Thursday, July 29, 2010

Banning Bullfighting: The Problem of Some Conservatives

One doesn't have to be a vegetarian to have moral reservations about the custom of deliberating taunting, enraging and then slowly torturing to death an animal while other animals scream their approval, ie, bullfighting. Catalonia recently banned this activity which some call a sport. Is there any better example of a misnomer in the English language? Click on the title of this post to read the Bloomberg wire service story. MC thought it well done, taking into account the issue of Catalonia's nascent desire to leave Spain, a very bad idea indeed.

At any rate, some conservatives on Twitter have clucked about this development as though they have any deeper understanding of the subject than what comes from reading that most overrated of writers, Hemmingway. Instead of seeing the matter clearly for what it is--animal cruelty--these Tweeters insist on seeing the ban through some misplaced lens of loss of culture and erosion of tradition. They seem genuinely unable to grasp the thought that not all cultural practices are good (indeed, not all cultures are equal) and some traditions aren't worth retaining. MC is slow to say the latter and believes our liberal culture jettisons many traditions too quickly and at a grievous cost to society. Say, oh, two parent families?

These defenders of bullfighting (cue the Monty Python sketch!) also fail to see that this change was wrought through the democratic process in Catalonia. No ridiculous group of robed masters brought this about nor should they have. Our liberal friends like the courts here when they can either avoid the people's will (the AZ immigration bill) or want to circumvent it (same-sex marriage, abortion, etc). That didn't happen in this instance. When did conservatives dislike the people's will being expressed? We conservatives always take the risk that something unwise, in our opinion, might be done. Yet, that, too, is the perogative of the people's will: sometimes making egregious mistakes. We give you a President more incompetent than Jimmy Carter as an example.

Some of the more pompous Tweeters cluck about how this is another step toward Catalonia leaving Spain. Why of course. How could MC fail to see the obvious connection? This is rather desperate in our opinion for it smacks of hiding behind one thing to support another. We suppose it won't do to simply come out and say they enjoy watching animals suffer grievously. Yet it would be more honest. Human nature has a very dark side, something liberalism fools itself into believing doesn't exist or can be minimized with enough social work. Rubbish.

What genuinely concerns MC, however, is the reaction of some conservatives to this development. That they can't see the obvious cruelty in bullfighting is baffling when we have no doubt they were outraged when some barely literate football type was engaged in dog fighting. As they tucked into their steaks, their moral outrage was on display. Bully, so to speak.

More to the point, their smug obliviousness to what this ban really represents suggests an inability to deal with reality in a way that can advance genuine, positive conservative values. In a sense, it has almost nothing to do with animal cruelty and everything to do with understanding where certain threats and problems lie and where they do not. To misdiagnose the development in Catalonia is to misdiagnose our own political predicament here in this country. Some progress is good and can be so without constituting destructive progressivism. Or constituting that lame term of opprobrium: RINO! We are surely at sea if conservatives cannot tell the difference in order to make themselves feel good. That way lies failure: electoral, moral, political and cultural.

And as readers know, MC is in it to win.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Saving Private Emmer: Up From 35%

Tom Emmer lost to every DFL candidate in the latest poll released Tuesday last. The weirdly cheerful response from his team and hangers on: we were within the margin of error. "Laissez les bons temps rouler."

Doubling down on seppuku, the talking points were that with millions (really?) spent on ads, the candidate came out ok. Any port in a storm, apparently. The election season has just begun and there will be millions more dollars spent painting Emmer out to be an angry white guy; someone out of touch with Minnesota. Even the otherwise excellent MN Forward ad ended with Emmer being touted as a fighter. We understand the Emmer campaign had no control over the content of that ad but MC thinks the better word choice would be leader.

Our concern is that nothing has been learned from the town hall debacle over tip-credit. Even the Washington Post has taken notice of a campaign that leaves much to be desired. It rates this race a toss up and speaks about negative beltway buzz over the candidate. Would that buzz be Vin Weber absolving himself of his endorsed candidate?

Tone-deaf is the best word to describe this campaign. It's not too late to save it, despite the daily concerns we hear. A staff shake-up would seem to be in order. "Teachable moments" are not for politics and the idea that one can teach about minimum wage while being gored by your opponents is naive. MC wants Emmer to win but he's going to have to run a different kind of campaign from the one he has shown Minnesota thus far. This requires different staff.

Focusing on jobs, the economy, taxes, the oppressive multi-layered regulations of the state and the need to be competitive with nearby states are not new ideas. They are, however, ideas that can get this campaign back on track and ultimately prove victorious in November.

Our last blog post engendered a great deal of comment. MC took a fair amount of grief for it but even we could not have guessed how badly the server town hall meeting would go. Campaigns can't afford many fiascos like that and it's imperative another one never happens. Our worry is that those around the candidate live in an alternate reality. Do they think they are doing a good job? Really? If so, they should get out more.

Emmer is a charming candidate one-on-one or in small groups. The pity is that he is being portrayed as anything but in the larger arena. The campaign needs to understand and neutralize this. It then needs to go on the offense in defining Emmer and what his governorship would be like. At the moment, it's all defense and reaction.

Governor Dayton would be a calamity for this state. MC hopes once the dust of the August 10th primary has cleared our man Emmer will find renewed focus and determination. He's by far the best choice for Minnesota. He's knows it; we know it. He needs to let the rest of the state know it and he needs to begin now.

Friday, July 9, 2010

On Saving The Emmer Campaign From Itself

MC believes it is vital that Tom Emmer be the next governor of Minnesota. While we supported Marty Seifert (but did not endorse) during the endorsement battle, MC promptly closed ranks behind Emmer, attending the Unity Breakfast, welcoming home the plane that took the statewide ticket around the state and in numerous other ways since Emmer/Meeks became our ticket. Unfortunately, we have become concerned, as have legions of other activists and Republicans across the state, about the campaign and its ability to formulate and stay on a winning message. In short, to run a campaign that will win in November.

Initially the campaign message was something about taking back Minnesota. Given that we have a Republican governor currently in the office Emmer seeks, we were unsure what this meant. This message was followed by a lengthy period of radio silence. Apparently the thinking was better no message than one that made no sense. The absence of any message, however, and for a relatively lengthy time, had many asking MC if the campaign was still functioning. We assured them it was. Not that all was well: Emmer opined recklessly that the Arizona immigration law might be worthy of replication in Minnesota. We grimaced and soldiered on. Next came the Freedom & Prosperity theme. Here, we thought, were things only Democrats could oppose. We tease our Democrat friends. But it was a theme, we thought, that could have some traction.

Then came the Eagle Grille and the self-inflicted statement about servers making $100,000 a year. Why a relatively obscure tax issue like the tip-credit came to the fore is beyond us. Why the campaign staff did not realize it had a calamity on its hands baffled us. Why it still believes it does not despite the evidence makes us want to waterboard them.

The DFL immediately seized upon the matter and painted Emmer into a mean Republican corner, one who will slash away at workers who earn minimum wage, one who wants to coddle business per se, one who wants "gut" state government and who has no plan of particulars but who speaks in bromides and platitudes. Great.

Showing the salience of the blunder, there is now a website devoted to servers who don't support Emmer. More, one can print out flyers that excoriate Emmer on this issue (yes, yes, we KNOW it is unfair, fair isn't the point; welcome to politics) and can be left with your tip when you dine out or have a drink at a bar. Well played squishes!

When your opponents seize on an issue to this degree, ought not the campaign pause and think: "Perhaps we have dug ourselves a hole and should stop digging?"

But no.

Compounding the disaster by orders of magnitude, the campaign decided to announce it will hold a town hall forum next Wednesday at a Mexican restaurant in Roseville to address the very issue that has proven toxic to it: tip-credit and servers. MC has it on good authority that any number of politically experienced and savvy people urged the campaign not to do this. We are witnessing a perfect storm of political tone-deafness. One wag left a comment on a local newspaper website wondering if at the town hall Emmer would ask his server for their papers. Ouch.

When you are explaining in politics, you are losing. MC didn't come up with that; doesn't everyone in politics know it? One Emmer staffer told MC that they thought the issue would be a "net win" for the campaign by the end of next week. When told of this, an accomplished political operative told MC "Riiight." One friend of MC suggested out loud that there was a DFL plant in the operation; nothing else could explain the missteps. We dismissed that out of hand and he's prone to black helicopters anyway. Another activist thought the "truth" of the tip-credit could be explained away on Twitter. Reader, we despaired.

Nor will taking to local conservative talk radio repair the damage. Self-selected conservative audiences are neither the problem nor the solution. The damage lies in those to whom the DFL is adroitly getting out their spin on the subject. It does not matter if Emmer is right on the substance; as a political issue it is causing him to lose support among Independent and moderate Democratic voters. And we don't buy the idea that the entire hospitality industry is happy with the way this issue has been presented. We know for a fact of much unhappiness within that group. Net win?

Not being glass-half-empty liberals, however, MC believes the campaign can right itself and move forward to victory in November. But the change has to be immediate, if not sooner. And the person who came up with the town hall seppuku should be tasered. We suggest the following, by no means complete, list of ideas:

1. Cancel the seppuku. Sure Emmer will be mocked but such pales in comparison to being tagged as the guy who wants servers to make $2.13 an hour. Such tagging has been ongoing all this week.

2. If the death wish can't be scrubbed, then Emmer should come out for making tips and gratuities tax-free. Who cares what it does to revenue? Just get on the right side of this issue politically.

3. Stop running for the endorsement. Emmer won. He can't win with the narrow base that propelled him to victory. He's in a general election race now and any campaign staff that can't grasp the obvious ought to be waiting tables. We jest! Don't shoot!

4. Run on winning themes and speak of nothing else: lower taxes for all, less nanny-state interference in our lives, reduced state spending and the legitimate fear of the intellectually lazy DFL in control of the executive and legislative branches.

5. Don't take the post August 10th bait from Mark "Renoir-Toulouse Lautrec" Dayton. He'll run a class warfare campaign and the tip-credit snafu only plays directly into that. Like most Democrats, he hasn't had a new idea in decades. Point out he's to the left of our wholly incompetent affirmative action President.

Finally, one friend of MC suggested something brilliant: bring in New Jersery Governor Chris Christie and campaign for real reform and not just tinkering around the edges. New ideas scare Democrats; so scare them! Voters will reward you. Look at what he's doing in his state and think about what could be applied here to good effect. If Christie can have such success in New Jersey, MC holds out hope for this state of government workers.

We hope the Emmer campaign takes our suggestions in the good faith with which they are offered. MC could no longer pretend that things were going well. We are not purists who don't mind losing. We are Republicans who want to win.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In Which We Have Nothing Further To Add

Click on the image to enlarge.

Hat tip: Powerline

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Barack Obama: Brilliant No More

MC never but never bought into the meme that Obama was sheer brilliance. Seriously, we've been around many blocks, domestic and foreign, and have actually met brilliant people. Of course, we're aware of many brilliant people we have never met as well.

Our point is that the Affirmative Action president was never what his cheerleaders said he was. The last election cycle was a pathetic exercise in projection and wish fulfillment.

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary has a brief take about how Obama is "brilliant no more." Click on the title to read it. MC enjoyed the following:

"Now that Obama’s policies and political standing are faltering, the media mavens are puzzled, as Emery notes. How can it be that he’s failing when he’s so smart? It never dawns on them that they confused slickness with smarts and urbanity with insight."