Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sham Winton

Cam Winton, pictured above shilling for Ashwin Madia outside a 2008 Obama rally in Minneapolis, this week announced his candidacy for the mayor of Minneapolis. Far too many local republican activists were taken in by his claim to have suddenly--and without any evidence--become a republican. Except he hasn't, really, and has said so depending upon which news outlet he is speaking to at the moment. Dissembling, it's good to know, will be a priority in this charlatan's campaign.

Winton fought hard to defeat republican Erik Paulsen in 2008 as democrat candidate Ashwin Madia's treasurer. Hideous Nancy Pelosi was brought to Minnesota's third congressional district in the left's strenuous effort to defeat Paulsen.

A scant two years ago Winton was moderating a debate between two far left loons vying to run against Paulsen, one of whom responded to a question as to how to get the American economy going again by demanding we immediately get off our "oil addiction." Intellectual bankruptcy is the sine qua non of Winton's provenance. The debate can be viewed by clicking here but be prepared to lose some brain cells. These are his people; he's one with them. And no, nothing has changed except perhaps the quality of snake oil now being peddled to credulous Minneapolis voters who should know better.

What, precisely, has happened in the last two years for this banal progressive to have had a political epiphany? A buyout of the "wind energy" company for which he was a lawyer and the introduction of ranked choice voting in the mayoral race. Having seen up close with Madia how little it takes to get ahead in democrat politics, Winton doubtless thought he could position himself as some sort of new, fresh face in the mayoral election, taking advantage of ranked choice voting (RCV) being used for the first time. Cornering the market on those ignorant enough to self-identify as republicans would be crucial in him slipping through to victory. They're so hungry, why not feed them? It's not like they'd expect him to keep his word or be a conservative in any meaningful sense.

Had Cam Winton remained a far left progressive, or tacked to some sort of ersatz independent position, all would be well. Dishonesty, however, should not be rewarded and he has dishonestly and repeatedly claimed he is now a republican. Oddly, he just as frequently claims he's not a member of either party. If that doesn't bother you then check your integrity meter.

He recently has parachuted into Rough Riders meetings and said what that audience wanted to hear from him. He's done the same with the Freedom Club. Maybe we can get him as a featured speaker at an upcoming Elephant Club luncheon and republican foolishness will be complete? Kelly, call Cam! A photo opportunity awaits. Our republican future, of course, won't come from either three of these useless groups but in the thinnest of rebranding attempts one supposes they are essential to the slight of hand. Desperate times, Mrs. Lovett and all that.

Winton trots out three letters to the editors as somehow tracing the arc of his political realignment. He must think republicans are as stupid as democrats if he believes they do anything of the kind, at least persuasively. The first, in September 2010, can be read here and deals with his objection to a 7.5% property tax increase. Winton himself characterizes this letter as showing he realized he no longer fit in in the DFL. Naturally it does no such thing. The second, in November 2010, deals with the same subject in the context of eliminating, essentially, some fat or non-essential programs from the budget funded by said property tax increase. Winton doesn't characterize this letter as anything in particular, which is true. It can be read by clicking here.

Anyone reading these two letters and waiting for a "scales from the eyes, how could I have been so ignorant lo these many years j'accuse" will be left waiting.

The third letter, in July 2011, is characterized by Winton as occurring when he'd fully made the transition to the GOP. No, really. Read this letter by clicking here. [It's the second letter; the first is, comically, about pedestrians and bike paths.] He writes that he disagrees with most of Gov. Dayton's political beliefs. So do most outstate DFLers. He asks for name calling to stop and expresses admiration for Jim Walsh, reporter of things locally musical for several decades now. I'm surprised he didn't quote The Boss in a spasm of enthusiasm.

Let's give Winton an enormous benefit of the doubt: by July 2011 he'd fully migrated to the GOP. What did he do next? It's hard to tell as the record is bare. Usually converts of any kind get caught up in the new environment which they've embraced. There is one $500 donation to the RPM in late 2011 and another of the same amount in late 2012. He's been thinking of running with republican support for some time, apparently, bought rather cheaply. But hey, they're buying it!

Nowhere on his Facebook page does he identify himself as either a new republican or an old DFL hack. The race is non-partisan, you see. Right. Click here to see his FB page.

Nowhere on his campaign website does he show the slightest republican belief. Vapid even by Minneapolis standards, the website is thick with cloying phraseology and Portlandia sentimentalism. This isn't the website of a leader with a principled center; it's one for whom anything can or will be said to anyone in order to exploit ranked choice voting. It's not that I don't admire cunning; I do.

His Twitter account shows a whopping 64 tweets to date. Of the three in 2012 only one deals with politics: "Thanks to all tweeters - very helpful for those of us who couldn't be there today."
You're welcome Cam: you did nothing to stop the destruction of the republican party by Ron Paul supporters but perhaps you weren't fully parasitical yourself yet.

Did Winton do anything for any republican in 2012? I'd love to know. I've found nothing. I know virtually all of the republican activists in Minneapolis and CD 5.

Remember conservative & liberal outrage over red light camera legislation? Cam's ok with it because, you know, longer yellow lights and a dash of due process. Here's Mr. Leadership's answer to a question on Twitter about the subject: "MN Supr. Ct. ruled unconstit. in '07 so moot if no new law. If so, make sure yellow longer & non-driver owner can contest. U?"

See? He's a technocrat and these things can be tweaked. No principles are involved. I especially like how he asks the questioner what they think. The word oleaginous comes to mind.

He flatly stated in a radio interview that he was not a republican. You can listen to it by clicking here. Letters to the editor & talking to elected officials pretty much constitutes his prior political involvement, he says in a moment of less than candor. Weirdly, no mention of wanting to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker again by being Madia's treasurer. Go figure. He's said elsewhere he's not a republican and usually hides behind the nonpartisan nature of the Minneapolis mayor's race.

He is. He isn't. Dessert topping. Floor wax.

Winton's friend, mindless liberal Joe Bodell, whom I've debated on FOX 9 before (when he wasn't interrupting viewpoints he disagreed with) wrote about his entry into the mayoral race with a headline: "Minneapolis Mayoral Race Gets Its First Republican. Kind Of." It can be read by clicking here and republicans really should make a point of doing so. Liberals know their own kind and what it takes, in Joe's opinion, for Cam to get the endorsement he now claims not to want is instructive.

Cam Winton has a lot to prove and resents being asked to do so. His thin skinned supporters on Twitter are of a piece with the attitude that someone who worked for years to take out a popular, moderate republican congressman should somehow not be required to do, say and show more than he has thus far. In this world, I'm the problem.

I'm fully aware of those who Winton claims support him: Pat Shortridge, Zack Freimark, Janet Beihoffer, Jeff Johnson, Bill Guidera (who makes Paulsen look decisive), Sheila Franey, "mega-donor" Ron Schutz & "mega-donor" Scott Honour.

I could care less. Groupthink is a hall mark of liberals and one Winton is hard wired to invoke.

David Mamet famously wrote an article titled "Why I Am No Longer A Brain Dead Liberal." Winton could benefit from reading it but could never write one of his own. Because, at heart, he still is.

Correction: The first version of this post, which was up only a few minutes, incorrectly referenced Erik Paulsen as the republican incumbent in the 2008 race. In fact, the congressional seat was open and the post has been corrected to reflect this. Hat tip Peter Glessing.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Allahabad & Death, The Non Transit Of Venus

Last month American Hindu friends of mine were off to a joyful wedding in Lucknow, just outside Allahabad, India. I joked that it must be like Mira Nair's "Monsoon Wedding." If you haven't seen that movie, stop reading and do so now. But I didn't have the wedding quite right.

No, my friends insisted, this was not a Punjabi wedding, the subject of Nair's famous and exceptionally accomplished movie. This wedding was Rajput style. Beyond those strictures I could not understand. It wasn't even in Hindi, as incomprehensible as Latin to this Irishman.

Two days after my friends' departure Twitter brought the news to my beeping, awakening iPad: some dozens devotees had died in a religious pilgrimage of death toward not God but a train. They had been in Lucknow to partake in the Kumbh Mela festival, one of the largest gatherings of humanity known to humanity. Google it for astonishing images of faith you won't recognize. Their deaths took place in the Allahabad train station, the return central city from which in faith they had ventured to Lucknow as devout Hindus.

None of my friends or their families were lost. It took me another two days to find this out. Twitter friendly Mother India is sometimes not. I calculated the odds, read the Indian press brought to me by those Indians on Twitter whom I follow (@HinduIDF among others), and prayed (to whom?) that this family wasn't caught in the crush of death. Banal. Shabby. Final.

Yet there were the manifestly dead: husbands cradling wives who were dead yet in a moment before were worshipping God on the return journey of faith. Life, and life, over in a flash. In a crowd. In the noise and din of yet another hateful Indian train station.

Not exactly the final dance scene from "Slumdog Millionaire." Which, come to think of it, was a movie.

The photo above was taken before the most recent transit of Venus, which is to say shortly before I turned forty for a passport renewal. It was a particularly difficult period in my life. The placidity of the photograph surprises me now.

The now, no matter where you are in life, is always the surprise.

Flannery O'Connor (dead at 39) famously wrote that "everything that rises must converge." She borrowed that from another writer but someone else can track it down. (Teilhard de Chardin?)

Politics matters deeply but not more than many other things. My worry about the death of loved ones far across the world drove the point home to me.

Attachment & loss, Buddhists would say, is the cause of suffering.

Being Irish, I'm good with that.

This post is for Benedict XVI.