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Caucus Day Debrief

The caucus for my hunk of the 55418 was held in an elementary school building. Both big parties were having their caucus there. Fitting to party stereotypes, the DFL (Democrats) were assigned to ther library media center, while the Republicans got the lunchroom.

Nobody checked my ID. I just went to the table for my Ward and Precinct and signed in. There was little formality and just enough order to make the proceedings legitimate. When we finally got started on business, about fifteen minutes late, the Convener was amazed by the turnout. He said that in 2010 there were 9 people. This time we had 47.

Of the 47, I recognized a small handful from my time as a community organizer. It's no wonder that the NRP served as a farm system to develop DFL candidates. The Republicans evidently didn't try to take over the system that funneled millions of dollars from the City to neighborhoods.


Catholic R3VOLution

The Obama/UnicornCare contraception mandate offers a new lens through which we can view the GOP primary race. From 2007’s Open Letter to Catholics on Behalf of Ron Paul:

Although I would have supported Ron Paul back before I converted to Catholicism, I think Catholics will like what they see when they examine his record. Over at Defend Life, Ron Paul comes out decisively on top in a study of the candidates’ positions on the issues according to the guidelines recently established by the United States bishops. (If anything, I think this study understates Paul’s compatibility with Catholic teaching.)


The Model Candidate

Bruce at Maggie’s Farm is trying to demean and browbeat righties into supporting Romney:

Moreso than his opponents, Romney is what Republicans need to win, and what America needs to unseat Obama. I’ll vote for whoever gets the Republican nomination. But, I’m not happy at being part of many of my compatriots playing out a self-destructive temper tantrum that could lose the election.

It’s pretty common these days to accuse anyone not on Mitt’s bandwagon of being immature. Romney has the right shape and the right markings to appeal to conservatives, but he does not appeal to most of them. I don’t think it is because the righties are being childish.


All or Nothing in Washington and Rome

The Federal Government’s new rules requiring health insurers to offer contraception is sparking a lot of chatter. A lot of people seem to think that the popularity of contraception among Catholics is a fair justification for the mandate. Our fetishization of democracy has led folks to think that G-d’s law is subject to a vote.

Official and ancient Catholic doctrine opposes contraception. It has been argued and reasoned for centuries among the faithful. The doctrine is not subject to whim. The reported majority of Catholics who disagree with the Church would be well-advised to reconsider whether they are actually Catholic. The catechism is not a la carte.

The Obama Administration has opened new debate not only only the separation of church and state, but on the Church itself. And the Church has some conflicts:


Trade Will Find a Way

With the Arab Spring devolving into an even more unstable Arab summer, European trade may be cut off from South and East Asia. Increasingly anti-Western Egypt controls the primary route, via the Suez Canal.

Instead of falling back to caravans of camels, Israel is considering a rail link:

Throwing Myself Upon the Gears

I attended my local caucus last night. It was my first experience in official party politics.

The bottom line: I was elected as a Delegate. There are no bystanders.

Other highlights and musings to come…


Newt Romney Passes on Minnesota

It’s caucus day in Minnesota. Not a big deal to the frontrunners:

Romney, for his part, made just one visit to Minnesota and canceled a visit on Monday.

He said in an interview on the Scott Hennen Show that  Minnesota's contest wasn't his focus.

"We have not participated in the straws polls and beauty contests as much as some of the other guys have, but we’re working very hard to get support and put those delegates together," Romney said.

Gingrich has the newest and least organized presence in Minnesota. He made a last minute stop in the state on Monday, telling several hundred supporters that he would bring "real change on a large scale" to the country.

Who would have thought Rick Santorum and Ron Paul were in a “beauty contest”. The field has already conceded “Most Handsome” to Mitt and his executive hair.

And maybe Gingrich is still mad about Michele Bachmann’s “Newt Romney” barb. Or maybe he’s just not as competent as he thinks he is.

The northern tier of flyover country might just vote for real change anyway, against the Bi-factional Bankster Party:

If Paul manages to capture a first place win in Minnesota, it will be his first state win. Even though the Tuesday night vote is non-binding, that could give national observers pause as he continues on.

Santorum is ahead in the local polls going in. It’s anybody’s game.


Carter Recalls Ambassador to Moscow

Twin Cities TV news from January 2nd, 1980:

Maybe the phantom of the past is not ready to let us go:

Carter feared that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, in which an estimated 30,000 combat troops entered that nation and established a puppet government, would threaten the stability of strategic neighboring countries such as Iran and Pakistan and could lead to the USSR gaining control over much of the world's oil supplies.

Thirty years later, the news is the same, even including the threat of nuclear attack:


Ivy League Economic Thinking

Jonathan at Chicago Boyz writes:

Part of what’s happening is that the economy is recovering, to some degree because the Fed is signaling that it’s going to keep suppressing short rates and buying up long-term govt debt for the foreseeable future. This is an insane policy that funnels money to Obama’s Wall Street cronies while killing low-risk investment opportunities for middle-class retirees. It seems likely to lead eventually to significant inflation. Romney, as the likely Republican nominee, should be hammering the Fed for ineptitude and corruption, for running an unsustainable monetary policy and trying to goose the markets into the election. He should be hammering Obama for trying to reinflate the credit markets to buy votes. (The residential real estate market seems to be picking up, perhaps to some degree in response to Obama’s mortgage-subsidy vote-buying scheme. But it may also be that people see inflation coming and want to exchange cash, especially borrowed cash, for real assets.)

Obama has been very bad for the country. His high tax, high regulation, high cronyism, high uncertainty policies suppress productive investment and throw vast amounts of private capital down politically favored sinkholes. Conservative and moderate/uncommitted voters alike yearn for a Republican candidate who forthrightly defends free enterprise and the opportunity society against Obama’s decadent, stratified socialist ineptocracy. Romney, the great businessman, the man who has been running for president for six or seven years, is tongue tied.

I disagree with Jonathan and the popular view of Romney’s business career. The short version is that Romney evolved into a a vulture capitalist, using debt to buy earnings and cashing out before the debt wiped out the earnings of the companies Bain Capital targeted.


Caucus for the Constitution

I don’t like political parties. I understand why they exist in the United States, but they ultimately serve themselves more than serving the people. But I may attend my first party caucus next week.

I want to support the Constitution and it quirky proponent, Ron Paul. He can’t win, he’s crazy, he will get us all blown up by Iranians, blah, blah blah. But if I have integrity to my belief in our Founding Principles, and if this really is The Most Important Election Ever! I must go support the candidate who best represents my view. There are no bystanders.


The Minneapple Giants

Our Mayor is in a contest with State electeds to see who can offer the Vikings the sweetest deal. Rybak keeps offering up new sites and new funding mechanisms, but one thing he just will not do is let the public weigh in:

And then there’s the nearly $1 billion football stadium somewhere downtown that would continue to bolster the economy.

“People pay me to look big problems in the eye and come up with a solution,” said Rybak. He said he is willing to make changes in the proposal and points out that he has already backed off the idea of funding the package with a casino on Block E and has remained flexible on the three proposed Minneapolis locations.

But he has said he is against the idea of a referendum, saying that citizens will get their chance to vote when he stands for re-election.

Everybody knows the next Mayor is going to be Gary Schiff, anyway. Schiff opposes taxpayer funding of stadia, but if R.T. signs a deal, it is too late for an election to save us.

The saying goes that without all these luxurious downtown amenities, Minneapolis would be a cold Omaha. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Our civic bigshots view our town as something bigger than it is. Like this…

New Yorker magazine stylized map of Minneapolis at the center of the world

H/T: Nokohaha


Minneapolis GOP Sleeps Through Election

On January 10th there was a special election to fill vacant seat in the Minnesota Senate. Nobody noticed:

Kari Dziedzic easily won a special election on Jan. 10 to become the next state senator to represent Northeast and parts of Southeast Minneapolis.

Dziedzic (DFL) took 79 percent of the vote while Republican Ben Schwanke collected 19 percent.

In total, only 4,273 votes were cast on an unseasonably warm January day. That’s less than 10 percent of the 45,000 registered voters in Senate District 59.


Our Masters are not Public Servants

A few days ago, I attempted to explain a Rush Limbaugh position to neo-neocon. I was mostly successful. Neo’s general question was about Republican elites and how Limbaugh views some of the possibilities in this fall’s election.

Neo’s post began:

Lately I’ve been puzzling over a meme that’s permeated the blogosphere in connection with the rise of Newt Gingrich. You know, the one that’s all about the Republican party elites or establishment types, the puppet masters who are controlling the whole campaign (and campaigns in previous years, giving us Dole and McCain) for their own nefarious purposes, which have nothing to do with conservative ideals but are the absolute antithesis of them. And fake conservative Romney is supposedly their new front man.

I would have thought that Rush Limbaugh was one of these influential Republican elites, but I noticed in a couple of comments around the blogosphere that people were quoting him on the bad faith scheming of the Republican establishment, the ones who wanted Romney and didn’t want Newt.

I commented:

The GOP overlords hold that Newt Romney will lose to Obama.

Newt will polarize down-ballot, possibly even inspiring more loons like Angle and O’Donnell to win their races. The GOP elite loses control of the Senate, either outright or by the election of TEA people wearing the GOP jersey. The establishment depends on compliance.

Post Style: 

Greed Isn’t Good Enough

Mitt Romney has been unable to articulate a detailed explanation of his two terms at the helm of Bain Capital. His campaign rhetoric has not dealt with the charges against Bain’s debt-fueled “vulture capitalism”. Instead he has attempted to adopt the mantle of business and capitalism itself. He repeats that profit is a good thing, and that he will not apologize for his success.

That stuff works in a stump speech. Profit is, indeed, a good thing. Romney alludes to Adam Smith’s words:

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.


Dogs in a Horse Race

Right now, they all support positions I don’t hold.

Quoted from: Ron Paul, in an interview with CNN after South Carolina’s 2012 primary.

Post Style: 

Vigil for the Intertracks

Since the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has stalled in the face of a popular uprising, I am stealing* this description:

The soft leftists are realizing the hard leftists meant what they said.

(*If I remembered where I read it, I would happily give credit.)

When we give government some power, we must expect it will use that power:

As for all of the people out there on the internet having a massive freak out about the government potentially damaging something they love… WELCOME TO THE PARTY.


Fists of Peace

I’m a bit late to comment on MLK Day this year. As a legendary proponent of non-violence, Reverend King is always relevant to one of my enduring questions: Why do men study war so much more than they study peace?

Any good question requires an investigation of the terms within it. What is peace? If King is held as an example, peace is certainly not without tension and strife. Peace is not calm. Not necessarily, at least.

What I had in mind for MLK Day was not one of the standard or even obscure quotes from King himself. Instead of a dream, I offer this:

Peace is not the absence of conflict. It is the ability to handle conflict through peaceful means.

Vetoes. Lots of Vetoes.

Those of us who would prefer a smaller, less-intrusive government can’t put much hope in any candidate who vows to work with Congress to “get things done”. And we have to look deeper into any candidate’s promises. They like to pledge impossible things. A President cannot, for example, repeal UnicornCare no matter how many times it was stated in their stump speeches.

Congress has the power of the purse. Despite their bickerings, they have always found a way to buy each other off and to “get things done”. I don’t need bipartisanship. I need vetoes. Lots of vetoes.

Who will make the promise I want to hear?


Governor Squish

Neo-neocon and I are in another conversation about Mitt Romney. I am coming to know more about Romney’s career than I do my own.

Our arguments revolve around my contention that Mitt is a finance guy, ultimately a friend to Wall Street over Main Street. This puts me in uncomfortable agreement with Gingrich’s attacks on Romney’s career with the two Bain companies.

I want to set aside the “finance guy“ part of my objections to Romney. Neo has previously argued that Mitt’s instincts are more conservative than he gets credit for. She holds that he was Governor of a pathetically leftoid State, and did the best he could (I’m paraphrasing).


Inconceivable Individuality

Frederic Bastiat, the patron saint of NRR, wrote:

Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

Mistaking government for society is a timeless error.


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