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Dan Burns

plannedThe Colorado Springs attack was not some rare outlier.

Threats and attacks on abortion providers have spiked dramatically in the four months since an anti-abortion group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress released a series of heavily edited videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials “selling baby parts.” In September, the FBI noted an increase in cyber attacks and arsons, and warned that it was “likely criminal or suspicious incidents will continue to be directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff and facilities.” In October, a Planned Parenthood facility in California was fire-bombed, following three similar incidents in Illinois, Louisiana, and Washington. A clinic in New Hampshire was spray-painted with the word “murderer,” and then, a few weeks later, attacked by an intruder wielding a hatchet.
(The Nation)

Throughout the recent escalation of violence by anti-choice zealots, as well as the longer-term rise in threats, intimidation, and criminality, the Obama administration has largely confined itself to serious-sounding talk, presumably because of the common “wisdom” that abortion is a losing issue for Democrats. That’s not just pitiful. It’s gross dereliction of the duties of their offices. The FBI undoubtedly knows who is running the forced-birth terrorist groups. Arrest, prosecute, convict, and imprison them. If the fee-fees of the anti-choice minority get hurt in the process, tough.

Note how Planned Parenthood and its many, many millions of supporters aren’t calling for the deportation of all white anti-choice males, or making them register in a government database, or anything like that. Progressives, unlike too many conservatives, do not turn into whimpering blobs of quivering gel every time something bad happens in this world.
(Addendum: A list of attacks on abortion providers going back to 1976.)


MN House: Wes Volkenant in 35B

by Dan Burns on November 29, 2015 · 0 comments

volkenantWes Volkenant is a long-time DFL activist and an all-around righteous man. He’ll be running in the north metro against Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover).


Volkenant recently told SD 35 DFLers that he is “ready for this challenge.” He added, “Peggy Scott and Speaker Kurt Daudt’s brand of right-wing, Tea Party, Republican politics has been bad for Minnesota, and provides unwise and hurtful policies and legislation.”


The Volkenant campaign will focus on bringing back the successful progressive DFL agenda that’s brought us all-day kindergarten, delivered same sex marriage in Minnesota, froze tuition at state colleges, raised taxes on the wealthy to properly fund schools and government aid, and provided tax relief to property taxpayers.


If elected, Wes Volkenant will oppose radically-conservative ALEC-influenced Republican efforts to emasculate unions, to limit voting rights, to use privatized prisons, to eliminate MNSure, and to rollback equality gains for our GLBT communities.


As Volkenant further stated to his fellow SD 35 DFLers, “The Republican House in 2015 was a do-nothing farce. Its leadership – including Assistant Majority Leader Peggy Scott – passed last minute bills that were never heard in committee or read before voting. In this divided, agitated partisan era in Minnesota, District 35B should vote for progressive, problem-solving leadership in Wes Volkenant for 2016.”
(Wes V. for 35B)

I’ll remind y’all of this one again, next fall. For now, a little more about Rep. Scott, who:


daudtThis is from a couple of days ago. There’s been no change that I know of.

Gov. Mark Dayton isn’t playing along with House Republicans’ call to link a PolyMet project pledge to a special session for unemployed steelworkers.
Dayton is aiming to call a special session to extend unemployment benefits for miners in northeastern Minnesota. A tide of closures at Iron Range mines mean some those benefits may expire soon as this month. Minnesota’s Legislature isn’t set to return until early March.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt says Dayton should vow not to interfere in the PolyMet mine review and an oil pipeline in planning.
(CBS Minnesota)

That language is finessing the matter pretty flagrantly. What Daudt wants is blanket, no-conditions approval for both PolyMet and Sandpiper, and if he doesn’t get it, miners can become destitute for all he cares. To be precise, what the Kochtopus’s American Legislative Exchange Council wants is Daudt’s agenda, without significant exception.
Well, next election will be a very good time to make him wish that he had cared. We need strong DFL turnout statewide, to take back the House and depose this wretched pr*ck. Moreover, we already have a candidate in Daudt’s district, Sarah Udvig. Check it out here.


I believe the arrest was made this morning.

One suspect has been arrested following a shooting about a block from the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fourth Precinct, where Black Lives Matter and other protesters have been camped out for more than a week following the fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark…
Police said Tuesday they have arrested one person – a white 23-year-old male – in connection with the shooting, which happened near 1400 Morgan Avenue North around 10:40 p.m. Monday, a news release says…

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis posted on its Facebook page “white supremacists” were involved in the shooting, saying they “attacked the #4thPrecinctShutdown in an act of domestic terrorism.”
(Bring Me The News)


Time to change our comparative focus on education

by Dan Burns on November 24, 2015 · 0 comments

teachersAnd an additional item.

We conclude that the most important lessons U.S. policymakers can learn about improving education emerge from examining why some U.S. states have made large gains in math and reading and achieve high average test scores. The lessons embedded in how these states increased student achievement in the past two decades are much more relevant to improving student outcomes in other U.S. states than looking to high-scoring countries with social, political, and educational histories that differ markedly from the U.S. experience. No matter how great the differences among U.S. states’ social and educational conditions, they are far smaller than the differences between the United States as a whole and, say, Finland, Poland, Korea, or Singapore. As such, this report starts the process of delving into the rich data available on student academic performance in U.S. states over the past 20 years—and shows that the many major state successes should be our main guide for improving U.S. education.
(Economic Policy Institute)



vetI doubt that will mind if I go ahead and blockquote a big chunk of an email that I got from them.


Earlier this week, “the main arm” of the Koch Brothers’ political network, Freedom Partners, disclosed its political giving for 2014 in their annual tax filing. We thought you’d find this interesting:
They granted $12.7m to Concerned Veterans for America for “General Support.” It was Freedom Partners’ largest gift of the year.
So what are the Koch Brothers’ looking for with their gift to Concerned Veterans of America? It’s simple: The privatization of the veterans’ health care and military retirement plans, organizing for the repeal Obamacare, and dismantling the unions that work within the Department of Veterans Affairs.


Setting up an odious astroturf organization and giving it a name like “Concerned so-and-so” is unfortunately a tried-and-true method for deceiving uninformed and gullible voters who lean conservative, and even some who don’t. Something like “classless” doesn’t fairly describe tactics like that. “Despicable” and “contemptible” are more like it.
The CEO of CVA is Pete Hegseth, who couldn’t even beat Kurt Bills for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in Minnesota in 2012. And whose primary public notoriety now comes from nearly literally sticking an axe into a bystander during an ill-advised publicity stunt. Much more about Hegseth, from Developers are Crabgrass, here.

Comment below fold.


terroristThe days since the Paris attacks have been as disgracefully vile in American politics and American media as anything I’ve ever seen. A couple of items of particular interest.

It was well documented that during the run-up to the Iraq war there was tremendous pressure coming from the executive suite of the news networks to cheerlead for the administration. Those who resisted were marginalized and fired if they refused to go along. It’s unlikely that the word went forth on Saturday that reporters should get on a war footing and issue demands that the president use “the greatest military in the world” to “take out these bastards.” But they don’t have to say it explicitly do they? Everyone knows the drill.
There is no doubt the Republicans are getting ready to launch a full blown campaign of paranoid bloodlust which, if successful, would have devastating consequences. The media were willing recruits in their cause fifteen years ago. Let’s hope they gather their wits about them before they take us down that dangerous road again.

Billions of dollars have been spent and hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the global war on terror. At every step of the way, Western governments played directly into the hands of Islamic extremists, falling for their ploys and fueling their ambitions. As Osama Bin Laden tauntingly proclaimed back in 2004, “All that we have to do is to send two mujahadin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written Al-Qaeda, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.”
For the handful of ideologues guiding the forever war, those personal and political benefits justified the price of failure. After the latest assault on Paris, it’s not surprising to see them clamoring for more force, more surveillance, more silence from progressives and more airtime for themselves. As they occupy the political center, the grayzone fades to black.

Comment below fold.


kline2Believe it or not, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) actually could leave some elements of a positive legacy, in what remains of his final term in Congress. Starting with some veterans issues.

The obvious question then is : What part does John Kline play as his time in the House runs out ?
As a veteran, there are some issues that need to be on his To-Do list:
H.R. 3988: Military and Veterans Education Protection Act which has been assigned to Chairman Kline’s committee. This bipartisan legislation would close a loophole that allows For-Profit schools to avoid having to secure at least 10 percent of their revenue from non-federal sources…
H.R. 1603: Sexual Assault Victims Empowerment (SAVE) Act is a bipartisan bill designed to address military sexual trauma survivors who face bureaucratic red-tape that often gets in the way of their seeking treatment from qualified, experienced providers outside the Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system and TRICARE. The Military SAVE Act would give these survivors the option to seek reimbursable care from non-VA/TRICARE medical providers who can best provide the care these victims need…
A bipartisan group of 46 members, led by Tim Walz, have offered H.R.3423: Agent Orange Extension Act of 2015 to reinstate it for two more years. Further, John Katko (R-NY-24) and Collin Peterson have teamed up to offer H.R.3547 – Vietnam Veterans Agent Orange Fairness Act…
ToDo List: Congressman Wenstrup has offered H.R.475 – GI Bill Processing Improvement Act of 2015 … Chairman John Kline needs to save the taxpayers some money and co-sponsor this legislation that will limit private schools to a $20,235 cap.
(MN Political Roundtable)

Also, Kline and everyone else in Congress should note: “New bi-partisan poll of veterans shows they oppose privatization or voucherization of VA care.” The polling was commissioned by the Vet Voice Foundation.
Comment below fold.

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MN House: Electoral news in two metro districts

by Dan Burns on November 17, 2015 · 0 comments

mncapitol2As noted here last week, Sen. Barb Goodwin (DFL-Columbia Heights), who represents SD41, is retiring from the Senate next year. Rep. Carolyn Laine (DFL-Columbia Heights) immediately announced that she would run for that seat. Rep. Connie Bernardy (DFL-Fridley), has joined the race. Bernardy and Laine currently represent HD41A and HD41B. A press release is on Bernardy’s Facebook page.

Bernardy is serving her fifth term in Minnesota House of Representatives where she has been recognized for her work for education, seniors, and the environment.
“Despite the polarization that exists at the Capitol, I’ve worked with Republicans and Democrats to find bipartisan solutions to Minnesota’s and our community’s challenges,” Bernardy said. “I have spent my life building community partnerships. I get real satisfaction bringing people together and I believe collaboration and compromise can work here in Minnesota.”
“It’s not easy. You realize quickly that at the Capitol the Republican leadership has different priorities that conflict with my own.” Bernardy differs with Republicans’ agenda because she says she is more focused on putting middle-class families and seniors first – providing good jobs, schools, and economic security rather than prioritizing tax breaks for big corporations.

While some partisans of either candidate would presumably disagree, I would characterize this as one of those “embarrassment of riches” situations that regularly arise for the DFL in the metro. The good thing is that we get a strong candidate for the general, and subsequent service in the legislature, in any case.
Rep. Ann Lenczewski (DFL-Bloomington) announced yesterday that she is retiring from the House. That’s effective next month, so there will be a special election in HD50B.


vote1Dates have been set for the election to fill the Minnesota Senate District 35 seat, which covers a chunk of the north metro, being vacated by Sen. Branden Petersen (R-Andover). The election is on February 9, and the primary, if needed, on January 12.

Roger Johnson is going for it on the DFL side.

Long-time community resident and activist, Roger Johnson, in response to a “Draft Johnson” effort, has agreed to seek the endorsement of the Senate District 35 DFL party to fill this impending vacancy. His wife, Vicki, soon to be President of the Anoka Philolectian Society, is eager to support him in this new leadership role.
According to Wes Volkenant, SD 35 DFL Chair, Johnson is the perfect candidate for this Senate seat. “Roger Johnson has lived in this Senate District for 41 years, sent his children to Anoka-Hennepin schools, MnSCU Colleges, and has a granddaughter enrolled at Anoka Ramsey Community College. Johnson has never slighted his attention to and participation in boards, committees and events that are an important part of the civic life of Anoka County and this Senate District,” according to Volkenant.
(Developers Are Crabgrass)

That blockquote is from a press release embedded in the Crabgrass article. You should click and read the whole thing.
For the GOP, this is from a July article:

Those possible candidates include Republican party activists Andy Aplikowski and Don Huizenga, state Rep. Abigail Whelan and former state Rep. Kathy Tinglestad.

I’m not going to look up those names and see whether they’re running for sure, or not, at this time. I’m busy, and we can wait for the filing period in December anyway. Since that was written, though, former longtime Rep. Jim Abeler appears to have become a “definite.”
Comment below fold.

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