Campaign 2010, Minnesota Politics

Like They Have A Target Painted On Their Backs

Target, the Minnesota-based retail giant, is being attacked as being “anti-gay” by the usual crowd of radical left-wing groups, including Why is Target being attacked? Because they’re actually hostile to gays and lesbians?

No, they’re not. They’re actually one of the most “progressive” corporations out there. They give generous benefits to same-sex partners, and have sponsored local and national GLBT events.

So why in the world is Target “anti-gay?”

Because they had the temerity to donate to Republicans. But not even directly. Target gave $10,000 to a pro-Republican PAC called MNForward. MNForward is supporting Tom Emmer, the Republican candidate for Governor of Minnesota. And allegedly Emmer is somehow “anti-gay”, despite taking the very sensible position that the real issue here is jobs, not battles over cultural wedge issues. Not only that, but MNForward isn’t a social-issues organization: they are expressly about pro-business issues like taxes and regulation.

So, to these radical left-wing agents provocateurs, Target is “anti-gay” despite not being remotely anti-gay because they gave to a group that supports a Republican candidate for governor who doesn’t care that much about gay marriage. And somehow, that justifies an astroturfed smear campaign against Target.

If all of this sounds more than a little idiotic, you’re right. It is.

The reality is that the gay rights issue is a convenient bludgeon. These groups, largely funded by Emmer’s opponent, Mark Dayton, are just out to intimidate Minnesota corporations so that they no longer feel safe donating to Republican or conservative organizations. It is, to be blunt, a campaign of fear and intimidation designed expressly to prevent Minnesotans from participating in the political process. If the right had done it, the cries of “MCCARTHYISM!” would echo from the rooftops.

But this sort of behavior is par for the course from the radical left-wing, who have used such campaigns successfully in the past. Sadly, it appears that Target is buckling under the pressure, having “apologized” for their donation. This sort of behavior only encourages these groups.

These groups, especially the execrable, represent the most disgusting part of American politics. Stewed in the juices of Alinskyite activism, they have a no-holds-barred attitudes towards political intimidation, and will do nearly anything to support the radical left in this country. Their values are representative of the farthest and most radical reaches of the Democratic Party.

It’s time they were called out for what they are. A smear campaign won’t stop me from shopping at Target—if anything, it makes me want to go there more as a sign of solidarity. And like cockroaches, these groups scurry when the light is shined upon them. Mitch Berg, one of Minnesota’s greatest natural resources, has been doing amazing work in tracking these groups down and exposing their astroturf campaigns and where their funding is coming from. The mainstream media doesn’t do this kind of in-depth journalism anymore, and so it falls on talented and dogged amateurs to do it. I assume that everyone who reads this humble site also reads Shot in the Dark, but if you don’t, you damned well should.

In the end, Minnesotans of both parties should stand against this kind of political intimidation. Target is not “anti-gay” for giving a donation to a Republican group any more than they are “anti-Christian” because they have a strong corporate commitment to gay rights. Here in Minnesota we don’t slam our neighbors because they disagree—and’s disgusting tactics will probably alienate far more moderate Democrats than it will impress. Minnesota isn’t New Jersey, and we rightfully have a low tolerance for hardball politics. We don’t need a bunch of radical left-wing activists attacking one of our most important employers in the middle of an already-painful recession. These tactics won’t play well here, and Minnesota’s voters should make it clear to all Minnesota politicians: regardless of party, we will not tolerate political intimidation. MoveOn should move on somewhere else.

Culture, Economics

A Case Study In Why Higher Taxes Hurt People

Minesota has the second-highest business property tax rate in the United States. In a time when the retail sector is already taking a pounding, this additional burden is forcing retailers to abandon the state. World Market, one of my favorite stores, is one of the retailers pulling out of the state entirely.

I’m sure all the wonderful “government services” purchased with those tax dollars will help. Myself, I’d rather that business stay open and those people who work there have their jobs.

The central reason I’m not a liberal is because the idiocy of taxing businesses to death to expand the government dole is so transparent. We need jobs, not handouts, and right now our government is strangling us to death in red tape and drowning us in a sea of debt.

Campaign 2008, Politics

The Minnesota Poll Strikes Again

If you believe the latest Star-Tribune poll, Al Franken leads Norm Coleman by over 10%.

If you believe that, I also have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

At PowerLine, Scott Johnson takes a sharp look at the poll and a contemporaneous SurveyUSA poll showing Coleman with a modest lead. The Minnesota Poll dramatically undersampled Republicans and oversampled Democrats. Given that Franken couldn’t beat 75% in a primary against an unknown opponent, not even Dean Barkley will be able to save him. Coleman’s negative ads are effective because they simply show the truth about Al Franken: that he’s a partisan bomb-thrower. The media is furious, but the voters deserve the truth about Franken’s propensity for violent outbursts.

Sen. Coleman has been a strong voice for Minnesota. He is not the unthinking partisan that the Minnesota left-wing tries to paint him as being. He is a thoughtful moderate running against an ideological extremist—and he will win. Al Franken is the antithesis of “Minnesota Nice,” and his intemperance and propensity to fly off the handle are character traits that are completely wrong for a deliberative body like the Senate.

Campaign 2008, Politics

Minnesota Now A Swing State?

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune‘s Minnesota Poll is infamous for overstating Democratic performance. Whether it is by sampling bias or methodology, the poll has consistently tended to overstate the performance of Democratic candidates in Minnesota.

Which is why, for the Obama campaign, having the Minnesota Poll showing Minnesota dead even should be a major worry.

Political campaigns are all about momentum. If Obama has to shore up support in Minnesota, that means less time and money to keep Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and other potential swing states in play. That gives McCain the advantage. If Minnesota is competitive, states like Michigan and Wisconsin are in play as well. Obama cannot afford to lose those states if he wants to win. McCain has the momentum, and so far Obama has been unable to wrestle it away from him. If McCain continues to pick up independent voters and Obama continues to flounder, the race could end up being a blowout.

This summer, it was looking like McCain had virtually no chance. Obama had the potential for a massive upset. Today, the electoral map has radically changed. McCain is picking up support in the key states he must hold, like Virginia, Ohio, Florida, and Indiana. He is putting pressure on Obama in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. If McCain can hold on to Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico, he can win. If he can do that and peel off one of the “blue” states, Obama will be shut out.

This race keeps getting more and more interesting, and it will come down to whether McCain can hold his momentum through the next few weeks. Politics is continually fluid, and McCain could blow it or Obama could surge ahead. However, the trendlines now clearly favor McCain, and Obama is running a truly competitive race against a candidate who has displayed an astounding knack for knocking Obama off his feet. The idea that this election, which was looking to be a Democratic blowout, is now close goes to show just how good the McCain team has gotten after months of lowered expectations and near disasters.

Campaign 2008, Minnesota Politics, Politics

Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory

Like 2006, this is a Democratic year. The GOP brand is more damaged than in has been in ages. President Bush has the approval rating usually reserved for moldy liverwurst. The economy is doing poorly.

But at least one Republican has reason to cheer. The Minnesota DFL has nominated Al Franken to be their candidate for the U.S. Senate. That is good news for Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.

Franken, the unfunny comedian “satirist” is the sort of person who will do quite well in the ideologically homogenous bastions of Twin Cities leftism, but will go over like a fart in church elsewhere. Minnesota already made a mockery of the political process once—and at least Gov. Ventura had some executive experience as mayor of a Twin Cities suburb. Franken cannot even claim that. We don’t need a “satirist” in the Senate—in truth it’s already a joke—what we need is a responsible adult to represent the interests of Minnesota.

Sen. Coleman is not a conservative ideologue by any means, and some conservatives dislike him for that. However, he has the right instincts, he has shown a willingness to engage in unpopular but necessary political battles such as UN reform, and he has demonstrated an appropriately Senatorial level of intellectual curiosity. I had the chance to hear him speak before an intimate audience a few months ago, and even some of my liberal friends (one of whom asked him a rather tough question that he answered forthrightly) came away impressed.

This may be a Democratic year, but it is not so Democratic that the DFL can put just anyone into consideration. Against a moderate, thoughtful Republican like Sen. Coleman, the thin resume and ideological extremism of Al Franken will quickly become grating. That doesn’t mean that the Senator doesn’t have a fight on his hands, but it is a fight that can be won.


Cause, Meet Effect

The State of Minnesota has announced a $935 million dollar budget deficit, which will balloon up to nearly $2 billion over the next few years. More worrisome, there is a prediction that individual income tax receipts will decline, reducing the main source of the state’s income.

Of course, the typical reaction from the left has been to raise taxes and spend billions more. Apparently the simple logic of cause and effect stymies those in St. Paul who see government as the solution to all our problems. Undoubtedly the reaction to this dire budgetary news will be more calls to do what Democrats do best—raise taxes.

Of course, the Democrats claim that they simply had to raise gas taxes due to the outpouring of support for such a measure—despite the fact that poll data says quite the opposite. A majority of Minnesotans rejected the idea of a gas tax, a majority supports spending cuts, and a majority wants to see more fiscal discipline out of St. Paul.

There is one form of cause and effect politicians understand—do something wildly unpopular, and lose elections. Let us hope that the good people of Minnesota have the common sense to give out Legislature such a lesson this fall.


Hands In The Cookie Jar

Not surprisingly, the DFL managed to get enough wobbly Republicans to override Gov. Pawlenty’s veto of their pork-stuffed transportation bill. Contrary to the typically childish arguments of some, the choice at stake here was not between fixing the problems with Minnesota’s transportation system, but not spending additional money for boondoggles we don’t need.

Every day, families across this state have to make decisions because they are feeling more and more financially squeezed. They have to make choice like whether they can afford to send their kids to camp or get the car fixed, whether they can afford a family vacation or health care. The fundamental arrogance of the DFL and the Democratic Party in general is that they want to demand that we make sacrifices, but when it comes to their pet projects they can always demand more and more of us. Minnesota’s families don’t have the choice to take money for their kids to buy that new plasma TV. Minnesota’s government shouldn’t be shaking down working families with a 5 cent/gallon gas tax increase so that they can spend another $1.1 billion on metro-area transit projects that only give a marginal benefit for the few.

We have to make sacrifices in order to live within our fiscal means. Government should have to do the same. The Democrats tried to paint this as a choice between fixing transportation or doing nothing—this was really a choice about setting priorities and ensuring that our taxpayer dollars went to responsible tasks rather than wasteful spending. The DFL, as always, chose poorly.

For all the talk about how it’s the Republicans that are supposedly “the party of the rich” the Democrats act as though they’ve never had to balance a budget or even think of making sacrifices in order to make ends meet. That’s part of being a responsible adult in today’s society—and once again we have a state government that is acting like spoiled children with their hands in the cookie jar.

Campaign 2008, Politics

Live From Super Tuesday

I’m at my local caucus site, and GOP turnout is high–even I’m surprised at how many people are here. No clue as to which candidates are ahead, but Ron Paul and Mitt Romney have the most presence here tonight. No overt support for McCain that I’ve seen yet. If my connection works, I’ll have more as things develop.

UPDATE: The precinct was packed! I’ve never seen turnout like this. The votes are being counted now. Results when they come in.

UPDATE: Looks like Romney is cleaning up. Romney 48, McCain 15, Paul 6, Huckabee 6.

UPDATE: Romney may have done well in my precinct, but nationally he’s getting creamed. He’s said that he will fight on, but it seems quite unlikely that he’ll have a path to the nomination after tonight.

The Caucus was absolutely packed. There were 75 people in my small precinct, and the auditorium with the general assembly was filled, and an equal number of people were waiting outside. American democracy is alive and well. The demographics were all over the place—young voters and old voters, men and women alike.

UPDATE: Ed Morrisey liveblogged the caucus

As a side note, did Bill Richardson suddenly grow a beard or is it his twin from the mirror universe?

For the record, I voted for McCain. I’ll explain that later.

UPDATE: The Democratic race is as close as everyone thought it would be. I have a feeling that this could be leading to a brokered convention—which has to have Howard Dean screaming a “YEARGH!” of pain at the moment.

UPDATE: Minnesota has been called for Romney. Obama has also won convincingly against Clinton, with Obama taking 66% and Clinton 33% with 51% of the vote in. That’s a much bigger spread than I would have guessed.

UPDATE: 10:52PM CST: It’s looking more and more like Clinton will win California—but the results aren’t in yet. It’s also looking like McCain will win both Missouri (narrowly) and California (by a large margin). For once this election cycle, the pundits seem to be on track. McCain has a convincing lead with the Republicans, and Clinton is narrowly ahead of Obama.

McCain has a lot of work ahead of him in reassuring skittish conservatives. Appearing at CPAC is a good idea—but what McCain needs to do is be honest about points of disagreement and be prepared to talk about a shared conservative agenda. That means being much more reassuring about the sort of judicial appointments he’d make and standing strongly for an enforcement-first border policy. McCain needs the help of conservatives to win, and he’s got a lot of ground to cover.

Law School

St. Thomas Ranked In Top 50 Law Schools

The TaxProf blog notes that using Princeton Review data, the University of St. Thomas in their list of the top 50 law schools in the country. No other Minnesota schools made the top 50 compilation.

It’s interesting to compare the Princeton Review data with the US News list, in which St. Thomas is in the third tier. The compilation combines scores on academic experience,
admissions selectivity, career preparation and having both accessible and interesting professors. These list inevitably come down to whatever subjective criteria that the reviewers feel is most important, but it is interesting to compare the results between the two ranking systems.

Those thinking about law school ultimately should make the choice based not on someone else’s subjective rankings, but their own personal experience. There’s no substitute for visiting a campus, sitting in on a class and experiencing the school’s climate firsthand.

UPDATE: Just to clarify, this isn’t a formal ranking, but a relative weighting of factors performed not by the Princeton Review, but by the TaxProf blog. The Princeton Review did not perform a full ranking based on all their separate criteria. I apologize for not catching my mistake earlier.