Archive for January, 2016

Earlier today, I wrote this article for Examiner.com. The article centered on whether a detectable anti-Trump trend had started in Iowa. Based on what the reporters on the ground were seeing and the comments from likely caucusgoers, the answer is that there’s definitely an anti-Trump trend happening in Iowa.

Whether we’re talking about reporters covering the campaign for newspapers or magazine columnists appearing on TV or whether it’s voters themselves, people aren’t hesitating in saying they don’t like Mr. Trump’s temperament, calling him unreliable or worse. That isn’t the image candidates want to send during their closing arguments. Since Mr. Trump confirmed that he wouldn’t participate in Thursday’s Fox News/Google GOP debate, Mr. Trump has announced that he’s hosting a fundraiser for veterans and wounded warriors in Des Moines while the Fox News/Google debate is happening.

Trump clearly hopes to earn some good will by hosting an event for veterans. That plan might be backfiring. According to that article, one veterans organization is refusing money raised at the Trump rally. Paul Rieckhoff, the founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, or IAVA, tweeted “If offered, @IAVA will decline donations from Trump’s event. We need strong policies from candidates, not to be used for political stunts.”

The advertising axiom is that there’s no such thing as bad PR. This time, that axiom isn’t playing out like they’d expect. The Trump campaign, specifically Corey Lewandowski, is setting expectations impossibly high:

“When Donald Trump goes to Des Moines and we start raising money for veterans and wounded warriors and we have multiples of millions of dollars raised for these people and the American people tune in because they want to support that and Fox goes back and say they should have had 24 million watching their debate and instead they got 1 million, it’s a disservice to the American people,” Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said today on “Good Morning America.”

Lewandowski also claimed this morning on MSNBC that other campaigns have “asked us proactively” to participate in the event and that “it’s very possible” that other candidates could skip the debate as well.

Mr. Lewandowski isn’t too bright. Setting expectations high like he’s just done is political suicide, especially when you consider the fact that Wounded Warrior Project doesn’t have the greatest reputation:

About 40 percent of the organization’s donations in 2014 were spent on its overhead, or about $124 million, according to the charity-rating group Charity Navigator. While that percentage, which includes administrative expenses and marketing costs, is not as much as for some groups, it is far more than for many veterans charities, including the Semper Fi Fund, a wounded-veterans group that spent about 8 percent of donations on overhead. As a result, some philanthropic watchdog groups have criticized the Wounded Warrior Project for spending too heavily on itself.

I suspect that Iowa voters will nod approvingly at supporting veterans and then getting mad that Trump didn’t attend the Fox News/Google debate. It’s inevitable that Trump will whine about how Fox didn’t treat him fairly but that won’t explain a rapid decline if that happens.

Earlier this morning, I wrote this article with the intent of proving Donald Trump is a First Amendment-hating tyrant who hasn’t hesitated in intimidating reporters into not writing unflattering articles about him. It’s unforgivable when a politician attempts to chill free speech and limit the rights citizens have to gather information about their government.

This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It isn’t right that a presidential candidate has banned reporters from public events because he didn’t like their coverage of him. That’s what fascists and third world dictators do. That’s unacceptable in the United States.

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The legitimate question that the conservative blogosphere and the Twitterverse is asking is whether Trump will be hurt by skipping the GOP debate on Fox. While that’s a totally legitimate question, it isn’t the right question this time. The right question is why we’re putting up with this adolescent’s snotty attitude. Why would anyone think that Mr. Trump would listen to anyone? Further, how is Mr. Trump different on health care than the narcissist currently living in the White House?

It’s clear that Mr. Trump isn’t a conservative. At this point, that isn’t debatable so let’s move past that. I wrote this article Tuesday afternoon to highlight Mr. Trump’s recent statement to CBS News that he favors universal health care and that “the government” would pay for it. Here is Mr. Trump’s statement on why he won’t participate in Thursday night’s debate:

That’s his official statement. Here’s why he jumped ship:

  1. Mr. Trump isn’t a good debater. He’s much better on the stump when he can talk about how great he is or the YUGE leads he has in the latest gazillion polls.
  2. Mr. Trump will be pursued by the other networks.
  3. Mr. Trump prefers playing the victim card rather than answering tough questions.

The truth is that Mr. Trump’s temperament disqualifies him from getting serious consideration to be the next president of the United States. Frankly, it isn’t a stretch to watch Mr. Trump’s behavior and question whether he’s mentally stable enough to handle the pressures of being the leader of the free world.

Personally, the question for me isn’t whether his supporters will continue supporting him. My question is whether Mr. Trump’s supporters are as unstable as he is. At this point, I’m betting that the answer to that question is yes. They are as nutty as Mr. Trump is.

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According to this Washington Post article, Donald Trump won’t participate in Thursday night’s debate. In one sense, it’s shocking news in that Trump loves having the spotlight shining on him. In another sense, however, it isn’t surprising because Trump isn’t a proficient debater. He’s much better on the stump where he can talk endlessly about how magnificent he is and how he’s leading in a gazillion polls and whatever other extraneous thought pop into his head.

Talking policy details isn’t his strong suit. Neither is taking jabs from his opponents. It’s actually a wise move on Trump’s behalf from the standpoint that this is the last debate before the Iowa Caucuses. If ever there was a time when his opponents wouldn’t pull their punches, this would be the time when they’d throw nothing but haymakers.

By opting out, Trump gets to accuse Megyn Kelly of being unfair while playing the victim while the media fawns all over him. If he loses in Iowa, he can then blame it on Fox News and not on himself. If there’s anything that a narcissist like Trump won’t do, it’s admit that something is his fault.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump says he will not attend a debate scheduled for Thursday night in Des Moines, an unexpected twist just days before voters here launch the election process.

“I probably won’t be doing the debate. I’m going to have something else in Iowa,” he said during a press conference in a high school workout room on Tuesday afternoon. After the press conference, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski confirmed to The Washington Post that Trump would “definitely not” participate in Thursday’s Fox News debate. “He’s definitely not participating in the Fox News debate,” Lewandowski said. “His word is his bond.”

Like Hillary has done tons of times, Trump will play the victim card. It’ll go something like this ‘Fox treated me badly. Megyn Kelly is a terrible journalist who asks unfair questions. Fox News sent out a press release mocking me.’

On that note, here’s a mocking statement that Fox released just an hour ago:

Later, the network poked fun at Trump in a satirical statement: “We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president. A nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”

Simply put, Trump is a thin-skinned narcissist and a liberal. He has no business running for the GOP presidential nomination. He’d be better off in the Democratic Party.

It isn’t a stretch to think that campaigns plant questions at town hall meetings. It isn’t often, though, that these planted questions are exposed like it was this time. One of the questioners from the audience tossed Hillary a softball, asking “I just wanted to know which of our previous presidents has inspired you most and why.”

Unfortunately for Hillary, that isn’t the only thing Brett Rosenberg, the questioner and an undecided voter, said. He prefaced the inspirational president question by saying “Secretary Sander… Clinton… Oh, sorry. I can see why they gave you this question… I just wanted to know which of our previous presidents has inspired you most and why.”

Whether you say that the cat’s out of the bag or whether you say that CNN and the DNC are playing favorites, there’s no hiding the fact that someone, either the Clinton campaign, the DNC (pardon the repetition) or CNN (pardon the excessive repetition), planted the question.
I wrote here that Hillary was on the defensive the entire night. Sen. Sanders accused her of fighting the progressive fight only when it’s politically convenient. Sen. Sanders cited Hillary’s Johnny-come-lately approach to TPP and the Keystone XL Pipeline project as proof that she’s a calculating politician, not a progressive activist at heart.

Whether you’re talking about Hillary’s plant or the fact that she’s out of touch with the party she wants to lead, the truth is that she’s frittered away her air of invincibility.

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Sen. Ben Sasse’s sassy questions for Donald Trump deserve an answer. Whether Mr. Trump will answer them or whether he’ll start criticizing Sen. Sasse, (R-NE), is anyone’s guess. Still, it’s worthwhile to find out the answers to Sen. Sasse’s questions.

Sen. Sasse’s first question for Mr. Trump was “Questn1. You said you want single-payer “gov’t pays4everyone” HCare. If that isn’t your position now when did it change? Why?” Next, Sen. Sasse asked “You’ve said you “hate the concept of guns.” Why the change? When did it happen? What’s the 2nd Amendment mean to you?” After that, Sen. Sasse asked “A few years ago, you proposed a $6 trillion tax hike. Still want to do that? Agree w/ Biden that higher taxes=more patriotism?”

I suspect that Sen. Sasse’s next question will earn him heaping helpings of criticism from Trumpsters. Sen. Sasse asked “You[‘ve] brag[ged] ab[ou]t many affairs w/ married women. Have you repented? To harmed children & spouses? Do you think it matters?” Sen. Sasse’s final question isn’t one that Trump’s supporters will like. Sen. Sasse asked:

Q5: I believe 1 of the most damaging things POTUS Obama did is ignore Constitution, act on his own,& bypass Congress Next GOP POTUS must roll this back & reaffirm a Constitutional system b4 we lose this special inheritance forever. Do you agree that exec unilateralism is very bad? Because you talk A LOT about “running the country” as though … as though 1 man should “run America.” Questn5: Will you commit to rolling back Exec power & undoing Obama unilateral habit?

Trump is a fascist who loves making deals. Principles aren’t part of his mindset. As long as critics say he got the better of the deal, Trump’s a happy camper. It doesn’t matter whether the ‘it’ is in keeping with the virtues laid out by the Founding Fathers.

Remember, this is the narcissist who wrote The Art of the Deal. Finally, it’s frightening to read this article about the things Mr. Trump has recently supported. Suffice it to say that the Founding Fathers would have a profound disagreement with Mr. Trump.

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If anyone needs to learn what’s important to Jesse Watters, this article offers insight into just unprincipled he is. During his appearance on The Five, Watters made it clear what was important to him by saying “Everyone’s now saying, Oh he doesn’t check this box, he doesn’t check this box. Do you know what box is important to check? Filling up 40,000-people stadiums on a Tuesday night. That’s the box that counts on Election Day. I don’t think principles matter if you can’t get elected and institute those principles. And I think a lot people now are putting pure conservatism over the country.”

That’s a straw-man argument that President Obama would be proud of. Currently, each of the top-tier GOP presidential candidates defeat Hillary in head-to-head match-ups. More importantly, Trump does the worst in those match-ups. It isn’t surprising to find out that Trump would get crushed in the general election.

In 2 of Quinnipiac’s polls, Trump’s favorable-unfavorable rating with Hispanics is orders of magnitude worse than pathetic. In one poll of all voters, not just Republican primary voters, Trump’s favorable-unfavorable rating was 15% approve, 82% disapprove. In the other poll, Trump’s favorable-unfavorable rating with Hispanics was 9% favorable, 84% unfavorable. Trump is under water with women, too, with a 29% favorable, 63% unfavorable rating.

Hint to Mr. Watters:

  1. It’s mathematically impossible to win an election if you lose the biggest voting block (women) by 34 points.
  2. It’s quite possible to lose in a landslide when you lose the women vote by 34 points and Hispanics by a bigger margin than Mitt Romney lost Hispanics by.

Conservatives don’t need dimwits like Watters telling us what to believe. Watters’ join the crowd or get lost mentality is the opposite of what the Founding Fathers wanted when they wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They wrote the Constitution to prevent mob rule, otherwise known as ‘the tyranny of the majority.’

They understood that unprincipled democracies were as big of enemies of virtuous self-governance as dictators were. They knew that because unprincipled majorities could shove things down their throats almost as easily as a dictator could dictate the uppity peasants’ behavior. The Founding Fathers understood that principled representatives making principled arguments produced the most accountable form of government.

Mr. Trump’s media lapdogs don’t demand accountability. They demand mindless adherence. That isn’t principled self-governance. That’s fascism.

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It isn’t shocking to find out that Gov. Dayton supports another middle class tax increase. When Gov. Dayton first ran for governor, he campaigned on making Minnesota’s’ tax system more progressive. It’s a promise he kept for the first half of his first term, thanks mostly to Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

In December, the budget forecast showed Minnesota with a $1,200,000,000 surplus. When that surplus was announced, Gov. Dayton said that the DFL’s proposed gas tax increase was dead. This article reports that Gov. Dayton hasn’t given up on a gas tax increase. Gov. Dayton insists that this isn’t a flip-flop. Instead, Gov. Dayton said that his gas tax statement was “his political assessment, not his preference.”

That’s actually believable. While it’s true that Gov. Dayton wanted to make Minnesota’s tax system more progressive, that didn’t mean he wouldn’t support regressive tax increases. It just meant that the progressive tax increases needed to be big to offset the regressive tax increases.

Once Gov. Dayton got DFL majorities to work with in 2013 and 2014, he instituted major income tax increases, instituted, temporarily, major sales tax increases and major property tax increases. Though the DFL will insist that their increased LGA payments brought property tax relief, it’s a sham. The truth is that it just slowed the speed that property taxes increased in most cities. That’s before talking about the huge property tax increases inflicted on taxpayers through property tax increases for education levies.

The truth is that Gov. Dayton and the DFL love regressive tax increases as long as they’re mixed in with lots of progressive tax increases. When Gov. Dayton said the DFL’s proposed gas tax increase was dead, I never thought he meant it. I thought that he recognized the toxic nature of a gas tax increase heading into an election. I still think that a gas tax increase is toxic to DFL legislators in swing districts.

While Democrats living in safe districts remain willing to vote for a gas tax increase, it’s highly doubtful that swing district DFL legislators will be willing to cut their own throats by voting for a gas tax increase.

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Anyone who’s read LFR the last 5 years knows I don’t have any respect for Paul Thissen. He’s one of the most partisan political hacks in Minnesota. His contact with the truth is tangential on his best days, nonexistent on most days. For years, Thissen has insisted that Republicans are interested in providing “special treatment to big Twin Cities and multinational corporations.” That’s an outright lie. It isn’t inaccurate. It isn’t a matter open for discussion.

It’s an outright lie. Rep. Thissen knows that it’s a lie. Worst, Rep. Thissen doesn’t mind telling that outright lie. Last May, I wrote this article about Gov. Dayton’s shutdown notice announcement. At the time, Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Bakk had worked out a compromise budget. Gov. Dayton and Rep. Thissen objected to the bill in an attempt to kill the bipartisan bill.

Gov. Dayton and Rep. Thissen both complained that the Tax Bill would “provide tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.” I contacted Greg Davids, the Chairman of the House Taxes Committee, for a statement on those statements. Here’s what he said:

My bill does not do that. Eighty percent goes to individuals. Tax relief is for the middle class…My tax bill is tax relief for the poor and middle class.

I read Davids’ tax bill. His characterization of the bill is accurate. Rep. Thissen’s characterization isn’t. Unfortunately for Minnesotans thirsting for the truth, Rep. Thissen’s lies don’t stop there:

Thissen said the 2015 session was a “monumental flop for Greater Minnesota” after the House Republican majority failed to tackle important issues for greater Minnesota such as transportation, broadband infrastructure, and rural property tax relief. He said the “Greater Minnesota for All” agenda is focused on completing the unfinished business of the 2015 session.

First, the DFL played obstructionist with transportation. They said no to the Republicans’ transportation bill that would’ve directed sales tax revenues from rental cars, auto repairs and vehicle leases to a stability fund. That fund would’ve been used to fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges. The DFL didn’t want that because they wanted a gas tax increase and additional funding for transit in outstate Minnesota. The need for transit in outstate Minnesota is less than important. It’s virtually nonexistent.

Next, the DFL’s ‘investments’ in LGA and education from the 2013 budget when there was a DFL governor and DFL majorities in the House and Senate sent property taxes through the roof. Rep. Thissen bragged about the DFL’s “historic investment in education.” Despite that historic investment and the paying off of school shifts, school districts across the state enacted huge property tax increases. The most modest increase was St. Cloud’s increase of 14.75%. The biggest property tax increase that I heard about was Princeton’s 25.16% increase. That’s relatively modest considering the fact that Princeton initially wanted to raise property taxes 33.87%.

The truth is that Dayton, Thissen and the DFL love raising taxes. Dayton, Thissen and the DFL love spending those tax increases on education because they know that the vast majority of that money will go to Education Minnesota, then into DFL campaign coffers.

Rep. Thissen, keep your grubby little fingers off the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. Robbing the taxpayers to pay off Education Minnesota isn’t ok. It’s disgusting and it’s gotta stop ASAP.

It’s bad enough when Hillary’s campaign spokesman tries spinning his way out of the predicament Hillary created. That’s what he’s paid to do. It’s quite another when the media, in this case CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin, start playing the roll of Hillary apologist.

Toobin went straight to the ‘the government classifies too many documents’ card, saying “She is now suffering from that because people are saying there’s all this classified information she’s dealing with, but there is not a bright line between classified and unclassified, and you can see, at least to a certain extent, why she was not clear on what was what.” Hillary’s biggest problem thus far is that the Intelligence Community IG identified multiple emails that had the highest security clearance, that of SAP or special access programs. The only people with a security clearance high enough to read this information other than the President and Vice President are the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the director of the CIA and the director of National Intelligence and their deputies. That’s right. Only 10 people have a clearance to read SAPs in the entire government.

That’s because this information identifies drone deployments, submarine deployments and spies who have infiltrated terrorist networks and cells. If this information gets into the wrong hands, people will die. That’s why it’s tightly held information.

There’s no doubt that the federal government classifies too many documents. That isn’t what’s at issue here. What’s at issue is this nation’s most sensitive information. It isn’t unreasonable to expect the Secretary of State to guard that information with her life.