Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Home truth

John Hayward on compulsion in re same sex marriage:
In a contest between super-sincere same-sex couples who totally love each other and want to get married at this chapel right here, and stubborn eccentrics who defend their kooky hobby by quoting from some dusty old Bible, there is no way to hold compulsive force at bay by muttering about the theoretical right of American citizens to practice kooky hobbies.  Everyone who values liberty needs to get passionate about defending people like the Knapps, and that includes same-sex marriage proponents who believed a single word they said about valuing freedom and respecting conscience over the past decade.  You don’t have to share their beliefs in order to respect them.  And if you’re cool with the idea of using State power to break people whose beliefs you don’t agree with or respect – even when it’s not necessary to stamp out dissenters in order for your beliefs to flourish – the correct word for you is totalitarian.  It doesn’t matter one little bit that you think your beliefs are righteous.  Every other totalitarian feels the same way.
Emphasis in the original. And also this -- again, emphasis in the original:
Secular libertarians who seriously wish to help preserve religious liberty must learn to see it as more valuable than that, because I’m here to tell you, guys: our tightly fused government/media culture long ago abandoned the notion of absolute principles.  Everything is a value judgment now.  Nothing is truly off-limits to the power of the State; it awaits only an invitation from those who passionately desire its presence to enter any part of our lives.
The larger question is whether many people who claim to be secular libertarians give a damn about religious liberty. Put it this way -- there's ample reason to suspect they don't. Martin Niemöller, call your office.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

You can check out any time you'd like, but you can never leave

Welcome to the Hotel Obama:
"Well, look, here's the bottom line," said Obama, "We've got a tough map. A lot of the states that are contested this time are states that I didn't win. And so some of the candidates there, you know, it is difficult for them to have me in the state because the Republicans will use that to try to fan Republican turn-out. The bottom line is, though, these are all folks who vote with me. They have supported my agenda in Congress. They are on the right side of minimum wage. They are on the right side of fair pay. They are on the right side of rebuilding our infrastructure. They're on the right side of early childhood education.

"So, this isn't about my feelings being hurt. These are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me. And I tell them, I said, you know what, you do what you need to win. I will be responsible for making sure that our voters turn up."
So Alison Lundergan Grimes, your ad may say this:


But reality says this:



No kidding

Confession is good for the soul. First, an acknowledgement from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which Iowahawk accepts with grace:

If you doubt they're out of ideas, watch one of their Torrey Westrom attack ads sometime

Meanwhile, watch this video, especially the fumbling at the 1 minute mark, and remember that this man is a sitting United States Senator:


I dunno -- when I think of songs and Sen. Udall, this is the one that occurs to me:


Monday, October 20, 2014

You are very sleepy. Very sleepy.

Bill Glahn has been one of the best bloggers in Minnesota for a while now and the handy synopsis he published yesterday is right on the money:
We boil down the Sunday Minneapolis Star Tribune Opinion page to its basic message.

Lori Sturdevant:  All of the long-serving Democrat legislators, who occupy safe seats, tell Lori that this has been a quiet election year.  Everyone is just sitting around waiting for the labor unions and lefty billionaire donors to post their new list of demands.

Editorial Board:  The Board suggests voting for Democrat Mark Dayton.  Why?  See above.
There's more at the link and you should read it. In fact, you should have bookmarked Bill a long time ago if you care at all about Minnesota politics. A few observations of my own:


  • The Dayton endorsement was expected, of course, even though there's some generous observations made about Jeff Johnson. The Stribbers know that Johnson would be a good governor, but they like the Better Minnesota they've created. And Lori Sturdevant misses the good ol' days, when the only role Republicans had in this state involved offering a few cavils before the DFLers divided up the spoils.
  • The race has been sleepy precisely because a lot of people, including the Strib editorial board, aren't particularly interested in having an engaged citizenry. The television stations in town aren't covering the election with much fervor at all in this cycle and the debates are taking place at times when the chances that viewers might actually see them are pretty minimal. Why on earth would you have a debate at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning? If you didn't want anyone to see it, it would be an excellent time. And if the local stations present a little context-free Johnson said/Dayton said and leave it at that, the rest goes right down the ol' memory hole.
  • Hannah Nicollet continues to complain that she is being left out of the debates and announced that she is going to sue Hamline University for keeping her off the stage on Sunday morning. That should get adjudicated a few months after the election is over. What the "major" Independence Party in general, and Hannah Nicollet in particular, are finding out is pretty simple -- now that a Better Minnesota is established, your services are no longer required. Outside of the weird amalgam of aging frat boys and slide rulers who seem to be Nicollet's primary consistency, no one cares about her campaign. When previous IP candidate Tom Horner endorsed Johnson instead of Nicollet, that meant the party was over. I think Hannah has a future if she chooses wisely. I made a modest suggestion last week
  • Johnson's only chance to win is if the unrest in outstate Minnesota sweeps out Collin Peterson and Rick Nolan. Dayton may have given Johnson a bit of an opening earlier, when he called Johnson a huckster and brought up the ill-fated chopsticks factory that was supposed to help the Iron Range 30 years ago. That raised a few hackles, but it won't matter if the DFL metrocrats can get enough votes in their districts. And that's the only danger for the DFL -- if the populace is too sleepy, there might be enough motivated Republicans in the exurbs and outstate to tip the balance. There's nothing like gay marriage, or another moral vanity vote for Obama, to motivate the bien pensant gang in this cycle. That may prove to be a miscalculation, but we likely won't know until election day.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Lord Have Mercy, Where is Percy Edition?

Old dude, did you ever read any of those "Where's Waldo" books when you were a kid? Or did they even have offset printing in those days?

Where's Waldo hadn't been created yet. I think the first book came out in the 1980s. Besides, there's really not a lot of "reading" involved in a Where's Waldo book. But anyway, why do you ask?

Because I see that Percy Harvin has been traded to the Jets. He's harder to find than Waldo these days.

I'll bet there's a story behind all that. I'll be curious to see what happens to him in New York.

His next stop might be Galesburg at this rate. I'll let you know if he shows up here. In the meantime, watch me work!

Purdon't Boilermakers (+14) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. No Badgers this week, Geritol Fan, so we'll start out with this one. The Gophers are getting some love now that they're leading the Big Ten West. Minnesota is not home free at this point considering they still have to play Iowa, Bucky, and Nebraska. That being said ,considering what is happening nationwide, Minnesota winning the West would not surprise me, especially against a Purdue team that is getting better but not there yet. The Real U 34, Purdon't 9.

I'm pretty confident the Gophers will hold serve at home, but I'm not sure a 14-point spread makes much sense. Purdue's got some work to do, but we're starting to see some progress. I watched some of their game against Michigan State last week and they weren't intimidated at all. I think they come in and play the locals pretty tough. Minnesota 27, Purdue 23.

Knox College Prairie Fire (NL) vs. Cornell College Rams. Boy oh boy, old dude. It's the school I chose against the school I might have chosen, up in Mount Vernon, Iowa, baby! Knox looked bad last week mostly due to playing a physical D3 version of Nebraska football circa 1995. Knox can still finish good and I think that the mojo of the undefeated soccer team will rub off in Mt. Vernon. Old Main 26, One Loss at A Time 17.

A young fella like you chooses a college for a lot of reasons. You apparently didn't take winning football into consideration. Cornell will contend for the conference title this year, as they usually do. Your beloved Fire? Not so much. This one won't be pretty. Cornell 35, Knox 14.

Minnesota Vikings (+5) vs. Buffalo Bills. So now what, Vikings? Two pretty bad stompings in a row by division opponents, and now a trip to Buffalo? What will happen this time? Mike Zimmer sounded
frustrated on KFAN with the amount of picks that have hampered his team. That being said Buffalo is one of the teams that is sneaky good if they can figure out a way to pull it together. I like Zimmer to coach up the Norseman and get a W. Vikes 21, Buffalo Wild Wings 18.

I have no idea what to expect from either of these teams, to be honest. On paper, Buffalo is probably a better squad at the moment, because they have a pretty good defense, but then again, they haven't exactly figured things out on offense, either. The Vikings are finding out that it's going to be hard to win if they don't have a credible running game. At this point, they don't. Buffalo 31, Vikings 17.

Carolina Panthers (+7) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. Meanwhile, the Packers return to Green Bay after a nifty escape from the Tuna Net in Miami. The last time Carolina came up to Lambeau they won but that was a very different time for both teams. The major worry is the banged up secondary for Green Bay because we all know that Scam Newton likes to run, whether it is from defenses or from allegations about his shady doings. I like the chances for Green Bay because they win in October and, with no Greg Hardy or Steve Smith this time, I look for Green Bay to continue to relax and have fun. Green Bay 49, Carolina 17.

I think the Packers are hitting their stride. Cam Newton is a problem, because he's liable to run, but he's got very little help at this point. I think he'll make the Pack nervous a few times, but in the end it will be a happy day at Lambeau, because the Panthers don't have the defensive backfield that can slow down Jordy Nelson and his pals. Packers 35, Panthers 23.

Miami Tuna Net Victims (+3.5) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. Oh, so many subplots, old dude. It's Brandon Marshall versus his old team. It's, it's... well, maybe there's only that one subplot. The question for both teams is which quarterback shows up. Jay Cutler will either be brilliant or will find a way to lose the game. The Bears have been very good on the road but have lost 3 home games this year, which will kill them later on. I like Miami because they ambushed our boys and if Chicago loses there will be questions asked about the decisions that were made by the general manager and the head coach. Not Sorry Charlie 24, da Bearz 20.

The Bears played very well last week in Atlanta, which was something of a surprise. The thing that should worry the Bears is that the Miami defense is very quick, especially on the defensive line. That could get Jay Cutler nervous and when that happens, bad throws start to come. I sense a shootout. Chicago 31, Miami 28.

I think that's all we have time for, old dude! Next week, you show up in Galesburg! What then! Ben out!

Amusing

We don't worry much about Kentucky politics around here, but I have to admit it's amusing to see that the Democratic candidate to unseat Senator Mitch McConnell refuses to say whether she voted for Barack Obama:
Alison Lundergan Grimes again refused to reveal whether she voted for President Barack Obama, dodging the question for the second time in a week Monday during the only debate of Kentucky's Senate race.

Grimes, the Democratic secretary of state who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in one of the nation's marquee races, cited the "matter of principle" of privacy at the ballot box, noting that she is the state's chief election officer.

"I'm not going to compromise a constitutional right provided here in Kentucky in order to curry favor on one or (an)other side or members of the media," she said during Monday night's debate.
This is ridiculous. If you are a private citizen and you aren't running for office, it's a rude and presumptuous question to ask about your political allegiances. This woman wants to be a Senator. That's a little different, I'd say. If things were going better in Washington, Grimes would be shouting her support for Barack Obama to the housetops. What she really fears is the follow-up question -- do you regret that vote?

Noted in passing

Oops:
The US vice-president’s son Hunter Biden has been discharged from the US navy reserve after testing positive for cocaine.

Biden failed a drug test administered in June 2013, sources said. The son of Joe Biden issued a statement confirming his discharge and expressing regret and embarrassment for his actions.

Navy spokesman Commander Ryan Perry confirmed that Biden was discharged from the navy reserve in February 2014 but said privacy laws prevented him from releasing any details.
Morgan Grams had no comment.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Not what one would have preferred

So you went on the MNSure exchange last year and picked PreferredOne, because it was reasonable? Well, if you stay with them, not this year:
Sticker shock awaits thousands of people with health coverage through PreferredOne, the top seller on the MNsure exchange during its first year.

The Golden Valley-based insurer said Wednesday that its individual market subscribers will see an average premium increase next year of 63 percent due to high claims costs.

“Given the volatility of the individual marketplace due to the first year of the [federal health law], this increase is a significant step at stabilizing our rates and plans for the years to come,” the company said in a statement.

The announcement represents a startling turnaround for an insurer that offered some of the lowest premiums anywhere in the country in 2014.
If you wondered why the gubmint could claim MNSure rates were only going up 4.5% or so, this is why -- the dominant player in the exchange for this year is taking huge rate increases, but is no longer part of the exchange.

Guess we'd better start talking about Adrian Peterson or Ebola or something instead.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Should we be worried about Ebola?

I'm not, yet, but the emerging scene in Dallas isn't particularly reassuring:
A second Texas health care worker who provided care for Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan has contracted the virus, according to preliminary test results released early Wednesday. The worker reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately isolated at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, state health officials said in a statement. Confirmatory testing will be carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. "Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored," the Texas Department of State Health Services said. "The type of monitoring depends on the nature of their interactions and the potential they were exposed to the virus." It is the third case diagnosed in the U.S.
Oh, and do you remember the earlier reporting that the first nurse who contracted Ebola wasn't following protocols? Well, it's hard to follow protocols that aren't really protocols:

Also Tuesday, National Nurses United made troubling allegations about the hospital, claiming "guidelines were constantly changing" and "there were no protocols" about how to deal with the deadly virus."

"The protocols that should have been in place in Dallas were not in place, and that those protocols are not in place anywhere in the United States as far as we can tell," NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said. "We're deeply alarmed."

Protective gear nurses initially wore left their necks exposed; they felt unsupported and unprepared, and they received no hands-on training, union co-president Deborah Burger said.

A Texas Health Presbyterian spokesman did not respond to the specific allegations, but said patient and employee safety is the hospital's top priority.
NNU is a labor union, so they have another agenda in making these charges. That doesn't necessarily mean the charges are incorrect, which the CDC folks are now beginning to admit:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's moved a team of experienced experts in to help a Dallas hospital where a nurse became infected with Ebola to improve "every step in the process." And they'll send in a special response team to help any hospital in the future that gets an Ebola patient.

The team will help workers there improve their techniques for safely caring for Nina Pham, who was infected while herself caring for Thomas Eric Duncan before he died.

"The first and most important is ensuring that every hour of the day there’s a site manager there who is overseeing aspects of infection control," CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden told a news conference. One thing the site manager will do is make sure someone spots workers as they put on and take off personal protective equipment (PPE).

And he promised any hospital that receives an Ebola patient that CDC will help with a special response team. "We will put a team on the ground within hours with some of the world's leading experts on how to take care of and prevent health workers form Ebola virus infection," Frieden said.

"I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the first patient was diagnosed. That might have prevented this infection," Frieden added. "But we are prepared to do this in the future with any case anywhere in the U.S."
So imagine a scenario where you have an Ebola patient in Seattle, Salt Lake City, Topeka, Milwaukee, Louisville, Tallahassee and Providence. Do we have enough people who are trained properly to handle such a scenario? And would we have the right equipment and facilities in place? A lot hinges on the answers to such questions. And thus far, the answers we've been getting aren't particularly reassuring.

If a debate falls in the forest

Were you aware that Mark Dayton and Jeff Johnson had a debate yesterday? If you were watching the 10 p.m. news on KARE, you wouldn't have known. The topic never came up, although there was ample time for a long feature piece that detailed the musical career of a guy from Mound Westonka High School, who happened to be the classmate of the KARE reporter who filed the story, complete with a discussion of the sequined vest the reporter had worn during a school production of "West Side Story" back in the late 90s.

It's bad enough that the debate took place at 8 in the morning, when the chance for any audience was quite small. It's even worse when a major news outlet in the Twin Cities doesn't even bother to have a report on their late newscast.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hannah Barred-bera

So IP candidate Hannah Nicollet is not going to be participating in the next gubernatorial debate:
For the first time in at least four campaigns, the Democratic and Republican nominees were gearing up to go one-on-one.

Incumbent Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP rival Jeff Johnson were due to meet Tuesday on a debate stage in Duluth. The local chamber of commerce sponsoring the debate didn't invite Independence Party nominee Hannah Nicollet.
A few observations:

  • It's been silly to call the Independence Party a major party for a very long time now. While it's played a spoiler role in several elections, we're a long way from 1998 and the IP hasn't come close to electing anyone to statewide office since then.
  • Jeff Johnson would much rather be able to go after Mark Dayton directly than have to share time with Nicollet. This is hardly surprising, since his best chance to show he's governor material is by direct comparison with the incumbent.
  • Just wondering -- what is Mark Dayton's second-term agenda? He's spent most of the campaign taking credit for the Better Minnesota he's purportedly created, but there's not been much about what he's going to do with the next four years. Maybe someone could ask him about that today.
  • Based on what I've been able to observe, Hannah Nicollet has promise, but there's no reason to believe she could be an effective governor at this point in her political career. If we had a black swan event and she somehow found a way to win, she'd have no party support and would be whipsawed by the established sharks in St. Paul. If she is serious about public service via politics, what she really ought to do is to run for the state senate in 2016. She is a Roseville resident and the incumbent there is John Marty, who has been in office for a very long time and hasn't provided much other than sanctimonious pronouncements. No matter what banner she chose -- IP, Republican or DFL via primary, Nicollet would have a chance to establish some bona fides by running against a guy who is ripe for replacement. It's worth remembering that Nicollet is still quite young and could, if she played her cards right, be a formidable competitor for higher office in later years.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Just a guess

We'll have to see what the parameters of this announcement are, but it appears that Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has had enough:
Attorney Jeff Anderson and officials from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said Sunday that they would unveil a “historic child protection action plan” at a news conference Monday, but sources told the Star Tribune the plan is part of a deal to settle the suit filed against the Archdiocese and the Diocese of Winona.

The agreement, including undisclosed financial terms, is to be presented to Ramsey County District Court Judge John Van de North Monday morning, before the 1 p.m. news conference.

“This will be the first time in 30 years Anderson has stood with archdiocese officials to work in cooperation for child protection,” said a news release from Anderson’s office Sunday.

Neither Anderson nor Archdiocese officials would provided any further details on the child-protection plan or proposed settlement Sunday.
My guess is that the real reason for the settlement is that Anderson has essentially bled the Archdiocese dry and he's going to be moving on to other opportunities. Unfortunately, there are a lot of them. And if he's looking for a new vein to mine, he could try some of the leads here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Double Dip at the Bank Edition

Old dude, we're having a very nice weekend down here in Galesburg. It's Homecoming at Knox and all the old Knox dudes are coming back to visit. It's like being at your reunions in Beloit, but a Bizarro World, parallel universe version.

Are they all misty-eyed about walking across campus?

Well, some of them, but there's more going on. There's a buzz that they're picking up, an excitement that they didn't expect when they returned to Galesburg.

What is that? I'm guessing I'll regret asking that question.

You already know, Geritol Fan! They are basking in the glow of HYYYYYYYPPPPPPE!

Yeah, I'll bet that's exactly what it is.

If you want to know what it is, watch me work!

Northwestern Fitzgeralds (+4) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. Lotta action at the Bank this weekend, Decrepit! The Gophers are coming off a bye, while Northwestern comes off a big win against our beloved Badgers. Northwestern looked good and proved that the alums from the 1995 era were not deluding themselves in thinking they were good. As much as the Gophers have continued to improve this year, I like Northwestern because it looks like Pat Fitzgerald has a way to return to 1995. Wildcats 20, Gophers 16

I watched some of last week's game and it was difficult to tell whether Northwestern was good or if the Badgers were channeling the spirit of John Jardine. I suspect this week it's going to be a tougher assignment for the Wildcats. Jerry Kill has always had a plan and he's finally starting to get some of the kids he wants in key positions. I expect a low scoring game, but one that favors the locals. Gophers 21, Northwestern 16.

Illinois Fighting Ineptitudes (+26) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. Bucky is going to be in a bad mood for this one, old dude! The way they looked last week was bad, but the key thing was blowing the first drive. Illinois always plays the Badgers extremely tough and I never am secure until the win is secured. I also think it is time Gary looks to bring in Bart Houston, because someone has to wait until the golden boy quarterback is on campus. Wisconsin 35, Illinois 31.

Illinois doesn't have its quarterback. The Badgers have several quarterbacks but none seem to be very good. The difference will be the home field and Melvin Gordon. Could this be a 300-yard game for Gordon? Don't rule it out. Badgers 42, Illini 14.

Lake Forest Foresters (NL) vs. Knox College Prairie Fire. The excitement is building at the Knosher Bowl! All of the alums are back and there is belief on campus. Matt McCaffery has looked very good this year and Knox is undefeated at home. I love me some Knox football and considering that they put me up and feed me, I can't exactly be neutral. Knox 24, Lake Forest 17

Usually I'd expect Lake Forest to beat Knox, but the Foresters couldn't handle Beloit, so I suspect they're not that good. Should be some happy alumni back in Galesburg. Knox 24, Lake Forest 21.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (-3.5) vs. Miami Dolphins.  It sure looks like the Packers got their mojo back last week against the Vikings. Now it's down to Miami, where things haven't gone well over the years, although the last time the Packers played down there Nick Saban was on his way out and thinking about how to win by scheduling cupcake nonconference games and avoid traveling to Big Ten stadiums. The heat is going to be an issue, but the Packers are coming off a dominating performance and are well rested and prepared. Ryan Tannehill, who was mentored by Mike Sherman, has not panned out so far and if Knowshon Moreno does not go, I like the Packers' chances because it remains clear that Dan Marino is not going to come back. 13 Time Champions 45, Tuna Net Victims 17.

I really don't know what to expect here. On balance, the Packers are a better team, especially since Knowshon Moreno probably won't play for the Dolphins. Ryan Tannehill is up and down, too. The key for the Packers will be keeping Cameron Wake away from Rodgers. If they do that, Pack wins for sure. I'm thinking they will. Packers 31, Dolphins 20.

Bear Down Chicago da Bearz (+3) vs. Hotlanta Falcons. So what's happened to da Bearz? The loss at Carolina was pretty much a choke job. And now the boys from Soldier Field have to face their old pal, Devin Hester. My Bear fan friends here at Knox are upset and they still believe in Jay. I don't know what is wrong with da Bearz, but Marc Trestman better find a way to win and fast or it is back to the CFL. Dirty Birds 24, Da Bearz 17.

The Falcons are pretty schizo this year, but they've been very tough to beat at home. The Bears are still trying to fight their way through injuries and this looks like a tough assignment to me. I'm guessing that they'll figure out a way to contain Hester, but Julio Jones and Roddy White are another matter entirely. Falcons 38, Bears 31.

Detroit Motor City Kitties (-1.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings. So let me get this straight. The Lions will probably go without Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush and Vikings are a home dog? Seriously? Well, they did not play well with Ponder starting, which should not be a problem since they are playing a different team and Zimmer will have his quarterback back. The Lions struggle on the road and the almighty theory of the "desperate team at home" proves itself once again. Vikes 49, Lions 0.

I'm puzzled by the line, too. I think this is actually a pretty easy pick. The Vikes will play much better this week since Christian Ponder is unlikely to see the field. The Lions are much less formidable outside of Ford Field and will be without some of their most important players. Think the Vikes will win, and win easily. Vikings 31, Lions 17.

Well, I'm off to watch the alums get all misty-eyed. It's a great tradition. Ben out!

This just in

Adrian Peterson is a moron.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Governor Gaslighting

So Mark Dayton proposed raising the gas tax last night to cover expenses for road repairs:

In the second debate of the 2014 governor’s race, Mark Dayton made news with his very first question, suggesting for the first time that he would seek an increase in the gasoline sales tax to fund transportation.

“I would make a specific proposal, including a sales tax on gasoline that will raise close to the $6.5 billion that we’re short in transportation funding over the next ten years,” Dayton said Wednesday night in Moorhead.  
If we're talking about $6.5 billion, that means $650 million a year. How would that work?

Well, let's think about that. How much gas is sold in Minnesota on an annual basis? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, we had daily sales of about 6,316,300 gallons a day in 2013. Here's a screen shot:

Gasoline Alley
If you break out the ol' back of the envelope for a few calculations, you'll see that means an annual total of about 2.3 billion gallons of gasoline were sold in Minnesota for 2013. Based on the trend line, you could safely assume the total will be about 2.4 billion for 2014. So we'll go with that.

If you're going to raise $650 million in revenue on 2.4 billion gallons sold, that works out to be about $0.27 or $0.28 a gallon. That would be on top of the current gas tax in Minnesota, which is now $0.286 per gallon (link is a PDF). So, essentially you'd be looking at doubling the gas tax in Minnesota. Add the current gas federal gas tax of $0.184 per gallon, and you are talking about an effective tax rate of $0.71 per gallon in Minnesota. That's 71 cents for every gallon of gas you put in your vehicle.

How many gallons of gas do you buy per week? I personally put about 15-20 gallons in my car each week and Mrs. D probably puts half that in her vehicle, so we'll say that's about 23 gallons per week in our vehicles. At $0.28 per gallon, that works out to about $6.44/week more in taxes. Annualized out, that's $334.88 a year. Now, we're safely in the middle class, so an extra $334.88 a year is more of an irritation than a major problem. But if you are not making a lot of money, $334.88 is a pretty substantial sum. What can you buy for $334.88? Well, for many families that would be a few weeks of groceries, or the equivalent of a monthly car payment. It's enough money that many people would feel it. And of course, a lot of people in Minnesota use more gas than we do.

The governor claimed that it would be a tax on wholesalers, but that doesn't make a difference at all, since wholesalers would pass the added taxes along in the prices they'd charge to the gas stations, so you'd still be paying for it at the pump.

Not surprisingly, Dayton tried to "clarify" things today, even admitting that hiding the tax through wholesalers wouldn't work:
During Wednesday's gubernatorial debate in Moorhead, Dayton said he'd propose adding "a sales tax on gasoline" if elected to a second term. Dayton told reporters Thursday he should have been clearer that he isn't seeking to boost the per-gallon tax assessed at the pump, but rather a tax at the wholesale level.

The governor acknowledged such a tax increase would likely get passed down to consumers, and said he's open to other proposals. 
No kidding, dude. Well, maybe we can use e-pulltabs again. That worked well.

Gasbag asks for gas tax

Speaks for itself:
After saying up until this point in his re-election campaign that he had no plans to raise taxes in a second term, Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday night he would propose putting a sales tax on gasoline to raise money for road and bridge projects.

He floated the idea right at the start of the second debate with his two challengers, Republican Jeff Johnson and Independence Party candidate Hannah Nicollet, when the candidates were asked for specifics about what they would do if elected.

"I'll make a specific proposal that will include a sales tax on gasoline that will raise close to the $6.5 billion that we're short for transportation funding over the next 10 years," the DFLer said.
The trains will get built. The roads, maybe not so much. Bottineau trumps pothole. It's a better Minnesota, baby!

Meanwhile, the governor issued this howler when the Vikings stadium came up:
Dayton defended the stadium. He said the NFL and Vikings owners threatened to move the team if they didn't get a new stadium. He said he got the best deal for the state.

"Tell the 7,500 people that are going to be working on this project and are now, 38 percent of whom are men and women of color, that this project is a debacle," Dayton said. "It's easy to sit on the sidelines, having had nothing to do with it, and take potshots. The fact is we didn't dictate this agreement. The Vikings held the upper hand."
You didn't have to give the Vikings anything, Governor. You chose to. A half billion dollars. Accept it.

Oh, one other thing. No questions about MNSure in the debate. There are certain issues that we simply won't be discussing this year.