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Thursday, April 15, 2010
Like many Republicans in Minnesota, I believe that the current MN GOP Party Platform is desperately in need of a major overhaul. We're not talking about a little pruning here and there either. We're talking about taking a chainsaw to it and getting rid of as much of the dead wood as possible (upwards of 90% of its current form).
If you share this sentiment, you should check out Mitchell Berg's post at Shot in the Dark. Mitch has gotten together with some of the best and brightest activists on the local conservative political scene to come up with a proposed alternative.
I still think their effort is too lengthy and in need of a little nip and tuck, but it's a heck of a lot better than the unwieldy beast that we're stuck with today. See what you think and drop your feedback into the comments section at the post.
Labels: Politics-Local (10-11)
Friday, April 09, 2010
Still some buzz about town following Wednesday's Republican rally at the Minneapolis Convention Center. More than ten thousand folks apparently turned out to see Sarah Palin join a host of local GOP leaders including Governor Pawlenty, Congressman Kline, and Congressman Paulson. But the real co-star of the event--if anyone can ever really share top billing with Palin--was Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. The sight of Bachmann on stage with Palin during the rally and afterward on Fox's Sean Hannity was just the latest example of the ascendancy of her star on the conservative political scene. She has become a nationally known figure and has attracted a following far outside the bounds of Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District. She's one of the leading voices of the conservative effort to push back against President Obama's initiatives and is regularly featured on national media outlets.
It's interesting (and amusing) to think about all the energy and effort put forth in recent years by her opponents to try to stop her rise and realize how amazingly futile it's all been. I can't think of another Minnesota politician who's been as oft pilloried by local media, be it the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, City Pages, MPR, TPT, local television and radio stations (just yesterday I heard a host on one of the sports talks stations--the "new" one--going off on how often Bachmann lied and distorted facts). Local left-wing web sites and blogs have made her their bęte noir. The level of invective and outright hatred directed against her has been amazing. One particular blog called "Dump Bachmann" started up in 2004--two years BEFORE she was elected to Congress--and has done nothing but launch unrelenting attacks on everything about her ever since. How's that working out for you guys? Rarely in the course of human events has so much time been invested for so minimal a result.
Seriously. These people have spent a good part of their last six years of their lives stalking Bachmann's every move and deconstructing her every utterance and what have they got to show for it? Nothing! Oh, I'm sure if you asked them they would detail all the ways they've "exposed" her to the world and "unmasked" her real motives and "evil" intentions. But what has the result been? She was elected to the House in 2006, reelected in 2008, and--barring significant unforeseen circumstances--she's going to be reelected in 2010.
I know the hordes of Bachmann haters out there are all excited about Tarryl Clark's chances of beating her this year, but c'mon get real. By all indications this is going to be a Republican year. And there's a good chance it could be a very big Republican year. Do you really think that a GOP candidate who won in awful years for Republicans (2006 & 2008) is going to lose in a good year? Unlikely. And while the Democrats are going to raise a bunch of money both locally and nationally to retire that "crazy" Michele Bachmann, that campaign cash is going to probably be matched or even exceeded by what Bachmann will be able to pull in given her national prominence. And don't forget Bachmann's track record when it comes to winning elections both for the state legislature and Congress. She's pretty much had everything--including the kitchen sink--thrown at during those campaigns and has always emerged victorious.
It almost seems as if the old Nietzsche maxim "What does not destroy me, makes me stronger" applies in spades when it comes to Michele Bachmann's political career. Her enemies have not only epically failed in their efforts to destroy her, these efforts actually seem to have helped propel her forward.
Saturday, April 03, 2010
I see from Chad's post that today's festive Twins exhibition game at the sparkly new Target Field will be turned into a bona fide boopportunity.
1:02 p.m. -- Ceremonial first pitches by legislators who contributed to the
Far be it from me to interject negativity into what should be a grand day at the ball park, rain or shine. But I didn't invite these ego tripping politicians into what should be an entirely non-political event.
The legislators responsible for funneling hundreds of millions in tax dollars to subsidize the Twins are now being given a once in a lifetime honor and special access to the game by the Twins. This is what people with common sense call "the appearance of impropriety". Even if you like the idea of public money going to professional sports stadiums, the spectacle of those who made it happen personally benefitting from their decisions is malodorous. For a politician to gleefully accept this offer, this flaunting of ethics in front of tens of thousands of the public, tells you how much they think the voters care about what happens to the public's money.
It also remains to be seen who the "legislators who contributed to the creation of Target Field" are specifically. The greatest credit has to go to the four members of the Hennepin County Board of Supervisors who provided the barest 4-3 majority to let the countywide sales tax to kick in. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to: Peter McLaughlin, Mike Opat, Randy Johnson, and Mark Stenglein.
As they're not technically legislators, maybe they're saving their rapturous curtain calls for a World Series game or something.
The Minnesota state legislature did provide a key vote in approving this funding source. The results from the House of Representatives are listed here. The results from the Senate here.
Among the noteworthy names voting yes, please give a hardy Minnesota cheer to current gubernatorial candidates: Matt Entenza, Margaret Anderson Keliher, and Tom Rukavina.
Note that two other gubernatorial candidates will not be invited by the Twins to take bows and receive special favors. They voted "no" and are relegated to watching from the stands along with the hoi polloi: Tom Emmer and Marty Seifert.
Also of note to 6th District voters, voting yes for the government to take hundreds of millions of dollars from the public and channel it to a preferred special interest, DFL endorsed candidate Tarryl Clark. Voting no, let the people keep their money and spend it on the entertainment they chose: Michele Bachmann.
That's not to say that support for Twins funding was a purely partisan affair. Among the "yes" votes, and potentially taking their bows Saturday afternoon, are Republicans like Laura Brod, Dave Senjem, and Steve Sviggum. In terms of booing options, there's something for everybody.
Will the people boo or just sit on their hands, or even applaud these legislators, while the political class
Friday, April 02, 2010
On Monday, Saint Paul had a post on politics and first pitches that closed with him wondering:
On the local front, I've not seen any reports about politicians making appearances at the Twins opener in Target Field. I can only image the reception an Al Franken, Betty McCollum, or Jim Oberstar might get. It might be worth them trying to horn in on the limelight, just to hear the reaction. I doubt they will be there though. Not a good fit and they know better than to openly subject themselves to public opinion like that. For them, the people may have to save their boos for the next time they encounter them on a ballot.
Since both Saint Paul and I will be attending tomorrow's exhibition game against the Cardinals, I was curious about who might be tossing the opening ball at Target Field before the tilt:
1:02 p.m.--Ceremonial first pitches by legislators who contributed to the creation of Target Field
Ah yes, those brave legislators who helped make it all happen. Usually those folks are so humble and retiring that it's difficult to get them to come forward and take credit for anything so it's nice to see them get a chance to be recognized for all their hard work. They are the real heroes.
Of course as a taxpayer in Hennepin County who happens to be, you know, ACTUALLY PAYING for the stadium I might have chosen a different crew for opening pitch duty. Such as a randomly selected group of residents of Hennepin County who have and will continue to, PAY FOR the beautiful little ballpark that all Twins fans will surely enjoy.
As to our noble and wise legislators, maybe instead of basking in the glory and getting kudos for the role they played in making Target Field happen, they could spend a little time on the other side of the equation for a change. Instead of throwing out the first pitch at Target Field, how about standing next to a cash register at one of the many Target stores in Hennepin County and explaining to shoppers why they should be happy to pay more sales tax to fund Target Field? Don't think we'll see that happening any time soon.
One final question: would it hypocritical to boo the legislators who contributed to the creation of Target Field while personally enjoying the ambience and atmosphere of the ballpark at the same time? I have a hunch that tomorrow we may just find the answer.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Time for a quick status check on those who represent me and mine in the halls of power.
The President of the United States is Barack Obama.
The Vice President of the United States is Joe Biden.
The leader of the United States Senate is Harry Reid.
The speaker of the United States House of Representatives is Nancy Pelosi.
Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are my United States Senators.
Keith Ellison is my Congressman.
Ron Latz is my state senator.
And this chowderhead is my state representative.
Representative democracy anyone?
Labels: Politics-Local (10-11)
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
After the events that transpired this weekend in Washington, D.C., it's easy and tempting to bag on the "pro-life" Democrats like Bart Stupak and James Oberstar who, when push came to shove, proved all too willing to surrender their "pro-life" principles for the greater good of their party. At least Stupak could maintain the pretense of having gotten something in return, although if there's one thing that all sides of the abortion issue seem to agree on it's that President Obama's promised executive order to prevent federal abortion funding is essentially meaningless. Longtime Oberstar observers like our own Saint Paul knew that while might he make noises about standing firm, in the end his "pro-life" convictions would only come into play when convenient and that the Democrats could count on him to play ball when needed.
But instead of dwelling in the darkness, let's instead keep on the sunny side and give kudos to a member of the increasingly rare species of truly pro-life Democrat. The man deserving of said praise is Minnesota's own Congressman Collin Peterson from the Seventh District. Peterson has a consistent pro-life voting record and, even though he faced all the same pressures to support the health care bill from his party, Pelosi, the President, and progressive groups, he did not waver. He put his principles before his party and for this he deserves credit.
Interestingly enough, in his statement on his Health Care Vote he does not cite abortion funding as a reason to oppose the bill. Rather, he focuses on the lack of cost control and disparities in coverage:
This legislation doesn't control costs, doesn't reform Medicare, and only covers 37% of the uninsured in the 7th District as opposed to an average of 68% nationwide. Some districts will see coverage expanded to cover as much as 92% of the uninsured and Minnesotans will be paying for that while leaving 63% of our 7th District residents without coverage. This is very similar to the way the Medicare geographic disparities problem was created back in 1982. The geographic payment disparity encourages cost-shifting and rewards low quality/high cost health care providers in other states while forcing Minnesota to do more with less. Instead of fixing that problem--which we need to do--this legislation will lock us into that same disparity situation with regard to the uninsured. Minnesotans will be asked to do more with less while also covering costs in other states that aren't doing the right thing for their own citizens. And on top of that this legislation will not control costs--in fact it seems to me that it will do just the opposite; health insurance premiums will rise. CBO has said that premiums for individuals will increase 10-13%.
But based on his past voting record and opposition to federal funding of abortion, it seems likely that at least part of Peterson's NO vote was due to the pro-life views. That makes him a very rare bird indeed these days, a genuine pro-life Democrat. While there are many issues where Collin Peterson and I disagree, I respect the courage and character he displayed here when his mettle was truly put to the test. He did what was right when it truly mattered. And isn't that what we really want to see from our politicians?
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The announcement that King Banaian has thrown his hat into the ring and officially entered the race for Minnesota House District 15B has the crack marketing staff here at Fraters Libertas world headquarters scrambling to come up with ways to help his campaign. Brains are being stormed, ideas are being run up flagpoles, stories are being boarded, and, in scenes right out of "Mad Men," copious amounts of cigarettes and Scotch are being consumed by well-coiffed, nattily-attired gentlemen. Well, at least the cigarettes and Scotch part is accurate.
Those of you in the same demographic cohort as King probably remember Eugene McCarthy's primary campaign for president in 1968 and the memorable tagline that his youthful volunteers adopted Getting Clean for Gene:
In addition to its "bring the troops home now" message, the McCarthy campaign also introduced new tactics into campaigning, ranging from its reliance on a core group of ideologically-motivated funders--presaging George Soros--door-to-door canvassers brought in from out of town, and, perhaps most memorably, a tactic which its young volunteers adopted known as "Clean for Gene." Viewed most simply, it involved long haired New Left types getting haircuts, before hitting the streets of Concord and Manchester.
Operating under the premise that there's really nothing new under the sun (and because we're far too drunk, lazy, and stupid to come up with anything original), we've decided to
* Searching Bing for King
* Willing to sing for King
* Wearing bling for King
* Taking wing for King (a little abstract)
* Making a zing for King
* Having a fling for King (this one has proved very popular with focus groups so far)
We hope to have this list pared down and a finalist green-lighted before March Madness kicks off later today, because after that no one is going to be doing any real work around here anyway. We're also been throwing some ideas for TV/radio spots at the wall and the only one that's really sticking so far is also a
(Begin with King's voice)
Because you need me, Stearns County. Your guilty conscience may force you to vote Democratic, but deep down inside you secretly long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a King. That's why I'm doing this: to protect you from yourselves. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a house district to run.
(Fade out with "Every Man A King")
UPDATE: We've received a deluge of e-mails with more suggestions.
Beth from Golden Valley offers:
Banging Sting for King.
That doesn't seem particularly appropriate or germane to this topic, now does it?
T. Swift from St. Paul chimes in with:
Taking a swing for King.
Strictly in the metaphorical sense of course.
Desperate Hausfrau from Waite Park suggests:
Taking off my ring for King.
Finally, Atomizer from Eagan volunteers:
Drinking Coldspring for King.
Not exactly keeping with the spirit of sacrifice intended, but I guess we all have our part to play.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Last night, we had our local BPOU convention. This is the second step in the state party process after the precinct caucuses. We heard from a number of state party officials and candidates for office, elected delegates and alternates to the upcoming state and congressional district conventions, and decided which proposed changes to the state party platform--in the form of resolutions--would be passed on to the next level.
The first speaker of the night was State Chair Tony Sutton. He got off to a bit of slow start, but picked up his pace nicely and made some excellent points about how the MN GOP needs to appeal to independent voters if we want to win elections come November. He also said that winning would not be the biggest challenge faced by Republican candidates. Governing according to the principals they ran on would be. He warned that failure to do so and could cause the party to go "the way of the Whigs."
Another speaker was Deputy State Chair Michael Brodkorb. It was good to see the former NARN host again (I believe next year we'll both eligible to be inducted into the NARN Hall of Fame joining Scott Johnson, JB Doubtless, and Atomizer) and Michael was as energetic and engaged as ever.
We heard from a variety of candidates for other offices including secretary of state (which for some reason is attracting A LOT of interest this year), state auditor, the 5th District Congressional seat, and even district court judge. Of course the main event was the gubernatorial contenders and we were "treated" to being addressed by all five candidates still in the GOP race (at least I think there are only five left). Since this is really down to a two man race, we'll focus on Emmer and Seifert.
Tom Emmer's easy-going manner and red-blooded conservative message--which were both in evidence last night--make it hard not to like him. And I certainly will have no problem supporting him come November if he is the party's endorsed candidate. However, in light of the remarks that Tony Sutton made, I have concerns about his ability to appeal to those very independent voters that he will have to win over to win the governor's race.
I've met Marty Seifert a couple of times and heard him speak in the past. He's always come across as a sharp guy with a good sense of humor. For some reason he was off his game last night. He appeared tight and didn't seem comfortable. His delivery was a little fast and his tone a little strident. There wasn't a trace of humor or light-heartedness. Maybe the serious, somber Seifert we saw last night was an intentional image. But if I might be so bold as to offer some advice, he's be better off letting Marty be Marty.
Despite the shortcomings in the style, I actually think there was some good substance in Seifert's speech. At this point, I don't have a foot firmly in either camp, although when pressed I'd say I'm leaning Seifert. Of the last two men standing, I believe he has a better chance to win votes among independents and in outstate Minnesota. If he can lighten up a bit.
Either Seifert of Emmer will be endorsed at the MN GOP State Convention on April 29th-May 1st. Last night, we elected delegates and alternates to this convention as well as to the CD5 convention on April 10th. There were Seifert and Emmer "slates" being passed around, but I'm sure how much impact they had on the voting. By the time we had heard from all the speakers and completed the voting, it was nearly 11pm. The only business that remained was to finish weeding through the resolutions and so I bailed before I had a chance to see the results.
Before I left, I was encouraged by what I heard during the resolutions discussion. There definitely seems to a consensus emerging that the state party platform is desperately in need of an overhaul in the interests of simplification and meaningfulness. There is agreement that there's way too much in the platform already and as a result there was a reluctance to add anything new, especially when it comes to some of the specific pet issues and hobby horses that typically emerge as resolutions. While there is a place for these matters, it is not in the broader party platform. Hopefully, this trend will continue and in the near future we can actually have a clear party platform that serves its intended purpose. I may be a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
One of the cool things about getting involved in politics at the local level is that you never know who you're going to run into. At the caucuses this year, I met Pete--one of the band of listeners of Hugh Hewitt's radio show who interact via Twitter. Pete was also at last night's convention sitting on my left. On my right was a guy named Andy. After talking to each other on and off for almost two hours we finally figured "who" we were. Turns out he's the proprietor of the Echo Zoe blog and podcast. Echo Zoe is the first blog listed in the MOB (Minnesota Organization of Bloggers) blogroll and Andy's the guy who first it up for us years ago. Thomas Friedman claims to the contrary, the world is not flat, but it's definitely small.
Finally, in the twelve plus years that I've attended BPOU conventions in SD44, this one--in addition to perhaps being the best attended--was undoubtedly the best organized and orchestrated. The venue was first rate. We had a Boy Scout color guard, a well-sung national anthem, large screen video effects, and musical intros for all of the speakers (with the notable exception of Hennepin County Sherriff Rich Stanek who all but demanded that he be welcomed to the stage by Bad Boys next time around). Kudos to all involved for pulling it off.
Labels: Politics-Local (10-11)
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Last night's precinct caucuses turned out fairly well. Turnout was a little lighter than what I had hoped to find, but there was a lot of enthusiasm and it's always interesting to find out which neighbors share your ideological views (like the woman who's kitty-corner across the street from us). I also ran into a couple of gents who recognized me from blogging and the NARN radio show which was gratifying as well.
The night went pretty much as expected. Anyone who wanted to was able to become a delegate or alternate to the senate district convention, so I'll be seeing some of the faces again soon. I was a bit surprised when Marty Seifert collected almost all the straw poll votes in our precinct. That was really the only matter of significance that we voted on. There were a number of resolutions that were approved to be added to the state party's standing platform. Discussion of these resolutions lead to a wider debate about the merits of the party platform itself and whether candidates should be required to follow all of its precepts. The more we talked about it and the more I read through it the more I concluded that the current platform is in desperate need of a major overhaul.
That overhaul should be done with a red pen and a sharp scissors. Because more than anything, the platform needs to sliced, diced, and reduced until it becomes a concise, clear, and coherent expression of where the party stands on core issues. Right now, it has none of those qualities. It's a mish-mash of this and that. Some of the resolutions express core principles of the party on critical issues. But many--far too many--are either devoted to matters too trivial to be included in such a document or so vague that they are essentially meaningless.
I'm as big a supporter of the Second Amendment as the next guy, but is this level of detail really necessary?
E. Making the Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program available annually in every Minnesota elementary and middle school.
There's already three resolutions under the "Civil Rights" plank on gun rights. Can we get by without endorsing Eddie Eagle in the "Educating Our Children" plank?
Then there's this under the "Creating an Environment for Economic Prosperity: Controlling Taxes, Spending, and Regulation" (or CREEPCOTSAR) plank:
(we support) I. A fair and honest competitive business environment and therefore we oppose corporate welfare.
We also like baseball, Mom, and apple pie. But what does it mean in reality? What does corporate welfare mean and who defines it? Such bland platitudes are a waste of words.
Which the 2008 MN GOP Platform has no shortage of. The copy of the platform that we were given last night filled almost three HUGE pages. If you print the PDF file on 8 x 11 paper, it will take up FOURTEEN pages. All in all, the nine planks of the platform contain a mind-numbing 5002 words. By comparison a fairly significant document called The Declaration of Independence chocks in at 1322 words. In order to explain why they were breaking from the King and starting a new country the Founders only needed a quarter of the words that we need today to explain to the people of Minnesota where our party stands. That's absurd.
The goal should be to winnow down the platform to one page of easily explained, clear principles on the party's position on the critical issues facing Minnesota. Instead of nine planks, there should be no more than five. Keep it simple. Keep it clear. Make it something that people (real people not just hardcore political junkies) might actually be inclined to read. Otherwise, the process of maintaining, updating, and communicating it becomes a pointless exercise that only the wonkiest of word-smithing wonks could possibly love.
Labels: Politics-Local (10-11)
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
When you do, you'll get together with like-minded neighbors to help determine the course of the party in the year ahead. Usually you'll break down into smaller groups based on the wards and precincts where you vote so it's a good chance to have open discussions and interactions. If you don't like the course that your party of preference is taking, this is your chance to change it.
I've attended and helped run GOP caucuses for at least a dozen years. Throughout the state, there are some variations in the way the caucuses are managed and the process that follows them can also differ. This following is the way the caucus process has worked in my experiences.
You'll elect local precinct officers and delegates to the local BPOU (basic political operating unit) convention. It's at those conventions when delegates and alternatives for the state and Congressional district conventions are chosen. The delegates at the state convention are the ones who will choose the party's nominee for governor (and other statewide offices). My involvement at caucuses in the past had lead to me being a delegate at the state convention a number of times. Again, it's a great place to get started if you want to be more involved in the party.
There will also likely be a straw poll for governor so you get a chance to vote for that. And you can also bring forward any changes/additions to the party platform in the form of resolutions. You submit a resolution that night and it gets voted up or down by the group. If it is approved, it will be passed on to the local BPOU convention where again it will be voted on. If it passes there, it will go on the state convention where delegates will again vote on it. If approved at that point, it becomes part of the party's platform.You can find the current Minnesota GOP platform here.
The bottom line is that politics is all about who shows up. You can help make the party and its candidates more like you wish they were by coming out to your precinct caucus. The truth is that in most years turnout at the caucuses is fairly light, so it doesn't take too many people showing up to make a difference. However, this year could be different with the heightened interest in politics both locally and nationally.
There was a great turnout at the caucuses in 2008, which wasn't a huge surprise given that both parties had contested presidential nomination contests. This year, we have the same situation playing out with the Minnesota governor's race as well as all the angst and "I'm mad as hell and not going take it anymore!" anger over health care, bailouts, budget deficits, etc. I wouldn't be shocked to see a lot of new faces at the caucuses on February 2nd.
If you want to be one of them at the Minnesota GOP caucuses, you can find the location of your caucus meeting here. If you're a Democrat, there's breaking news to report that your caucus date has been rescheduled to Tuesday, February 30th. Please plan accordingly. (KIDDING!)
If you do show up--and at this point why wouldn't you--please be patient and respectful of those conducting the meetings. They aren't paid party hacks who devote their lives to this stuff. They're people just like you and me who have volunteered their time and energy to help make a difference. And if you think some of the caucus processes can be a bit baffling from a participant point of you, believe you me that it isn't a picnic for the organizers either. The virtues of patience, prudence, and compromise will definitely be called for. Most important though is simply showing up.
Labels: Politics-Local (10-11)
TALK O' THE TOWN
Listen to the Northern Alliance Radio Network on Saturdays from 11am 'til 3pm on AM 1280-The Patriot: