Sunday, December 16, 2012

Settle The Michael Brodkorb Lawsuit Now

I'm a close friend of Michael Brodkorb's so let's get that out of the way at the start. This hasn't stopped me from criticizing him in this space previously when I thought he was coming back politically (especially on television) a bit too soon. In fact, my friends show up here often enough they probably wish we weren't. Ask Pete Hegseth or Tom Freeman. But I try to be true, not personal, focused, not gratuitous. I don't claim always to be right: who would? Who could?

Still, it's been a year, now, since Brodkorb was fired. Earlier this year he filed a lawsuit in state court against the Minnesota Senate for, essentially, gender discrimination, coupled with some other claims. This action was removed to federal court where the matter is now pending. Half of his ten original claims have been dropped and three may be dismissed if motions by the Senate currently pending are successful. Brodkorb has, then, anywhere from two to five claims remaining with which to go forward.

Although an attorney, I have not given Brodkorb any legal advice per se and he has an extremely competent set of lawyers to advise and guide him. The point of this post is to advance an opinion solely of my own and without any advance notice to Brodkorb. It's how I work. Chatting recently with Susan Closmore at Ben & Dr. Alison Golnik's Christmas party I was invited to confer with her prior to blogging. Her point was well taken but nothing of the kind will happen. I was glad to hear her asking, though; this is an improvement over prior media management by the House Republican caucus, even if, weirdly, they're starting with their own. And trust me: conservative bloggers are not their media problem.

Any lawyer surely understands a client's thunderous yelp of "thousands for defense, not a dime for settlement." Sometimes it's actually true, warranted. Most times, just so much bravado the client needs to tell himself or her board of directors or whomever. Real life and economics eventually intrude into this high minded, self-regarding attitude toward litigation. At some point, continued litigation is not worth the candle.

That point has been reached and passed in the Brodkorb litigation. Spare me your dislike of the man personally or your ersatz repulsion over the nature of his claims (so genteel), as if knowledge of the inner-workings, so to speak, of the Minnesota legislature on either side of the aisle was news to you. As if Michael Brodkorb & Amy Koch were the first. As if.

Before his lawsuit was filed the attorney hired by Cal Ludeman, moron extraordinaire & Secretary of the Senate at the time, and without any consultation with GOP Senate leadership, billed approximately $86,000. Nice work if you can get it: lots of research, telephone calls, churning. That sort of thing. It didn't move any needle because nothing was in place against which to measure needle movement. I don't believe any bill has been examined, let alone in detail, let alone challenged to be reduced. Carte blanche comes to mind (does that credit card still exist or am I showing my age?). Such is GOP senatorial leadership post Brodkorb, post Koch. Next month they're in the minority for four years. Can that be blamed on these two as well? In my opinion, the opposite.

Fast forward to December 14th, where the Senate Rules Committee, still governed by a majority of republican senators, approved yet another bill for their mindless position of no settlement under any circumstances. Lawyers dream of such hapless clients. Not wanting to interrupt the sorrow, pace Joni Mitchell, Senate democrats went along with a hang dog expression, not having the votes to deny payment. Even if they had them, why would they?

Brodkorb has demanded $500,000 in his legal filing. No one expects him to hold out for so much. Legal bills for the Senate to date amount to slightly less than $200,000.

DFL Sen. Jim Metzen expressed concern at the Rules Committee hearing that those fees could reach half a million dollars. Or, surprise, what Brodkorb had initially demanded.

Thought experiment: between the currently paid $190,000 (or $180,000 depending on which local newspaper you read, or Ted Baxter (Pat Kessler) who reported $200,000) and the fear of half a million dollars for legal fees, what amount could be used to offer a settlement?

I don't know. You don't know. Pathetic GOP senate leadership doesn't know.

Actually I do know: between 200k and 500k is three hundred k. Why spend that on file churning lawyers at the end of which remains a federal lawsuit? How does that ignorant grand-standing help the taxpayer? It doesn't. For the slow witted, I'm not suggesting Brodkorb should be paid 300K. I'm suggesting there is room for movement, for settlement. I tried once, valiantly. Contact Sen. Juliane Ortmann for further details.

One actually has to read it in print: Sen. Dave Senjem said that if more legal fees weren't paid this matter might appear to be a cover up. Where does one go to become this stupid? Does he have a certificate hanging on his wall?

He told MPR's Tim Pugmire that: "A decision like this is precedent setting, and if we don't stand on our heels and put some cement around them on this, we're going to set a precedent that's going to be with this Senate for decades to come."

Senator, one is knocked back on their heels; they don't stand on them. Cement? Are you former union or what? And what precedent would be set by settling? Keeping your friends' affairs secret, except they're not, really? And "for decades to come?"

Ridiculous yesterday man former Sen. Geoff Michel told the Pioneer Press's Megan Boldt that: "If more than half the claims have been dropped and dismissed, I call that winning." A loser would but be careful of discovery, just the same. Being under oath is no one's idea of winning. He would not be alone, of course. Prisoner's dilemma.

If Brodkorb pulls the deposition trigger, look for these gutless wonders to fashion a deal. Local media will report process but probably would be squeamish to report substance. I would share that feeling.

Settle with Brodkorb to make him go away, at least on the litigation front. This matter needs to be put behind the Minnesota republican party, the Minnesota senate, behind every Minnesotan. Sen. Senjem has made whatever small point he wanted. Spending more taxpayer money on lawyers in order to continue to do so is misguided at best, a self-indulgence to mask lack of leadership at worst.

Photo credit: Terry Gydesen of MinnPost.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

MN Campaign Finance Board Protects Lawmakers

It's gotten so bad that reporters, so called, now no longer realize when they have a story on their hands. This is to be expected, one imagines, when reporting now is really only so much dictation with standard liberal bromides thrown in as though somehow constituting original thought or analysis. Of course, what Minnesota media does not cover constitutes its real scandal, its real abdication of responsibility.

MPR's Catharine Richert had a remarkable story concerning that antiquated, sclerotic beast from the hay day of squish "campaign reform" circa mid to late 1970's (with all the horrors that implies), the Minnesota Campaign Finance &  Public Disclosure Board: its real name! How does such a thing continue to exist but for the fact it's in Minnesota?

Richert's ostensible subject in her piece was the Board's broader contribution and disclosure proposals because these are your legislatively appointed mandarins who will parcel out political speech freedom to you earnest Scandahoovians of Minnesota. Thank the man. Don't color outside the lines. The CFB should barely exist but that for another time.

No, what really shocked any reader (or, apparently not?) was her blithe reporting in the fourth to the last paragraph concerning Gov. Dayton appointed Board member Andy Lugar. Wrote Richert:

"But Lugar said asking a lawmaker's spouse to say more about their financial interests, for instance, would be 'a bit of an imposition.'"

I know liberals are credulous, except when they're not, still, did nothing strike Richert as amiss in this statement? Really, "a bit?" Lugar should have gone all out Brit and said: "it's a terrible spot of bother" upon which one presumes Richert would have fainted until brought round again by hearing, then watching, angst-filled, another episode of Downton Abbey run during pledge week.

Realize what is happening: the CFB is deflecting, or being true to its nature, one is never really sure because it isn't, to imagined problems arising from out of state spending in Minnesota races (the most xenophobic state in the nation, Minnesota).

These are Board invented problems trotted out in the hope of more funding from a legislature that now more demonstrably exhibits their own barely concealed political preferences.

There is absolutely no empirical evidence this out of state money argument is true but don't look for that question to be asked. Dutifully, as if in an interview appointment, the Board's entire world view of money in politics, money in Minnesota politics and, indeed insufferably, politics in general is recorded by Richert. You won't find a single question, let alone penetrating, in the piece. Welcome to MPR. At least as it reports on its own team.

I'm going to make this brief in the hopes of getting a jump on my New Year's resolution to write more frequently (if I can) but more briefly, which is to say briefly. I have my doubts.

Here we go:

The CFB is making a number of proposals to the legislature. I'm not sure that's their job and if I can't find statutory authority for it expect a complaint at the Office Of Administrative Hearings. Hey, Mike Dean, formerly of Common Cause Minnesota, are you with me so far? Because I know they have the interwebs in Wisconsin plus half of Minnesota would move there if they could.

We're told process items in Richert's piece but not substance.

Most conservatives would not agree that money per se is the or a problem in politics. Still, if you have to move forward on that tangent would not the immediacy of a lawmaker's family make some sense to you with respect to corruption?

Is it true you liberals have read almost no history? It would be of a piece with your profound misunderstanding of human nature, which is mostly horrid. Progressives think government can perfect us. Surely some of you must be smarter than that?

At any rate, I would require more financial disclosure of lawmakers' spouses than the CFB is willing to request. Any corruption would show up there first. A priori.

But the Board will not recommend that. Why is that?

Because the Board stands as its own indictment as to the foolishness of its mission. It is seeking more money from those who control its purse strings in the hope of pursing those things it regulates which will not hurt those who give it money.

Behold ultimate corruption.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

MN Republican Legislators: Paralysis As Policy?

The shock of losing our majorities in both chambers of the Minnesota legislature, together with the rejection of both amendments to Minnesota's constitution (traditional marriage & voter photo id) has slowly started to fade, allowing surviving republican legislators as well as the activist base to contemplate the coming two years of unrestrained one-party far left governance. Initial reactions are not reassuring; indeed, they spell continued marginalization if left unchecked and uncorrected.

Yesterday's reporting by Cyndy Brucato of MinnPost confirmed what many have suspected: we have no idea how to maximize our political fortunes in the next 24 months while providing principled opposition to a political party never known for restraint and which does not have a mandate to turn Minnesota into a cold California. Brucato wrote about Senate Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Dave Thompson's address to a republican gathering earlier this week. I tweeted that his remarks were "incoherent twaddle."

Essentially Thompson surrenders to whatever may come, making the most banal political observations possible and fundamentally refusing to take any responsibility for the collective disasters that have befallen Minnesota republicans. Higher taxes, more unionization, wasteful transit spending at the expense of roads and the growth of government for its own sake will be coming under Gov. Dayton and the legislature his ex-wife Alida Rockefeller bought for him. My cat Agamemnon (@AgamemnonCat on Twitter) knew all this before the election if the DFL won but no matter. Thompson can't be faulted for stating the obvious; he and other republican legislators can be for communicating surrender and helplessness.

He noted that proclaiming there was a budget surplus while all the reporting declared deficits made it "look[] like you're being disingenuous, especially when it's self-serving." Since when is being disingenuous not self-serving? Oh and senator, why the lack of the first person singular? I'll take plural in a pinch. But no, Thompson's comments read as if he wasn't in office last session, let alone in a leadership position. They lack integrity.

Brucato quotes him further: "With the benefit of hindsight, politicians, policy makers need to respond to some perceived problem and I don't think your average voter perceived that marriage in Minnesota has a problem."

The stupidity of the marriage amendment was not apparent only after the fact of its crushing defeat and corrosive effect on suburban races, thanks just the same. It's good to know, though, that if we want hindsight leadership we have one on deck. Again, no first person singular. No apology for sheer, atrocious political judgment nor a vow not to be a pawn of Bob Cummins again. That sort of responsibility-taking is necessary in order for republicans to move forward in the next two years. We all get things wrong; perfection isn't the goal, improvement is.

Then, possibly as a result of having read some random tripe on World Net Daily, Thompson goes all in and declares 2012 as the year in which we lost the country to the European-style social welfare state. If you've gone French and surrendered your political raison d'etre you have an affirmative obligation to quit the field and let someone else take your place in the battle of ideas. It takes some brass to be instrumental in policy choices that led to an electoral masacre and then claim the war has been lost permanently because of forces beyond your control. As the British would say: right.

Not content with his molting thus far, Thompson continued: "Republicans were weak . . . in their choice of Mitt Romney for president, their poor get-out-the-vote effort, and their message."

Weak? And he would know of strength how precisely? Thompson endorsed lunatic Rick Santorum for president. Given that failure of judgment, he has zero standing to criticize Mitt Romney as weak, although clearly getting out the vote (or not) was dispositive and we didn't do a good job in that regard. There I have no argument with the senator. But to elide responsibility while taking cheap shots at Romney while contemporaneously throwing in the towel isn't being a leader.

The closest Thompson came was to say: "I take some responsibility . . . I'm too willing to say no. The electorate has not responded well to 'no.'"

Actually, senator, it was what you said yes to that helped kill us. But taking some responsibility is a start. I like Dave Thompson personally and there can be no doubt he is trying; here's hoping our defeat can bring out stronger, better leadership skills in him (and others) because I believe he (and they) possesses them and god knows we need them. When I read he told Brucato that we need to run the most conservative candidates who can be elected I thought to myself: we're all RINOs now.

Brucato's short but essential reporting can be read by clicking here.

The strangely under-read Dave Mindeman channels in his most recent blog post, whether he knows it or not, that old adage about the Bourbon restoration: they remembered everything and learned nothing. His observation, vis-a-vis Minnesota republicans, is not entirely wrong. Still, he's a showcase of liberal delusion:

"The reality is that a push for fairness in unionization is a long overdue structural enhancement for the middle class." Really? I'm not sure even Dave knows what that means. Or maybe he does but he's too delicate to spell it out? He's happy to use the force and brutality of government because he knows better than those upon whom he'd inflict his social engineering. The Left has become essentially fascist and it's news only to them.

More: "Thompson stubbornly defends a transportation system that can never meet our future needs."

Here is quintessential liberal cluelessness. Without subsidies bordering on rape of the taxpayer, current "transportation systems" would die on the vine. Minnesota population density simply doesn't support their rote transportation ideology. Lanes not trains™ would confuse him. Americans, still, have an individualist, not collectivist, impulse. Give him and his ilk credit for trying to change that; score one against my team for not resisting sufficiently. At least not yet.

Liberals remind me of carnivores: the former have no idea where money comes from, the latter no idea meat. It's not dispositive; the mere observation is sufficient.

Finally, if you ever thought liberals had no genuine understanding of those on the right, Mindeman's hallucinatory remark that "[t]he message Thompson espouses is the very one that lost" should confirm your hunch. But then, like non-white people, I suppose all republicans look the same to him.

Despite my remarks, Mindeman remains a must read; he really is that good.  Do so by clicking here.

Comrade in arms Mitch Berg picked up on a MPR story and suggested republicans do nothing this session. Read his thoughts by clicking here. This is of a piece, I think, with current prevailing sentiment because, save for votes in the House needed for bonding, republicans in the legislature really won't have much to do.

Except they will and may not realize it. Enter Rep. Pat Garafalo and Jeff Kolb on Twitter the other day. Garafalo tweeted that he wished that former Rep. Tom Rukavina was in still the legislature as a speed bump against too much left-wing overreach. I suggested it was up to us, then; Pat responded that we don't have the votes. This wasn't a news flash and suggested a certain incumbent myopia. Kolb jumped in to the effect that he didn't care for the defeatist tone he was hearing and he was clearly onto something. In an odd way, all three of us were right at the same time.

Animal lover and friend House Minority Leader Rep. Kurt Daudt hasn't been all that much better but I protect him, as best I can, from the far right because the far right. Dave Mindeman wouldn't understand. The rest of us do; our political survival is at stake.

Privately--I don't think Jeff will mind my sharing this publicly--Kolb noted that the DFL was in the minority for two years and were hardly passive. True, they had their guy in the Governor's mansion so that helped a good deal but still, no surrender. They had a message, stuck to it, got it out. There's something to be said for sticking to your (mostly reasonable) guns on either side of the aisle. When people ask me what we should do going forward, I point to Carrie Lucking. Javier Morillo. Sally Jo Sorensen. Jake Loesch. Bob Hume, Governor Dayton's consigliere. We're being outflanked. Outspent. We can do something more immediately about the former; the latter requires more time. The problem is to be most effective in the former requires more of the latter and our begging bowls go empty.

Why and how they should be replenished remains Minnesota republicans most urgent task.

Above: The Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli (1781). Click on the image to enlarge.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Mary Franson Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

The most vilified person in Minnesota politics today won re-election to her seat in Minnesota's House of Representatives. Congratulations to my friend Rep. Mary Franson, a single mother of three but she won't get coverage on that from the local press because she's a republican. We all know this to be true.

I had to fight my own party in defending Mary. I did so publicly. You know who you are who demanded privately that her's was a lost cause. Guess what? You're the same people who said we'd keep the House. Or crow about a man's money who helps you claim there are more GOP women in the legislature as we lose both majorities. Thanks for that. I don't suppose we can get a partial refund on your fees? Because, you know, there is no win bonus for us not winning. Except P2B.

You may have also noticed that we are now a one party state. Do we have to pay you losers even more for losing because we'd fucking deserve it.

Last legislative session we didn't have any leaders. In fact, we had anti-leaders. Morons. Incompetents.

Not even status quo: our new majority made things worse. They earned their minority status this election cycle but the better good of Minnesota did not.

Enter Mary Franson: new, naive, honest, sometimes bumbling. Extremely well spoken on the floor of the MN House of Representatives and off.

But wait! Can she navigate The Wedge? Tell the difference of quinoa from teff?

No and here's hoping she never does. Would it be too post modern to take a field trip to Alexandria?

Her own personal life, at times, did her no good. (How does one tell a Protestant friend to "Get thee to a nunnery?").

Mary Franson is not a Rorschach test. Her example is not that indeterminate.

I call my friend The Monster™ in order to mock the idea Mary Franson does not care about the poor. Having been one, she could never be so.

Indeed, the worst "cures" for the poor come from those who never were or will be. Isn't this by now axiomatic? Which isn't to say it won't stop; there's the pity.

We republicans either unite regardless or we will surely wither and die in the next two years. Franson and her crazy public and private life was a challenge, this much must be admitted. I was an early adapter in the push back against just sitting there while the Left defined us; she was my unplanned front line.

If you know anything about the Holy Fool and Russia, Mary Franson might just be ours.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On It: Reading Minnesota's Liberal Blogosphere

As a general proposition I suppose it is more true than not that political activists tend to speak mostly to the like-minded. And yet a republican in Minnesota can learn a great deal not just about the loyal opposition but, appallingly at times, ourselves by reading some of the leading blogs on the left. Of course there is the usual agenda driven, unthinking types online but I'm speaking of those blogs that I try to regularly read which are unsentimental, mostly fact driven and simply well done.

Aside from looking at how other people blog, readers of Minnesota's liberal blogosphere will find some fairly penetrating analysis and coverage of issues and problems that republicans should be covering, if not in the first instance, then at least in tandem with our gravely mistaken friends on the other side. I also include those on Twitter who may or may not write a blog.

I was put in mind of this when I read Steve Timmer's piece on Left.MN called "Tony Sutton: The Gift That Keeps On Giving." Timmer reports on findings issued by the speech deadening, sclerotic Campaign Finance Board (CFB) concerning a complaint filed by (who else?) Common Cause Minnesota over a $70,000 payment to Sen. Dave Thompson for media consulting. I've previously characterized that arrangement as a no show job in exchange for not running against Sutton as chair. Both men strongly and consistently have denied it was such. The CFB's finding number 7 states there is no probable cause for the conclusion I've previously drawn. Mostly, however, that seems to be the case because the Board couldn't find up from down in the MN GOP reporting system. If one is looking for exoneration they'll have to do better than to say the books weren't cooked, we didn't keep any.

What's interesting to me is that I have not seen a republican blog address this development. I think Timmer places too much blame on Sutton and doesn't delve all that much into the Thompson services allegedly provided. But it's his blog, right? The point remains that to know what is going on in our party, republicans should cultivate the habit of reading opposing view blogs. Ideally, we should have been covering this development along with Timmer.

His article can be read by clicking here. Aaron Klemz and Tony Petrangelo also write for Left.MN and are equally required reading.

Bluestem Prairie, written by Sally Jo Sorensen, is perhaps first on my list of liberal blogs to read to find out what fresh hell has or is happening in the republican party of Minnesota. Unfortunately, she rarely disappoints. Sorensen was previously surprised, then gratified, to learn that her blog was cited in Mary Igo's deposition before the CFB concerning Count Them All Properly, Inc. with respect to yet another complaint brought by the laughably "non-partisan" Common Cause, Minnesota. I should know because I sent Igo the Bluestem post which came up in her deposition. Full disclosure: I continue to represent Igo and the three other board of directors in that matter which is proceeding before a three judge panel of the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Bluestem is consistently fact filled, aggressively partisan in the most competent way (is there anything better?) and wide-ranging in its coverage. Agreement with what is being presented there is not the point; the point is to learn of things that should concern republicans and about which they will not find in the so called mainstream media. To the extent Bluestem covers items in the news (and all blogs do at some point), the additional, detailed analysis is worth the reader's time. At least that has been my experience.

Several days ago Bluestem went after House Minority Leader Rep. Kurt Daudt over what it perceived to be a shifting definition of "compromise." I was fascinated by the concern, always a sure sign we are doing something right. Of course, the left is concerned because it has conservatism's best interests at heart. The blog post constituted an ur-meme which was then attempted to be launched on Twitter. But Twitter is a kill box for all sorts of things pushed by the left, including baseless memes hoped to be picked up by the overtly sympathetic media. The compromise blog post can be read by clicking here. 

I've argued for some time that not only do we need to push back against narratives that hurt us politically, we need to frame them in the first instance in ways that advance our political beliefs.

Just yesterday Bluestem had an excellent report on P2B Strategies and Daudt's previous association with it. That not to be missed post can be read by clicking here. 

Did you know that P2B was paid to lobby the House Republican caucus to go along with the disastrous marriage amendment? I didn't. And that was a throw-away remark in this post (the original post linked there credits the excellent reporting of Briana Bierschbach of Politics In Minnesota).

We can't really compete if we're learning about ourselves from Sally Jo, no offense Sally Jo. Nor am I naive enough to think that simply trashing our own is somehow helpful progress (it isn't and I put my defense of Rep. Mary Franson and her food stamp remarks as Exhibit A in how not to shoot our wounded: democrats never do).

Three days ago Bluestem reported on MN GOP's financial reports in some detail. Click here for an eye-popping look at our own financial affairs.

Aaron Rupar blogs at City Page's The Blotter as well as being carried elsewhere in that publication from time to time. I said last week on Twitter that I found him to be the most consistently interesting journalist in the Twin Cities and I meant it. He has made The Blotter his very own; I'm not sure how anyone would take it over if he were to ever leave City Pages. Think of Page Six crossed with New York Magazine with a large measure of personal style that's impossible to pick up in any journalism class. Whatever "it" is, Rupar has it. The general link to The Blotter can be found here.

Eric Austin writes at Outstate Politics with an admixture of deadliness and humor. His blog can be accessed by clicking here. If you think liberals are without a sense of humor, you need to read Austin. Being out of the Twin Cities (he lives and works in St. Cloud as a teacher) provides a refreshing take on political skirmishes.

Minnesota Progressive Project is blog home for approximately a dozen writers, each with their own style, approach and skill level. Look at their offerings by clicking here.

There are many other fine liberal bloggers; explore the ones listed here and look at each site's blog roll of those who they themselves recommend. Add them to your RSS reader and you have a convenient way to learn what the opposition thinks of us and, increasingly, due to their majority status, of themselves.

Each of these bloggers are on Twitter as well, adding yet another dimension of fun for those of us in the minority for the next two years. Republicans have an enormous task ahead of themselves in making themselves into a party worthy of majority status in either legislative chamber let alone finding and putting forth candidates who can actually beat Gov. Dayton or Sen. Franken in 2014. Liberal and progressive bloggers have something to say in this regard, mostly about how we became our own worst enemy. Yet they can also indicate, albeit unwittingly, what we may be getting right as we take our first tentative steps into 2013 and the political wilderness.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Kulturkampf? Rush Limbaugh Channels Breitbart

"The progression of a painter’s work, as it travels in time from point to point, will be toward clarity: toward the elimination of all obstacles between the painter and the idea and between the idea and the observer... To achieve this clarity is, inevitably, to be understood" Mark Rothko 

Faster than one would have thought possible, serious conservative thought after the presidential election loss has centered around reengagement in the realm of American culture. Andrew Breitbart famously said that politics was downstream of culture. While this is undoubtedly true, Breitbart had not laid out his vision of how to be engaged in that battle before his untimely death this year at age 43. The loss was bitter but Breitbart identified a key component in the war of ideas, one where conservatives had been largely absent, or invisible, which is the same thing in that realm.

No less than Rush Limbaugh echoed Breitbart last week when he said that conservatives needed to realize the current battle is cultural rather than strictly ideological. He said on his radio show:

"I really think that we've gotta adopt a very, very long game if we're going to recapture the country, and we have to do what the left did.  And I don't know how yet.  But we are going to have to recapture the public education of this country, because that, folks, is where decent, honorable, really good, normal people like Mitt Romney end up being thought of as despicable human beings.  It is through 30 or more years of public education run totally by liberals and the way they have characterized their opponents.  I see it every day."

He's right to focus on education where "tenured radicals" have held sway for some time. After the disgusting 1960's generation lost in the street, they went into the classroom. One underestimates their influence in that world at their peril. But to catch up with them is indeed "the long march." Better not to delay, I imagine, but to think of this as a quick fix is fanciful. Limbaugh, to his credit, does not.

He's also a bit adrift in fashioning solutions or recommendations. To be fair, his realization of what needs to be done was an exercise in thinking out loud. Why should he be requisitioned to come up with our solutions? It's up to us. Remember us, the people who can't quite fathom the worst, most incompetent President in the Republic's history being reelected? Can't fathom a return to one party rule in Minnesota and a media that pretends, badly, to neutrality?

Media are a symptom, not a cause. Unless conservatives fight in the cultural realm of ideas, this nation will continue to decline. Yet this is easier said than accomplished: so much of our culture is debased, vulgar and ignorant. And parasitic: behold the democratic base. Education is the key because it permeates the rest of our society, for good or ill, mostly the latter. The collapse of the family is hardly new and I'm not exactly the first to note it. All people are equal: all cultures are not. The same obtains for "families" no matter how un-PC that may be perceived. Women cannot socialize men: ask Robert Bly. Are we past the point of no return?

Conservatives in Minnesota are in a particular fix: we have a culture that rewards eunuchs and there's no end to them in our party. There have been numerous opportunities for self-professed leaders to lead. So far, nothing. Apparently I'm not supposed to notice this, at least not in public.

The republican party itself should be euthanized but the impending take over by the Ron Paul destroyers may effectively be the same thing. Its endorsement is worthless and Minnesotans should get used to a primary system going forward. Here's hoping House Minority Leader Rep. Kurt Daudt can work with his peers across the aisle and in the Minnesota senate to implement a primary system as quickly as feasible.

Will that yield any better candidates? Only time will tell. What ideas do we have to offer voters? If we offer DFL-lite the voters will select the real thing time after time. Why wouldn't they?

Do we know what we're about? I don't trust us: the people who thought an unnecessary, poisonous marriage amendment that cost us seats in the legislature are still around, still not taking responsibility for the debacle. It's appalling, frankly, and I worry about a party base that sees any attempt to hold them to account as somehow being an obstacle to renewed political success. Isn't it the other way around and don't we have empirical evidence of it?

I quoted Mark Rothko not because I used one of his most famous works as an image for this post but because he makes an essential, critical point: clarity is a prerequisite for understanding. A party that doesn't know what it's about, a party that allows interlopers to take over and dismantle its own infrastructure, a party that can't pay its bills and is expecting another huge fine from the FEC, a party that loses an historic majority in both chambers of the legislature in record time, a party that congenitally fails to hold leaders to account, is a party that possesses no clarity about itself whatsoever. Until we regain clarity of purpose in a systematic manner we will not be understood by Minnesota voters. They are not stupid; who votes for that which they don't understand?

"Know thyself" was said to be engraved over the entrance to the oracle at the temple of Delphi. Until it does, the republican party of Minnesota is destined for permanent minority status. It doesn't have to be this way but pretending we're not lost is a good way to guarantee we never find the road back. If we're our own worst enemy, there is nothing but a lack of honesty, courage and will keeping us from being our own saviors.

Above: Mark Rothko's No. 1 Royal Red & Blue (1954)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Kurt Daudt's Republican Party of Minnesota

My friend Kurt Daudt, who represents House District 17A, was yesterday elected House Minority Leader of the Minnesota Republican House caucus. Congratulations are in order as well as a sigh of relief. Local media have reported him as a relatively unknown but that's because they have no relationship with activists. Consequently they're simply not in the know. The stale republicans that flop on the stale couch of the stale Almanac set don't reflect republican reality on the political ground. Nor do those appearing on the equally stale Inside Edition or the upstart Political Happy Hour. The Pioneer Press, Star Tribune & MPR are no better, less you think my beef is with television media. Stale, stale, stale.

I've been terribly impressed with Daudt since his election in 2010 and have directed a number of activists I know toward him, simply for the goal of getting to know him. They see what I see and for good reason. I know I speak for a number of activists when I say we are gratified the members of the House republican caucus elected him their leader. Such an acknowledgement is encouraging and reflects well on them.

Clearly it would be unfair to project upon Daudt all the hopes and concerns of many republicans after our loss of the majorities in the Minnesota Senate & House. That is, however, what has started to happen. On balance, it's a good thing, too. It's a good thing because there is hope that leadership has emerged which can find a way forward to governing again in a response to our substantial losses last Tuesday.

Who has apologized for those losses? Who taken responsibility for putting the marriage amendment on the ballot that killed republicans in the suburbs particularly?

No one. Such is the dearth of leadership in our party. Noted. Thinking of running for higher office if you were part of this? Think again. Already ran for office in 2010 and lost? Same advice.

Now however, with Daudt and newly elected Senate minority leader David Hann, we have a chance of coming back in incremental, solid ways. This is why I suggest that it's Kurt Daudt's republican party. I mean no disrespect to Sen. Hann, whom I've previously praised on this blog. "Hann Comes For The Archbishop" can be read by clicking here. If only he had been picked after Sen. Amy Koch resigned.

The defining issue for republicans is changing to a primary system instead of the current party endorsement process. There IS no republican party left to speak of and no one in a leadership position there should run again for any office, especially including party offices. Thank you for your service under difficult circumstances. I mean this sincerely. I also mean you need to leave.

My friend Ben Golnik penned an op-ed that was news only to those who weren't paying attention: Minnesota republicans should switch to a primary. If he or my friend Michael Brodkorb think they were the leading edge of this idea, they should think again. The base isn't happy with operatives who lose all the time or explode in public and destroy the republican brand.

My friend Andy Parrish was also unhappy with me recently, suggesting his PAC "A Stronger Minnesota" with Tom Emmer at its head did "more" than this blog. He's right but does he get it? Going even further right is going further into minority status.

A small Twitter fight has broken out tonight with my friend Sue Jeffers, for whom I have the highest respect. Both of us are asked how we can be friends with the other: we laugh, we get it. I'll take a fighter any day.

This should not lead local media into thinking, a priori like, that Daudt's election represents a Seifert over Emmer victory. It doesn't work like that. To use that phrase my friend Jeff Johnson will go to his grave with: we've gotten over it. I also like my friend Tom Emmer very much. I hope that doesn't come as a surprise to him.

But going too far right in Minnesota simply will not work. Do we abandon our principles? No. Do we do something boneheaded and put a marriage amendment on the ballot because of Bob Cummins? No. Except we did. Care to analyze the results with me or are we suddenly liberals, where results don't matter? That's how Obama got reelected. Have we met the enemy and it is us? Yes.

Rep. Kurt Daudt, together with Sen. David Hann, represent a path out of our current difficulties. Other approaches have been tried and failed. Minnesota republican activists, elected officials and other hangers on should give them a chance to succeed. I have no idea what the future will look like but I've seen the past and that's enough.

If character is destiny, we have a bright future with a dog loving man from Crown, Minnesota.

N.B.: Daudt co-founded an orphanage in Kenya, Africa at which the above photo was taken. To date his Project 24 has raised over $500,000 and built six orphanages. For more information or how to help please go here:

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Future of Minnesota's Republican Party

Republicans lost their majorities in both the Minnesota House & Senate a mere two years after taking control of both chambers for the first time since the early nineteen seventies. Put another way, so great was the incompetence of leaders in the house & senate that they failed entirely in the shortest time possible. Thanks for that although I'm feeling unsatisfied without at least one ritual political Japanese-style suicide. Now there's a foreign tradition this conservative would support adopting here at home. Not surprisingly, no one takes responsibility for Tuesday's disastrous election outcome. Yet why should we expect a display of responsibility when none had been demonstrated in the prior two years?

Neither the senate nor the house caucus seemed to have figured out a message with which to convince voters to send them back in the same strength as in 2010, let alone avoid the wipeout they experienced. But for so long they avoided the obvious problems of running on their record: Obama may have gotten away with it (barely, it kills me to say) but they never could. Their incompetence was on a par with the Pete Hegseth campaign who only figured out it was over when they saw the Kurt Bills bus parked inside the convention hall last May. Funny thing, reality.

The caucuses, though, when not infighting, are hothouses of small bore political intrigue. Brodkorb's dominion. Monkeys, greasy poles. Tedium and immaturity. Thanks to both of them costing us the legislature. We're just bloggers, a friend of Ian's once told me, in the eyes of staff caucus. I think I had pride of place in the list of bloggers house caucus staff thought the most deranged. Now how was I to understand myself? It was an interesting temperature take of the hothouse. Clearly, nothing improved there and our losses this election must be owned by them, to sound like a progressive. We call it responsibility, don't we on our side? Can we avoid applying it to ourselves? So thanks Ian Marsh, Tom Freeman, Greg Peppin & Kurt Daudt. Oh: P2B products/services suck, I'm told. How about another less self-interested vender? Wait: for competent I'll take self-interested.

Then there's the matter of the ballot measures: how does voter photo ID fail? When you have losers promoting it as a partisan issue thereby making the Dayton/Carlson tee vee ad effective. This is akin to throwing yourself on the floor and missing.

Traditional marriage also failed because mailing it in doesn't cut it for advocacy. My friend Andy Parrish pretty much mailed it in; he failed to recognize the power of 300,000 door knocks.

This is not to say we should be lectured to by those who themselves contributed in an oh so personal way to republican destruction in Minnesota. Local media love such types, especially if that type is desperate for a PR comeback. What media petting zoo? I love my friends very much. I'm the definition of loyal. But I'm also honest, coming from South Dakota, where such wasn't a big deal, it was the norm. Must be the prairies and their sheltering sky.

Minnesota appears to be a land of agreed upon deceptions.™

To be fair, this is no better than the milquetoasts in my party who stood by while Ron Paul supporters swept the republican party of minnesota in order to undermine it. Were this warfare, you would be humanely shot for treason. Hyperbole is not my style but there you have it, my last sentence.

We have no one, currently, to run credibly against Sen. Franken nor anyone against Gov. Dayton. Our chances are better with the former than the latter and I think early bird nerds may agree with me. But I know nothing: I predicted President Romney on October 18th.

I do know that the future of the republican party is almost beside the point. Every activist I know has taken, well, my advice and moved forward on those structures and legal entities that our friends on the left have done so well to create.

We need to do the same because the Republican Party of Minnesota is now beside the point. To stay with that structure is to die.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Left Implosion: Has Twitter Made Democracy Impossible?

When I saw this full page ad in The New Republic when it came in the mail today, I knew the comprehensive defeat of liberal ideas was at hand. One can nit pick about the time frame but when liberals are asking themselves if something as freedom enhancing as Twitter can be the demise of democracy, their end has already arrived. They simply don't know it.

Brittle ideology is brittle but isn't it rather early to throw in the towel on democracy because of a social media network that limits any single contribution to 140 characters or less? Is the Obama post-mortem this easily scheduled and by asking a deadly, revealing question? Even if Obama squeaks out a win, the left seems spent, adrift and dissatisfied with itself. The latter is a new development.

I already wrote that Twitter effectively destroyed the Fourth Estate, regardless of how long that takes to play out. Click here to read possibly my best received blog post to date.  Recently, a reporter from a local news outlet in the Twin Cities said on Twitter that she had "never been prouder to be a member of the Fourth Estate." It was left to me to reply: "We're all members now; hate to be the one to break it to you."

Naturally, then, it is democracy that is destroyed next by Twitter after it obliterated media as we used to know it. I should have seen this coming.

Except one can only empathize so long with opposing political views in the teeth of complete chaos and incompetence by the president. By now the left and their clones in media and academe have disgraced themselves into a corner with their transparent, shameless shilling for him. Trapped, they attack the medium of their own self-exposure. They're not stupid; they're just clueless. Don't ask me what the difference is.

Yet here, however, regarding democracy they are dangerous because they are so wrong about the subject matter. How do I know when the panel hasn't happened yet? Because it takes no great imagination to suggest that the shortness of Twitter will be the focus. The shortness of Twitter is only half the story: the other half is its ability to shape to the point of killing media narratives.

Ergo liberals necessarily must equate Twitter with the end of democracy because it fatally undermines the idea of a Fourth Estate. How can democracy flourish in the face of wrong opinions and ideas? Media exist to promote one and only one: liberalism. Feel free to call it progressivism. In fact, it's rather big of the left and their media allies to allow for multi-party freely contested elections.

Conservatives will smirk at this panel and its overheated suggestion that Twitter imperils--rather than advances--democracy. They should not. One abiding thing we know about liberals is how very deeply they take themselves. It's a burden that comes with always being right.

I wouldn't mind getting to NYC and attending this panel presentation. I already dress mostly in black so that's half the battle with this crowd. I could practice walking around without an expression of astonishment at what I was hearing. Total focus on the person speaking to me to reaffirm their self-importance: that's the ticket for schmoozing this scene.

I shouldn't joke, really, because the question, even to be posed, represents a tombstone over the grave of liberal ideology. This is as it should be: it spent these last four years on its deathbed.

Let the dead bury the dead.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Before The Deluge

Mitt Romney will be our next President. The only genuine, interesting question remaining between now and the election is the margin of victory. Romney is up 7 points in Gallup's daily tracking over President Obama. The second debate confirmed to an almost equally-as-large as the first debate television audience that we are overdue adults in our government.

Picture President Obama today in New Hampshire, of all places, hawking the binder line from that second debate to his unresponsive, deflated base. The smarter ones know it's over. No less a stalwart liberal on FOX News than Bob Beckel said so today, assuming all the numbers in the most recent Gallup poll were, in fact, accurate. And he had no reason to doubt them.

Some in the media knew it was over last month. I know I did when I saw the SEPTEMBER 13th article in The National Journal by Reid Wilson. The article's title?

"What if there is an election wave?"

Yeah, what if? My own instinct at that time was confirmed by this article and Wilson was clever in laying down a marker indicating he'd thought of it long before the wave's arrival. Read his article by clicking here.

I supported Mitt Romney from the moment he got into the primaries. I've endured a fair amount of nonsense from my fellow republicans in doing so and not just the usual back and forth of preferring different candidates. I heard a great many stupid things about Romney from people who now can't wait to vote for him. That's good, I suppose. Most have said to me at one point or another lately that they had radically under-judged the man. I actually do understand how that is possible. I always felt Romney a far stronger general election candidate than primary one. But the primaries helped him as a candidate so it all worked out in an excellent way.

I've already said on Twitter to liberal Minnesota activists that if Obama is kept under 5% I think republicans keep both majorities in the legislature. I could be fantastically wrong on that score, however, and, unlike the presidential race, we'll actually have to wait until Election Day to find out.

A Romney restoration of America is coming soon. The American people have requested it.

Locally, the hapless Republican Party of Minnesota must be dealt with by activists. Mostly it needs to be trimmed, made slightly more irrelevant than it currently is and put on the shelf. Those who enabled the Ron Paul interlopers will be held to account. The builders must destroy the destroyers.

Momentum is clearly on the side of those who realize we are already in a post-party political structure and need to adjust accordingly. In fact, republicans are shockingly behind. To this end I have a few ideas and projects that I'll be promoting:
  • Minnesota Media Monitor: They Do It To Themselves™
This is both a short and long term project about which more later. Media have disgraced themselves beyond description this election and the fallout from that has only just begun. This inflection point, to use a hideous phrase, is a good opportunity to explore local media in myriad ways. News in Minnesota will never be the same.
  • The Balance Project™
Minnesota republicans and conservatives will step up after the election and assist in massive programming changes at both TPT and MPR. Tax payer funded news outlets can no longer have the bias and luxury of reporting from the left of life's center line. Simply by showing up and demanding coverage of the center right we win: how can it be otherwise? But we have never done it and ceded the field to liberalism for a very long time. Breitbart always said politics was downstream from culture. Shall we help ourselves to their inner sanctum?

Balance also needs to be brought to higher education, the Humphrey School in particular. Poor academic quality wholly to one side, the lazy left/liberal tilt of its curriculum must come to an end.

Public institutions are the easiest for conservatives to approach and change. One came to me in an email today: Friends of the Hennepin County Library. Let's make sure a "range" of authors are invited to speak under its auspices. When you start thinking balance, an endless number of organizations, structures and activities can be reclaimed by the right. All things in their time.

For now though, I'll enjoy the remaining days of the campaign, watch the third and final presidential debate and look forward again to believing in America. Fortunately for liberals, they can go back to being ashamed of it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fisking* Dayton's Humphrey School Lecture

Recently Gov. Dayton gave a Lecture to the Policy Fellows of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs of which local media have agreed amongst themselves to release only the audio to date. Getting the video into the public domain, where it manifestly belongs, is an ongoing story about which more later.

For now, I wanted to Fisk* the address that the Governor gave. I asked the Governor's Office if the speech existed in written form and was told it did not. In fact, no written record of any of the Governor's speeches since taking office can be found because none exist. He has no speech writer. He writes his own speeches, his communications office told me, and it shows. That he can't be bothered with a writer to craft speeches with vision and substance is telling. To be fair, he gives the same, tired, intellectually fossilized speech just about everywhere. We don't really have a full time fully functioning Governor, do we?

What follows is my best understanding of what the Gov. said Sept. 12 based on the audio provided by MPR. It can be found by clicking here.

Dayton begins by thanking Vice President Mondale who is in the audience, remembers he was hired by him for then Senator Mondale's staff in 1975. He learned about keeping his commitments & integrity then, you see, in that land of Jurassic Park liberalism. To change one's mind is tantamount, in this man's fixed-in-amber mentality, to betrayal of integrity. He learned everything--once--decades ago under vastly different circumstances and he's good for life, thanks.

What he means is: being dipped in stupid long ago means he doesn't need to keep up with new ideas in or out of government. This epistemic closure will soon be championed by Dayton later in his speech.

The day before his Lecture was 9/11 and the Governor told the audience he realized that on that day in 2001: "we were in for a rough ride." Well, yes, thanks so much for noticing. "Nothing will be the same after this." Right again.

He then applies the dread of post 9/11 to the current situation in our state. Why didn't we think of that? Because when I think of a budget short fall or a bloated anachronistic state bureaucracy closed for a mere 20 days, it puts me immediately in mind of the Trade Towers smoldering with the ashes of more than three thousand of my countrymen.

Apropos of nothing, Dayton brings up the recent 1988 book by Paul Kennedy: The Rise & Fall of the Great Powers. Dayton appears to be smitten by this tired, dated, middlebrow work of alarm. Nothing he says in the speech indicates he's read anything more current.

After oversimplifying the book, Dayton says national collapse is what we have to guard against. I'm in. I'm expecting to hear the alarm bells of a 16 trillion dollar national debt but it never comes.

Instead, Dayton jumps back in time (leaving the present to reminisce about the past is a disturbing feature of this Lecture) to the Clinton years to praise a budget balanced two years in a row. He fails to note that such only happened after republicans gained control of Congress. The previous two years were full of deficit, to use an inelegant phrase. I wouldn't be surprised if the the Policy Fellows themselves didn't know this. They're not exactly an impressive lot, nor, one gathers from the current state of academe, could they be.

Next? We're in the senate with Dayton again. Um, ok! Doing my best to follow, sir, because none of this hangs together and you're not yet five minutes into the speech. The senate scenes are a mashup of Bush bashing but weirdly mostly of when Dayton and Bush were at Yale undergraduate together. What happened to 9/11? Don't know, don't ask. Dayton tells one of his few W. jokes and the trained seals all laugh. There must be some comfort in life.

Dick Cheney is also thrown into the Yale Memory Mix.™ We should start a Gov. Dayton store. We could stock it with the most interesting inventory.

Continuing to recall things in ways that no other can, Dayton channelled Bush, saying the latter looked at President Ronald Reagan taking us down "a path of fiscal irresponsibility and getting away with it" and W approved. What on earth is this man talking about? Fiscal irresponsibility? "Getting away with it" from whom? Where do you locate the slight? "Getting away with it?" Sounds punitive to me. Tell us more about what makes you angry, Governor. The Humphrey School is a safe place.

Oblivious to the economic boom under Reagan (how is that even possible?), Dayton lurches toward President George H.W. Bush's political suicide of raising taxes. Naturally he praises it but that's to be expected of a liberal. So far, so good.

Incredibly, Dayton then says this "got us back on that track to economic growth and he paid the price politically for doing so." This is simply delusional but because it involved a tax increase it was a per se good. We had more economic growth under Bush One than Reagan? Anyone who believes that should not be a governor of any state nor, for that matter, in politics in a serious way.

The thinking isn't even simplistic. There isn't any thinking. This is a series, so far, of emotional associations interspersed with improvisational remarks.

At this point in the Lecture, we're not listening, we're observing the performer.

And what one sees is not reassuring: a basic, profound misunderstanding of the most simplistic economic principles, eg, tax cuts "cost" the state because all of your money (except his & his family's) belong to the state in the first instance. This is so ingrained that when you bring it to liberals' attention they really don't know what you're talking about for some time.

Dayton's memories of annual family meetings "up north" to discuss & decide wealth management issues is fascinating and as such is nowhere to be found mentioned by the Pioneer Press, StarTribune, MPR, AP or any local television station of which I'm aware. Why not? It's like he's an out of touch rich white guy: that meme is right in the media's wheelhouse. But no, nothing. It's almost as if they are covering for this appalling performance. That can't be though: local media talk truth to power and everything!

That Bruce Dayton guy made a big impression on little Marky and he's lived to please that impression his whole life, with substantial collateral damage to the public good.

Dayton travels furthest back in time in the first half of the speech when he quotes approvingly from Walter Heller. Doubtless most local media had to Google the name. I had to catch my breath: Heller is from the Kennedy Administration! Dayton is an intellectual mummy. Could he hold a sustained conversation with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker? No and we all know it. Forget running again in 2014; I worry he won't make it until then even with the media's complicity.

Why is the Governor sharing these political ink blots with us? He goes on to bemoan tax cuts in Minnesota which has set us on a downward spiral. This man is planning a revision of our state tax code after the November election. Could anything be scarier?

He sees the tax code as helping to "reward innovation and success." No thank you, sir. That's the function of the private market. Is it possible for you to stay out of it in any meaningful way?

The next disassociative moment came shortly after when he "shared" a memory from youth: his "one summer job" at Target. Oh dear. This must have been worse than the two year compulsory military service for men and women in Israel, no? Marky was tasked with inventory and all that counting made him bored! He didn't know how to handle boredom then and he doesn't still, only now we get that inability to shake boredom expressed as antiquated public policy notions foisted upon us in a speech the media won't release on video.

When he spoke about the national debt he only got it wrong by two trillion dollars: 14 instead of 16 (which, Guv, was set during the DNC if you were awake for any of it).  No, you may not have elemental competence in your Chief Executive Officer. Dayton governs so poorly he gets the debt wrong before policy fellows. This isn't even mailing it in.

Citizens can make up their own minds simply by listening to the speech. It's only 25 minutes long. But audio is a good way for media to pretend to transparency while knowing full well the images are what do the damage in such situations. One tee vee station aired 20 seconds and even that was painful. No wonder the public has not seen the video of the speech, yet.

Disjointed. Incoherent. Devoid of leadership or ideas for the next few years. Keep in mind the title of this Lecture was:

"Minnesota's Future: Opportunities & Challenges"

All Dayton offers going forward is a listening tour. Original! He says he expects to hear "some" about taxes in a sort of "see how I suffer for you" attitude. Taxpayers are a bother, you see.

Near the conclusion of this train wreck of a Lecture, Father Bruce Dayton makes another appearance for, you see, he told young Marky, older Mark Dayton informs his audience, that "if you're going to put all your eggs in one basket, you better take mighty good care of that basket."

Just what the hell is the Governor talking about? What basket? Why would we put them all in just one anyway? What has this got to do with our state's future? He then gets off a few sentences about the University of Minnesota (if we can just identify and support its essential missions then economic prosperity will return to the state) and abruptly concludes.

This was the Lecture to the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs Policy Fellows before Vice-President Walter F. Mondale and current University President Eric Kaler?

No goals are outlined. No detailed synthesis of his first two years in office is provided. No mention of why republicans believe what they do and what, if anything, he can do to move toward the majority party in the legislature. He reveals his profound misunderstanding of Obamacare in saying that because "they" couldn't raise taxes enough on millionaires "they" had to shift the tax to medical devices. Does Governor Dayton mean "they" as in the democrats who alone passed Obamacare? That they? What if in his own mind Dayton associates "they" with republicans? It's entirely possible; entirely that unwell.

Dayton is as economically ignorant as Obama but for different reasons. How lucky for Minnesotans to have failed executives on both the national and local level, together with a national and local media that seeks to protect them at all costs. Strange days.

*Fisking: To Fisk means to analyze vigorously. Learn the origins of the term by clicking here.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Unbearable Lightness Of Gov. Mark Dayton

Why is it some children of enormous inherited wealth react to their condition by inflicting themselves upon the greater public under the misnomer of public service? If quizzed, none of us would recall asking these strange creatures for any assistance that they, by chance, might possess in governing ourselves. No, we're good, thanks.

Were that it was so easy to stop them. Minnesota's misfortune is to have had Mark Dayton insist that his destiny lay in such oppressive public service on our behalf. First he acted out on the national stage as a senator and failed as only such a hot house creature could. After his single term of absolutely no consequence (hint: that's called waste) some of us had hoped he'd do the "I want my own vineyard" bored wealthy thing or perhaps gotten involved in artisanal chocolate production. For those who main goal in life because of wealth is not to feel irrelevant, the possibilities were endless. Could he not have glommed on to Bill & Melinda's feel good social experiments? Surely from among the panoply of useless United Nations programs and causes there was one he could internalize? If it were sheer ego, why not freshen up a salad dressing line with his mug on the bottle and give Paul Newman a run for his money? He could have meetings and everything!

No, not our luck. In what had unavoidable masochistic overtones, Dayton decided he wanted to act out on the state level (again) by insisting he was governor material. That he won the office is no proof whatsoever of that premise and to date his performance is irrefutable evidence of its lack. He jammed his own party by running in the primary and using his own money. Either or both of these conditions usually elicits the loudest of clucking from democrats but, after Dayton beat Tom Emmer by a 8,000 vote whisker, they soon enough fell in line. The governor could be managed, they were told.

Gov. Dayton's first two years have been abysmal. What was it he wanted to do as governor anyway? Wouldn't a house and senate controlled by republicans offer him the perfect opportunity to lead? To show compromise? To get things done as these political types like to pretend they can? If one was a real leader instead of a lost soul looking for external housing to shore up the inner, yes. But a leader is not who Gov. Dayton is and it is not who he will be in the coming two years, either.

Last week the Governor, sounding like a vaguely fascist mandarin, simply insisted without any intellectual depth or sustained engagement that taxes must increase because of his perceived need of all that government must do. His idea of the size & scope of government is not open to discussion. There is no opting out from it because he knows best. What's that called again?

He made his statement at what, until just yesterday, I had been led to believe was simply a speech reported on by the press. Instead, as MinnPost reported the day before (as did the Pioneer Press), it was a University Lecture. MinnPost polished the knob by saying that the title "university lecturer" could be added to Mark Dayton's resume. No, really.

Yet what shocked is that this was a lecture grandly titled: "Minnesota's Future: Challenges and Opportunities" given to the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs Policy Fellows (there's more intellectual diversity among supporters of Ron Paul by orders of magnitude; the Fellows are the stuff of David Mamet's nightmares). This was a liberal/progressive/left confab with Little Lord Fauntleroy in attendance.

But wait there's more! The event was closed to the public.

Pardon? Is this possible? Is Common Cause Minnesota on it? From whence shall our help come? Surely the event was taped and surely I will get my hands on it. Try making it private. The entire speech and question and answer session should be posted on the Humphrey School's website without delay. This event was not a private function.

Why would the press acquiesce in this? Access? Or just the usual hot dish politics? Both?

I listened to the audio of the Governor's 25 minute speech. It is appallingly bad. To learn only after the fact that it was a university lecture proper for a set of fellows was mind boggling. He spoke from notes as best from what I could tell. Meandering, at times pointless, at others a non-sequitur minefield, his speech revealed that there is serious trouble with our Chief Executive.

Our Governor's visual performance at this public event is what is being deliberately withheld from the public. What an odd thing to say about Minnesota politics.

But if the visual matches the audio, voters may well be in for a shock. Listening to several bizarre passages on the audio, none intrigued me more in wanting the visual as when Gov. Dayton spoke about his family's annual gathering to discuss wealth management. He reminisced about advice concerning the public good from his father and uncles. He's still executing orders from childhood! I wanted to clap my hands together loudly to snap him out of it while listening to this psychological excursion.

MPR and the StarTribune failed to note that this was a resume enhancing "university lecture" before the Humphrey School Policy Fellows with the President of the University of Minnesota in attendance. MinnPost stated that "Some media may attend, but it's not open to the public."

Do you see? People like us are not allowed in. Media, who are liberals by another name, "may attend." In other words, no one here but us squishes and we squishes will report on it. Media criticism can't possibly be this easy in this town, can it? Because I'll become quickly bored.

It's telling that media do not consider themselves the public. Has this ever been said before? Remember, these people think exceptionally highly of themselves and as having a combative posture toward power. What a laugh! In fact, if power flows from their favored party, they are eager to be co-opted and, as their publishing shows, used to advance that party's interests.

The StarTribune reported only that Dayton spoke "at the University of Minnesota." Not untrue and therefore meets the StarTribune's low threshold for accuracy and completeness.

MPR reported that he spoke "to a group" at the University of Minnesota. Also not untrue and apparently reported this way less any MPR listener assume that the Governor was walking around campus talking to himself.

The Pioneer Press was fuller, saying that the Governor gave "a speech at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs." Even that, however, was insufficient to convey the importance of the event to its own participants. Minnesota University President Eric Kaler attended the Governor's Lecture to the Humphrey School Policy Fellows. Indeed he should have: it was a very big deal.

"Some media may attend, but it's not open to the public." Remember that phrase.

In his so-called lecture, the Governor proclaimed that the failure to raise taxes would be the death of this country. Failure to raise taxes would be the death of this country. I swear you can hear the sounds of bobble heads on the audiotape. Revenue or death!

How is this relic our Chief Executive? He called raising taxes an acid test of his. Could anyone in the press appreciate how astonishing that truly is?

Not really. The introduction to the story in the Pioneer Press started out: "Count on Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to swim against the tide."

Really? That wet a kiss?

The StarTribune wrote that Dayton had come back from a summer of silence "roaring." There's a neutral term. Fact check, please. It also wrote that the Dayton-responsible statewide government shutdown last year was "bruising." Actually, no one noticed the shut down very much (myself I felt filled with more liberty) which led to Dayton's capitulation 20 days later to the republican legislature's budget. But it is "bruising" now because an election is upcoming and that's how democrats want the issue colored. Consider it done!

"Some media may attend, but it's not open to the public."

Dayton is wildly out of touch with the times across this country. Where has he been since 2008 for him to have said that "public investments do create jobs." Is there even a flicker of a brain wave there? They create jobs but the wrong kinds of ones and even then frequently they don't last. Public investment does not equate to economic growth. This fundamental economic principle is exceedingly difficult for liberals to grasp because spending makes them feel like they are doing something. That their policies fail so routinely and disastrously without another thought also keeps liberals from holding themselves to account. Detroit is the physical manifestation of liberalism. Imagine if that city came to the end it has under republican governance. Democrats with a byline, as Rush Limbaugh called the media, would be all over that important story.

Did anyone get the chance to ask Gov. Dayton if he'd chatted up fellow democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo about his work in New York state? It's an open question whether he'd take Dayton's call but that's another matter altogether. Has our governor heard of reformist democrat governors? We seem to have a leader who is intellectually uncurious about whether anything on the policy side may have changed since he first got into politics just yesterday in 1975. Are his handlers equally thick? Perhaps it's all one encompassing bubble? I hadn't considered that before.

Besides taking money from you in the amounts that he knows best in order to spend it on your own good, Gov. Dayton last week also disassociatively proclaimed he'd like to open trade with Cuba.

What? No, just no Governor. What are you thinking? You're aware you're in 2012, aren't you sir? Minnesota is surrounded by vastly more economically vibrant states. You may have heard of something called a boom (but not a firework so relax) in North Dakota. South Dakota has been siphoning jobs and businesses from Minnesota for decades now. Wisconsin? You know, Gov. Scott Walker who you are so very not?

How does our Governor bring nothing to the table of ideas but stale, failed ones? The laziest of postures are being struck. This begs the question just who are the Governor's current handlers? Who actually is part of the process that informs him as to what he thinks is good governance? We don't really get much coverage of that important and interesting subject. The lecture to the Humphrey School Fellows was just such an opportunity and therefore went largely unreported.

There was, fortunately, a ukulele player on Almanac last week so our media didn't let us down completely.

Eric Ostermeir, blogging at Smart Politics, had a fascinating overview of the dark, strange, paranoid, apocalyptic words the Governor used in his speech. Is this how liberals make themselves feel alive? More alive? Purposeful? (I feel assaulted when that word is used.)

The article is not lengthy but it is extremely observant in distilling Gov. Dayton and his performance last week. To read it click here.  It's almost as if Eric is onto something. Like a story.

It's telling that Gov. Dayton has nothing but exaggeration and the gloomiest of language with which to go into this fall's election. Grounded optimism requires a leader. General "can do" attitude usually works wonders with people. But this strangest of all Minnesota governors has no capacity whatsoever for that which smacks of the positive. To the contrary, his internalized conflicts leave him continuously searching for solutions which he then projects onto us by way of out of touch, top down, diktats whose implementation gives him psychological satisfaction. Of course that last bit was sheer psychoanalysis but wasn't it fun?

The reporting, as it were, suggests that democrats will increasingly use Gov. Dayton as legislative races heat up. I hope they're correct about the upside offsetting the down because this governor is the best reason why the DFL shouldn't get the legislature. Making him your poster child is fine with me. But having Gov. Dayton urge voters to increase taxes by voting democrat may not be the best way to get said votes.

Perhaps democrats didn't notice there's no shortage of issues with which to run against Minnesota republican legislators. But the lemming instinct is strong among progressives; when your ideas are weak continuous mutual reassurance they are strong is essential. What cliff? Forward.

If the Governor wants to make raising taxes the "acid test" of this election, it's an open question whether democrats can deflect that mistaken approach with something more likely to bring them to a majority in either chamber or, God forbid, both. I don't pretend to know the inner workings of the DFL, its legislators or activists and so can't hazard a guess as to which is more likely to win out.

I do know if it's a battle over raising taxes to fund more useless government, republicans will have the upper hand consistently across all legislative races. Why Dayton is channelling Walter Mondale's 1984 convention promise to raise taxes I've no idea.

I do know that it didn't work then and it won't work now.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Twitter & The End Of The Fourth Estate

Twitter has destroyed journalism as we have known it to date in America. The worst mistake anyone in the press or the media or journalism (do those words have sustained meaning today?) could have made in the age of the internet, smart phones and tablets was to have joined yet another new social medium which counterintuitively limited not just your words but your very keystrokes.

The mainstream media was reduced to its essence. The result was its demise.

On Twitter, journolists (shall we let them in on that word?) found themselves in the cyber presence of equally if not demonstratively sharper minds, much, much quicker wit & an ability to marshall facts as readily as the imagination of Bob Woodward. The few good ones from the herd shone. The rest, refusing to admit they were subtantially less special than before going on Twitter, gamely strode on.

Unfortunately, in doing so they brought the scenery down of what was left of the media game. The royal family in the United Kingdom, say what one may, did manage to survive its encounter with the media. Not so the media itself, which must be the definition of meta.

On Twitter, the media were defeated by journalism itself. Not by just the bright activists on both political sides but by the ability for other media from other countries on Twitter to link to a fascinating array of stories about the United States which our own press, as it were, kept from us. Why would they do that?

The question didn't last long and people starved for information instead of rubbish were off and running. It wasn't that these websites weren't online before Twitter; they were. What Twitter does is make the static web dynamic and with its rich content you have something unlike we've ever seen before. I've thought long enough about this to think the media as constituted today is at an end. I can see it from my house in my pajamas you might even say.

Media personalities, reporters and producers on Twitter, at various times and in sometimes quite revealing ways, eventually could not but help let their personalities come through. On the one hand, we were reassured that they were human. On the other, they themselves (take a bow) confirmed every known defect, vanity and shortcoming conservatives had long ago come to believe they possessed.

I'm not really sure if media and liberals on Twitter realize that the conservatives there stand around looking at the wealth of confirmatory evidence, wanting to shake our heads. Because we can't, we use avatars, our own buzzwords (this means you won't know you're being mocked), and hash tags (the pound sign #) which have almost become the exclusive provence of the right.

In hash tags conservatives reign supreme. Hash tag games are our most deadly weapon in this aspect of Twitter and largely for our own, self-congratulatory amusement. Again, some media standouts are in our league. See how the tables have changed?

Information is the name of the game though, no? Yes. Here marginal or clearly erroneous information is corrected quickly and efficiently. There is the speed of light, which we can't experience, and then there's the speed of Twitter, which we can. I recommend you experience it for yourself.

Tonight we're waiting to see what the American media will do with an explosive report from the British newspaper The Independent. From the material there, it seems very likely that Secretary Hillary Clinton was knowingly and grossly deficient in her prime directive as our Secretary of State: to safeguard the lives of her State Department employees. The story can be read by clicking here. This comes, of course, as we learn President Obama did not attend approximately 60% of his daily intelligence briefings.

The point is that much more information is needed and the media have no natural interest in obtaining it. They will be forced to report about their team. It has been a very long time since they did. It's at junctures like this that I recall the attitudes of those going into journalism: high minded if not prideful, certain of their commitment to truth and a belief that life could not inculcate in them sometimes wildly contradictory beliefs and opinions. And, of course, worship of that mythic goddess Objectivity.

What makes this development all the more remarkable is that it is coming at the end of a tumultuous week within Twitter & the media given the sickening and catastrophic murder and violence in Libya and Egypt.

Doesn't everyone know where they were when they learned "our Ambassador" to Libya had been murdered? I believe they do. I know I do. It almost never happens. When it does, that veneer of civilization is thin to the point of disappearing.

Without recapitulating days of back and forth, conservatives on Twitter were astonished to see the instinctive herd mentality of the media form almost immediately upon the news of a dead Ambassador, three more American citizens, and a consulate burned out if not to the ground. Carter! we heard their Borg-like minds shriek in the Twitterverse. We expected the usual apologies for incompetence that they'd automatically provided throughout the Obama administration.

What we could not have known is that in their feral, corrupt panic they'd have the shamelessness to attempt to make their journalistic reason d'etre the blaming and destruction of Mitt Romney. Ambassador Stevens died a horrible death: choking to death in a burning building. Romney put out a statement and the rest is well known: the media liked neither its content nor its timing. Obama condemned the statement before he condemned the violence at the American Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.

Any number of misrepresentations and lies were made by the media in its ongoing attempt to sustain a negative narrative against Romney. But the various narratives kept suffering from factual, ethical cardiopulmonary failure and couldn't be resuscitated. One by one they were cast off. Those for whom the media pretend to write were having none of what they wrote.

On Twitter, for the first time, media encountered a kill zone with them and their biases the kill. It is said that information wants to be free and with Twitter the media were not able to contain all the information before it had been shaped to their desired narrative. I wasn't the only one who saw, in real time, journalists deal with being out journaled. Fascinating, actually. I'm wondering now if it wasn't even anthropological?

Because conservatives were looking for the facts, any errors were quickly remedied. Some facts might be bad news for our side but we wanted them anyway. Yet because the media were now hopelessly propagandizing for President Obama, their narrative held no weight, being made out of their political prejudices and professional, ethical betrayals. Contempt for the media was involuntary.

And for themselves? Media were largely unaware of the fatal damage done. Over four consecutive days, across every platform imaginable, most of this country saw institutions which pride themselves on the enormity of their duty to the public in regard to truth and veracity debase themselves for the most pedestrian of political reasons. Repeatedly. Stupidly. Mindlessly.

Twitter was where all the action took place because it was the unknowing kill zone for media lies. Because lies were, at times, what it became: conservatives watched most of the Fourth Estate lie in the interests of a failed democrat President and say to us they weren't doing what was manifestly the case. We thought we'd seen it all when NBC News deliberately edited audiotape of George Zimmerman to make him look racist because the overwhelmingly white, liberal, guilt-riden media are obsessed with race. If only their attention resulted in racial progress instead of tension. Progressives so dislike progress they make sure it rarely happens.

The story remains to be played out for some time. I'm hardly predicting media vanishes per se. But its encounter with its dishonest, dirty self is one it will not be able to withstand. This post is best seen as a downpayment on a longer essay on this topic.

In the meantime, Twitter, like money, changes everything. Between now and the enormously important election of November 6th, there will be more battles with the media. This week's battles, however, mark a turn from which things can never return.

Everyone tweets and blogs now. Everyone, so it seems, has a smart phone. Everyone's a journalist but Twitter makes it impossible for the old order to endure.

Because when everyone's a journalist, there is, mercifully, no journolism.