Tuesday, March 29, 2016

17

Mark Anderson, Sarah Anderson, Peggy Bennett, Drew Christensen, Steve Drazkowski, Glenn Gruenhagen, Jerry Hertaus, Eric Lucero, Joe McDonald, Jim Nash, Joyce Peppin, Cindy Pugh, Peggy Scott, Dennis Smith, Bob Vogel, Abigail Whelan, Anna Wills...these seventeen Republican Representatives decided to be cruel for cruelty's sake.  These Representatives voted against giving money from the state Unemployment Fund, money that was already set aside for unemployment benefits for needy people, to the unemployed miners of the Iron Range, because...well frankly I have no idea why these idiots would do something like this.

The House GOP screwed this up from the beginning.  These miners were laid off due to no fault of their own (the Chinese flooded the world markets with cheap steel), and their unemployment benefits ended at the New Year.  What could've been a nice olive branch to rural Minnesota has thrown the House GOP into a political mess, and has seriously jeopardized the Republican's chances of holding the Minnesota House in 2016.

Let's start at the beginning.  China floods the world markets with cheap steel, leading to layoffs at the mines on the Range.  Minnesota Democrats last year wanted to pass a "Minnesota steel for Minnesota projects" bill, but House Republicans stopped it.  Around November, Governor Dayton (D) starts floating the idea of a special legislative session to deal with the soon to be ending unemployment benefits.  This would be an easy fix, as the state has a designated fund already set aside to give to unemployed workers.  No tax had to be created, and no fund needed to be raided.  To extend these benefits, a simple vote to transfer money out of a solvent unemployment benefits fund was needed.  The MN House Republicans were dealing with bad publicity they'd garnered from not fulfilling promises they made to rural voters in 2014 ("Elect us!  We promise we will take every dollar out of the inner city and give it you you salt of the earth rural folk!").  In 2015, they pretty much ignored the rural parts of the state, instead giving the wealthiest Minnesotans, and the biggest businesses, tax payer handouts.  Rural Minnesota took notice.  The extending of unemployment benefits to Iron Range workers was potential image rehabilitation; a no brainer, or so you'd think.

The GOP, lead by Speaker Kurt Daudt, went into the negotiations on the special legislative session with clear intent to make sure it never happened.  Daudt demanded the Governor build an oil pipeline across the state, and approve two new precious metal mines in the fragile northern Minnesota Arrowhead region, mines that would use a highly dangerous, and environmental damaging, sulfur mining process.  The Governor couldn't make those demands happen, even if he wanted to.  They needed approval on numerous other governmental levels, something that takes years, not weeks.  This was Speaker Daudt negating the special session from the get go, but he promised the House GOP would approve the unemployment extension on the first day of the regular session.

It was clear that wasn't going to happen before the regular session started.  Republicans insisted a massive tax break for big businesses had to be approved before they'd write the check for the unemployed miners.  Once again, the Republicans, after they shot down the special session, had PROMISED this aid immediately after the House opened for it's regular session.  They finally passed a bill which had a tax cut and unemployment aid wrapped together, something the Minnesota Senate, lead by sometime Democrat Tom Bakk, a powerful and popular politician from the Iron Range, already said the Senate wouldn't pass.  The Senate wanted two separate bills, and proceeded to vote on the tax cut first, which all Senators passed, and then the unemployment aid extension, which passed the Senate unanimously as well.  This little power play by Daudt backfired.  Last year, he was able to use his personal friendship with Bakk to override the Governor, but with the dragging of Republican feet on Iron Range unemployment benefits, Bakk clearly soured of Daudt's games, creating a definitive wedge between the two houses.  Daudt, realizing he'd misplayed the entire fiasco from the beginning, dropped his demand for the two elements to be in the same bill.  The Republican House FINALLY proceeded to vote in favor of the tax break first, then the unemployment benefits extension, weeks after the regular session started.

Once again, the GOP got their one time tax cut for businesses before the money from the unemployment fund was dished out.  With a unanimous House vote on the extension, they might be able to spin this pathetic mess into a tie.  Then seventeen Republicans decided that the Iron Range workers didn't deserve ANY help.  NONE!!!  All they had to do was write the check from the already funded unemployment benefits fund for unemployed people.  These 17 inexplicably refused.

Why?  It makes no sense politically.  As I laid out, this has damaged the Republican brand with rural Minnesota voters, and it unnecessarily damaged the relationship between Daudt and Bakk.  It doesn't make any sense fiscally either, as the money was already there; all they had to do was flip the switch.

The only answer I could come up with?  These 17 Republicans represent the belligerent, militant, radical, Reagan hybrid Republicans who have taken over certain states in the country.  Kansas, Louisiana and Wisconsin were controlled by these extremists who don't think about what they're doing, they just do it.  In all three of those states, the Republicans first give every available dime they could get their hands on to the wealthy.  I mean everything!  They rescinded the wealthiest's taxes as a whole, made business taxes disappear, gave them rebates on federal taxes they paid, and shifted tax payer dollars into their pockets at obscene levels, creating a massive crater in their state's budgets.  They were PAYING wealthy people to live in their state, just because they were wealthy.  It's trickle down economics on steroids.  The Republicans might be complete idiots who didn't know trickle down economics doesn't work, and never has, but more likely they knew exactly what they were doing; a pathetic attempt to get a cushy job after their political career was finished, with the same wealthy people they rewarded.

In Kansas, during the school year, they had to close schools 6 weeks early, because they couldn't afford to keep the doors open.  In Louisiana, they raided railroad crossing safety dollars to pay for basic day to day state operation.  In Wisconsin, they stopped picking up deer carcasses on the side of the road, as 'carcass free roads' were deemed a luxury Wisconsinites could no longer afford.  Where most people would look at these results with disgust and anger, these 17 Minnesota Republicans might've thought this was a template they could use, pegging the Unemployment Benefits Fund as a stockpile of cash to give to the rich.  If that's the case, them scrawling a check to unemployed people from the fund, even though that's what it was designed for, would've been too much of a sacrifice.

I should mention, many of these 17 Republicans have brought up their religious faith when touting their qualifications for holding political office.  False piety and bogus religiosity has been the 'moral' foundation for the GOP for the last 30 years. This embarrassing disaster proves these 17 can't actually believe in Christian doctrine.

If a man was dying of thirst in the desert, Jesus, and any good Christian, or decent human being for that matter, would've given him water, no questions asked.  Unfortunately for the thirsty man, he came across these 17 people first.  The 17 are in control of a vat of water specifically designated for thirsty people needing a drink.  They tell him, even though they have plenty of water readily available, they decided the need of the thirsty man was not great enough.  They tell him to wait for a few months.  The thirsty man waits.  Then comes the day when the 17 said they'd give him water.  The 17 then say, "first you need to go dig a new well for each of the richest land owners in the region.  When that's done, then we'll give you the water."  The man goes and digs the wells for the wealthiest landowners, and returns.  Then the 17 say, "even though you've done what we asked, even though we have plenty of water, designated for you, readily available, even though all we have to do is turn the switch for you to drink, we've decided against it...by the way, have we told you we're Christians?"


The GOP in Minnesota, and in this country, are absolutely bankrupt on all levels, especially these 17:  Mark Anderson, Sarah Anderson, Peggy Bennett, Drew Christensen, Steve Drazkowski, Glenn Gruenhagen, Jerry Hertaus, Eric Lucero, Joe McDonald, Jim Nash, Joyce Peppin, Cindy Pugh, Peggy Scott, Dennis Smith, Bob Vogel, Abigail Whelan, Anna Wills

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Friday Link for 3/25/16

Sorry the blog has been light this week, but it has been Spring Break for my kids.  I like being a dad!

I have fun things to do tonight, so I'll make this quick.  John Mulaney is a former writer and performer for Saturday Night Live, a very funny comedian, and his delivery style is great.  Here's one of his bits.  Warning, a little adult language.


Have a great Easter everyone!





Tuesday, March 22, 2016

We Are Talking About Politicians...

I posted a link to a Star Tribune story today about honesty and the Presidential candidates, an article which featured an image which sizes up this election perfectly.  The two Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, were ranked by PolitiFact mostly in the truthful range.  The one Republican who won't win, John Kasich, also scored more on the truthful side than not, but the other two Republicans, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, one of which will be their presidential nominee, both scored very high on the bull crap side of factuality.

Something interesting then happened.  I started to get messages from Bernie Sanders supporters who were outraged at the suggestion Hillary and Bernie had similar scores for truthfulness.  They felt as if Sanders should've never gotten anything but 100% true and Hillary was a pathological liar.  PolitiFact does their due diligence, and we are talking politicians here, but even still, you'd think the Democrats having both of their candidates scoring high for truthfulness would be something to celebrate.

When I saw Bernie Sanders speak at the Humphrey Mondale dinner a few weeks back, I thought he had a rousing speech.  It was similar to the ones he'd been giving for the previous few months, and he did have one or two things which made me raise an eyebrow.  He was stretching the truth.  I have no real problem with it.  Clinton said she was a progressive, giving her the biggest reach of the evening.

Politicians want to win.  It can drive them to exaggerate, making them pull hard on a fact which doesn't necessarily agree with their narrative.  I'm cool with it, as long as it's not an outright lie.

Both the Democrat's campaign supporters are passionate, but passion can become belligerence fairly quickly.  When Clinton fans started to question the mental health of Vice President Joe Biden, I was outraged.  The fear of him running made them embrace a disgusting theme, one which they all insist never happened today.

Sander's supporters have made Clinton every horrible human who has wandered the planet for the last 1000 years.  She was responsible for the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, slavery and the plague.  They insist she would be the worst President, far more EVIL than Trump.

To both sides:  STOP IT!!!  Calm the F- DOWN!

These are politicians.  They both want to win.  They are both relatively honest.  AND they both would be a million times better than a President Trump or President Cruz (I just threw up in my mouth a little).

The GOP has to, HAS TO, create a rift between the Sanders and Clinton supporters to have any chance at all in November.  Wake up.  Realize the GOP money people are manipulating you.  Many of those social media profiles vilifying either Clinton or Sanders are fake; Koch brother and ALEC fiction designed to keep a lot of Democrats home on election day.

Fight the good fight.  Be passionate and support the candidate of your choice, but don't get played. Vow to vote Democrat.  I have!

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Friday Link for 3/18/16

I have been addicted to the TV channel Buzzr.  It's one of the Hubbard contingent, but as opposed to airing classic television shows, it airs classic game shows, and I do love them.  For you tonight, three of my favorite classic game show moments.

First off, Tattle Tales!  Bert Convey hosted a show where couples, most of them married, would have to get the answers to questions their spouses were asked.  In later episodes, it lost some of it's luster, but in the mid-70's, it was pure gold, oozing with a fun Hollywood vibe which made it seem like Los Angeles was still a small city in California, and these were people you were having over for some cocktails.  The saddest part of this show is realizing most of the couples are either gone, or long divorced.  Funny bit here from an April Fool's Day episode.



Next up, what I think was the greatest game show ever, Match Game.  Here is a fun question where the entire cast is outright hilarious.  I also had an epiphany watching this; I had a HUGE crush on Fannie Flagg.  She was hot!  Warning, use of 1970's words for breasts, but every classic Match Game person was on this one.  It won't post for some reason, so please click on the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kRs7F2bJgo




Finally, the greatest win in Pyramid history (in my opinion).  The clues on this are great.


Have a great weekend everyone!



Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fair Labeling Practices

Regular followers of the blog and the radio show know my kids are active in sports.  All three of my kids play sports year round, and as my youngest starts to make the jump up from glorified pick up games to more organized leagues, can I make one request?  Label your league correctly.

What do I mean?  Last year, my daughter played in a local softball league.  The community league had four teams, and we were told over and over again by the league officials, "these teams were randomly picked; at no point did we put certain players on certain teams because of their ability."  Then you saw the other teams.  One 'random' team just happened to have all of the older, bigger girls who had played before.  This team towered over the other teams, destroying the smaller, less experienced girls whenever they matched up.  When I brought this up to a league official, she initially insisted these teams were completely random.  Knowing this wasn't true, I pushed her more, and she snapped at me, "well if you got out here and volunteered, maybe you could get the team you wanted.  Until then, don't you criticize what we did."  

That told me 1) they did indeed put all the better players on one team, 2) they felt justified in doing so because they were rewarding themselves, but not all the volunteers, as 3) even if I did volunteer, there were three other coaches who got the smaller teams, who were just as exasperated by the whole fa├žade as the parents were.  

The problem with this league, in particular; it wasn't supposed to be a 'competitive' league.  It was more of an introduction to the sport for little kids.  Because some organizers, coaches and volunteers are looking to win trophies every single freaking day of the year, because their drive to fulfill that high school senior moment of waiving the state championship trophy to the adoring fans in the stands as mom and dad have a tear rolling down their cheek is constant, they take what is supposed to be an introduction into the sport and turn into freaking Thunderdome. 

I understand the world in which we live, and the competition level in sports keeps creeping back further and further into youth.  We now have 8 year olds in competitive traveling leagues, and parents spending tens of thousands of dollars a year to turn they little Billy or Suzie into the most feared 7 year old in the state.  I get it.  Money has screwed this up beyond fixing, but you can label the leagues truthfully, and allow the parents to determine what they want to their kids to play.

My other daughter walked away from a sport two years ago.  My personal favoritism aside, she was the best player at her age level I saw all season.  Her first year in the league, her team won the end of season title.  As we were driving home, my daughter asked to not play the sport again.  I was shocked.  I asked, "don't you like playing the sport?" 

"Not really.  The kids, the coaches, the parents.  They all take it way too seriously.  I just want to go have fun and not feel like winning is the only thing."  She went onto explain the poor sportsmanship she had witnessed through the entire tournament.  She said, "I hate sore winners."

The next year, knowing her ability, I talked her into playing one more season, something I really regret today.  The 'random' league funneled her, and all of the players from the championship team, onto the same team, with one or two changes; you know, 'randomly.'  They went on to dominate the season again, only to get upset by a team of tiny girls in the second round of the tournament.  The atrocious behavior I witnessed from teammates and parents, all who acted like the greatest injustice of all time happened, made me sick.  My daughter cried in the car on the way home, but not because the team lost.  "Why was something so meaningless so important to them?  Why were they swearing and yelling so much?"  

If the league is going to be a competitive league, label it as so.  Tell the parents, the top kids will play at Level A, medium kids, Level B, and beginner kids, Level C.  Then let the parents decide if they want their seven year olds to experience competitive sports at a young age.  Maybe the reason they don't label them correctly is because they know most parents wouldn't want their kids to be involved in a misguided attempt by a handful of adults intent of trying to turn a little kids sports league into some sort of personal self validation.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Evil Dictator-ish

The United States, in 2016, is getting an interesting class in Democracy.  Lesson one: no matter how solid the footing that holds up a Democratic government, it's really a fragile system which can succumb to an evil, power hungry despot who resonates during a legitimate election cycle.

Trump is not Hitler.  Is Trump currently rounding up a religious minority, hauling them out to slave labor camps, and when he's done with them, executing them?  No.  Is he in control of a military and invading country after country on a desperate land grab?  No.  Hitler was Hitler, and like I've stated on this blog before, his name should NEVER be bandied about as a speedy way to vilify someone you don't agree with.  It WAY over criticizes your opponent, and it diminishes the true evil of Hitler, something we should never do.

One thing about Hitler people don't want to acknowledge is how he rose to power.  He lead a political party to legitimate election victories.  He didn't just show up in Bavaria and say, "Hey, I'm your next dictator!"  This is how evil begins; it rises through the established ranks, taking advantage of a disgruntled population, starting a power grab by winning fair and square.

When we look back at examples of power hungry autocrats usurping democratic systems, you see similar characteristics; hyper-nationalism, stoking the flames of fear and anger, labeling people they disagree with as their 'enemies,' and the endorsing of violence.  These are keys which propel evil tyrants to victory.  Trump is not Hitler, but he sure sounds a lot like the Hitler who rose to power in 1920's Germany.

The GOP unintentionally plowed this field.  They embraced anti-intellectuals, campaigned on ideology, and worshiped style over substance.  Their biggest mistake was not paying attention to the process.  The Republicans built this massive machine (curtailing voting, dominating media, grossly outspending their opponents, gerrymandering to obscene levels) and they would've controlled the country for decades, if they'd only seen the backdoor they left wide open.  Ron Paul, a Libertarian masquerading as a Republican, started taking control of the exposed individual state election processes beginning in 2008, and today, the Republican party is saddled with dumb, racist, wealth worshipping, anti-government xenophobes choosing their nominee.  It's like the Death Star; they build this massive weapon of destruction, but maybe they should've spent a little more time on the exhaust port design.  Now they're blowing up from the inside.  How appropriate.

Ron Paul himself plays a major role in Trump's rise.  Libertarian's are not Germany's 1940's National Socialists, but they share a common belief.  Every Libertarian or pseudo-Libertarian I've ever talked with thinks, "if only everyone did what I told them to do, the world would be a much better place."  They think they're always right, never thinking through what they've committed to, irregardless of how often reality tries to correct them.  Willing, blissful ignorance is another important step in the rise of a dictator, and as Ron Paul sailed off into the sunset, those followers morphed into Trump fans.

Before anyone starts planning their move out of the country, there are two really big hurdles preventing a fascist dictator from rising to power in America.  First, they have to win, and as much as I'm embarrassed about Trump getting the Republican nomination, the reality is too many Americans are terrified of him becoming #45.  Trump will get a shocking amount of votes in November.  In 2014, Michelle MacDonald was the Republican nominee for Minnesota Supreme Court Justice.  Immediately after winning the endorsement, it was discovered she had hid a judicial problem of her own from the party, DWI, had a disastrous State Fair appearance, and (although innocent until proven guilty) she might have been actively participating in a crime, the kidnapping of the Grazzini-Rucki kids, denying the legal, court ordered parental rights of the father, a crime allegedly perpetrated by MacDonald's client, the mother, and MacDonald's campaign manager, all while she was campaigning to serve on the highest court in Minnesota.  She still got 680,265 votes, 46.5%, but she lost.  It's enough to make you question the sanity of your fellow Minnesotans.  As knee jerk and blindly predictable as Republican voters are, Trump will still lag behind the Democratic nominee.  Without the populace handing him the keys to the kingdom, he becomes less Hitler and more George Wallace.

The other thing a US dictator wouldn't be able to attain would be an obedient military to ensure the abuses to the Constitution were carried out.  Dictators usually have a point where they abandon the people who got them there, and get into bed with military, business and political leaders who can really propel them forward, a version of The Night of The Long Knives.  I've a hard time thinking anything but a token following of military, business and political leaders would want anything to do with a Trump dictatorship.  Even if he did get into the Oval Office, he'd be stymied by too few followers.  This happened once before when JP Morgan tried to overthrow FDR after he took the country off of the gold standard.  Smedley Butler, a WWI hero who was asked to lead veterans to march on the White House, turned in the traitors, who all mysteriously became big FDR fans overnight.  A despot's personal hit squads might try to take down perceived enemies, but without powerful allies to help cover up the crimes, Trump would have to distance himself from the thuggery.

Trump is not Hitler, and my money is on Trump becoming nothing more than a footnote in history, but if you're smart, you should be scared by what he represents.  The more we dabble in the politics of the ignorant, the more dangerous the system becomes.  In a worse case scenario, if an oppressor who spewed Trump-like intolerance was to win, does anyone doubt we would begin to see laws making day to day life harder for Muslims, laws written to allow people to legally discriminate against them.  Maybe they'll make them wear a symbol, so they can be identified when they enter into businesses, or they'll have to produce their papers whenever an authority figure asks to see them.  Then they might create Muslim free zones, making rules on where Muslims can live and what they can do for a living.  Then someone floats the idea that Muslims, "for their own safety," should be rounded up and shipped out to Wyoming or Idaho, to a 'facility' which will "keep them safe," and away from the God fearing Christians.  All their possessions would be confiscated as payment for the move.  Then someone says "maybe we should have them work, so they're not moochers, covering the costs of the 'facility' they were forced to relocate to."  "It'll be good for their soul to get a little hard labor."  Then they will insist the kids work too, in jobs suited for them.  Then they start working them harder, and harder, and harder.  Then someone, pointing to the older, frail and impaired Muslims, floats the idea, "maybe we should just put them out of their misery.  It'd be the humane thing to do."

The hardest part of writing the last paragraph was realizing how, through three decades of far right based hatred, we've actually started crossing the line, straying into bigotry and discrimination based governmental policy.  We seem to be determined to discovered new ways to mistreat non-white, non-heterosexual, non-Christians; Muslims, African Americans, Latinos, Mexican-Americans, the GLBT community, Native Americans, and all others deemed enemies by the powers that be.  An unamusing, sobering class in Democracy indeed...

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Friday Link for 3/11/16

Let's see something positive and something negative.

For the Positive, how about a baby elephant who thinks he's a puppy!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/baby-elephants-think-theyre-lap-dogs_us_56e18f0ae4b0860f99d7f71f?cps=gravity_2082_-4123654764199711264

For the Negative, proof man will screw this whole robot thing up.  Watch this and tell me that robots won't eventually turn on us because some 30 year old loser thinks it's fun to mock it.  For goodness sake, let the robot have its freaking box!







Thursday, March 10, 2016

Doubting Daudt's Debt


            Speaker of the Minnesota House, Kurt Daudt (R), has been dealing with something many Minnesotans have had to deal with, debt.  It seems he had run up some credit card debt, debt that appears to have been forgiven or decreased.  Where most people’s credit and financial issues deserve privacy, Kurt Daudt’s position, actions and recent comments demand closer scrutiny of his.
            Speaker Daudt is not a regular Minnesotan.  He wields a tremendous amount of power in the state as the leader of the Republican controlled House.  With that position, he helps manage the state’s finances, a job that demands integrity and competency, something his personal issues call into question.  He helps write a lot of laws dealing with the day-to-day lives of Minnesota citizens; laws involving employment benefits, unemployment benefits, salary, debt collection, taxes, and bankruptcy.  We need to know the person helping to write these Minnesota House bills understands the consequences of their decisions.
            The State of Minnesota should have a full legal review of what happened with Speaker Daudt’s debt issues, and not just because the firm representing the Speaker’s creditors has a full contingent of lobbyists in St. Paul.  That alone should spark a very serious separate investigation.  The state should also ask what happened, as any debt reduction options available for the Speaker of the Minnesota House should be available to ALL Minnesotans.  Speaker Daudt’s debt being decreased and, in one case, abandoned, justifies there being options available to all Minnesotan’s going through similar fiscal tough times.
            Also warranting further scrutiny are Speaker Daudt’s comments, where he insists his financial troubles have made him a better leader for Minnesota working families struggling to make ends meet.  Quoting Speaker Daudt from an MPR article from 3/8, “It gives me a real appreciation for the struggle Minnesotans have gone through…”
            Speaker Daudt, if this is true, how come you haven’t followed through on your promise of passing an extension of unemployment benefits for Iron Range workers who have been laid off due to no fault of their own?  The Chinese have flooded the world markets with cheap steel, and not only did the MN House Republicans, under your leadership, shoot down a “Minnesota Steel for Minnesota Projects “ bill, designed to help our struggling industry, but you insisted there didn’t need to be a special session to deal for the unemployed, as the House could easily pass the benefits extension when the Legislature convened for it’s regular session, something you have not followed through with.  Instead Republicans are crafting tax breaks for businesses, which need to be approved before an unemployment assistance extension will be considered.  It doesn’t sound like you appreciate the struggles of those Minnesota families.
            Speaker Daudt also defended his debt issues by hiding behind the salary he makes as a legislator.  According to a Star Tribune Hot Dish Blog story from 3/8, a state legislator makes $31,140 a year, but they also get per diem expenses while the government is in session (in 2015, Daudt received $8,514 in per diem), and, since Speaker Daudt is in a leadership position, he also receives an additional $12,456 per year, making his total annual compensation over $50,000.  For a lot of Minnesotans, that’d be a pretty decent salary increase.
            Why Speaker Daudt feels $50,000 a year is beneath him is his own business.  For a politician who has built a career around personal responsibility, Kurt Daudt himself decided to campaign for a job whose $31,140 salary was publically known, and he himself has opted out of holding a second job when the legislature isn’t in session.  Any complaints about his personal circumstances should begin with him looking in the mirror.
            The $31,140 a year, a salary many politicians have insisted isn’t enough to live off of, caught my attention.  If a person makes $15 an hour, works 40 hours per week, 52 weeks a year, they make $31,200, pretty much the same amount, not including per diems.  But when Speaker Daudt, and other politicians, insist $31,140 isn’t enough compensation for them, while at the same time fighting against raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour ($19,760 per year, with no per diem) by labeling such an increase as unnecessary, exorbitant and lavish, explains why Speaker Daudt having some debt issues resolved questionably does not equate to him understanding the daily struggles of working Minnesota families.
            Considering his position, his actions and his recent comments, Minnesota Speaker Kurt Daudt needs to be investigated, not only to make sure his debt cleanse was legal and above board, but to also have him explain his inconsistent policies in regards to his understanding of “the struggle Minnesotans have gone through.”

Sunday, March 6, 2016

William Zabka's Legacy is Alive and Well

On Thursday, I was listening to the Sirius/XM POTUS channel as they had live coverage of the CPAC convention.  The host was interviewing some Reagan biographer when he asked him, "how do you sell the Republican party to the masses in the age of Trump?"  First, the biographer said we have to remind the world that we are the political party of intellectuals, but not more than 30 seconds later insisted the Republicans had to stop bowing down to political correctness.  This made me laugh, as when the right screams about political correctness, its only because they want to validate the vocalization of the worst type of racial, sexual, and religious stereotyping.  You can't claim to be the party of smarts when you also want to validate the dumbest behavior in society.  You think of yourself as Downton Abby, but what you really are is an MTV reality show.  This one statement, from a highly educated biographer, epitomizes the Republican party today; you're attempting to be an Ivy League dissertation, but your big presentation is being delivered by a 12 year old who makes fart noises.

The stupid have taken over the Republican party.  That's why the modern GOP voter shouldn't be scandalized by the rise of Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.  They're looking in a mirror.

I think historians will try to figure out how the Republican Party got here.  The demise of their predecessors, the Whigs, is easy to understand, as their pro-slavery purity pledge doomed them, but to understand the story of the 2010's Republican party, you need to understand what the modern Republican Party embodies, and it's not Ronald Reagan.

The title of this post references one of the great, unsung elements of American movies from the 1980's, the villain in an 80's teen movie.  Those characters worshiped money, were full of themselves, and were always looking for a way to advance their causes, while at the same time crushing their enemies.  The greatest actor of those roles was Johnny Lawrence from The Karate Kid himself, William Zabka.  I personally prefer his role as Chas Osborn from Back to School, but he's also great as Greg Tolan from Just One of the Guys.  I have no idea why, but the modern GOP is trying to mimic these fictional clowns, by forcing their candidates and policies on the American people with a rallying cry of 'sweep the leg!'

Even Reagan would be looking dumbfounded at this pile of feces which his party has become.  The racism, sexism, religious intolerance which defines the modern American Right has little to do with the opportunist party he controlled in the 1980's.  Ironically, it was a misguided attempt to emulate Reagan, something that morphed into a simulacrum of a William Zabka role, which has brought the GOP to it's knees.  In an effort to help future Americans understand, here are three things which have led to the demise of the Republican party.

#1 - They brought back wealth worshipping.  Nothing defines the Reagan 80's better than wealth worshipping.  The country fell in love with wanting more; money, cars, houses, toys.  They romanticized the wealthy ages of yore (1880's, 1920's) by glossing over the bad elements of those eras, selling the lifestyles of the upper crust to the common man.  There's nothing wrong with being rich and having money, but when we started convincing ourselves the ONLY way we could be happy is with more money, it started to rot us from the inside.

We began by passing tax cuts for wealthy people, sold with promises the money would eventually trickle down to the rest of us, which it never did.  Over the decades, the GOP's 'wealthy people first' platform changed.  Today, when Republicans have control of a state government, they start their budgeting by giving wealthy people all of their money back, and then some.  THEN, after they've created a massive financial hole, they start addressing their spending bills with cries of "cut, cut, cut!"

They get away with this because we have a generation of people who have been taught wealthy people are somehow better than the rest of us.  It's one of the reasons Trump is popular.  His fans say "He's wealthy.  He's made money.  He's been successful."  For them that's all that matters.  Is Trump really an oddity, or is he just the next step after Romney, a guy who was basically the same thing, only without the bravado and reality show resume?

To fix this, the GOP needs a complete readjustment in their fiscal mentality, pushing away from the motto, "the wealthiest guy always wins!"  It's great for the wealthy guy, but the rest of us are now asking, "when's it our turn?"

#2 - When they started rationalizing bone headed decisions by asserting their gut was smarter than their mind, the Republican's themselves laid the foundation for the dumbest people shouting down the intellectuals.  The right might have had some very intelligent folks in their ranks at one point, but the likes of Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley have been replaced by Sarah Palin, Cliven Bundy and Ted Cruz, some of the dumbest human beings to ever attempt to speak for the masses.

Where did this begin?  I peg the Air Traffic Controllers firing by Reagan, an act based not on sound employment or business principles, or was it based on safety.  It was based on a new Republican core value, "we HATE unions, and want to KILL them all!"  It was Reagan's first major attempt to prove, with gosh darn, humdinger, salt of the earth, gumption filled wholesomeness, he could convince people something amazingly stupid was actually a smart move.  It worked.  Even though the airline industry didn't operate with any real efficiency until Clinton re-hired the controllers, the public believed Reagan over the reality in front of their own eyes.  This gut based decision making was really mastered with Iran Contra, a clear example of Reagan's power out of control, but he effectively shifted blame to a willing officer (Ollie North) who in NO WAY could have ordered the military action.

But that was Reagan.  Reagan's greatest ability was lying.  He not only convinced himself the lie was true, but before he went public with his lie, he internally turned them into iron clad reality. The gut alibi gave him an all encompassing excuse, the administration and the Republicans sold conviction as integrity, and the masses believed it.  Even today, when we know Reagan constantly lied, his supporters choose to believe in the myth.  Imagine Johnny Lawrence at the end of The Karate Kid grabbing the megaphone.  "Hey, first off, I was the only guy with the guts to fight dirty, which makes me a risk taker, willing to do what it takes for what I think is best.  Daniel misunderstood that my sweeping the leg was only making him a better fighter.  He needed me to sweep the leg.  And the crane kick?  Isn't that something only our worst enemies would try.  The scoreboard says I lost, but in my gut, I know I was the true winner!"  The cheering crowd empties the stands, rips away Daniel's trophy, spitting on him as they pass by, hand it over to Johnny and carry him off on their shoulders.

If you times that scenario by twenty, you have the Reagan presidency.

Today, the Republicans are all gut, and no brain.  Climate change, the war on terrorism, political maneuvering, economic policy; the modern GOP is dependent on a voting base willing to ignore reality, believing the gut is always smarter than the mind.  To do this, they've created their own news networks, stifled their detractors, and spent millions of dollars convincing Americans, "we don't need a fancy education or book smarts to tell US what to do!"

But now, they've lost the thin wisps of control they had of this ruse.  We have Republicans insisting pregnancy can't happen with rape, all poor people are just lazy, inoculations make kids retarded and Jesus wants everyone to scream into gay people's faces about how horrible they are.  The loonier the 'gut first' crowd gets, the more discredited the party becomes, and now, Republican candidates just make up everything, to howling cries of support from gut driven idiots.

To fix this, the GOP needs to embrace facts.  If the conservative media in this country only confronted all Republicans with the same fervor and intensity they now wield in their effort to stop Trump, the party would begin the slow journey back to the land of factual basis, potentially legitimizing their arguments.

#3 - They've allowed their love affair wth Reagan's 11th Commandment to eliminate healthy disagreement within the GOP ranks.  Reagan's 11th Commandment (originally from California Republican Gaylord Parkinson) is, "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."  It was a great slogan in the 1980's, but it quickly was manipulated into a lack of individual thought within the Republican ranks.  The Contract with American in the mid-90's really cemented a one direction party, as the GOP had managed to get the most moderate and conservative Republicans to always vote in unison on every bill, all while whispering "never violate the 11th Commandment."

There are two problems with limiting debate within the ranks of a political party.  The first; it's good to have a debate, especially when one of the individuals wants to do something bad.  When people who had less then honorable intentions wanted to get something done, they invoked the 11th Commandment and stared down anyone who looked like they were about to open their mouths.  You can hope the best for the party, while still disagreeing, publicly, about decisions which you whole heartedly are against.  With 25 years of stifling individualism, the Republican party's allowed extremism to fester.  That's why Trump, Carson and Cruz look different to the Republican voter.  They're extremists who are off the GOP script, enticingly peculiar and distinctive from what the GOP voter has been offered for the last three decades.

The other problem is it allowed for the controlling elements of the Republicans to drive recruitment.  Starting with Rove and Cheney welcoming in extremists groups in the 2000 election cycle, to Boehner and McConnell embracing the birther insanity, to Ron Paul overtaking the GOP's state primary and caucus process, installing a far right litmus test to become a nominee, the GOP, as a whole, has been saddled with these knuckleheads, and because they still honor the 11th Commandment, they bite their tongue.  Now, you have Trump embracing the racism and anti-minority elements of the country, while Ted Cruz embraces the Forced Christianity Evangelicals/nuevo-Libertarians.  Since one of these two men will be the nominee for president, most Republicans are furiously gnawing their tongues into a bloody stump.

To fix this, the GOP needs to first take back their primary/caucus process.  How?  I have no idea.  They also need to learn the following statement for when a Republican who thinks they're smart tries to talk publicly about anything:  "SHUT UP!!!  You are too stupid to be a spokesperson for this party! Go and have your meetings on compounds in Idaho and leave the adult conversation to people who know what they are doing!"

The likelihood the GOP will change is minuscule. I think they know what they have to do, but they're too far out of control.  These problems are too large and too unwieldy to resolve, and much like a William Zabka character, they're watching as what they desire most of all (power and control) slips through their grasp, resulting in a humiliating and soul crushing defeat.  Can the Republicans convince enough of the other side of the aisle to stay at home on election day, hence winning by default?  Probably not. More likely, the traditional Republicans, and their money people, will watch as their party gets annihilated in 2016, and they finally realize they have to leave the GOP behind, and create a new political party, in greener, less toxic, pastures.



Friday, March 4, 2016

The Friday Link for 3/4/16

This is the gutsiest, ballsiest, outright most insane comedy bit ever.  Colbert's coming out party, the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner.  As we roll into the 10th anniversary of this moment, be in awe of the true moxie, grit, and audacity it took to do this take down.  Not only to be the fake Republican pundit, but to openly mock the President W. straight to his face.

If I ever were to run into George, I would shake his hand.  Honestly!  You don't get too many chances to shake a hand of a President, and I do respect the office.  If I was ever hired to do a comedy bit/roast of the man, then let the insults fly.

What's funny about this is the intro.  These people don't understand what they're about to do.  Still to this date, I've no idea why they would've ever asked him to be the keynote.  Their foolishness, our gain.







Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Raucous Caucus

Tuesday night was fun, and damn interesting.  Here are some thoughts on Minnesota Caucus Night, 2016.

Minnesota might be the most liberal state in the nation! - I don't think the Minnesota Democratic leftwards lean is a surprise to anyone, but how far the state leans to the left is startling.  Of course Bernie Sanders fans should be jubilant, as he broke 60% in the final Democratic tally, trouncing Hillary Clinton, who's been trying to convince America she's far more progressive than she really is, but it was the Republicans and their resounding victory for Marco Rubio which was the real shocker.  For the record, all three GOP "front-runners" are far right extremists, but the least far right extremist-y of them all is Rubio, a candidate who was soundly rejected on Tuesday by most of the country.  Not in Minny.  He wins, showing us regardless of how hard MNGOP head Keith Downey, Speaker Kurt Daudt and the rest of their ranks try to emulate the GOP of the deep south, they're really in charge of one of the last bastions of unpredictable Republicans left in the country.  Putting the two results together, and Minnesota is a lefty bastion.

The nomination process, having states with differing primaries and caucuses, is a good thing. - Would Sanders win so convincingly if Minnesota had a winner take all primary?  Not only would I say no, I think Clinton might've won the state with an all day primary.  Caucuses are designed like a political block party, rewarding the most loyal and fervent supporters of the individual candidates, while embracing a healthy dose of populism politics.  I love the feeling of sitting in the individual precincts and voting on resolutions for the party platform, something which does work.  The Peace Corps came out of a caucus site in Ely, Minnesota long ago.  These resolutions DO matter, but it's the way the voting for the nomination goes which is really different.  There is no all day, 10 AM to 8 PM, voting structure, which opens the door for larger participation.  It's only about 60 to 90 minutes of in-person voting, ensuring the majority of those caucusing are the most passionate followers.  Some people have insisted we need to scrap the caucuses and go to a straight winner take all primary.  How boring.  I love the messiness of Democracy and how caucuses almost always favor the underdog, delivering unpredictable results.  How you play to the core base should matter during an election.

What the heck are Minnesota Republicans actually doing? - The fact Rubio is the winner in Minnesota really raises some eyebrows.  He was getting throttled nationally, with his only decent showing in Virginia.  The national media and GOP party bosses were already writing his epitaph, when Minnesota happened.  The win in MN isn't going to help Rubio, in any capacity, as national GOP watchers are updating their graphics to go from 'never winning a state,' to 'only winning one state.'  Minnesota was a pity win, so this victory is one of three things.  Either the MNGOP is woefully out of touch with the national GOP, something which is backed up with their previous 'all in' on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a candidate who managed money so poorly, he was broke before the primary season started (good luck Wisconsin!).  It could be the MNGOP remembers our own dalliance with a non-politician candidate, former Governor Jesse Ventura.  Jesse was likable, but made some real stupid decisions during his tenure.  Ventura seems like seasoned pro next to Donald Trump.  It also could be the MNGOP is the last bastion of moderate Republicans, who don't contain a large percentage of racists.  Considering the mentality of their constituents in the most Republican parts of the state, (St. Cloud, where Muslims are accosted on the street, Nazi graffiti is common, and license plates are issued spelling out racist mantras), and the fact their own office holders have an undeniable racist slant (Rep. Newberger's racist comments on the MN House floor, and Daudt's limp response), I think they're plenty racist.  My guess is, in their desperate attempt to make themselves far more relevant than they really are, the MNGOP supported Rubio, hoping the broken down mule would magically transform into a magnificent stallion.  NOPE!

Bernie Sanders has had some nice wins, but his path to the White House is losing detours fast! - This is not about raining on Sanders' win in Minnesota.  It was a very solid victory, but what we saw him win on Tuesday (Vermont, his home state, two caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado, and a primary in Oklahoma) gets him a good speaking position at the convention, and that's about it.  I've heard from numerous Sanders supporters who've said "but Massachusetts was so close, it really was a tie!"  No it wasn't, Hillary won the northern liberal state primary by near 20,000 votes, and with that victory, shot down a lot of paths for Sanders to pull the upset.  I've had numerous Sanders supporters say, "so Hillary won southern states, which vote Republican in the general election, so they don't really matter."  Yes, they do matter.  Regardless of how a state votes in a presidential election, there are still local Democratic Parties which control city councils, county commission positions, and even state houses, senates and governorships.  Unlike the GOP, the Democrats value all states, not just the ones which vote with them every four years.  Eight months ago, I was saying Sanders had to embrace the Howard Dean 50 State strategy, and figure out a way to win non-traditional Democratic states.  So far, he only has Oklahoma in his column.  On March 5th, Kansas and Nebraska have caucuses, which will bode well for him, and Louisiana has a primary.  On March 6th, the Maine caucus should go his way.  On March 8th, he has an uphill battle in both the primaries in Mississippi, and in Michigan, a state which he HAS to win to catch up.  Then on March 15th, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio will decide the race, and in three of those states, Clinton has a large lead.  He needs three wins in those states to even have a chance, and that's after sweeping the events leading up to the 15th.  This isn't about raining on anyone's parade; it's simple observation.  Bernie is trailing Hillary.  Massachusetts hurt Bernie.

Donald Tump is all but assured the GOP nomination. - Well baring a well liked Republican (McCain, Romney) from jumping in at the last second, this race is over.  Ted Cruz, the current 2nd place Republican, has very little appeal outside of the states he's already won.  Rubio won't even win his home state of Florida.  Nope, Trump will win, and as scary as that is, I'm not too concerned.  Both Hilary and Bernie will destroy him in the general election, and with his lack of support from the GOP financial base, he won't have the never ending fountain of cash the past GOP nominees have had.  Most of that money will be directed to Senate races, Houses races and states where the GOP has to convince the voters they can vote Republican for everything but the presidency (YIKES!).  The worst part for the GOP is how Ted Cruz will likely take his 2nd place finish as a mandate to run again in 2020, dooming the party for yet another election cycle.  In 2000, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney welcomed the loony fringe of far right America into the GOP fold.  That doomed the party.  The racists, bigots, religious extremists and incredibly stupid now control the Republican nomination process.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Good luck with that!