I certainly haven’t seen any indication that Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) could be thinking of leaving Congress at the end of this term. But conventional wisdom is that 2018 will be his toughest electoral challenge (as will be the case with a lot of GOP incumbents), and he’s certainly paid his dues to the rich man to the point that he will have his pick of lucrative lobbying gigs whenever he wants them.
On the other hand, he doesn’t have to beg for money; Big Device in particular will see to it that his campaign has plenty. And if I’m not mistaken he has always easily outperformed GOP presidential candidates, in the district. It’s certainly possible that he has little to fear unless Democrats can score an A+ list candidate to run against him, and I don’t know who that would be.
Anyway, this new practice of his at least borders on the pitiful. At the very least.
Erik Paulsen regularly issues a video Correspondence Corner in which he responds to constituent questions.
It is a great ploy — Congressman Paulsen determines what question is to be answered … thus, providing him an opportunity to portray himself as effectively responding to issues that he wishes to address as if they are the most critical issues that voters want addressed…
Later in the session, the House approved Amendment 90 offered by Congressman Don Young (R-AK) to H.R. 5538 to prevent use of funds to implement the Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan, which recommended that Congress designate the Coastal Plain as wilderness. That vote was approved 237-191, Congressman Paulsen was one of twelve Republicans to vote NO. OK … that supports his stance but the Republican majority prevailed.
However, that amendment was just an amendment … would Congressman Paulsen retain that same opposition on the final vote ? No … while 15 Republicans voted NO on the bill, it was approved 231-196, with Congressman Paulsen voting YES.
Being able to cast a protest vote on amendments does little when you vote inline with Republican leadership orders on the final bill.
In summary, while Congressman Paulsen’s Correspondence Corner response to April of Edina may give some hope that he will reject Trump’s calls for more oil and gas drilling, his votes say that in the end, he will side with “the Boss” and his Big Oil donors.
(MN Political Roundtable)
There are more critiques of Rep. Paulsen’s “Correspondence Corner,” at the same blog.
You don’t – at least, I certainly don’t – see as much talk about the national debt as there was, say, back in the 1990’s. Perhaps even debt hawks among the sorriest dregs and rinsings of the contemporary human intellect – the conservative punditry – realize that the issue has lost its edge since it’s become clear that a huge federal debt doesn’t mean economic apocalypse.
But that’s not to suggest that a gi-normous national debt is a good thing. Especially if you consider what has really caused it. If you’re reading this you’re presumably enough into the issue to have seen graphs like the following plenty of times before.
Yeah, it started with Almighty Reagan’s tax cuts for the rich and military spending. And the fundamentals haven’t changed. The U.S. national debt is nothing more or less than the cost of 35+ years of aggrandizing the plutocrats and warmongers.
But the real cost of prioritizing that aggrandizement is even greater – indeed, far greater. It’s the cost of the lost potential inherent in a shrinking middle class, and a long-term underclass being screwed in almost every conceivable way. And so on; again, if you’ve read this far, having come to this blog, you know what I’m typing about. Fundamentally, we’re talking about constrained to virtually nonexistent access to substantial resources and opportunity for those not born to wealth, or otherwise granted ready access to it.
This past weekend:
Police cleared hundreds of demonstrators who were protesting the verdict in the Jeronimo Yanez trial from Interstate 94 early Saturday morning.
Police gave protesters numerous warnings that being on the interstate constituted an unlawful assembly and that arrests would be made if they did not clear the roadway. A KSTP reporter on scene said officers sprayed protesters with mace while attempting to control the crowd.
It’s interesting that it’s Hubbard News, of all outlets, that emphasized in its headline how minor any “violence” was. Anyway, early in the legislative session, namely January:
Representative Kathy Lohmer says the growing number of freeway protests are a threat to public safety, not only to police, but drivers and protesters too.
“You need to obey the laws of the freeway,” said Lohmer, a Republican from Stillwater. “They are there for a purpose. Freeways are not really public spaces, like parks and places like that. You need a license to drive on the freeway. You can’t walk on the freeway.”
Lohmer’s bill beefs up penalties for obstructing highways, including entrance and exit ramps. Right now, it’s a misdemeanor carrying fines up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail.
The bill would make it a gross misdemeanor, carrying fines up to $3,000 and a year in jail.
That didn’t make it into law, this time. It will, if Republicans take the trifecta in Minnesota in 2018. And said GOPers apparently honestly believe that it will help turn angry people who intend to get noticed into obedient little authoritarians. That is delusional.
Image: Twin Cities Daily Planet
(In Part 1 I blogged about the Great American Stupid. In Part 2, about voting numbers and trends. In Part 3, about the foul antics of corporate media.)
Voter suppression is a despicable, unconscionable thing. Voting is a fundamental right in a democracy, so if it was up to me, leaders of the “voter ID” movement would face federal prosecution for denial of civil rights. But it’s not up to the likes of me. Bummer.
That being said, the actual, practical effect of voter suppression in elections so far is tough to figure. Wisconsin has been noted as a place in the last election where the result may have been swung because of it.
While states with no change to voter identification laws witnessed an average increased turnout of +1.3% from 2012 to 2016, Wisconsin’s turnout (where voter ID laws changed to strict) dropped by -3.3%. If turnout had instead increased by the national- no-change average, we estimate that over 200,000 more voters would have voted in Wisconsin in 2016. For context, Clinton lost to Trump in Wisconsin by only 20,000 votes.
Go ahead, get the snark out of the way. “Isn’t that always the case?” Maybe, however, we’re talking about a specific matter where different Democrats put out messages that don’t go together.
This is something I’ve noticed during the last couple monthly jobs reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (the most recent report is always here). Different Democrats reacted in ways to indicate there are two schools of thought on how we should frame the economy. One tries to pick out weaknesses, like a dropping amount of jobs created each month or a decline in the rate of participation in the labor force, to show how the economy is weakening since Trump got hold of it. The other, and I subscribe to this other (or should I say still subscribe), holds that the economy is currently strong and we need to emphasize that Trump inherited this economy.
I understand where the other side is coming from, because there are weaknesses in the last jobs report, but that’s always the case. Even the strongest economy has weak spots, so of course it’s tempting the emphasize the weak points. The problem is an economy with an unemployment rate around 4.5% is pretty good, and it looks ridiculous to argue otherwise. Yes, there are always some regions and occupations that aren’t sharing in the prosperity, and there are long term problems and potential problems. That doesn’t mean the unemployment rate isn’t low because it’s high in some places. That’s just a variation that always occurs, like some regions and industries got spared the 2008-2009 recession, even as awful as it was.
Two DFL challenges to Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) are being considered, by Sue Hakes and Leah Phifer.
Sue Hakes, who previously served as Cook County Commissioner and Mayor of Grand Marais, will test the field as Nolan considers his future.
“When I think about Minnesota’s Eighth District, I think people first,” Hakes said in a press release. “I want to fight the current administration’s budgetary goals which chip away at — or gut entirely — the very institutions that make rural life possible and the amenities that make rural America a desirable place to live”.
So, as I watched politicians and pundits race to understand us after the 2016 election, I couldn’t help but laugh. If they really wanted to understand us, to help us, they would stop trying to fit us into neat little narratives. My family and friends are scattered from Isanti to International Falls. In MN CD08, we’re hard-working, opinionated, and unpredictable. If you want to understand us, I thought, start by acknowledging that no two towns, counties or people in this large district are the same. So when I began to think about my role in future of this district, I knew where I had to start.
On June 16th, 2017, I will be setting out on a 80 day listening tour, to take the pulse of our varied district. Let’s talk about what makes us so unique, what we have in common and where we can start to re-build the politics that govern us, but don’t define us. Please check out my event calendar or show me around your corner of our great district. Share your story, share your thoughts, share your recommendations for the best pasties and pastries in your town! Wherever you lie on the political spectrum, let’s talk about how we move our district into the future together.
(Around the 8th in 80 days)
Phifer’s website has nothing at this time about her policy positions. I couldn’t find Hakes’s press release online; here’s her Facebook page if you want to peruse that for indicators. I will certainly withhold judgment until I know a lot more about where these candidates’ heads are at on the issues of the day.
Except for sulfide mining, Rep. Nolan has been a strong progressive in Congress. I would need to see a very impressive candidate, starting with great, strong, downright relentless opposition to such mining in the district, to even think of voting for anyone else in a primary.
One wonders how many science teachers in particular are being hoovered up by for-profit charters.
The Chokio-Alberta School District, nestled in the agricultural belt 50 miles east of the South Dakota border, serves two rural communities with a combined population of just under 500. The district has about 150 students.
This past year, when Superintendent David Baukol hired Shaun McNally to teach 7th-12th grade science, he felt relief. A teacher shortage has left districts across the state scrambling to fill positions in math, science, technology, and special education, especially in rural areas.
But with only one science teacher for a combined middle-high school of 73 students, Baukol doesn’t know what he will do if McNally ever leaves. He was the only person to apply when the job was posted last year, which doesn’t breed confidence in anyone else coming along soon.
“We’re just barely holding on by a thread,” says Baukol. “If we had not had this science teacher apply, we would have been in dire straits. What would we have done without a science department?”