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.