions shouldn’t be about working out long-term solutions for economically-depressed parts of the state. Republicans should say that special sessions shouldn’t include spending money on the DFL’s special interest allies.
After the ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris, some thoughtful people from both parties but led by Republicans, proposed pausing the importation of Syrian refugees. They suggested that because the vetting process of Syrian refugees isn’t reliable. That isn’t just Republicans’ opinion. It’s an opinion they share with James Comey, the director of the FBI. During testimony to Congress, he said that vetting Syrian refugees was all but impossible.
After that, President Obama announced that he wouldn’t pause the program, saying that not accepting these refugees was un-American. It isn’t surprising that Gov. Dayton is repeating President Obama’s line. In an interview with MPR’s Kerri Miller, Gov. Dayton said “the State Department and Department of Homeland Security have an extensive vetting process in place.”
According to Director Comey, that’s misinformation. In his testimony, Director Comey said that the databases they need to vet people either doesn’t exist or is highly unreliable. DHS and the State Department can say whatever they want but it doesn’t mean anything if the vetting infrastructure doesn’t exist or isn’t reliable.
Gov. Dayton later said “I think there should be an enhanced level of vetting and security for Syrian refugees or others that come from places which have been sources of terrorism” before saying “having been on the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security, there’s far more that’s actually undertaken.”
Has Sen. Dayton gotten briefed lately on the state of identification databases in Syria lately? If he hasn’t, how would he know that the vetting infrastructure is reliable? Is he just trusting President Obama? If that’s the case, would he trust a Republican president the same way in the same circumstances?
Finally, Gov. Dayton said “People who are fleeing terrorism in other countries, people with families with children in their arms — to tell them they can’t come into this country and have a future is just un-American.” Let’s explain this to Gov. Dayton through this picture:
I’d love to see whether Gov. Dayton would accept that taste-testing challenge.
Prof. Mark Jaede has a lengthy history of being a DFL activist/operative. I first came face-to-face with it during the state government shutdown in 2011 but I’d heard of Jaede’s activism before that. This year, Prof. Jaede has taken his activism to a new level when Prof. Jaede complained publicly about this LTE. Specifically, Prof. Jaede complained that the St. Cloud Times editorial started by asking “Why are Muslim leaders silent?” in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks. Later in the editorial, the writer got more specific, saying that there “has been no such response from Muslim leaders around the world to express their condemnation of terrorism and to let the global community know the difference between the religion of Islam and extremism.”
Yesterday, Prof. Jaede posted something to SCSU’s discuss listserv. In his post to the discuss listserv, Prof. Jaede admitted that he’d done “something I have never done before. I wrote to a newspaper asking them to take down a letter to the editor.” Here’s Prof. Jaede’s letter to the St. Cloud Times:
I am writing in regard to the above-referenced letter that appeared today in the online edition of the Times.
The letter is not merely an opinion piece. It makes a claim of fact that is patently false. Muslims all over the world have denounced the terrorism of ISIS. Muslim leaders here in St. Cloud have denounced it, and the Times has printed their statements. Why would you print this letter when you know it to be both false and likely to further anti-Muslim bigotry in our area? And why have the comments been turned off? Responsible readers can’t even point out the falsehoods.
Much as I have disagreed with many opinion pieces in the Times, I have never before been moved to write to object to the publication of a piece. This letter crosses the line. It goes beyond free speech to libel against an entire religious community.
Please take it down, or at least publish a disclaimer pointing out the falsehood of its central claim.
It’s one thing to ask a newspaper to “at least publish a disclaimer” highlighting the inaccuracies of the LTE. It’s another to ask a newspaper to unpublish an article that’s been posted on their website. That’s called censorship, which is prohibited by the First Amendment. Prof. Jaede said that “this letter crosses the line” by going “beyond free speech to libel against an entire religious community.” The remedy for crossing that line isn’t to censor the writer. It’s to impeach them with your own LTE.
Methinks it’s time for Prof. Jaede to refresh his understanding of the First Amendment.
According to this KSTP article, the Republican Party of Minnesota is terminating a “social media manager” is being fired for referring to a “Negro problem” on Twitter. Predictably, DFL Party Chair Ken Martin called the comments “racist and bigoted”. Martin expressed outrage even though the person who published the tweet is getting terminated.
Rather than defending that offensive comment, I’ll simply highlight the fact that the DFL doesn’t have the right to take the moral high ground on this issue. I wrote this post after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act. It’s helpful to highlight the fact that the DFL has racists, too. That’s because Rep. Ryan Winkler was a rising star in the DFL up until that morning. Prior to the morning that the Supreme Court issued its ruling, Rep. Winkler was a leading candidate for Secretary of State. After that ruling, Winkler thought he’d get a little cute with his tweets. That’s why he published this tweet:
Winkler thought that it was clever to call Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Thomas.” When Winkler graduated from college, his degree was in history. That’s noteworthy because Winkler’s non-apology apology said that he didn’t “did not understand ‘Uncle Tom’ as a racist term, and there seems to be some debate about it.” Nobody with common sense believes that Winkler didn’t know that Uncle Tom was a pejorative.
Shortly after posting that tweet, Rep. Winkler issued a statement saying that he was withdrawing his name from consideration to be the DFL-endorsed candidate for Secretary of State. Since then, Rep. Winkler resigned from the legislature.
The point is that the DFL is just as capable of being a bigot as the Republicans are.
The good news is that we’re almost to the end of President Obama’s second term as Divider-in-Chief. The bad news is that we’ll have another divider-in-chief if we elect Donald Trump. David Drucker’s article is worth the reading.
Drucker notes that Trump is known for “his vow to ‘bomb the shit out of’ the Islamic State,” though his policies are “very much like Obama — and Sen. Rand Paul.” Think of Trump’s statements about letting Putin bomb ISIS. Anyone with a brain in their head knew that Putin wasn’t interested in ISIS. Putin intervened in Syria to protect Bashar al-Assad, not to obliterate ISIS. Trump the Alpha Male, however, couldn’t admit that. That’d require him to admit he didn’t know the world like he insists he knows the world.
Take his recent statements about bombing ISIS’s oil fields. That’s when he said “I’d blow up the pipes. I’d blow up the refineries. I’d blow up every single thing. There would be nothing left. And you know what? You’d get Exxon to come in there in 2 months. You ever see how good these guys are? They’ll rebuild that sucker and it will be beautiful. And I’d ring it and I’d take the oil.”
Destroying a pipeline shouldn’t take more than a single plane. (It isn’t like ISIS has an air force.) After that’s done, ISIS would still exist. It wouldn’t be irreparably damaged. The only thing that’d happen is that President Trump would thump is chest and declare that he’d made America great again.
The American people, apart from Trump’s true believers, would know that Trump’s rhetoric would outdistance his accomplishments by a country mile. If a reporter questioned whether he’d actually accomplished anything, it’s more likely that Trump would pull that reporter’s press pass than giving a thoughtful, detailed explanation to the reporter.
There’s no getting around this fact. A Trump presidency would be another term for another divider-in-chief. We’re trying to get rid of the divider-in-chief we’ve got. We certainly don’t need another narcissistic divider-in-chief.
When then-Candidate Obama ran for office in 2008, he sounded an optimistic tone, constantly talking about “hope and change.” A month into President Obama’s administration, President Obama’s governing motto morphed into “We won.” President Obama killed bipartisanship a month into his administration. It’s been downhill since. Salena Zito’s latest column highlights President Obama’s boorish behavior last week in the aftermath of ISIS’s terrorist attacks on Paris.
Ms. Zito noted that the definition of leadership “is guidance, direction, inspiration, motivation. And, at a moment when our nation felt most vulnerable and needed reassurance that the man in control was looking out for our welfare, we found ourselves irrevocably disappointed. Americans wanted sober, serious and authoritative. What they got was prickly and tone deaf.” President Hope and Change hasn’t listened to We The People since the passing of his failed stimulus bill. We saw the last of President Hope and Change about 3 years before the end of his first term.
Pressured by reporters about his strategy for fighting ISIS, his ill-tempered response offered no direct answer. Instead, he sharply rebuked his critics before doubling down on his tepid, ever-changing policy for taking on the terror group.
President Obama is too narcissistic to admit that he’s gotten virtually every major foreign policy wrong. It isn’t just that others might’ve done details differently. It’s that they wouldn’t have been foolish enough to offer Russia a reset button or negotiate with Iran, the biggest state sponsor of terror. They definitely wouldn’t have held a Rose Garden press conference to announce that he’d traded 5 top terrorist generals for an American deserter.
Ms. Zito got the ending right:
The majority of Americans are not behind Obama’s plan to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States, according to Bloomberg and NBC News polls conducted last week. The fear felt by Americans crosses both parties, and it is not unreasonable. In such a time of crisis or doubt, a president’s purpose is to calm our fears, not to put on a professorial hat and declare, “I am right and you are wrong.”
The fact is, Obama will never change; anytime he is backed into a corner, he not only puts on that professor’s hat but he also blames whatever problem exists on Congress and, inevitably, divides the country still further.
That is not leadership — but it sure is politics.
President Obama failed Leadership 101 in college. That’s why he’s spent the last 7 years as the Divider-in-chief.
Lots of people, including some journalists, think that Sen. Bakk is pro-mining. He might be but there’s a respectable case that can be made that he’s a tepid supporter of mining. Brian Bakst’s article says that “Bakk is a leading legislative proponent of the PolyMet copper-nickel mine.” Look at what he’s done to push for making PolyMet a reality. Better yet, let’s see what Sen. Bakk hasn’t done to make PolyMet a reality.
Let’s start by determining which side Sen. Bakk is on. Bakk said “I just want to take as long as it systematically takes in order to get those permits awarded. And I should want it expedited more than anybody else.” That’s a weasel-word quote. Let’s be clear. Sen. Bakk hasn’t lifted a finger to streamline the permitting process. Likewise, Sen. Bakk hasn’t criticized Gov. Dayton for proposing another review of PolyMet, this time by the Minnesota Department of Health. Thus far, the MPCA and the DNR have required environmental impact studies. Then special interests have requested a programmatic environmental impact statement. Now, they’re pushing for the MDH to do another EIS, supposedly to determine whether PolyMet would cause any health issues.
What’s really happening is that environmental activists are using the current regulatory system to delay the building of PolyMet. Then there’s this insane statement:
[Bakk] said any actual or perceived shortcuts “could potentially weaken the state’s position in a lawsuit.” Environmental groups, who are wary of the new kind of mining, have signaled they’ll explore litigation if permits are granted.
That strains credibility. Environmental activists have their lawsuits ready to file. This isn’t a case of them waiting to see how things go before determining whether to file a lawsuit. It’s a matter of waiting for the most opportune time to file their lawsuit. I’d be surprised if they don’t have the lawsuits written. Likewise, I’d be surprised if other like-minded organizations don’t already have their friend of the court briefs written.
Why isn’t regulatory reform a priority for the DFL? This isn’t about whether these projects will get reviewed. It’s a matter of whether they’ll get reviewed into oblivion. Reviewing PolyMet for 10 years isn’t justice. It isn’t being thorough. It’s attrition through regulation and litigation. Sen. Bakk has essentially defended an unjust status quo system.
Defending a system that favors the special interests over hard-working blue collar workers isn’t justice. It’s the epitome of injustice.
Saying that Sen. Bakk is a pro-mining advocate is questionable. His inactions say otherwise.
It isn’t difficult to find a liberal who’s willing to betray his principles, at least when it comes to campaign finance. Russ Feingold is that type of progressive. He’s definitely a do-as-I-say-no-as-I-do progressive. This time, the lesser known half of McCain-Feingold, the bill written by politicians to protect incumbents under the guise of preventing corruption, held a fundraiser in Washington, DC, the US capitol of corruption according to progressives like Feingold.
According to the article, the “fundraiser took place Tuesday night at 201 Bar’s Executive Lounge located just a short walking distance from the Capitol. The dimly lit basement-level bar was reserved by the Russ for Wisconsin campaign.” The reason that’s a big deal is because Feingold said it’s a big deal. According to Feingold, “During a panel at the Chicago Humanities Festival in 2012, the former 18-year senator singled out the exact location of Tuesday’s fundraiser as a venue where lobbyists buy influence and lawmakers circumvent rules when asked by an audience member to comment on the amount of money lobbyists donate to individuals and political campaigns.”
Joining with John McCain, they crusaded for rooting out the corruption in DC by limiting political speech. In McCain’s and Feingold’s definition, corruption was found anywhere in Washington, DC where people contributed money to politicians.
This is obviously part of the issue. It’s not that lobbyist themselves give huge campaign contributions it’s that they become conduits for collecting large contributions,” Feingold said. “So in Washington typically a member of the House or Senate will be having, quote, a ‘fundraiser’, and the lobbyist will bring in a few people and a bunch of checks, and this, you know, this is the same lobbyist who is arranging to have meetings to talk to this guy about policy in his office the next day—hopefully they’re not doing the same thing in the office because that’s illegal—but I mean, it’s across the street. You know, at the 201 Club or the Monocle.
Feingold is a fossil. Also, he’s bought into the DC theory that the people can’t be trusted to make decisions. He’s repeatedly proven that he doesn’t like the First Amendment.
Tonight, I was stunned and disgusted when Sen. Bakk told the Almanac Roundtable panel what he hoped would come from the possible special session. I was especially startled when Sen. Bakk said “I lived through the 1981 downturn on the Range when waves and waves and waves of Iron Rangers moved to the northern suburbs and had to settle there when most of the mines had to shut down. We’re on the cusp of this again this time and I think that the state coming to their aid and giving them extended unemployment benefits, to give those families some time to make some decisions and maybe get a little closer to see if our federal government will act as some of this unfairly traded steel is coming into this country just to build a bridge for those families because once they run out of unemployment, they’re in a situation of probably having to relocate their families.”
There wasn’t anything in his statement that talked about rebuilding the Iron Range economy. There wasn’t anything in his statement that talked about turning the Iron Range’s economic slide around. His sole focus was on giving families more time to relocate out of his district and Sen. Tomassoni’s district.
The Republican panelists tonight were Sen. David Hann and House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin. The DFL panelists were Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen. When Majority Leader Peppin talked about finding a long-term solution to the Iron Range’s economic problems, House Minority Leader Thissen said that that isn’t what special sessions should be about, that that’s what regular sessions should be about.
It’s beyond ironic that Rep. Thissen, Sen. Bakk, Gov. Dayton and the DFL legislature didn’t lift a finger to provide a long-term solution for the Iron Range when there were DFL majorities in the House and Senate and a DFL governor. It’s almost as if the Iron Range was an afterthought, something to worry about only during election years.
When Majority Leader Peppin talked about Gov. Dayton ordering another environmental review, this time involving the Minnesota Department of Health, and cutting through the red tape, Sen. Bakk criticized her, saying that taking a “shortcut” would hurt them when the inevitable lawsuits came. Sen. Bakk didn’t consider the possibility of transforming Minnesota’s environmental review process so that the review is thorough but that it doesn’t last 10-15 years to complete.
This is proof that the DFL’s top priorities are appeasing the environmental activist obstructionists, growing government and appeasing the Metro DFL. They haven’t proven that they care about Iron Range families. Sen. Bakk admitted as much.
I wrote here that the poverty rate is 18% in Hibbing and 24.1% in Virginia. To have Sen. Bakk essentially give up on a once-prosperous region is beyond sad. It’s disgusting.
Tim Pugmire’s article is an attempt to make it sound like Republicans oppose a special session. Nothing is further from the truth. When Pugmire wrote “Minnesota House Republicans threw cold water on a proposed special session Thursday, saying DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s plan to help laid-off steelworkers doesn’t go far enough,” the intention was to suggest that Republicans oppose a special session. The opposite is true. First, Speaker Daudt “did not rule out the possibility of a special session.” It’s just that Daudt thinks “an extension of unemployment benefits is only a ‘short-term band aid,'” which it is.
Speaker Daudt is right in saying “We want to make sure that the jobs on the Range are long-term and sustainable, and frankly what these folks really want isn’t extended unemployment benefits. They want their job back. So, we want to figure out how to do that.”
It’s clear that the DFL isn’t serious about fixing the Iron Range’s economic structural deficiencies. They’ve had 30 years to fix the Range economy. They’ve failed miserably. That’s indisputable. According to the latest census information for Hibbing, which was for 2009-2013, their median household income was $38,077 and their poverty rate was 18%. Think about that last statistic. Almost one in five people in Hibbing lives below the federal poverty line. The statewide poverty rate is 11.5%, which is virtually half of what it is in Hibbing.
The sad truth is that Hibbing is prosperous compared with Virginia. Virginia’s median household income for 2009-2013 was $32,850. Virginia’s poverty rate was a whopping 24.1%. Accepting a poverty rate of one in four is downright immoral.
The difference between Speaker Daudt and the GOP and Gov. Dayton and the DFL is that the DFL wants to spend money on a short-term fix without fixing the underlying problem. Republicans actually want to fix the problem. If Mr. Pugmire thinks that fixing a problem is a poison pill that the DFL won’t accept, he should say that directly.
Personally, I’d argue that Speaker Daudt and the GOP have exposed the DFL as being the party that doesn’t want to solve big problems.