Recent Posts

Developments on the tar sands pipeline front

by Dan Burns on November 19, 2017 · 0 comments

oilspillA couple of items.

Still, many Native Americans don’t want to see more fossil fuel infrastructure. Period. Not only is it exacerbating the climate crisis by driving up emissions, they argue it’s threatening their lands.
The current Line 3 cuts right through the Fond du Lac Reservation and Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota, as well as the Chippewa National Forest. Enbridge wants to place the new Line 3 a bit more south, where it wouldn’t cut right through these lands, but the proposed route would still travel right outside the Fond du Lac’s territories. It’s not far from the White Earth and Red Lake reservations, either.

Nebraska’s Keystone XL decision won’t hinge on Thursday’s 210,000-gallon spill. Oil gushed out of the Keystone pipeline in rural South Dakota on Thursday, 30 miles west of the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation. Cleanup crews raced to the site, and TransCanada temporarily shut down the conduit…
Environmental groups said that Nebraska officials should consider the spill a “stark warning.” Just one problem: They can’t. A 2011 Nebraska law prevents state regulators from taking pipeline safety or possible leaks into account in their decisions — a rule that Nebraska’s Public Service Commission plans to abide by.


Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 77

by Dan Burns on November 18, 2017 · 0 comments

trump18Of course there could be a long discussion about what is and isn’t a “lie.” Many people constantly convince themselves, using motivated reasoning in all its wide variety of forms, that the most ridiculous falsehoods are absolute truth. But for now I’m just passing this along.

As of 3am Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, Donald Trump has told 1,628 lies since taking office. We know this because the Washington Post has been diligently watching the numbers, keeping tabs on Trump’s huge fibs and falsehoods. Over the 298 days since his inauguration, Trump has told an average of 5.5 lies every single day of the week, Monday to Sunday. While he barely works weekdays and golfs every weekend, he apparently never takes a vacation from lying.
Over the last 35 days, Trump has been even more dishonest than usual, upping his daily average to 9 lies every 24 hours. Thanks to the extra effort he’s put into misleading the country on a diversity of topics in recent weeks, he’s likely to reach “peak liar” status by January 20. “That puts the president on track to reach 1,999 claims by the end of his first year in office, though he obviously would easily exceed 2,000 if he maintained the pace of the past month,” the Post notes.


reportersThat’s the conclusion to which you might jump, when you start reading this. But the reality is more nuanced.

Trust is lowest of all among the state’s Republicans. Only 22 percent said they trusted the media to do what was right all or most of the time, compared to 61 percent of Democrats, and 41 percent of independents.

The question is pretty broad. I certainly believe that most reporters and researchers and so on are trying to “do what’s right.” But they’re hamstrung by the insistence from their bosses that false equivalence be always paramount. (It’s telling that much of this article from “liberal” MPR is devoted to passing along complaints from conservative Republicans.) False equivalence, though, is not the same thing as outright propaganda favoring one side over the other. What’s really going on, is that conservatives in particular don’t like it when corporate media isn’t putting out what they want to see, hear, and/or read, to bolster their own motivated reasoning.

Only about a quarter of adults nationally self-identify as Republicans, so that should be kept in mind when evaluating the poll results, as well.

The last thing I’m trying to do here is mount an impassioned defense of corporate media. Among many, many other things, its behavior last year played a key role in making “Pr*sident Trump” the horrific reality that it is. But too much that’s out there on this topic acts as if perpetually embittered, whining right-wingers speak for everyone.


Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 76

by Dan Burns on November 15, 2017 · 0 comments

trump23Corporate media should be doing a much better job of telling it like it is on this, than it has so far.


That about says it all. What exactly are Republicans doing? It’s primarily a redistribution scheme from middle-class taxpayers in blue states to corporations mostly located in red states. And while the Republican tax bill will already raise taxes on about one-third of middle-class households next year, the GOP tax hike will hit almost half of middle-class taxpayers by 2026.
That’s right—Republicans plan to provide permanent tax cuts to corporations by gouging middle-class Americans. It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul, Inc.
(Daily Kos)


school3Namely, in Virginia. You know, the one even corporate media is calling a “game-changer,” because of just how big the butt-kicking laid on Republicans was.

But Northam differed significantly from Gillespie on the issues as well as the image. Northam generally disagreed with Gillespie’s call to expand the number of charter schools in the state and favored instead more investment in traditional public schools. Northam also opposed Gillespie’s proposal for education savings accounts that allow parents who pull their children from public schools to direct that funding to private school tuition or other “education expenditures.”
As a result, Northam was backed by teachers unions while Gillespie got financial backing from the DeVos family – who expect their lavish cash donations to Republicans to result in support for charter schools and voucher programs that send public money to private schools – and from conservative groups, including those backed by the Koch brothers, that pounded on Northam for his opposition to “school choice.”
So education was a defining issue in the race, and where the candidates stood mattered a lot. But it’s also important to note Northam got education right not only by differing from Betsy DeVos but also by distancing his views from some views held by Democrats too, especially those Democrats aligned with leftover policy ideas from the Barack Obama presidential administration.
(Jeff Bryant/

Speaking of DeVos, I too have seen where numerous outlets are reporting that she’s expected to quit soon. I’ll believe it when I see it. But it is true that like most Trumpkins she has an infantile need for instant gratification, and hasn’t been getting it. Of course if she does go while we can’t get anyone worse for a replacement, we would likely get someone just about as bad.
The text of the next article does include a range of viewpoints on its subject.

(Teacher Union Reform Network) shares some similarities with another growing labor effort—Bargaining for the Common Good—whereby unions partner with local allies to push for more community-oriented demands in their contract negotiations, such as less punitive school discipline policies and more equitable access to healthcare. Although unions have generally been legally restricted to bargaining over little more than wages and benefits, more locals are coming to think that ceding to this legal reality without a fight is neither the right thing to do, nor something unions can politically afford.
Like Bargaining for the Common Good, TURN members also believe teachers need to approach bargaining more creatively and boldly. Specifically, TURN wants to see unions negotiate over policies that “advance student learning,” such as reducing the number of standardized tests students must take while also pushing for new kinds of assessments that measure skills like creativity.
(In These Times)


Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 75

by Dan Burns on November 13, 2017 · 0 comments

trump15It looks like some people might be starting to get it, though this doesn’t appear to have been a poll of Trump voters only. Recall that even Richard Nixon and George W. Bush kept their fervent support base to, and even beyond, the bitter end.

One year after Donald Trump’s shocking election upset, many Americans who live in the key counties that propelled him to victory remain unconvinced that the country is better off now that he’s in the White House, a new poll from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal shows.
The poll, which sampled residents of 438 counties that either flipped from voting Democratic in the 2012 presidential election to Republican in 2016, or saw a significant surge for Trump last year, found that a third — 32 percent — believe the country is better off now than it was before Trump became president.
But a plurality — 41 percent — say the country is worse off now than it was when Trump became commander in chief. An additional 26 percent say the state of the nation has remained about the same.


GOP tax bill would be terrible for women

by Dan Burns on November 10, 2017 · 0 comments

66758002For most women, anyway, that’s for sure. The likes of Betsy DeVos would love it. The article has several specific examples.

(Last) week, House Republicans finally released their long-awaited tax reform bill. In a move that should shock no one, they’re, touting it as a huge success for tax cuts. Critics, also unsurprisingly, are pointing out that it seems to largely benefit wealthy Americans and larger corporations, leaving low- and middle-income Americans, Americans with disabilities, and Americans with dependents in the dust.
But one other element of the package that’s worth talking about is the impact the proposed policies would have on women. And, whether it’s the tax implications for childcare and student loans or for costly medical bills and adoption-related expenses, the bottom line is not good.


Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 74

by Dan Burns on November 10, 2017 · 0 comments

trump17“Don the Con,” all right.

Last December, President-elect Donald Trump held a much-hyped press conference at the Carrier Corporation in Indiana, announcing he’d saved the plant and thousands of manufacturing jobs…
Despite the $7 million tax break Trump and Pence negotiated for the Carrier Corp., the layoffs continued. Carrier let 300 employees go in July and now comes word they are gearing up for yet another round of layoffs…
(Daily Kos)


Minneapolis election results – UpdateX2

by Dan Burns on November 8, 2017 · 0 comments

minneapolis_skyline__heroHere is the relevant page from the state website.

Jacob Frey looks like the likely winner for mayor.
Reelected incumbents on the council include Cam Gordon, Lisa Goodman, Abdi Warsame, Alondra Cano (at least very likely), Lisa Bender, Andrew Johnson, and Linea Palmisano.
Andrea Jenkins won the open seat in Ward 8. Jeremiah Ellison will likely defeat the incumbent, Blong Yang, in Ward 5.
The rest still cannot be called, and several of those involve multiple-term incumbents. The most important item is that Council President Barb Johnson appears well within striking distance of losing to Phillipe Cunningham.
I will check on things now and then today and provide updates where appropriate. I don’t know how long it will take to get through all those ranked-choice ballots, especially given that I saw somewhere that turnout was apparently the highest it’s been in at least 25 years.
Update: They’re called “unofficial winners” on the Minneapolis elections website, but Jacob Frey will be the new mayor.
Incumbent council member Kevin Reich has hung on, but long-serving member John Quincy has lost to Jeremy Schroeder. Jeremiah Ellison has indeed won. Steve Fletcher will take Frey’s old seat.
The big news is that Phillipe Cunningham has indeed defeated Council President Barb Johnson.
Update: Just a couple more things.
– As usual, most school funding questions (for traditional public schools, mind you) passed.

– In Edina, it looks like just one of the three candidates supported by a contemptible mailer that voters got was elected to the school board there, and that barely.


Minneapolis elections 2017

by Dan Burns on November 5, 2017 · 0 comments

I’ve brought my link-fests on the races back to the top, as the election is Tuesday. Also, here is a voter guide from Twin Cities Daily Planet. Yeah, it’s a partisan source, but so am I.

Because of ranked-choice voting it can take a while, as in days, to determine who won. So I won’t be trying to liveblog, Tuesday night.

Note that I have placed the posts about the council above that for mayor. That’s because from the standpoint of potentially creating a lot of positive change in Minneapolis, it’s the former that are more important. Especially Ward 4.