Thursday, September 21, 2017

Trump approval pops up?

RCP: Four month high:

Not exactly Ronald Reagan approvals, but better than they have been. Reality is that none of our previous three Presidents have enjoyed much for long term high approvals. I would offer that dating back to the Bush 43 years, we have seen more underwater approval ratings than positive approvals.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Trump Speech - Open Mic

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates:  Welcome to New York.  It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city, as a representative of the American people, to address the people of the world. 

As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country, I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid.  The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th.  The stock market is at an all-time high -- a record.  Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before.  Companies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time.  And it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense.  

A simple act of cognitive dissonance...

So the big "Russia" story (if there truly is anything big about the Russia story anymore) is that the FBI had went to a FISA court to garner a warrant to wire-tap Paul Manafort. Moving past the debate as to whether or not this proves Trump's assertion that people within his campaign were being spied on... the argument being posed on the left is something like this one:
This news is a big deal primarily because of what it takes to obtain such a wiretap order. The warrant reportedly was issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. A FISA warrant requires investigators to demonstrate to the FISA court that there is probable cause to believe the target may be acting as an unlawful foreign agent.
Once again, we are being told that the actual "act" of being wiretapped or being investigated is a sign of obvious guilt. As pointed out previously, it's the classic begging  the question argument. Because we have an investigation, we can assume the underlying questions must be true.

The truth is that there are different instances of "probable cause" and that we should not confuse them. Generally you need "probable cause" to issue an arrest warrant and you would need "probable cause" to bring charges. If in fact, the Government had "probable cause" that Paul Manafort was acting as an unlawful foreign agent, then they would have issued an arrest warrant. Plain and simple.

What they were looking for (and received) was a warrant to put him under surveillance.  It would actually quite dishonest to make an argument that confuses the requirements of that, with the requirements of either being arrested or being charged. The warrant to search or set up surveillance requires only a reasonable suspicion of unlawful activity, not proof of it. The idea is that the warrant would provide the tangible evidence (that they currently do not have).

Now Paul Manafort certainly may be guilty of something. On one side we have reports that Mueller suggested that Manafort to him that he will be indicted (supposedly for criminal activity that predates the campaign). On the other side we have reports that certain people involved are "miffed" that a second warrant against Manafort may have been unjustly garnered by the use of the dubious "Trump dossier".

But the bottom line here folks.

Paul Manafort was under FICA surveillance for nearly two years before it ended due to a lack of anything substantial coming from it. That is proof positive that people can be placed under surveillance for "suspicion" of a crime, rather than evidence of a crime, and walk away without any charges. Moreover, it's proof positive that it actually happened once already to the person in question.

The fact that this simple fact is being "washed over" by the left is a simple case of cognitive dissonance likely fueled by wishful speculation.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

James Clapper...

"There was no such wiretap activity mounted against
 the president, president-elect, candidate or campaign.

Trump campaign manager wiretapped during election?

US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.
The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump. Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, according to three sources familiar with the investigation. Two of these sources, however, cautioned that the evidence is not conclusive.


  1. the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid:

Reality here folks is that information gathered that is "inconclusive" is not actually "evidence".  It's simply information. What we have here is "exactly" the same thing as it has always been. There are a set of circumstance that causes suspicion to certain people. They attempt to gather more information in order to confirm the suspicions, but never quite seem to find exactly what they are looking for. 

Then we get into the whole begging the question argument that the very fact that someone is investigating, is reason enough to believe that the underlying allegations surrounding the investigation must be true. The more they expand the search into a wider radius, the more certain people in the media would like you to believe that they are getting closer to the truth. 

Think of it this way. You cannot find your car keys. You generally leave them on your dresser. You check under things on the dresser, around the dresser, under the dresser, you check your pants pocket, your jacket pocket, and all of the most obvious places where they most likely would be placed.  When it comes time to "expand" that search for the missing car keys into places that are further away from the most obvious places... is that a sign that your search is going well? 

We are well over a year into this investigation. The special counsel has a team larger than some district attorney's offices. They are currently looking to interview children and former lawyers of Donald Trump associates. Other than suggestion that Manafort could be indicted for some things that are not tied to the 2016 election... so far, no credible information has been leaked or seen by anyone that would suggest that Mueller has any sort of smoking gun evidence on anyone. 

Meanwhile, the rising speculation is that the Mueller team has been relying on "tactics" and "tricks of the trade" in order to uncover what it is that they are ultimately after. All of that is fine and dandy, if there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But if there really wasn't an elaborate evil plot between Donald Trump and associates and the Russian government, then all of the tactics and tricks won't help one bit.  

Open Mic

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dayton vs Minnesota Legislature...

This one has taken a very strange twist...

For those of you who need a review. Governor Mark Dayton was not happy with the some of the tax cuts in the recent budget agreement (which was ironically said to be a compromise between congressional Republicans, congressional DFLers, as well as aids of the Governor). The buzz was that he was set to use the line item veto to remove them, but was caught off guard by a "poison pill" that tied the tax cuts to funding of the Department of Revenue.

So the Governor decided instead to line item veto the budget for the legislative branch, and told them if they wanted their funding back, that they would have to agree to the changes he wanted.

The legislature went to court. The District Court agreed with them. Ordered the funding. Governor appealed, and the Minnesota State Supreme Court basically punted. They didn't overrule the first Justice. But they disagreed with him in part. Agreed in other part. Asked the sides to mediate, and then asked for arguments as to whether or not the Judicial branch had authority to "order" the funding.


Governor Dayton and his legal team is now arguing to the MSSC that the Judicial branch "does" have the authority to order funding for the legislative branch, effectively asking the courts to overturn the "results" of his line item veto (where he cut out all funding for the legislative branch). In reality, they are now asking for the MSSC to allow the lower court ruling (which they appealed) to remain in place.

Meanwhile, the legislation is now arguing that the Judicial branch "does not" have the authority to order funding for the legislative branch... which would basically either force the Court to declare the veto itself to be "unconstitutional" (rather than just order funding) or it would force the Court to allow the legislative branch to become "unfunded" which would create a "constitutional crisis".

The reality here is that Dayton either played a bluff that he was not prepared to actually follow through with, or he played a power move that he never actually thought through. It would appear at this point that the Governor does not want to be held responsible if the actually legislative branch becomes unfunded (even though that is exactly what his line item veto did). He now looks to the courts to "save" him by ultimately undoing what he did.

Meanwhile, it does not appear that there is much incentive on the part of the GOP legislature to back down on the previously agreed upon budget. The leverage, at this point, appears entirely on their side.

NFL and the Awards shows struggling with ratings....

I got an idea... let's merge them?

Have Stephen Colbert and gang take on an NFL team for an actual football game. Moreover, have all the Hollywood celebrities wear their red carpet garb, rather than football uniforms. Colbert could play Quarterback. His offensive line could include acting giants like Peter Dinklage.

Imagine, they could all sit for the National Anthem, have a brief chance before the game to bash Trump... and then have at it. The game would last as long as the red carpet celebrities can field eleven players.

I bet the ratings would be huge... at least in those "red states".

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hard left warn Schumer Pelosi?

Why the DACA negotiations might fall apart

The buzz is that not only are some people on the right mad at Trump for working with the Democrats, but apparently there are people on the left furious with Democratic leadership for working with Trump.

After all, if those on the left truly believe the things they say about Donald Trump, then certainly he is not a person that you would want to do anything but oppose at every turn. Working "with" the monster does nothing more than "legitimize" him as a person, and ultimately "legitimize" him as a political leader.

The reality is that there are many people on the left still holding on to the concept that only good Donald Trump, is an ex-President Donald Trump. Their belief is that the only thing the Democrats should be working to accomplish is impeachment, removal under the 25th amendment, or possibly get him to simply resign in disgrace.  The idea of actually "working with him" like he is a legitimate President is repugnant to many of these people.

Whether it was a smart psychological move on his part, or it was a random accident... Trump has taken a large step towards this very concept of "legitimization" that many of his critics are working non-stop to avoid.

Everything from keeping the ever dwindling Russian investigation in the news, to reporting (like a soap opera) on the so called "White House Chaos"... is all part of a strategy to delegitimize the President and a transparent attempt to prevent him from gaining any traction in popular opinion. All that effort goes "poof" if the Democratic Senate and House minority leadership starts cutting deals with him.

The "cartoonist" who predicted Trump's climb to the White House, while he was just one of 13 different GOP candidates... suggested that Trump's first order of business as President (before he could truly move onto anything else) was to change the narrative from him being an illegitimate buffoon who was just trying to hang onto his job, to being simply a President that did things and held positions that many people disagreed with. In other words, a Politician.  

If we see a bi-partisan law on immigration, that makes both sides somewhat happy and somewhat unhappy, and it leads to negotiating a new tax-bill (with everyone coming to the table)... then Trump will have not only accomplished legitimacy, but actually accomplished something our previous President couldn't (in eight years in office). He will have accomplished bi-partisanship on a major piece of legislation.

This is the main reason I question whether or not this so called "deal" will work out. After all, Trump is basically negotiating to "give back what he took away" in order to get something new that he wants. A pretty good negotiating stance, and if Trump ultimately gets tangible returns to give back what he took away, there will be plenty of angry liberals out there. (There will be plenty of angry conservatives too, but that's a different story). Those angry liberals will not be directing their displeasure at Trump, but at their Democratic leadership. I wonder if Chuck and Nancy have the courage to legitimize Trump (and his Presidency) all for the sake of a few hundred thousand people in immigration limbo?

In other news, the sun rises this morning...

Police: St. Louis protests turn violent; several officers injured
Demonstrations after a former cop was acquitted for killing a black man in downtown St. Louis turned violent late Friday as at least 9 officers were injured and protesters throw bricks into local businesses, including a library.
Two officers were taken to the hospital after being hit by bricks, and a third was injured but refused treatment, CBS affiliate KMOV-TV reports. Injuries included possible broken jaw as well as another officer with a dislocated shoulder, said St. Louis acting police commissioner Lawrence O'Toole.
O'Toole said at a press conference early Saturday police are awaiting confirmation on a number of people taken into custody as of right now and the charges that they will face.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Another Terror Attack. This time in London.

22 people injured by homemade bomb 

Betsy DeVos and the college campus rape issue...

So I have been waiting for the dust to settle a little bit on this one before turning in my opinion. I have read some pieces that disagree with DeVos and some pieces that agree with DeVos and even a couple where there was a little bit of both.

I think there are several key questions that need answering.

  • Should we allow college campuses to change the way we define rape? 
  • Should we allow college campuses to change the way we judge the accused? 
  • Should we allow college campuses to reverse a fundamental principle of our criminal justice system? 

Lets' start with the first question. There is simply no doubt that there are certain people who would like to "expand" the definition of rape to include pretty much any sexual encounter where there is any degree of negativity or regret involved. Moreover, there are certain people who seem to simultaneously want to blend the two genders into one, but still hold onto the outdated concept that only males are ultimately responsible for all sexual encounters.

I think the case of the mattress girl is germane to both of these situations. She accused a fellow student of raping her in spite of the fact that text messages suggested that she initiated the encounter and that she showed no immediate regret for the encounter. It was only after her post-sex advances were shunned by the student in question (he didn't want to continue the relationship), that she went to school authorities and alleged that she was raped.

Now, in this case, the college campus hearing went the way it should have. But that doesn't change the fact that many, many people felt she was wronged, and that the male student deserved some form of disciplinary action for his behavior. This is largely based on a sexual stigma that suggests at the lowest levels that males are sexual predators and that females are sexual prey. To be fair, I believe that the mattress girl truly believed that what happened to her was a form of rape. When you teach people that every time they get hurt in life that they are a victim, then by default simple logic suggests there must be a villain. That villain must be held accountable. She sees her broken heart as holding some equivalency to the broken spirit of someone who actually went through a violent rape. That becomes dangerous lack of distinction. 

The second issue is the degree that certain college campuses (and the guidance that was sent out by the previous administration) decided to treat these types of situations both "more seriously" and "less seriously" at the same time... in order to create the net result that they wanted. 

The desire to include emotional harmful sexual encounters into the same class as physically forced sex, obvious non-consensual sex, and coerced sex has been blended into the concept that you can deal with all of these actions as you would a legal civil disagreement, where the outcome is determined by a preponderance of evidence (with an assumption in many cases that the accuser is telling the truth).  

But an allegation of "rape" is not a civil dispute. It's a allegation of a serious felony criminal act. Preponderance of evidence is fine if you are trying to figure out if negligence led to someone being injured. But accusations of rape are not the same thing and should not be treated as such. If you are accused of a serious felony criminal act, you deserve the protections allotted to you by the constitution.

Lastly,  I do understand that rape is an under-reported crime. I understand that many victims of rape refuse to come forward because they literally fear the idea of further confrontation with the rapist. I understand that if the only consideration was the feelings of the rape victim, that it would be reasonable to allow the victim (or alleged victim) to make their statement behind closed doors, with no fear of an open court, and no chance that the accused would be allowed to confront them. I can even see the argument (although I disagree) why many universities assume the statements of the alleged victim to be true (unless proven otherwise).  

But when it comes to these sorts of things, the only consideration is "not" the victim (or alleged victim).  We, as a society, have set up a range of rights to people who are accused of criminal action. The most important being the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, judged before a jury of your peers, and the right to confront your accuser. Our constitution (and societal norms) suggests a strong belief that it's better to allow a guilty person to go free, than it would be to punish an innocent person for a crime that they did not commit.

In part, the argument being made (in favor of these guidance) is that by holding these investigations as civil type cases under Title IX that you are reducing the potential harm to someone who is falsely accused, and therefor it becomes the opposite.  It has been argued that because the trauma of rape is worse than any problems associated with being kicked out of a University and living your life under the cloud of being found guilty of rape... that it "is" actually better to punish an innocent person than it would be to let a guilty person go unpunished. This is why it's okay to put the burden on the accused (rather than the accuser) and otherwise tilt the procedure towards an ultimate finding of guilt.

I cannot reject this argument too much.

Bottom line. There is nothing to compel me to believe that Betsy DeVos did the wrong thing here. While I understand the argument that we are "throwing out the baby with the bathwater" by just reversing (rather than attempt to fix) the new guidelines, I believe that there is simply no good reason to encourage any of it. 

College women are not losing any rights. They still have traditional legal means to address the crime of rape. What they no longer may have is a forum to make accusations under the understanding that those accusations will be deemed truthful, that the accused will not be allowed to confront them, and that they will not be obligated to answer any follow up questions.

Yes, that makes it harder to accuse someone of rape. But if that was truly the correct way to go about these things, it would already be the way it is handled. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Deal or no Deal

Democrats say they have a deal with the GOP and Trump on DACA. The GOP and Trump say there is no deal.

Network news. the NY Times, and Breitbart reporting that deal has been reached. Politico, Bloomberg and others reporting that there is no deal and that the GOP has not even discussed the possibilities among themselves.

So here is where we are at in 2017. We can't even get sane reporting on whether or not two sides have come to a deal on DACA and border security? Go figure.

My best guess is that the Democrats have circled their wagons (as they always do), and probably have some sort of deal "in principle" for the DACA portion of a broader bill among themselves. They maybe even got some sort of buy in from the President regarding that "side" of the broader agreement. Perhaps they even figured that they could get that agreement with little concessions if they leaked it out and put pressure on the President to follow through with some sort of similar statement of support.

But clearly this is going to have to be a give and take. The President might have eased off the partisanship on the subject of hurricane relief, and was willing to cut a deal with the side that could help him get it done. But this is not hurricane relief, and one deal doesn't mean that the President is suddenly a Democrat.

That being said, I believe that the President does want some relief for the 800,000 dreamers in all of this. I don't believe he wants to deport them. His best play here is to make it a win for both sides, and a win/win for himself.  Make sure that the Democrats what they want and that the GOP gets what they want. Both sides give a little. Then everyone's a winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Senator Al Franken, Justice David Staus, and the Blue Slip tradition...

Minnesota Supreme court Justice David Straus was originally floated as a short lister for the  USSC seat that was eventually filled by Neil Gorsuch. In May Trump nominated David Straus for a seat on the 8th circuit court of appeals.

For literally months Al Franken refused to return his "blue slip" for David Straus, suggesting to the press and constituents that he was reviewing the record.  For those who are unaware of the "blue slip" tradition, when the President nominates a Justice from a particular state court system the Senators have an informal procedure called the "blue slip" whereas those Senators can offer their support by returning the blue slip, or  offer their opposition by not returning that slip.

Through the years, there have been a variety of ways this has been handled, but the general concept is that it would provide a state Senator (who would in theory know more about a local Judge) the ability to prevent a hearing and vote on said Judge, if there was due cause to do so.

So very recently Senator Franken has made the determination that Justice Straus is somehow unqualified because he is supported by conservative groups, and personally looked up to Justices like Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.  I guess it would be called it guilt by admiration.

The irony of Franken's decision is that President Trump promised exactly that. That he would nominate and promote Justices who were constitutionalist in the mold of Antonin Scalia. This means that Franken is basically making the argument that Trump should not be allowed to nominate the very Justices he promised he would during the campaign.

Moreover, polling generally has suggested that Americans want Justices to base their rules only on legal issues rather than follow some personal ideology (even with those who call themselves Democrats) and generally only about one in five suggest that our current judicial system is too conservative.  Franken is out of step with the public on this one.

Franken is also not following the spirit of the tradition. He has no credible objection to David Straus.  No personal objections. No allegations of wrong doing. He didn't even cite any cases where Franken believed Straus was wrong. He simply has a philosophical difference with the President and the public on how a Justice should behave. By Franken logic, no Minnesota Justice that would be chosen by Trump should ever receive a hearing.

Either the Judiciary Chairman Check Grassley should ignore Franken's opposition, or it will no doubt create a situation where the President will just go ahead and nominate someone different from a state where he will get both Senators to return the blue slip.

Not sure what Franken hopes to accomplish here. Whoever is eventually nominated and confirmed will be in the same mold as Straus. All he does it take away an opportunity for a Minnesota Justice with the credentials and universal respect that put him on a short list of potential USSC nominees. David Straus doesn't deserve to pay the price to be a pawn in Al Franken's fruitless game.

Hillary Clinton's new book...

With all of those donations to their foundation drying up after her loss... I guess there was the need to make some more money. $$$  Is anyone planning on reading this?

USSC - Overturns 9th circuit court "indefinitely"

After a temporary order written by Justice Kennedy, the USSC issued a full ruling yesterday providing the White House with the relief they were seeking as it pertained to refugees who were working with refugee agencies.

The interesting thing here is that this was one of those media talking points when the USSC first issued their original ruling in June. Those who were claiming it was not much of a win for Trump, played on the idea that most refugees and potential immigrants worked with agencies and that this working relationship would surely constitute a "bona fide relationship" and would render the travel ban fairly useless.

But the language in the USSC order was clear. It specifically stated that the relationship would not include the sort of relationship that was created specifically from the desire to be a refugee or immigrant. So these arguments from these talking heads were either ignorant, wishful thinking, or propaganda designed to undercut the court victory for the President.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Season Opener...

So, generally I am not one to write about football, but I thought last night's game featuring the return of Adrian Peterson to Minnesota (as a Saint) had some potential drama. After one solid Adrian Peterson run, he was sort of taken out of the game... both figuratively and literally.

Adrian Peterson none too happy with his six carries..

This reminds me a little bit of the Herschel Walker situation in Minnesota, where they made the big trade for the big gun, despite the fact that the head coach at the time (Jerry Burns - aka father of the west coast offense) - didn't really want a classic down hill eye formation running back. The situation never quite worked for the Vikings.

You get the impression last night that Sean Payton perhaps is not a fan of changing his offensive scheme to adjust for the 9 yards deep sort of running that Peterson excels at. After all, the team is sort of built around future Hall of Famer Drew Brees and the passing game. But it makes you wonder why they signed Peterson (arguably an all time top five running back) - to take six carries a game.

Kelly fires back at Gutierrez

General Kelly took a shot at Illinois House Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D) who (among other things) called him a disgrace to his uniform, because President Trump overturned the Obama DACA executive order.
“Kelly has no honor and should be drummed out of the White House along with the
 white supremacists and those enabling the President’s actions by just following orders."

Kelly pointed out the irony of a Congressmen who (when given the chance) did not act on the Dreamer act, and rather deferred to the President. The truth is that the Democratic Congress could have passed their Dreamer legislature back when they had the numbers, but instead chose to toss everything into the Obamacare basket.
“As far as the congressman and other irresponsible members of congress are concerned, they have the luxury of saying what they want as they do nothing and have almost no responsibility. They can call people liars but it would be inappropriate for me to say the same thing back at them. As my blessed mother used to say ‘empty barrels make the most noise.’”
Meanwhile, Senator Diane Feinstein suggested on Sunday that the Obama executive action was on shaky legal ground, and that it would be best for Congress to work on hashing out a solution. Becoming one of the first and few from that side of the aisle to acknowledge that simple reality.

Of course, when it comes to politics... the political optics are always more important than the truth. This is especially true with liberals... who love to paint everything with broad strokes. They seem incapable of breaking out of the mindset that everything they disagree with can be written off as some form of bigotry.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Supreme Court stays another 9th Circuit Court ruling on the Trump travel ban...

While almost nobody was paying attention, the Justices in Hawaii, and the 9th Circuit Court were once again working in tandem to try to weaken the Trump travel ban (which we can all recall was implemented after the USSC stayed a previous 9th circuit court order that tried to render it unconstitutional).

In the latest attempt, the joint effort of the Hawaii District and 9th circuit apparently wanted to suggest that being a refugee who had contacted an American refugee agency had to legally be considered to have a bona-fide relationship to the United States, and therefor was immune to the Trump travel ban.

The USSC (with the paragraph long decision written by Justice Kennedy) disagreed, and offered another stay in favor of the White House. It appears that the Thomas block was absolutely correct in their assumption that the USSC leaving even the slightest bit of wiggle room, would guarantee that the crazies would continue to toss whatever it is that they could find at the wall, hoping something would stick. One has to wonder what it next?


Last week’s TWTW discussed Hurricane Harvey, which ended a lull of almost 12 years without a major hurricane making landfall in the US. A major Hurricane being defined as category 3, or above, on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale used by the National Hurricane Center, with sustained wind of 111-129 mph (96-112 knots, 178-208 km/h) or greater.  (link)

Guess what...  The twelve year lull is the longest in recorded history.

Let me repeat that. The twelve year lull is the longest in recorded history.

Yet, I am fairly certain there is an argument being made right now that Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, and now Irma is proof positive that climate change is having a tangible catastrophic effect, and that human activity must be to blame for the fictional uptick in hurricanes...

This type of argument, btw, is called "begging the question". It's a logical fallacy that is generally used with actual logic cannot be used. There is no long or medium term uptick in hurricane activity. So there is technically no reason to blame anyone or anything for it.

It could be that we start to see a short, medium, and long term increase in large hurricanes. At that point, maybe we can start to look into the reasons.

You can't make this stuff up...

So here in Minnesota, we have what appears to be somewhat of a constitutional crisis. In a bitter budget battle, the Minnesota GOP (which holds majorities in both the House and Senate) passed a series of spending bills that Governor Dayton was not very fond of.

Now in Minnesota, the Governor has line item veto capabilities. So it's not unusual for the legislation to tie one thing to another, in order to make it more difficult for the Governor to veto specific parts of the budget. This is generally accepted at the legislative level, because without this strategy, the efforts of the two Parties in Congress to make concessions and come to agreements would be rendered moot. Otherwise whichever side held the Governorship, could simply agree to whatever it was that the other side wanted, knowing full well that the Governor would just line item everything out that they didn't actually want. The Governorship would become all that mattered.

So in this case, a new tax bill (desired by the GOP and eventually agreed to by the DFL for other consessions) was tied directly to the funding of the Minnesota Department of Revenue (where my dear old dad used to work as an auditor). So if Mark Dayton wanted to veto the new tax bill, he would risk the funding of the Department of Revenue. So of course, Governor Dayton did what any "reasonable Governor" would do in this situation.

He allowed that bill to become law without his signature, and line item vetoed out the funding for the entire legislative branch.

Yes, you read that correctly. He eliminated the legislative branch with a line item veto.

This came with demands that he would allow a special session to reinstate their funding, but only if they agreed to eliminate the new tax bill that he was unhappy with. You can have your budget or you can have a legislative branch, but you can't have both.

Now quite obviously the Minnesota constitution provides the citizens with three branches of the government. Certainly the executive branch could not use a line item veto to eliminate a the legislative branch, because a particular Governor was unhappy with a tax bill. At least one would think. Moreover... like most constitutions,  in Minnesota the appropriates for spending must start with the legislative branch. It would seem that if Dayton were to successfully eliminate the legislative branch, there would be no way to ever actually bring it back to even create a new budget that would bring fund themselves again... meaning our state would probably function on the same 2018 budget indefinitely.

So the legislative branches sued the Governor, and a Judge agreed that it would be unconstitutional for the Governor to eliminate funding for another branch, and ordered the funding back into place. But, as expected, Governor Dayton appealed (requesting an expedited hearing) to the Minnesota Supreme Court where four of the seven Judges were appointed by him. Many observers felt that the Court would almost certainly rule in his favor.

So what happened, was that they did rule in his favor, but they didn't, but they sort of did, but they sort of didn't.  This is what happens when your Judicial branch loses sight of the law, and decides to put politics front and center, even if it twists them into pretzels.

  • They ruled that the line item veto itself was constitutional
  • But they ruled that eliminating the legislative branch was unconstitutional (and you could not use constitutional means to produce an unconstitutional result). 
  • But they ruled that there were "not sure" that the courts had authority to "order" the funding back in place (as the lower court did)... in effect overturning the original ruling (for now).

Then they did what any reasonable State Supreme Court would do. They ordered mediation (in effect reopening negotiations)...  and more briefs to be filed on that specific subject (authority to order funding), just in case the mediation didn't work.

It seems to me that the shortsightedness of this move should be obvious to everyone, regardless of the issues being debated. To suggest that the Governor could line item veto out funding for the legislative branch, would be akin to suggesting that the legislative branch could simply write a budget that eliminated funding for either the Executive or Judicial branch.

This is pure "madness" as they say. Our man-child of a Governor has taken this one way over the top. He is pulling the ultimate play by my rules or I will take my ball and go home gambit. Of course, at the end of the day, what would he do if his bluff was called and the Minnesota legislative branch ceased to be funded?  No more tax increases. No more spending increases. No more state programs. No more new laws of any kind.

Sounds okay to me... but I doubt there is a Democrat anywhere who would like that end result.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

John McCain said to be clueless?

This coming from the guy who recently sided with Democrats, with the deciding vote to put an end to even any debate regarding Obamacare repeal. Choosing to do so even after repeatedly and specifically campaigning on the concept of repealing Obamacare.

“I haven’t seen anything like it before. I have no way of divining
 [Trump‘s] motives. I’m a pretty intelligent guy. I don’t understand.”

Now, McCain can't figure out why the President would work with Democrats to help structure an storm aid relief package and temporary funding of the Government. As if it's okay for him to work with Democrats, but not for the President?

Perhaps, John, because once again, the Republicans in the Senate and House couldn't get their shit together long enough to unite on a bill that would fund the relief effort in the wake of hurricane Harvey? The President rightfully believed that it would be "easier" to work with unified Democrats and only work to pull in a handful of Republicans... rather than play the whack a mole game of continuously trying to not lose more than any two Republicans at any given time.

It's fine, Senator McCain if you want to make your personal power play moves at the expense of your Party and the policy directions of your Party....  but you don't get to to do so when the country needs to get together to help victims of a natural disaster. Even the GOP supporters will lose patience with petty politics when people's lives are at stake.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Friday, September 8, 2017

What it takes to be special...

I am walking through the sky-way system in downtown St Paul today, when I run across these large window covers with different stories on them.  I notice that each story has flag-like marker that signifies a particular language or origin of each of these stories.

So I am curious to see what exactly these are and who the city appears to be honoring, and I start to read. After reading two or three I begin to realize that there isn't anything incredibly remarkable about any of the people or anything remarkable about the stories. This person is going to school. This person works as a waiter. This person got married and is raising children. The only thing in common is that none of them were born in the United States.

So it dawns on me. The city has decided to honor fairly normal people for the sole reason that they are immigrants. The student might have a 4.0 GPA, or might be flunking out this quarter. The waiter might be employee of the month, or he may have been fired since this story. The home maker might be the greatest mother in the world, or could be beating her children. We don't know.

But we are being asked to celebrate their very existence as if there is something special about being born somewhere else. Which, btw, implies that being born in the United States is not worthy of any celebration or honor.

Sometimes you get tired of it.

My grandparents on my dad's side immigrated here as children. My grandfather served his country during a world war, and lived a very modest and very low income life as a worker in a shoe factory. My dad obviously grew up dirt poor, served his country in Vietnam, worked his way through night school, and spent 30 years a public servant for the State.  For the first several years of my life, my parents struggled to make ends meet, and we lived what some might call a "white trash" existence in a part of town where there were no sidewalks, or paved roads, or anything resembling a park for kids to play in (probably because nobody with kids really wanted to live there).

When I graduated from high school, I worked two jobs, resided in a trailer park, lived on things like egg noodle dinner in order to pay my own way through college (with a very limited academic scholarship my first year, and otherwise little outside help).  When I graduated from college, I moved to five different towns chasing my career, before settling up in the "Twin Cities".

Yeah, I do pretty well these days. I have been at the same job since 1999,  I make good money, my kids want for little, and I have a beautiful young wife whom I am looking forward to growing old with. But as far as most people are concerned I am where I am at for one reason and one reason only. White privilege.

But I guess that privilege doesn't include honoring my life story on a window cover in a sky-way. In 2017, you have to be born somewhere else or have skin that isn't white to be considered special. To add a little icing on that cake, having the audacity to point this out... obviously makes me a racist

What do these people have in common?

Who needs enemies with friends like this?

Bob Corker, Steve Daines, Mike Enzi, Joni Ernst, Deb Fischer, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Grassley, Ron Johnson, James Lankford, Mike Lee, John McCain, Jerry Moran, Rand Paul, James Risch, Ben Sasse, and Pat Toomey....

Yes, they were the 17 Senators who voted against the Harvey relief bill that also funds the Government through December. Some Republicans were pushing for an 18 month extension to be tied to the relief, and some Republicans were hoping for a stand alone relief bill for Harvey. But the President cut his deal with those (mainly Democrats) who wanted a shorter term debt ceiling increase attached.

Interestingly (and not too surprisingly) the list of Republicans is a virtual who's who of never-Trumpers in the Senate. If a Republican Senator is on record as being a Trump critic (Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Rand Paul, Ben Sasse, etc...) he or she is likely on this list. Other critics (like Marco Rubio) simply didn't vote.

It makes you wonder how much of this vote was simply a personal issue for these people. Did they really not want to fund the government through December and provide relief to the victims of Harvey?  Hard to make that argument with a straight face. More likely. these 17 were simply finding another reason to reflexively oppose the President at every turn.

Maybe some day, these people will wake up and realize that "they" are pretty much the sole reason why nothing is getting done.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Trump cuts deal.... with Democrats?

So... a great deal of consternation is seething out of the GOP leadership as the President decided to side with the Democrats on a deal that would tie Hurricane relief spending to a short three month extension of the debt ceiling.

The GOP leadership and even some members of Trump's own administration were pushing for a longer debt extension to be tied to relief package. Many wanted as much as 18 months. But the deal put in place, according to many... takes away precious "leverage" that the GOP was thought to have.

But to be clear here folks... is that most conservatives (at least fiscal conservatives) are not big fans of increasing the debt ceiling. During the entire Obama Presidency, the GOP used the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip. Raising the limit was seen by conservatives as giving in to the Obama/Democrat of out of control deficit spending. They continuously argued for short term increases, in some effort to control (or at least provide the optics of controlling) what our Government spent.

Many of the harder core conservative voices on cable news have recently argued strenuously against tying Harvey relief spending to any long term rise of the debt ceiling. Apparently, while most people (on both sides) have reflexively "switched sides" on the issue of the debt ceiling, now that we have a Republican rather than a Democrat in the White House (go figure)... some have stuck to their guns.

It is an interesting question if you think about it.  If raising the debt ceiling was a "bad thing" for you two years ago, why is it a "good thing" today?  If raising the debt ceiling was a "good thing" for you two years ago, why is it a "bad thing" today? Partisanship has no logic, huh?

Now I don't pretend to know "exactly" why Trump cut this deal. But I do know that he was turning his back more so on the mainstream establishment GOP crowd, than turning his is his back on the base "conservative" crowd. Politics makes strange bedfellows, and in this case the mainstream Democrats and hard core conservatives actually agreed with each other (albeit for entirely different reasons).

It's possible that he was sending a message to the McConnell/Ryan block of mainstream Republicans (as in get something done, or I will start working with the other side). It's possible that he is hoping to garner a bit of good will with the Democrats for future negotiations. It's possible that he thought that any attempts to "leverage" the Hurricane relief funding into some sort of tangible GOP political victory was just not the right thing to do. It's possible that he is just a crazy old man, high on meth, who thought it would be funny to side with Schumer and Pelosi as a big goof.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Damned... whoever said this is obviously a racist.

[T]here are those in the immigrants’ rights community who have argued passionately that we should simply provide those who are [here] illegally with legal status, or at least ignore the laws on the books and put an end to deportation until we have better laws. … I believe such an indiscriminate approach would be both unwise and unfair. It would suggest to those thinking about coming here illegally that there will be no repercussions for such a decision. And this could lead to a surge in more illegal immigration. And it would also ignore the millions of people around the world who are waiting in line to come here legally. Ultimately, our nation, like all nations, has the right and obligation to control its borders and set laws for residency and citizenship. And no matter how decent they are, no matter their reasons, the 11 million who broke these laws should be held accountable.

Refugee pattern is changing...

Nine hundred and thirteen refugees were admitted to the United States during August, the first time the monthly intake has dropped below one thousand in 15 years, and the smallest number of monthly admissions since October 2002. 

Of the 913 refugees admitted during the month, 551 (60.3 percent) were Christians, with the biggest groups including 185 Pentecostalists from Ukraine and 53 Baptists, also from Ukraine. 
A significantly smaller group, 220 (24.1 percent) were Muslims, including 48 Sunnis from Iraq and 47 from Syria. 
The remaining 142 (15.5 percent) were unaffiliated or from other religions, and included 43 Buddhists and 36 Hindus, mostly from Bhutan.

So it's unclear whether we are bringing in more Christian refugees, or just less Muslim refugees... but either way, the pattern has shifted, and we are now receiving more Christian than Muslim refugees.

I am not sure exactly what their explanation will be for the viewpoint, but I am sure that the left will some how view this as racist or bigoted. As if favoring Muslims is the new "fair"  while bringing in a religious mix more consistent with what already exists here somehow shows "bias".

Do Democrats "really" care about the dreamers?

The buzz around the political water cooler is that the President sees potential dreamer legislation as a chance to do some wheeling and dealing. For one, it is said that he will demand that funding for "the wall" be included with any immigration package that includes any amnesty of any sort for pretty much anybody (including the dreamers).

Assuming the President is willing to stick to his guns (and I trust him more than congressional Republicans to do so)... the question that will have to be asked, is what will the Democrats do?

  • Will they refuse to go along with any legislation that includes any money for the southern wall as a matter of fundamental principal?
  • Will they be willing to make a confession or two in order to save their so called dreamer policy?  
  • Will they blow up any deal because they believe that the politics of no action on anything important provides them with a better shot at picking up seats in 2018. 
I am guessing that there will be about a 101 different polls, mostly push polls that are designed to show popular support for a particular position. But the one consistent message coming from the American public (from polls and elsewhere) is their desire to see the two Parties work together, make some mutual concessions, cut some deals, and get some stuff done. 

If either side makes it generally obvious that they are unwilling to compromise (refusing to provide a couple of billion for the wall for instance), it certainly could come back to bite them. You can only get so far in this world by showing sympathy and talking a good game. At some point, you have to actually take tangible action to back up your words... otherwise those words become meaningless. 

Again, look for the Democrats to demand a separate bill for DACA.  Look for Trump to threaten a veto anything that isn't a compromise and doesn't include his priorities as well. I think when it comes to the game of chicken, the person most willing to crash head on, is the one who generally wins. Trump hasn't exactly shown any desire to please the media or appease his political opponents. For him, it can't get any worse. 

But if the Democrats allow their precious dreamers to lose their benefits, because they want to fight over a couple of billion dollars for what amounts to a pretty significant campaign promise... then I believe they would concede the higher ground. While their supporters will probably still blame Trump (and no doubt pop a major artery in the process) there comes a time when the mushy middle moderates start to lose patience with pure Trump hatred and the obstruction that comes with it. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Attorney General Sessions to make announcement regarding DACA:

According to the two administration officials, here’s the policy to be announced later today:
  • The administration won’t consider new applications for legal status dated after Sept. 5.
  • If you are not already protected by the program, you are out of luck, although applications filed before Tuesday that are pending will continue to be processed.
  • Anyone who has a DACA permit expiring between now and March 5, 2018, can apply for a two-year renewal. That applic must be submitted by Oct. 5.
  • Some Dreamers, those with permits that expire between now and March 5, will be eligible for legal status for another two-plus years. For others, legal status ends as early as March 6.
But officials insist that even if Congress fails to enact new protection for the Dreamers, they will not be rounded up and deported. Officials say the priority for deportation will continue to be undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes.  



Finger pointing preferable to legislation:

Democrats will obstruct attempts to implement comprehensive immigration reform, even though such comprehensive immigration reform will include protections of the DACA policy...

Rather they will (as minority Party) demand that DACA be legislated separately, and look to blame the President and Republicans when the 800,000 so called "dreamers" become eligible for deportation.

Moreover, look for the GOP to cave into the pressures and likely do exactly what the Democrats want. The only question is whether or not Trump will veto immigration legislation that does not include priorities that he campaigned on.

Monday, September 4, 2017

What DACA and ACA insurance company subsidies have in common...

At first glance, the answer to this question seems to be pretty much nothing. But at closer inspection, the answer (from a technical aspect) is fairly obvious, and fairly important. Of course I am betting that most people do not hear much about what they have in common. Rather your pundits and politicians will argue ad nauseam about the merits of the two issues, without a care in the world about the underlying constitutional facts. But here they are:

  • Neither DACA or the ACA insurance company subsidies are a matter of law, but rather policies enacted outside of Congressional action. DACA was purely an executive order, and not one that was meant to clarify any existing law. The ACA insurance company subsidies were only provided (according to the law) as a temporary thing, to help with start up costs. But President Obama and his administration continued to pay these subsidies to insurers (after the subsidies effectively ended) with money that was legally appropriated elsewhere.  
  • Both DACA and the ACA insurance subsidies have been challenged in court.. While there has been no rulings on DACA (ten states have sued), the similar program DAFA was struck down at the fifth court of appeals. Meanwhile, the ACA insurance company subsidies were also declared by the courts to be illegal, although the judge agreed to let them continue while the case made it's way through the appeals process. That appeal, however, could be dropped by the current Justice Department, effectively leaving the original court case in place, and making those payments illegal.  Correction: Courts have concluded that State Attorney Generals can defend the payments in court - but I think it would be legally daunting to believe a court would order that the President "must" use funds not legally allocated to continue payments. 

So if you add this up... both of these issues involve what many believe to be a overreach of Presidential power by the previous Administration. To some degree there is a very reasonable argument that both actions were (and will eventually be ruled by the courts to be) outside of the jurisdiction of the office of the President.

Moreover, because neither is a matter of actual law, it really is as simple as the next President deciding not to follow the same path. If not Trump, then any one of the future Presidents we might elect would have the same authority to undo these policies. Both DACA and the subsidies to insurance companies would "always" be at the mercy of the office of the Presidency, and could always be undone with the stroke of a pen.

By overturning DACA, and ending the subsidies... President Trump would only be ending the Obama overreach. Both issues should (by all legal means) come under the constitutional authority of Congress. If Congress wants to write a law that replaces DACA, then they should go ahead and do it. If Congress wants to allocate funding for subsidies to insurance companies, then they can write a law that appropriates that funding.

If they do not want to do it, or cannot come up with the means to accomplish it... then guess what: that's on Congress, not on the President. Contrary to popular believe there is no constitutional authority for the President to unsurp Congress with a phone and a pen... just because Congress doesn't do the President's bidding.

Would anyone arguing differently, really approve of Trump using funds appropriated elsewhere to start building his wall?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Korean conflict?

Yes, your excellency... it does look sort of like a giant penis  
In an early-morning phone call, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, promised the support and co-operation to his South Korean counterpart. Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo, Yonhap reported.
Jeong's office said that the pair had 'agreed to discuss all military measures against the North'.
It also said that Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of the U.S. Forces Korea and the allies' Combined Forces Command, agreed shortly after the detonation to take action 'as soon as possible'.
Perhaps it's just my imagination, but it would appear that Kim Jong-Un is bound and determined to provoke some form of armed conflict with the South Koreans, the United States, and anyone else he can rile up in the meantime. I am not sure "why" Kim Jong-Un would want to do such a thing, but it certainly seems to be the case.

The only thing that makes sense is that Kim Jong-Un believes that China would have his back if he decided to escalate this situation. He may believe that the United States would not have the political will to respond to a missile attack for fear of provoking China to enter the conflict.

The odd thing is that I am not 100% sure exactly what it is that Kim Jong-Un is actually hoping to accomplish with these tests and these implied threats? The lack of a reasonable motive should scare the hell out of people, because it suggests that he may have an unreasonable one in his head.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Was the Hillary Email investigation "rigged" ?

By now, most everyone has read the reports that James Comey had started gathering his "no charges necessary" thoughts prior to interviews being conducted with at least seventeen different witness. Apparently these witnesses included the guy who set up the email server, most of Clinton's top aides, and Hillary Clinton herself.

At first, second, and third glance, this certainly fits the bill of your conclusions being predetermined before you have all the facts. More to the point, it would appear that the meat and potatoes of the process was a big fat giant waste of time. It seems obvious that the actual investigation didn't matter much to Comey.

But here is the reality.

The facts (for the most part) were already known. Not just to Comey and the FBI, but to pretty much most of America. The decision to charge or not to charge was more likely a decision made based on Comey's interpretation of the statues, his consideration of past precedents, and such. It's entirely likely that the investigation itself (to the degree that it would offer Comey with a reason to charge Clinton) was effectively an exercise in futility. Comey had made a decision, and was not swayed away from that decision.

The only real question is if there was any chance that Comey could have been offered information that could have changed his mind. Was he willing to rip up his memos, and start over with a new set of memos telling the country why he was recommending charges?

That seems unlikely.

What we will probably "never" really know for sure is whether or not Comey's predetermined decisions to not charge Hillary were actually based on his interpretation of the law, based on his personal political feelings towards the situation, based on marching orders he was given from above, or based on some combination of these possibilities.