The Four Ps

Written by Yappy.

It is Convention season, and some of our brightest Republican friends are again saying that “the Platform is too long.”  They may be correct, but the question is, too long for WHAT?  Until you know the purpose of the platform process and the platform document, you cannot say.  Others call for the entire platform to be eliminated and replaced with a “Statement of Principles,” but that has the same flaw-- we must ask WHY?  What does that accomplish that the current platform does not, and vice versa?  Before we do anything drastic, we need to understand these things.   “P” stands for “Problem” and we need FIVE  “Ps”—principles, policies, a platform and a set of promises, plus a process for creating and maintaining them-- to create a solution, since our disagreements stem simply from trying to cram what should be four documents into one.  Here’s how I see it. 

Principles are like posteriors.  They serve a necessary function and everybody needs one, but you'll never get 2000 people to agree on exactly how to describe the perfect one in just a few words.  The real problem is that we are trying to do too many things with a single platform document.  We (first) want to be able to explain, in a few simple terms, what Republicans in general stand for -- a "marketing document" that fits on one page and that the vast majority of voters would agree with at first glance.  I've seen it done with five short sentences on a business card.  Let some committee come up with one, and let it stand until somebody comes up with one vastly superior to it.  Or have several.  We already have one, the "We Believe document," which has been widely published and accepted, and we have the recently adopted (but longer) Principles that preface the current platform.  Nothing more is needed, but YMMV—Your Mileage May Vary. 

 We also need a more detailed document that describes those public policies that we derive from those "principles."  These “Policies” would be general statements of preference, like “taxation that is low, simple and fair.”   Once established, like the Principles, they would change very little unless substantial reform of government were to occur, in which case this document would become shorter.  The process would be a periodic review to verify whether or not each of those policies was implemented into law, and assure that each was based on one or more principles.  If they were in conflict, then have we got the policy wrong, or have we misstated the principle?  Ay, that is the rub, as Shakespeare would say.  But it would quiet the arguments about “consistency.”  Perhaps the preface to each of the current platform sections serves this purpose?

The closest thing we would have to a “Platform,” if that is the word we choose (and we probably should), would be completely (or largely) rewritten every two years.  What is critically important, and is NOT preserved by radically reducing the platform or by replacing it with a one-page statement of principle, is to recognize the concerns of caucus attendees, as expressed in the resolutions Process.  People deserve, need, and want to be "heard" in the making of public policy.  Currently, the thousands of individual resolutions at caucus get whittled down to a precious few by the Herculean efforts of the State Platform Committee, and much is lost, but it is done simply to keep the standing platform from blowing up to a completely unmanageable size.  By substantial  rewrites every two years or perhaps even every year, we directly address people's concerns of the moment, and with substantial specificity.  We will have removed from this document the general policies and statements of principle found in our current platform so that we can more effectively and specifically guide our legislators.  Specific legislation, like Eddie Eagle or the NAFTA superhighway, could be placed here, and “sunsetted” in the following year (or convention), holding this new State Platform to a much more manageable size.  Right now, in Second District, we create a "resolutions summary" that includes ALL resolutions, and goes from every BPOU straight to their elected officials.  That would be like this proposed Platform document, and it could simply go directly to the Congressional and then State Platform Committee for consolidation and word-smithing—a much simpler, fairer and fully transparent process. 

The fourth document we would like is a short, clear list of things our politicians would commit to doing in the upcoming term, if elected (to the majority).  Call it the "Promises" or "Contract with Minnesota."  There are two schools of thought on this, that the State Convention would write this contract, or that those who have dedicated themselves to the effort of getting elected and serving as legislators would write it themselves, based on the previous three documents and their knowledge of the issues, which to me is the only fair and reasonable way to do it.

So that's it: four purposes, four different documents, four different processes.  Our disagreements stem from trying to cram all of them together into one.  Okay?

It’s like This

Written by Yappy.

Analogies are to serious debate like popcorn is to a Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s quick and easy, but never as satisfying.  The only way analogies are helpful in political debate is that they can make sometimes-abstract ideas easier to understand, but only for those willing to understand.  Those determined to be contrary will quickly point out how the analogy fails, so you first have to know your audience, and then understand the issue well enough so that you can construct a reasonable analogy.  Let’s try one.

Say you and the wife and baby are living in a nice little two-bedroom apartment.  You fixed it up a bit to suit yourself; it’s warm and dry and safe and, besides, it’s all you can afford right now.  Now the sheriff shows up and tells you that you have to move out, that this building is condemned, but that he has a new house picked out for you.  Of course there is no way that you can afford the payments on this new place, not to mention that the floor creaks and the roof leaks and, because of the leak, there’s probably black mold all through the house that will be dangerous to the health of your baby.  You complain, loudly, and the sheriff, knowing he has an election coming up, says, “tell you what I’m going to do: you don’t have to move in until next year”!  So, next year you still won’t be able to afford it, it still won’t be what you want, and it’s still going to be harmful to you and your family.  Not only that, where are you going to live between now and then?

I’m trying to draw an analogy here with Obama’s [illegal] “postponement” of the worst features of Obamacare (approximately all of them).  If Obamacare is so awful that it is indefensible in an election year, why is it not equally awful and indefensible next year?  If the damage has already been done, how is postponing the supposed “fix” even remotely desirable?  With the analogy raising questions like these I am starting to think that rational debate is not going to be possible.  It ought to be unnecessary.

Bully Your State Senator

Written by Yappy.

Dear Sen. [insert name]:  I strongly urge you to vote against H.F.  826, the so-called “Anti-Bullying Bill,” and to urge your colleagues to do likewise.  It is absolutely unnecessary, unfair, and probably unworkable, with many unintended consequences.

It is not necessary because every parent, teacher, school, community and society in general has rules and expectations of behavior for our children, and common-sense means of teaching against and correcting childish missteps.  There is already a state law requiring schools to have an anti-bullying policy, in addition to the obligations schools have always had to teach common values like respect and trustworthiness.  The new law is unnecessary because this status quo is succeeding.  We do not need more law. 

The new law is unfair because it defines bullying in an entirely new way and imposes that one-size-fits-all definition not on everybody equally – for that reason alone a bad idea – but only those whose behavior is directed against a member of a “special class” defined in the law.  This in essence alters the definition of bullying to that of a “thought crime” based on the group identity of the child supposedly being bullied—from tangible behavior to intangible “intent.”  Rather than correcting behavior, we are trying to force politically-correct thinking onto children who may not even know enough to “know better.”  In short, don’t ALL kids deserve to be protected from bullying behavior, as in current policy?   

Worst of all, this unnecessary and unfair bill is unworkable because of the huge bureaucracy and cost involved—haven’t we seen enough idiocy from those rigid zero-tolerance policies—and likely to have exactly the opposite effect intended.  It replaces the occasional childish misbehavior with massive bullying by the almighty state, and for the crime of “wrong thinking” rather than for egregious bad behavior.  This will create a poisonous atmosphere in our schools, where no one will dare speak to anyone for fear of offense, and the heavy hand of the law will be used as a weapon by children that this law allows to amplify any grievance.  You know, parents used to teach their children not to bully (and still do), but they also taught us how to deal with bullies, particularly of the old “sticks and stones” variety.  It almost always stopped the verbal abuse, but without making a Salem witch trial out of it, and it was only applied to true abuse, not some complaint fabricated to stifle free speech or a difference of opinion, or just to settle some childish “score.”  This law creates a world none of us wants, so again, please work against this bill.  Thank you. 

In a Nuthouse

Written by Yappy.

The biggest problem in this State, and in this country, “in a nutshell,” is not that our elected leaders believe they must solve every problem for everybody, nor their belief that they have the unlimited authority to do so, but the unbridled conceit that they CAN.

The Whirlpool Compromise

Written by Yappy.

Well, I see that the nationwide demonstrations of fast food workers demanding an immediate raise to $15 an hour (twice the current minimum wage) have died down, just as always happens when liberals' fantasy-based follies are treated as what they are. But liberals have such a gift for continually denying reality, you can expect this headline to be back again, like a bad TV rerun. When that happens, I want to suggest to some of these employers that they employ what I call the "Whirlpool compromise."

It works like this:  many years ago there was a Whirlpool appliance factory near Cincinnati, Ohio. They employed some 14,000 workers and everything was just fine until some union leader needed to demonstrate his importance.   He went to management and observed that the average wage in the factory was about $10 per hour, but that they were all members of the United Auto Workers union, and UAW members at the auto plants in nearby Detroit were making $14 per hour.  It was only fair and right, said he, that all of HIS members should ALSO be making $14 per hour.  Management explained that the appliance business was highly competitive and operated on very thin margins, and they could not possibly pay $14 per hour and stay in business. The union leader insisted, and when management naturally insisted contrarily and on staying in business, the union went out on strike. This went on for a number of weeks, with the union absolutely intransigent and management unable to accommodate them.  Finally, management called the union negotiators back with a new, "compromise" offer. "Here is what we can do," they said, "right now we have 14,000 workers at $10 per hour. We are willing to pay 10,000 workers $14 per hour. You choose."  The union went back to work.   Apparently $10 per hour for 40 hours was better than $14 per hour for zero hours.  Nobody wanted to be one of the 4000. Liberals are great at denying reality, so sometimes you have to slap them in the face with it. Call it a compromise.

Terrible Twos

Written by Yappy.

I was suddenly struck a while back by the juxtaposition of two news stories: the flap over New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s supposed “offramp-gate” scandal and the hue and cry over the name of the Washington Redskins football team.  Surely those of you who have watched or are watching small children know exactly what I mean?  That is, somewhere around the age of one when a child is walking well and getting into everything, you see them taking great delight in one particular discovery – the discovery that they can make things happen.  One of the favorites, if older children or parents will play, is to push on a person or thing and see it move or topple over.  This goes on, to their great delight, until the subject tires of the sport and resists, or stays toppled, at which time the child is outraged at the former, or moves on to something else in the latter. 

Liberals are exactly like that!  They will scream and kick their feet in protest (remember Gov. Dayton leading a protest against the Redskins?) and they’re still screaming about it.  They’re still screaming about Christie, too, but he isn’t playing and eventually, they will shut up and find some NEW target.  Remember how Newt Gingrich had to step down as Speaker, and as soon as he did, the liberals went after the NEXT speaker?   Hopefully, the adults will eventually learn to just say “no” to these spoiled infant despots-in-training, and we’ll all be better off for it.  We need to learn fast, however, because for most of these liberals, the “terrible twos” are the next stage, where they simply won’t do what makes sense, regardless of what the older and wiser adults may tell them.   Somebody get me a switch.

Let Us All Be Rich!

Written by Yappy.

OK, if the debate is not over whether to raise the minimum wage, but over how much, then now is the perfect time to ask the age-old question that the utopians never want to answer, which is, why not $25 per hour?  Heck, why not $100 per hour; we could all be rich!  You see, every single argument they advance as to why it should NOT be $100 per hour, other than “that’s ridiculous,” (whereupon you ask “WHY is it ridiculous?”) applies equally to any number below that, just to a lesser degree.  Surely a minimum wage of $100 per hour would find EVERYBODY out of work or disastrous inflation on prices to match, or some combination of both.  So why should $9.50 be any different other than in degree?  Kids have a tough enough time finding summer or after-school jobs as it is, so my question would be, how many people does the DFL want to put out of work?

I’m sure I’ve told this story a thousand times, but a caller to a local conservative talk show said, “I’m as conservative as anybody, but I just love to see the minimum wage go up.  I am in the automation business, and an increase in the minimum wage sends my business through the roof.”   I’ve already seen it in Europe.  Every McDonald’s you walk into, nobody takes your order; you punch what you want into the machine—it works great—and go pick it up at the counter.  Now, a US firm has announced the fully automated “burger flipper” robot, that builds and cooks your burger to your order, and the only human involved is the one loading the raw food into the machine.  It can make hundreds of burgers an hour and costs less than one year’s salary of the people it replaces.  Raise the minimum wage, and this company will make a fortune, putting millions of people out of work.  Here’s the thing.  If somebody wants to pay me $5 per hour to do a job, and I am willing to take the job at $5 per hour, who does the DFL think it is telling me I have to stay unemployed?

 

Recasting Reagan’s 11th

Written by Yappy.

Ronald Reagan famously said, “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican,” and it became known as "Reagan's 11th commandment."   For many of my fellow Republicans, however, this sensible commandment is, as Shakespeare said, “More honored in the breech than in the observance.”  That is, it is better for us to break it than to follow it. They are partly right. Certainly we need to expect our elected officials to hold to conservative principle, but that need not and should not take the form of unbridled criticism, especially when much of that criticism is unwarranted and even works counter to our own best interests.

We elect Republicans because their principles are closer to ours than ANY Democrat’s, regardless of what Democrats may say. When it appears our elected Republicans have strayed from principle we do indeed have the right and duty to question their statements and votes, but we must also remember that every vote they take is a conflict among multiple principles, policy objectives and political considerations. Most of these criticisms, therefore, share two glaring faults. First, we tend to have imperfect information. Our representatives are the ones in the action, elected and paid to know more than we do about what is in a particular piece of legislation and what its real-world effect may be.  For example, characterizing the recent Continuing Resolution as "$1.1 trillion of pork" is so wildly deceptive as to be worthy of a Democrat talking point. Only a tiny fraction of that spending could legitimately be called pork at all, and Republicans have led the charge to eliminate these "earmarks" entirely.  In short, the criticism is invalid, and harms the Republican brand by promulgating an untruth. 

The second fault is the general one applied to all criticism, which is that you can't fairly or constructively criticize unless you offer a better alternative. The example here is the criticism that "Republicans voted not to defund Obamacare."   The statement, while true, completely (and deliberately) misses the point. Republicans did in fact vote many times to defund Obamacare in the House, and finally attached it to the "must pass" continuing resolution to keep the government open. But the U.S. Senate refused to act on that, or on any of the three or four subsequent compromises Republicans passed, while Obama shut down the government, closed national parks and told government employees to make the shutdown as painful as possible while he and his minions in the media blamed Republicans endlessly and mercilessly. Those who criticize Republicans for yielding to this outrageous Democrat extortion and slander never offer a plausible alternative course of action. All that "standing on principle" was gaining the Republicans was a rapid erosion of their poll ratings and our ability to elect Republicans in the next election cycle. 

And that is why keeping this commandment is so important.  It is because Democrats cannot win being truthful about their policy positions and are reduced to criticizing Republicans as their only strategy. When we criticize our Republican candidates unfairly we only offer Democrats more ammunition for their scurrilous attacks. Certainly they will simply make something up if we don't, but we shouldn't be helping them with “stuff” they will certainly use to persuade our conservative brethren to vote against our own best candidate.

Cutting Off Your Nose

Written by Yappy.

Newt Gingrich,  along with many others, argues that the taxpayers should not be “bailing out the big [health] insurance companies” when they inevitably lose money on their Obamacare policies.  Certainly those companies brought some of this on themselves, believing that there would be millions of new customers out there following the mandate, and bringing in large taxpayer subsidies with them.  They believed the lies and got greedy.  Still, someone must have foreseen the reality.  Why else would these massive bailouts have been written into the law in the first place? 

It is also probably true that having Republicans seek to deny these bailouts would be politically popular, but believing that such an action would be a strong blow struck against Obamacare is not.  For Republicans, it would be “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”  Obamacare doesn’t care if these companies go bankrupt and out of business.  But if the fervently-desired repeal of Obamacare is to be realized, we are going to NEED these companies to participate in the free market solution that follows.  Some would even say that denying these bailouts furthers the evil strategy of the Democrats, to bankrupt these companies and pave the way for single-payer.  That gives Democrats far too much credit for cunning, when the simpler explanation is that they were, like always, believing that whatever legislation they passed would perfectly implement their good intentions.  They really believed that they could deliver better healthcare to more people at lower cost.  That is probably why they made provisions (through subsidies) for the cost of the individual policies being much higher, and for the possibility that the insurance companies would still lose massive amounts of money.  Wait… That makes no sense!  Neither does bankrupting private companies so that government can take over.

But the poorest strategy here is making this the principle Democrat “concession” demanded in exchange for Republican agreement to raise the debt ceiling.  With Obamacare imploding, Republicans should avoid anything other than criticism, and they certainly cannot gain politically by doing something that Democrats can use to claim (falsely, of course) that Republicans “caused Obamacare to fail,” which you KNOW they will.  The reason for the GOP to fight over the debt ceiling is to somehow slow federal spending, and so the direct approach is best both logically and politically.  That is, demand a balanced budget (over ten years) be passed, or at least that a Balanced Budget Amendment pass the Senate.  People could easily understand that, and thus it would work against Democrats to oppose it.  The charge about “ruining the US credit” would start to cut both ways, for a change.  Let’s keep our nose on.

That Was Quick

Written by Yappy.

On January 1, Congress’ new law took effect, banning incandescent light bulbs and forcing us to use those hazardous CFLs in order to stop Global Warming.  Since then, the climate has been COLD.  Really COLD.  Who knew that Global Warming could be fixed so quickly and easily, and by an Act of Congress, no less!   Problem solved!

What’s The Difference?

Written by Yappy.

I have been saying for a long time that “The worst Republican is better than the best Democrat, and I can prove it.”  That proof is to do a statistical analysis of the Taxpayers League Legislative Scorecard, which is based on those fiscal issues that we [supposedly] all agree on.  In the past, my statement has clearly been true, but analysis of the 2012 scorecard requires that my statement must be qualified, thanks to two “rogue” DFLers in the House and three in the Senate.    These best Democrats are only one vote better than the worst Republicans, because of the limited number of votes scored, but that still counts.   The original statement is nonetheless true if one considers lifetime scores, with the worst Republican outscoring the best DFLer by 9 points in the House and a whopping 28 points in the Senate. 

The real difference shows up in the AVERAGE scores.  For 2012, Republicans outscored the DFL by 52 points in the Senate and 54 points in the House.  In lifetime score, Republicans outscore the DFL by 63 points in the Senate and by 65 points in the House.  My point is that those who say there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference are saying that they see no difference between a candidate likely to vote with fiscal conservatives 13% of the time and one likely to vote “right” 77% of the time.  It just seems to me that a difference that huge ought to make voting easy, and make not voting unthinkable.   

Party

Number

Statistic

2012

Lifetime

Sen/House

DFL

30

MIN

0

0

Senate

  

MAX (best DFL)

43

29

 
  

AVG

13.7

14.0

 

R

37

MIN (worst GOP)

43

57

Senate

  

MAX

100

95

 
  

AVG

66.1

76.9

 

DFL

63

MIN

0

0

House

  

MAX (best DFL)

57

43

 
  

AVG

16.6

11.9

 

R

72

MIN (worst GOP)

43

52

House

  

MAX

100

96

 
  

AVG

70.5

77.0