Daily Reformer: Can Klobo lift-off-o?

Good morning. 

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Today is the New Hampshire primary. 

The Star Tribune reports Sen. Amy Klobuchar surging in New Hampshire, with big crowds, some polls putting her in third and another $1 million raised. 

Dateline is Keene, N.H., where I was a reporter for the Sentinel and the biggest story was always the pumpkin festival, until they had a pumpkin bro-riot in 2014 that made national news

(The following must be read in your best New England accent): 

“It’s (expletive) wicked,” said Steven French, an 18-year-old who said he was visiting from Haverhill, Mass. “It’s just like a rush. You’re revolting from the cops,” he said, sometime after 9 p.m. “It’s a blast to do things that you’re not supposed to do.”

The legislative session starts today. 

Gov. Tim Walzes’ folks are before House Capital Investment to talk about the session’s big issue — an infrastructure bill. He’s pushing for $2 billion; it will be closer to half that given the need for a supermajority to pass a borrowing bill. House and Senate both in session. Lots of pomp.

House DFL pushing hard on insulin on day one with a bill in two committees. 

“Insulin is an important testing ground for our approach,” a DFL lawmaker told me recently. In other words, they want conflict with Big Pharma. They will be happy to run against the drug industry in the fall and then, if in the majority in 2021, will come back even harder on a more wide ranging drug agenda next year.

Amusing moment at this leg preview when Rep. Eric Lucero (in one of his signature fuchsia blazers — it’s February!) tells the crowd to go to www.scandaltracker.com to see all the failings of DFL government. I went to www.scandaltracker.com and it offered a real payoff, of sorts. You should check it out

MPR’s Brian Bakst reported on Twitter that Sen. Tom Bakk’s longtime chief of staff Tom Kukielka retired. No surprise after Bakk lost his leadership role last week. A former colleague and I had a grim joke about Kukielka carrying around a shovel and a bag of lime in the trunk of his car. Between the hockey hair cut and seemingly always whispering in Bakk’s ear, he earned a fearsome reputation as an operative. I mean all that as a professional compliment. 

This is all inside baseball and it’s doubtful anyone is going to remember this in a year, but state Sen. Susan Kent, the new DFL Senate leader, has some wounds to bind up. The trade union guys are angry, I’m told, and that’s no surprise given how close they are to Bakk, a union carpenter always on the lookout for projects for his guys. 

Others are wondering why Kent didn’t use her moment to message harder for … something. Senate Republicans clearly see this as an opening to run against metro Dems. It may be a short term strategy — the future is in the metro, if the demographic trends continue — but it can work for now. 

Patrick Ness has left Walz’s office with plans to likely return to the nonprofit policy world, spokester Teddy Tschann tells me.

House DFL has a podcast. I think we can all agree the world needs another podcast. Alliance for a Better Minnesota, the big money DFL-aligned outside spender, telegraphs its election year intentions with a new venture A Better Legislature

This is dangerous: Trump nominated Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve Board, where if confirmed she’ll have a good shot at becoming Chair. As Catherine Rampell points out in a succinct takedown, Shelton wants to return us to the gold standard, which is pure quackery and a ticket to financial crises. But she’s also been totally wrong and for obviously partisan reasons about other issues, Rampell reports. During the Obama presidency, she wanted higher interest rates, a stronger dollar and a weaker Fed that wouldn’t intervene in financial markets. Now she wants lower interest rates, a weaker dollar and the Fed to prop up financial markets. What’s different?

The Trump administration has drafted an executive order that would mandate neoclassical architecture for all federal buildings. Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote in 1962 in Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture that “an official style must be avoided.” Among all the bad ideas, I suppose this one won’t kill anyone, but it’s still a bad idea. Read more in Dwell. 

Part of the reason our politics are so polarized is because there’s money to be made telling people that their way of life is threatened and that they are besieged, sure to lose everything they hold dear if they lose the next election. Mostly it’s nonsense. Both sides in our blue-red war have racked up victories in the past couple generations, as Ezra Klein points out here to congressional candidate Brianna Wu claiming the right has gotten “everything” they wanted during the past 30 years: 

“This is a common view on the left but it’s just not true. The right has lost as much, and arguably far more, than it’s won. Obamacare is law. Gay marriage is a right. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security have grown in scale and generosity.”

On the other side, there’s the so-called “Flight 93 election” of Michael Anton — who wrote the essay before joining the National Security Council — in which he argued that all would be lost in a Hillary Clinton administration. 

  “The election of 2016 is a test — in my view, the final test — of whether there is any virtù left in what used to be the core of the American nation.” 

This view manages to be both childish and dangerous. The whole idea of a “Flight 93 election” — crash the cockpit and kill them — rationalizes almost any behavior, including backing a man conservatives viewed as a scoundrel and a con man just months before embracing him. 

So here’s the point: Why can’t anyone be happy about their victories anymore? Tell me: [email protected] 

Maybe more on that later in the week. Also, a little something on decadence. 

Are you watching “The Outsider”? I’m not into horror, but when it creates a new iconography — think Twin Peaks and True Detective season 1 — it can be incredibly thrilling. (I’m kinda freaked out right now just sitting here in my low lit, quiet writing room with nothing but the low groan and wheeze of the radiator.) Also great to see a Black woman — Cynthia Erivo — in the role of genius savant usually reserved in film and TV for a white guy.

Today in the Reformer: 

Max Nesterak went out with a team of community organizations, cops and social workers who head out once per month and try to get people who are experiencing homelessness into shelters or connect them with services. This is a Native led effort, though most of the people they interacted with were not. Good read about a challenging problem. 

And we have an op-ed colloquy in which Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal, responds to our regular contributor Rep. Jennifer Schultz, who in an earlier commentary cast some doubt on the  idea that if everyone could shop around for their health care, we’d all save a lot of money. And Schultz then responds in kind. A nice back-and-forth on an emerging health care idea on the right. 

I’m totally biased about this issue that Max Nesterak wrote about because I have a toddler: Yes, do away with Daylight Saving Time. 

And Rilyn Eischens finds some data showing Minnesota children speak nearly 300 languages at home. More children report speaking Ojibwe and Dakota at home than Swedish and Norwegian. Irish is among the 127 languages spoken at home by five or fewer total students. (Do you know what “sinn fein” means in English? “Ourselves, alone.” Horrible methods, but a beautiful name for a group.)

Have a great day all. JPC