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Name: MainStreetMN
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  1. Changing how the DFL endorses gubernatorial candidates part 2

    Gosh, it seems like the convention was so long ago … wasn’t Walz slightly ahead of Murphy after the DFL’s first ballot ? And didn’t it take seven rounds before she was declared the winner ?
    My point is that both candidates were viable … so the thought of naming candidates “DFL approved” for all standing after three rounds make sense.

    Since you mentioned how other states determine their candidates, for the first time, Maine this year is using the rank-choice method in the primary and general.
    It only took two rounds for them to determine the primary winners – http://www.lwvme.org/0620.html
    [Sidenote : One congressional candidate dropped out of the Democrat field and opted to run as an independent in November. This will make a very interesting contest … there are four candidates on the ballot … based on recent polling, the incumbent #PartyOfTrump and the Democrat Jared Golden are in a virtual tie with independents an important afterthought
    https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/poliquin-and-golden-neck-and-neck-in-democrats-poll-of-maine-2nd-district
    How voters rank the candidates will determine the outcome … how many rank Poliquin and Golden in the fourth slot will determine the winner.
    Ya gotta think that if Minnesota had this in 2016, Trump may have won the state and Angie Craig might be in Congress.]

    Gotta agree with you that “we still have to get Tim Walz elected. This isn’t just a matter of party loyalty, or some general liberalness, or just liking to be the winning team. The MNGOP might still hold both houses of the legislature after the election, and will likely hold it after 2020, so holding governor is all that stands between us and turning into Wisconsin.”

  2. Key Minnesota primary results, real quick

    A worrisome sign for the DFL is in MN-01.
    Jim Hagedorn’s victory shouldn’t have been a big surprise, but his margin was impressive. Hagedorn is on his third time and has slowly been building a support … narrowly losing to Walz in 2016. Walz’s victory was tied to Rochester (Olmsted County). Thus it wasn’t a surprise that Olmsted went strong for it’s native daughter Carla Nelson. Subtract out that county, and Hagedorn’s margin is even more impressive.
    And here’s the real kicker … look at Bob Anderson’s strong showing (garnering over 100,000 votes against Karin Housley) … and barely losing to her in MN01. Anderson seemed to campaign on being the Party of Trump with a Catholic pro-life stance. The strength of Anderson suggests that those voters would embrace Hagedorn in November. Admittedly, Dan Feehan still got more votes than both Republicans combined, but the DFL will have to win the county big in order to maintain the seat. My suggestion would to have Klobuchar, Smith and Walz rotate visiting the city on a weekly basis.

    Other than that concern (and the Keith Ellison baggage), things broke well for the DFL.

  3. Minnesota primary election today

    Your post worked …
    Total votes (preliminary as updating is constant)
    MN Governor
    DFL: 580,962
    MNGOP: 319,276

    Senate
    Amy Klobuchar: 554,611 (DFL total: 579,567)
    All MN GOP candidates: 288,482

    Tina Smith: 431,477 (DFL total: 567,404)
    All MN GOP candidates: 299,286

    A big win for the Party of Trump (aka #CultOfTrump) as those who ran embracing Trump did “extremely” (LOL) well … can you say “two-time loser Jeff Johnson announces he is running for Minnesota Governor in 2022” ?

    Seriously, isn’t it a little surprising that Karin Housley only got less than 62% of the vote and that Bob Anderson got over 100,000 votes ?

  4. MN-02: Rep. Lewis displays yet more intelligent, enlightened humanity

    Are you talking about Jason Lewis the author of “Power Divided is Power Checked: The Argument for States’ Rights” ?
    That can’t be the same Jason Lewis that voted for H.R. 38 The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 which denied States the right to decide who could carry a gun in their State ?

    BTW … Sales of “Power Divided is Power Checked: The Argument for States’ Rights” have slowed just a wee bit … Congressman Lewis reported Audible, inc.
    Audio book royalties from Audible Inc amounting to $986.00 and book royalties from
    Hillcrest Publishing Group, Inc.in the amount of $29.00.

  5. Swanson scandal risks giving away governor

    Hmmm … an elected official has relied on staff to do political work.
    Surprised ?
    Nah, after all, taxpayers paid Julie Quist, Troy Young and John-Paul Yates as members of Bachmann / Kline / Paulsen congressional staffs … only to have them be prominent in campaign activities also (a subject that was covered in 2012 http://mnpoliticalroundtable.com/2012/05/24/working-two-jobs-to-keep-john-kline-in-congress/ )
    Now, Swanson may have done this more, or less … and it shouldn’t be done … but I don’t think we should be surprised.
    And that’s where the vetting is critical.

    You are correct that Swanson will be tag with this storyline throughout the general election … already my television screen is playing a commercial complaining about Pawlenty’s education cuts by a teacher who was impacted … you gotta think that the MNGOP has already lined up some of those Swanson staffers.

    What voters should decide is who do they think can get elected … and the best argument that I have heard is
    In 2016, Tim Walz won where Hillary Clinton only got 38 percent of the vote share and has proven he can win in Red Minnesota. With Trump in the White House, now more than ever it is important that Democrats nominate someone who can beat Tim Pawlenty in November and help protect Minnesota from Trump’s worst abuses.

  6. Endorsing Richard Painter for US Senate

    Gotta disagree.

    IMO, How Tina Smith got the job is not the question. (Yes, I understand that she may have been “chosen” but that’s the way things work when an opening occurs … the Governor is in charge — [BTW a good reason to consider would Jeff Johnson give the job to Michele Bachmann if something happened to Amy Klobuchar … that’s scary.])

    So, if the question is not how she got the job, but instead how is she doing ?

    Well, look at the bills that she has sponsored and the bills she has voted on.
    Some of the more recent ones are :
    S2775 Investing in 21st Century Workforce Partnerships Act
    S2821 Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act
    S3029 Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers

    Hmmm … focused on jobs, veterans and mothers.

    Her votes:
    Reinstate Net Neutrality
    Opposing Trump nominees for HHS, State and CIA
    Opposed Trump immigration policies
    Opposed changes to bank regulations.

    So, I gotta ask … Why do I want to fire her ?
    It’s would be because of her votes or bills … and besides, she has traveled Minnesota for years … she may not be flashy, but she has made connections.
    What do we know about Richard Painter ?
    He’s a smart guy … and if this was an open seat, I would still want to know more.

    Besides, it’s too late … my bride and I already cast our votes … for Tina Smith.

  7. Changing how the DFL endorses gubernatorial candidates

    Eric,
    An interesting assessment … and may I offer some thoughts ?

    I am not a big fan of history … every year is different … the candidates, the number of candidates, the issues and timing of events (Grunseth / Wellstone) are different each time. Plus, can you really compare any election to today with the post-Citizens United campaigns to yesterday ? But, I get your point.

    That said, Minnesota is such an odd state with the impact of the Independence Party on the general election results … and the willingness of voters to go into the voting booth and vote for someone that they know has no chance of winning — but they just cannot vote for the DFL or MNGOP. (Heck, just look at 2016 presidential election and the number of votes that McMullin, Johnson, and Stein got.) Your comment about Tim Penny is spot-on … it was his strength in Rochester that tilted the election … Pawlenty won Rochester the next time as an incumbent.

    And primaries do not get the participation that a November election does. Look at how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took out Joe Crowley in NY14 by 4,116 votes but less than 27,000 were cast … in the 2016 general election, Crowley got over 147,000.
    People don’t participate in primaries … and since Minnesota is an Open Primary, crossovers and independents can vote. IMO, Dayton won in 2010 because the MNGOP thought he would be an easier candidate to beat (read my analysis http://mnpoliticalroundtable.com/2010/08/13/mn-gov-how-much-did-mn-gop-help-dayton/ ). Will Republicans have to vote in their 2018 primary because of the Pawlenty-Johnson contest … or will they have fun by voting for Murphy and Ellison in hopes of being able to brand the DFL in November ?

    So, that takes us to today’s political world and the caucus endorsement versus the primary. Ya gotta wonder if there would be as much hand wrangling if the 2018 DFL Governor’s race was called a no-endorsement after the convention’s third round ?
    And this year, there are so many candidates who just announced right before the filing deadline that even the convention delegates may look at them differently today.

    I wonder if the endorsement process should be restricted to just vetting candidates … so that you could have multiple vetted candidates for the primary.

    Guess we’ll just have to wait and see the results and your next post.

    Mac

  8. The school deform movement just will not go away

    ICYMI, The House voted on FY2019 budget providing $450 million for the Charter Schol Program … an increase of $50 million over last fiscal year.

    So, don’t say Republicans won’t spend money on schools … well, at least Charter Schools.

  9. Emergency aid readied for farmers in trade war

    Does anyone remember these comments ?

    “Government meddled us into this mess, and meddling will dig us deeper.”
    “When politicians make a mistake, they get more funding; when businesses make a mistake, they go bankrupt — or should.”

    That would be radio provocateur Jason Lewis … when he would complain about exploding government spending … citing record increases in domestic farm bills.

    If you wonder why you haven’t heard Jason on the radio lately, it’s because he is in Congress representing Minnesota’s Second District.

    FunFact : The recent Farm Bill had an amendment to phase out agricultural subsidies over a ten to twelve year period.
    The argument was that “a large portion of the agricultural community currently exists with minimal or no subsidies. The subsidies that do exist are wasteful, and prop up the top farms, and people who aren’t actually farmers.”
    Congressman Lewis voted against phasing out the subsidies.
    There was another amendment to reform the sugar policy … Congressman Lewis voted to keep the system the way it is with America paying more to protect the domestic industry.
    Oh, by the way, Congressman Lewis has received campaign donations from American Sugar Cane League Of USA INC Political Action Committee and Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative Political Action Committee.

    Sure wish somebody had access to those old radio tapes …

  10. Bad rumblings at the VA

    Remember candidate Trump said “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best.”

    Remember candidate Trump also promised “I will choose the best people for my administration.”

    So do you know the name Thayer Verschoor ?

    He is now the VA’s executive director of intergovernmental affairs.
    Shortly after joining the Trump campaign in 2016, Verschoor shared a Facebook post that praised then-candidate Trump for thinking “Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud” and understanding there’s a Muslim “problem” in the US.

    Yep … only the best people for our veterans.

  11. MN-02: Rep. Lewis is a pig, all right - Update

    For discussion sake, let’s take his word that these were just outrageous comments designed to attract listeners … and instead look at his votes and what legislation he has sponsored and what he has not sponsored.

    As of this date, Congressman Lewis has sponsored 117 pieces of legislation — everything from Congratulating the MN Lynx to tax relief for craft beer, and NO legislation stands out as relating to women

    Women may be interested in what legislation that he has not sponsored … such as …
    H.R.1318 – Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2017
    H.R.2417 – Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
    H.R.2745 – Healthy MOM Act
    H.R.5006 – Child Tax Credit for Pregnant Moms Act of 2018

    And as far as votes go, Congressman Lewis did vote for H.R. 36 Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (to ban late-term abortions nationwide after 20 weeks).

    Voters will have to decide if his words were just for radio fodder or do his votes/legislation support the ideals of the Second District.

    BTW … it would be interesting if the radio transcripts were made available for what he said about the Farm bill … ’cause my memory says he would bash farm subsidies.

  12. About the Janus ruling

    First, let’s address the PAC impacts based on the decision … tell me if I am wrong … but IMO … this is really insignificant.
    Take for example, MN where the American Federation of Government Employees (which as I read the ruling is the effected group since this dealt with government workers) contributed $40,000 in 2016 to congressional candidates. Once again, as I read the ruling employees have to opt-in … even if everyone decided not to contribute, $40k is a pretty small amount. But the employees will still want to voice their concerns to their Reps, so they will still be a force … just that the candidates won’t be expecting to get paid. Union or non-union, these people are still voters.

    Second, won’t unions confront members that without a strong union, they will lose pay and benefits ? One study (https://illinoisepi.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/ilepi-pmcr-after-janus-final.pdf ) showed the impact to Minnesota … nobody likes to pay the bill, but once you don’t have representation, you will realize the advantages of a union. The study estimated that Minnesota would still have 155,000 union paying members … the bigger problem is that the MNGOP will continue to put barriers for union membership.

    Third, although, the AFL-CIO is optimistic about growing its membership, the number of workers covered by unions has declined dramatically.

    Fourth, this really shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone … remember that the issue was previously heard but Justice Antonin Scalia died before the court could release its opinion, leaving the eight-member court deadlocked 4-4. Did anyone think that Gorsuch would join the dissenters ?

    I will close with a positive note … did you see that that a segment of a Boeing plant in South Carolina voted to unionize ?
    https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/06/01/616065875/boeing-flight-line-workers-in-charleston-s-c-vote-to-unionize

  13. 2018 DFL State Convention Day 3

    “Murphy just handed Republicans a stick to beat her with.”

    Even if the Republicans don’t brand her with a nickname, they will brand her based on her past statements and issue stands … which will only play to their base. Elections are all about turnout … and this pick can only help Republicans.

    Frankly, why did Murphy pick Erin Maye Quade ? I comprehend her political positions, but does she have the experience and political moxie to be Governor if something happened to Murphy ? If her issues are important to her, wouldn’t being an active member of the legislature be a better spot than Lt. Gov ? Even from a practical political standpoint, doesn’t her leaving 57A just benefit the MNGOP candidate — Matt Lundin — after all this was a long time MNGOP seat until Tara Mack had a “parking” problem … remember Maye Quade only won by less than 1,200 votes.

    IMO — Murphy made a blunder. Too many Minnesotans don’t know anything about wannabe Governor Murphy to begin with, but she has a good story to tell … but this was the wrong choice … it makes me wonder who else she considered … and if anyone refused.

    Thus, the question that needs to be asked :
    Is it time to eliminate the Lt. Gov position ?

    Are you excited that Donna Bergstrom may be your next LtGuv ?
    Let’s ignore the fact that she failed to get the GOP endorsement for 7A in 2014 and failed in a state senate race in 2016 garnering less than 35% of the vote … and focus in on the fact that soon-to-be-Governor Jeff Johnson has named her his choice.

    What are the duties of the Lt. Gov. ?
    It must be fishing … ’cause at the MNGOP convention, former Governor Tim Pawlenty Lt. Gov Carol Molnau convention video address (played by the Johnson campaign)
    “I had a lot of fun with him at the fishing openers. I wish him well, but I’m not looking forward to seeing him in St. Paul.”

    Who was the last Lt. Gov. that ever went on to be elected to another office … (remember that Tina Smith was appointed, so ya can’t say her … and it’s too early for Michelle Fischbach as she needs a Pawlenty win this year) … Rudy Perpich is probably the right answer.

    I doubt that Maye Quade is gonna add any more votes on the DFL side, but she will motivate Republicans.
    Fishchbach or Bergstrom are safe choices … they won’t add any GOP votes but they won’t motivate anyone to go to the polls to vote for the DFL candidate.

  14. Democracy in Action: Walz and the NRA

    For discussion sake, can we postulate that with President Trump vowing to protect gun rights, Congress will take no action in the near term … thus any legislative change must be at the State level.
    The next governor — be it Republican or DFLer will have to deal with a legislature … and that may not be on the top of their “to-do” list considering that any change will be branded an infringement on federal rights. (BTW … Currently, Minnesota is one of the few states that do not have a right to keep and bear arms amendment in its state Constitution … although now retired State Representative Tony Cornish did try to get an amendment approved.)

    And Tony Cornish definitely made his mark on Minnesota gun rights … it was his efforts in 2003 that got the Conceal-and-Carry law on the books … and as it was Governor Tim Pawlenty on his WCCO-AM radio show that said other states have not experienced more gunplay after making concealed weapons permits easier to get. “The 38 other states that have the (`concealed carry`) law, on a per capita or pro rata basis, are not experiencing any worse incidences of violent crime or gun violence than Minnesota…people will be safer and crime will be deterred.” April 28, 2003

    IMO, two factors — Congress letting the Assault Weapons Ban expire in 2004 and the Pawlenty-backed Conceal-and-Carry legislation — fostered an environment that changed views on gun rights.

    So, let’s discuss Walz … and recognize his background on a family farm. Ya gotta suspect that guns were prevalent … just as raccoons, possums, skunks and weasels were there … and hunting was for deer meat. Back then the NRA was probably seen in the same light as 4H …. and NRA grants were often provided in equipment with schools providing rifles, ammunition, safety gear and updates to shooting ranges. Read his bio : “Completing his first rifle marksmanship class when he was just a Cub Scout, Congressman Walz was a natural and frequently took his first gun, a .22 caliber rifle, to the shooting range with his dad.”
    Would anyone be surprised that he would get a NRA endorsement … sure, why not he is a sportsman.

    But times change.
    Earlier this month, my bride and I were walking to the bank and had to wait for the light to change. My bride noticed the motorcyclist had stopped for the red light so we could cross and said to me “when I see guys like that I think of Don” ( a friend who had died after a motorcycle accident.) She saw that he was not wearing a helmet … I noticed something else and told her not to worry, he was protected — he had a firearm on his belt. This was in Mankato … Tim Walz’s city.

    WHY did this guy need a gun ? There were no raccoons running across the street … he did not seem to be transporting diamonds for sale and needed protection from being robbed.
    IMO, he was just expressing his Second Amendment right and compiling to the law that he is not required to wear a helmet since he was well over 18.
    It was more important to him to be the “good guy with a gun willing to take down the bad guy” than protecting himself from a head injury. Think about it … in 2016, 161 people died in motorcycle crashes were not wearing a helmet … versus … in 2014, 5 incidents in which “good guys” exchanged gunfire with a shooter, leading to either the shooter being killed, wounded or taking his own life.
    But that’s his call of Freedom from government intrusion.

    So Walz has evolved … great !
    He will take backlash from some NRA devotees (which is understandable) … but if he has evolved, should he be bashed for his previous positions ?

    Let’s acknowledge that it does take political courage to put yourself in cross-hairs of NRA voters (as well as the Moms Demand Action, Sandy Hook Promise, et al.) … especially for those that evolve.

    Walz says he has … Pawlenty?

    Yet, the real question has to be : How much does the governor matter ?
    Isn’t it really the state legislature ?
    Didn’t Dayton advocate for gun control legislation and got no where ?

    So, let’s take hope in what happened yesterday in Virginia.
    After the 2017 elections when the Democrats improved their leverage in the state legislature, they were able to pass a legislation providing for roughly 400,000 newly eligible low-income Virginians to begin enrolling in Medicaid at the start of next year … the Virginia Senate approved it when four Republicans joined Democrats for 23-17 margin.

    If you really care about changing gun laws in Minnesota — and I do — well, ask yourself “Who would be more likely to win over Republicans and Democrats than a man who had earned “A” ratings from the NRA ?”

  15. Six Reasons to Choose Tim Walz the DFL Nominee for Governor

    While electability -vs- governance is a discussion for the future ( “BlueDogWalz” -vs- Sam’s Club Pawlenty) does offer one key advantage that the other DFLers don’t have. Simple stated, he has won in the county that matters.

    Where will the election be decided ?
    Rochester … err Olmsted County. When Pawlenty won the 2006, it was by winning Olmsted County by 9,000 votes and the state by just 21,000 (where Tim Walz beat incumbent and Rochester-native Gil Gutknecht by 1,800 votes.) Walz did have an advantage with his stance on the D&M Railroad which Gutknecht supported over the objections of many Rochester business and citizens … plus the Iraq war … but it made people look at an unknown teacher — who trailblazed the district for a year — and he has maintained his connections in Rochester … including maintaining a district office there.
    While Walz has seen his margins dip over the past few years, Olmsted County has remained in his column. Not only did that prove out in 2006, but also in 2016. For reference Clinton won the county by 600 votes with McMullin and Johnson getting over 5,000 votes — Walz beat Hagedorn by over 5,300 votes but won the district by less than 3,700 votes.

    On the VA Committee, Walz has injected himself into other Districts … holding joint sessions with Emmer, Peterson and Nolan. On the negative side, Walz did get ripped by the Mankato Free Press Editorial Board for missing so many roll call votes — especially the farm bill.

    All that said, I heard Pawlenty on WCCO’s Chad Hartman program on Friday. Hartman asked him … paraphrasing … “OK, there were a lot of things that you did not like about Dayton’s policies, but was there any program or policy that you did like ?”
    A great question … surely, he could find something … but he couldn’t … instead he tasked the Legislature and Dayton for failing to address the Trump Tax Plan.
    That should be a key … Pawlenty will follow the Trump model and reverse every Dayton program … he will swing the Minnesota Courts … and yes, as you mentioned, re-districting will be influenced by the next governor.
    BTW …. what Pawlenty said on Hartman’s show should be a real concern for fiscal conservatives … he wants more tax cuts … including no tax on social security benefits … and no mention of what programs he will cut.

  16. The fine mess that Enbridge Line 3 has become

    ICYMI …
    Enbridge Fined for Failing to Fully Inspect Pipelines After Kalamazoo Oil Spill

    The Canadian oil pipeline company responsible for one of the largest inland oil spills on record has agreed to pay a $1.8 million fine for failing to thoroughly inspect its pipelines for weaknesses as required under a 2016 agreement.

    Federal officials say Enbridge, Inc., did not carry out timely and thorough inspections on one of its pipeline systems, as it had agreed to do as part of a consent decree reached with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Justice.

    More than 1 million gallons of tar sands oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River near the town of Marshall when a 6-foot rupture opened in Enbridge pipeline 6B. Despite warnings of trouble, oil flowed for 17 hours before Enbridge shut down the pipeline. Ultimately, the oil pushed nearly 40 miles downriver, fouling 4,435 acres of land near the river’s banks. It triggered a massive cleanup effort that cost the company $1.2 billion and kept the river closed for nearly two years.

    As part of a sweeping, $177 million settlement, Enbridge promised to look for cracks and corrosion on its Lakehead pipeline system, a nearly 2,000-mile grid of pipelines that brings oil from Canada into the United States.

    In a document filed in a Michigan federal court on Tuesday, the government alleges that Enbridge failed to properly conduct six inspections.

    Although the company agreed to pay the fine, it nevertheless denied that it violated the terms of the consent decree and said it had properly inspected the pipelines.

    My concern ….
    The spill took place in 2010 under the Obama Administration and it is taking this long for all the legal actions to be resolved … what if a similar event happened today ?
    What actions — if any — would the Trump Administration led by Scott Pruitt take ?
    How would a Republican Minnesota governor react ?
    How would Republicans in Congress react — Pete Stauber, Jim Hagedorn, Jason Lewis, Erik Paulsen, Karin Housley and of course, Tom Emmer.

    Elections matter … our world took a drastic turn with the empowerment of Donald Trump and his cronies.

  17. Abortion rights stuff nationally and in Minnesota

    Another bill under consideration was introduced by Rep. Kathy Lohmer (R-Stillwater) and Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka), HF 2998 / SF 2644 would require the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to create “Choose Life” license plates, with proceeds going to Positive Alternative to Abortion grantees (i.e. crisis pregnancy centers). At least 11 states give grants of public money to pregnancy centers or have done so in recent years. “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” aka CPC – have been known to provide false and misleading information. There is a bill in Congress to address this problem — H.R.2566 – Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Healthcare Services Act — and has been sponsored by Betty McCollum.

    On an unrelated but related subject, did you read that the Trump Administration has issued new exemptions to the ACA requirement that people maintain a qualified health insurance plan or pay a penalty. (Ya probably know that the Tax Reform and Jobs Act provides for elimination of that penalty, but that does not go into effect until 2019.)
    The new exemption, called “hardship exemptions”, provides an exemption if they can’t find a marketplace plan that meets not only their coverage needs but also reflects their view if they are opposed to abortion. In the various news reports, there is no mention if the “insured” needs to be able to give birth — raising the question could men get an exemption?

  18. Does anyone know Trump's goal in Syria?

    Please add to your list of questions,
    Where are ISIS fighters and how many are presently based in Syria ?
    And if they have left Syria, where are they ?

    As Members of Congress should know, the liberation of Mosul and Raqqa are major victories for anti-ISIS forces, but the terrorist group is far from defeated, even in the region. Many jihadis not killed on the battlefield have chosen to hide, rearm, and recuperate-going underground for a period before reemerging to fight the next
    phase of the insurgency. Reports about the current location of remaining ISIS fighters vary. While there is evidence that some fighters are returning to their home countries, other reports indicate that fighters moved into Syria’s Idlib province … but where are they now?

    Regarding the Trump suggestion, which you cited — to have other countries in the region offer support … leads to a question that should tell you how informed the candidate is : Not “what’s the difference between Sunni and Shiite” but “Should there be any concern who supports Jaysh al-Islam (Saudi Arabia) or Ahrar al-Sham (Turkey) ?”
    Now Trump may not have a Syria strategy, but Assad had made the reconquest of Eastern Ghouta a strategic goal. The Jaysh al-Islam rebel group was in control of Douma in Eastern Ghouta.
    FYI : At the start of the year Eastern Ghouta was a sprawling semi-rural area just east of Damascus, home to almost 400,000 inhabitants. The Syrian government backed by Russian forces launched a massive assault on February 18 to retake the area, which had been out of regime control since 2012.
    The intense bombardment killed some 1,700 civilians according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, and pulverized the area, reducing many neighborhoods to rubble.

    On April 15th, an Syrian Arab Army spokesman said “Areas of Eastern Ghouta in rural Damascus have been fully cleansed of terrorism,” as the rebels of Jaish Al-Islam moved into Jarablus in northern Syria in a deal with government.

    IMO, the war is over … the Russians and Assad have won the civil war … and ya gotta give credit to Trump … after all, it was reported in July 2017 that Trump decided to halt a covert CIA program to arm and train rebels fighting al-Assad’s regime in Syria, a move Russia has long pushed for it, and reported discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 7. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted: “If this is true, a big loss for: 1) Syrians who have been relentlessly attacked by Assad 2) Our Arab partners 3) US standing in the Middle East.”
    Yep, give Trump credit … the “dealmaker”, capitulated to Vladimir Putin, providing complete surrender to Russian interests.

    Trump never has had a Syria plan … but the threat is really from the ISIS fighters … and we don’t know where they are mobilizing … and Trump doesn’t have a clue.

  19. Panic, on the part of the MN GOP? Or what?

    Hmmm … “one of Tim Pawlenty’s “legacies” as governor was slashing LGA” means that voters need to take a walk down memory lane …. to his 2009 State of the State address and what he was advocating for (as this commentary noted that Minnesota’s infrastructure is aging and needing upgrades … in Backus, Biwabik, Chisholm, Duluth, Eveleth, Gilbert, Hamburg, Hibbing, Mora, North Branch, Vernon Center, Waldorf, Willmar or any of the more than 30 communities that submitted requests for funding through the bonding proposal for the 2010 legislative session.)

    Fast forward to today … do you think that Rod Hamilton who represents HD22B hears about the need to increase the state’s share of the costs for wastewater infrastructure from residents in Lakefield ? Lakefield, a small city with a population of 1,691, is also bracing for potentially massive rate increases to pay for a $22 million upgrade to its wastewater system. The city’s average residential water and sewer rates would have to nearly double to $190 a month to cover this cost without financial assistance from the state. The potential increases are so high that there is concern people won’t want to live there.
    The 2010 question is being repeated today — “How do they expect our small cities to survive?”

    It isn’t just Lakefield, but the city of Glencoe (18B is represented by Glenn Gruenhagen) is facing $22.3 million in costs to replace portions of its facility that are more than 50 years old … Albert Lea (represented by another Republican, Peggy Bennett HD27A) needs to undergo a project that is estimated to cost $72.5 million. Without state help, the city’s wastewater rates would have to nearly triple to an average of $1,082 a year.

    A side note to this problem is that many communities are surrounded by farms — and while the federal government should do something with infrastructure, Trump is waging a tariff war … with the first victim being the farmer (who needs to know that he will have a customer for his soybeans). Property taxes are a fixed cost to the family farm … and they will not want to see their taxes go up because their community has to upgrade its water infrastructure.

    So should it be a surprise that the Republicans in the state legislature want to show some level of understanding of the need for state funding ?
    And there answer …. $30 million.
    Really ?

  20. "Right-to-work" is a disaster for Wisconsin's workers

    Great point.
    The 2018 elections will determine who controls the governorship and state legislature. With MNGOP control of the current legislature and a recognizable name in Tim Pawlenty, their chances are more than good.
    And the consequences are scary.
    The 2020 census will create reapportion of the districts, but the next governor will select judges and fill commissions.
    The lesson from 2016 should be the impact that Trump has had … the undoing of regulations by the executive branch and judges confirmed has been under-reported … but will be felt for decades.

    For example, the Senate has now confirmed John Ring to the National Labor Relations Board … by a 50-48 vote. Previously, they had confirmed Bill Emanuel so there are now more Republicans on the NLRB than Democrats.
    And who is angry about these selections ???
    The National Right To Work Committee is worried that, between Emanuel and Ring, the Republican majority would recuse itself out of opportunities to reverse Obama-era precedents … because there would be a conflict of interest owing to previous employment at management-side law firms who represent companies before the NRLB.
    The National Right to Work just wanted a lackey who could act immediately on all cases and not have to recuse from any.

    There is a lot more at stake than ever.

  21. Minnesota soybean farmers could get crushed by Trump trade war

    Isn’t the logical thought that Trump’s actions would cause stress for American farmers ?

    Well, Tom Emmer must have anticipated this since he authored Stemming the Tide of Rural Economic Stress and Suicide (STRESS) Act (H.R. 5259) to make mental health treatment more available to farmers.

    Sound good doesn’t it ?

    Well, don’t be fooled by this re-election ploy … the bill has ZERO dollars in it … in fact, the provision for it was included in prior farm bills but the Republican-controlled House has never funded it.
    Why should anyone think that it would when Emmer voted against the most recent government funding bill ?

  22. Intriguing recent polling of rural voters

    Your readers might appreciate the MPR story on Cass County where Trump won 62% of the vote with Clinton getting 31% and independents getting 7%. The Trump voters still support him but do not like the Republicans plans to cut Medicaid.

    Here’s the interesting sidenote …. in 2016 Cass County, Trump (9982) outperformed Mills (9407) with others getting 1068 votes while Nolan (6287) outperformed Clinton (4949). Voters side with the MN-GOP candidates in the state Minnesota 9709 versus 5666 and the state House contests 9710-5560.

    Compare that to 2012 Cass County, Romney won 8957 to Obama 6858 with 210 votes going to others. In the House, Cravaack won 8086 to Nolan 7199.

    Strictly looking at Cass County, my assessment is the county will always tend to vote for the GOP candidate … and the best argument is that with the legislature being controlled by the Republicans (in Congress as well as in Minnesota), that if you want to protect yourself from Republican policy views, ya better vote for the opposition.

  23. Regarding that poll about Republicans and college

    How do you factor in the cost of college ?
    And the argument that colleges may not prepare you for today’s jobs ?

    Let me put on my GOP cap — and ignoring the chatter that universities are home to brainwashing liberals (except of course, Liberty, George Mason, Pepperdine, Rice, etc.), and I read that student debt is crippling recent graduates, state colleges are asking for more money, there are no jobs for many graduates because they do not have the right skills.
    Then I get a mass mailing from my Republican Congressman telling me how he is working to change the “Skills gap” to create jobs for our kids.
    Of course the mass mailing never mentions the student debt related to For-Profit schools — University of Phoenix, Capella University, DeVry University, National American University, etc … and that those schools who stress you will get a job have such low job placement rates as well as low graduation rates.
    It becomes easy to blame colleges.

    And once again the Republicans win the message contest.

  24. Intriguing recent polling of rural voters

    “The right wing had a good election in Minnesota in 2016 because rural DFLers skipped this one and rural swing voters went for Trump. That’s bad.”

    Tony offers some very good analysis … although, my impression is that if he included the mid-term years, he would find that it is even more apparent that the MN-GOP consistently gets its voters to participate (look to when the MN-GOP retook the House in 2014,what was the MinnPost headline — “With big assist from rural voters, GOP retakes House”.

    Let us remember that Mark Dayton topped Republican Tom Emmer by roughly 9000 votes in 2010 but Dayton won big in 2014 against Jeff Johnson by over 109,000.
    The total number of votes in 2010 was 2,106,979.
    The total number of votes in 2014 was 1,975,406.
    So why was able to Dayton able to squeak by in 2010 but blow out the GOP challenger when less people voted ?
    The answer is in the strength of the third-party … to provide a reason for people to go to the polls to cast a “Anybody but” vote. In 2010, Tom Horner lead the third-party challengers with over 250,000 while all the third-party challengers in 2014 didn’t even tally over 110,000.

    Now, when you look at Trump’s almost win, you see how much more likely it could have been when you consider the votes that Evan McMullin and Gary Johnson tallied more than 166,000 votes … easily more than enough to have overcome Clinton’s roughly 44,000 margin.

    Also, let’s not forget that the Lewis-Craig contested was impacted by the 7.8% of the votes that went to Independent Party challenger Overby.

    IMO, the MN-GOP promotes (fear mongers) the issues (abortion, guns, regulations, government overreach, immigrants taking jobs, taxes, etc.) that drives people to participate … and on Election Night, they prove that fear wins.

  25. Re-Post: CHOICE ~ Giving the Big Banks a Dirty Bomb

    FYI : CHOICE stands for Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs

    Doesn’t that say it all “Hope investors send us campaign donaitons”

    Tom Emmer was the lone Minnesotan to sponsor #HR10 but was joined by Erik Paulsen and Jason Lewis in voting for the legislation (all Democrats voted NO.)

    It should be pointed out that the one Republican who voted NO issued a statement explaining why — it would be harmful to veterans. Why this was not a concern for Representatives Emmer, Lewis and Paulsen is something worthy of an election question.

    Actually, there were a number of organizations that voiced concern (see the MN Political Roundtable review of Erik Paulsen’s claims of why this legislation was necessary — yep, they are outrageous.)