Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pawlenty to GOP: look in the mirror

We may not always agree with our governor, but he sure tells some of the best self-deprecating jokes in politics — the best of which feature his wife Mary:
Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who was very nearly Senator John McCain’s running mate this year, told the decidedly subdued, post-election conference Wednesday about a revelation he had recently while looking into the bathroom mirror at his home in Minnesota.

Mr. Pawlenty said that after wearily returning from the campaign trail, he looked at himself in the mirror and complained about what he saw to his wife, Mary. "I said, ‘Mary, look at me,’" he said. "‘I mean, my hairline’s receding, these crow’s feet and wrinkles are multiplying on my face by the day, I’ve been on the road eating junk food, I’m getting flabby, these love handles are flopping over the side of my belt.’

"I said, ‘Is there anything you can tell me that would give me some hope, some optimism, some encouragement?’" he said. "And she looked at me and she said, ‘Well, there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight.’"

As his fellow governors laughed, he came to the moral of the story: "If we are going to successfully travel the road to improvement, as Republicans, we need to see clearly, and we need to speak to each other candidly about the state of our party."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy birthday, USMC

Semper Fi and OO-RAH to the United States Marine Corps, which turns 233 today, 10 November 2008.

We owe a debt of gratitude to all of our armed services, yet the Marines, "First To Fight," are the elite guardians of our country's freedom. Nowhere on earth is this driven home to civilians more completely than at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in scenic Triangle, Virginia, a short drive south of Washington, D.C. near Marine Corps Base Quantico.

Like the Marine Corps itself, the museum is spartan, high tech, and steeped in tradition, patriotism, and excellence. Civilians will be humbled by the experience and gain a profound appreciation for both Marine veterans and those who wear the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor today. It is well worth a few hours of your time when visiting the D.C area.

Happy birthday, Corps. America thanks you for your service.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Young love

DFL on the march, November 1, 2008 (photo: North Star Liberty)
Click image to view large version, and see if you can find Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak

I have had it with the Republican Party treating voters under 30 as an "outreach" group. I had the not unexpected experience of watching a large DFL contingent march in the annual University of Minnesota Homecoming parade, complete with campaign bus and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak zig-zagging through the parade spectators, shaking hands and posing for pictures — without a corresponding presence from the Minnesota Grand Old Party.

The existing conservative and College Republican groups need the active engagement of the party: funding, candidate and elected official appearances, and accountability for growing their membership.

Besides a physical presence at colleges and universities, skillful use of Internet technologies has replaced phone banks and direct mail as the most effective way to reach this key demographic. This article sums it up well:

...young voters may prove to have been the key to Barack Obama's victory. Young voters preferred Obama over John McCain by 68 percent to 30 percent — the highest share of the youth vote obtained by any candidate since exit polls began reporting results by age in 1976, according to CIRCLE, a non-partisan organization that promotes research on the political engagement of Americans between ages 15 and 25.

Through a steady stream of texts and Twitters, experts agree Obama has managed to excite young voters by meeting them where they live — online.

“This is a group of people who are constantly checking in with everybody else in their circle to make a decision,” says Morley Winograd, the co-author of “Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics” and a former adviser to Vice President Al Gore. He defines Millennials as ages 18 to 26.

“This is a generation that doesn't tend to think about asking experts for opinion," Winograd says. "They tend to ask each other, and then that becomes the truth.”

Winograd says that means no decision is made without dozens of e-mails, texts or Facebook messages to check whether an idea works for the whole group — anything from “Where should we hang out tonight?” to “Who should we vote for?” — which could explain why Millennials so firmly latched onto Obama’s message of unity, he says.

Yes, the McCain campaign had an extensive web site, YouTube ads, Facebook groups, etc., but these initiatives are sorely lacking at the state and BPOU level. "The youth vote" came of age in 2008. The Republican Party at all levels needs to take this demographic seriously if it wants to avoid being marginalized in 2010, 2012, and beyond.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The morning after

Thanks to Minnesota Public Radio, producer Stephanie Curtis, and interactive producer/the world's most 24/7, multitasking, blogging, Twittering, mobile Internet connected, Minnesota Nicest woman Julia Schrenkler for the opportunity to reprise my liveblog role at this year's Election Night Policy and a Pint event (see previous post for a replay). The folks at MPR were very hospitable to me, from the lobby to the fifth floor UBS Forum and everywhere in between. I got to meet MPR on-air personalities Steve Seel and Tom Crann, who hosted the event. I enjoyed Bob Collins's interview and chatting with him afterwords. And political reporter Tom Scheck was even kind enough to flag me down to say "hi" at the Republican Victory Party at the Sheraton Bloomington later that night. Everyone connected with the event thanked me for liveblogging at least twice.

Kudos to MPR for being very committed to their "all of the above," early adopter approach to new media. In some cases, they seem ahead of the curve and ahead of their market (what we in research and development call "the bleeding edge"). They are certainly not waiting around for the future to happen to them; they're inventing it as they go.

I would like to drag other conservative bloggers and pundits into other collaborations with MPR. This would be a great opportunity for bloggers and pundits without a current media gig.

Liberals are really good at getting out there in the public square with the media, with their nonprofits, with their special interest groups, with their fun little events and creative promotions. Conservatives need to get better at this, beyond talk radio and the blogosphere, in order to better make their case with the public — especially in light of yesterday's elections.

Escape From MPR

As in 2006, my MPR liveblog experience was a little like going to Madison to see the Gophers play Wisconsin, and sitting in the middle of the Wisconsin stands — in a luxury skybox, but still on the Wisconsin side.

After McCain's concession speech and right as Obama began his, I left the fifth floor UBS Forum in downtown Saint Paul for the Sheraton Bloomington (formerly the Radisson South). Several differences between the two venues were obvious:
  • All of the video monitors were showing election coverage from Fox News
  • Being a partisan event, there were Republican campaign signs everywhere
  • There was a large media pit and stages for television remote broadcasts
  • A wider range of ages present, with lots of men in suits and ties, and lots of young ladies in heels and cocktail dresses — and campaign staff with their cell phones and BlackBerrys
  • Cash bars and lots of food, once you found the various campaign suites

Even though it was late, I ran into a lot of my cronies from various campaigns. Jeff Johnson was enjoying his election to the Hennepin County Board. The irrepressible Laura from Sue Jeffers's gubernatorial campaign was celebrating one of the Minnesota House victories. I managed to find Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN6) campaign party, and wish her well, several minutes before she made her acceptance speech before the die-hard crowd and media, after midnight. I was happy to find a few other of my fellow BPOU campaign volunteers still there. I'm not sure, but I think that I saw Sarah Janecek enter the building as I was leaving, just as Erik Paulsen delivered his acceptance speech for the Third Congressional District race.

Going up to Erik Paulsen's suite on the twentieth floor was deja vu from 2002, when a bunch of us partied in Jim Ramstad's suite (it even might have been the same room). Other than that, I did the usual wandering around looking for friends, partaking of the deli trays, and finding that most had already called it a night. With Paulsen, Bachmann, and Rep. John Kline (R-MN2) all winning, hopes alive for a Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) reelection, and at least an even performance in the Minnesota House, the mood was upbeat despite the McCain-Palin loss.

Michele Bachmann victory speech (Photo: Laura Gatz)Photo by Laura Gatz

The highlight for me was definitely Michele Bachmann's triumphant acceptance speech, very exciting and a vindication for Bachmann, with the requisite TV cameras and bright lights, and supporters waving large campaign signs. One of the handwritten signs held up said "Nice Try, Chris Matthews."

I heard Paulsen's speech on the radio on the way home around 1:40 am. I had to work today.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Night liveblog

I tried something new for this year's election night liveblog. It was powered by Cover it Live. Check out the replay below, live from the UBS Forum at Minnesota Public Radio headquarters in Saint Paul:

I voted

Central Middle School in Plymouth on Election Day morning. (Photo: North Star Liberty)
I was voter #310 at 8:40 am, Plymouth Precinct 14, Central Middle School.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A warm Minneapolis?

Minnesota needs to elect Republican legislators like Brian Grogan (HD 43B, Minnetonka-Hopkins-Plymouth) who understand that big business is not the enemy, and that Minnesota's tax and regulatory policies need to attract and keep businesses instead of driving them away.

An example of one state's success in this area is Nebraska, which recently attracted Yahoo! to the Cornhusker State:
Today Gov. Dave Heineman and corporate officials announced that Yahoo! has selected Nebraska as the home of two new developments. A 150,000 square ft. Yahoo! Data Center will be located in LaVista. A Yahoo! Customer Care Center will be located in Omaha.

“I am excited to welcome Yahoo! to Nebraska,” Gov. Heineman said. “These two projects present an extraordinary opportunity for Nebraska. It leaves no doubt that Nebraska can successfully compete for technology jobs.”

Yahoo! cited the Nebraska Advantage as a major factor in selecting Nebraska. The Nebraska Advantage was updated in the 2008 legislative session allowing Internet web portal companies to qualify for business incentives. Other factors include the availability of job training assistance, abundant fiber optic providers, low-cost utility rates, and a growing information technology-oriented workforce.

To paraphrase Hubert Humphrey, apparently Nebraska is determined not to become a warm Minnesota. We need to elect legislators who can work with Governor Pawlenty to give businesses a compelling reason to locate and stay in Minnesota.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

John Benson fact check

John Benson 'bipartisan' lit piece (photo: North Star Liberty)More batches of campaign literature continue to arrive in mailboxes (and go right into the recycling, as my wife says), including this piece from the reelection campaign of House District 43B incumbent Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka). It seeks to reassure voters that Benson is a "bipartisan" leader by leaving out some key facts from several of its claims. DFL legislators statewide are making this claim. Here's the rest of the story:

  • CLAIM: "The state budget was balanced without raising taxes."

  • FACT: As reported by Jeff Davis on True North, "The budget fix was nothing more than a band-aid and taxes were raised — significantly. Lest we forget, the override of the governor's transportation bill veto cost us a $6.6 billion tax increase on sales, fuel and vehicle registrations...The final budget deal also included a $125 million tax increase on corporations with foreign operations. This was sold to the public as "closing a corporate loophole," as if corporations were doing something underhanded. In reality, this provision was enacted by the state legislature years ago to avoid driving corporations with foreign operations out of Minnesota.

    Senate Minority Leader David Senjem (R - Rochester) cautioned that the fix relied too heavily on tapping the state's “rainy day” reserve fund and not enough on actual spending cuts. Nearly $500 million needed to balance the budget came from the state’s rainy day fund, tapping about 80% of the fund’s reserves. Senjem predicts the result will be a much worse budget problem in 2009."

Another DFL claim that Benson and others have made is the 2008 session's one-year $51 per pupil increase to school districts. This political gimmick is found money that will be characterized as a "cut to school funding" if it is not reappropriated every year.

There are going to be a lot of last-minute claims made in the last 72 hours of this campaign. Fortnately, the Internet makes it easier than ever to check these claims. Please make an informed vote on Tuesday.