The Seven Million Dollar Garage

Early in the legislative session, we’re told that everything must go through a strict protocol of committee review and vetting by public hearing. That’s why we can’t buy beer on Sunday or be secure in our digital papers and affects.

Then the end of session comes along, and suddenly our elected representatives are sneaking a seven million dollar parking garage into a last minute bonding bill.

It’s all a show. They can do what they want, when they want, how they want. Your opinion proves irrelevant.

Dayton’s Preschool Tantrum

It’s been clear for weeks now that Minnesota’s Democrat governor Mark Dayton wants a government shutdown. He’s been openly pining for it, not bothering to mask his naked partisan desire to blame Republicans going into next year’s election season.

The regular legislative session concluded late Monday night. As the deadline for the session approached, Governor Dayton repeatedly moved the goal posts on education funding, demanding ever more spending and full funding of universal preschool for four-year-olds.

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Why Are Conservatives Turning Against the Death Penalty?

Nebraska might be the last place you would expect to overturn the death penalty. A highly conservative state where Republicans dominate, Nebraska may nonetheless join a growing list of states which have abandoned capital punishment.

The trend has emerged from a shift in the application of philosophical principles. An increasing number of conservatives have come to regard capital punishment as antithetical to their vision for government. From The New York Times:
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Why Are Government Shutdowns Even a Thing?

It’s become a perennial drama. Divided government, at either the state or federal level, reaches an impasse in legislative negotiations which triggers a shutdown of government operations. Nobody claims to want it. Yet everyone seems to shape their strategy around it, with each party hoping the other will take the brunt of the blame from frustrated constituents.

Minnesota’s regular legislative session will end tonight at midnight. The chances of Democrat governor Mark Dayton reaching agreement with House Republicans stands next to nil. From all accounts, Dayton wants it that way. As the session deadline has loomed closer, the billionaire department store heir has moved the goal posts on education funding again and again. Most recently, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports Dayton will veto an education bill “if it only includes $400 million in new money for schools.”

Dayton’s banking on a hunch that Republicans will take the blame for a contentious special session and potential government shutdown. He’s “vowing that House Republicans would pay the biggest political cost” in that scenario. That’s what passes for leadership in Minnesota at the moment, triggering shutdowns on the belief political opponents will be blamed.

Why is this even a thing? You might think, with the amount of frustration that these standoffs cause for all parties concerned, there would be some proposal to reform how the budget process works so that negotiations never take place under the specter of a shutdown. If or how that would work legally, I leave to the experts. But such a proposal would quickly sort the disingenuous partisan operatives from the statesmen.

How Can Conservatives Engage the Black Community?

A new study made available to The Washington Examiner suggests that “nothing the Republican Party does, even nominating African-American GOP candidates, works to win them over.” It found that black voters turn out in troves to support Democrats, even when Republicans run an African-American candidate, and especially when that candidate opposes an African-American Democrat.

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Study Suggests “Black” Is an Ideology, Not a Skin Color

As racial tensions have ratcheted up in recent months, triggered by incidents of actual or perceived mistreatment of black men by law enforcement, fresh consideration has been afforded to what it means to be black in America. As a black Republican activist and office-holder, I retain a unique perspective. My existence, and the existence of others like me, makes one side of the debate uncomfortable. After all, it’s hard to maintain a stark whites versus blacks dichotomy in a world with black and biracial Republicans.

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Obama Calls Successful Americans “Society’s Lottery Winners”

When President Obama told American business owners that they didn’t build their own success, he shifted the credit to government for providing things like infrastructure and public schools. Now, he’s attributing success to another factor – dumb luck. From the New York Times:

Speaking to a gathering of faith leaders at Georgetown University, Obama said …his unsuccessful effort to raise taxes on hedge fund managers is an example of the refusal by conservatives to compromise for the benefit of the poor…

“If we can’t ask from society lottery winners to just make that modest investment, then really this conversation is for show,” Obama said. He added later, “If we can’t bridge that gap, I suspect we are not going to make as much progress as we need to.”

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Republican Civil War: Practicality vs. Principle

It’s an argument both perennial and perpetual. On one side, Republican partisans argue that activists should temper their expectations in recognition of “political reality.” On the other side, hardcore activists demand absolute fealty to principle, threatening to challenge straying incumbents in endorsement and primary contests.

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True Tolerance Means Tolerance of Hate

Appearing on the “All Star Political Panel” segment of TPT Almanac on Friday, I fielded a question from host Eric Eskola regarding a newly proposed Freedom of Conscience bill presented by a Minnesota state representative earlier in the week. Referencing that morning’s episode of the Fightin Words podcast, Eskola asked why I thought this attempt at securing religious liberty for Christian business owners was doomed to failure.

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Vigorously contending for individual rights.