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Dan Burns

Trump and Trump voters in a nutshell

by Dan Burns on September 26, 2016 · 0 comments

I saw this here, which is one of the places that Tom Tomorrow’s genius is featured on a weekly basis.

My posting this is not actually meant as a blanket condemnation of Trump voters, most of whom are not fundamentally really malicious people (unlike their candidate), but rather are socio-politically ignorant and confused and gullible and don’t know any better. They were raised that way, and never given the intellectual tools to help get beyond that. Which is sad, but that’s the reality we have to deal with.


MN lege : DFL pickup opportunities up north

by Dan Burns on September 26, 2016 · 0 comments

bwcaThese districts go R+1, 2, and 4, respectively.
In 2A, Rep. David Hancock (R-Bemidji) is leaving. Our candidate for the open seat is Jerry Loud.

“I believe I have an ability to build working relationships and establishing confidence within a team or individual colleagues,” says Loud. Loud worked in corporate America for a decade with Novartis Pharmaceuticals, and has ten years working for the Red Lake Band of Chippewa in various positions. He currently is the Executive Director of the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program where he has established strong working relationships with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), which has helped him understand how large organizations operate and maintain a productive environment. In addition he spearheaded the Red Lake Green Step Nation.
(Red Lake Nation News)

The GOP candidate is Matthew Grossell, and, well, check out his website for yourself, complete with a quote from the Book of Isaiah on the home page.
Mike Moore is our candidate in 1B.


mn_capitolThis is about some pickup opportunities in SE Minnesota. Rich Wright is running in SD26.

I am running for the State Senate to invest in education, promote economic growth and opportunities for all, and to ensure all of us have access to affordable high quality healthcare.
These are ambitious goals with complex solutions that require effort and cooperation from all of our leaders.

The current occupant, Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) has a mixed record, and is even a member of something called the “Purple Caucus.” I gotta say that though the idea of that is not without merit, any practical impact wasn’t very prominent during these past two sessions. At R+1 this district is begging to be flipped.
Bev Cashman is running in HD 24A.


millspartying2If you’re old enough, like me, perhaps you remember when the late Rod Grams was a Republican, one-term U.S. Senator from Minnesota. During his time in the Senate Grams attained a certain notoriety for being unprepared for committee meetings and just general cluelessness. When things were looking ugly in his reelection bid in 2000 (his DFL opponent was senator-to-be Mark Dayton, now Minnesota governor), he called on Mom. Dig:

Stewart Mills III currently has an ad featuring his wife. The idea seems to be to project an ultra-wholesome image in order to try to counteract the recent exposure of a pretty damn repugnant social media history. This is not about picking on his family. Just noting that from an electoral perspective the precedent here is not promising.

Grams had one term as a U.S. Representative before becoming a Senator. Prior to that he was a TV news anchor. In other words, he was exactly as qualified, based on experience and knowledge (no paying dues in the state lege, etc.) for a spot in the U.S. Congress at that time as Mills is now.
Don’t freak out if you see polling showing Stewart III ahead. There’s precedent for that not being any too reliable, either.
Update: Here’s video from The Uptake, of what might well be the only Nolan/Mills debate. No major fireworks or blunders, that I’ve seen or heard about.


hero_image_main_2If you remember much about the months before the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, it doesn’t take much paying attention to this one to work up a pretty strong sense of déjà vu. In both of those, we also saw polling from September into early October claiming that the race had “tightened” to very close, or even tied, before in the end President Obama pulled away to win by about the margins he’d had right after the Democratic conventions.
Various explanations have been mooted for this phenomenon. Here’s a certainly viable one that I saw last week:

One way to describe that problem is “non-response bias;” in other words, the responses of those who choose to respond would be different than those you choose not to respond. It’s a phenomenon that we’ve been aware of for a long time … it may have been the primary culprit in the notoriously disastrous Literary Digest poll that predicted a landslide victory for Alf Landon in the 1936 presidential race … but one that pollsters are just now starting to grapple with.
A more recent case was the polling spike that Mitt Romney received after a poor performance by Barack Obama in the first debate in 2012. Research after the fact, however, suggested that Romney didn’t suddenly get an influx of new backers, as much as Obama’s backers were demoralized and temporarily​ less willing to talk to pollsters, and Romney was temporarily winning by subtraction, which explained why that debate bump quickly wore off. Pollsters using more advanced techniques … especially Obama’s internal pollsters, who were relying on multiple levels of voter file information to sort voters, instead of just using random-digit dialing and talking to whoever answered … found that there really wasn’t much of a debate effect at all, and the race stayed in pretty much the same narrow band from April on.
And pollsters who are willing to dig a little below the surface (and not interested in feeding a horse race narrative in the media) are finding similar things this year.
(David Jarman/Daily Kos)

Be that as it may, there’s another hypothesis that doesn’t seem to be being given much voice, though for me it fairly springs from the data, past and present, like a jaguar. Consider:
– Much corporate media is facing further downsizing, if not outright extinction in its current embodiments, any time. (Note, for example, the age distribution among those who still inexplicably get their “news” from the plutocratic/war pig propaganda that is the network TV broadcasts. I don‘t know about their websites and radio, but I doubt that the situation is much different.) They’re desperate for a neck-and-neck race, to hopefully keep people “glued.” We’ve seen how the coverage has been, with the relentless invention of Hillary Clinton “scandals” whenever she so much as blinks her eyelids, compared to the coddling of the most vile and repulsive, and unqualified and dangerous, presidential candidate, in historical context, in U.S. history.

I don’t believe that most of the Republicans or corporate Democrats who own and operate corporate media really want Donald Trump in the White House. But they figure that the chances of that are small, and they’re probably right. Probably. (More here and here.) But they are, in addition to ratings and web traffic and so forth, hoping to help mute any Democratic downballot wave. Plus, they’re a**holes. Of a truly fetid, repellent sort.

– We’ve known from Day One that Clinton has huge advantages among minorities, women…really, everyone except white people with no post-secondary education. I personally know Republicans who are refusing to vote for Trump, and I suspect that you do, too. Moreover, Clinton’s ground game is state-of-the-art, while it’s doubtful that Trump even knows what “microtargeting” is. It just does not add up that this is tied or anywhere near it.
Given the above, to claim that polling commissioned by, or otherwise intended for use by, corporate media and other public entities looking for attention – that is, most of what’s out there – is all on the up-and-up seems to me to be pretty naïve. I do indeed hypothesize (and I’m far from the first to do so) that in all likelihood much of it is being deliberately skewed, in order to make this thing appear closer than it is.


Motivated reasoning and politics and stuff

by Dan Burns on September 15, 2016 · 1 comment

brain2Every so often I use the phrase “motivated reasoning” in a blog post. When I try to find a good hyperlink, everything is either too complicated or too simple. So I’m writing up my own.


First of all, the phrase “cognitive dissonance” is often misused. It is not the same thing as motivated reasoning. Cognitive dissonance happens when people are trying to hold different beliefs that don’t fit together well (for example, “the Twins are all set to be a contender next year” with “the Twins will lose 100+ games this year.”) Or when we notice that our attitudes and behavior are notably inconsistent (when we don‘t notice, or affect not to notice, that‘s called “hypocrisy”). It’s not a pleasant feeling, and people try to get rid of it.
Motivated reasoning is basically all the mental gymnastics people do to justify believing what they want, based on dogmatism, emotionalism and/or (often ego-driven) cognitive biases, when said beliefs have little or no apparent grounding in fact and/or reason. People use it to, among other things, quell cognitive dissonance. In some ways, a well-known phrase that could be a synonym for m. reasoning is “wishful thinking,” only you don’t accept that it’s wishful when it’s you that’s doing it.
(It’s possible that learned specialists would take issue with my definition, perhaps as too rough-and-ready. I certainly wouldn’t claim that I’m right and they’re wrong. I’m just trying to provide an indeed rough-and-ready description for practical understanding in socio-political contexts.)
Suppose I feel the need to internally justify a vote for Donald Trump for president. I fall back on unthinking, irrational, completely unsupported dogma that right-wing conservatism is good doctrine that produces good results. Emotionalism in that I will be gleeful to see people of color, assertive women, liberals, etc., get theirs. And I can call on all kinds of cognitive strategies like denial, rationalizing, confirmation bias, authoritarianism, groupthink, and so forth to convince myself that he is in reality knowledgeable, fair, honorable, kind, generous, and all that good stuff. Again, despite apparently infinite evidence to the contrary. All of these processes generally are, in real life, entirely or at least mostly subconscious.
By no means is motivated reasoning confined to the political right wing. On the contrary, it is as pervasive as the very air. We all do it. Including me. Trying to be aware that one is doing it is the first step to replacing it with the discipline of logic – that is, to really reason from fact.

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Minnesota-State-CapitolThis post is about three races in tough, red districts that would be oh so very, very sweet to win.
Josh Haseman is running in 23B.

This race, this effort is not about me. It’s about the hard-working families, senior citizens, farmers and small business owners in District 23B who represent the backbone of rural Minnesota. It’s important to have someone fighting for them.

The incumbent is Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center). I doubt that on this blog, or in any place where I’m posting the link to this, more needs to be said. But I’m adding items anyway about where he’s at on guns and race relations.
Elise Diesslin is our candidate in 21B.


New developments on Minnesota sulfide mining

by Dan Burns on September 14, 2016 · 0 comments

Tailings Pond Breach 20140805Twin Metals is going to court to try to get old mineral leases renewed.

Paul Danicic, Executive Director of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness issued this statement in response:
“We’re deeply disappointed that Twin Metals is suing to prevent the Bureau of Land Management from conducting a diligent and comprehensive review of their mineral lease application.
Over 65,000 public comments were submitted this summer opposing renewal of these leases near the Boundary Waters. The BLM and U.S. Forest Service have heard from thousands of people that sulfide mining on the edge of the wilderness is an unacceptable risk. Twin Metals’ lawsuit seeks to silence them…

(Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness)

The Duluth City Council shot down proposed PolyMet hearings.

Backers of the proposal argued that a contested case hearing — as this process is also known — would add something new to the regulatory process. J.T. Haines of Duluth said such a hearing would weigh competing claims of whether PolyMet can mine safely.
“Unlike public meetings … where much of the time people simply state their opinion without scrutiny, a contested case hearing would provide a more rigorous forum, including subjecting testimony to cross-examination, a key distinction,” Haines said. “That’s something both sides should welcome.”
But after lengthy debate, the City Council voted against the resolution. Councilor Barb Russ said it was the job of the Minnesota DNR to decide whether evidentary hearings on PolyMet are needed.

You have your good days and your not-so-good ones. The saga is ongoing.


trump3When people who at least try to be clear thinkers, rather than go through life in benighted fogs of motivated reasoning, are shown to be wrong, we endeavor to figure out what went wrong, in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes. (“Motivated reasoning” is basically all the mental gymnastics people do to justify believing what they want, based on dogma, emotionalism and cognitive biases, when said beliefs have little or no apparent grounding in fact and/or reason.) Sorry to sound all lecturing and pretentious.
When Donald Trump became the GOP presidential nominee, I believed that by this time, mid-September 2016, the only remaining question would be just how big the Democratic electoral tsunami would be. Kinda f*cked that up, didn’t I?
To be clear, I still believe that Hillary Clinton will win the Electoral College quite handily. And that it’s considerably more likely than not that we’ll take the U.S. Senate, although quite possibly with no more than 51 seats at best. And that we’ll take the MN House and have legislative majorities for Gov. Dayton’s final two years. And all of those will be wonderful things.
But, at least for now, the Landslide of Historic Proportions appears to be off. And the reason that I didn’t see that coming is that I had no idea that corporate media would take its coverage to the fetid extremes that it has, on behalf of both a misogynistic, racist, bloodthirsty, pathologically narcissistic lunatic, and on behalf of the wretched failure of a political party and ideology that he represents. I knew there would be plenty of bias, but not like this. For far from the first time I’ve underestimated how far the Establishment would go to try to protect its interests, even to the point of risking a Trump presidency and what that would mean. I should have known better by now, but I didn’t.
I’m not alone. Not with those remarks about corporate media, anyway:


ottertaillakeriverinletWhen I was a kid neighbors of ours had a cabin, actually bigger and more like a house than what is often meant by “cabin,” on Otter Tail Lake (pictured), and I was up there a bunch of times. Pleasing memories.
Shawn Olson is running for MN Senate. These are all tough races, R+9, but who cares in a year like this?

It’s time for some fresh blood in the Minnesota State Senate from District 8 after 10 years. Otter Tail and Douglas counties deserve a voice for the people that live here, not big corporations with headquarters in some far off metropolis. It’s time to move beyond the failed leaders of the past who are driven by establishment politics. This election is about who has the best vision for a better future, and it is my belief that just voting no to everything all the time is not the solution. It is in fact the problem.

Got that right. Especially considering that the incumbent is Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria), who has been the sort of right-wing grandstander that any legislative body can most certainly do without. Check out, for example, his antics regarding “English-only,” and all things cannabis.

CJ Holl is our candidate in House 8A.