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Eric Ferguson

A Second American Civil War for Independence Day

by Eric Ferguson on July 3, 2018 · 1 comment

Artist's conception. Not actually an Alex Jones listener

Artist’s conception. Not actually an Alex Jones listener

I first heard verbally that the nutcase right had a new conspiracy theory that liberals are going to start a civil war on July 4th, which as I write this, is tomorrow. Damn, I haven’t even dug out my musket and bayonet yet! Anyway, I found the source, the source of so many tinfoil hat conservative conspiracy theories, Alex Jones (hat tip Johnny Wendell at Daily Kos).

 
Sane people know not to believe any of the craziness Alex Jones spews, but many trumpers believe him, including the Russian President of the United States, Trump. I don’t know what is more disturbing, that Trump and other bigoted lunatics believe him no matter how many times he’s proven to be making it up, or that some of them seem to want a new civil war. There’s an element of the extreme right that doesn’t want to start it, not because they don’t want it, but rather because everyone is the hero in his own story, which means they want us to start it. Mocking them is much more fun and much less deadly, so no. Hey guys, how are we going to start a war when you have all the guns? Could you share? Just to make the odds more even?

 
Of course, the Confederacy did get impatient waiting for the Union to invade and just went ahead and started the first civil war, so maybe best not to encourage them.

 
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Weird happenings with DFL Convention and Filings

by Eric Ferguson on June 6, 2018 · 0 comments

Pelikan pelican from outside DFL state conventionSo by now, you’ve likely had your head spinning from the news from the DFL side regarding who is running for what, and lots of candidates coming out of the woodwork to run for this and switch to that, and run for something when they were running for something else. It’s interesting, at least to a politics junkie, and you’re reading this web site, so…

 
You were likely looking at the governor race, and this involves that to be sure. You may not have been following closely enough to know the candidate filing period just closed, or you heard but didn’t care what that meant. The weirdness has a whole lot to do with that however. It all starts, however, with the race for state attorney general (AG). Yes, an office a lot of people haven’t even heard of.
 
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2018 DFL State Convention Day 3

by Eric Ferguson on June 3, 2018 · 3 comments

This is the day 3 live blog. Day 1 (US Senate, secretary of state, and my explanation of convention procedures for newbies) is here, and day 2 (governor and AG) is here.
 

The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.

The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.


 
And it’s auditor day, and maybe the lieutenant governor endorsement. The filing deadline is Tuesday, so Erin Murphy will have to announce quickly if she hasn’t already. I’m not there today and trying to tune in to the livestream, but so far it isn’t working. While we’re waiting, I’d like to handicap the auditor race: no idea. No information to go on at all. When I mentioned it to anybody, no one was even thinking about it with governor sucking up all the attention. Might be well to remember that governors Mark Dayton and Arne Carlson held the state auditor position. Rebecca Otto didn’t get endorsed, but being auditor made her an immediate serious candidate for governor or whatever else she should choose to run for. So even aside from the actual job, it matters.
 
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2018 DFL State Convention Day 2

by Eric Ferguson on June 2, 2018 · 7 comments

Yesterday’s live blog got really long, so I decided to start a fresh post for today. See yesterday for an intro to what a live blog is, disclosure of biases, yesterday’s events, and I’m unlikely to explain procedural stuff or regurgitate opinions explained in yesterday’s live blog.
 
If you want to watch the live stream, go to The Uptake web site. If you want to glance over at the MNGOP convention also going this weekend, go here.
 
Today is governor and attorney general. My wife snapped a photo of the Matt Pelikan pelican in the concourse outside the convention hall. That’s fun.
 
Pelikan pelican from outside DFL state convention
 
The convention has reconvened. Lots of delegates missed yesterday, unsurprisingly since governor is the big attraction, so rules and procedures are being explained again. The noise level on the floor is more obvious here than watching on the live stream. So if you’re streaming, feel smug that you can hear better than people here. Though those of us here can hear the videos since we’re not under Youtube’s thumb. So there.
 
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DFL State Convention Live Blog

by Eric Ferguson on May 31, 2018 · 3 comments

The DFL state convention starts tomorrow (or today if you’re reading this on June 1). A “live blog” means that I’ll be blogging about it as it happens rather than writing up something later. I’ll be explaining what’s going on, and maybe opining on some things. We’ll see what provokes me to opinionating. The current plan is to watch the livestream on The Uptake Friday, which obviously you can watch yourself and I’ll post a link so you can do that. Saturday, I’m hoping to be there watching in person, so hopefully I’ll pick up some stuff that’s not apparent on the livestream. Sunday will likely be another livestream day. Yes, I maybe could have gotten a hotel if I hadn’t been so cheap and tried to reserve a room early enough and blah de blah. Fortunately I live in daytripping distance.
 

Convening time Friday is 4. The rest of the schedule I assume will be adjusted according to circumstances. The proposed agenda is posted here. Emphasis on proposed, since delegates can move to change the agenda when the rules and agenda are debated, and you never know for sure what will be proposed and what will pass. I’ve run some conventions as a local party chair, and worked on some as a committee member or with a campaign, and can attest that unexpected changes get made. I’ll spare you the “expect the unexpected” cliche — except I guess I just didn’t. You should have expected that. What you can expect is I will explain some of the “what on earth are they talking about” parts that conventions have.
 
Probably, you care more about the state office endorsements and not committee reports or party office elections or rules debates. So, according to the proposed agenda, Friday will see the endorsements for the US Senate seats and Secretary of State. Attorney General and Governor are scheduled for Saturday, and Auditor is scheduled for Sunday.
 
Actual updates and reportage start below. Keep refreshing during the convention for updates. If you’re curious about the 2014 or 2016 convention, check out those live blogs. See if you can catch me griping the same gripes (yes, you can).
 

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Maybe we should just let Trump take credit for Korea

by Eric Ferguson on April 28, 2018 · 1 comment

Screen grab from the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) shows Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in shaking hands at  Panmunjom.

Screen grab from the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) shows Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in shaking hands at Panmunjom.

Sure, it’s annoying when Trump claims credit for something he didn’t do, much like when Trump incoherently claimed credit for the Pyeongchang Olympics, and, it should be predictable if you’re paying any attention, Trump now wants to claim credit for North and South Korea talking peace.

 

Sure, here in the reality-based community, it’s hard to forget it was just last Winter that the offer by the North to talk peace with the South was supposed to be just an attempt to “drive a wedge” between South Korea and the US. If this is what driving a wedge looks like, drive away! Korea has been one of places World War III is most likely to break out ever since the country was divided after World War II. If they’re going to talk about formally ending the war and demilitarizing the border, the best thing we could hope for is Trump shuts up and gets out of the way.
 

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Does anyone know Trump’s goal in Syria?

by Eric Ferguson on April 20, 2018 · 1 comment

Do the general dress Trump like this to make him feel more manly when sitting in front of the Big Board?

Do the generals dress Trump like this to make him feel more manly when sitting in front of the Big Board (that’s a Doctor Strangelove reference)?

When I ask if anyone knows Trump’s goal in Syria, that begs the question, does Trump know? Don’t think too hard. The fact Trump hasn’t laid out the goal strongly suggests he has no idea. We might also gather that as most likely because this is Trump. Remember Trump’s Razor: the stupidest explanation is most likely to be right. That causes me to conclude the fake field marshall hasn’t the first clue.

 

Sure, you can make guesses as to the goal in Syria. Feel free. Say whatever you infer the goal to be, but I have my response already: you’re inferring, so you don’t really know (though FWIW, this seems plausible, that #RPOTUS wants to make it look like his tweets mean something, and maybe keep Fox New viewers happy).

 
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Democrats getting our messages crossed

by Eric Ferguson on June 13, 2017 · 0 comments

trump12Go 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.
 
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We may have passed peak trumper

by Eric Ferguson on May 11, 2017 · 0 comments

europeWhen I say we may have passed peak trumper, of course I know that it’s still early days for the Trump administration and he may get a second term. At the risk of being overpessimistic, it’s tough to beat incumbent presidents: maybe not as tough as beating incumbent congressmen, but still tough. Likewise the other big extreme right electoral win last year, Britain’s brexit, hasn’t even taken place yet (though the effects showing up so far are pretty much as the excoriated “experts” predicted).
 
So sure, in policy terms, the worst of the extreme right, alt-right, authoritarian right, nativist right or, to use the euphemism, “populist” right, is yet to happen. The corruption and vandalizing of our democratic institutions is just getting going. Yet, in electoral terms, it seems like the worst has passed. Trump won the GOP nomination and a big minority of the vote riding the same electoral wave that passed brexit, and before that put conservative conspiracy theorists in charge in Poland, and outright proto-fascists in charge of Hungary. Now it appears the fever broke even before it got to France, where a nativist FOP (Friend of Putin) ran a campaign indistinguishable from Trump except in the country she was going to make white, err, great, again.

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Let Republicans Kill the Filibuster

by Eric Ferguson on April 7, 2017 · 0 comments

Republicans chose to use the “nuclear option” and kill the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. Good. In the short term it lets a extreme right winger sit for life on the Supreme Court to be essentially another Antonin Scalia, and the Republicans succeeded in stealing a Supreme Court seat. Apparently conservatives believe in preserving behavioral norms only when they see short term advantage to it.
 
But this is a long term benefit to liberals, not conservatives, as the filibuster has benefited conservatives much more than liberals. Note that I said “liberals” and “conservatives”, not “Democrats” and “Republicans”. As your Republicans friends like to say, when trying to claim Democrats are the real racists, lots of Democrats voted against civil rights way back when: a half truth with a half that explains why killing the filibuster is better for liberals. From the end of Reconstruction until the “Solid South” finished switching which party it was solid for in roughly the 1980’s, both parties had conservative and liberal wings. The most conservative element of American politics was southern white Democrats, also called “dixiecrats”, now called “the Republican base”. Conservatives used the filibuster to block anti-lynching bills. Yes, the filibuster made it hard to do anything about lynching during the first half of the 20th century. The civil rights bills of the 60’s might have passed a decade earlier, but didn’t because they were filibustered by a big enough conservative minority.
 
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