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Dick shooters, Dick NRA, Dick GOP

by Dog Gone on October 2, 2015 · 2 comments

We have too many guns, too many shootings, too damn much money corrupting our government preventing action and too damn much right wing propaganda lying and distorting the discussion.  The President tells it straight, and the country needs to listen: we need to restrict guns better than we are doing.


According to the Freethinker,

In this Guardian report, Mercer described himself on an on-line dating site as as  a 26-year-old, mixed-race “man looking for a woman”. He said he was “not religious, but spiritual”, was a “teetotaler” living with his parents and was a conservative Republican.

If you look at the positions of the GOP candidates, NOT ONE is willing to address the issue of our gun violence problem; all are for more lax gun policies which lead to more violence, not more safety.


When 3 people shoot themselves in their shorts in one week, it should be obvious we have a problem.  It should be obvious guns are not making us free or safe, so many guns are making us numb and dumb, hurt and dead.


Comments below fold.


miningDue to depressed and likely to stay that way global markets for industrial metals. The final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed PolyMet sulfide mining project in northern Minnesota is expected in November. Subsequently, Gov. Mark Dayton will have a big decision to make. Presumably he will take matters like this into account.

You see, PolyMet recently released its second quarter financials, and it made just as much money in the last quarter as it has every quarter of its existence, going back to 1981.
None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. That’s thirty-six years of solid financial performance. That’s because PolyMet has never been a miner and has never operated a mine. All hat and no cattle, except without the hat…
That just leaves prominent underworld figure Glen Core to loan shark PolyMet out of the jam. After all, he’d done so several times in the past. But dealing with Glen Core always has a price: loss of equity by other shareholders, including Sen. Housley, because Glen always gets an equity spiff.
Glen Core is, of course, Glencore PLC. Glencore is the largest shareholder in PolyMet, and it is PolyMet’s Sugar Daddy, too. It has PolyMet tied up six ways till Sunday; it has loaned PolyMet millions and has a first lien position on everything that PolyMet owns.
But sadly, even the Sugar Daddy has fallen on hard times. The Business Insider reports that Glencore’s stock is on a skid, too, and that its credit rating is imperiled. Glencore stock is way off for the last year:

We may as well be ready for efforts during the next legislative session to hit up Minnesota taxpayers in general for subsidies to keep PolyMet going. Though they’ll presumably try the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) first.


Boehner leaving and the TPP

by Dan Burns on September 30, 2015 · 0 comments

tpp2Regarding the following, I’m not that optimistic that we’ll now totally crush the horror that is the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership “trade” agreement. But it’s good news, in context.

We have heard so little about the Trans-Pacific Partnership over the past couple of months that you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Obama administration simply abandoned it. But (today), representatives from the 12 TPP nations assemble in Atlanta for a two-day meeting designed to produce a final agreement.
Previous “final” talks in Maui revealed multiple hurdles, from dairy markets to auto parts manufacturing to the length of prescription drug patents. But this Atlanta meeting was abruptly put together, suggesting progress on the sidelines. While nobody thought TPP could conclude before Canada’s parliamentary campaign ends Oct. 19, the New Zealand prime minister said Canada is “negotiating as if there’s no election.”
But even if negotiators work out a tentative agreement this week, the biggest announcement on TPP may have already happened. That would be last Friday’s resignation of House Speaker John Boehner.
Trade promotion authority, which allows the president to negotiate trade agreements and bring them to Congress for an expedited vote, barely passed the House earlier this year. Fifty-four Republicans voted against it, among them practically all the ringleaders of the campaign against Boehner – like Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who took the leadership role in ousting him; David Brat, the man who upset Eric Cantor and took his House seat; Jim Jordan, chairman of the anti-Boehner House Freedom Caucus; and 23 members of that caucus in all.

A recent World Trade Organization ruling against India’s push for solar energy is regarded as just a preview of the sort of corporate greedhead vileness that would become epidemic under the TPP.


nemn(Update: Rob Ecklund won.)
It’s for the seat left vacant in 3A by the recent passing of Rep. David Dill. I wrote about the DFL candidates here. The general election will be on Dec. 8.

MN Progressive Project does not, as an organization, endorse DFL candidates against one another. Individual contributors can do so on the blog, as long as we’re explicit that we’re typing only for ourselves. On that basis, I hereby note that Bill Hansen is a strong progressive, and the only DFL primary candidate who opposes sulfide mining, and if I lived in HD 3A I would crawl to the polling place on my hands and knees, if necessary, to vote for him today.

When the vote tally page shows up on the MN Secretary of State website, probably later this morning, I’ll link it here. Here’s the results page. Of course there won’t be numbers on it until after the polls close at 8PM. I would guess/hope that we’ll know who won by 10:30 or so, if not sooner. In the past results from up north have been known to really come slowly, but I think that’s been less of an issue the past couple of years. No guarantees, though.


the dread “BLOOD MOON”
courtesy, Getty Images

Yup. There it is. The big bad scary “Blood Moon”. I walked out and took a look at it this evening (Sunday), and at the lunar eclipse. There were even a few bats flying around — whoooo, scary! (NOT)


Now I can check that off the back page of my bucket list, if my bucket list was as long as War and Peace, which it is not. It was a passing minor novelty, an event of interest so long as I had nothing more pressing or interesting to do. (If you are pressed for time, I would encourage skipping the serious stuff, and head down to the fun videos at the end of the post.)


Too be fair, one of these blood moon eclipses came through in 1982; I also got a good look at Halley’s comet when it came through in 1984, and Hale-Bopp in 1997 as well, out in a rural area relatively clear of light pollution, and that was interesting, but not something to produce an adrenaline rush.  Even with exceedingly modest visual enhancement, it was not exciting, although I admit that having had access to a serious telescope for astronomy classes spoils one for some forms of naked-eye celestial observation.


There has been a lot of silly anti-science-based hype about the blood moon, the ‘super’ moon, and the eclipse.  It is prevalent in the crazy fringe religious righties who have hijacked the GOP via the Tea Party.  It appeals to the “end days is comin’!” anti-science ignorati, those who constitute the base for the likes of Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Ben Carson or Mike Huckster-bee. They are defined by superstition passing as religion.


They thrive on scaring the crap out of people, mostly by making up things which have no significant or substantive foundation in objective reality.  In other words, they thrive on right wing propaganda.


It’s time we stop letting the superstitious and ignorant anywhere near authority above the level of making the potato salad for small gatherings. When fact differs from faith, faith is wrong, and fact and reason should supersede stupid or fantasy based, no matter how often or loudly someone is tossing around the word Jesus. If you read that last sentence as dripping with scorn, you would be correct.

From the Inquisitr:


Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Super Moon won’t be that super

There’s a lot of excitement about the “super blood moon” on Sunday night — a total lunar eclipse that will give the moon a reddish appearance. The excitement centers on a few different ideas. One is the notion expressed by some religious groups that a blood moon is tied to Biblical prophecy. More widespread is simply the anticipation of seeing a really amazing celestial sight.

Unfortunately, those who are hoping for a spectacular once-in-a-lifetime view may find themselves disappointed.

What’s more special about this moon than the appearance is timing, or rather, the frequency with which the type of lunar eclipses we refer to as a blood moon are currently occurring. Specifically, when four blood moons occur at approximately six-month intervals. According to NASA, while lunar eclipses of one type or another occur about twice a year, a tetrad of blood moons is much rarer. There will be a total of eight this century.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and science promoter, discussed the blood moon on Twitter today, explaining that while it will appear larger than usual, it won’t be much larger, and that the color won’t be as deep and bloody red as many may expect from the name. [tweet below]

11h11 hours ago

Resist the Hype: The size of today’s “Super” moon is to next month’s full moon as a 16.07 inch pizza is to a 16.00 inch pizza

For some believers, the event is even more special, as they connect it to biblical prophecy. The Red Moon Rapture website lays out some of these prophecies, and how one group of believers feels that they connect to current events. Specifically, all four of the blood moon events in this tetrad fall on or quite near important events in the Jewish calendar, and the group believes it could be a sign that the Rapture is imminent. As with most rapture predictions, though, this largely comes from a few outlying groups, not from any mainstream belief systems.



Minnesota SD 35: Sen. Petersen leaving early

by Dan Burns on September 27, 2015 · 0 comments

petersen.brandonSen. Branden Petersen (R-Andover) is that rare elected Republican, these days, who shows that not every last one is a completely hopeless lost cause, intellectually and psychologically. Whether that will continue to be the case, for MN Senate representation from that district, is very much an open question.

A Republican sped up his planned exit from the state Senate, announcing Thursday he’ll resign this fall from the seat he had already opted not to again run for in 2016.
Sen. Branden Petersen said he’s been checked out of his legislative service for months and feels the district deserves a replacement who can serve the district better in time for the 2016 legislative session. The 29-year-old had been torn between foregoing re-election and resigning outright before announcing this summer he wouldn’t run for a second term — a decision, he said, rooted in a desire to focus on his young family and earn a better income…
Gov. Mark Dayton will call a special election for the seat. Four GOP candidates had already launched bids for a 2016 contest, including former Rep. Jim Abeler, who represented part of the area for eight terms in the House. Petersen said he wouldn’t make an endorsement.
(CBS Minnesota)

The district is red, but not impossible for a DFLer. Developers Are Crabgrass has informed commentary about possible-to-likely Republicans. I have not been able to find that there are any declared DFL candidates, yet, and I’m not going to speculate at this point.


stewartPresumably Mills and his backers believe that if he just avoids some of his past missteps he’ll get it done, this time. He already got his hair cut, though it doesn’t make him look any more, well, “congressional,” (cf. the image I used, here). And even by about September of 2014 somebody had apparently got through to him about the need to stop going off-script in public, so that he’d stop saying really foolish things. But I for one, and I do have plenty of company, don’t see him putting up much of a fight in a presidential year.

Some will probably be startled that he will blow more of his own money after whatever his failed run cost him in 2014. I don’t know how much he actually did spend, but I’m pretty sure that, entirely due to the circumstances of his birth, his (mostly unearned) income since has far exceeded it.
He may be thinking that even if he fails again here, he’s keeping his name out there for a possible gubernatorial run (or for U.S. Senate, if Amy Klobuchar retires) in 2018. But as far as governor goes, the MN GOP is beyond desperate, and I strongly suspect that the poobahs want the decks kept clear for House Speaker (until January 2017, probably) Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown).
Stewart Mills III is Minnesota’s George W. (or, for that matter, Jeb) Bush. Both intellectually and psychologically an ultimate product of pampered privilege, he has absolutely no comprehension of what existence in this world is really like for the vast, vast majority of its human inhabitants. And therefore he couldn’t be more wrong for elective office.


The most polarized metro area in the most polarized state

by Eric Ferguson on September 25, 2015 · 2 comments

New Republic image of voting patterns in Milwaukee metro areaI really thought I was done with Scott Walker and the bitter divides in Wisconsin when I finished my schadenfreude-filled This Guy Wants To Be President post about the withering of Walker’s presidential campaign, but a commenter on the cross-post on Daily Kos pointed me to a New Republic article from 2014 which correctly predicted not only that Walker would fail, but why. The New Republic article linked to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article for in depth background on sharp partisan divide in the Milwaukee metro area from which Walker came. They’re too good to not share, especially if you’re into political maps and demography and a deep dive into the political ecosystem that produces and elects such a dreadful person. Since you’re visiting this site, I’m going to guess you are into such topics, at least a bit.

The gist is that just about the whole the country follows a pattern of blue cities, purple suburbs, and red rural areas, with some exceptions. Wisconsin is one of those exceptions. The cities are blue, but rural areas are often competitive, and the suburbs are deep red. Most of Milwaukee is non-white, while non-whites are scarce in the suburbs. Democrats win almost nothing once they step outside the Milwaukee city limits. Many years of close high stakes elections have made the divide bitter as well as sharp. Walker exploited and exacerbated the situation, but he also came from it. The New Republic suggested Walker isn’t just in a conservative bubble, but in a geographical bubble that makes him a creature of the suburbs and disconnected from the rest of the state, and this supportive environment prevented the exposure of his flaws. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel graphically shows the sharp divide and explains how it got that way and stays that way, defying the bluing-suburb trend of the rest of America. Big cities are generally the economic engines of their state, but Wisconsin has been regularly run by people seeking to strangle their big city rather than let it drive growth. It strikes me as much like Michigan and Detroit, but on a smaller scale and not so far along.
From the New Republic, The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker
A journey through the poisonous, racially divided world that produced a Republican star


Conservatives support Christian theocracy.  Earlier this week, one of them in another state put it in writing.  From the America blog:

Yesterday, Win Johnson, a lawyer working directly under Moore, wrote a letter to public officials in the state calling them to defy the Supreme Court’s ruling. As Johnson wrote, in part

Public officials are ministers of God assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous. If the public officials decide to officially approve of the acts of the wicked, they must logically not protect the righteous from the wicked. In fact, they must become protectors of the wicked. You cannot serve two masters; you must pick – God or Satan.

…Public official, what will you do? Will you stand up for the law of Alabama, for the people, for the weak and vulnerable, for the law of God? Or will you capitulate? Will you become complicit in the takeover by the wicked?

Johnson is the director of legal staff for Alabama’s Administrative Office of Courts, which runs the state’s court system. While the letter was addressed to all public officials in the state, a spokesperson for Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said that it was directed at him.

No. Public officials are NOT ministers of God.  That is why there is specified in the constitution that there can be no religious test for public office.  Conservatives don’t care about the constitution. They want theocracy in spite of it.


Earlier this week, Kim Davis had another legal battle loss, looking to be one of many before she ends her grandstanding against the LGBT with a petulant whine.


After telling ABC Good Morning America viewers that she had a gay friend, the Daily Beast went looking for that friend; that gay friend may not be a friend any more. Davis appears to be out of sync with her town and county:


“Even after this all started, I went in a few days later and we spoke,” he told The Daily Beast. “We talked about how each other were feeling, and how we’re gonna be friends even after all this.”

But after the media frenzy, Black feels like he doesn’t know that woman anymore.

“I really don’t know who Kim is at the moment. I really want to believe that the kind, sweet person who was there when my mom passed away is still there,” he said. “I was friends with Kim in the past, but I don’t know this woman I’ve been seeing.”

Black said Davis’ decision to fight so hard against marriage licenses for gay couples was surprising to him and that he feels she’s taking it to an extreme. Black also notes that Davis didn’t become a Christian until four years ago.

What really bothers Black is how she has has transformed the town of Morehead, Kentucky.

“Kim Davis has become the face of Morehead, and that’s not the face we want to portray,” he said.

Black says Morehead is considered one of the most progressive towns in Kentucky, and that the city council passed an LGBT non-discrimination ordinance in 2013, one of only six cities to do so in the state. He says many LGBT Kentuckians choose the town as a home  for its diverse and accepting  environment.This is kind of like a sanctuary for people who came to [Morehead State University]. They live here now, they’ve made it their home because it’s so progressive,” he said. “And now it’s like, what is this place we live in? This is not the home we know. We don’t feel safe now. That’s ultimately what she did. She made us feel like our home was invaded by strangers, and she made us strangers to it.”
This is kind of like a sanctuary for people who came to [Morehead State University]. They live here now, they’ve made it their home because it’s so progressive,” he said. “And now it’s like, what is this place we live in? This is not the home we know. We don’t feel safe now. That’s ultimately what she did. She made us feel like our home was invaded by strangers, and she made us strangers to it.”

But taking theocracy to the extreme is what conservatives DO. And that is why every effort at pushing theocracy on government at any level should be opposed, vigorously. Here is just the latest abuse of religion in government to hit the news, demonstrating exactly how the extremist religious right pursues preferential religious treatment, and attempts to control everyone else.

“When citizens of this country approach their government, they do so only as Americans, not as a members of one faith or another. And that means that even in a partly legislative body, they should not confront government-sponsored worship that divides them along religious lines.”

- Associate Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, in a dissenting  Supreme Court opinion

The Kim Davis controversy is like other right-wing efforts to support theocracy and to undo the decisions of the SCOTUS which are mandated by our Constitution as the ultimate arbiters of what is and is not constitutional.  We saw it in the Hobby Lobby decision, we have seen it in other attempts at challenging marriage equality.  When conservatives dislike a ruling, they attempt a do-over and use the litigation as a delay to social justice.


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MN-02: The John Kline replacement sweepstakes

by Dan Burns on September 24, 2015 · 2 comments

gopWhen Rep. John Kline (R-MN) announced his retirement, and many names were being thrown around by observers as potential replacements, I figured that I’d hold off for a while on blogging about it, and hopefully save myself considerable time and effort. Was I ever right, for a change.
To get the DFL side out of the way, first, Angie Craig and Mary Lawrence obviously have big head starts. Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-St. Paul) expressed interest, but subsequently declined.

As far as Republicans go, this article is from yesterday:

Two Republicans are now competing to replace John Kline in Congress.
Former state Sen. John Howe on Tuesday joined David Gerson in seeking the Republican endorsement to run for Congress in the 2nd District next year…
At a recent tea party event in Red Wing, Gerson gave about two dozen people an update on his campaign. Dressed in a blue button-down shirt, jeans and a handgun on his hip, Gerson told the tea partyers that he wants Congress to defund Planned Parenthood and that he hopes to reduce the size and scope of the federal government…
Former state Sen. Ted Daley, former state Rep. Pam Myrha, state Rep. Tony Albright and Savage-based businessman Chris Andryski are other Republicans thinking about jumping into the race.

Those who I saw had their names thrown out there, and in at least most cases expressed interest at some point, but who have all now explicitly said no, include former Minnesota district judge and First Lady Mary Pawlenty, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty press secretary Brian McClung, State Reps. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa), Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), and Roz Peterson (R-Lakeville), State Sens. Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) and Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake), U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s utterly hapless 2012 opponent Kurt Bills, and Sen. Al Franken’s 2014 opponent Mike McFadden. Nearly all of the preceding have lengthy records of utterances and actions that would have provided ample attack material for opponents. I thought that Pawlenty would have been a pretty strong candidate, though there could have been suspicion that she was just running on her last name working against her. I’ve also seen talk about state Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont), but no indication as to whether she is really considering it or not.

We’ll see what more shakes out in the next couple of weeks.
Image: Randy Molton.
Comment below fold.