Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hann Comes For The Archbishop

The most recent Roman Catholic catechism, promulgated against much liberal protest within the Church by the Venerable John Paul II, says at one point: "The Church is an expert in humanity."

MC agrees, in that Joni Mitchell "both sides now" kind of way. The Church knows sin both within and without. Benedict XVI has been excruciatingly clear about this for those paying attention. Non-Catholic readers will not be able to follow that the Church qua Church is outside human defilement. But that is a topic for another day.

What MC observes is the shameless use of the Catholic church and its teachings in the current debate over the Minnesota budget and the impending shutdown of state government. MC is amused that liberals like to quote what suits their political purposes while savaging the Church when it teaches moral positions opposed to their agenda. In this regard, liberals are the ultimate cafeteria Catholics. Of course, most liberals believe the Catholic Church in toto is retrograde, backward, oppressive. Everything South Park would caricature it as. Piss Christ, anyone?

Yet here come the minions of Governor Dayton, Bob Hume foremost amongst them on Twitter, claiming that Archbishop Nienstedt's letter about the budget is somehow trump. Yet when David Hann, an elected representative of the people, responds respectfully to the Archbishop he is pilloried by lazy DFL hacks and media hangers-on as somehow disrespectful. Seriously? As if that has stopped the left and their allies in the state controlled media from attacking the Catholic Church?

No. Senator Hann confronted the Archbishop with the teachings of his own very Church and with respect. Remember how the media hated the Archbishop for sending out DVDs on traditional marriage? All is forgiven for the latest expediency. Oh, and dismembering the unborn? Well, Catholics just hate women. Got it. Until, of course, the Left wants to use whatever Church teachings suits their immediate purposes. Who says the Democrats have no moral center?

Then again, American bishops are not held in particular esteem in the world-wide Catholic church. The Catholic future will never come from them. Remember their embarrassing support of the nuclear freeze? The bishops have no expertise in the land of the layman and the Church catechism says as much. Can anyone remind them? This is not to say they cannot opine about such things. It is to say: in things secular, and not moral, they are but another actor.

The Archbishop said in his letter that the proposed GOP budget increased 'the breadth and depth of poverty." You are deeply ignorant about things economic, Your Excellency. Catholics in the pew would hope you would go after your fellow Bishops who condoned the rape of our sons but perhaps you, like the American magisterium, can't be bothered for fear of being implicated. Not personally, but institutionally. Strangely, in light of what has not been repaired, you seem to think you act from a place of moral authority.

Look to the Dayton left to use and abuse the Catholic Church. Look to an intelligent Protestant like Representative David Hann to speak truth to both. Catholics thank him. Leftists no doubt will continue to revile him. One is known by their enemies.

Click HERE to find the most excellent letter from Rep. Hann. Thank you, sir.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Budget: How Republicans Failed Themselves

The early warning sign that dealing with Governor Mark Dayton would not be as easy for the republican legislative majority as it assumed came early on: at a signing ceremony to foolishly opt in to federal Obamacare funds, he let the leaders of the assembled opposition speak. Call it Dayton's Twila Brase moment. Governor Pawlenty would never have done that nor, MC is convinced, would a Governor Emmer. Yet there was the first democratic governor in decades doing the unexpected. A small gesture but impressive.

Months later, republicans find themselves boxed into a budget corner of their own making. Having won both the House and Senate, the latter for the first time since the 1970's, they should have been able to advance their core principles in a manner that consistently gave them the upper hand, despite the executive branch being controlled by the opposition. Instead, republicans find themselves on the defensive and playing a poor hand largely dealt to them by themselves.

The shortest analysis is that the republicans erred badly in sending only one "this is it we really mean it!" budget to the Governor and expecting him to roll over. Even that truncated analysis, however, obscures other problems with the manner in which the republican majority has performed. For example, running uniformly on a platform of bringing down government spending while not increasing taxes, one might plausibly have expected them to produce a budget that actually cut spending. Not a budget that was signed into law by the Governor, mind you. No, one that actually required of the majority some intestinal fortitude and made cuts to the bloated mess that is Minnesota state government. The idea that there isn't largess is laughable. The fact that the Minnesota government is the state's single largest employer is shameful.

At any rate, a genuine effort at putting their principles into play was not too much to expect of the brave new majority. For whatever reasons, though, this never came to be. MC understands that ideas championed by friends like Sue Jeffers for a budget of 28 billion was never politically realistic. Yet couldn't the majority have fashioned a budget of approximately 31 billion? Submit it to the certain veto, craft another one closer to, oh, say 34 billion and thereby look reasonable? Governor Dayton has had to do hardly anything to outfox the republicans. He and his staff are savvy enough to get out of the way when political opponents are making a hash of things on their own.

To be sure, the DFL in both chambers was petulant and unhelpful. Why there should have been any expectation other than that escapes MC and it was painful to see republicans waste time and energy trying to call them out in this regard. A competent majority leads. It doesn't whine.

This calls to mind the feeble response from the MN GOP to Dayton's claim of extremism and new members being too far right for Minnesota. Instead of executing a jujitsu like move and characterizing the governor as a failed paleo-liberal who hasn't had a new political idea in his adult life, republicans stayed on the territory mapped out by him and bleated that they were not extremists. Readers not on Twitter are unable to appreciate how pathetic this was as an effective political response. One was treated to tweets along the lines of "I'm a mother of 9, spin my own cloth, practice yoga daily and have amazing sex with my husband of 32 years. I'm no extremist." MC jests but only slightly. Moreover, new members fail to realize that Twitter drives the conversation but only rarely is the conversation.

Republicans were appalled when they lost to Mark Dayton last November, though some saw it coming for months. Still, reality is always stronger than expectation. The offset was winning the legislature and having someone like Mark Dayton to kick around. MC doesn't mean attacks on character or personal issues; it does mean a large target of being clueless during a time of economic peril. And here is perhaps the single biggest deficit of political acumen all year.

Governor Dayton should have been painted out from day one as the quintessential tax and spend liberal. He literally knows no other approach to policy which, upon reflection, is a very real poverty of intellect. His robotic insistence on raising taxes at all should have been his undoing, his neutralization. In the hands of a competent political opposition, it would have been. Instead, he was allowed to position himself as reasonable (he only wants to confiscate some people's money) while calling attention to purported republican instransigence. Perversely, this was accomplished because he lowered the amount of taxes he wanted to raise while still raising them at all in a dire economic climate. Republicans could never seem to find their footing to reframe the issue and show the average Minnesotan how preposterous, almost delusional, very Marin county, this type of thinking was. The result is that issues are framed across the board in a way that favor the Governor. They didn't need to be and there's the political malpractice.

There was also, unbelievably, the incoherent republican response to their proposed budget being an all cuts budget. Elected on their own terms to cut government spending, republican leadership responded by saying they increased spending by six percent, thereby managing to disgust their own base while playing into the narrative set by the left at the same time. Well done. MC shudders at the thought of an encore performance.

Yesterday Rep. Mary Franson tweeted "Spent the entire day in meetings around the district. Some attendees disappointed that Republicans were spending 6% more than last biennium." Well, yes, in a word and why should they not be? How do republicans square their actions with their campaign promises? Incompetence? Waffling? Caving? General ignorance about effective political messaging and delivery?

MC was amused at the faux bravery of legislators who put on their office doors posters that had a pot of money and words to the effect "34 billion and not a penny more." The posters should have read: "6% increase is enough of a broken campaign promise and sell out of my principles." But that wouldn't have left them feeling smug, apparently the only point of the real posters.

Before the session ended Minnesotans were treated to political grandstanding and theatrics not seen in some time when the House took up and ultimately passed the traditional marriage amendment. What a debacle. The usual suspects got emotional and non-rational on the floor and supporters stayed mute, as if the guilty party somehow. While the hearing did allow a sitting Representative to call MC an obscenity on Twitter, not much else good came of it. How did the Senate manage to pass the same bill without the public meltdown?

With the budget vetoed, shutdown became the word of the day. The RPM responded strongly with . . . a website! Governor Shutdown, get it? Tacking back to the day when Dayton closed his senate office, the website perfectly captures the inability of republicans to get it. Universally panned as ineffective, the website is now mostly forgotten.

Proving there was worse yet to come, however, the republican brain trust decided that re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic would take people's attention off the cold water rushing in. House and Senate leadership ostentatiously offered to provide approximately 110 million dollars more in funding for, as they put it in baby-speak, "kids, cops and courts." In adult language: education, police and the judicial branch. This was claimed to be a compromise but it's terrible to insult people's intelligence regardless of party affiliation.

There was no movement from the 34 billion budget as a result of this offer. There may well be merit in focusing on particular areas within the overall budget for political and policy reasons. All well and good but to call it a compromise makes republicans look venal. Isn't there anyone thinking a step or two ahead in these matters? Where do republicans go from here?

MC understands from sources that the party and possibly legislative leadership meet once a week with a select group of activists for feedback and guidance. The only problem with this is that MC is lead to understand the group consists of those who thought focusing on the tip-credit issue during the gubernatorial race was a good idea. Weirdly, if this is true, why the legislative session unfolded as it did makes a bit more sense, though no less depressing. Perhaps these meetings are mere containment of the purity people; one is hard pressed to guess. What isn't hard to discern is the current state of failure.

Add to this the Alliance for a Better Minnesota going up on air with well produced but duplicitous ads. The republican response? Nothing, really, though MC was told by some that money was coming in after Memorial Day weekend to push back. So far there's been nothing but a poorly produced ad from the Taxpayers League and some web ads.

How does this end? MC doesn't gamble except in its choice of friends. It is difficult to see Governor Dayton accepting the badly played budget of 34 billion and avoiding a shut down. Does a shut down hurt republicans or democrats more? In one sense neither side wants to find out. This suggests that there will be no new taxes but there will be more money, the dreaded revenue word. Having abandoned their principles by agreeing to a 6% increase in spending over the last biennium, republicans will find it difficult to complain with a straight face about going to 7 or 7.5 percent. And let's not forget some of this revenue could come from racino, the issue which so unified the republican party in April. Yes, it's been a masterful six months for the majority party.

The criticism of RPM Chair Tony Sutton, however, seems a bit unbalanced. Is the party to have no influence over the legislators who ran under its banner? Sutton's public comments have been lambasted but MC forgives all for his giving us "bored dilettente" to perfectly capture the essence of wandering ghost Mark Dayton. Legislative leaders now appear to be distancing themselves from him but MC can only speculate how wobbly they would have been if not for Sutton encouraging them to stiffen what passes for spines. He was, after all, only reminding them of the promises they themselves made to the voters.

In the end, there will likely be a special session to pass the budget deal hammered out over the coming weeks. No republican legislator or party leader, however, should claim victory when this happens. Instead, they should explain why they performed so badly and what they intend to do to make sure such a performance is not repeated in the next session. It's their last chance.