Say What You Will

Say what you will about Donald Trump as a candidate for president.  It seems the mainstream media cannot say enough about him; it's like he's a celebrity or something.  Say what you will about Donald Trump as a conservative.  Just about everybody saying they themselves are a conservative for fun or profit, including most recently the whole crowd at National Review, are saying that Trump is not.  Say what you will, but Trump's gift seems to be saying what YOU will about the contentious issues in a contentious way.  And say what you will about Trump supporters, but you must concede that their righteous but unfocused anger and frustration are reasonable given the circumstances.  I am not convinced that this anger necessarily translates into votes for Mr. Trump, nor if it does, how that translates into desirable and effective public policy.  We will know about the first question tomorrow, in Iowa.  I really wish I had more faith in the second.

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Why Rand paul should be the next to drop out of the presidential race

Despite the good news that Rand Paul has qualified for the next GOP debate main stage, the fact remains that Paul should drop from the presidential race, both by logic and by the needs of the party.

Logically, Paul has no groundswell of support that would give cause to keep running for president.  Despite the ebb and flow of the Iowa caucus polls, Paul hasn't cracked 5% since last August, before the Trump-mania set in.  His current average is 3.7%, which rates only 7th or 8th depending on the poll.  In New Hampshire, Paul is similarly mired at 3.7%, having likewise not cracked 5% since August.  Nationally, Paul is tracking at about 2%, which is below the margin of error for most polling, and he is edging downward, not up.

Despite Rand Paul's very enthusiastic supporters, there is no momentum, no grass roots mobilization of conservatives or even libertarians en masse.  Sen Paul very cleverly used Twitter to make a counterpoint at the last debate that he didn't qualify for, but this week he would have to swing away and hit nothing but home-runs to get any traction with the GOP base.

At the same time, Sen Paul has a liability no other candidate in the race does; he has another election this year.  Sen Rand Paul of Kentucky is up for re-election, in a contest he spent the last several years rigging to make sure he could qualify for, even while running for president.  Despite criticism from local Republicans, Paul engineered a legal change in Kentucky from a primary state to caucus state, all so he could appear on the ballot for two positions (US Senate and President) at the same time.  But this exercise in ego, which may have seemed well intentioned in 2014, may prove to be an Achilles heel in 2016.  If Paul loses the caucus vote he personally engineered, his Democrat foes will have plenty of fodder to attack him with.

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Common Core Controls Removed, Finally

The number of people against Common Core is huge. The reasons are many: Humans learn differently; we all have strengths and weaknesses; central control does not work. Basics are key to learning anything. Central control has allowed for the removal of far too many of the building blocks in our schools. I am a strong proponent of phonics for reading (almost 90% of the English language words can be spelled (and sounded) correctly IF basic sound-spelling relationships are taught); memorizing (yes, memorizing) basic math facts; learning basic geography; and script penmanship. However, forcing all children into a "one size fits all" learning structure is just nuts. ESSA removes much of that top-down control. 

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The party of Trump is not my GOP

With only a few months to go before the Republican Party starts casting actual votes for the presidential nomination, the field is still wide open.  There are eight (mostly) serious candidates left in the hunt- Bush, Carson, Christie, Cruz, Fiorina, Rand, Rubio and Trump.  Of these, I can fully support and get behind all but one of them- Donald Trump.  As an elected official with the GOP (co-chair of Steele County in southern Minnesota) if Trump is the nominee I will be honor bound to resign my position if Trump is the GOP nominee.  My reasons for this are simple: first, Donald Trump is not presidential, second, he would be bad for down ticket races, and third, he is not in fact a conservative.

Much has been made about Donald Trump's frontal assault on political correctness.  While I and millions of other Americans appreciate Trump's willingness to not shy away from saying what liberals tell us is verboten, the fact is that Trump is politically incorrect not because he is pushing back against liberals but because he just doesn't have a filter on his speech.  Trump simply says whatever is to his benefit to say, no matter the consequences. While this is politically satisfying, it is a terrible trait for a man who would be leading the US diplomatic effort around the world, and who would be need to pursuade Congress to legislate his plans.  Trump does not persuade anyone- he uses fear and power to force his position.

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The DFL War On Women

Two DFL Senators – Bev Scalze and Barb Goodwin, both women and long-time critics of back-slappin’ boys-club-member-in-good-standing Tom Bakk – are retiring from the Senate:

…For Scalze and others, the problems go beyond the disappointment of passing a budget that looked much different after Bakk and Daudt emerged from days of private negotiations with a deal in hand. It’s how leadership handled the final days of session.

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A Few Minor Details

Oh, hooray!  The folks in Paris have ironed out all the "details" of a Climate agreement and the planet is saved!  There are unfortunately a few minor details still not resolved in this Great Deal.  They concern the fundamental problem to which this agreement is supposedly the solution, namely, the Theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic (i.e. manmade) Global Warming (CAGW). 
-- First, it is not a Theory, but a hypothesis, scientifically speaking.  It doesn't become a theory until predictions from the hypothesis are tested and match real observation, 85 years from now.  Twenty years in, it ain't lookin' too good.

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Retooling the "U"

Like many schools today, is it the job of the University to instruct or indoctrinate? Sometimes I don't know if they know the difference anymore..."
 
Like many of us, my wife and I are card carrying alumni of the University of Minnesota. We are also taxpayers in this state. I guess that makes us stakeholders. In other words, we have the right to make suggestions. To praise and to complain. And at times, just to bitch.

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It’s The Rights, Stupid!

One of the mixed blessings of being involved with an issue – the human right to self-defense – as long as I have is that every couple of years, I’m treated to the spectacle of a whole new generation of gun-grabbers excitedly making arguments that they just know are going to send the Real Americans scurrying for mama…

…not realizing that they are probably the fourth or fifth generation of gun grabbers I’ve heard use the argument since I started.

“Put a 1000% tax on bullets?  You mean like Patrick Moynihan proposed in the seventies the National Coalition to Ban Handguns talked about in the eighties, and Chris Rock in the nineties?  No, ma’am, that one’s new to me.   Does that also mean that the First Amendment protects speech, but that the government can regulate newsprint, or that it protects freedom to worship, but the government can censor the Bible, the Torah and the Quran?  That the Fourth Amendment says we can be secure in our papers and possessions, but that we need to give the cops a master key to our front door because it’s not made of paper?”

That one’s been pretty beaten down again; it’ll be another generation – 3-5 years, in gun-grabber terms (Heather Martens notwithstanding, although she makes the same “arguments” every generation anyway) before we hear that one.

The other one that pops up every time a new wave of naive proto-statists takes the stage is “the founders never envisioned assault rifles”.  Which might be true – but while everyone from Leonardo DaVinci to James Puckle had designed firearms that were conceptually similar to “assault weapons” by 1789, the founders hadn’t the faintest inkling of lithography, radio, television, the Internet, chat rooms, Craig’s List, megachurches, the supercomputer, the NSA, electronic surveillance, photo-cops, photography itself, the electric chair, standing municipal police forces, cradle-to-grave social welfare, the Internal Revenue Service and do you still really want to go there, Ms. “Progressive?”

The point, of course, is one that I also sometimes get so far down in the weeds of the minutiae of the subject that I miss it; the Founders, in their much-greater-wisdom-than-today’s-brand-of-bobbleheads, wrote the Constitution not to guarantee things, but to guarantee broad, unalienable rights.

Charles C. W. Cooke had the reminder I needed:

Because, our contemporary rhetorical habits notwithstanding, the right to keep and bear arms is not so much a right in and of itself as an auxiliary mechanism that protects the real unalienable right underneath: that of self-defense. By placing a prohibition on strict gun control into the Constitution, the Founders did not accidentally insert a matter of quotidian rulemaking into a statement of foundational law; rather, they sought to secure a fundamental liberty whose explicit recognition was the price of the state’s construction. To understand this, I’d venture, is to understand immediately why the people of these United States remain so doggedly attached to their weapons. At bottom, the salient question during any gun-control debate is less “Do you think people should be allowed to have rifles?” and more “Do you think you should be permitted to take care of your own security?”

And to a large – and, at its logical conclusion, disgusting – part of our population, the answer is “isn’t the state’s security more important?”

Which is what we’re fighting, here.

 

Read Cooke’s entire article.  It’s a good primer for the battles we’ll face in the coming year.

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Gun Homicide: Comparing Apples And Apples, Part II

 

Last Friday, we noted that to the US’s murder rate of 3.8 per 100,000 ranks 121st in the world overall.

Which, to “Gun Safety” advocates, is just wrong; they insist on constraining the comparison to only “western, industrialized” countries – as if the life of a human being in Honduras or South Africa is somehow worth less, or their murder is of less weight than someone from Highland Park.   And I noted that the reasons for the comparison are to make the US look as bad as possible, against small, socially-homogenous countries like Denmark and Norway and Japan.

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Do Vikings fans hate children?

A public school in Burnsville is making a bit of news because there's an effort to bring in a playground that will be designed to be accessible to children who use wheelchairs and walkers. Not the playground of your childhood, certainly, but here's what I found more interesting, which is this: the cost of the playground is inflated by an act of bipartisan folly the Minnesota Legislature engaged in a few years ago. According to the school principal, a major cost of the project is the concrete that will lie underneath the rubber pathways. He added, "There's a concrete shortage because of the new Vikings stadium, so the price has risen on that." The cost of the new playground will be paid for through fundraisers, so the politically driven gift to the NFL won't be reaching any deeper into taxpayers' pockets — at least not this time.

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Back To ’67

The biggest news this past year is the general consensus (among those who are paying attention) that Barack Obama is worse – much worse – a president than Jimmy Carter.  He’s more along the lines of Woodrow Wilson or LBJ.

Ed Driscoll on how apt the LBJ parallel actually is:

Between the race riots, the campus riots, the massive expansion of the federal government and the concurrent belief in its infallibility, the military debacles overseas, a feeling in general that the nation was out of control and now this latest call for the wise men to bail him out, it really does feel like we’re living out the last year of the Johnson administration, doesn’t it? Funny, when Democratic operatives with bylines were submitting Tiger Beat-style articles in 2007 and 2008 dreamily forecasting which Democrat presidencies Obama’s would most closely resemble, LBJ’s rarely made the list. Wonder why?

Because none of them remembered back that far?

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