Recent Posts

Dan Burns

MN-02: Rep. Lewis is a pig, all right

by Dan Burns on July 19, 2018 · 1 comment

lewisI suppose it’s a good thing that outlets like CNN are looking like maybe, just maybe, they’ll be perhaps a little more honest and reality-based in talking about Republican pols, incumbents and otherwise, this time around. Even “maybe, a little” would be a big improvement over 2016.
 

A Republican congressman from Minnesota has a long history of making deeply misogynistic comments on the radio, including lamenting that women can no longer be called “sluts.”
 
CNN’s KFile reviewed several months of audio from Rep. Jason Lewis on the “Jason Lewis Show,” a syndicated radio program Lewis hosted from 2009 until 2014 with the tagline “America’s Mr. Right.” In one instance, while arguing that “young single women” vote based on coverage of birth control pills, Lewis said those women were not human beings and were without brains…
 
“Well, the thing is, can we call anybody a slut? This is what begs the question. Take this woman out of it, take Rush out of it for a moment,” Lewis said in a March 2012 episode. “Does a woman now have the right to behave — and I know there’s a double standard between the way men chase women and running and running around — you know, I’m not going to get there, but you know what I’m talking about. But it used to be that women were held to a little bit of a higher standard. We required modesty from women. Now, are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can’t call her a slut?”
(CNN)

As far as his campaign, so far Lewis seems to be essentially playing a sort of prevent defense, not saying much in public and not doing anything too high-profile as a legislator. That could well change, at least as far as him running his mouth goes, if his seat continues to look like a fairly likely flip. Or perhaps he’s already just pretty much given up. It doesn’t appear to me that he likes being in Congress as much as he did his previous gigs.
 

And that was followed up on June 14th, when Congressman Lewis tweeted after his taking part in the “Can opioids save the GOP from losing the midterms?“ event.
 
Gosh, a new “Advisory Committee” ?
 
Does President Trump think he needs another “Advisory Committee” ?
 
Let us remember that President Trump already issued an executive order on March 29, 2017, establishing the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. As such, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has begun instituting procedures aimed at monitoring and managing opioid prescription usage but Congressman Lewis wants a “Advisory Committee” to provide them guidance.
(MN Political Roundtable)

Comment below fold.
 
…READ MORE

{ 1 comment }

Farm Bill keeps crawling along

by Dan Burns on July 17, 2018 · 0 comments

corn“Next week” in the article means this week, now. It still seems likely that something very much like the Senate version of the bill – that is, no SNAP cuts or “work requirements”, about the same or even in a few cases slightly higher spending on conservation programs overall, etc. – is what will ultimately get through Congress. I don’t know whether Trump would sign that. My guess at this time is that he will, with little if any fuss, because he just doesn’t care about it beyond just wanting it out of the way.
 

The House could take an important step in moving farm bill talks forward next week by voting on a motion to proceed to conference — but Thursday (July 12) provided the latest indication that bad blood between House ag leaders is one of the many issues yet to be sorted out in the coming weeks.
 
House Ag Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) met Wednesday for the first time in eight weeks, according to Peterson…
 
Peterson indicated to reporters that the face-to-face got heated. “I was not easy on him, and I told him bluntly what I think, which I always do,” he said. “He didn’t like it, but I said I’m just telling what I think and I’m trying to be helpful.”
 
“We get this thing into conference next week and if people become sensible it won’t take long to do this,” Peterson said in a jab at House Republicans.
(Politico)

{ 0 comments }

trump34I happen to think there is some value in trying to get to the bottom of what motivates Trump supporters, from an objective, scientific viewpoint grounded in what we know about human psychology. Meaning, how their cognitive biases operate, and so forth. (In fact, my personal take, though with plenty of qualifications, on the deal with right-wingers in general is that when you get right down to it they truly, honestly just do not know any better.) The essay I’m blockquoting, linking, and highly recommending here kind of trashes that. But it kicks so much a** that I’m sharing it anyway.
 

You want to find good people, look for the people who are just as poor but care for others anyway, or who are under just as much economic stress but do not use it as excuse for cheating and stealing their way through it — or offering up eager praise for those that do. Good people don’t claim to have family values and then discard those values at the drop of a hat when a rich, shouting hatebag they saw on their television set tells them to ignore all that. Good people don’t soak themselves in transparent lies about immigrants or minorities, then declare everyone else to be “elites” arrayed against them in “elite”-minded conspiracy when some newspaper, somewhere, points out that those things were, in fact, cheap and tawdry lies.
 
The more we hear from Trump defenders, the more transparent it is that they are indeed, well, bad. It’s terribly rude to say, and the press cannot say it, but the rest of us can. If you still support Trump at this late date, you are a terrible human being. You should, in fact, feel bad about yourself.
 
Yes, the rest of us do indeed look down on these people. Those of us with actual family values do; those of us who care about honesty in government do; those of us who are not furious bulging-eyed racists do; those of us who believe thousands of years of scientific discoveries are worth more than the dribbling pronouncements of a street-corner charlatan do; those of us with actual religious convictions do; those of us who are actual patriots do.
(Daily Kos)

{ 0 comments }

Where are Minnesota soybean farmers at?

by Dan Burns on July 12, 2018 · 0 comments

soybeansFrom last week:
 

So far, (Bill Doyscher) said, his elevator’s export business is good, but he’s seeing signs of a slowdown. Orders for future delivery have already begun to lag.
 
Some Minnesota farmers fear these ongoing trade issues will make it impossible for them to stay in business: That the new tariff will hurt U.S. soybean exports to China, reduce what they’re paid for the soybeans they sell and, ultimately, reduce their profits.
 
Some of those fears have already become reality: Because the market tends to respond ahead of changes, prices have already been dropping for several weeks in anticipation of the move.
(MPR)

The article goes on to suggest that plenty of farmers are po’d already. But I’ve seen anecdotal indications in other places that staunchly conservative farmers will blame a crash on anybody but Trump, no matter what. All it will take is for some in farm country, though, to reboot on how and if they vote, for us to flip plenty of state house districts. And to easily hold some tight federal ones.
 

{ 0 comments }

Righteous lawsuits galore vs. Twin Metals

by Dan Burns on July 6, 2018 · 0 comments

sulfideWhatever it takes, to crush the Twin Metals proposal, is justified, from any and all environmental, economic, and ethical perspectives.
 

A group of nine northeastern Minnesota businesses and an environmental group sued the U.S. Department of the Interior (June 21), seeking to overturn the reinstatement last month of two federal mineral leases to a company seeking to build a copper-nickel mine near the border of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
 
The plaintiffs, which include a number of canoe outfitters and a resort around the wilderness, argue that the reinstatement of the leases to Twin Metals Minnesota was unlawful, and poses an immediate threat to their businesses, the outdoor recreation economy and the environment.
(MPR)

In addition to galvanizing our members to contact their members of Congress, The Wilderness Society filed a lawsuit June 25 challenging the Interior Department’s recent push to open the area’s fragile ecosystem to sulfide-ore copper mining.
 
We were joined by 2 other conservation groups opposed to the Interior Department’s reinstatement of two expired mineral leases held by Twin Metals Minnesota, a foreign-owned mining company, on Superior National Forest lands.
(The Wilderness Society)

On June 25, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from the sulfide-ore mine proposed by Twin Metals, a subsidiary of the Chilean-owned mining conglomerate Antofagasta.
(Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness)

{ 0 comments }

trump33I know, “good one!” But a guy can dream.

 

All of that points to one conclusion: North Korea lied about its nuclear program — and its intentions to dismantle it — to keep extracting concessions from the US. “Work is ongoing to deceive us on the number of facilities, the number of weapons, the number of missiles,” an unnamed senior intelligence official told NBC News.
 
That plan may have already worked. Last month, Trump canceled a key military exercise with South Korea, one of America’s top allies. Pyongyang certainly liked that since it claims the joint drills are both a pretext and rehearsal for a US-led invasion of North Korea. After Trump met with Kim in Singapore on June 12, the president decided he wanted to stop what he calls “war games” in order to lower the tension…
 
What makes the decision even more surprising is that US intelligence agencies are pretty unanimous on one crucial point: North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons program.
(Vox)

{ 0 comments }

trump13According to this, yeah, he might. And I for one certainly don’t put any insanely stupid thing beyond him.
 

President Trump has repeatedly told top White House officials he wants to withdraw the United States from the World Trade Organization, a move that would throw global trade into wild disarray, people involved in the talks tell Axios…
 
Why this matters: A U.S. withdrawal from the WTO would send global markets into a spiral and cast trillions of dollars of trade into doubt.
 
– It would also blow up an institution that for 70-plus years has been a pillar of global economic and political stability.
 
– The consequences of a U.S. withdrawal are so profound that, like Trump’s senior advisers, the trade community hasn’t seriously entertained the possibility that Trump would try to withdraw.
 
-A top trade lawyer in Washington said: “We think he’s nuts, but not that nuts.”
(Axios)

The article does note that withdrawal would also require approval from Congress. But you know as well as I do about how prone they’ve been to standing up to Trump on matters like these (until next January, anyway, we hope).
 
Regarding the photo, how can anyone not pick up on the overwhelming fear, greed, and corruption in that face, whatever its expression at any given moment?
 

{ 0 comments }

About the Janus ruling

by Dan Burns on June 28, 2018 · 2 comments

scotus2A couple of items:
 

A 2015 study found strong empirical evidence that unions may help children move up the economic ladder.
 
According to the study, the New York Times reports, “Children born to low-income families typically ascend to higher incomes in metropolitan areas where union membership is higher. The size of the effect is small, but there aren’t many other factors that are as strongly correlated with mobility.”
 
The positive impact of unions on children’s upward mobility isn’t exclusive to low-income children, the Times reporters note, and they extend beyond families with union workers to nonunion families too.
(Jeff Bryant/OurFuture.org)

After holding steady for decades, the percentage of American workers in all jobs who would say yes to join a union jumped sharply this past year, by 50%, says a new, independent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The evidence is clear: The popularity of the labor movement is surging as more people want to join unions than ever before. Every worker must have the freedom to negotiate in a union over pay, benefits and working conditions.
(AFL-CIO)

Comments below fold.
 
…READ MORE

{ 2 comments }

cornFarm state – that is, most states, actually – legislators are worried, and things are moving along
 

Over the past few weeks, Congress moved forward on the 2018 Farm Bill. The Senate Agriculture Committee passed its version of the bill, and then the House of Representatives narrowly passed its version, a month after it was defeated over immigration issues. Within the $800 billion bill, big-ticket items like crop insurance and nutrition generate the most impassioned public debate. But beyond the proverbial meat and potatoes, there are many smaller sources of funding that provide vital support to the farming community.
 
A group of 12 funding sources, which the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) refers to as “tiny but mighty” programs, leverage a far greater impact than their cost might suggest. Primarily targeted at sustainable food systems across the U.S., they include programs such as the Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) Program, Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP), and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).
 
The House version of the farm bill strips these programs of over $350 million in funding, entirely removing a budget baseline for six of them. While farmers across the nation benefit from these programs, young and beginning farmers in particular would greatly benefit from ongoing investment in sustainable agriculture. The Senate farm bill would reauthorize funding for all but the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, and even strengthens many of the programs that provide additional support to young farmers.
(Civil Eats)

The House bill also contains attacks on food stamp recipients and bigger handouts for predatory corporations than ever. The Senate bill doesn’t, and something very much like it that clears a conference committee will likely get enough support from both parties in the House to pass there.
 
Will Trump sign it? Certainly his instincts are with the current House bill. But what with one thing and another, he may not care enough about farms and food to raise any ruckus over this.
 

{ 0 comments }

trump7Some recent items, to provide context for his visit yesterday.
 

When Republicans in Congress passed a big, fat tax break bill in December, they insisted it meant American workers would be singing “Happy Days Are Here Again” all the way to the bank.
 
The payoff from the tax cut would be raises totaling $4,000 to $9,000, the President’s Council of Economic Advisors assured workers.
 
But something bad happened to workers on their way to the repository. They never got that money.
 
In fact, their real wages declined because of higher inflation. At the same time, the amount workers had to pay in interest on loans for cars and credit cards increased. And, to top it off, Republicans threatened to make workers pay for the tax break with cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
 
So now, workers across America are wondering, “Where’s that raise?”
 
It’s nowhere to be found.
(OurFuture.org)

…READ MORE

{ 0 comments }