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2014 election

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2014 election

Ingrained Hypocrisy, Dishonesty & the GOP

by Dog Gone on September 1, 2016 · 0 comments

I was struck by the image below, not only for the specific message but for the larger, longer pattern it suggests.


I was reminded by this incident of the idiots in Texas who insisted that Ted Cruz was not foreign because he was born in Canada — because Canada was not foreign. But President Obama was foreign in spite of being born in Hawaii, because ……….yep, Hawaii was more foreign than Canada. Don’t strain yourself; you can’t make sense out of that nonsense. It’s entirely irrational.


Cruz stroked their prejudices. Kaepernick rubbed their prejudices the wrong way when he opposed racial bias.  As we have seen, Trump in complete denial of the 1st Amendment rights under the Constitution, in complete denial of any protest of inequality, claims that Kaepernick should leave the US, where he is as much a citizen as Trump.  Perhaps the single aspect of this pattern of hypocrisy, double standards, and intolerant idiocy is how often the right finds pretexts to be aggrieved, to see themselves as victims when they are not, but to condemn and ridicule those who are genuinely treated unfairly, ESPECIALLY when denying them rights, be it the LGBT community, or voter suppression of minorities.


In the larger context, Bill Moyers summed it up, about Donald Trump specifically, but it applies to a broad section of conservatives generally.

Why Trump Can Lie and No One Seems to Care

The GOP candidate gets away with outrageous, contradictory statements because the mainstream media and the public let him.

…Another explanation is that long before Trump, social scientists observed that truth matters less to people than reinforcement, and that most of us have the ability to reformulate misstatements into truth so long as they conform to our own biases. We believe what we believe, and we are not changing even in the face of opposing facts (without this capacity for self-deception there would be no Fox News).

It might be the most egregious when it comes to Trump, but it is true of anything that the right resists; it is true of every topic where the right would rather have their biases reinforced and affirmed than they care about the truth. They don’t like the truth. In some cases they HATE the truth – anthropogenic climate change comes to mind as one example, and the notion gays are pedophiles is another.


I have long contended that conservatives as a group believe a large quantity of factually false things, many of them so obvious as to be on a par with believing the earth is flat. And there is a subset of conservative evangelicals even believe that, tracking it back to a few old testament Bible verses. It explains Mike Pence and the other creationist young earth wackobirds. It explains Trump, it explains the lack of enthusiasm for Romney and Ryan. It explains the popularity of idiots like Rush Limbaugh, it explains the willful ignorance of the endemic misogynists, and the denial of the failure of trickle down economics.  It explains the many that avoid ‘being confused by the facts’ by simply denying them or making up nonsense, like the Jade Helm paranoia, claims of Clinton murders, or anything from Infowars, as examples.


It’s something we need to change, and not just because of Trump; rather we need to change it far more broadly. We need the right to grow up and act like adults again. I wish I knew how to make that happen; maybe losing will be sufficient shock to reboot the right wing nuts minds.


If we DON’T figure out how to fix this problem, then the very future of our representative government will be at risk.


Too often I find that what I write is prompted by a catalyst or inspiration to repudiate some hateful ignorance I find promoted by faulty  right wing media, including the right wing blogosphere.  That is the case here, pushing back against conservative promotion of revisionist history, factual misrepresentation, bigotry, and intolerance.  There are three examples between part 1 and part 2.


Their willingness to gin up hate, fear and especially to create an unjustified sense of being the victims of groups of people they are attempting to exclude, marginalize, ostracize, and penalize is particularly abhorrent.  Worse, these are the actions one associates with fascists and other forms of authoritarian tyranny, NOT freedom or democracy.


Nothing promotes antagonism and division, or retaliation, more than the right wing premise that inferior groups of people are somehow obtaining protected class status, that they are getting something conservatives are being denied, at the expense of conservatives.  This appears to be a driving force in the 2016 election cycle on the right along with pushing terrorism fears.


An example this week was a right wing blog that made the unverified claim that Somali Muslims in St. Cloud were being given special prayer privileges and special cafeteria consideration, while Christians were being denied the full and equal practice of their faith and culture.


A word press blog with no apparent credentials for facts or fairness called the Extract was circulating this, which appears to be part of their routine promotion of Islamophobia.  From there it circulated more widely in the right wing blogosphere.


I have no idea what the author meant by ‘corporate Christian prayer’, but this has all the elements of an attempt to create outrage over pro-Islam religious bias.


There is no evidence of FACT that the Muslim students are receiving special treatment, or that any other group has ever requested space for prayer.  It is also worth noting that there is no claim that any employee of the school district is LEADING the Muslim prayers, or even an indication that Somali students sought or are making use of either the menu options or prayer options.


However, as to food service in public schools, I can certainly recall growing up Protestant in a public school where there was consistently fish or other non-meat menus on Fridays in deference to the dietary preferences of Catholic students.  The accommodation for Muslim students in the cafeteria is pork free options – which arguably benefit any Jewish students who wish to avoid pork as well, but you won’t find any acknowledgement of that.  I would also point out that the menu selections has long been one that favored white Christian Minnesotan tastes, people who are the dominant and powerful element in St. Cloud.  Expanding selections does not detract from serving that white Christian student constituency, contrary to the sense of  white Christian victimization the Extract is promoting.


What is also missing is any acknowledgement that the students and their families in St. Cloud Minnesota have been treated badly previously, a larger context to efforts by the school system.  That pertinent fact would diminish the ginned up false outrage.  It underlines the deliberate intent to be unfair and to be biased.


Here is that context provided by the original PBS article; take a good look before reading the anti-Muslim blog post further down.


The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a federal civil rights complaint against the St. Cloud school district in 2011, alleging a hostile environment for the district’s Somali students that included widespread and frequent harassment based in large measure, on religion. The majority of the Somali community is Muslim. Five years later, remnants of that tension remain. “The St. Cloud school district is a long way away from really being a place where all students feel completely welcome,” said Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the council’s Minnesota chapter.
“When you’re separated, it’s really hard to feel like you’re a part of the community,” assistant superintendent Marsha Baisch said. “You feel different, you feel other.”
Some students still feel that way.
A 2011 settlement ending a federal civil rights investigation of the treatment of Somali students in St. Cloud requires the school district to report all allegations of harassment.

That last paragraph strongly suggests a finding of harassment and other problems were found to exist, and the efforts made were to correct problems for people who were genuinely victimized.

Again quoting from the PBS article – legitimate journalism – it is worth noting that the contributions of Somali students to the school were omitted.

Somali student-athletes played key roles on Apollo High’s 2014 state championship soccer team, and track and field teams have drawn plenty of Somali participants. The district has partnered with the University of Minnesota to develop uniforms for female athletes who wear hijab, the headscarves worn by some Muslim girls and women.

And here is the hate-blog take on the PBS article; how it promotes an unbalanced view of right wing white Christian victimization should be obvious from both what is included and what is omitted. The other posts on the blog show that this is no isolated but rather a persistent pattern of hate peddling. Conservative bigots seem particularly outraged when their efforts at bigotry are undone or obstructed. They want no obstruction, no let or hindrance to their bad and hurtful behavior.

Minnesota district restores prayer to public school — but only for Muslim students

Buried deep in a PBS article about how the St. Cloud, Minn., school district is accommodating a large Somali population was a telling example of religious bias. While public schools have appropriately been barred from leading students in
corporate Christian prayer, this district is going out of its way to satisfy the desires of the Muslim community.
“In the district’s middle and high schools,” the report stated, “Muslim students have access to private rooms with prayer rugs for the five daily prayers.”
Furthermore, Muslim kids will have access to special lunchroom menus and other faith-based perks not extended to students of other faiths.

We should be proud of St. Cloud’s response to a problem of bigotry and bullying, and we should be proud of the national recognition for Minnesota as a decent place to live for all citizens, including immigrants, and for our religious tolerance.That justifiable pride has to include pushing back against the bigots wherever they promote hate, fear, intolerance and exclusion.  The right is rife with it, it is a persistent meme, a leitmotiv.



Debbie Wasserman Schultz needs to go

by Eric Ferguson on December 24, 2015 · 4 comments

U.S. Representative and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman SchultzThe title of this post cuts to the chase, but I might surprise some readers by saying this isn’t about the Democratic presidential debates. I have an issue with how DNC (Democratic National Committee) Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz made the decision, about which more later, but I’m not all that bothered about the number or timing of the debates. I don’t know the right number or best times, and I’m skeptical about the utility of presidential debates anyway. So that’s not my issue. Actually, “issues” plural.
Since I’m taking a position aligned with many supporters of Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley (and I suspect the position of the candidates themselves though they haven’t said this), I just want to reiterate that I’m not picking a candidate. I’m the chair of the DFL of my senate district, which means that I’m running the precinct caucuses and the convention where we pick delegates to the state convention, and I don’t want any doubts about my impartiality. I also want to be clear that though my chair position is why I won’t pick a candidate, I don’t in any way speak for the party in this post. This is purely my own opinion, and no one else should be held responsible for anything I say here.
So why does the national chair need to go?


millspartying2Stewart Mills, defeated last year in the eighth district by DFL incumbent Rick Nolan, tells The Duluth News Tribune (with a hat tip to Daily Kos Elections) that he thinks he has a better chance next year.
He said, in a statement that any time before last election would have been a “WTF” moment coming from a Republican, “Really, I didn’t lose that election so much as Rick Nolan rode Al Franken’s coattails.” Yes, he couldn’t win because of the popularity of Al Franken — the same Al Franken Republicans have insisted for years was a joke, not taken seriously, despised by everybody!! Maybe Mills at least realized “everybody” was defined as the denizens of the conservative bubble. Unfortunately, for bubblonians at least, those of us outside the bubble still get to vote.
To continue the theme, regarding winning if he tries again, Mills said, “I think it would be doable because neither (Mark) Dayton, Franken (nor) Klobuchar would be on top of the ticket if I run again. It would be between Rick Nolan and myself and the issues would largely be the same,” and later, “If I run again, there is a path to victory. It would be a race almost directly between Rick Nolan and myself — without the worry about influence from the top of the ticket.” OK, Republicans to my knowledge never said Klobuchar was despised by Minnesotans blah blah, but they sure insisted on the blah blah parts about Franken and Dayton, as if what they tell themselves on conservative talk radio is believed by everyone, until pre-election polls last year told them otherwise. So next year, it would just be Mills versus Nolan. No other elections next year higher up the ticket. Nope, can’t think of any other election going on next year. Oh right, that one.
Not to discourage Mills, as I like the entertainment of a loopy candidate like most news junkies, but if you lost in a red wave during a non-presidential year, are your odds really better next year? Yes — if you’re a Democrat.
Comments below fold.



Democratic donkey doorknockerYou may have heard that the Green and Lacour study on using canvassing to change opinions was retracted. If not, that’s actually kind of good, because that makes debunking a bit easier as you don’t have the wrong idea in your head already. I almost had to write my own retraction because I was pondering writing a post based on Green and Lacour’s findings when I learned that the data was manipulated to get a headline-making result. I find those “everything you think is wrong” stories to be irresistible click bait, so when I heard one of the reports on the study, in a recent This American Life, The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind, and being someone who does a lot of canvassing (by volunteer standards) and has run some doorknocks myself, this just screamed near future blog post. I don’t know which is worse, admitting that I procrastinated about writing, or admitting that procrastinating really helped. So I didn’t write up how amazing these findings were and how we might use them, but I did discuss it in some private conversations, and I’m really hoping those individuals are reading this.
The study came from a good impulse. Proposition 8 in California in 2008 put a ban on marriage equality in the state constitution after it had already been legalized. The “no” campaign expected to win between its lead in the polls, the large turnout the Obama campaign was generating, and California’s general liberal leaning, so defeat was a surprise. After its unexpected loss, the “no” campaign cooperated in the experiment to see if it could send canvassers into areas where they lost and sway opinion face to face.
FiveThirtyEight summarized the study in it’s article on the retraction:

The article, published last December in Science Magazine by UCLA graduate student Michael J. LaCour and Columbia University political scientist Donald P. Green, appeared to show that an in-person conversation with an openly gay person made voters feel much more positively about same-sex marriage, an effect that persisted and even spread to the people those voters lived with, who weren’t part of the conversation. The result of that purported effect was an affirmation of the power of human contact to overcome disagreement.
By describing personal contact as a powerful political tool, the paper influenced many campaigns and activists to shift their approach to emphasize the power of the personal story. The study was featured by Bloomberg, on “This American Life” and in activists’ playbooks, including those used by backers of an Irish constitutional referendum up for a vote Friday that would legalize same-sex marriage.



Republicans fine with economic inequalityThese three things seem like they might go together. First, Mother Jones has the scorecard of which crank billionaire cranks back which Republican presidential candidates. No billionaire? Then no GOP nomination for you! Second, there’s some seemingly contradictory research showing that the white working class gets how big money and its pet politicians are screwing up the government, and that’s part of why the white working class votes how big money wants them to. Irony hurts.
Not that I think anyone is consciously thinking the way to punish the people who haven’t been able to stop the corruption is to vote for the crooks. That’s just how I read the effect. Stanley Greenburg writes in Washington Monthly about research on white working class voters which finds that they get that money has corrupted politics and they think those in government don’t care about regular people. Though Democrats are losing the white working class, they are more open to a Democratic agenda. They just don’t trust the government to carry it out. They want reform of the process first, before they’re open to a more activist government agenda. Sadly, this means sabotage has worked nicely for Republicans. The whole article deserves a read, but to whet your wonkish appetite:

These voters, as we shall see, are open to an expansive Democratic economic agenda—to more benefits for child care and higher education, to tax hikes on the wealthy, to investment in infrastructure spending, and to economic policies that lead employers to boost salaries for middle- and working-class Americans, especially women. Yet they are only ready to listen when they think that Democrats understand their deeply held belief that politics has been corrupted and government has failed. Championing reform of government and the political process is the price of admission with these voters. These white working-class and downscale voters are acutely conscious of the growing role of big money in politics and of a government that works for the 1 percent, not them.



CD1 Hagedorn in Cornish out

by Eric Ferguson on May 14, 2015 · 1 comment

h/t Daily Kos Elections
First district Rep. Tim Walz may be getting lucky, as his hapless opponent from 2014, Jim Hagedorn, is running again. Well, maybe not completely hapless, since he did beat a party endorsee in the primary, Aaron Miller. The endorsee worked at a biotech company but denied evolution is real, and they thought this was the stronger candidate. Primary voters preferred to go with the guy saying stupid misogynist stuff in his blog.
State Rep. Tony Cornish, R-NRA, announced he plans to seek reelection to his state house seat rather than challenging Walz. Given that he didn’t even have a DFL opponent in 2014, hard to blame him going for the sure seat. Come on DFLers of HD23B, make him at least campaign a bit in 2016.
Comment below fold.

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MN-ERA: A Launch Platform to Counter Income Inequality

by Invenium Viam on February 19, 2015 · 0 comments

Wage-Gap‘An imbalance between the rich and the poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all Republics.’ ~ Plutarch


In December of 2013, President Obama declared income inequality the “defining challenge of our time.”


“The basic bargain at the heart of our economy has frayed,” he said, and declared it “… a bigger threat than the fiscal deficit.”


As noted by The Washington Post the next month, the “income gap” already was taking shape as a central issue for both parties ahead of the 2014 mid-terms. Indeed, Democrats worked hard in the last election to highlight income inequality and the shrinking American middle-class as a means to motivate the base to turn out to the polls. It didn’t work.


While Republicans may trumpet their gains in the U.S. House and Senate as evidence that their policies resonate more with middle-class and centrist voters than Democrat policies do, the fact remains that polls repeatedly show Americans’ confidence in Congress at historical lows — with a resultant low voter turnout. Perhaps a better explanation is simply that Americans have lost faith in their government to effectively address even bread-and-butter legislation — such as passing transportation and defense funding bills — much less successfully meet the ‘defining challenges of our time.’ In truth, only those voters who regard the franchise as an habitual civic duty bothered to show up at the polls in 2014 mid-terms and of those a preponderance happened to be Republicans.

More Below the Fold


Norm’s back!

by Dan Burns on January 6, 2015 · 0 comments

weasel1Norm Coleman, former U.S. Senator from Minnesota and now boss of the right-wing political spending outfit American Action Network (Minnesota Action Network is presumably a subsidiary, or something), is being more than just a nuisance. Minnesota got along quite nicely pretty much without Norm, for quite some time, and I think most agree that we would continue to do so. No such luck.

Norm Coleman. Education reform. Those terms don’t fit together, do they? But, as a former teacher, I’m offended to see Coleman’s Minnesota Action Network buying post-election TV ad air time to paint those protective, head-in-the-sand teachers unions as the bad guys who are keeping good, young teachers out of parents’ children’s classrooms through teacher tenure rules, which protect seniority through the LIFO (last in, first out) lay-off rules…
No one in his ad ever says that the senior teacher next door probably did just as exceptional work with his/her students, or that many of our jobs actually value the long-time, experienced staffer as having learned to do their work well and efficiently, and being able to provide guidance and mentorship to the new, young, inexperienced employee.
(Observations from Andover)

(If you haven’t, and you just gotta, you can view the ad here.)


What actually happened in 2014

by Eric Ferguson on December 30, 2014 · 0 comments

So a year ago, I risked making public predictions for 2014. It was mostly for fun, just to see what I could get right, either show off or get humbled depending, but I also wondered if I’d learn something about which thought processes are more useful than others.
Pardon the spoiler, but going from your gut is a bad idea. Maybe, strictly speaking, going from my gut is a bad idea, but I think my gut feeling is at least as good as anyone else’s, but that’s not all that good. Let’s say that looking at which predictions were based on knowledge, and which were a gut feeling, was a good predictor of which predictions would prove accurate.

So here is what will happen in 2014, judged by this grading system:
100% correct: Hello Nate Silver!
75%: Somebody’s been paying attention.
50%: Coin flipper.
25%: Should have stuck with the coin.
0%: Professional psychic. (if you’re a psychic, you might not find that humorous, but you should have seen it coming)

I give myself either a “coin flipper” plus, or a “somebody’s been paying attention” minus. What the heck, it’s still the holidays, so I’ll be nice to myself, and give an arguably inflated “somebody’s been paying attention”. So, prediction by prediction, here’s how I did.