Tuesday, November 04, 2014

TPWK Ballot Requirements

I am a blogger right now and only right now!

Okay, let's get to this.

Governor - Jeff Johnson

Johnson has two signature accomplishments under his belt. The first is his immediate response to the egregious Kelo v. New London decision, which allowed the city of New London, CT to bulldoze neighborhoods so that it could build (literally) nothing. Contemporaneously, the brain trust (if you can call it that) of Brooklyn Center decided to commit commercial Seppuku by seizing and razing  strip malls, which now sit as empty lots. Credit to Johnson for defending property rights against that idiocy.

Less credit to Johnson for spearheading the campaign to quasi-criminalize the purchase of Sudafed because Drug War. Long after that tactic has outlived its usefulness, grown adults are being carded for cold meds.

At any rate, Gov. Dayton has accomplished very little, on account of his, erm, limitations.  His principle objective being to expand union representation at all costs, he will likely succeed with a Democratic legislature behind him. To this end, he has pushed to unionize day cares, which will thusly turn a popular, functional system into something resembling Minneapolis Public Schools. Minnesota thrives on educated, white collar jobs. Expanding union power does little to help the average worker.

Senator - Heather Johnson

The two major parties did us the favor of nominating two utterly vacuous candidates, so I will take this opportunity to make a third party endorsement. Heather Johnson avoids the missteps of many Libertarian office seekers by emphasizing liberty and autonomy from an ideological perspective as opposed to the official party platform of: Abortion! Third Parties! Drugs! Gay! ...... (maybe taxes could be lower.... but, THIRD PARTIES FTW!)

When considering a third party candidate, I hold to the belief that we should consider whether said candidate would actually make a good leader. To that end, Johnson is clearly the brightest of this lot, and the most knowledgeable. This is a no-brainer.

Representative - Congressional District 5 - Doug Daggett

If you don't think Keith Ellison blows, why are you even reading this post? Keith Ellison is a Jew-hating lifer who gets a pass because diversity.

Judges (ALL OF THEM) - Thomas Sonnenberg

On your ballot, you will see about 30 or so judges, that vast majority of whom will be running unopposed. The rest are unbeatable and/or have opponents running from the ideologically progressive side.

Thomas Sonnenberg was a good samaritan executed by a convicted felon who was inexplicably released so he could get his affairs in order in advance of his prison term. This callous disregard for competent jurisprudence cost Sonnenberg his life. We cannot unseat any sitting judge with our votes, but we can send a message that we are not going to tolerate the subversion of justice on the part of lazy public servants. 

State Representative - 59A - Fred Statema

My favorite Joe Mullery anecdote from this cycle is that he weirdly attributed a privately funded pool on the north side to FDR's Works Progress Administration. My least favorite Joe Mullery anecdote is that he has accomplished exactly nothing for his district. A vote for Statema is a protest against absurdity, more than anything. On his part, Statema hasn't run much of a campaign.

Secretary of State - Dan Severson

After Al Franken managed to secure the trunk vote in 2008, I'm disinclined to support the candidacy of any Democrat for this position ever. Steve Simon thinks it should be as easy as possible to vote. I can see how his party benefits from that, but I do not see how that necessarily results in good ideas for the majority. I don't support artificial impediments to voting, but if you can't bother to show up and cast a ballot, eh...

Auditor - Keegan Iverson

If ever there was a position made for a Libertarian, it is that of auditor. Otto, for all her folksy ads, seems oddly concerned with making her role a national one, which is a waste of taxpayer time and money. 

Attorney General - Lori Swanson

The AG's office remains the most receptive, accountable office in the state. Swanson, therefore, remains an easy endorsement.


Hennepin County Sheriff - Rich Stanek

Wash, rinse repeat. Minneapolis elected a stupid mayor who is not serious about crime, and we need someone who is serious about crime to guard the hen house. To his credit, Stanek has made some credible (if nominal) gains on the north side, and that benefits everyone.

County Commissioner - Linda Higgins

She's running unopposed, and she chimes in on community issues sometimes. Not a huge fan, but whatever.

County Attorney - Donald Duck

Or Superman, or Lena Dunham, or what have you. No endorsement here.

City Question 1 - Should we increase filing fees?

I am torn. Granted, last year's debacle of a city election saddled us a spectacularly awful mayor in Betsy Hodges. On the other hand, that's really a product of the goofy ranked balloting system, and I really don't see any compelling reason why it should cost money to run for office. It costs money to win anyway, if that's what is important to you.

City Question 2 - Should we repeal mandatory food/liquor ratios at restaurants?

Yes, of course we should. Even if I cede the premise it's a great idea to require restaurants to sell a certain amount of food for every parcel of alcohol they sell, the 70/30 split is antiquated. Craft beers and cocktails, decent wine, and food costs have changed the profitability model for restaurants. Oh, and I totally don't cede the above premise. That premise is stupid. Restaurants should be able to sell whatever they want. This isn't North Korea.

School Board 1st Choice - Don Samuels

Don Samuels' campaign has received lots of money from out of state groups keen to reform education by way of charters et al... Perfect. Minneapolis Public Schools currently spend $21k per year per pupil (more than any school, public or private, in the state) to deliver third world results. Happy to see the out of state support for reform coming in.

As for Rebecca Gagnon, who I endorsed the last time around, she served as treasurer on the school board is it passed along $375k to nonprofit organization run by notorious poverty pimp Jerry McAfee, who failed to deliver on any of the promise his coalition made. I have seen no honest accounting by her avid supporters of how and why she has improved the district. She will not receive my endorsement this year.

2nd Choice - Ira Jourdain

Iris Altamirano has also racked up a lot of outside cash, but I have less confidence in her ability to instigate real change. Simply put, she is endorsed by literally everyone who has a vested stake in the status quo. That alone is not disqualifying, but I'll balance my big money vote with the small money Ira Jourdain in the hopes he doesn't wind up being a total douchebag.




Monday, November 04, 2013

2013 North Minneapolis Ballot Requirements

Minneapolis Mayor 

1st choice - Cam Winton

Winton has run a principled, consistent campaign as the candidate in favor of limited government. While the other legitimate contenders offer varying shades of the same ideology that has brought us billion dollar trolleys and stadiums, Winton has made a compelling case that this sort of central planning has wasted taxpayer dollars.

I'll take him one step further. These luxury items come at a cost. Our spending on sports facilities and recreational transportation has further compartmentalized one of the most demographically imbalanced cities in the nation. Every candidate acknowledges our police force is understaffed, and it is literally killing the north side. Winton is the only candidate to offer a roadmap to putting more cops on the streets. He deserves your vote.

2nd choice - Dan Cohen 

Cohen's candidacy is a bit of a lark. Once a major player in Minneapolis city politics (he received both the Republican and DFL endorsements in his initial mayoral run) he was the victim of vicious hit pieces in the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press. He successfully sued both papers in a landmark Supreme Court case, which speaks to his tenacity, if nothing else. On the merits, he offers a limited government alternative to the more recent city council retreads, and deserves a look here on the ballot.

3rd choice - Christopher Clark 

Clark earned the Libertarian Party's endorsement for reasons that helpfully explain the party's continued irrelevance at the polls (Winton was the party's third choice... because party fidelity trumps common sense?) At any rate, a vote for Clark, who has previously run un-endorsed under the LP banner, is essentially harmless and if he somehow taps into a heretofore silent groundswell of fiscal responsibility, he'll make a decent enough mayor.

Fourth Ward City Council

1st Choice -  Barb Johnson 

Ideological qualms aside, Johnson works diligently to engage and improve the north side. Her opponent, Kris Brogan, has a compelling case as one whose (excellent) pizza parlor fell victim to Minneapolis' inhospitable business climate but has failed to make a compelling distinction between herself and the front runner in this regard. At this stage, the most sensible decision is to keep Johnson's work ethic and influence in place on our behalf.

2nd Choice - Dan Niesen 

A protest vote against single-party rule. Seriously, though, the candidate doesn't even have a Facebook page.

Board of Estimate and Taxation 

(note: the top two candidates will be elected to the board)

1st Choice - David Pascoe 

Carrying on with the fiscal responsibility theme, Pascoe is the obvious choice here. While the DFL endorsed candidates talk about admiring Rachel Maddow's glasses (viz. tongue-in-cheek dog-whistling) and how the government can approve people's lives (vomit), Pascoe talks about PAYGO. Easy choice.

2nd Choice - Doug Sembla 

This is a good place to register a protest vote in favor of what the Pirate Party is trying to accomplish, namely improving transparency and, well, and bunch of traditionally lefty causes. Either way a vote for Becker or Wheeler is a vote for the bureaucratic status quo, and this is one of the boards that impacts your life in more ways than you think. Yarrrrrgh!

Minneapolis Park Board - At Large

(note: top three candidates will be elected)


1st Choice - Mary Lynn McPherson

McPherson's emphasis on the nuts and bolts of park maintenance, while nebulous, at least speak to a modicum of common sense as it relates to priorities. Is a proposal to repair basketball hoops groundbreaking? No, but consider the alternatives:

Hashim Yonis (backed by RT Rybak) was fired from his job and faces potential criminal charges over $3,800 in lost soccer field rentals. John Erwin wants to see Yoga Areas and Lacrosse fields (not on the north side, presumably). Casper Hill cites as his principle qualification his work on the response to the Minneapolis Tornado (I kid you not). Ishmael Israel thinks parks are going to address health disparities (scope creep costs money)... The rest is a hodge-podge of political lifers and Sierra Club activists.

2nd Choice - None

3rd Choice - None

Minneapolis Park Commissioner - District Two 

1st Choice - Jon Olson 

Helped oversee the Wirth Beach renovation, which is one of the more cost-effective, attractive park upgrades Minneapolis has seen. Challenger David Luce's platform lacks balance between his environmental advocacy and the essential utility of the parks themselves.

Charter Amendments 

No 

Most of you are probably unfamiliar with the brouhaha over the proposed modernization of the city's charter. Here is a quick rundown:

Basically, the Minneapolis city charter is novel-length, written in archaic language, and loaded with turn of the century frivolities about swimming holes and the weight of bread. The proposed update would, theoretically, modernize the language, while relegating the swimming hole-type business to city ordinances where it belongs. For whatever reason, changes regarding the sale of liquor and wine require a 55% majority, so this is a separate ballot issue for accounting reasons.

All well and good, maybe. But the ballot language is utterly opaque. For example, provisions are to be removed for "possible" enactment as ordinances. Which provisions? Who decides what ought to be a provision, and what ought to be an ordinance? A small handful of people, it turns out. That is problematic.

Having a small group of unelected officials rejigger the city charter and asking voters to rubber stamp it, sight unseen (the new language is available, but who has had the time to read it?) is extremely risky. The city attorney's office opposes it for this reason, and sensibly so.









Monday, November 05, 2012

TPWK 2012 Endorsements

My Endorsements... All in one place.

Gay Marriage Amendment – Vote No

First, let me put my cards on the table. I do not support the concept of gay marriage. I do not think my church should recognize it, and I would leave my church instantly if it did.

That said, I do not believe government should be involved in marriage at all. Any hope we might place in the notion of government properly instituting marriage has been dashed by virtue of an accommodation called at-will divorce.

Under at-will divorce, children are fatherless, single mothers are struggling, and the “institution of marriage” has been rendered farcical. Ostensibly, then, I have no horse in this race. However, any Constitutional amendment defining marriage invariably leads to MORE governmental involvement in marriage.

That means more tax code idiosyncrasies, more benefits (courtesy of taxpayers) inuring to married couples, and more quasi-ethics masquerading as good governance. That is precisely the ethos that has left us with a 16 trillion dollar deficit.

My solution? Take government out of the marriage business. Eliminate any and all recognition for any living situation. Want to share a house with four sisters, two brothers, and a goat? Draw it up. Hire a decent attorney.

I say this recognizing the gay rights movement has behaved badly over the past year. For that reason, I have found myself coming to the defense of Christians who have been accused of bigotry, ignorance and worse.

To the gay rights movement, my message is this: This was a winnable race in a state known for bucking tradition. Know that your actions and message have made this amendment a winner. Was socking it to a fast food chicken establishment worth losing a historic state-level victory?

Decide for yourselves. As for me, I’m voting no on the merits.

Hennepin County Water and Soil Commissioner 1 – Eleonore Wesserle

Everyone likes to make fun of this. The jokes on you. These people make million dollar decisions.

At any rate, per the incumbent Haefs: “I oppose the efforts of politicians to eliminate the Soil and Water Board through arguing for the need for consolidation of localized governments.” That’s pretty much the best case he can make for himself, when prompted. He should be elected because his position should exist.

His entire response is at once austere and didactic. How about an appeal to an accomplishment? His silence on his record only makes further mockery of the board he promotes.

Wesserle concedes: “But, if you’re like me, you probably have no idea how decision-making around these issues works.” That may sound pedantic, and it is, and I recognize the ideological dangers of paying heed to youthful exuberance. But I’m willing to roll the dice we’re not looking at our next dictator, and hope some genuine curiosity will save taxpayer dollars.

Soil and Water Conservation District 3 – Marjorie Holsten 

Yes, I have to vote twice* on the Soil and Water issue. Government bloat anyone? Holsten would probably say yes. Whereas her challenger has offered nothing (by which I mean, literally, nothing… He has made no public comments whatsoever regarding his candidacy) Holsten promises to take a limited government approach.

Again, these decisions are about our tax dollars. Insofar as none of the people running seem to know anything about what they are supposed to do once elected, I’m voting for the person who is going to spend the smallest amount of my money.

School Board Member At Large District No. 1 – Carla Bates 

In my interactions (yes, I often literally find myself talking to these people...) with Bates’ challenger, Green Party Candidate Doug Mann, I have found him to be incapable of defending his strident challenges to her positions. His meme is to run around to every online forum he can find, and accuse Bates of opposing teacher tenure.

First of all, I very much doubt this is true. Bates is DFL endorsed. Second, insofar as it speaks to her willingness to consider real reforms, that is more than enough to earn my vote.

Supreme Court Chief Justice – Dan Griffith 

I am on the record opposing Griffith’s quixotic mission to unseat Gildea. He will lose again, but his cause, the right of citizens to elect judges, carries more and more weight in a political climate where judges are appointed based on political affiliations.

All of which is to say I’ve had a change of heart. If nothing else, this is damning: “Arne Carlson gave judgeships to his chief of staff, a campaign attorney, his sister-in-law and his attorney in the governor’s office.”

Associate Justice 1 – Barry Anderson 

I get where Dean Barkley is coming from, but I don’t trust his judgment. Barry Anderson has defended Voter ID, and generally taken a conservative stance on issues coming before the court. Based on his public statements, I would say this is the only reason Barkley is running at all. I wish he’d tackle a more left-leaning judge, but I’m not his adviser.



Supreme Court – 4 – David Stras 

In a nod to credibility, Tingelstad has ditched the faith clock on his website. However, he’s challenging Stras, a Pawlenty appointee who clerked for Clarence Thomas. Stras has a conservative judicial philosophy, and especially deserves for his dissenting in State v. Crawley, which wrongly held that a statute curtailing criticism of police officers does not violate the first amendment.  

If Tingelstad and friends care so passionately for the cause of holding judges accountable, why don’t they run at the appellate or district level? There are countless incompetent judges (ask any cop) who are not being held accountable, and an organized campaign might actually be successful. 

4th District Court

Judge 44 – Marc Berris


Here, the decision is more clear cut. Lois Conroy has earned endorsements from the same people (Sharon Sayles Belton, anyone?) who have helped make the city of Minneapolis one of the most crime-ridden cities in the nation. Oh, and she used government computers for a DFL fundraiser. Berris has earned support across the aisle, and deserves your vote.

Judge 22 - Steven Antolak

In this race, we get to choose between not one, but TWO labor endorsed candidates! Of Liz Cutter and Antolak, the latter has endorsements from the chamber and at least pays lip service to fiscal accountability.

Voter ID – Yes

I’m not fond of expressing my own political viewpoints in talking point form, but in this case, the talking point pretty much makes the case. In this state, you get carded at the movie theater, when you buy cigarettes, when you want a job, when you apply for government benefits, etc…
In other words, it is common sense. Alas, even the minimal requirement of getting an ID is too much for certain people to bear, and those people tend to lean Democratic, so common sense is now a partisan thing. Here’s the deal:

Under present law, voters (often party organizers) can take up to fifteen people to the polls and vouch for their identity with no additional ID or verification required. The amendment would require poll workers to check for ID. Those who do not have ID can obtain one for free.


Opponents have taken to making stuff up, so let’s dispel some rumors. First of all, this will have no impact on military voters. None. Every member of the military has a government issued ID. The military is really well organized. If you know a member of the military, ask them if it is hard to show an ID in order to do something.

Others like to cite the fact that 11% of voters will be disenfranchised under Voter ID. This is a number the AFL-CIO made up in Pennsylvania. The AFL-CIO is a very partisan organization, and certainly known for election skullduggery, and so take their assertions with a grain of salt… That grain of salt being the correct assumption they are simply lying.

The game is to take the entire population that does not have an ID, or has an expired ID, or has an ID with the wrong address, and then simply divide that by the overall number of voters. By that standard, I could take everyone whose polling place has changed divide it by the number of voters, and declare that merely changing the polling venue has disenfranchised half of voters.

Others pretend there is no voter fraud. There are hundreds of cases in MN alone. When pressed, Voter ID opponents pretend that the type of fraud being perpetrated has nothing to do with an ID. The language of the amendment itself ties Voter ID to voter eligibility. This is a sensible step to ensuring we have a standardized system for determining eligibility.

Once they are out of facts, Voter ID opponents will simply call you a racist.

Remember, for every person who fraudulently votes (and for every one who gets caught, you know there are hundreds more who don't...) another voter is disenfranchised with no recourse for reclaiming their vote.

I’m voting YES.
Hennepin County Commissioner – Blong Yang

Linda Higgins has decided she wants to stop simply failing the north side, and bring her wares to the county at large. Yang isn’t likely to be much better, but he is an alternative to the DFL political machine that confuses motion for progress. That Yang brings real diversity (economic as much as racial) to the table is a feather in his cap in a race between two ideologically similar candidates. 
State Representative – District 59 – Cindy Lilly
State Senator – District – 59 Jim Lilly


Aww, husband and wife sacrificial lambs. As much as North Minneapolis residents rightly complain about the problems facing our neighborhoods, they sure do get excited to head to the polls and re-elect the status quo.

Not this guy. The Lillys are conservative, which is a no-no in the district, but the policies they advocate would better serve the north side in the long run.

Minnesota Senate – Kurt Bills

Sen. Klobuchar has leveraged weak opposition to cast herself as a relative moderate within her party. This reputation is entirely unearned. Klobuchar has a perfect rating from every pro-abortion group, a 0% rating from Citizens Against Government Waste, a 0% rating from the NRA, a 100% rating from the Teamsters, an A from the National Education Association for her opposition to education reform. She votes with her party 94% of the time (consider that Jim DeMint, who is allegedly an arch-conservative, votes with his party only 75% of the time).  

So, no, Klobuchar isn’t just out in Washington scoring victories for wounded veterans and car dealerships. What’s worse, she is a co-sponsor of PIPA, the extremely unpopular internet censorship act moving forward at the behest of the recording industry. What is the point of being a Democrat if you are going to support crap like that? So she’s a sellout, to boot.

Kurt Bills has mounted a non-existent (though not necessarily cheap) campaign, which has allowed Amy Klobuchar to define herself. That’s too bad, but just because he doesn’t campaign well, that doesn’t mean we should be saddled with a lousy Senator.

Minnesota House of Representatives – Chris Fields

Rep. Keith Ellison got to play the victim card when Michele Bachmann accused him of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, even though he literally does. But Bachmann said it, and so it can’t be true, and must also be raaaaacist.

Either way, Chris Fields would make a far better representative. Ellison has gone along with the Obama agenda in its entirety, and should really be held to account for high unemployment in his district.

Unlike most lambs, Fields has mounted a fairly aggressive campaign. As a marine who was born in poverty in the Bronx, he has a great story to go with solid positions on issues across the board. It’s a pity my district unthinkingly propels Ellison back to D.C. on its behalf. We could use some real leadership.

President – Mitt Romney


The best argument Obama supporters can muster on behalf of his re-election campaign is that it would have been much worse had McCain been elected. The argument goes that Bush’s policies were SO catastrophic that a sustained recession throughout half a decade was inevitable.

Of course, none of these people predicted we would have a sustained recession as the product of the Iraq war. Nor did any of his supporters predict, prior to Obama’s election, that the economy wouldn’t really get any better during his term. I had friends ask me if I would support Obama WHEN the unemployment rate was at 6%.

Things are terrible right now. There is a reason why it is so, and it has to do with ideology. Centrally planned governance, insofar as it works at all (I’ll grant you Norway) certainly doesn’t work in a geographically diverse country of 300,000,000 people.

Especially grating is that, even within the context of his ostensible political philosophy, Obama has been an essential failure. If you believe government can turn around the economy, why not focus on the housing market, the collapse of which caused the recession. Frankly, I’m not sure turning around the economy has been a priority for this president.

If George W. Bush’s intervention in the Middle East caused the recession, why was Obama so eager to press on, and get involved in Libya? So he could look tough? What was his motivation?

I do not regard Mitt Romney as the great conservative-Libertarian hope. He is a skilled politician, and will forge compromises as need be, and I am fine with him doing so. His tax reform plan, while non-specific, demonstrates he essentially understand the appropriate way to reform the tax code.   

Beyond that, perhaps the most important task of the executive branch is to appoint Supreme Court justices. The next president will appoint at least two. I want justices who stand for liberty, property rights, state’s rights, the right to life, and adherence to Constitutional principles. With Obama, those qualities formulate the litmus test for rejection.

In terms of temperament, Mitt Romney has demonstrated himself to be well-spoken and authoritative with or without the use of prepared materials. I get the sense he understands these issues, whereas Obama merely has opinions on them.

As for third party candidates, the Constitution Party is simply not ready for prime time (to put it mildly) and the Johnson/Gray ticket features pro-choice Republican retreads whose advancement was limited within the party, and so they split.

As for me, I’ll be voting Romney, both because I love this country AND out of revenge for four crappy years under Obama.  
 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Musings

It's Monday. Let's roll.

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Breitbart.com is doing a nice job rolling out Dan Savage, the liberal sex columnist cum activist for the bullied and oppressed. His ignorant, vulgar tirades against Christians had heretofore been largely confined to left-wing outlets, his accomplishments sufficiently granular that the mainstream media and politicians could broadly ignore him. The left could applaud him for saying the stuff

However, with bullying (for no real reason) entering the national discussion, Savage has suddenly taken on a higher-profile. His "It Gets Better" campaign is reaching millions of high school students, and the White House has used him in their effort to combat teen bullying.

Mitt Romney needs to make Obama own this guy. The beauty of doing so is, unlike the Bill Ayers' of the world, Savage won't play the dutiful servant. He already has a thousand megaphones at his disposal, and he will use them. Imagine a disheartened gay community forced to watch Obama deliver another Checkers speech, only this time throwing their political interests under the bus instead of his grandmother.

Make it happen, Mitt.

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A discussion with a friend yesterday about tuition and student loans triggered a thought. If left to their own devices, banks could tether student loan rates to a variety of factors, not least of which the relative demand for a field of study. In particular, it would discourage poorer students from acquiring degrees that saddle them with loans they cannot repay. Students might like the idea of double majoring in Sociology and Theater, but not enough to take a 13% loan to cover it.

Instead, they will be funneled into majors, such as computer science and chemistry, which have a better employment outlook. Not only will this help solve the problem of lacking workers to meet demand, it will improve the upward mobility of poorer (or at least lower middle-class) students.

It will also partially address the problem of loan default. Art History will certainly exist, but it will be affluent students majoring in it. The phenomenon of middling students majoring in the unemployable (the source of the vast majority of defaults) will begin to erode.

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Heather Mac Donald has a salient take on the 20th anniversary of the Rodney King riots. Of course, George Zimmerman case echoes the LAPD trial in many respects, not least of which the media's insistence of infusing a racial narrative and sensationalizing a story by omitting key facts.

In Zimmerman we have yet another defendant the black community has deemed guilty, but who is unlikely to be found so by any jury of his peers. We have outrage stoked by (literally) the same race hustlers who turned South Central into a pressure cooker in the early 1990s.

Only this time, the rioting is less likely to be centralized. Will our cities be prepared for a Zimmerman not-guilty verdict? Are the (primarily) liberal mayors of cities like Minneapolis even considering that such a verdict is a possibility?

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In response to a lawsuit filed by the Food-to-Consumer Legal defense fund on behalf of raw milk producers, the FDA writes:

"There is no generalized right to bodily and physical health."

Some points.

1) This should be the FDA's motto. It is certainly its ethos.
2) It is technically accurate, if absurd, considering the source.
3) It does not follow that government may evoke the interstate commerce clause to impinge upon bodily health. Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose and all that.
4) The FDA's crusade against raw milk is insane.



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Went to 128 Cafe this weekend. The ribs are as good as advertised, crispy and moist at the same time. The space is charming. Portions are generous, so don't feel compelled to go whole hog.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Huntsman Leaving the GOP Matters a Lot to Jeff Greenfield

Or so thinks Jeff Greenfield... Granted, Greenfield is the guy who originated the role of Cable News Political Analyst Who Explains Pie Charts, but what is the point of this piece?

(for the uninitiated, Jon Huntsman is the former Utah Governor and Chinese Ambassador who came in, like, 13th in the Republican primary. He wore pink ties, weirdly referenced grunge music during the debates, wrote a needlessly flowery letter in Comic Sans to Barack Obama announcing his departure as ambassador, and was completely and utterly uninspiring).

It’s an exhilarating, if somewhat mystifying, experience to find yourself a supporting player in a modern media maelstrom.
Again. Jon Huntsman, the guy I needed to spend a paragraph describing so you would even have any idea what I'm talking about. No maelstrom. 
“My first thought was, this is what they do in China on party matters if you talk off script.”

Those words were spoken Sunday night by Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor and Republican presidential candidate, 
That sounds like him.  I remember a day when Republican front runners regularly compared their own party to communists. Reagan did it all the time. The GOP has changed, man.

Before dawn, websites were reporting the quote under headlines like “Huntsman compares GOP to Communist Party of China.”
 Totally unfair, the headline should have been "Huntsman discusses his thoughts on scripts."
For what it’s worth, I don’t think Huntsman was painting with a brush so broad as to compare the Republican Party with Communist China. For one thing, Huntsman is not yet under house arrest with his Internet access forbidden.
Which is why the analogy is utterly insane. Also, what is "mystifying" about any of this?

But here’s what the dust-up missed. If you take all of what he said to me over some 90 minutes, it is all but certain that John (sic) Huntsman is not going to be a Republican much longer.
His name is "Jon", not "John". You know you're irrelevant when prominent journalists can't be bothered to learn your name. 
(Huntsman was animated in scorning Republican candidates who called for a hard line on China or protective tariffs--notions that Romney has enthusiastically embraced.)
For the record, this is the only thing Huntsman seems to be animated about, and he's right to be, but it puts him firmly in the right of his party. The man makes no sense.
The real message he is carrying is that both parties--the “duopoly,” as he calls it--are paralyzed by polarization and inertia, and that the Republican Party in particular is pursuing an “unsustainable” course.
How can you be paralyzed by inertia? If you are paralyzed, how can you be on an "unsustainable" trajectory?
His distance from the party whose nomination he sought goes beyond tactics. When he recalled his first appearance on a debate stage with his rivals, he said he remembers thinking two thoughts. First: “The barriers to entry are very low.” Second: “In a nation of 315 million people ... is this the best we can do?”
Pretty much sums up my, and every other Republican's, opinion of you, sir. 
If he was including himself, this is a remarkable example of self-deprecation.
No it isn't. Tom Tancredo said the same thing about himself. If Huntsman wasn't including himself, it is a remarkable example of being utterly tone deaf, which he is, but he is also self-deprecating (hence, I hope, the pink ties). 

His understanding of the Asian-Pacific region surpasses that of any presidential candidate in history.
I seem to recall a relatively unheralded fellow named Richard Nixon running for the office at one point and time. Whatever became of him?

When he talks of his three urgent priorities for change—term limits, campaign finance reform, and congressional redistricting--you can detect a touch of naiveté. 
 And a healthy scoop of irrelevance.

Term limits have been a reality for years in California, where they have fed, not halted, a dysfunctional government.
I think term limits are stupid and frivolous, but saddling the concept with California's dysfunctional government is a wee tad unfair.

The charge of “sour grapes” or “sore loser” will not be far from the lips of many Republicans.
Yes it will. No Republican cares about Jon Huntsman.

Why does this add up to a conviction on my part that Huntsman has one foot out the door of the Republican Party, and is likely placing a bet on his belief that a third party will be increasingly attractive to the electorate, perhaps not this year, but by 2016?  
I dunno, because he keeps bitching about the two-party system, and especially his own party? Are you expecting a Pulitzer for this fit of prescience on your part?    

One reason is how he contrasted Republicans from Teddy Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower to Richard Nixon with the current party orthodoxy. Could Ronald Reagan be nominated today? I asked. “Likely, no,” he said.
We nominated the former governor of Massachusetts over the former governor of Utah... And a representative from Texas, and a former representative from Georgia... And the current governor of Texas... And Michelle Bachmann.

Also, Reagan wouldn't have been caught dead in a pink tie, and he did a movie with a monkey.

“Why do I get the feeling,” I asked him, “that if we have this conversation a couple of years from now, you will not be sitting here as a Republican?”

“Because,” he said with a smile, “you’re a good journalist.”
Huntsman handled that question with all the subtlety of a serial killer.

Flattery aside, the answer couldn’t have been clearer.

Literally. And Republicans knew he was going to pull this act a year ago. It was his campaign's raison d'etre That's why nobody voted for him. Well that, and no Republican really thought he'd be a good candidate. There was that.

Huntsman's great, though.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Monday Musings: Trayvon Martin Edition

Regarding the Tawana Brawley O.J. Simpson Jena Six Duke Lacrosse Team Beer Summit Trayvon Martin killing, I'm about to apply some cold water. A few points concerning the racially-tinged outrage du jour, in no particular order:

First, this almost certainly has nothing to do with the Stand Your Ground law. The provisions of that law differ from standard self-defense laws only in that a person lawfully present in a public place or private residence is not compelled to flee an assailant. If George Zimmerman is to be believed, he was attacked while trying to retreat. This is a straightforward self-defense case. Either he is telling the truth, and it was self-defense, or he isn't.

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Insofar as the justice department is pretending to consider a hate crimes prosecution, it is doing so for the sole purpose of driving black turnout in Florida. The entire case would hinge on Zimmerman's being white (not a crime) and having uttered a racial epithet under his breath. The latter point is highly debatable (it sounds like Zimmerman says "punks", not "coons", an antiquated epithet that would be somewhat absurd in this context). It isn't going to stick.

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The line I keep hearing is that, if Zimmerman were black and Trayvon white, Zimmerman would be in jail. I'm not convinced this is so, and this is essentially non-falsifiable. What is certain is that, if the roles were reversed, nobody would refer to the clearly Hispanic Zimmerman as white.

To which, apparently, per hate crimes laws, a white Hispanic would be considered Hispanic if the victim of a hate crime, and white if the perpetrator of same. Process that. What a country.

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Is Zimmerman guilty? I don't know, and I haven't seen any compelling argument from those who seem to. The material question in this case is whether Zimmerman accosted Martin, or vice versa. To that end, what we know:

George Zimmerman is white (Hispanic): Irrelevant
Trayvon Martin was in possession of Skittles and Iced Tea: Apropos of nothing.
George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin for a spell: Certainly ill-advised, but not illegal. * 
George Zimmerman called 911 a lot: Essentially irrelevant, and certain to be thrown out in trial.
George Zimmerman wanted to be a cop: Irrelevant.
Trayvon Martin was photogenic: Entirely irrelevant.
Zimmerman had a broken nose and a cut on the back of his head: Really, really, like stratospherically relevant... Usually buried at the bottom of stories, and utterly ignored by the folks keen to politicize this issue.

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* - Quick note on the following business. If you don't recognize someone in your neighborhood, and suspect they are up to no good, I think it's irresponsible not to follow them if you have the ability. When you call 911 to report a possibly drunk driver, the dispatcher will ask you to follow that person. When burglars were robbing houses in my neighborhood, my neighbors got suspicious and followed them.

If, as Zimmerman claims, he followed Martin , then decided to meet up with police, and was attacked, he had the right to defend himself. If Martin was irate at being profiled, or worried he was being hunted, that's certainly understandable, but did not give him the right to break someone's nose.

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We will learn more facts as they present themselves. In the interim, those calling for the government to arrest Zimmerman first and ask questions later should really consider whether they approve of the unilateral use of that approach. Going to jail means suspending your life for months, incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, and watching your family tear apart. Anyone have their hands raised to volunteer for all that? I think the cops made the right call here.

Even if you don't care about Zimmerman's rights (that would put you in the majority), if he is arrested, and the facts do not materialize for the prosecution, what you will have is a very high-profile acquittal. That will mean riots. Is that what you want?  

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If I had to guess, this will be more of a Jena Six debacle than a Duke Lacrosse debacle. Evidence will come to light that conflicts with the grievance-industry/media narrative. It will become increasingly clear Zimmerman is no hero, but the facts will remain sufficiently murky such that prosecution will be impossible.

Barack Obama will overplay whatever hand he is given. Lawyers will get rich. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the other race hustlers will get richer. Two years later, everyone will be similarly outraged over some other perceived injustice about which they know next to nothing. 

There is nothing new under the sun.

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My guess could be wrong, of course... Except for Obama overplaying his hand. I can guarantee you he will do that. 

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And if anyone wants to juke me with the "can't we just be sad a teenager is dead?" line, once anyone utters the phrase "this is about the soul of our nation", that ship has sailed. Many teenagers died last week. 







Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday musings - hot, hot March edition

(Insert inane global warming joke here) Let's muse.

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An article on the proposal moving through the state legislature to allow Broadway Liquor Outlet to bypass zoning regulations in North Minneapolis (damaged by the tornado last year) to move across the street yield some interesting quotes.  Among them, this from councilman Don Samuels:

"Rather than going through a lengthy process, which someone from outer space would look at and say, 'These humans are ridiculous, why don't they just move the business across the street?"

Unless they were fleeing their home planet to escape onerous regulations, in which case they would studiously avoid Minneapolis.

And councilman Gary Schiff:

"why don't we just do away with the [zoning requirement] so we're not just doing this for one person?"

Hey Gary, next city council meeting, look around at the faces staring back at you. You'll have your answer. No go back to writing more frivolous regulations for the bemusement of the space aliens. 

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Some ideas? No gazebos within 50 ft. of multi-stall garages. The scourge of gazeboshame has plagued our city long enough. Get Meg Tuthill to propose it and ram it through. Also, a two week moratorium on ice cream sales by grocery stores, because that's probably important to somebody.

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So yeah, I've never been a fan of Yelp. In theory, the democratization of the review process can yield valuable results, in the aggregate. One million people can't be wrong collectively, even if 600,000 of them are, individually. I get it, and I'll even tolerate it.

But what essentially amounts to extorting local businesses (albeit not necessarily in the legal sense... That's for you, Yelp legal team) is not tolerable. Read this here, and do encourage your friends not to visit that site anymore.
 
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An interesting analysis of the new Obama fundraising hagiography documentary by The New Republic. This is especially salient

"The film essentially argues that the economic circumstances forced the president’s hand on health care reform. Hanks explains how health care was “a crisis that others wanted to avoid” and that it was “crushing family budgets, choking business.” “He knew he couldn’t fix economy if he didn’t fix health care,” Hanks instructs us.

Not only is this not true as a substantive proposition—the lack of affordable health coverage simply had nothing to do with the spiraling unemployment rate and shrinking economy."
Correct, and here are a couple of observations about that. Clearly, the focus on health care didn't win Obama any support among voters, but HOW he sold the health care bill has as much to do with why it failed.

First of all, the administration went to great lengths to pretend Obamacare would save us money. Not only did this not pass the smell test, but it opened him up to some of the more damning charges against the plan itself.

Simply put, a small percentage of people, most of them close to dying, consume the lion's share of health care. This inconvenient fact forced Obama to back off his claim to cost savings, and instead jujitsu the numbers such that CBO would declare the bill to be deficit neutral (which his legions of fans ignorantly took to mean it wouldn't cost anything). In order to make this work, the administration punted the most expensive components of Obamacare into 2014.

As a result, in addition to there being no positive economic impact from Obamacare (obviously), there is no health care impact. Worse, as companies prepare for the onslaught of ensuing federal regulations, and as health care costs continue to rise, most people are seeing reduced benefits.

That's quite the pickle, but one of his own brining. 

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I do find adorable the fact folks on the left think normal people will want to watch a 17 minute campaign ad for Barack Obama.

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Molly Ball of The Atlantic asks: "Has Mitt Romney run a lousy campaign?"

No, he has not. He is winning the nomination handily, and polls even with the sitting president. He'd have the thing de jure were it not for state GOPs tumbling over themselves to stagger their primaries in a vain attempt to play a more important role in selecting the nominee.

The article cites a former strategist for McCain and Huntsman as a source, which is adorable.

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Had a date night at Saffron. Opted to split small plates, which choice the waiter affirmed by declaring we were going tapas-style. Smart move. Tell a foodie they're splitting appetizers and you'll deflate their pride. Tell them it's a tapas-style experience, and they'll feel edgy, because 'tapas' is not an American word.

As always, the brains were a highlight, but so was the baba ghanoush (part of the traditional spreads plate) and there are no misses at this restaurant. Service knocked it out as always. Place was depressingly under-patronized as always. Get there.