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daudtThis is from a couple of days ago. There’s been no change that I know of.

Gov. Mark Dayton isn’t playing along with House Republicans’ call to link a PolyMet project pledge to a special session for unemployed steelworkers.
Dayton is aiming to call a special session to extend unemployment benefits for miners in northeastern Minnesota. A tide of closures at Iron Range mines mean some those benefits may expire soon as this month. Minnesota’s Legislature isn’t set to return until early March.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt says Dayton should vow not to interfere in the PolyMet mine review and an oil pipeline in planning.
(CBS Minnesota)

That language is finessing the matter pretty flagrantly. What Daudt wants is blanket, no-conditions approval for both PolyMet and Sandpiper, and if he doesn’t get it, miners can become destitute for all he cares. To be precise, what the Kochtopus’s American Legislative Exchange Council wants is Daudt’s agenda, without significant exception.
Well, next election will be a very good time to make him wish that he had cared. We need strong DFL turnout statewide, to take back the House and depose this wretched pr*ck. Moreover, we already have a candidate in Daudt’s district, Sarah Udvig. Check it out here.


Columbia Heights School Board: Hala Asamarai

by gregladen on November 24, 2015 · 0 comments

2355690Full disclosure. I don’t know Dr. Hala Asamarai, but my wife knows her very well. They taught together at Columbia Heights when Hala was just starting out as a student teacher. They worked together for quite some time and have remained friends and colleagues since. Amanda has a very high opinion of Hala, and that’s a very good starting point.
Hala Asamarai is running for the Columbia Heights School Board in a special election that will be held on December 1st, and I’m asking you to support her.
You will recall that a while back a Columbia Heights school board member made inappropriate remarks about Muslims. The board voted on his removal, but that vote has to be unanimous. One of the offending member’s buddies did not vote in favor of his removal, so the board continued with status quo. Later, under increasing pressure, both of these members resigned.
Let me tell you a little story that I should probably not relate publicly, but screw it. Years ago I was at an event in Columbia Heights. The event happened to be attended by a very large proportion of people who were not, shall we say, the typical white resident that Columbia Heights, as a city, formerly consisted primarily of. There were people who had immigrated from countries all around the world to find their way, eventually, to Columbia Heights.
A man at the gathering was talking to another guy, and I happened to overhear. He made mention of the presence of all these people from outside, and noted that, “I suppose we have to get used to this.”
That was actually a fairly positive remark. It was better than, say, white supremacists showing up in North Minneapolis and shooting a bunch of Blacks Lives Matters protestors and supporters. It was better than making a straight on anti-Muslim remark. Could have been worse. On the other hand, the remark, in context, indicated resignation over something undesirable. It was not welcoming. At best, it was less than unwelcoming as it could have been.


I believe the arrest was made this morning.

One suspect has been arrested following a shooting about a block from the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fourth Precinct, where Black Lives Matter and other protesters have been camped out for more than a week following the fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark…
Police said Tuesday they have arrested one person – a white 23-year-old male – in connection with the shooting, which happened near 1400 Morgan Avenue North around 10:40 p.m. Monday, a news release says…

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis posted on its Facebook page “white supremacists” were involved in the shooting, saying they “attacked the #4thPrecinctShutdown in an act of domestic terrorism.”
(Bring Me The News)


vetI doubt that will mind if I go ahead and blockquote a big chunk of an email that I got from them.


Earlier this week, “the main arm” of the Koch Brothers’ political network, Freedom Partners, disclosed its political giving for 2014 in their annual tax filing. We thought you’d find this interesting:
They granted $12.7m to Concerned Veterans for America for “General Support.” It was Freedom Partners’ largest gift of the year.
So what are the Koch Brothers’ looking for with their gift to Concerned Veterans of America? It’s simple: The privatization of the veterans’ health care and military retirement plans, organizing for the repeal Obamacare, and dismantling the unions that work within the Department of Veterans Affairs.


Setting up an odious astroturf organization and giving it a name like “Concerned so-and-so” is unfortunately a tried-and-true method for deceiving uninformed and gullible voters who lean conservative, and even some who don’t. Something like “classless” doesn’t fairly describe tactics like that. “Despicable” and “contemptible” are more like it.
The CEO of CVA is Pete Hegseth, who couldn’t even beat Kurt Bills for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in Minnesota in 2012. And whose primary public notoriety now comes from nearly literally sticking an axe into a bystander during an ill-advised publicity stunt. Much more about Hegseth, from Developers are Crabgrass, here.


Message testing for legislative elections

by Eric Ferguson on November 21, 2015 · 0 comments

pothole signThe state senate district where I’m the DFL chair happens to be deep blue, not one where we have to worry much about holding on to our legislative seats. However, as our incumbent legislators remind local DFLers, they can’t get much done when they’re in the minority. Even their seniority and designation by their caucus as a committee ranking member won’t stop vindictive Republicans from kicking them off said committee. So our safe-seat legislators need more DFLers to win in not-safe seats, which gets to why our district did some message testing when it would appear we really don’t have to — and maybe, doing the minimum, we don’t have to. But we want to win; as in a majority of seats, not just the easy-to-get majority of the votes in our district.
Now when I say “message testing”, I don’t mean some proper bit of research your political science professor would have approved of. We don’t have those sorts of resources, at least with other things we have to do. But we can still do something. We can’t pretend what we did is strong research we could get published in a proper political science journal. But we think we have something useful.
Specifically, we have two issues where we did some testing, one intended for offense and one for defense: the offense being automatic voter registration, and the defense being paying for transportation infrastructure. The forum was the tables we set up at neighborhood events in our district as we do each summer and autumn. Usually we have a passel of candidates to talk about, but most of our district, ironically enough given my plea to pay attention to local elections this year, had no elections, and it happened that was the part of the district with neighborhood events where we could set up. Normally our top priority at these events is voter registration, and next trying to strike up conversations so we can find out what prospective voters are thinking about. If anyone wants some jargon, this is sometimes referred to as an “untargeted canvas”. Generally of course, most people are already registered (though some aren’t, and they would not have shown up in a list of registered voters) and they don’t have an issue to comes to mind right at that moment, so we took advantage of having no candidates to test reaction to messages on those two issues. We had flyers on each issue (which we’re willing to share with other party units) but no one sees those right away, so we’re bringing up whichever issue we bring up and flyers are details and follow-up. Basically it’s verbal communication combined with paper they can take with them.



arbitrage“The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.” Kurt Cobain


There was an interesting exchange between the candidates in the Democratic debate at Drake University on Saturday night. I wondered how many viewers really understood what it meant.


Senator Bernie Sanders criticized former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her opposition to reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, a 1933 law that established a firewall between investment and commercial banking. The repeal of provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 led directly — a mere ten years later — to the financial Crash of 2008 and the Great Recession.


“Let’s not be naive about it. Why do — why, over her political career, has Wall Street been a major — the major — campaign contributor to Hillary Clinton? You know, maybe they’re dumb and they don’t know what they’re going to get, but I don’t think so.”


Sanders expanded on his call to break up big banks and re-institute the Glass-Steagall Act before Clinton shot back: “He has basically used his answer to impugn my integrity.”


“No I have not,” Sanders responded, not looking particularly surprised at the turn of events. Politico


No, Secretary Clinton, he was not commenting on your integrity or any other body part of your public persona. It’s not all about you, madam. Regardless of any decision you and your campaign handlers have made to use the closeted sexism still rampant in our culture as a Magic Shield® against any and all attacks on your positions and policies, neither was Sanders impugning your intelligence, skills, or capabilities as a leader.


Rather, Sanders was impugning the integrity of our election processes — as he has done repeatedly for many years. He was impugning the power of money to undermine, pervert, and distort the outcome of elections, the composition of legislative bodies, and the power of voters to decide which leaders and which policies they believe will lead to a safer, more just, and more prosperous future. All of which makes Clinton’s comment that 60% of her campaign donors are women nauseatingly deflective, self-serving and gratuitous. Between 55-60 percent of voters in general are women, so that claim doesn’t cut much ice … unless she’s implying that men are cheap when it comes to political donations. That would be a simple truth, but not germane to Sanders’ challenge.


Both Sanders and O’Malley believe that we need to reinstate Glass-Steagall, or something quite like it, as a first step in breaking-up the Six Big Banks. Clinton argues against it, and the reason she does is quite simple: the Wall Street money spigots will quickly shut off.


Click to Read More


clown carWhen Bernie Sanders was asked about the bizarre things Ben Carson said in the past, he said it wasn’t fair to hold candidates accountable for what they said decades ago. I would agree with him if he were speaking just generally. We shouldn’t be held accountable for something we said decades ago as if we were prevaricating flip-floppers just because we now say something different. We change our minds on some things over time, and would we want a candidate incapable of that? Likewise, we all make factual errors. Possibly we all not only make factual errors, but at some point believe something nuts, which is embarrassing once we figure it out. We all have some time when we behaved badly, and our worst moment back whenever shouldn’t define us.
So looking at Carson’s claim that the Egyptian pyramids were built by Joseph as granaries, if that’s all it was, a factual error, a belief he no longer holds, a bad moment that happened to get recorded on video, then Bernie would be right. We should, were that the case, just move on to current issues and forget a speech 17 years ago — but that’s not what happened. It could have been what happened, if Carson, asked about it now, had said something like he wasn’t an egyptologist but should have known better as an educated person, or now he knows better and is a bit embarrassed about it. However, he said he still believes it. That’s different. That changes it from something he said 17 years ago to something he says now. Thus why I disagree with Bernie. This is completely fair game in terms of judging Carson as a prospective president.
What does one crazy belief have to do with being president? Nothing, were it only one isolated weird belief, one mistake that wasn’t repeated. However, it’s part of a pattern that has persisted right up until now. Carson says a lot of weird stuff, now, not only in decades past. What he’s said about Obamacare being worse than slavery, Jews being able to fend off the Nazis if only they’d had more guns, and prison inmates turning gay after being raped all happened recently. That first instance might be mere hyperboly, the second is a common belief on the gun nut right despite its easy debunking, and the third is maybe just unskeptical ignorance, but how to explain away the pyramids claim? And also throwing in the opinion that scientists can be ignored on what the pyramids were built for because some believe aliens built them? Either he’s thinking of the archaeologist character in “Stargate” under the misapprehension it was a documentary, or he keeps giving the impression he disconnected from reality.


In what is shaping up to be a year of setbacks for the Republican Party’s far right, last Friday’s budget deal can only be seen as yet another defeat.


Senator Ted Cruz labeled the deal “a slap in the face to conservatives.” Thus conservatives on Capitol Hill and elsewhere will now have to come to terms with developments that are diametrically opposed to their long term goals. Sequester spending caps will be exceeded for both defense and social programs and overall government spending caps will move higher. The bi-partisan effort that affected the budget deal also resurrected the Export – Import Bank, long a target of the far right. Meanwhile the big winners coming out of the budget deal are among the far right’s most hated foes: President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and the entitlement programs of Medicare and Social Security. Another winner in the process is incoming Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.


Outside conservative think tanks were clearly losers as well: “It was a rough stretch for outside conservative groups that have frequently worked to flex muscle in the Capitol. Heritage Action and Club for Growth joined forces to blast the budget accord as it drifted away from spending caps — and put lawmakers on notice that they were watching the vote. But it ultimately was for naught.”



Polls show that Republicans are more enthusiastic about the upcoming election than Democrats, adding urgency to the mission of motivating Democrats. Obama would be a powerful pitchman within the party: Obama’s 83 percent job approval rating among Democrats in the October 19 to October 25 Gallup Poll is higher than Ronald Reagan’s 79 percent among Republicans at the same point in his presidency. Obama’s approval rating among all adults was 46 percent.

Obama’s Appeal Among Democrats Means His Last Campaign Is Still Ahead;


Laughter of the Damned

by Invenium Viam on November 2, 2015 · 0 comments

AKA the Quadruple Bypass

All American Thick-burger, AKA “The Quadruple Bypass”

“I hope I die with a mouthful of bacon.” ~ overheard at a fast food restaurant


Twice now at GOP debates, presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has stated that just four diseases (the “Big Four”) contribute the lion’s share of health care costs in the US: heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.


“We need to be focusing on what fixes this country,” Huckabee said. “I’ve continued to focus on the fact that we need to declare war on the four big cost drivers because 80 percent of all medical costs in this country are chronic disease. We don’t have a health care crisis in America, we have a health crisis.” (NY Times: GOP debate transcript)


To put that 80% number into perspective: According to Forbes magazine, annual health care spending in the US last year was $3.8 trillion dollars. (Forbes) That’s trillion with a ‘T’ and it is roughly the equivalent of the entire 2014 GDP of Germany, the Euro-zone’s economic powerhouse. (CIA World Factbook)  80% of $3.8 trillion is $3.04 trillion dollars: a number that currently exceeds the annual GDP of all other nations on earth except China, Japan and Germany according to data compiled by the International Monetary Fund. $3.04 trillion is 6.25 times the projected 2015 US deficit of $486 billion. (The Hill) A $3.04 trillion dollar annual savings in health care costs would pay off the entire US national debt in a little more than six years.


95% of Disease is Food-relatedSo, yes, Huckabee’s statement is 100% true: a rare feat for a Republican presidential candidate to be sure (hence noteworthy of its own accord). In order to control health care costs, we have to find a way to control the big diseases that are driving those costs. What isn’t generally known, however, is that at least two of the “Big Four” diseases are known to be caused by, or mainly result from, poor nutrition — heart disease and diabetes. Of the remaining two, Alzheimer’s and cancer, the latest research shows strong, apparently causal, links between Alzheimer’s and diabetes and between some cancers and highly processed meats like hot dogs, bacon and baloney. In short, all of the “Big Four” diseases driving the vast majority of our health care costs are mostly diet-related. Among them, diabetes alone is already one of the most costly and destructive medical epidemics of the early twenty-first century. Nearly 21 million adults and children in the United States have diabetes, while an estimated 41 million people between the ages of 40 and 74 have pre-diabetes. (Life Extension Magazine). That’s almost 1/5th of the population.


distance to McDonald's

Lightmap: 14,000 McDonald’s Locations

Consequently, if Huckabee intends to “declare war” on the Big Four diseases, the best place to start is at the source: the eating habits of the average American, or what is often called the Standard American Diet (SAD). But that will be a daunting challenge and one I doubt Huckabee is cut out for. The simple fact is that Americans have abominable eating habits. We eat too much food, we eat far too much fatty food; we eat far too much diabetes-inducing sugars, starches and alcohols; we eat enormous amounts of food adulterated with herbicides, pesticides and chemical preservatives; and we get really, really sick because of it. Not to mention that the fast food we consume by the bushel basket is designed to be addictive. (When was the last time you had a “Mac attack”)? The end result of a lifetime of poor eating habits is a slew of chronic diseases that develop over a lifetime and tend to appear later in life, when it’s mostly too late to do much about it. (Forks Over Knives)

“Interesting, in only thirty days of eating nothing but McDonald’s I gained twenty-four and a half pounds, my liver turned to fat and my cholesterol shot up sixty-five points. My body fat percentage went from eleven to eighteen percent, still below the national average of twenty-two percent for men and thirty percent for women. I nearly doubled my risk of coronary heart disease, making myself twice as likely to have heart failure. I felt depressed and exhausted most of the time, my mood swung on a dime and my sex life was non-existent. I craved this food more and more when I ate it, and got massive headaches when I didn’t. In my final blood test many of my body functions showed signs of improvement, but the doctors were less than optimistic.” Morgan Spurlock, Supersize Me


In order to even begin to manage these chronic diseases, we’d have to radically change the American diet and Americans’ eating habits. And while I congratulate Mr. Huckabee for pointing it out, the problem is that he is proposing, as President, to use the power of the office to try to do something to reduce the prevalence of those diseases and their impact on the high cost of health care. Or, undertake what his fellow Republicans like to call ‘intrusive government.’


Let’s see how well a couple of modest attempts at changing Americans eating habits has worked out, shall we?


When First Lady Michelle Obama initiated a plan to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in the US (“Let’s Move!), it included nutrition standards for taxpayer-subsidized school lunches, a position for which she was widely derided by those on the right:

– Fox News stated that school nutrition standards would mean “the lunch lady is now a health czar.”

– Fox host Sean Hannity predicted that Michelle Obama’s healthy school lunch program would lead to a nanny state, and wanted to know why “every American family need[ed] a dietitian appointed by the government.”

– Rush Limbaugh claimed that the government would start monitoring citizens as part of the “obesity problem.”

– Fox’s John Stossel argued nutrition standards would allow the government to “dictate” which citizens are allowed to marry. (Media Matters)

Others denounced the First Lady as a hypocrite, pointing out at the time that she herself could lose a few pounds.

Still others argued that nutrition standards in schools would cause massive “plate waste” and widespread hunger leading to hungry children and lower scores on standardized tests.


Nutritional standards gonna get’cha momma. GONNA GET’CHA MOMMA, BOY!


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