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I ran into a supporter of perennial candidate Matt Entenza while doorknocking today. It’s probably good news that this was the first one since our doorknocks had to focus on the primary. She received the deceptive mailer claiming Rebecca Otto supports requiring photo ID for voting. It’s displayed below so readers can see it’s as bad as I’m saying. The mailer essentially repeats the charge Entenza made in his complaint to the Office of Administrative Hearings, where Entenza charged that Otto lied when she denied his accusation, which complaint was thrown out for being nonsense — at the same time the mailer went out. Mr. Entenza, feel free to borrow Rick Perry’s “oops”.
 
Of course, not everyone reads blogs, saw the inside pages of newspapers (for all that we politics junkies thought this was big news, it’s still a page B3 sort of story) or has the developed skepticism to check out charges for scurrilousness, which presumably the Entenza campaign is counting on. So no, not everyone heard this was a lie.
 
So at the last address on my walk list, the outcome of which I suspect is going to henceforth push me to get to one more address in all future doorknocks, the resident said she was supporting Entenza. I asked what she liked about him, and she couldn’t immediately recall. I had a guess though, and asked if it was the photo ID charge. Yes it was. She was possibly not expecting a straightforward “it’s not true” rather than some spin, and she let me explain just what Entenza was twisting. I did catch a huge break in that this person had lawn sign for State Rep. Jean Wagenius, whose campaign t-shirt I happened to be wearing and lit I was carrying along with the Otto lit. This person is a strong Wagenius supporter, and learning the Wagenius is actively supporting Otto sealed the vote switch. You don’t always catch a break like that when trying to persuade at the door. You hope to just get someone to think about it or maybe check into something. So today ended on an good note. Voluntary disclosure, I’m chair of the DFL for SD63, which includes Wagenius’ district HD63B.
 
Still, that’s what it’s going to take to counter Entenza’s message. He’s sent three mailers already, which Otto won’t be able to match. She needs people who know what’s what to sway one voter at a time. The offending mailer is below the “read more”.
 
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The 2000 election was probably won by Al Gore. But George Bush was put into office anyway. Imagine what this world would be like had Gore been ensconced in the white house? The Tea Party would probably have emerged sooner and madder, but less organized; global climate change would have become a widely accepted issue to do something about within a couple of years, instead of much later (cuz, you know, that hasn’t even happened yet). We probably wouldn’t have had this war in Iraq. If Gore had continued Clinton’s policy dealing with Al Qaida and Osama Bin Laden (no relation) there probably wouldn’t have been a 9/11. I’m sure we’d have other problems, but none of those problems.

 

As you know, national elections are actually handled by states, and states are charmingly diverse in how they do that. For instance, the technology of elections, and what you have to do to prove you are eligible to vote at the polling place, vary across states. But after the 2000 election there was some movement to make the system work better, to implement chad-free technologies, and to update the procedure for determining eligibility.

 

Eventually, of course, the changes got politicized. Everyone knew that Democratic voters and Republican voters are different, not just in their politics or who they vote for, but in how they vote. The Lockstep Party, Republican, is more homogeneous and generally privileged. You want to vote, you stop in at the voting place on the way home from work and vote. You know where it is because it is the church you go to, you have a car so transport and weather are not issues, you have access to information which is all in English and that is your native language, so you know things like when election day is and so on and so forth: Democrats have that too, but being a big tent Democrats also have other folks. Recent immigrants who don’t understand the system, older folks who don’t have a car and have a hard time getting across town, people who don’t happen to go to the well established local church so they don’t even know where it is. Also, among Democrats are people with overt labels as to how they are likely to vote. You can’t wear a button on your shirt declaring your support for a candidate, but you can, say, be black, and therefore visibly less likely to vote for the Republican. This last bit allows people who control the polls to harass or turn away certain voters.

 

At some point in recent history, Republicans got aggressive with strategies that would make it hard for that diverse subset of Democrats to vote. Some of those strategies are just downright dirty and illegal. When I was working on Get Out the Vote for some Democratic Candidates a few years ago I found recent African immigrants, likely Democratic voters, who had been told by Republican operatives that “Republicans vote Tuesday, Democrats vote Wednesday. So go vote Wednesday.” Seriously.

 
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P1070311Another great example of why we need many, many more like Keith Ellison, in political office, and elsewhere in power.
 

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison plans to unveil legislation that would make unionization into a legally protected civil right, the congressman said on Saturday.
 
The bill, which he plans to formally introduce on July 30, would make it easier for workers to take legal action against companies that violate their right to organize.
 
It is already illegal to fire workers in retaliation for union activities, but enforcing workers’ right to organize can be a tricky process under current law. Currently, wrongfully terminated employees must file an unfair labor practice claim with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which will then determine whether to represent the worker in a legal fight against the employer.
 
But workers are not able to directly sue their employers for anti-union retaliation, and the process of bringing forward a successful unfair labor practice claim can take years.
(MSNBC)

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Time for a “bad business fee”

by Dan Burns on July 24, 2014 · 2 comments

Lazarus_at_rich_man's_house_C-922This is a seriously excellent concept.
 

Can you name the worst job you’ve ever had? For Cliff Martin, that’s not an easy question. All three of his current jobs—delivering newspapers, delivering magazines and working as a janitor—are strong contenders. Taken together, they pay so poorly that the 20-year-old Northfield, Minnesota, native relies on MNsure, the state Medicaid plan, for healthcare and lives at home with his father to save money. But what if Martin’s bosses had to fork over a fee to the state for paying him so badly? That money, in turn, could be used to help support Martin and his fellow low-wage workers in a variety of ways, from direct subsidies for food and housing to social programs such as Medicaid or public transportation.
 
TakeAction Minnesota, a network that promotes economic and racial justice in the state, wants to make that fee a reality. It’s developing the framework for a bill that it hopes will be introduced in 2015 by state legislators who have worked with the network in the past. As conceived, the “bad business fee” legislation would require companies to disclose how many of their employees are receiving public assistance from the state or federal government. Companies would then pay a fine based on the de facto subsidies they receive by externalizing labor costs onto taxpayers.
(In These Times)

Of course we can all hear the wailing and whimpering from plutocrats, amplified by their legions of servile propagandists, already. Tough. The time is now, to get going on ideas like these.
 
Image from the Ultimate Bible Picture Collection. Cf. Luke 16:19-31.
 

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consuladoSPI haven’t been able to find a photo of the one person, and that’s probably for the best. Rubbing it in any further would just be mean.
 

To make their case that Americans are really upset about an increase in unaccompanied children at the border, anti-immigrant groups staged what was supposed to have been a massive number of protests around the country. They staged a “National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty & Border Surge” which for some reason was actually two days, this past Friday and Saturday. This effort was led by three anti-immigrant groups, ALIPAC, Make Them Listen, and Overpasses for America…
 
Minnesota’s Advocates for Human Rights reported that they only found one person at any of the scheduled protests in that state. The gentleman held a sign outside the Mexican Consulate in Saint Paul, but got an earful from people who lived nearby, and chose to depart.
(Think Progress)

That’s an ordinary photo of the Mexican Consulate in St. Paul, from its website. Not that the inclusion of one true-believing, if befuddled, nutcase out on the sidewalk would make much difference.

 

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A chastening look from the left

by Dan Burns on July 22, 2014 · 0 comments

imagesCAY7OL8CI’ve been quite critical of President Obama now and then, myself, and I stand by those criticisms. But I acknowledge many of the points made in the best reality check from the left that I’ve seen in a while.
 

Look: Obama made some mistakes. He should have done more about housing. He shouldn’t have pivoted to deficit-mongering so quickly. Maybe he could have kept a public option in Obamacare if he’d fought harder for it. Maybe, maybe, maybe. But probably not. Like it or not, America was not poised for a huge liberal wave in 2008. It just wasn’t. It was poised for a fairly routine cycle of throwing out the old bums and electing new bums, who would, as usual, be given a very short and very limited honeymoon. Democrats actually accomplished a fair amount during that honeymoon, but no, they didn’t turn American into a lefty paradise. That was never in the cards.
 
All of us who do what Thomas Frank does — what I do — have failed. Our goal was to persuade the public to move in a liberal direction, and that didn’t happen. In the end, we didn’t persuade much of anyone. It’s natural to want to avoid facing that humiliating truth, and equally natural to look for someone else to blame instead. That’s human nature. So fine. Blame Obama if it makes you feel better. That’s what we elect presidents for: to take the blame.
 
But he only deserves his share. The rest of us, who were unable to take advantage of an epic financial collapse to get the public firmly in favor of pitchforks and universal health care, deserve most of it. The mirror doesn’t lie.
(Mother Jones)

The public is progressive, even very progressive, on most issues. But we’ve been unable to translate that to electoral change. In the longer term (i.e. looking out to the early 2020s), I think there’s ample cause for optimism (due to a more thoughtful and knowledgeable, less gullible, populace), in that regard. But it’s an agonizingly slow, tortuous, and frustrating road. Historically, the path to positive change always has been that, though that doesn’t mean it always has to be.
 
One sees a constant online stream of claims that we’re on the verge of (if not already in) a plutocratic/surveillance state/theocratic dictatorship, on the brink of world economic collapse, etc., etc. Those screeds have their place, and maybe more people should be paying more attention. But they’re not, because none of it has anything to do with their daily experience. There would perhaps be a better chance of effectively reaching more people, if that was borne in mind.
 

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abanschoolAnd it should start with this.
 

Whether President Obama realizes it or not, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is now “damaged goods,” a leader whose credibility has been sharply diminished on both sides of the aisle and is widely despised by teachers and parents around the nation. As a result, any initiative he launches will generate skepticism and opposition and will go exactly nowhere. Whether the President can cut loose his long time friend and basketball buddy is an open question, but the die is cast. Arne Duncan is now a liability more than an asset and someone whose presence may cost Democrats votes in the 2014 elections.
(Mark Naison – Dump Duncan Facebook, 7/17/14)

What all has precipitated commentary like the above, which is spot-on if you ask me, is that Duncan is essentially pimping a conservative Republican approach to American education. Full corporatization (“Walmartization,” if you prefer) of schools is the odious goal.
 

The American Federation of Teachers passed a resolution July 13 calling on President Barack Obama to put U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on an “improvement plan,” and demand his resignation if he doesn’t change positions the union deems harmful.
 
This is a very interesting development, notably because it’s arguable whether this resolution is stronger than the National Education Association’s similarly themed resolution, or weaker.
 
On the one hand, unlike the NEA resolution, it stops short of calling for Duncan’s immediate resignation. But on the other hand, the AFT makes it explicit that the buck for the education secretary ultimately stops with the person who appointed him — President Obama.
 
Delegates noted Duncan’s support for the Race to the Top competition, which gave incentives to states to tie teacher evaluations to student test scores; for the recent Vergara v. California equity-lawsuit ruling, which declared certain teacher protections unconstitutional in California; and for supporting planned teacher firings in Central Falls, R.I., as well as for saying that Hurricane Katrina’s reshaping of New Orleans’ school system was beneficial.
(Education Week)

Every indication is that President Obama is with the deformer crowd, and I wish I knew why. This is easily my biggest disappointment with his presidency. According to a big long survey (PDF), a largely uninformed public both strongly supports public schools (as it should), and more charters (as it most certainly shouldn‘t). Grounds for some measure of optimism, or at least determination in the face of difficult odds, is that the President has shown himself open to learned, rational persuasion in the past, on gay marriage for example.
 

Duncan is one of those professional suck-ups that infest DC like mold spores. And he displays a smug arrogance that is truly obnoxious and repellent. Some of his recent, combative comments are likely subconsciously grounded in fear that he’ll be exposed before all for the wretched fake that he is. Just…he needs to go (preferably replaced by Diane Ravitch, though that would seem too-good-to-be-true unlikely).
 

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clowncarh/t Politics.mn
 
So there’s the underlying issue of frac sand mining, and the issue of who correctly construed who, as Republican gubernatorial campaigns go after each other. For the part of the story about Republicans going after each other, Bill Kuisle, running for lieutenant governor with GOP gubernatorial endorsee Jeff Johnson, said it makes sense to delay frac sand mining so the effects can be studied.
 

I’ve pulled the key quotes from the back and forth between the two campaign[sic]. Below is the quote from Kuisle from the interview, in response to a question about frac sand mining:

 

“‘I’ve followed the issue a little bit in the papers,’ said Kuisle, a farmer of 160 acres between Stewart and Rochester. ‘You can’t be an expert on every issue, but I think you’ve got to look at all sides. That is a tough one.
 
“I think the moratorium, give it six months or a year, to study the issue is a good thing. You need to determine what you hope to protect. Is it air pollution, trout streams, transportation? Source: The Caledonia Argus, “Republican-endorsed candidate for lieutenant governor stops by Argus offices”, July 15, 2014

 
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safe_imagephpdAQA0Ubd1yNoWTNbvw90h90urlhttp3A2F2Fwwwhumanbannersfcom2Fwp-content2Fuploads2F20112F102Ftax-the-1-percent-d-150x150Yet conservatives continue to pimp the same whimpering, groveling welfare-for-the-wealthy crap. David Cay Johnston is among my favorite political writers.
 

According to an analysis by Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter David Cay Johnston, formerly of the New York Times, the Bush tax cuts, touted as a harbinger of prosperity by the Republican Party, actually robbed each American taxpayer of $48,000 in pre-tax personal income during the twelve years of their existence, for a total of approximately 6.6 trillion dollars.
 
This is more than enough to pay for every student loan, car loan, and credit card debt in the U.S, while still leaving 2.4 trillion dollars in the pockets of Americans. It is the equivalent of an extra 11 dollars a day lost to each American taxpayer over the last twelve years.
(Daily Kos)

This has a long, involved explanation of the above, for the truly wonky among us.
 
(Update: Here is Johnston’s original column, which is kind of hard to get to via the links posted above.)
 
And, also on the theme of right-wing claims about the economy inevitably being complete and utter BS:
 

We see that while (as per usual) there is considerable variation in unemployment rates across groups, the unemployment rate is substantially higher now than it was before the recession started for all groups. The unemployment rate is between 1.2 and 1.7 times as high now as it was seven years ago for all age, education, occupation, industry, gender, and racial and ethnic groups. Elevated unemployment across the board, like we see today, means that the weak labor market is due to employers not seeing demand for their goods and services pick up in a way that would require them to significantly ramp up hiring, not workers lacking the right skills or education for the occupations or industries where jobs are available.
(Economic Policy Institute)

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Is Mike McFadden Running to Lose?

by Invenium Viam on July 17, 2014 · 9 comments

snakeyes-born-to-loseErnest Hemingway once said, “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, sh*t detector.”

 

I like to think I’ve got a pretty good functioning unit. It may be old, but it’s pretty reliable.

 

That may be the reason why I’ve struggled with the nagging question whether Mike McFadden’s campaign to unseat Senator Franken is for real, or just for show. Something hasn’t felt quite right, not quite genuine, about what I’ve seen so far. My spidey-senses are all a-tingle.

 

I understand that McFadden is a political newcomer, never having held political office before. So it would be easy to pass off any misgivings about McFadden’s campaign bona fides onto that. While inexperienced he may be, McFadden’s certainly not dumb. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of St. Thomas with a B.A. in Economics. He earned a J.D. from Georgetown. So you know he’s got the raw horsepower upstairs.

 

Presumably, he’s also a skilled business manager. He would know that you don’t try to push your way into a developed niche market against several strong competitors without having a helluva business plan, some ironclad financial backers, and Triple-A core competencies across the board. The risk of failure is just too great — and nobody wants to back a loser, especially the money guys.

 

So it’s telling that, after more than a year on the campaign trail, with less than a month before the primary election and little more than three months remaining before the general, McFadden remains largely unknown to Minnesota voters, his campaign is undistinguished, his messaging is unremarkable, his fundraising is woeful, and his crew seems unfocused and directionless.

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