- Associated Press - Monday, October 29, 2018

The Free Press of Mankato, Oct. 27

Trump’s angry and divisive words breed violence

Why it matters: A president cannot spend every day in office spewing words of anger, blame and violence without creating a toxic and dangerous atmosphere.

We don’t yet know all the details or exact motives of the suspect arrested for sending pipe bombs to former President Obama, the Clintons, Joe Biden, Maxine Waters and others.

But the country well knows that President Trump has spent two years, on nearly a daily basis, whipping up anger, dividing the country, encouraging violence and ripping down our democratic institutions and processes.

All the pipe bombs were delivered to critics of the president. While the suspect is a Trump supporter there are already far right conspiracy theorists tweeting and writing that the bombs may be a secret attempt of far left groups hoping to make Trump and Republicans look bad. This comes from the same clowns who after the Parkland school shooting claimed it was a faked massacre aimed at building support to take away Americans’ guns.

However the evidence in this case turns out, the evidence of the damage Trump has done to civil political discourse is well documented.

Trump repeatedly and recently rants of a “Low IQ person” when referring to Rep. Maxine Waters, while routinely demeaning other women as “horseface,” ”dog” and “face of a pig.”

With an exceptionally broad brush stroke, the president labels immigrants and refugees as rapists and drug dealers.

He joyfully hails a Montana congressman for physically assaulting a journalist. He told supporters in Iowa he’d pay their legal fees if they assaulted protesters. At a Las Vegas rally as a protester was being escorted out, Trump said to the crowd: “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”

Following the discovery of the pipe bombs, the president was predictable in his response - feigning to be a healer and a calming presence for the nation and then quickly returning to his comfortable rhetoric of blame.

At a rally in Wisconsin he called for more civil politics, saying “No nation can succeed that tolerates violence.”

But soon he was attacking a favored target, the “mainstream” media, which is apparently any media outlet that does not fawn over him. “A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media,” Trump tweeted. “It has gotten so bad and hateful.”

Too many of Trump’s base are too willing to brush aside the real damage he has and is doing with his anti-democratic rants and actions, believing anyone who shares some of their conservative values deserves unswerving support no matter how dangerous he may be.

Trump will continue to dog-whistle to those in his constituency who will feel emboldened to blame and physically attack those they disagree with or see as some kind of threat.

The rest of society, including those who may support many of the president’s political beliefs, must remember that angry confrontations and dehumanizing political opponents can only harm society and our democratic system.


St. Cloud Times, Oct. 26

Get ready to cast your ballot in this molten midterm election

Voter interest is high. Witness 250,000 Minnesotans (and counting) already have already cast ballots in early voting.

Political mudslinging is off the charts. Witness your television, smartphone and mailbox.

And there definitely is a lot to win (and lose) come Election Day. Witness control of Congress, the Minnesota House and Senate and the direction of local governments.

Without a doubt, one of the most compelling midterm elections in recent memory will culminate Nov. 6. So unless you are one of those quarter million people who already have voted, now is the time to get informed so you can cast your ballot in person in little more than a week.

And make no mistake. Central Minnesota has its share of hot races. In fact, some areas are downright torrid.

Look no farther than Sartell-St. Stephen and Sauk Rapids-Rice school district voters.

Both districts have multiple school board races, topped with one of the most intriguing races in recent memory in Sauk Rapids-Rice. Nine candidates are vying for three spots with the district’s open enrollment policy being the litmus test.

The Sartell-St. Stephen district is even hotter. In addition to five candidates for three school board seats, voters will decide on a $17 million, 10-year operating levy designed to pay for running the new high school voters that approved two years ago.

Many residents of those school districts also live in state Senate District 13. The winner of that race - Republican Jeff Howe or Democrat Joe Perske - gives their respective party majority power in the Senate.

But wait, there’s more regarding the Legislature involving many of these voters and others across the St. Cloud metro area.

Voters in House District 13A will elect a new legislator - Republican Lisa Demuth or Democrat Jim Read. Similarly, voters in District 15B have three new faces to choose from to replace Jim Newberger - Republican Shane Mekeland, Democrat Karla Scapanski and Independent Myron Wilson.

Not to be overlooked for a large swath of metro St. Cloud is the District 14B race. Incumbent Republican Jim Knoblach suspended his campaign for personal reasons, leaving the distinct possibility Democrat challenger Dan Wolgamott could win.

Collectively, it adds up to this area possibly electing four new (read “not incumbent”) legislators. When was the last time that happened in any election, much less a midterm?

Meanwhile, several local cities have must-watch races for city council seats, led by the Ward 1 and Ward 4 races in St. Cloud. The litmus test in those appears to be acceptance of refugees.

And, of course, all Minnesotans will cast ballots for governor, state attorney general, two U.S. Senate seats and their respective U.S. House district seat.

No matter who you are, you can blame those campaigns for most of the political mud staining your screens and mailboxes.

Clean it up by getting informed and casting your vote Nov. 6. Or sooner!


Post Bulletin, Oct. 24

State’s taxes help support high quality of life

Detractors have been saying for decades that Minnesota’s state taxes are too high for businesses and individuals alike.

Despite that, the state keeps attracting educated and energetic newcomers, keeps producing successful startups, and consistently leads the Midwest, if not the nation, in any number of quality of life measurements.

Which leads us to conclude that Minnesota’s taxes are high, but not too high.

The latest report comes from Kiplinger’s, the finance magazine, which concludes that Minnesota is the least-friendly tax state in the nation.

Well yes, if only taxes are taken into account, Minnesota doesn’t look that good. The income tax is above average, the sales tax is higher than many states (especially when city sales taxes are added on), and the governor and Legislature have not been able to get together on an all-encompassing tax bill the past two years.

The most tax friendly state, according to Kiplinger’s, is Alaska. But, of course, Alaska has long kept taxes on residents and businesses in check by relying on oil income.

With the oil boom slowing down, however, oil states (including North Dakota - No. 6 on the tax-friendly list), will have to make tough decisions to support state services, schools and infrastructure.

Now let’s look at the other side of the equation: quality of life. Minnesota consistently ranks near the top in “best places to live” surveys. The state was No. 2 in the 2018 U.S. News rankings, and No. 2 in the Politico rankings. CNBC ranked Minnesota No. 3 in “top states to live in,” and graded the state’s quality of life as “A+.”

By the way, CNBC, in a separate survey, also ranked Minnesota as the No. 4 best state in which to do business, based on quality of workforce, technology and innovation, and quality of life.

Do high taxes and quality of life go hand-in-hand? Not necessarily, but in Minnesota our taxes support good schools, an extensive health care system for even the poorest of residents, a healthy environment, an attractive arts scene and generally clean and reliable government services.

Yes, our roads and bridges are in poor shape, but then, our gas tax, which is intended, in part, to support road infrastructure, is lower than the national average.

We’re not about to diminish the impact of the state’s high taxes. But we also can’t ignore the state’s highly rated quality of life. That quality of life is an important recruiting tool for businesses, and will continue to attract the best and the brightest to Minnesota, despite high taxes.

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