Wednesday, April 16, 2014
The 6th CD is an interesting case, probably the premier one, of what I term a certain republican schizophrenia about the endorsement process. We're told, on the one hand, that the endorsement is almost sacred and must be abided by if one is to be deemed a good republican.
On the other hand, Mike McFadden, running for the US Senate, has made plain since day one that he will go to a primary if he does not get the endorsement. In fact, he hasn't made a serious play for the endorsement and everyone--correctly in my view--assumes his strategy has been to win the primary. He and his supporters suffer no adverse consequence for this heresy. Indeed, not to support him for the nomination, as I do not, is to be seen as the odd man out, needlessly contrarian or just wrong. That's fine but it doesn't address the underlying schizophrenia.
Tom Emmer will face Anoka County Commission Chair Rhonda Sivarajah and Phil Krinkie, former legislator and past head of the Taxpayers League, in the August primary. Krinkie refused to attend the endorsing convention, while Sivarajah went to tell the delegates and alternates why she both sought their endorsement and would run in the primary. Her speech is worth reading and can be done so by clicking here. Full disclosure: I wrote it but the thoughts and ideas are Rhonda's, as was the courage it took to go and make it in person.
Republicans in Minnesota have a problem when it comes to the endorsement. The problem isn't mine because I favor the primary system and so do a good many others. My friend Jeff Kolb, for example, shares my view (especially about moving forward any primary date from August to June) even though he's a supporter of McFadden. Jeff is running for the city council of Crystal and deserves widespread support. Please go here to donate and go here to read his blog. I didn't find his post in support in support of McFadden particularly persuasive but read him and make up your own mind. To be fair, he posted before McFadden called a press conference last week and committed seppuku. Kolb is one republican who isn't schizophrenic, however, and that's a plus in my book. We need more of them.
The delegates in CD 6 who endorsed Emmer and who feel offended, if not outraged, that others would run in the primary will doubtless, almost to a person, support McFadden in his primary run. They insist they aren't inconsistent but that's objectively untrue.
What I think is going on is a reluctance on the part of many, if not most, of these kind of republicans to admit the truth. In America's most tiresomely passive-aggressive state, that shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
The truth, however, needs to be said: in each instance these republicans are falling behind the establishment candidate.
Some on Twitter are too clever by half by asking just who is the establishment? Worse, some of them are among those who pretend we don't have a sexism problem in the republican party. Come to think of it, both forms of denial go hand in hand. No wonder we find ourselves in our current fix. We mock what scares us, what keeps us from being fully competitive with the democrats. Fortunately the blanket is big enough to accommodate the many pulling it over their heads.
I prefer the naked confession of going with the establishment guy (the establishment is rarely gal) instead of feigning respect for an endorsement process that has long outlived its usefulness and then abandoning it when convenient or because party peer pressure is too great to resist.
Republicans' inability to be honest about their endorsement schizophrenia is a stand-in for a multitude of other things we decline to face directly. If a party can't face itself, it can't face the voters. Which is another way of saying it's a party that has accommodated itself to losing.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Yesterday McFadden gave the second news conference of his ill-fated campaign, which resembled the famous train wreck at Montparnasse in Paris, above. I don't know how many fatalities were caused by that accident but any more performances like yesterday's and McFadden's campaign will flat line, to the extent it already hasn't. Listen to the audio for the first 5.30 minutes here and then switch to the YouTube video which captures the balance of the event here.
If his question and answer period could have gone worse, it's beyond my Irish powers of imagination. His prepared remarks focused on the shopworn trope of wasteful government spending. One should have expected such banality from the team that came up with his campaign tagline, a rip-off from A Better Minnesota of all groups, "Believe in Minnesota." Still, the essential nothingness of the topic is dismaying, displaying a poverty of political acumen and the campaign's essential directionless nature at the same time.
Al Franken is against government waste, for God's sake. Not even Phyllis Kahn would come out in support of it. How that issue is played makes all the difference. "Are food stamps government waste? Why does Mike McFadden want to starve people?" You can see the DFL jujitsu now. Apparently no one on Team McFadden does.
Wasteful government spending. Really? McFadden paid tribute to retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, whom he called a "servant leader." Servant leader is evangelical gobbledygook meaning he's one of them, the true believers. Non-fundamentalist Christians need not apply. Why is he using that code? Worse, is he even aware he is?
At any rate, McFadden thought it keen to pick up the "Wastebook" that Coburn was known for publishing. It worked for Coburn because he'd actually vote against republican leadership from time to time, something no one could ever see McFadden doing should he luck into the Senate. At this point, only Al Franken dying seems likely to accomplish that trick. Then, of course, the Coleman-lite candidate could eek out his win just like the original artifact: by beating a dead man. Once.
After talking for less than six minutes, in a vocal style that most resembled speaking while sleepwalking, the hapless McFadden opened up the press conference for questions. His public speaking style got worse but his substantive response should embarrass his supporters, who tend to be rather full of themselves while oblivious to that fact. Evasive, rote, repetitive and canned, the man behind the podium wasn't simply not ready for the Senate, he wasn't ready for his own press conference. He has only so many tapes to play before they start to loop.
Am I the only one who cares for the actual person of Mike McFadden? What I saw and heard was simply cruel to inflict on another human being. I hope Vin Weber's K Street connections pay off in spades for McFadden if he's our nominee, because he'll lose decisively but not before more, and even greater, humiliating performances.
McFadden failed to answer almost all questions put to him by local media. Surely one of his five figure staffers told him that there was an outside chance of questions being asked by media at a press conference? You know, the kind you call yourself, signaling to the world you're ready to answer them?
When asked about the alleged gender based wage gap (which even Slate has called "a lie") he somehow meandered into talking about the XL Keystone pipeline. This was a dissociative moment worthy of Mark Dayton. When asked if he'd have voted for or against the wage bill the Senate took up just the day before, he declined to answer, claiming it was the "wrong question." That bodes well for the general election, the debates especially. Readers owe it to themselves to see the video, linked to above, in order to appreciate just how disadvantaged McFadden will be face to face with Al Franken, an unfunny and not particularly likeable guy but who will win over viewers by sheer dint of a pulse.
Remember: this is your guy, Minnesota republicans. Even though there's still room on the lifeboats, the ship's crew is keeping you in your cabins at gunpoint. Or worse, you're happy to stay there of your own accord, years of training having done their trick. McFadden's performance should have embarrassed if not outright shamed you. No amount of money can make up for what was, and wasn't, on public display yesterday.
McFadden also whiffed on questions concerning, beside the minimum wage, the personhood amendment (why is that even being discussed?) and Minnesota's disastrous Obamacare implementing exchange MnSure (how hard is that?). A neutral observer was left mystified as to why the campaign would call such a press conference in the first place. A republican hoping to defeat Al Franken was left knowing this guy could never do it. Republicans will continue to fool themselves for a bit longer, though, with the pixy dust of money. It won't work but the parasitical ones will have made their money regardless and will be off to other races, descending like hungry political locusts. Or staying right here, where they always feast regardless of our election night famines.
McFadden's supporters should be most offended by what he offered in lieu of substance: the ridiculous idea that voters will know his "philosophy" and that that will be good enough. What is this campaign? An Andy Kaufman-like exercise to test the political audience's toleration of being profoundly insulted before throwing chairs at the stage? Do my fellow republicans think so little of themselves that they think this is acceptable and hence say nothing? It would appear so.
MPR's Mark Zdechlik quotes the cipher candidate as saying:
"What I think is really important with politicians and leaders [is] you understand their overriding philosophies--how do they make decisions?" said McFadden. "And so I've been very specific in this campaign as to how I make decisions."
No, no you haven't, sir, and I've been paying attention, forcing myself at times. Unless taking a call from Norm or Vin constitutes making a decision and then you might be onto something. But that's not what republicans--or voters in general--in Minnesota are looking for, nor is it a plausible way to win; insulting the intelligence of the voters usually isn't.
What we saw yesterday was a man with no presence, no convictions, no style, no sense of purpose.
Nowhere man. But I repeat myself.
Monday, March 31, 2014
Last Friday Mike McFadden, the hand picked establishment candidate for the republican nomination to run against Al Franken this fall, surprised just about everyone by doing something he hadn't done often: showed up for a public republican senate forum.
I met McFadden for the first time at my senate district convention a week ago Saturday. I found him cordial, professional and personally self-possessed. There's not a lot of professionals left in any field but he's clearly one. I wanted to hire him immediately and I had no idea for what; just hire him. Preferably using someone else's money. This is his métier.
I called him a gentleman on Twitter and hoped that it wasn't so old school of me in using that term that people wouldn't get it. I meant it and my concerns have never been personal. He gave a fine speech before the delegates and then departed with his entourage, who went out of their way not to speak with me. Those types actually go far in Minnesota republican politics. Where do you think the current generation came from?
After Mike walked away, I thought: why have they been keeping this guy under wraps? He may not be a natural candidate but he struck me as eminently coachable and everyone running for office can benefit from proper coaching, especially one who has never run before. He could be good retail but that was never why he was picked in the first instance.
Elect the selected. ™ Jack and Annette need to deliver. No, you don't get a cut of the proceeds.
At any rate, McFadden showed for the republican CD 7 senatorial forum, held in Willmar on Friday evening, the night before its convention on Saturday. He had previously said he would not be attending, hence doing the right thing came as a surprise. You'd think this would be a natural inflection point for self reflection as to how his campaign had been programmed to date but you would be wrong.
The first question to the candidates was whether they would abide by the party endorsement. Apparently the buzz was literal in the room when McFadden said he would not. I'm not sure why this news is just reaching fellow republicans in CD 7 but there you have it; the assembled republicans were not amused. Twin Cities Metro Republicans™ twist themselves into incoherent knots attempting to make the case that the party establishment should wholly fall in behind the candidate who never once considered abiding by its imprimatur, while excoriating, for example, anyone who would do the same in the race to replace Michele Bachmann. None of them are looking particularly principled.
It must be said, though, they don't seem to mind!
CD 3 republicans also had their convention last Saturday and all the senate candidates showed up to appeal to them. State Sen. Julianne Ortman won the straw poll with over 40% of the vote. She's won every one of them to date. The anger this elicits from the old boys' network is barely concealed; at every turn they prove my case but without knowing it. Please, do continue.
I could be wrong but I think I understand the McFadden team's calculus: metrics such as straw polls are beside the point because winning a primary requires a different strategy altogether.
It can. It might. It doesn't have to.
I thought McFadden would have won that straw poll in a romp because CD 3 is filled with the types who enjoy not thinking for themselves as a sign of their political savvy. That he came in a distant second should sound warning bells to the newly self-aware borg but perhaps they haven't quite gotten the hang of things yet. It should pay attention because the results may foreshadow something ominous:
Is McFadden losing the primary by degrees even before the endorsing convention is a thing of the past?
Can carpet bombing hapless republican primary voters with direct mail pieces, likely to be as unsubstantial as the campaign run thus far, or pestering television viewers with ads cut from the same "green shirt" video, do the trick? Remember, that's the sophisticated thinking: money is pretty much everything in the race to compete against Franken.
To disagree with that premise isn't to say that money is unimportant, although that's frequently the response I get from "tell me what to do" republicans activists and pundits when the point is made.
Yet despite, not because of, all the money raised and spent to date, with promises of oceans more in the general election, the dogfood is not being eaten. If they don't eat it in the 3rd CD you might want to ask yourself if there's a larger problem with your overall strategy. The lazy assumption, widely shared I must disappointingly confess, is McFadden wins the primary easily over Dahlberg or Ortman because Minnesota republican primary voters are simply amoeba who respond predictably to changes in their petri dish.
Maybe he will but where's the evidence that remote forms of contact with voters will get them to support the guy whose team made it a point never to let them get to know in the first place? Who most of the time refused to let him show up and then crowed with self-congratulation when they did last weekend? Genius never looked so dense.
In my estimation, Minnesota republicans want an authentic fighter who will champion their values and policy positions but in a way that is inclusive and welcoming. None of them think it will be easy to defeat Franken but all of them think it's quite possible. I agree.
In order to do so, however, they have to have some connection with the candidate who is asking for their support. Tomorrow is the beginning of April, an awfully late date for those in charge of McFadden's campaign to realize the human element is always central in any race.
Team McFadden might be waking up just in time to catch the end of their own movie.
Friday, March 28, 2014
On Saturday, March 29, at 11:00 a.m CDT, Dr. Andrew G. Bostom is my exclusive guest for the full hour on Gilmore & Glahn radio. I'll be hosting solo as Bill Glahn is on assignment. Note the one time shift in scheduling for the show.
Dr. Bostrom is an associate professor of medicine at Brown University. In addition, he is an accomplished author focusing on Iran's threat to Israel. His latest book, Iran's Final Solution For Israel, explains why, among the many enemies of Israel and the Jewish people, Iran is preeminent. He illuminates how the recent U.S. brokered “P5 + 1” agreement has abetted the post-Khomeini era Iranian theocracy’s annihilationist designs on Israel and its global hegemonic aspirations.
His just released book can be purchased by clicking here.
Listen to Dr. Bostom on Saturday at 11 a.m. by clicking here.
The podcast will be linked to when available, shortly after broadcast.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
|"The medicine it still won't work but there's dangerous levels of it here."|
The New Pornographers
Almost all of my friends are either on the make or want to be.
I never have been nor wanted. Their becoming such was so gradual I'm not sure they were aware of it. I imagine, in their own minds, they think of it somehow as progress in life. They keep getting promotions without a clue what to do next except get another. Early in life they find themselves empty; racing to get old, as Elvis Costello once put it.
In Minnesota, however, the republican young have been taught something else, which is not to think beyond establishment confines. Worse, obeying them is your path to advancement. See paragraph 2. They say fond things to each other on Twitter about Tim Pawlenty. It's enough to break your political heart.
Today Sarah Palin endorsed Julianne Ortman for the republican endorsement to run against Al Franken. The reaction now as compared to when she endorsed Tom Emmer in 2010 in his failed gubernatorial race is instructive as to where republicans in Minnesota find themselves generally with women today.
I resented it when Palin endorsed Tom Emmer in an endorsement contest. I think a primary is fair game for anyone to chime in. Palin should have endorsed Ortman if, and after, she received the endorsement of the Republican Party of Minnesota. I only look inconsistent to those not bright enough to keep up.
At any rate, the reaction of the so called most politically involved has been demonstrably different and it can't all be chalked up to four years having elapsed between the two endorsements, although that certainly is valid to factor in.
Palin endorsing the establishment man, good. Palin endorsing the non-establishment woman, bad.
It's not me, it's not Sarah, it's not Julianne.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
One doesn't have to buy into the ridiculous, but at times effective, invented progressive narrative that republicans have, or are waging, a war on women in order to be troubled by how the Republican
Party of Minnesota treats it own republican women. For a change, instead of women being their own worst enemy (Anatole France: "friendship among women is only the suspension of hostilities"), the locus of the problem can be laid squarely at the feet of republican men and a few but sufficient quisling women. And by the Republican Party, I mean republicans in Minnesota in general.
From the beginning of my involvement in local politics, I could sense some sort of problem with respect to republican women but could never quite put my finger on it. I'm not sure I can now, precisely, but I know the problem, far from being solved, has only gotten worse. Why is this?
I have no single, comprehensive answer; I don't think there is one. I do know republicans pretty much fail to admit to ourselves that the problem exists.
We currently have no women in party leadership, pretending for the moment that it's still relevant. Republicans had an amazing Senate Majority Leader when we held the majority for two fleeting years (had not men taken her out as collateral damage to their real (and male) target, we'd be running her for governor now). We also had women in key legislative positions for the first time in the state's history and that's not nothing, especially for the box checkers on the Left and their handmaidens in the press.
Now, however, the republican political environment seems to be about ignoring or, at times, trashing, qualified republican women candidates in ways that would never be done to male candidates. This is being played out before our eyes but goes largely unremarked upon.
The women who are currently experiencing the worst of this are Sen. Julianne Ortman, state senator running for the US Senate, Rhonda Sivarajah, Anoka County Commissioner, running for Congress in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District and Rep. Mary Franson, representing House District 8B and currently being challenged for the endorsement.
Each has life stories and a history of public accomplishment which, if possessed by men, would cause them to be lauded and promoted at every turn. Instead, they are treated, at best, as if they don't exist. At worst, they're subjected to what strikes me as garden variety sexism.
Conventional wisdom views Ortman as an inconvenience en route to a McFadden primary win. The reality is that she has traveled the state tirelessly, making her case to the rank and file and answering questions instead of running from them. Polling shows her within single digits of Al Franken. She's won two straw polls that were said to be important until a woman won them. Like her or don't like her: she's the only authentic candidate in the US Senate race. Is it axiomatic we should support her because she's a woman? Of course not. By the same token, do we ever think of recruiting and nurturing women to run for statewide office? The evidence suggests not and rather conclusively. Chris Dahlberg is a likable candidate but he exists because Stanley Hubbard wanted him to run and is effectively funding the effort. Funny, no one asks if we should support Dahlberg because he's a man or the creature of a not very politically astute media mogul; that question never enters our consciousness.
Out-state money men like Vin Weber, Norm Coleman and Karl Rove handpicked the wealthy McFadden and Minnesota republicans are supposed to support him because of that fact. If you call them sheep, remember, you're the problem. McFadden, however, isn't the self-funder we've been led to believe, a realization that is dawning upon the big money donors who are not amused at being asked to fund an effort the candidate himself doesn't see as a wise investment. Add to this a genuinely disastrous performance thus far as a candidate and you have some quiet rethinking of this race. Yesterday the Cook Political Report put its McFadden assessment rather gingerly: "He's not a bad candidate. But he's got a way to go." Heckuva job, Beltway insiders, consultants and hangers on. You guys are pure genius.
Donors like Hubbard have given us Dahlberg, apparently for most of the same reasons as McFadden only this time Mr. Money Bags is in-state. Feel better?
Nowhere, however, has the egregious differential treatment between men and women in the republican party been more shamefully showcased than in Rhonda Sivarajah's race to replace Michele Bachmann. Sivarajah's record of conservative accomplishment is unmatched by anyone in the state; this sounds like hyperbole but it is not. Some things really are true.
Her support is thin to moderate generally and almost non-existent in the establishment. Again, she doesn't deserve support solely because she's a woman. But when a republican woman this accomplished isn't supported more widely and deeply, something is objectively amiss. Most activists don't want to face this because they are complicit in it: they need a job, a come back, a rung up the ladder, the approval of their peers. It's all rather transparent and the more pitiful for it.
Let's try this: would Sivarajah be supported if she ran a disastrous campaign and lost to Mark Dayton, depriving Minnesota of an all-republican led state? Would she be taken seriously if she had two DUIs and introduced legislation that would have had the effect of making such a history less discoverable? Would she be supported if she introduced legislation attempting to limit speech rights? What about if she lost the RNC race and fled the building, refusing to congratulate the winner? How about if she was paid by far left extremists to support National Popular Vote, which would eviscerate the Electoral College and have made Al Gore president?
The answer is a resounding no but these things all have been done by Tom Emmer and he's the establishment favorite. He's accomplished nothing, of course, but that probably makes him one of them. Women like Sivarajah frighten them to death precisely because she's successful. Think of the establishment as mediocrities who like having similar people around them; as the boss that wouldn't promote you because you were smarter and you both knew it.
Astonishingly, not one but three sitting Congressmen jumped into the 6th CD endorsement process last week by hosting an hour "coffee" on behalf of Emmer in Washington, DC. The invitation to that squalid event can be viewed by clicking here. Many of us have been told that we should butt out of this race because we don't live in the district. I've not heard that criticism lodged against Reps. Paulsen and Kline, who are at least from Minnesota. Wisconsin Rep. and perpetual boy scout Sean Duffy joined the other two in hosting this event. I like all three, politics and office holders being the art of the possible, but none should have jumped in before a primary. That they did, and in support of a deeply flawed man, in the teeth of a substantially better qualified woman candidate, can and should be held against them. On a different plane altogether, they illustrate Minnesota republicans' problems with republican women: they just don't get it.
Finally, the current situation of state Rep. Mary Franson is an illustration of both gender and integrity problems amongst republicans. Franson is being challenged for the endorsement by an opponent who attacks her for introducing a civil unions bill during the marriage debate in the hope of garnering democratic votes so same sex marriage wouldn't pass. The other ersatz substantive issue in the race is her bill for industrial hemp production. The first issue is marriage; the second is liberty.
So where are all the sanctimonious FitzSimmons Republicans™? They put on ostentatious displays of feelings! and outrage! when delegates to house district 30B denied him the endorsement over same sex marriage. Why haven't they flocked to support Mary Franson who is under different but similar attack?
Because more than self-absorption and cost-free moral preening is required here. FitzSimmons Republicans™ are really Twin Cities Metro Republicans.™
If the sentiment underlying FitzSimmons' endorsement loss was anything but self-indulgence, it would have already transferred to Mary Franson's race. But it hasn't. Draw your own conclusions. I have.
Leave aside the individual examples of these three different women; I can anticipate particular criticisms made about each of them in order to discredit the general point made here. That's fine, but the situation for republican women only gets worse at the group level.
Recently the DFL hosted a DFL Hall of Fame for Women. Yes, cheesy, everyone got a participation ribbon. But the event itself reveals an underlying appreciation of women that is simply missing in Minnesota republican politics. Some women thrive but mostly on their own and are cut adrift when it suits men; most republican women are not encouraged and cultivated like women are by democrats in this state. It's so obvious it defies refutation.
"A-list" republican women consultants in Minnesota? Name one outside of fundraising. Funny how that works. We have a deep bench, however, of teacher's pets who are allowed to embroider on the edge of the tapestry and for which honor they are grateful. Their ascendance is like the rise of a temperature along with the fever. These women actually bask in the praise of these men the rest of us have seen through. They're kapos in the republican sexism camps.
Republican approved vendors who are women? None come to mind but the old boys' network does instantly, along with their shopworn, outdated direct mail campaigns foisted on hapless candidates until their funds run dry.
How about big money republican women donors? Joan Cummins doesn't count, thanks for the damage. No, can't think of any independent wealthy republican women who are heavy hitters in the donor class.
Both at the individual and the group level, Minnesota republicans must take women seriously in all ways political: real, substantive, powerful political ways. It's embarrassing to have to write this.
It's also a sign of how messed up things are that it's a guy who is writing about it. Then again, if a woman did, republicans would pay her no mind.
Friday, February 28, 2014
Her most recent book is "American Betrayal: The Secret Assault On Our Nation's Character." It generated a firestorm of controversy on the right and, eventually, throughout the political spectrum for its well researched but unwelcome conclusions that America had been infiltrated to a far greater degree by agents of the USSR than previously known or publicly admitted. It can be purchased by clicking here.
Perhaps the best, most concise exegesis of her book was the overview of it on the Barnes & Noble website:
"Part real-life thriller, part national tragedy, American Betrayal lights up the massive, Moscow-directed penetration of America’s most hallowed halls of power, revealing not just the familiar struggle between Communism and the Free World, but the hidden war between those wishing to conceal the truth and those trying to expose the increasingly official web of lies.
American Betrayal is America’s lost history, a chronicle that pits Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight David Eisenhower, and other American icons who shielded overlapping Communist conspiracies against the investigators, politicians, defectors, and others (including Senator Joseph McCarthy) who tried to tell the American people the truth.
American Betrayal shatters the approved histories of an era that begins with FDR’s first inauguration, when “happy days” are supposed to be here again, and ends when we “win” the Cold War. It is here, amid the rubble, where Diana West focuses on the World War II—Cold War deal with the devil in which America surrendered her principles in exchange for a series of Big Lies whose preservation soon became the basis of our leaders’ own self-preservation. It was this moral surrender to deception and self-deception, West argues, that sent us down the long road to moral relativism, “political correctness,” and other cultural ills that have left us unable to ask the hard questions: Does our silence on the crimes of Communism explain our silence on the totalitarianism of Islam? Is Uncle Sam once again betraying America?
In American Betrayal, Diana West shakes the historical record to bring down a new understanding of our past, our present, and how we have become a nation unable to know truth from lies."
Front Page magazine, produced by the well known David Horowitz, at first gave the book a glowing review, only to have it taken down and replaced by an astonishing hatchet job on both the book and its author. Not unexpectedly this created a firestorm. Horowitz went on record saying "She should not have written this book,'' an astonishing thing for a conservative to say who pretends to deep intellectual engagement.
West responded fearlessly and thoroughly. Her response can be read by clicking here.
No less than Amity Shlaes, author of Coolidge and The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression has said:
"Diana West masterfully reminds us of what history is for: to suggest action for the present. She paints for us the broad picture of our own long record of failing to recognize bullies and villains. She shows how American denial today reflects a pattern that held strongly in the period of the Soviet Union. She is the Michelangelo of Denial."
One reviewer put it like this:
"Every once in a while, something happens that turns a whole structure of preconceived ideas upside down, shattering tales and narratives long taken for granted, destroying prejudice, clearing space for new understanding to grow. Diana West's latest book, American Betrayal, is such an event."
-- Henrik Raeder Clausen, Europe News
Diana West is the exclusive guest for the full hour of Gilmore & Glahn radio, Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 4 p.m. CDT. Please go here to listen in real time. The podcast will be linked to below once the show has aired.
Gilmore & Glahn are honored to have Diana West tell their listeners the real story of what she found while conducting what she has called "investigative history." Don't miss Radio Worth Your Time™
PODCAST: The Diana West interview can be heard or downloaded by clicking HERE
Monday, February 24, 2014
Last weekend Rep. David FitzSimmons failed to be endorsed by republicans in house district 30B, which he has represented for the last two years when it became an open seat after redistricting. He has said that he will not run in the primary, thus bringing his office holding career to an end for the time being. He withdrew from the race at the last possible moment before facing a shellacking at the hands of a popular challenger, Eric Lucero, a respected member of the Dayton city council. Before the vote FitzSimmons spoke to the delegates, praising himself and then, crying due to feeling sorry for himself, fled the building after saying he was withdrawing from the race. It's difficult to respect such conduct. He owed it to the delegates he made stay all day to see the vote through, to lose with dignity and to appear on the same dais with the eventual winner for the sake of party unity. He did none of this. His true character was laid bare.
By contrast, Marty Seifert, who FitzSimmons helped defeat for the republican endorsement for governor in 2010, stopped the counting of the third ballot during that endorsing convention and threw his support behind Tom Emmer, who he asked to join him on the dais to unite the party (Emmer would have been incapable of such a gesture, had the vote gone the other way). This is what a man of integrity does; this is the behavior of a leader. This is what David FitzSimmons could not muster the capacity to do and that's unfortunate.
The dispositive issue that cost him the endorsement was said to be his vote in 2013 to legalize same sex marriage in Minnesota. The majority of his constituents who participated in the endorsement process felt strongly enough about that vote to effectively remove him from office. FitzSimmons represents one of the safest, and most conservative, districts in the state. The result should have surprised no one but the reactions I witnessed (well before the vote and after) demonstrated yet again that republicans are incoherent to themselves, with little understanding of how unappealing that makes them to general election voters.
Recall at the time of the vote FitzSimmons, and the four other republicans who voted for same sex marriage, were the toast of the town. Is there anything easier than fitting in with the liberal mindset of Minnesota, in particular the Twin Cities and its media elite? This isn't to say that the five did not believe in the merits of their vote; assuredly they did. The point is that at the time the vote was taken it was cost free, with discussion of subsequent fallout mentioned mostly in passing, an after thought to the "courageous" vote of "conscience" that they had just taken. As if principled opponents to genderless marriage were simply the bigoted caricatures that mean spirited opponents kept insisting they were; as if "don't limit the freedom to marry" was a substantive argument instead of a way station bumper sticker en route to grievous cultural problems; as if once marriage was no longer defined as between one man and one woman, other equal protection challenges would not be forthcoming, as indeed they have been and will continue to be, from, among others, polygamists. The argument was never as specious as same sex marriage proponents put it, that wanting to marry a dog or a horse would be laughed out of court. The argument advanced is one that will continue to advance: if the state has no compelling interest in the gender of marriage, previously essential for millennia across all cultures for all of recorded human history, then it has none whatsoever in the number of people to a marriage.
Current discussions of FitzSimmons' predicament take place as if the stakes back then were not high, for both sides. They were, of course. How surprising, then, can it be that politically active republicans in house district 30B would wait for their next opportunity to express themselves? Why is their sense of betrayal somehow of less account than the media generated profiles in courage of not just Fitzsimmons but the other republicans who helped democrats vote in same sex marriage? It was laid on extremely thick at the time. You can Google their names individually and note their uniform response of "Aw shucks, who me? A hero? Well, if you insist."
Media approval is a beguiling thing, especially for Minnesota republican politicians who are rarely used to it.
Here, though, we have something else: hitherto staunch defenders of the endorsement system wondering out loud about its continued relevance. Yet before Fitzsimmons was at risk, through his volitional act, they eschewed any notion that the endorsement process was outmoded, captured by unrepresentative activists who all too often selected candidates who could not win Minnesota general elections. How many times do republicans have to lose every state-wide race before this begins to sink in?
With FitzSimmons, we were treated to truly bizarre and demonstrably false headlines from right-leaning blogs like "Gay Marriage and the Political Lynching of David Fitzsimmons" and "David Fitzsimmons: Being Wronged For Doing Right." This is complete nonsense, bereft of evidence and written for reasons best known to their authors. FitzSimmons meets his constituents; to whom else is he responsible? If they select another to represent them, such is neither a lynching nor being done wrong. This is politics at work, democracy which, had not their preferred ox been gored, those same critics would have celebrated.
FitzSimmons said at the time that he voted his conscience. I have no reason not to believe him and there is a certain integrity in that. On the other hand, his constituents felt badly betrayed. Their feelings are the most under-reported aspect of this story. They actually count more than FitzSimmons', though you'd be hard pressed to find that sentiment expressed in the coverage which followed his defeat. He preened at the time that his vote might cost him his job. When his bravado chickens came home to roost, he wasn't man enough to stay for the vote that would defeat him but cried and ran off like a coward. He is no one's idea of a martyr except to the most craven, of which, apparently, there are more of in the activist base than I realized before last Saturday. An elected official lied to his constituents and was held accountable by them for it. If this bothers you, you might want to rethink the purpose and nature of elected office.
Baird Helgeson, the Star Tribune's best political reporter now that Kevin Diaz went to the Houston Chronicle, gives an outline of the talking points of both sides, with an obvious bias against Lucero, in his reporting that can be read here. Unfortunately, while Helgeson mentions it, he does not link to FitzSimmons' email essentially lying to a constituent about marriage. That email can be seen by clicking here. If you like to be lied to, David's your man. I've long known liberals don't mind it but until last weekend I didn't realize that was true of republicans.
The most obscured fact of this endorsement story is that FitzSimmons betrayed the trust of his constituents by campaigning on and promising repeatedly to oppose same sex marriage. It was the betrayal, as much as the issue per se, that animated the attendees to give Lucero 74% of their vote on the first ballot (sixty percent is required for endorsement). If the situation were reversed and house district 30B was thoroughly pro same sex marriage, and its representative voted to block it, the same critics would applaud the district's move to replace him. We'd be lectured on accountability, transparency and the need to respect the will of the delegates. What has just been described, of course, is the definition of hypocrisy.
The worst analyses of this matter were those that predicted doom for the entire republican party in Minnesota; who insisted that denying FitzSimmons the endorsement was a return to divisive social issues that will drag it down, now and forever, world without end. There is simply no evidence to support this contention and much to contradict it. Far from reverberating across the state and within the party, it will be forgotten about with the speed it deserves as we focus on surviving what--please God--could be the last session of the legislature run entirely by leftists.
On the same day house district 30B voted its preference, Rep. Pat Garofalo (HD 58B) was endorsed at his convention. He voted for same sex marriage, just like FitzSimmons. If a party-wide desire to re-litigate same sex marriage existed, one would think it would show up in that district as well. Rep. Jenifer Loon (HD 48B) has no announced opposition and her endorsement convention is upcoming shortly. She, too, voted for same sex marriage in Minnesota. Again, nothing to support the gloomiest of predictions which at times, on and off Twitter, seemed to be in competition with each other for Most Dire. Such group hysteria gets tiresome quickly. One supporter hoped the democrats picked up this seat. Now there's a politically sophisticated person! Others emphasized FitzSimmons' hard work for candidates and his giving of money to the party and various races. Both admirable qualities but do those pointing them out really think they give a politician a pass from betraying his constituents?
At the end of the day, David FitzSimmons is just another politician who lied to his constituents about one of their most important issues, about which, had he been honest, he would never have been elected in the first place. Having shown his previously hidden true colors to them, the delegates in house district 30B had every right to send him packing.
As my friends on the left would say, this is what democracy looks like.
Above: The martyrdom of Saint Sebastian by Il Sodana, c. 1525
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
What can be held against him, and why I cannot and will not support him for Senate, is the fact that he is a wholly contrived candidate who says and does precisely what his patrons and handlers want him to say and do. He gives astroturf a bad name.
His candidacy is simply being forced upon republicans in the state who are expected to fall in line. Far more of them than is healthy are eager to do so, apparently in the belief that anyone with money will be our best candidate against Franken. This is a lazy analysis, on one level, and a perfectly understandable one on another. What it isn't, on balance, is acceptable.
It's not acceptable for two political has-beens with lobbying clients to pre-select and then impose a cipher candidate who will parrot the policy issue positions most in line with those paying clients. McFadden has no connection with the republican base and has gone out of his way not to develop one. He's well known now for avoiding debates with the other republican candidates or even engaging with the base in a meaningful way. Lately the campaign has tweeted him out and about with hapless republicans badly staged around him, unable to wipe an indifferent look off of their faces. One thinks of those "Kim Jong Il looking at things" Tumblr accounts only here it's "Mike McFadden meets the unwashed activists." His consultants have told him all he needs to know about those types. Who can blame him? The hoi polloi can scrape about in support of Julianne Ortman, Chris Dalhberg or others for the endorsement (quaint) but he and his wallet are going to bigfoot the primary and buy the nomination outright. It worked for Dayton, didn't it?
His initial rollout to "the troops" was particularly painful. Invented reasons for a guy who was very successful in the private sector were put in his unconvincing mouth as to why he suddenly felt the pull of "public service." His videos were better produced than, say, Scott Honour's, but at least with the latter you could get some sense of a personality; you really could see yourself having a beer with him. With McFadden's videos, you have to get past his daughter "introducing" us to someone who leaves us cold; you could see yourself as the subject of his next vivisection. McFadden's essential quality thus far is Robo Candidate.
But shortcomings as an actual candidate are one thing, a thing most republicans can, and do, get past. McFadden's positions on the issues, however, are an abomination; that is, when you can pin him down on one.
McFadden's website has no "issues" page. None. Contempt doesn't come any more clearly expressed unless you prefer "F you," which also works.
The republicans who are supposed to support him because Norm & Vin & Karl picked him are not held in sufficient esteem to have even boilerplate language on routine issues. No, this guy has to be uncommitted to many things because his value to their lobbying clients increases as a result. Need a senate candidate to parrot your position on something? You know who to call and who to pay. The number of activists duped by this vaudeville show is depressing.
Last summer, McFadden told the St. Cloud Times he supported the then recently passed Senate immigration bill. That legislation is a disaster for the future of the republican party and provides for amnesty for illegal aliens despite all protests to the contrary. The base knew this; the base was blown off. McFadden is given his positions and republicans will know them when and as he chooses to reveal them. The idea Mike McFadden will, in any meaningful sense, reflect the wishes of the base is unwarranted. Instead, the base should be glad he was scrounged up by their betters and put forth to give the appearance of a competitive race.
McFadden also recently declared that he would close the gun show "loophole" that few in the base believe exists or wish to close. Amnesty and support for gun control: isn't a democrat already running for this office? McFadden is clearly doing what his consultants tell him to and when. It's a sign of what bad advice he's already getting, however, that well before clinching the nomination he's running a general election campaign. Lovely: you lose the base before you try to woo it and you give a general election voter no reason to vote for DFL-lite. Haven't we seen this movie?
Last month the campaign announced a hilarious "steering committee" of republicans from whom the future in this state will never, nor should, come. An unimpressive lot, these people do what they are told. They would have been tickled to be on any candidate's meaningless steering committee if offered or ordered. Hypocritically, many of them demand that the endorsement be followed when it comes to the race in CD 6 because they support Tom Emmer but are perfectly happy with McFadden "not respecting the will of the delegates," as the phrase goes, and going to a primary. Integrity.
Yesterday Eric Black, formerly of the Star Tribune, now of MinnPost (like so many others there), held forth in somewhat inflated terms and declared that "expectations" have been "altered" in the Senate race because of McFadden. This is laughable. Short of Franken drowning a woman, people have written off McFadden beating him. The motions, though, must be gone through. Right. Black's analysis is conventional although consistent with the scripted nature of the empty McFadden campaign. Black focuses on the chimera of competition given a well funded candidate versus an underfunded one.
He avoids entirely just what a poor candidate qua candidate McFadden is; this will only get more noticeable in direct comparison to Franken who, say what one might, can't be accused of lacking personality. Black's article is long on process (which too many mistake for actual political analysis) and short on substance. This didn't stop people who want a job, or a different one, from crowing on Twitter that "even" the paleo liberals at MinnPost agree McFadden is our most formidable candidate. Of course MinnPost is pioneering "sponsored journalism," which is simply another term for paid content or advertising. I half expected to see a disclosure that Black's article was sponsored by the McFadden campaign.
The manager for Mike For Senate was parachuted in from Florida via political friends to Minnesota, a state with which he had no prior connection. He comes well regarded by friends whose opinion I value but, nothing personal, I'm sure he's already thinking about the next gig, after Mike loses to Al. Of course, this guy's employment is yet another manifestation of the fact that Minnesota republicans don't have an excess of local talent. People get snippy when you point out this obvious fact; they get put on steering committees, or its equivalent, and consider it some sort of achievement.
Minnesota republicans have to decide if they want to continue to be treated like stooges and children by formerly active republicans who have lost elected office and who now dine out like pigs on K Street, the Business Roundtable, American Action Network or some other self-serving organization. That more of my fellow republicans cannot see what a deus ex machina farce the McFadden campaign has been since its beginning is discouraging. They humor me by saying this is the way things go in federal races in Minnesota; that's there no reason I shouldn't understand this by now.
Except I do understand and I object. They seem to think that in doing so I'm making a big mistake. Actually, it's the other way around.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
The biking "community" has long been insufferable in both their pretentiousness as well as their completely unearned but self-awarded moral superiority. These zealots demand to be taken seriously in their attempts to subvert automobile travel. Their self-absorption is breathtaking but bikers appear to have little, if any, self-awareness. Bikers come replete with standard issue positions of the lazy left on almost any political or social topic. Indeed, these types are the quintessential "the personal is the political" adherents which, if taken literally, means we should have a civil society minutely politicized. This, of course, is a hallmark of communist, totalitarian thinking. The arrested development of the permanent adolescent has no greater expositor than the biking types; beta-males incarnate.
The death of a newly arrived man in Minneapolis brought this creepy aspect of bikers to my attention. Marcus Nalls, late of Atlanta and only 26 years old, was killed recently when a van crashed into a parked car and then continued, striking then pinning Nalls under it where he died immediately. This sad accident was seized upon by the two wheelers in order to politicize his death. And if you don't think bikes and other fetishized modes of transportation aren't politics, you've not been paying close enough attention to the members of the anti-car movement.
Nalls' death is sufficiently sad unto itself, it seems to me, to require nothing more than remembering him as the person he was and wanted to become. Isn't that what will happen when we all die? His young age is especially sad, which is why we feel a greater loss for a twenty-something than an eighty-something.
Instead, an inconsequential aspect of him is rendered into the very substance of the man. This is what cults do. Of course tediously earnest bikers would insist that Nalls' biking "was his essence" or some such fatuous locution. Nonsense.
Only an unthinking collectivist approach could turn a personal tragedy into small potato political agenda advancing. Bikers manifestly think of, and act like, they are morally superior in almost every regard to you schlubs who do not bike. Revealingly, the individual is immediately lost into the collective and it is from this group approach that comes a sophisticated form of bullying, the lobbying and browbeating for road changes that makes driving a car that much more difficult. Roads are for cars, with bikes far secondary. The spandex crowd wants to reverse that order.
At any rate, I was fascinated by the "memorial" held by the shallow Minneapolis biking community: it was all about them, which is to say, all about bikes. How small the life inherent in the progressive vision.
WCCO-TV had a fascinating online report about the "memorial" which focused on Nalls' means of transport much more than the actual human being. "More than 200 riders made their way from Loring Park to the sidewalk along Franklin [where Nalls died]. There, in a solemn procession, they walked their bikes past the “ghost bike,” which is a memorial bicycle that’s painted white."
All cults need icons and what better, more effective icon than one associated with death? A ghost bike? Was this some sort of sick joke? No indeed, as I found out to my amazement. Such sorts of "remembrances" take place throughout the country when a biker dies. There's even a disconcerting website: http://ghostbikes.org/
Naturally, what is really going on is the narcissism of the biking community being put on prominent display for the public to see but mostly for themselves. One white bike after another: no individual, just the hope that bikers still living won't die in a similar fashion. White bikes are the crucifixes for the secular, "spiritual but not religious" types in our midst. The dislocation of religion into environmentalism and Portlandia lifestyles is relentless.
The WCCO report went on to state: "Some of them passed sobbing, while others stopped briefly to place flowers." Sobbing for a person you never met, never knew? Are dead bikers the new Princess Diana for this crowd? Because, given what life is, Nalls won't be the last biker killed and then grotesquely fetishized in death. You can read the WCCO story here.
My favorite part of the story, though, was this: "Ride organizer Ginny Herman says the people who came out to celebrate Nalls’ life have 'kind hearts.'"
Super duper kind hearts, Ginny, unlike those drivers of automobiles. You biker squishes are the best and you'll never fail to tell yourselves that first, then others. Go have a cup of chamomile tea with an organic bran muffin and journal the depths of your soul.
Simplistic, sentimental, and narrow-minded, the biking community is a symptom of the larger disease the infects society, which is to say progressivism but with which only a distinct minority of 20% of Americans identify. We owe it to ourselves and our children to resist them.
Marcus Nalls was a sous-chef at the Minneapolis Hyatt; he moved here from Atlanta for that specific job. Rather than some unctuous public demonstration of self-regard, those who might want to honor his memory should think of putting together a scholarship at a local culinary institute in his name. That, of course, would require the "kind heart[ed]" biking "community" to step outside itself and see Nalls as a human being and not a cause.