Category Archives: Mark Dayton

Minnesota and Wisconsin, Apples to Apples in business, apparently not to The Chamber

Here is an interesting little fact for you to chew on.  The US Chamber of Commerce ranked the business climate in Minnesota a 40, while they ranked the business climate in Wisconsin a 39.  So Wisconsin scored one point better than Minnesota, but what’s interesting is that in every single category, except for one, Minnesota earned significantly higher scores than Wisconsin.

For example, although Minnesota ranked 40th in the US for “Business Climate” according to the Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota’s overall performance rating was 15th, while Wisconsin’s was 44th.  And we are not talking golf scoring here.  So how does Minnesota’s overall business ranking that is 29 spots higher than Wisconsin create a push when it comes to business climate?

Here are other statistics: The Chamber ranked Minnesota 6th in the nation on established infrastructure.  Wisconsin ranked 17th.  In the rating of a pipeline for educated young adults, Minnesota also ranked 6th, and had the second ranking of educated young adults, and the 4th ranking of young adult productivity.  Wisconsin ranked 14th.  In innovation and entrepreneurial ratings, Minnesota ranked 27 and Wisconsin ranked 41.  In every category they ranked, Minnesota outshined Wisconsin except for exports, which ranked Wisconsin 9 places ahead of Minnesota, must be the cows…

So why is it that Republican politicians use business climate to compare say, Minnesota and South Dakota?  Just so you know, South Dakota ranks first in Business Climate, even though most of their rankings are in the 30s and 40s, and North Dakota ranks 1st in performance, but in the upper-mid and mid-levels in everything else.

How is it possible?  What the heck is business climate?  I looked at the Forbes annual business rankings from December 2012.  Minnesota outscored Wisconsin in every category except Environmental Regulation, and personally, I like environmental regulations.  I like seeing bald eagles every day, drinking clean water, and fishing in lakes that seem to get clearer every year.

Is business climate even a real thing?  Do they use business climate, but in reality, they mean temperature?  Because Wisconsin and Minnesota are pretty close there, but it isn’t even close economically right now.

A couple final statistics to ponder, the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists Minnesota as growing .1%-.5% and Wisconsin shrinking (-.1%)-(-.5%).  The Federal Reserve Economic Outlook from May 2013 ranks Wisconsin 42nd and Minnesota 19th.  The funniest thing to me is that Oregon, a bluer state than Minnesota is now ranked ahead of Utah, and Massachusetts has moved back into the top ten.  The consolation for Wisconsinites is that Arkansas, Alabama and Louisiana, which have been “right-to-work” states for decades, I’m just sayin’, are still ranked lower than Wisconsin.

So tell us all you Sconies and Minnesota’s Republicans who cheered and danced at Gov. Scott Walker’s plans and actions, and cried and worried at Mark Dayton’s plans, how’s all that there working for ya?

Wisconsin with a Republican Governor, Republican House, Republican Senate, and let’s be honest, a Republican State Supreme Court, is dropping like a rock economically.  While Minnesota, with a DFL Governor, a DFL House and a DFL Senate (and a nonpartisan Supreme Court,) is rising up the rankings.  I just hope that Minnesotans don’t forget in 2014 what happened under Gov. Pawlenty, and what it was like with a Republican controlled legislature, and I hope we don’t ignore the lessons we are learning from Wisconsin.  You can’t compare the Dakota’s and Minnesota, it is apples and oranges.  But, you can certainly compare Wisconsin and Minnesota, it’s apples to apples in terms of almost everything, except for maybe alcohol consumption.

Elect Democrats in 2014!  Promises Made + Promises Kept = Progress.  Let’s keep moving forward!

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Lori Swanson’s bucks partisan pressure of Democratic “heavyweight” and fights for Minnesota

Yesterday it was revealed that Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, attempted to pull a “do you know who I am?” move on Attorney General Lori Swanson hoping to end Swanson’s aggressive public attack on the wrongdoings of Accretive Health.

But Swanson didn’t budge. She finished it with Accretive, giving the company 90 days to get out of town, fining them 2.5 million dollars, and barring them from doing business in Minnesota for six years.

Swanson continues to prove she is an aggressive defender of the citizens of Minnesota, and an advocate for fairness and the common good. It must be really tough for those right-wingers who say Lori Swanson is more committed to the Democratic Party than to the citizens and the laws of Minnesota, when thyy see her not only ignore a Democratic political heavyweight, but also to step up the fight and accept nothing less than the death penalty for an immoral organization.

I’m not sure if Lori Swanson’s has higher political aspirations, if she does, I predict when Governor Dayton retires in 2014 or 2018, it is going to be a tough race between Lori Swanson and Paul Thissen for the DFL nomination for Governor. I like them both.

Would MN’s version of the Stand Your Ground Castle Doctrine law lead to legal murder too?

I was given a ‘D’ grade from the NRA in 2010.  I’m a pretty typical Minnesotan when it comes to hunting and gun ownership, so I was surprised to receive a ‘D.’ Of course it wouldn’t have surprised me if the ‘D’ grade was partially because of the letter ‘D’ after my name on the ballot.  Still, I know why I got a low grade.  I have common-sense and reasoned thinking about gun ownership.  Like, I don’t believe a person should be walking through Downtown Minneapolis with an uncased hunting rifle on their shoulder.  Apparently that is OK with that infinitesimally small percentage of gun owners who actually belong to and support the NRA.

Another question I could not in good conscience answer the way the NRA would have liked me to was about the expansion of the “Castle Doctrine.”  The question on the NRA Minnesota Candidate Questionnaire asked:

11. A doctrine in common law, known as the “Castle Doctrine,” provides that a man’s home is his castle, and that he may use any manner of force, including deadly force, to protect it and its inhabitants.  Over the years, some courts have eroded this principle by ruling that there is a “duty to retreat” before meeting force with force.  Would you support reforming Minnesota laws so that: (1) a person would have the right to meet force with force to protect himself/herself and family members regardless of their location, (2) a “duty to retreat” would no longer exist in any place a person may lawfully be, and (3) a person justified in the use of force would be protected from criminal and civil liability?

I answered “no” to that question.  I absolutely believe I have the right to defend my family in any situation, but the wording seemed odd to me.  Specifically in number (1)”regardless of location” and in number (2) the part about “any place a person may lawfully be.”  Those two sections don’t seem to be about a man’s castle, they seem to be about being anywhere.  It seems vague.

The NRA got their wish and the Castle Doctrine change was not only on the agenda in Minnesota’s legislature, the Republicans passed the Castle Doctrine, despite the objections of Minnesota law enforcement agencies.  Thankfully Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed it.

Minnesota’s “Castle Doctrine Law” is similar to the Florida law called “Stand Your Ground.”  Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed the “Stand Your Ground Law” in 2005 saying “It’s common sense to allow people to defend themselves” as he signed the new law.

Defending yourself is fine and legal. In fact, Minnesota’s law already allows for justifiably taking of a life, if it is “done in the belief that it was necessary to avert death or grievous bodily harm.”  But, we’ve seen what these laws are.  These are laws permitting murder — legalizing vigilante justice.  They have not been created in an effort of one’s defense other than legal defense of murder.  We’ve seen it in Texas and Colorado, when burglars were “justifiably” killed as they run away.  And now we have an unarmed 16 year old boy, who was pursued by a man with a gun and confronted by that man apparently because he was black and wearing a hoodie.

Who was standing their ground?  Who was defending himself?  Even if a fight ensued, wasn’t it Trayvon Martin who was standing his ground?  He was the one being followed by a man with a gun.  He had no weapon.  I’m sure he felt his life was in danger.  Be realistic! Be rationale! George Zimmerman hunted down and shot a boy because of his racist paranoia.  George Zimmerman wasn’t standing his ground, he initiated the confrontation and committed murder.

Even some legislators I really like supported Minnesota’s version of the “Stand Your Ground Law.”  They should all be ashamed.  They tried to make a murder like the murder of Trayvon Martin legal.  Thank you Governor Dayton for listening to law enforcement officers and doing the right thing.

2012 Senate strategy Amy Klobuchar vs. ??? and early 2014 Minnesota Senate odds Al Franken vs. ???

So where do we stand when it comes to future elections?  For statewide elections in 2012, we only have Senator Klobuchar, President Obama and the Anti-Marriage Amendment.  In congress we are not sure about Michelle Bachmann yet.  Chip Cravaack has already moved his family to New Hampshire, and everybody else is safe with the remote exception of Rep. Collin Peterson who might be challenged by Lee Byberg.  But I’m not even sure about that being close.  At the height of the 2010 Republican wave Byberg still lost by 18% to Congressman Peterson. 

In one sense, the future is predictable.  Just like I can look at the Twins minor league teams and shudder at the future possibilities of Minnesota Twins success in coming years, political parties can look at their “minor leagues” and begin planning for the future.  Obviously you cannot account for a Tim Walz or a Chip Cravaack accomplishing the unexpected, but statistically, and realistically, we can look at the current crop and make some decent predictions.
2012 Election Amy Klobuchar vs. ???

Amy Klobuchar may be the safest bet in 2012.  Dan “Doc” Severson has stepped up to challenge her.  “What’s up Doc” is best known for losing to Mark Ritchie in the 2010 Secretary of State race and making the unfounded accusation that there was widespread fraud during the Franken-Coleman race and recount the main theme of his campaign.  I guess he should also be credited for an undistinguished career in the state legislature during the 2000s where he authored five bills, two of which were constitutional “redefinition of marriage” bills.  It also sounds like some guy named Joe Arwood is going to throw his hat in the ring and Phil Krinkie, always willing to get his name in the news is dangling ideas out there that he might get in. 

Few current or future statewide political heavyweights are willing to risk what will likely be a horrible loss on this race. Actually, those three no-names may be a blessing in disguise for Republicans in 2012.  I would contend that the worst thing the Republicans can do, at least in terms of maintaining their shaky hold in the state legislature in 2012, is to have a contested race for senate.  A contested race might draw out Klobuchar supporters who might otherwise be a little apathetic about the president or other races in their district, and maybe be willing to consider staying home if Amy is safe, especially if there is a little snow or cold weather.

It is a well known that Republicans do better when turnout is low, and a low turnout strategy has been a piece of Republican election planning for over 30 years now.  (Voter ID is one step.) If Tim Pawlenty for instance were to enter the race to lose to Senator Klobuchar, you can bet that DFL faithful would turn out in droves to make sure he has no shot at doing what he did to Minnesota to the rest of the nation, and other local races would be affected by that.
2014 Senate Odds

2014 is another story.  In 2014 Senator Franken’s seat, the Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Auditor are all up for election.  My hope is that everything stays status quo there.  I think Senator Franken is doing a great job, Governor Mark Dayton has done the right things and Attorney General Swanson and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie are phenomenal.

But things may not remain status quo.  Governor Dayton will be 67 in 2014 and looking at the possibility of 4 more years like we just had.  Secretary of State Ritchie and Attorney General Swanson need to consider if a third term is something they want to do.

Senator Al Franken is a lock to run again, and is raising money right now.  Franken is more vulnerable than Klobuchar from a political standpoint, but many DFLers are much more passionate about Senator Franken than Senator Klobuchar.  Al Franken is somebody who will really fight for the little guy, sure he isn’t as moderate as Amy Klobuchar, but he is more passionate when it comes to issues he believes in.  I really believe Senator Franken is a Minnesota senator in the mold of Hubert Humphrey (pre-presidential aspirations) and Paul Wellstone, a passionate liberal fighter who people like because he cares, is honest and he is straightforward.

In my mind, the biggest question mark is Governor Dayton.  This year had to be really tough and stressful, and he still has another year with this current crop of legislators.  I do believe he will get a reprieve in 2013, because I think it is very possible that the House and Senate might revert back to control on the liberal side of the aisle after the 2012 elections.

On the DFL side, should Governor Dayton choose not to run, 2010 gubernatorial candidates Mayor R.T. Rybak and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen would jump to the top of the list, but so do Congressman Tim Walz and Attorney General Lori Swanson.  Either of those two could bump Rybak and Thissen, who finished second and third at the 2010 endorsement convention, out of the running.

But the GOP side for Franken’s seat and Dayton’s seat is more interesting.  On the Senate side, the big names are Tim Pawlenty and Michelle Bachmann.  While they have the name power, there a couple of Republicans with real political skills and followings: Senators Dave Thompson and Geoff Michel, and former Representative Laura Brod.  They might be the future big names.  Some others based on a speaking ability and overall presentation ability, however knowing very little about them personally, or about the skeletons in the closet, might include Representatives Keith Downey and Andrea Kieffer and Senators John Howe and Julie Rosen.  Those are prospects at least.  I know there are people like Zellers, Dean and Koch that might have aspirations, but to be a major candidate today people have to see you as a politician, looks, height, hair style, speaking ability, camera presentation and confidence all factor into the equation as much as political stance and political actions.  I don’t think everybody who has aspirations has thosedown.

This is how I see it playing out:

Early 2014 Republican Senate Candidate Endorsement Rankings vs. Senator Al Franken:

  1. Michelle Bachmann – She will be the odds on favorite in my book.  Her presidential aspirations, although serious, are not really serious.  She hasn’t stopped campaigning for Congress yet, but  should she, leaving the House opens up the door for her to campaign full time for Senate.  That said, I don’t think she can beat very many people in a statewide race.
  2. Tim Pawlenty – Tim Pawlenty has to decide if he wants to risk another losing battle with Michelle Bachman.  Then he has to decide if he wants to risk what would be another embarrassing loss, but this time to Senator Al Franken.
  3. John Kline – Not mentioned before this, John Kline is in my opinion the top Republican candidate in the state.  I think he could win anything he runs for.  He won’t run for governor, because he doesn’t really live in Minnesota, and he is very, Very, VERY safe in Congress, so he may never risk taking the chance on Senate.  Additionally, in 2014 he will be 67 and he would likely keep his House seat with very little work.  And who knows, maybe he is interested in House leadership.  Odds are not likely he runs, but he could win.

Early 2014 Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Endorsement Rankings:

Without ranking them, I think the favorites are Geoff Michel, Laura Brod and Dave Thompson.  I’ve never met Geoff Michel.  Laura Brod seemed a little rude to me when I had the chance to meet her once.  I was wearing a DFLer’s t-shirt, so she knew I was a Democrat, and she along with so many Republicans seem to have an automatic dislike for Democrats without knowing them.  I was going to say hi and introduce myself, but she never made eye contact and kind of walked by with her nose in the air.  Dave Thompson is the one person here that I have had a personal conversation with, and although I really disagree with his political policies, I kind of like him.  The couple problems for him that I see are that he is a little short, and sometimes I’m not sure if he is talking to me because he is interested in a conversation, or if he feels like he needs to be polite.  He did it on the radio for years, so he may be genuinely bored by conversations with people.  I feel like he may not care, he’s just waiting to be done,
which could be a negative in campaigning. I’m not sure though, maybe it is just me or maybe he doesn’t like me and is counting the minutes until he can be done. 

If all three happened to run, I think Laura Brod would be the prohibitive favorite, I think women have an advantage with independents and moderates these days.  But since she is younger and probably has a younger family than the other two, she may decide to wait a little longer.  Plus, there is that mysterious health problem that caused her to drop out in 2010.

Between Dave Thompson and Geoff Michel, I personally think Dave Thompson has a better chance, but what do I know.  I guess it depends on who the higher ups in the Republican Party want.  Either way, there are other important seats, Attorney General and Secretary of State are both very important, and stepping stones to higher office that any of them may be interested in.

Rightwingers please stop saying “it’s debatable” if it isn’t

I made a comment on a rightwing blog this week, but I was annoyed by a response I received.  My last post was about that blog post.  In essence, the rightwing blogger called on moderate Democrats to join the Republican’s plan to reduce services that hurt those least likely to afford it like the elderly, people with disabilities and workers who have lost their jobs, rather than tax the 40,000 Minnesotans who make over $300,000 an extra 2% on the income over $300,000.  (By the way, if somebody makes $500,000, they would pay about an extra $4,000.)  My response was that the “moderates” were in the common-sense, moderate position of supporting Governor Dayton because he is 100% right, and a majority of Minnesotans think he is right too.

I made that comment on the original rightwing blog, and received the following response:

markmwhite says:
June 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm
whether the majority is standing with Dayton is debatable. the folly of continuing to grow government at unsustainable levels is not. good luck to Steve and the rest of the looters. let the class war continue

I tend to comment on a lot of right wing blogs, and I’ve learned (and this is nothing new or shocking to politically active bloggers) that rightwing comments tend to be either vague or insulting without proof.  (Example: Michelle Bachman.)  It is not always the case, I know several conservatives/ Republicans/ Libertarians who are very thoughtful, have strongly held beliefs, and make a lot of sense, I just don’t often agree with them because I have my own strongly held beliefs.  But what bugs me are the vague defenses to my comments.

In this case, it is “whether the majority is standing with Dayton is debatable.”  How is it debatable?  That phrase “it’s debatable” is very common.  Here are three polls from three different politically leaning organizations that say it isn’t debatable:

Startribune Minnesota Poll May 2011:
Solve budget…
Primarily with service reductions 27%
Tax increases and service reductions 63%
Don’t know/refused 10%

Public Policy Polling (Raleigh, NC) June 2011
Would you support a tax increase on the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans to help balance the state budget, or do you think the budget should be balanced through cuts only?
Would support a tax increase on the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans 63%
Budget should be balanced through cuts only 32%
Not sure 4%

KSTP Survey USA Poll May 2011
Minnesota has a five billion dollar budget deficit. Should Minnesota
Raise Taxes on Wealthy 31%
Raise Taxes on All 4%
Cut Spending 36%
Both 27%
Not Sure 2%
(That is 62% that would support Dayton’s proposal for the math challenged)

Those are three polls that all say about two-thirds of Minnesotans support Governor Dayton and the DFL position.  What is debatable?

Oh, and by the way, I’m no looter, but I think I am fine if a class war begins.  At the rate we are becoming more and more lopsided economically, something needs to change or a class war is inevitable.  If you need proof, look at our nation’s and the world’s history.  It is repeating itself, it happened a century ago, and a century before that, and as we often do, we have forgotten (or are too stupid to rationalize) the hard lessons we learned.