Archive for March, 2016

If I had a dollar for every time ‘online ink’ was spilled romanticizing the year of the outsider, I’d be Bill Gates wealthy. The GOP Establishment, which does exist, became a phrase that meant anyone that you disagreed with.

After watching Donald Trump completely self-implode this week, I have a substantive suggestion. Let’s kill the outsider movement before it does more damage to the conservative movement. Let’s be clear about this. Donald Trump and Ben Carson never were qualified to be president. Ever. It’s one thing to hate the “GOP Establishment.” Welcome to the club. They were originally called the TEA Party and they were principled people.

After Trump said that women who had abortions should be punished, Trump’s surrogates were dispatched to CNN and Fox. Dr. Carson appeared on CNN and made an ass of himself, saying “Well, bear in mind, I don’t believe that he was warned that that question was coming, and I don’t think he really had a chance to really think about it.” Later, Dr. Carson said that “Trump’s refusal to equivocate on the question served as just more proof that he is not a typical politician.”

Charlie Hurt is the Washington Times’ overt Trump supporter. Appearing on Special Report last night, he said “The abortion is a very thorny issue going into a place like Wisconsin. You’ve got to have that answer down pat in a Republican primary. But what we saw out of the town hall last night — every politician running would have a pat answer for that and people have been listening to those pat answers for a long time and we’re in the mess that we’re in.”

When it was his turn, Charles Krauthammer set things straight, saying “what you say, Charlie, is a pat answer for establishment politicians could also be said to be a considered answer, a thought through answer. There’s reasons why a politician can answer something easily. It might be that he’s thought about it, read about it, written about it or legislated about it for years and years.”

There’s no proof that Trump has any intellectual curiosity about the issues he rattles on about. Let’s stipulate, too, that Trump isn’t the only outsider that isn’t even slightly qualified to be the next leader of the free world. Dr. Carson is a brilliant man with a list of incredible surgical accomplishments. Still, he’s a novice or worse when it comes to policymaking. Herman Cain, Trump’s other surrogate yesterday, is another third tied presidential candidate that shouldn’t be trotted out as a spokesman for a presidential campaign. The totality of Cain’s political contribution to this nation is that hideous answer of 9-9-9 to just about every debate question he was ever asked.

The cure for what’s wrong with the Republican Party isn’t to run a bunch of outsiders that couldn’t explain their way out of a wet paper bag. It’s to find principled conservatives who are both qualified and who appeal to broad parts of the voting public.

The first step to fixing a problem is admitting that you have a (Trump) problem. The next step to fixing this (Trump) problem is promising that you’ll never support candidates that can’t answer a basic set of questions on national security, the economy, regulations and energy. If they can’t answer those questions, they need to be thrown to the side.

Finally, it’s time for Trump’s supporters to admit that their candidate is an out-of-control egomaniac. It’s time for them to stop pretending that he’s qualified to be president.

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A little over a week ago, the St. Cloud Times published my LTE in which I talked about how Speaker Daudt challenged Rep. Thissen. Specifically, I wrote that Thissen accused Republicans of throwing “controversial provisions into big bills right at the end” of session. Unwilling to let Rep. Thissen’s spin go unchallenged, Speaker Daudt asked him to name some specific controversial provisions that Republicans threw into big budget bills at the end of the 2015 session.

Rather than respond substantively, Rep. Thissen repeated the accusation.

Later, I wrote that “Tim Kelly, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, wrote an op-ed saying that the next transportation plan Thissen submits ‘will be his first.'” I also said that it’s “a disgrace that the DFL would pick a dishonest man to lead them in the House.” I finished by saying that the DFL agenda is “all criticism and no solutions.” I must’ve gotten under Rep. Thissen’s skin with that. Earlier this week, the Times published Rep. Thissen’s op-ed.

Rep. Thissen’s op-ed addresses some items from the DFL agenda. He started by saying that the “reality is we have been the party of ideas, bringing forth common-sense solutions to address Minnesota’s biggest problem — too many Minnesotans are being squeezed in an economy tilted in favor of the insiders, elites and special interests.” With all due respect, Rep. Thissen, the DFL is the party of special interests.

Nobody’s been squeezed more than the Iron Range. They’ve been squeezed by environmental absolutists who demand that mining projects can’t produce any pollution ever. They’ve been squeezed so tight that it’s difficult to find middle class families on the Range. Minnesota’s poverty rate is 11.5%; compare that with Hibbing’s poverty rate of 20.6% and Virginia’s poverty rate of 26.5%. Then, Rep. Thissen, tell me who’s getting squeezed and who’s getting ignored by the DFL.

Rep. Thissen also wrote that “House DFLers proposed just a solution comprised partly of the House GOP transportation plan and Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal.” That isn’t a solution. The DFL’s ‘solution’ would’ve imposed a major tax increase on the very middle class taxpayers that Rep. Thissen insists are getting squeezed by the special interests. FYI- Gov. Dayton’s transportation plan is virtually identical to Move MN’s transportation plan. Move MN doesn’t exist anymore. The new DFL-aligned transportation lobbyist organization is called Transportation Forward.

Rep. Thissen, when the DFL approved spending on the Senate Office Building, which group of squeezed people did that help? When the DFL legislature passed its Tax Bill, it included sales taxes on farm equipment repairs, warehousing services and other B2B taxes. This table offers a good explanation of the middle class tax increases the DFL imposed on Minnesotans:

Rep. Thissen, why did the DFL legislature pass this mountain of middle class tax increases in 2013, then vote to repeal them in 2014?

It’s crazy that Rep. Thissen thinks that this is a solution:

We have introduced legislation that would demand powerful drug companies be more transparent about profits to reduce costs of prescription drugs.

That’s right, Rep. Thissen. Central Minnesota has been insisting that the state government get involved in telling businesses how they’ll be allowed to conduct business. Minnesotans are getting squeezed by busybody politicians like Rep. Thissen have heaped piles of compliance costs, reporting requirements and regulations on businesses. That, more than anything else, is what’s driving up costs.

Finally, what’s interesting is that Rep. Thissen didn’t argue that he wasn’t truthful about the controversial provisions thrown into bills.

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We’ve frequently heard Donald Trump refer to himself as a “world-class businessman.” That’s been happening for decades. He’s told Republicans that he’ll put together the world’s smartest people in his cabinet. The problem with Trump’s world-class statements is that they’re self-serving. They aren’t based in fact. They aren’t reality.

While Trump attempts to wrap up the nomination, his campaign organization prevents him from wrapping it up because they’re incompetent, non-existent or they’re powerless to stop the egomaniac from making an ass of himself.

Megyn Kelly’s Wednesday night show offered proof that Trump’s campaign organization isn’t ready for prime time. Herman Cain was interviewed by Kelly to find out why Trump told Chris Matthews that women should be punished if they have an abortion. To be fair, Trump made this outrageous statement after Matthews posed a hypothetical question about a world where abortion was illegal. There’s so much there, it’s difficult to get to it all. Get ready for a lengthy post.

First, Corey Lewandowski should be fired for not hog-tying Trump and not letting him appear on Matthews’ show. There’s no upside in subjecting yourself to Matthews’ questions if you’re a Republican. Next, there’s the fact that most legislative candidates are better prepared to answer questions on the life issue than Trump apparently is. If you’re a pro-life Republican, you’re taught in candidate school (or earlier) how to handle those questions from frothing-at-the-mouth idiots like Matthews.

This video is frightening:

Here’s Cain’s response to Megyn’s question about Trump’s women should be punished statement:

Here’s what Stuart (Stevens) and many others in the Establishment don’t understand. They don’t understand the difference between a strategic statement and a tactical statement. You are very easily going to get tripped up over tactical statements. It happened to me.

Trump didn’t get tripped up on the abortion issue because he made a tactical statement on abortion, whatever that is. Trump tripped himself up because he didn’t know what he was talking about. That wasn’t Cain’s last gaffe. Here’s another:

I’m not going to defend that he may have made a misstatement. I’m not going to try to defend that. But what I am going to support is the fact that many of the things that he talks about are strategic and not down in the weeds with some of these tactical statements that people take and they run with it in order to be able to attack him.

Trump didn’t make a misstatement about abortion. He made a major mistake, one that might doom his campaign. I’m not suggesting that abortion is a hot-button issue this campaign. It isn’t. I’m saying that Trump’s answer was so pathetic that people will start questioning whether he’s had a serious thought about anything.

This is Cain’s biggest gaffe:

The way that around is the same way that he’s going to turn around the perception of black people and other minorities because, keep in mind many people in the media have spoon-fed the perception of Donald Trump relative to women, relative to blacks and relative to other minorities, that some people in the media want them to have of Donald Trump.

Catch that? According to Cain, Trump isn’t anti-woman, anti-black or anti-minority. It’s that the media is spoon-feeding voters with these misperceptions. The next part is simply jaw-dropping stupidity:

What I’m saying is that many of the soundbites that the mainstream media, not all of them but many of them, put out about Donald Trump have been anti-women messages, anti-black messages, anti-minority messages. Now, when Donald Trump gets to the point of getting his message out directed to those groups in a one-on-one situation, I think he’ll be able to turn that around.

That’s stunning. Trump has gotten an estimated $2,000,000,000 worth of free TV but Cain is arguing that Trump hasn’t gotten his message out? Seriously? The inescapable truth is that real campaigns raise money so they can get their message out to their targeted demographic groups. Part of a world-class campaign is offering solutions by telling people what policies he’ll implement. Trump won’t talk about policies because he won’t study the issues.

Simply put, Trump’s campaign organization is terrible to non-existent. Trump’s campaign is built on Trump’s cult of personality supporters. It isn’t built the right way. That’s why he’s having difficulty wrapping up the nomination.

This article features a Trump quote that isn’t attached to reality. Campaigning in Wisconsin earlier this week, Trump said “if we win Wisconsin, it’s going to be pretty much over.” The thing is that Sen. Cruz will win the Wisconsin primary with a fairly solid margin.

Last night, Megyn Kelly asked conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes if the Walker endorsement would help Sen. Cruz. Sykes affirmed that it would, saying that Trump attacking Gov. Walker in a state where he’s still popular “is weapons-grade stupid.” Sykes said that Trump would lose “vote-rich southeastern Wisconsin” and lose it badly because he’s offended too many conservative women. That most likely means Trump will get hurt badly in the Milwaukee suburbs because that’s the source of Gov. Walker’s electoral strength and because Sen. Cruz does better with well-educated voters than with less-educated voters.

Trump simply couldn’t resist criticizing Gov. Walker. Trump’s been critical of Gov. Walker for months. During one of Trump’s rallies, he said “But you had a $2.2 billion budget deficit and the schools were going begging and everything and everything was going begging because he didn’t want to raise taxes because he was going to run for president.”

Campaigning in Janesville, WI, Trump said “Cruz likes to pretend he’s an outsider and in the meantime he gets all the establishment support, including your governor.” That’s quite the turnaround from what Trump said about Sen. Cruz in January:

“Look, the truth is, he’s a nasty guy. He was so nice to me. I mean, I knew it. I was watching. I kept saying, ‘Come on, Ted. Let’s go, OK.’ But he’s a nasty guy. Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him,” the real estate mogul said.

Apparently, Trump can’t decide whether Sen. Cruz “gets al the establishment support” or whether everyone hates him because he’s a nasty guy. While speaking out of both sides of his mouth won’t deprive Trump of the nomination by itself, it’s just another thing that’s getting in his way.

Sykes decimated Trump in this interview:

Here’s the pull quote worth noting:

SYKES: Donald Trump, I just don’t think of the term nuanced in terms of Donald Trump. I think he’s a bad mix for Wisconsin.
CHARLES PAYNE: Why is he a bad mix for Wisconsin? Is he not a conservative? Doesn’t he have some of your conservative principles? No?
SYKES: No. He’s not a conservative. He’s a narcissist — He’s a content-free narcissist and he’s an authoritarian who has not even take the time to learn about the issues he’s talking about. I think that, instead of articulating the kind of conservative values, for example the kind that Paul Ryan and Scott Walker have talked about, he’s essentially created a brand, which is Donald Trump and it’s a cult of personality.

Ouch. As I watched the interview, I kept waiting for Sykes to stop and say ‘Other than that, though, Trump’s a great guy.’ That line didn’t arrive. Unfortunately for Trump, this line arrived with a punch:

SYKES: I don’t think he’s gonna win in Wisconsin and I think you’re going to see that over the next week, that in fact, in southeastern Wisconsin, which is a very voter-rich area, he’s got an approval rating of about 25% and a disapproval rating of more than 60% because when voters start to pay attention to what he actually represents, it doesn’t resonate with voters.

Mathematically speaking, it’s difficult to picture how a candidate gets trounced in the most voter-rich part of the state, then makes it up in the rest of the state. That’s assuming that Trump is somewhat popular in the rest of Wisconsin.

It’s been reported that Gov. Kasich pulled his ads from Wisconsin. Sykes said that isn’t true, noting that he’s pulled his ads off of southeastern Wisconsin radio stations and putting them up in western Wisconsin.

Whether Trump wins the nomination is still too far out to predict. Still, Trump isn’t close to closing the deal with Republicans. It’s understatement to say he isn’t heading in the right direction.

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The unspoken theme of this editorial is that the Iron Range is getting tired of hearing the DFL’s litany of broken promises to the Iron Range.

The editorial states if “you had really been that determined and passionate about extending the benefits, you would have called a special session last November or December on the issue and not cluttered the discussion and debate two other items.” That’s its way of saying that their readership thinks Gov. Dayton played politics with the Range’s unemployment benefits rather than doing the right thing and that they’re tired of Gov. Dayton’s duplicity.

Later in the editorial, it says “The Iron Range received a lot of promises from the federal government when Boundary Waters Canoe Area legislation was passed in 1978, many of which have been broken. One of those promises was to allow mining and logging outside the Boundary Waters. And now, governor, you are trying to break that promise.”

I won’t declare that the Range will make a dramatic change and start electing Republicans on a region-wide scale. I wish that would happen but I’m not predicting that. What I’ll say is that it’s apparent that the Iron Range isn’t the enthusiastic monolith that it’s been in the past.

Lou Dobbs isn’t usually prone to being a bonehead. Still, there’s no disputing the fact that this retweet isn’t one of Dobbs’s finer examples of thinking clearly. The original tweet said “Via @NPR: Trump Gains Support From Teamsters, Who Normally Vote For Democrats #Wisconsin #PA” It was posted by someone with a screen name of Tahquamenon. Dobbs’s baffling reply was “Lou Dobbs Retweeted Tahquamenon Great News for @realDonaldTrump supporters in Wisconsin. It’s #Trump2016 against Wisconsin GOP Establishment.”

First, it’s worth noting that Dobb’s tweet came minutes after Scott Walker announced on the Charlie Sykes Show that he’d endorsed Ted Cruz. Clearly, this was intended to compete with the positive news that Gov. Walker, one of the best reform governors in the United States, had endorsed Sen. Cruz. Next, it’s worth noting that the Teamsters leadership aren’t Republicans. Trump is clearly making a play for Democrats to vote in the GOP primary, which is an open primary. The Teamsters hate Gov. Walker with a passion. He’s hoping this will attract union voters to his campaign.

Let’s understand something important here. Lou Dobbs is either foolish or he’s totally in the tank for Trump. I’m betting the latter. Calling Scott Walker part of the GOP Establishment is a bit like saying that Bill Clinton is as liberal as Bill Ayers. Put bluntly, it’s absurd to think of Scott Walker as establishment. Couple that with Ted Cruz’s reputation of fighting “the Washington Cartel” in both parties and it’s utterly absurd to call Cruz and Walker the GOP Establishment.

It’s stunning to see how stupid otherwise intelligent people have become after they’ve interviewed Trump.

This is the chief takeaway from today’s announcements: Ted Cruz was endorsed by Scott Walker, a man who dealt with death threats against himself and his wife to pass union reforms. Donald Trump announced that he’s being supported by the people who protested against Gov. Walker’s reforms. Walker is a conservative’s conservative with a lengthy list of conservative accomplishments. The Teamsters are part of the Democrats’ base that tried to destroy Gov. Walker.

By those facts, there’s no question who the conservative in this race is and who the liberal is. Lou Dobbs should be ashamed of himself.

This SC Times editorial is frightening in its naiveté. When the Times says that “The IRRRB hasn’t properly overseen the use and impacts of its loans and grants”, that’s a polite way of saying the IRRRB’s loans haven’t created jobs like they were supposed to.

When I wrote this article, I was a little sad but mostly pissed as hell that these DFL politicians put political considerations ahead of creating jobs. It’s said that it’s possible to lie with statistics. That’s true sometimes. This isn’t one of those times, though. According to US Census Bureau statistics, Minnesota’s statewide poverty rate is 11.5% while its Median Household Income is $60,828.

Hibbing’s poverty take is an obscene 20.6%, which is respectable compared with Virginia’s poverty rate, which is a ghastly 26.5%. Hibbing’s MHI is $38,112. Virginia’s is $33,143. It’s easier to just state the truth. There isn’t a middle class on the Iron Range. Period.

Meanwhile, accountability is a 4-letter word in the IRRRB’s dictionary. The IRRRB was literally started before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The fact that the Iron Range’s poverty rate is double the statewide average and the fact that the Iron Range’s MHI is lower than in Appalachia shouts that the IRRRB has failed miserably. It doesn’t need a few reforms. It’s that somebody needs to bring a few sticks of dynamite and a slow-burning long fuse to IRRRB headquarters when nobody’s around, then light the fuse.

It’s a failure. Fixing it is a waste of time.

Leon Wolf’s post over at RedState highlights Donald Trump’s pampered mentality. The newest argument that they’re making is that their voters will have been disenfranchised if he’s the leading vote-getter in the primaries and caucuses but doesn’t get the nomination.

Trump’s argument, as stated on CNN, is that “I think we’ll win before getting to the convention, but if we didn’t and we’re 20 votes short, or we’re, you know, a hundred short, and we’re at 1,100 and somebody else is at 500 or 400, ’cause we’re way ahead of everybody, I don’t think you can say we don’t get it automatically. I think you’d have riots”, adding “if you disenfranchise those people … I think you would have problems like you’ve never seen before.”

RedState states things exceptionally clearly, stating “this is very simple; the RNC’s rules very clearly state – as they have from the beginning – that you have to have a majority of delegates in order to win the nomination. If no candidate gets that majority on the first ballot, then there’s a process for selecting a nominee that leaves the ballot results behind. There’s no rule that says that the top delegate-getter in the first ballot has to be the choice; if there were such a rule, then whoever got a plurality of the delegates would just automatically win per the rules.”

It isn’t like Trump hasn’t known this from the start. He’s known it. What’s happening is that Trump thought he didn’t have to build a campaign organization, that his fame would carry him to the nomination. That still might happen but Trump’s definitely discovering some challenges now that the field has finally narrowed.

Imagine that Hillary gets 230 electoral votes, Trump gets 170, and Perry gets 140. The election would then go to the House of Representatives. If they chose Trump, then Hillary’s voters haven’t been “disenfranchised.” There just weren’t enough of them for her to win the election per the clearly stated rules.

Without question, Hillary’s people would complain but that’s life. The Constitution spells things out clearly. For someone to be elected president, they need a majority of electoral votes. If nobody gets a majority, then the House of Representatives decides the election.

Last night, Newt Gingrich was on Hannity’s TV show after Hannity interviewed Sen. Cruz. Newt’s words should serve as a wake-up call to Trump. Among the things that Gingrich said was that Trump getting down in the mud over Sen. Cruz’s wife, Heidi, would hurt Trump in California.

Gingrich said that Trump’s ratings were already bad with women, that Trump can’t afford further erosion of support with women and that women make up a “huge” part of the GOP electorate in California. According to this LA Times poll, Trump leads Sen. Cruz with likely primary voters by a 36%-35% margin.

According to Gingrich, Trump will be in trouble if Trump doesn’t start acting more stable and being more of a gentleman. The odds of that happening are roughly equivalent to the odds that Hillary Clinton will walk into FBI headquarters this week and signing a confession that she lied to FBI investigators. In other words, there’s no chance of Trump starting to act like a gentleman.

Newt said that he thinks Sen. Cruz will do pretty well in Wisconsin and that “this ought to be a wake-up call to Trump, that he’d better rethink some of the underlying patterns of his campaign.” I think that’s the right advice. I don’t think, though, that Trump will pay much attention to Newt’s advice. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that Trump’s ego is bigger than the Grand Canyon and that it might be as big as the state of Texas.

Rethinking things isn’t Trump’s strength.

Newt explains things perfectly here:

Look, Donald Trump had a very easy answer to that truly stupid — I think it was actually a Facebook ad that was sent out. The answer was simple. Melania was a supermodel on a professional shoot for a very famous magazine. He’s very proud of her and she’ll be a very beautiful first lady. Now, if he had just said that and moved on, then the Cruz campaign would’ve looked stupid. The issue would’ve been over. He would’ve seemed more disciplined and more pleasant and a gentleman. Instead, he gets down into this mud that I really think has hurt him. I’m not sure that anyone in the Trump campaign understands yet what a big mistake this is and they can’t keep doing this stuff and expect to win this nomination.

Gingrich thinks that Trump’s threatening Heidi Cruz will hurt him with women, especially in California. I’ll simplify this for the Trump campaign. If Trump doesn’t win California, he won’t be the GOP nominee. Sen. Cruz has outhustled him in too many states. If Trump isn’t the nominee on the first ballot, he’s history.

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This article highlights another instance in which the DFL is trying to drive companies out of Minnesota. They shouldn’t be blamed, though. Democrats in Washington, DC, are attempting to drive companies out of the U.S.

Specifically, “Senate DFLers are pushing a more generous paid family leave than the three states that require it, mandating up to 12 weeks of paid time off for new parents or people caring for sick family members. That’s double what is required in New Jersey and California; Rhode Island offers eight weeks.” Additionally, the “fight is gaining attention at the national level as Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have proposed leave policies.”

This is just another thing ton the DFL’s agenda that’s driving employment costs up for Minnesota businesses. (It isn’t like they aren’t already leaving for lower tax states.) The executive summary of Peter Nelson’s report doesn’t paint a positive picture for Minnesota.

This information is especially troubling to Minnesota’s long-term health:

Most of the taxpayers who leave Minnesota for lower-tax states are in their prime earning years. One might think that most high-earning families who leave Minnesota are retirees moving to Florida or Arizona, but this is not the case. Working-age people between 35 and 54 account for nearly 40 percent of Minnesota’s net loss of tax filers for the 2013-2014 period.

In other words, Minnesota isn’t losing people at the end of their prime earning years. If they were, they could recover from that fairly quickly. It’s more difficult to recover long-term income loss because you have to attract people who are entering or in their prime earning years.

Further factoring into this difficult situation is the fact that people in their prime earning years aren’t likely to be as loyal to Minnesota as someone in the last part of their prime earning years. Someone that’s 60 and still earning significant dollars likely has a family here. They’ve established their lifestyle and are comfortable with it. Their friends are likely here, too.

It’s understatement that government-mandated business costs don’t incentivize companies to stay loyal to Minnesota. Their first priority is to maximize their company’s profits, which contributes to their family’s security.

This says it all:

Doug Seaton said he believes that politicians have no business telling employers to offer paid family and medical leave.

When politicians start putting their capital at risk and start signing the front of the paycheck, they can choose to offer paid family and medical leave. Then there’s this:

“Politicians, most of whom have no experience signing paychecks for employees of any kind, are not in a good position to make these decisions,” Seaton said. “It restricts the ability of the business to tailor its benefits to all employees in a way that makes sense.” He added that it came on top of “what employers already perceive as a very extensive and expansive set of entitlements in Minnesota.”

That’s a polite way of telling politicians to stop imposing their will on companies that they don’t own. It’s a polite way of telling politicians to shut up.

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