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Dan Burns

Donald_TrumpI haven’t blogged about presidential stuff, mostly because everyone else is doing so, in many cases a lot better than I could. But I have to pass along these two.
Regarding this first one, I don’t buy that conservatism is dead. I remember indulging in what I now recognize as having been some serious motivated reasoning to that effect – wishful thinking, if you prefer, in this context – at the ends of both the Reagan and Bush II presidencies. But that’s just hyperbole for the title, anyway. I do that, myself.

And in the process he proved definitively that Republican voters don’t give a flip about Genuine Conservative Economics. Practically every aspect of the Laffer–Reagan–Kemp–Gramm Give to the Rich economics package came in for a drunken pummeling at some point in the Trump campaign, and to the horror of the defenders of the faith, no one cared.
Republicans were under the delusion that they had convinced half the nation that trickle-down was gospel and voodoo was the only thing to do. But they’d actually only trained their troops to accept any number of impossible things before breakfast … and Trump presented them with a whole feast of shiny new nonsense. Better still, Trump’s isolationist nonsense is a much, much easier fit with the Republican anti-immigrant position than is the standard conservative open market nonsense. For the people clamping red, white, and blue hats to their heads, even Trump’s random patter seemed more self-consistent than the positions other Republicans were offering.
Because it is.
(Daily Kos)

Although (New York Times columnist David Brooks) ends up proffering all the wrong answers, we should not fail to recognize the significance of what he has to say, for his lamentations and calls for action signal more than he realizes or surely intends us to hear. While his words do not speak directly to the renewal of Americans’ democratic energies, the anxieties he expresses should help us see that Americans are not simply pained by the class divide, but also determined to do something about it. Time for us to act.
(Harvey J. Kaye/Moyers & Co.)

Actually, a lot of people are doing something about it, and have been for a while. But recent events can swell our numbers, and our effectiveness.


Business as usual for Minnesota lege GOP

by Dan Burns on May 4, 2016 · 0 comments

mn_capitolA couple of current examples.

The American Energy Alliance, a prominent conservative energy group, said (April 27) it is backing a push in state legislatures across the United States to bar funding for work on the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.
This effort has already proved successful in several states this spring, including Virginia, Wyoming and Colorado, where lawmakers passed budget bills restricting money for state agencies to plan for the federal climate change regulation. Similar budget language is currently being floated in at least four other states, including Minnesota and Missouri…
And in Minnesota, where Gov. Mark Dayton (D) said the Supreme Court stay “does nothing to diminish our resolve in Minnesota to keep moving forward on clean energy initiatives, including the development of our state’s Clean Power Plan,” the Legislature is also moving forward with a bill to bar funding for compliance work with the rule unless the stay is lifted.

A proposal to boost spending for so-called “student support services” will get a look in final budget negotiations as the end of the legislative session nears.
Advocates say the need for more counselors, social workers and other support workers is critical in Minnesota. But heading into negotiations, the DFL-controlled Senate and GOP-controlled House are far apart on the issue.
The Senate wants to set aside $13.1 million for matching grants to help schools hire more counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses and drug addiction counselors. The House doesn’t want any money for the idea so far — its bill calls for studying the proposal and reporting back next year.


I am embarrassed to the very roots of my thinning hair to admit that I did not until very recently know about the North Star Policy Institute. It was apparently started by Jeff Van Wychen, some time after the late, great MN2020 called it a day. Every progressive activist in the state should check the NSPI Facebook page or Twitter now and then for recent work, because nothing crushes conservative drivel, and humiliates its originators, like learned displays of reasoning from fact. A few recent items that I thought of particular note:
“Business Property Taxes Not as High as We’re Led to Believe”

A recent publication from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce contains a list of claims regarding the level of business property taxes in Minnesota relative to other states: 49th “worst” (i.e., second highest) among the fifty states for rural commercial property taxes, 45th worst for metro commercial property taxes, and 40th worst for industrial property taxes. Startling? Definitely. Accurate? Not so much.
The property tax statistics cited by the Chamber are from the 50 State Property Tax Comparison Study 2014 from the “Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence” (MCFE). The first thing to note about this report is that it does not compare average metropolitan and rural property taxes within the fifty states. Rather, it compares a selected metro and rural city within each state. In Minnesota, metro (or urban) tax computations are based on Minneapolis, while rural computations are based on Glencoe, the seat of McLeod County.
Neither Minneapolis nor Glencoe are representative of their respective regions in terms of property taxes. For example, Minneapolis’ 2014 total local property tax rate is 19 percent higher than the average rate for the seven county metropolitan area, while Glencoe’s rate is a whopping 64 percent higher than the average rate for greater Minnesota.



MN-03: Long past time for a change

by Dan Burns on May 2, 2016 · 1 comment

bonoffAs you undoubtedly know by now, Minnesota state Sen. Terri Bonoff is Rep. Erik Paulsen’s opponent. You can help Terri out here. Paulsen’s minions are already running a pretty iffy attack campaign.


Electorally, Paulsen’s biggest weakness (of many) is in my estimation his lack of accomplishment on behalf of all but the extremely wealthy. But if pointing that out was enough to get rid of Republican House members in swing districts, they would all be long gone. What can do the job is turnout, and unusual circumstances – like a loudly and proudly bigoted, misogynistic lunatic at the top of the party’s ticket.
Presumably thanks in part to Paulsen’s only legislative “accomplishment” of note – a hiatus in the ACA medical device tax – 2016 is being termed the year of “merger mania” in that industry. When all is said and done this sort of thing tends to result in job losses. I haven’t found any evidence for that on a large scale, yet, though I didn’t exactly spend all day looking. We’ll find out.
Comment below fold.

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Workers Memorial Day

by Dan Burns on April 28, 2016 · 1 comment


On April 28, the unions of the AFL-CIO observe Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew the fight for safe jobs. This year we will come together to call for work in this country that is safe and healthy and pays fair wages. We will celebrate the victories won by working people and commit to fighting until all workers have safe jobs and the freedom to form unions without the threat of retaliation.
(Minnesota AFL-CIO)

More on the issue.

By the time you’re done reading this article, roughly one person will likely have died from dangerous working conditions somewhere in America. It could happen in virtually any job, but it’s especially likely to happen to a Latino worker, maybe someone working on your office building’s roof. There’s also good chance they’ll be killed in a rigging mishap while extracting the natural gas powering your laptop, or perhaps they’ll be an immigrant woman killed in a farming accident while harvesting your groceries…
The roughly 3.8 million occupational injuries and illnesses reported in 2014 represent the myriad ways that the economy values capital over human life: from unmonitored toxic exposures at lucrative oil and gas fields, to construction workers falling from faulty scaffolding on million-dollar office towers―150 work-related deaths daily. Tragedy was often preventable, but risking lives more profitable.
(The Nation)

Comment below fold.

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Chain link fence with barbed wire and razor wire.It seems unlikely that much will get done this session, and I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. Hopefully in the 2017 and 2018 sessions there will be no need to “compromise” with right-wingers, on anything, really. But if I had to pick just one item that I really wish would happen right now, from the current agenda, it would be this.

A legislative tug-of-war is forming over forthcoming reductions to prison sentences for some major drug offenders, as a top Senate Democrat announced plans (in early March) to expand the changes that some Republicans have vowed to block.
Minnesota’s Sentencing Guidelines Commission slashed proposed sentences for most first- and second-degree drug possession convictions in an effort to move more in line with the rest of the nation and ease prison overcrowding. The changes take effect in August unless the Legislature vetoes them, which could give lawmakers a way to free up prison beds without a vote that could seem soft on crime in an election year.
But while county prosecutors have balked and some Republicans have opposed the changes, Democratic Sen. Ron Latz introduced a proposal (March 2) that would retroactively apply the lighter sentences to current inmates — not just new offenders. That sets the stage for the commission’s action to proceed unchanged, since both the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-majority Senate would need to reject the reductions to undo them.

Here, from a couple of weeks ago, is where things are at.


MN lege GOP loses its mind on taxes

by Dan Burns on April 24, 2016 · 0 comments

imagesqtbnANd9GcRhlLTHok0fDiQpsx_IVQRQg-lVMpygkf1rEyJsns1mZT-bzjRXEven with all that I’ve seen from Minnesota legislative Republicans, I’m not sure I would have taken seriously the idea that we would witness something like this.

A new House Republican tax bill that was heard today in the House Taxes Committee would raise billions in taxes on middle-class Minnesotans while giving huge tax breaks to the wealthiest Minnesotans. HF 3594, the so-called “Fair Tax,” which is authored by House Republican Property Tax Division Chair Steve Drazkowski, and co-authored by House Taxes Chair Greg Davids, would eliminate all income and corporate taxes on Minnesotans and businesses and replace the lost revenue with a massive expansion of the sales tax, potentially doubling the sales tax rate and expanding the sales tax to everything from food and clothing, to child care services and prescription drugs. House DFL Leader Paul Thissen said the proposal is a confirmation of Republican priorities that are putting corporate special interests ahead of ordinary Minnesotans.
“This Republican tax bill is a dream come true for millionaires, but it’s a nightmare for ordinary Minnesotans,” said House DFL Leader Paul Thissen. “We should be helping reduce prescription drug costs and child care costs, not increasing them! It is disturbing that with less than five weeks to go in the session the House Republican Tax Chairs are making it a priority to consider an extreme bill that would raise taxes on ordinary Minnesotans.”
(Paul Thissen legislative website)

From another article, not all GOPers are on board, and I suspect that at least a few are none-too-thrilled with the Draz right now. The model here is presumably Texas, which is one of seven states without a personal income tax and four without a corporate one. Texas badly lags Minnesota in quality-of-life indicators. But many conservatives are too foolish to make that connection, and/or just don’t care.

Stuff like this is another good argument for a partisan redistricting, in the more-likely-than-not event that the DFL controls both houses next year.


Minnesota legislative elections news 4/21/16

by Dan Burns on April 21, 2016 · 0 comments

Minnesota-State-CapitolThese updates are not meant to be comprehensive. Just some items of interest that I noticed.
Chilah Brown is DFL-endorsed in SD15, which is where I happen to live. On paper, this is a tough one, because the district is quite red. But with the very fair and pleasing prospects that may – may – be opening up for Democrats everywhere, if things keep going as they are, I don’t consider that anything in Minnesota should be judged out of reach. And in this particular case, it’s an open seat, and Lisa Fobbe showed in 2008 that a DFLer can win here.

John Huot is DFL-endorsed in HD57B, to take on Rep. Anna Wills (R-Apple Valley). Wills hasn‘t been in the news much, but you can see here that she‘s a typical GOP-bot. This is another of many races that will be influenced by the high interest in the MN-02 congressional race.

Ami Wazlawik is DFL-endorsed in HD38B. The incumbent is Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood).

Roger Johnson is DFL-endorsed in SD35. Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) is the incumbent.

“Here’s a list of 35 Minnesota Republicans who love North Carolina’s terrible new law.”


daudt walker

It’s pretty obvious that Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt’s (R-Crown) model, for his likely gubernatorial run in 2018, is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Both are taking their agendas straight out of the Koch/ALEC playbook.

At a Tea Party event in Champlin (in early April), Speaker Kurt Daudt was asked about the GOP transportation plan and he had this to say:
“And I’ll tell you what, our goal going into session last year, number one was tax relief, we wanted to give as much money back to tax payers as we could. And number two we wanted to do a small transportation funding package. One of our constitutionally defined core functions of state government is to fund our roads and bridge infrastructure, so to take some of that money and transfer it, [I’ll take the revenue in our plan and] three sources: sales tax on auto parts, rental cars and lease vehicles, and move that from the general fund into the road and bridge fund, which would have a couple of impacts. Number one, it would fund our roads and bridges, but number two it would start to starve out the general fund so we move revenue that’s currently going into the general fund, which is a really good thing.”
DFL Chairman Ken Martin released the following statement:
“It comes as no surprise that when Speaker Kurt Daudt thinks nobody was listening, he says what he and his legislative colleagues truly believe. Daudt and the legislative republicans never wanted to solve Minnesota’s transportation problems. They only want to ‘starve out the general fund’ and take money away from students, seniors, small cities, and other critical priorities.

Walker’s disastrous reign, abetted by a Tea Party legislature and judiciary, is described here and here.

Bear in mind that conservatives believe that what Walker and his allies have done to Wisconsin is a wonderful thing. The facts don’t matter in the slightest; that he’s putting “the liberals” in their places does. This is what we’ll be up against in 2018, and (barring Citizens United being overturned by a newly moderate SCOTUS) Daudt will have, in practical terms, infinite money.


Vile deformer scum target Minnesota teachers

by Dan Burns on April 18, 2016 · 0 comments

abandoned2Yeah, I rarely adorn my posts with titles like that. I’m generally more about just passing along information, and letting other people, who are better bloggers than me anyway, do the righteous hyperbole. But this one is worthy.

A group of parents backed by a national nonprofit say Minnesota’s teacher tenure laws perpetuate the state’s academic achievement gap between white students and students of color.
The group on Thursday filed a lawsuit that challenges Minnesota laws that make it more difficult to fire teachers once they’ve been employed for more than three years. The suit was filed in Ramsey County district court…
The state teachers’ union president Denise Specht said in a statement that the contested laws “protect teachers from discrimination and arbitrary punishment, including for speaking out about the learning conditions in their schools.”
Specht said the laws “explicitly do not protect ineffective teachers.”

I did a bunch of blogging recently about efforts to destroy public education, and replace it with rote-learning mills to be strip-mined for profit. In the longer term, the intent is also to take control of curricula, and imbue young people with the purported glories of continued plutocratic, warmongering rule. That’s the right wing’s only chance, really, in the longer term, because young voters certainly aren’t buying that odious, failed, corrupt, reactionary crap, now.