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MN Progressive Project

Recent Posts

Trump looks to make NAFTA even worse

by Dan Burns on July 20, 2017 · 0 comments

stopwaronworkersNegotiations are scheduled to begin on August 16.

At first glance, it’s a very mixed bag. The negotiating objectives for NAFTA are mostly vague, and in parts revisit the well-worn tactic of using trade rules to guarantee corporate profits. In fact, several provisions are ripped directly from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the corporate-friendly deal Trump loudly rejected in January. “This document does not describe the promised transformation of NAFTA to prioritize working people,” said Public Citizen trade expert Lori Wallach in a statement. It looks like another case of Trump’s rhetoric’s being submerged in the swamp…
It does appear that the globalists in the administration won this round before NAFTA negotiations even had a chance to begin. Some of the most ardent free-traders in the Republican caucus praised the contents of the draft. As Richard Neal, top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, put it, “the ‘new’ NAFTA might not be new at all.”
NAFTA negotiations can now begin within 30 days. The biggest thing needed to truly assess whether the administration actually wants to fix NAFTA’s problems or further entrench corporate control is transparency.
(The Nation)


Twin Metals backers skip listening session

by Dan Burns on July 19, 2017 · 0 comments

sulfideThis isn’t about PolyMet. The Twin Metals mine is the one that would be right on the edge of the BWCA. Governor Dayton publicly announced his opposition a while ago. Twin Metals is trying to plow ahead anyway, but undoubtedly to their shock the Trump administration doesn’t seem to be with them. So this proposed atrocity is looking like a long shot, these days, but that doesn’t mean anyone should relax, and as you can tell from the article a lot of righteous people know that.

With one side refusing to show up, opponents of copper-nickel mining on the edge of Minnesota’s pristine wilderness packed a hearing Tuesday in the Twin Cities.
A group of 17 organizations that support the mining proposal boycotted the event, while speakers from a crowd of about 1,000 were unanimous in opposing copper-nickel mining in a watershed on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park…
Those boycotting Tuesday’s event say they’ll continue to make their case for mining “loud and clear” at a hearing next week in Virginia, Minn.
“Why must the people with the greatest stake, whose jobs and regional economic viability are at risk, have to keep turning out for these charades?” the group said in a statement. “When was the last time federal agencies held a hearing Up North on projects in the Twin Cities, such as the Green Line or St. Croix River Crossing?”
(Star Tribune)

When people start whining about “charades,” in contexts like this, it’s a good sign that they just don’t have the mojo working.


trump23This one pretty well gets to the essence.

Donald Trump is the con man huckster of all time, and in his sway are the many descendants of those suckers who back in the day provided a steady livelihood for good old P.T.
There are huge differences, of course, the biggest being that in the musical at least, Barnum is portrayed as a lovable, charming rascal. And he’s not a bully, unlike the current ringmaster of our national Big Top.
But the similarities are there for sure — each man endeavoring to create sideshows that fool both the public and the media with clever tricks that distract the eye. Barnum did it for fun and profit; Trump out of malice, a desperate need for attention and most important to the country, the desire to divert attention from the fact that in less than six months his administration has flamed out in many spectacular ways, while at the same time effectively wrought havoc with representative democracy and government.
(Moyers & Company)


Neocowards howl for Iran war

by Dan Burns on July 17, 2017 · 0 comments

woundedSorry to stick something like this in front of you at the beginning of another week of toil and drudgery. But people need to know.

Iran hawks suddenly have a new mantra: the Islamic Republic is the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, and the Trump administration should work to hasten the regime’s impending collapse.
It’s not clear why this comparison has surfaced so abruptly. Its proponents don’t cite any tangible or concrete evidence that the regime in Tehran is somehow on its last legs. But I’m guessing that months of internal policy debate on Iran has finally reached the top echelons in the policy-making chaos that is the White House these days. And the hawks, encouraged by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s rather offhand statement late last month that Washington favors “peaceful” regime change in Iran, appear to be trying to influence the internal debate by arguing that this is Trump’s opportunity to be Ronald Reagan. Indeed, this comparison is so ahistorical, so ungrounded in anything observable, that it can only be aimed at one person, someone notorious for a lack of curiosity and historical perspective, and a strong attraction to “fake news” that magnifies his ego and sense of destiny.

The following is from a really good essay about the Iran thing, from an Iraq combat veteran.


trump24This belongs here because it shows how suckered you’d have to be to vote for a guy so g*d-damned pathetically stupid.

[B]ut you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall. And I’ll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them—they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall. But we have some incredible designs.

We can roughly guess at the conversation or, ahem, television report that led Donald to this discovery, but Donald’s takeaway from the event is quite special. According to Donald, drug dealers are in the practice of just launching 60 pound bags of The Drugs over the wall with no warning and no arrangement for an accomplice to be waiting on the other side to get it.
(Daily Kos)


collegeThis has been causing a stir online, as it should.

While a majority of the public (55%) continues to say that colleges and universities have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country these days, Republicans express increasingly negative views.
A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year. By contrast, most Democrats and Democratic leaners (72%) say colleges and universities have a positive effect, which is little changed from recent years.
(Pew Research)

That’s quite a swing. Some of it may have to do with Republicans who went to college now being unwilling to identify themselves as such, or even as “Republican-leaning,” due to entirely legitimate embarrassment, even shame, over being connected in any way with the pitiful, disastrous buffoon currently in the White House. (Though most will unfortunately continue to vote Republican, unless things get really awful.) Response bias is real, though its significance varies.

As for most of it, though, how much is because colleges purportedly “indoctrinate” atheism, feminism, socialism, and so on? And how much because they believe those who went to the fancy colleges are getting all the money? Especially when the college guy boss down at work is always full of sincere, regretful reasons why, though you’re a good worker and they really like you, they’ve only been able to come up with a total of $0.60/hr in raises, total, for the last four years?
I don’t claim to know the answer to that.
Comment below fold.

{ 1 comment }

trump7Unfortunately a lot of Trump voters are never likely to face reality on this.

But this is where we are. The best defense of Trump’s associates, at this point, is they were too dumb to know what they were doing — a defense that doesn’t work when it includes experienced international operators like campaign manager Paul Manafort and ex-Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael Flynn. Donald Trump Jr.’s own defense of himself is that he attempted to collude with Russian agents but they didn’t have any useful information and so he didn’t. This is, as my colleague Zack Beauchamp notes, no defense at all — even if it is true, Trump Jr. may well have committed a crime.
What’s more, we know for a fact that the Russian hacking of Democratic files happened, that it was successful, and that Trump has stubbornly resisted efforts to admit or investigate Russia’s intervention into the campaign while repeatedly praising Putin. We also know Trump has, since taking office, undermined the NATO alliance while cozying up to Putin — the two of them joked about their shared dislike for the American media at the G20 last week and pledged to work together on cybersecurity.


Intriguing recent polling of rural voters

by Dan Burns on July 10, 2017 · 2 comments

cornActually, urban and suburban voters, as well, but as with the analysis in the quoted article I’m primarily interested in the rural thing, in the context of past and future elections.
First, though, a couple of remarks from me. I admit that I’m still pissed about the 2016 polling. Which is for the most part unfair of me, and not just because I’m not exactly perfect in all that I do, either. I clearly recall that the Sunday before the election, the recent polls listing on Pollster.com had a lot of them with Hillary winning the national vote by 1-3%. I was disdainful, as I thought it would be more like 5%, but they were right. It was just in some of the close states that there was really a significant problem, and they are trying to figure that out.
Second, issue polling does have fudge factors that must be kept in mind. Small differences in wording can lead to big swings in results. But when the numbers seem consistent and sensible, it’s OK to run with them.

Keep in mind that recent studies have shown that voters with that set of beliefs on race, religion, and culture were instrumental in getting Donald Trump elected in 2016. They’re by no means a majority of all of his supporters, but these largely rural and poorly-educated voters were disproportionately among the ranks of the Obama-to-Trump flippers who made the difference in flipping key Midwestern states that tipped the Electoral College in his direction.
The point in citing all of this polling data, however, isn’t merely to say “Ha ha, look at all these dumb rubes, glad we’re rid of them,” or to warn against using economic arguments to try and win back white working-class voters in Midwestern states who flipped from Obama to Trump but may be willing to vote Democratic again. In fact, one possible angle would be to look at the similar rates of economic discontent among all regions of the country to make a sort of “we’re all in this together, against a rigged economy” sort of argument. (Although, in terms of get-out-the-vote activity, I would still argue that a higher-percentage play is to focus on getting more urban and suburban residents voting who aren’t even registered or who turn out only irregularly, especially black and Latino urban voters; that’s a much larger, and growing, pool of untapped votes, rather than the shrinking pool of mercurial swing voters.)
(Daily Kos)

The right wing had a good election in Minnesota in 2016 because rural DFLers skipped this one and rural swing voters went for Trump. That’s bad.
Comments below fold.


Minnesota AG Swanson sues DeVos

by Dan Burns on July 7, 2017 · 0 comments

devosJust 19, so far? Hopefully more will get behind this righteous endeavor.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and officials from 17 other states and the District of Columbia say federal officials broke the law by delaying rules meant to protect federal student loan borrowers.
The lawsuit filed in federal district court Thursday says the U.S. Department of Education and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos violated the Administrative Procedure Act when they postponed rules set to take effect July 1.
The rules would have streamlined the process for students defrauded by their colleges to seek loan forgiveness. They also required colleges at risk of closure to provide a financial guarantee to cover potential losses to taxpayers.

A couple more education-related items:


oilspillIf you’re into this stuff I respectfully suggest that you subscribe to emails from Midwest Energy News, which I believe also get you those from U.S. Energy News. That’s where I saw these.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Thursday called for the development of a “specific and definite timetable” to close Enbridge Energy Inc.’s Line 5 dual pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac…
“The safety and security of our Great Lakes is etched in the DNA of every Michigan resident, and the final decision on Line 5 needs to include a discussion with those that rely on propane for heating their homes, and depend on the pipeline for employment,” Schuette said in a statement. “One thing is certain: The next steps we take should be for the long-term protection of the Great Lakes.”
(The Detroit News)

Keystone XL is facing a new challenge: The oil producers and refiners the pipeline was originally meant to serve aren’t interested in it anymore.
Delayed for nearly a decade by protests and regulatory roadblocks, Keystone XL got the green light from President Donald Trump in March. But the pipeline’s operator, TransCanada Corp., is struggling to line up customers to ship crude from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, say people familiar with the matter.
(Fox Business)