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Eric Ferguson

HD2B Steve Green dislikes both science and law

by Eric Ferguson on October 20, 2014 · 2 comments

State Rep. Steve Green, HD2B
State Rep. Steve Green, R-2B, has authored some interesting bills. By “authored”, I suspect I mean “stuck his name on some special interest’s bill, and who knows if he even read it”. But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he really believes this stuff. Wait, that’s sort of worse. Anyway…
 
Let’s start with a bit of tentherism. Green is one of those who buys into that doctrine birthed in John C. Calhoun’s black-enslaving heart that states can ignore whatever federal laws they disagree with. That doctrine, originally intended for the defense of slavery, has never entirely died out on the extreme right, which extremity apparently includes Green, trying to apply it to modern issues with just as little understanding of how the law works.
 
Green coauthored a bill that calls for the arrest of federal officials enforcing federal gun laws. He seems to be fond of arresting federal officials for implementing laws he disagrees with. Green was one of the Republicans who said they would support arresting federal officials implementing Obamacare in Minnesota. No shock I suppose that there is considerable overlap between the Republicans who want to arrest federal officials for one and the other. Each list is like a handy guide to nutjobbery.
 
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During Friday’s debate of secretary of state candidates on Almanac, Dan Severson repeated his idea of an express lane for voters showing photo ID. Such voters would get to go through a fast line, pretty much like now, while those without photo ID would have to have a long wait. What they would wait for is never hinted at. What is sure is that since we generally enjoy short waits now in Minnesota, he’s going to have to create some obstacles to extend the wait. Severson is entirely comfortable with inflicting discomfort on others. DFL candidate Rep. Steve Simon pointed out that Severson said he was fine with making people without photo IDs wait out in the cold for two hours. Simon said this at 43:45. Severson immediately denied it, and denied it again at 45:30. I won’t say Severson is lying because he could have forgotten he said it. And somehow no one in his campaign checked out Youtube, where they could have seen the video below from last April, just as Simon said. But lying or forgetful, Severson said it. h/t Bluestem Prairie. Severson says it starting st 53:40:
 

 
In the bit right before, Severson is denying that minorities are disenfranchised by requiring photo IDs, claiming that having photo IDs enfranchises them. He’ll enfranchise people by requiring them to produce something they can’t get, without which they won’t be allowed to vote. At least not without standing out in the cold for two hours. He seems not to get that yo can’t enfranchise people who already can vote, nor does he mind disenfranchising them. Maybe he’s just clueless about what “enfranchise” means?
 

When they’ve done studies on photo ID [no, he gave no indication of who "they" is], it actually empowers the minority communities to say you know what, I am a US citizen. I have the right to vote. This is my ticket to vote. And so in that process, I think we begin to enfranchise, to encourage those people, who meet the criteria, say you know what, you are a US citizen, we’re going to make it easy for you. Now if don’t want to do that, be my guest. You can go over to the side and wait in line, two hours, out in the cold. That’s fine.

Even our most bogged down polling places in 2012 didn’t have two hour waits. He’s going to have to deliberately create the conditions that cause two hour waits. I’d find that laughable, it it wasn’t that Republican election officials in some states have done just that in Democratic precincts.
 
BTW, if you watch the whole debate, it becomes apparent why Simon put the debate video on his web site.

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Comments temporarily missing

by Eric Ferguson on October 19, 2014 · 1 comment

At least we hope it’s temporary. An update on the software that runs the backend has stopped the display of comments. No, we don’t know the cause yet. Comments are still there, but just not showing. You can add new ones, but we can’t now say when they’ll show up.

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Artist's conception. Not actually Dan Severson

Artist’s conception. Not actually Dan Severson

Can it be called “full” tin foil hat unless someone is literally wearing a tin foil hat? So OK, Dan Severson’s tin foil hat might be purely metaphorical. How tin foil hatty? In a speech to the West Metro Tea Party last June, he said:
 

This was my attempt as a sitting State Representative to say you know what there’s fraud going on, this is during the Franken-Coleman recount, and you guys need to pay attention to this. This is relevant, right now. Why do we have Obamacare? Al Franken. Why do we have Al Franken? Voter corruption. Fraud. Why do we have a majority in the House and the Senate right now, and a Governor that are anti-business? They are anti-business. Voter fraud. Because they will go across the state and they will find the seats that are vulnerable. They will find the ones that are within a certain margin and then they will load the buses. And they will stuff the ballots.

His evidence? He believes it. Should we have some schadenfreude with an article of faith in the GOP, recalling the fools they made of themselves in the Franken-Coleman recount? Sure. So, in order to believe that Franken somehow stole the recount, you have to believe Franken pulled this off despite:
— An observer from each campaign watched each ballot being counted, with the right to challenge the decision on any ballots they wanted.
— The canvassing board, including Republican appointed judges, was unanimous on all decisions and all but a few votes.
— The entire proceedings was webstreamed live by The Uptake, so anyone who wanted could see each ballot.
— The election contest court, also webstreamed live, including Republican appointed judges, was unanimous in its decision, and found for Franken on all facts and rulings.
— The state Supreme Court, including Republican appointed judges, unanimously upheld the decision of the election contest court.
— The Coleman campaign, asked by the judges if they were alleging fraud, said “no” every time.
 
In that classic act of people in denial, in a press conference earlier this week, Severson cited a debunked study. He said Minnesota Majority found 6,000 illegal voters in the 2008 election. They actually sent county attorneys and election officials on thousands of wild goose chases. They found a few former felons who voted or merely registered without voting before their rights were restored, and election officials had already detected most of those. My understanding is even Minnesota Majority doesn’t stand by that report anymore. But conspiracy theorists, including the voter fraud variety, never give up the one bit of evidence they have no matter how false.
 
But if you can’t convince the fact-based world, then just shoot the people with Obama bumper stickers. From that same speech:
 

When we were coming in the streets were blocked up on 395, 394 whatever, and I’m thinking ‘what in the world is there an accident up there?’ And sure enough there’s cars blocked across, people are backed up for literally a mile on both sides, and I’m thinking ‘this is Barack Obama’. He’s here in our state tonight and he’s in, and I, and I think you know all those cars that have Obama stickers on the back oughta turn into targets at that point, you know?

 
Shoot Obama supporters, that’s funny, funnier than still calling himself “Doc”.
 
Oh, heck no, we’re not done yet. Click the “read more” link.
 
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HD17A Miller makes groundless charge of non-residency

by Eric Ferguson on October 17, 2014 · 1 comment

Republican candidate for the seat in HD17A, Tim Miller, made a charge in his debate with DFL incumbent Rep. Andrew Falk that Falk doesn’t actually live in the district. He made the charge in his opening statement, so it was unprompted by a question and presumably planned. He did look at his notes right before making the charge. It was rather sidewise though. Not a direct charge, but rather a “some guy said” charge. Here’s the relevant part, and it’s in the video starting at 7:28:
 

I have had many people come to me and ask, “Does Andrew Falk even live in this district?” That’s not for me to answer. That’s for him to answer. But it is a fair question because as I have gone throughout this district from Appleton all the way down to Fairfax, I have people sharing with me stories of challenges that they have, and that their representative is not representing them.

 

 
“Many people”, huh? So essentially, Miller is challenging Falk’s residency, which is a big deal since being non-resident is a disqualifier for state legislature. If Miller can prove it, he can get Falk removed from the ballot. The evidence Miller is presenting is … Fill in the blank with anything you want, and you’ve put in as much as Miller.
 
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The importance of local races

by Eric Ferguson on October 15, 2014 · 5 comments

Before she was in Congress, Michele Bachmann was a state senator, and before that, pertinent to the title of this post, she was on her local school board. The fact I don’t have to explain who she is might demonstrate the importance of that one school board race.

 
It might appear at this point that the importance of local races is stopping crazy people from getting their start in elective office. Not that I’m saying everyone in local elective office is crazy. Just the Republicans. Yes, that’s an overgeneralization. Not all are Bachmann-wannabes. Local offices are, however, the primary bench for candidates for higher office. My impression, which I hope is wrong, is that Republicans are well aware of this while Democrats largely ignore local offices. I mean that in terms of turning out on election day, researching candidates prior to seeing their names on a ballot, and of course in actually running for office. It’s too late to do anything about the last one for 2014, but there’s still time for the first two. We concede these races to Republicans at our peril, as they get to build a bench of people with electoral office while us, not so much.
 
That’s without even thinking about how local officials do their jobs and affect our lives, apart from their future electoral possibilities. They don’t get national media coverage, much, but when they do, it highlights the effect they can have; the school board in Jefferson County, Colorado, for example. Think the Democrats and independents who skipped last year’s election regret it now? Know how often this happens and we never hear about it? Me neither.
 
And just to not overlook the obvious, Ferguson, MO: a mostly black and Democratic city, a mostly white and Republican city council, and really low turnout in local elections. Though not equally low across partisan and demographic groups. Think that might explain some things?
 
Then there’s the effect of the explosion of dark money. We worry about the presidency and Congress being bought, but I’m thinking we saw in 2012 that there’s a limit to how much spending in a presidential race does any good, and I’m skeptical about its benefits beyond a certain point in US Senate races too, but down the ballot is different. It takes little money to swamp a local race. I’m thinking of that referendum in Columbus, Ohio, to raise local taxes to fund the Columbus Zoo. It failed when supporters were surprised and grossly outspent by Koch brothers money, which was used to tell voters their taxes would double when the actual increase was something like 1%. The referendum failed because the Kochs, despite having no connection, just felt ideologically offended and saw a chance to beat a tax increase with a bit of money and a bit of lying, and that was in a big city. Think of the anecdotes you’ve heard of some mayor getting on getting on the bad side of some special interest, and the low spending local race is suddenly hit with massive outside money, like Richmond, CA, where the mayor has $22,000 while his opponent has $1.3 million, courtesy of Chevron:
 

We’re having a hotly contested race the two at-large school board seats in Minneapolis and it’s drawn a little national attention for the fight over, depending on how you view it, expanding charter schools or privatizing public education. It’s again the exception that proves the rule, because what was the last Minneapolis election to get any national media? There was laughter at our 2013 mayoral race because our combination of an open seat and a $20 filing fee drew in 30-something candidates, but otherwise, that’s it for attention. And that’s in a city the size of Minneapolis. The only time I can recall St. Paul’s elections being noticed was when nominally DFL Mayor Randy Kelly endorsed George Bush in 2004, so some national media were watching as he got blown out in 2005. Those are the only instances I know of for cities the size of Minneapolis and St. Paul, so how much can we count on the media telling us about our own local races?
 
The answer is “not much”.
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Willmar Tea Party Rally featuring Tim Miller

Willmar Tea Party Rally featuring Tim Miller

Maybe that’s not what GOP candidate for HD17A, Tim Miller, meant to say, but how else do you take this statement on abortion?
 

Our nation has lost respect for all life through the abortion industry. This is a blight on our nation and it must be ended. I do not support abortion of any kind as my oldest stepdaughter is a product of rape/incest.

 
Not even if the mother’s life is in danger? Why? Because women will lie about medical problems in order to qualify for an abortion? Because he doesn’t believe their medical conditions are ever really that serious?
 
I suppose, if he wins, we can hope he just forgot to make that exception. Should women with medical emergencies just hope he merely forgot to consider their circumstances and he won’t get in their way if he’s elected? That’s asking a bit much.
 
Speaking of a bit much, I hope his stepdaughter is OK with having something so personal disclosed to the world. If she didn’t consent, I bet a difficult conversation ensued at home. She has nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s her right to keep it private if that’s her choice. By the way Mr. Miller, what is the “abortion industry”? Do you know or are you repeating someone’s talking points?
 
I do find it generally odd when all these conservatives who try to deflect questions on global warming with the claim that they aren’t scientists suddenly turn into obstetricians when it comes to telling women and doctors what to do.
 
Hopefully Mr. Miller understands that I’m attacking his position, not his manhood.
 

When and why have we become a country of finger pointing victims? When I was a kid, if someone called me a name or questioned, say for example, my manhood, I chose to prove them wrong. Nowadays we run screaming foul.

I can’t tell if that means he proved them wrong by picking a fight or showing off his wiener, but I assure him I’m uninterested in being on the receiving end of either of those. The radical positions and repetitions of tea party nonsense are the objectionable parts.
 
Though I guess to give credit, unlike Republicans who courted the people demanding the Kenyan Muslim produce his real birth certificate, and now say “What tea party?” when the press comes calling (Hello Jeff Johnson!) Miller at least is up front about being a tea partier:
 

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clowns-1They didn’t ask just in Iowa. I’m referring to a survey answer given by this election’s answer to Todd Akin or Sharon Angle, State Senator Joni Ernst, running for US Senate in Iowa. Asked “Will you support legislation to nullify ObamaCare and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement the unconstitutional health care scheme known as ObamaCare?”, she said yes. “Yes” to arresting federal officials implementing Obamacare, really. The survey was run by a group of crazy people called “Campaign for Liberty” who asked the question of all the 2012 state legislative candidates in Iowa…
 
And in Minnesota.
 
But hey, at least there a lot fewer candidates wanting to arrest anyone implementing Obamacare in Minnesota than in Iowa. Hurrah for us!
 
Besides asking responding candidates if they would arrest federal officials implementing Obamacare, they also asked about eliminating the need for a permit to carry a concealed gun, and if TSA employees who pat down travelers should be arrested for sexual assault.
 
Most candidates chose not to respond to the survey. I don’t know if they missed it, feared it would provide material to some blogger doing, um, exactly what I’m doing, or didn’t see why this gaggle of nutballs was worth their time. I hope the latter. Some, however, did answer, mostly giving the desired answers or even agreeing to sponsor bills. Some of those who answered are running again in 2014. Surprise, the latter group are all Republicans aside from one minor party candidate, namely:
 
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Jeff BackerJeff Backer, the Republican candidate challenging incumbent State Rep. Jay McNamar in HD12A, has an issues section on his web site that appears to have been written by the candidate himself, or at least not by a consultant. The statements of his positions come across as sincere but, disappointingly for someone who has already held public office, also shallow. What he says seems heartfelt — just not thought through. The recurring reaction when reading his take on issues is, “Are you sure that’s what you wanted to say?”
 
Let’s just dive into maybe the most egregious error. In his guns section, in just the second paragraph, Backer smacked hard into Godwin’s Law*, “For instance, Hitler enacted gun control laws that disarmed the populace before he went on his WWII rampage.” I’ll accept that Backer sincerely believes Hitler put strict gun controls in place and that this was a necessity for enforcing Nazi control. The sincerity of a belief doesn’t correspond to its factual accuracy, and Backer seems to have preferred the zombie myths** of the gun lobby over actual history. Hitler actually loosened gun laws and wanted Germans better armed than they were. Finding out wasn’t hard.
 
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McFadden benefits from allegedly involuntary donations

by Eric Ferguson on September 26, 2014 · 0 comments

Meet the New Boss ... Same as the Old Boss

Receiving involuntary donations: something else Romney and McFadden appear to have in common

Some of the more control-freakish and ideological employers push their employees to donate to the employer’s preferred candidates. They may stay on a legal line in terms of requiring employees to make donation as a condition of employment, but when the employer pushes for those donations to go through the employer, the message is pretty clear. One such employer is Murray Energy Corp., which is being sued by a former employee on the grounds she was fired for failing to donate to the specified candidates, including Mike McFadden.
 
Before going into details, just to be clear, I’m not accusing McFadden of knowing about this. The allegation is Murray’s CEO, Robert Murray, directed involuntary donations to his specified candidates, one of which is McFadden.
 
Specifically,
 

The allegation from Jean Cochenour, detailed in her suit and well-summarized by the Charleston Gazette’s Ken Ward Jr., is as follows: Cochenour worked at a mine in Marion County as a foreperson. While in that position, which is supervisorial, she received letters from Murray detailing candidates to which she should make donations. One letter, which she received after she’d already been fired, is included in the lawsuit. It ends like this [click the image to enlarge]:
 
Murray letter to employees

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