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“It Was Just A Freudian I Hate My Mother”

by Bill Prendergast on February 24, 2017 · 0 comments

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Script/Layouts: Bill Prendergast Art: Dan Murphy

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MN-03 shocker! Paulsen skipped town hall

by Dan Burns on February 24, 2017 · 0 comments

paulsen2No, not a “shocker.” I doubt I even had you going for a second.
 

Frustrated by a lack of town hall meetings on U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s calendar, some of his constituents set up a gathering of their own in Plymouth on Thursday evening, drawing hundreds of people who shared concerns about Paulsen’s recent votes.
 
The GOP congressman, who represents Minnesota’s Third District, did not attend. That didn’t seem to damper the enthusiasm of the approximately 600 people who packed into Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, while a few hundred more waited outside…
 
Event organizer Kelly Guncheon, a Plymouth financial planner, said the idea was to show the congressman that many in the west and north-metro district don’t share his views — and want to talk.
 
“Rep. Paulsen, I hope you hear that,” he said. “There is nothing to fear about these people. They are concerned.”
(Star Tribune)

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Endorsing Ken Martin & Marge Hoffa for DFL Leadership

by Invenium Viam on February 23, 2017 · 0 comments

ken-margeAnd if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you're going to fall,
Tell 'em a hookah-smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call ...
Go ask Alice, I think she'll know...
     White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane

In 2010, DFL losses to the GOP in the Tea Party wave at the polls that year were laid at the doorstep of then-Chair Brian Melendez and Vice (Associate) Chair Donna Cassutt.

 

I said at the time in a letter to the DFL-SCC that blaming the leadership for those losses was unfair, since no one predicted they were likely, or even possible, until just a few days before the election and because elections are not won or lost due to any single element: Be it party leadership at the time, how money is spent; how energized volunteers, candidates and the electorate are, etc. The outcome of an election is based on a collective of actions, events, influences and — perhaps the greatest unknown of all — the mood of the electorate. So I supported the re-election of Melendez and Cassutt. Members of the SCC felt differently, however. I respected their choice then and I respect it now.

 

Today, I feel the same way about the leadership of DFL Chair Ken Martin and Vice Chair Marge Hoffa. The DFL sustained losses in 2014 and 2016, to be sure, but Democrats across the country sustained losses. Pollsters, pundits, thought leaders and political leaders all misread the mood of the electorate. Subsequently, there was not a concerted effort of any kind by the vast majority of the political leadership to heal the divisions after the bitter endorsement contest between Clinton and Sanders. The feeling that Clinton was a sure winner obviated the need for fence-mending. Nor was there a studied read by the leadership on the left as to the reasons voters were supporting Trump, a phenomenon as much economic as cultural in origin. Instead, Trump’s base was generally dismissed by all the smart people with advanced degrees as “deplorables,” racists, misogynists, alt-right reactionaries, and the like. Undoubtedly, some of them were one or even all those things — but that doesn’t mean their economic and cultural anxieties don’t matter and that their votes don’t count. Except perhaps in the minds of those Moral Highgrounders among us who feel they can impose their personal litmus test of ideological purity on everyone around them, including other Democrats.

 

It’s human nature to look for causes outside of ourselves for our failings and upsets. It’s human nature to seek support from others in our fault-finding efforts. And it’s human nature to seek revenge on others for perceived slights and insults, some of which may even fester for many years. But regardless of whether these things are human nature, that doesn’t make them right. It takes a certain amount of maturity and character to strike the log from our own eye before pointing out the mote in our neighbor’s.

 

That’s my fundamental problem with the current race for DFL State Party Chair. I don’t find any real equanimity in judgment on either the broad spectrum of causes for our party’s losses — including the mood of the electorate — or why the current leadership should be exclusively held to blame for those losses. I also don’t find any real equanimity of judgment with regard to assessing the current leadership’s qualities of leadership: managerial effectiveness, record of achievement, fiduciary oversight, work ethic, etc. The message from the honorable opposition seems to be that we lost the Senate, lost more seats in the House, and lost most of those seats in the rural districts of Minnesota (which perennially feels neglected), and those losses embody an obvious indictment of the current leadership for incompetence or worse.

 

Well, I don’t buy it. I didn’t buy that argument in 2010 and I’m not buying it now. Besides, I’m not interested in looking to the past to deconstruct and litigate what went wrong, how it went wrong, and who’s to blame. My advice to fellow DFL’ers who are inclined to think someone has to pay for our losses — and that it ought to be Martin and Hoffa — is to chill with the whole whiney-butt sulking self-indulgence thing. I can make just as cogent an argument that those losses were due to millennials failing to show up at the polls in those elections. Why not blame them? How about this: Put your game face on and get back on the field. Or go sit on the bench. Or leave. Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way — it’s your choice. But choose, please, and soon.

 

Is that “bullying” to say these things so bluntly? Well, forgive me. I didn’t go to Montessori School, I didn’t get a trophy for ‘participating’ in soccer, and no one — not even my sainted mother — cared a jot if my precious self-esteem might be injured by a critical remark. My soccer games as a kid were composed of as many as 20 bruisers on a side, with husky German and Polish farm boys facing tough Irish and Slavic sons of railroaders, meat-packers and miners. Our games were brutal, mostly without rules, and it was rare that a match ended without a split lip, a bloody nose, or a black eye — or even all three. No one complained and no one ever took thought of revenge for an insult or injury, or of finding a scapegoat to feed to the lions. We all knew instinctively that life was hard, adult life was harder still, and some of us were destined to fall on that long road to our Final Judgment in ways tragic and sad, in ways that taught us beyond any testament of faith that human beings were the subjects and creations of a hard and implacable God. Sorry if that offends your delicate sensibilities in upholding an ethos of genderlessness in our political discourse (itself a useful fiction for some), but I’m merely being honest about where I come from and who I am — and who I am not.

 

We have before us a golden opportunity to re-group, re-trench and counter-attack in this our endless struggle for peace, prosperity and justice for all. That’s what we should be doing instead of playing another round of these silly blame games. The Women’s March, the Indivisible Movement, the Immigrant’s Boycott, Black Lives Matter — all these signs and wonders indicate that there is a new spirit of activism among the shocked and confused voters across the political spectrum, which portends a new opportunity to engage the electorate in powerful and effective new ways. The salient questions for me, then, are these:

 

1. Who is best equipped — by temperament, by experience, by sound judgment, by effective action, by managerial strength — to lead this party to tap into those new energies and best exploit that new opportunity before us to recover from our losses and recapture the institutions of power?

2. Who is best able to heal the divides that currently exist within the party, as opposed to exploit them and aggravate them?

3. With a gubernatorial race now in the works — with many qualified and capable candidates having declared and still more likely to do so — who is best equipped by temperament, experience and judgment to manage an endorsement race with equanimity both in official conduct and in personal demeanor, a race that itself could become divisive and embittered and thereby affect the outcomes of other statewide and local races?

 

In my view, the clear choice is Ken Martin and Marge Hoffa. That’s how I’ll be voting on March 4. If my arguments have merit with you, I hope you’ll join me.

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66758002I got an email from the Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund which alerted me to the following.
 

(Wednesday) afternoon, Minnesota House Republicans heard a health care reinsurance bill (HF1128) that relies on junk science and misinformation to reduce access to contraception by miscategorizing IUDs and Emergency Contraception as “abortifacients.” This couldn’t be further from reality.

 
Here’s the online front page for HF1128, which appears to be part of the Minnesota Party of Trump’s effort to “repeal and replace” the ACA/MNsure in the state. The noted language is on the bill text page, lines 8.26-8.31. The email includes this link, debunking the “abortifacients” claim.
 
On the same general topic, this is well worth clicking and reading.
 

The anti-choice myth that community health centers could easily fill in for Planned Parenthood if the reproductive health-care provider loses federal funding has become pervasive among conservatives hoping to justify defunding the organization. It’s a claim that has been repeated by anti-choice organizations and politicians alike—and when it goes unchecked, it stands to perpetuate a falsehood that could have harmful consequences. Should the federal government strip reproductive health-care clinics from its funding programs, it will be devastating for millions of people who rely on such providers, not always just for reproductive care.
(Rewire)

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MN lege: When will the crazy end? Part 2

by Dan Burns on February 22, 2017 · 0 comments

mn_capitolMore from our merry crew of emboldened, even giddy, right-wingnuts.
 

House file 702 and Senate file 695 would give powerful interests that oppose water quality standards the ability to force Administrative Law Judges and the Court of Appeals to conduct an independent “do-over” of rulemaking based on their own determinations about which scientific issues and data matter.
 
These bills
– ask judges with no subject matter expertise to do the complex work of expert career agency scientists,
– duplicate the rulemaking process and increase the cost, delay and uncertainty of developing water quality standards, and
– significantly undermine public input into rulemaking and agency transparency to the public.
(Friends of the Mississippi River)

Regarding the following, it won’t shock me if the federal money is “redirected.” But probably not as the noted legislators have in mind. More military spending and more tax cut handouts for the 1% are far more likely.
 

A pair of Republican state lawmakers announced a resolution to the Secretary of Transportation requesting $929 million in federal funding for Southwest Light Rail Transit be redirected to other transportation projects in Minnesota.
 
Sen. David Osmek (R-Mound) and Rep. Linda Runbeck (R-Circle Pines) would rather see that money go toward roads and bridges across the state than to one transit project they say wouldn’t benefit most Minnesotans.
(Fox 9)

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Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 16

by Dan Burns on February 22, 2017 · 0 comments

trump13The great man will guide us through these complex and changing times with a steady hand and a calm, competent head. Sure thing.
 

In fact, it smacks of McCarthyism. Trump is trying to minimize the information coming out of the various intelligence agencies as illegal politicized leaks…
 
It is part of this ongoing effort to discredit inside information sources. Trump is working on minimizing the press. He is questioning the motives of protesters. And now, he is going to attempt to discredit the people who could release damaging information about what he has done and plans to do.
 
If anyone is questioning the idea that Trump is moving into an authoritarian transition in this country, that question is being answered.
(mnpACT!)

These are chaotic and anxious days inside the National Security Council, the traditional center of management for a president’s dealings with an uncertain world.
 
Three weeks into the Trump administration, council staff members get up in the morning, read President Trump’s Twitter posts and struggle to make policy to fit them. Most are kept in the dark about what Mr. Trump tells foreign leaders in his phone calls. Some staff members have turned to encrypted communications to talk with their colleagues, after hearing that Mr. Trump’s top advisers are considering an “insider threat” program that could result in monitoring cellphones and emails for leaks…
 
And while Mr. Obama liked policy option papers that were three to six single-spaced pages, council staff members are now being told to keep papers to a single page, with lots of graphics and maps.
 
“The president likes maps,” one official said.
(New York Times)

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GOP Triggers National Mental Health Debate

by Bill Prendergast on February 21, 2017 · 0 comments

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Script/Layouts: Bill Prendergast Art: Caitlinn Skaalrud

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Corporate media, anti-poverty programs, and race

by Dan Burns on February 20, 2017 · 0 comments

mediaLast Friday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reprinted an article from the Washington Post titled “Whites benefit most from government safety nets.” Here’s the Strib link. In the print edition, it was at the top of page A2, and got blurbed above the fold under “Top News” on page A1. It’s based on a study called “Poverty Reduction Programs Help Adults Lacking College Degrees the Most.”
 

People of all races and ethnic groups who lack a bachelor’s degree receive significant help from the safety net, but on two significant metrics, the results for white working-age adults stand out. Among working-age adults without a college degree, 6.2 million whites are lifted above the poverty line by the safety net — more than any other racial or ethnic group. (See Figure 1.) In addition, the percentage of people who would otherwise be poor that safety net programs lift out of poverty is greater for white working-age adults without a college degree than for other adults without a college degree. Still, poverty rates among people without a college degree are substantially higher for blacks and Hispanics than for whites — whether or not safety net assistance is considered.
 
These findings are particularly noteworthy because the election has brought increased attention to the economic difficulties that people without a college degree can face. Largely overlooked in the discussion of these issues to date, however, is the fact that the nation’s poverty reduction programs provide extensive support to adults lacking a college degree, including working-class whites, and that such people would be the principal losers under various proposals to cut these programs that may emerge in coming months.
(Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

(As is often not the case with right-wing propaganda mills, the CBPP describes its methodology in detail. Of course, when you have facts, intelligence, and integrity on your side, you can be a lot more comfortable doing that. )
 
What I find interesting is that the CBPP article, from the title on down, is primarily about how differences in educational attainment affect use of, and benefits from, government aid for the poor. Corporate media is spinning it here to emphasize the racial differences, in a way that directly contradicts the African-American, inner-city “welfare queen” narrative that has been such a key part of right-wing propaganda going back to the Reagan era. And they’re doing this in the context of the openly racist Trump presidency.
 
For purposes of political hyperbole I sometimes characterize corporate media as all about just pandering and propagandizing to conservatives. It’s really more complicated than that. Among other things, they don’t want to lose paying customers whatever their political views, which can and often does lead to strange and erratic juxtapositions and so forth.
 
But maybe this is evidence (and it’s far from the only piece, since Trump’s “election”) of something of a shifting agenda here, what with Trump’s pitiful approval rating – historically low for a new presidency, which usually gets a “honeymoon” – and his own attacks on and threats against corporate media. We’ll see.
 

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Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 15

by Dan Burns on February 20, 2017 · 0 comments

devos2Though it’s certainly possible, we probably can’t count on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos getting caught up in this Russia thing.
 

Levy’s observations are confirmed by my report on how the “school choice” issue, so beloved by big-money Republicans, is hitting opposition from red state rural Americans. Rural schools across the country face formidable problems including high dropout rates, low academic performance, and lousy funding. None of these problems will be solved by creating more charter schools and using vouchers to siphon off even more students and resources. In fact, that option will only make things worse.
 
So the unprecedented opposition to DeVos is more about a struggle over the soul—at least an education soul—of America. And regardless of how the vote turns out, this fight is not about to end.
(Jeff Bryant/OurFuture.org)

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Women’s March General Strike Set for March 8

by Invenium Viam on February 19, 2017 · 0 comments

General Strike

Sometimes, the right idea just comes along at just the right time.

 

On January 31, I floated the idea of a wide-scale walk-out organized by the leadership of the Women’s March as a way of keeping up the momentum and bringing focus onto women’s issues [Code Red Walk-out: A $50 Billion Dollar Slap-in-the-Face for Trump].

 

I figured the Pussygrabber-in-Chief needed a wake-up call.

 

At the same time, I sent out a boosted post from the MN Progressive Facebook page to try to get as broad a read of that article as possible, with the hopes that maybe someone would take notice and run it by the applicable forums, but which instead sent the RW trolls into grand mal seizures and hyper-colonic hemorrhagic spasms worthy of a US Army medical training film on the effects of terminal cholera among the third-world malnourished.

 

On February 6, the organizers of the Women’s March announced their intention to call a “General Strike: A Day Without A Woman,” pending the announcement of a date.

 

On Thursday, February 16, the leadership announced a date for their action, Wednesday, March 8, International Women’s Day. In an Instagram post announcing the date, they had this to say:

In the spirit of women and their allies coming together for love and liberation, we offer A Day Without A Woman. We ask: do businesses support our communities, or do they drain our communities? Do they strive for gender equity or do they support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression? Do they align with a sustainable environment or do they profit off destruction and steal the futures of our children? We saw what happened when millions of us stood together in January, and now we know that our army of love greatly outnumbers the army of fear, greed and hatred. On March 8th, International Women’s Day, let’s unite again in our communities for A Day Without A Woman. Over the next few weeks we will be sharing more information on what actions on that day can look like for you. In the meantime, we are proud to support Strike4Democracy’s #F17 National Day of Action to Push Back Against Assaults on Democratic Principles. This Friday, February 17th, gather your friends, families, neighbors, and start brainstorming ideas for how you can enhance your community, stand up to this administration, integrate resistance and self-care into your daily routine, and how you will channel your efforts for good on March 8th. Remember: this is a marathon, not a sprint. #DayWithoutAWoman #WomensMarch

That Instagram post also produce a massive sh*t-storm of negative comments from many quarters including a fair sampling of antagonistic women.

 

Hey, guys, what’s with all the attitude? Women, and I presume supportive men, are going to take a day off work to kinda – you know – demonstrate that women have worth beyond what a cobble of pre-eminent white male racist-sexist-religionist knuckle-walkers in the White House and on Capitol Hill are willing to grant them.

 

What are you afraid of … that it might be successful? That political leaders and business leaders would be forced to take notice? Do you think that if women gain, men somehow will lose? Why wouldn’t it be just as likely that everybody gains and nobody loses? My advice is to put down your bananas, chill with the high-pitched anxiety displays, smooth down the guard hairs on your sagittal crests and maybe show some loving-kindness and some emotional support. You can start by sharing this post with your friends on your social media. And then maybe plan to take the day off on March 8 and attend a rally or two.

 

Whaddaya say? After all, these are your co-workers, your friends, your sisters, your lovers, your wives, your mothers, your teachers, your physicians, your …

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