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MN lege : DFL pickup opportunities up north

by Dan Burns on September 26, 2016 · 0 comments

bwcaThese districts go R+1, 2, and 4, respectively.
In 2A, Rep. David Hancock (R-Bemidji) is leaving. Our candidate for the open seat is Jerry Loud.

“I believe I have an ability to build working relationships and establishing confidence within a team or individual colleagues,” says Loud. Loud worked in corporate America for a decade with Novartis Pharmaceuticals, and has ten years working for the Red Lake Band of Chippewa in various positions. He currently is the Executive Director of the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program where he has established strong working relationships with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), which has helped him understand how large organizations operate and maintain a productive environment. In addition he spearheaded the Red Lake Green Step Nation.
(Red Lake Nation News)

The GOP candidate is Matthew Grossell, and, well, check out his website for yourself, complete with a quote from the Book of Isaiah on the home page.
Mike Moore is our candidate in 1B.


Black Families Matter

by Mike Tikkanen on September 25, 2016 · 0 comments

Under assault from child protection services is the word on the street.


Racial disparity data supports the charge and people in the system on both sides see it every day. My city, Minneapolis most likely leads the nation in overall racial disparity;

– arresting Black adult men (44% of Minneapolis population of adult black men in 2001),
– median incomes of Black families are about half of the white population,
– about 62% of Black students attend high-poverty schools,
– MN has the nation’s largest income gap between whites and people of color (22%),
– The underperforming of high poverty schools appears now to be written in stone.
These painful truths evolved out of decades of leaving poor families to struggle with basic needs and sometimes less than no help with issues of trauma and violence (jail is not help).


Drug use, violence and years of child abuse repeat the terrible behaviors from traumatic scars generation after generation.


Preteen moms are now raising their own families without parenting skills just like their mother did with them and the violent boyfriend with a dangerous drug habit.


Developing coping skills and achieving an education under these circumstances becomes a challenge for everyone involved.


There’s a delicate balance that must be found that protects children and poor troubled families.


Child Protection must work to strike that delicate balance of protecting vulnerable children with mentoring programs for young moms, trauma based mental health services, crisis nurseries and quality daycare.
As a volunteer CASA guardian ad litem I know that once the cycle of abuse and poor parenting are broken, children go on to develop the coping skills they need to make it in school and in life and the terrible cycle of abuse and lifelong state ward status is broken.


Breaking this cycle of abuse delivers the rest of us successful schools, safe streets and taxpaying citizens leading happy lives.  We should all want this.
What we do to our children they will do to our society (Pliny the Elder, 2000 years ago).


West suburban DFL candidates looking good

by JeffStrate on September 23, 2016 · 0 comments

Pundits and political operatives are looking closely at several west suburban state legislative races that could be extremely close.   The current edtions of Democratic Visions are featuring DFL endorsed candidates running in Senate Districts 36, 44 and 49 and House District 48A.

Four suburban DFL Candidates

Deb Calvert, Laurie Pryor, Melissa Franzen and John Hoffman

Laurie Pryor may be a freshman candidate in her bid to replace retiring State Represenattive Yvonne Selcer, but she knows most every school, business center and residential cul-de-sac in District 48A (northern Eden Prairie and Southern Minnetonka) from a decade of organizing for local and congressional DFL candidates.   Deb Calvert, another issues informed and politically savy candidate, is running to replace Senator Terri Bonoff in Senate District 44 (northern Minnetonka, southern Plymouth and Woodland). Bonoff, as we know, is running a competitive race with right wing enigma Eric Paulsen in the Third Congressional District.     Senator Melisa Franzen is seeking a second term in Senate District 49 (Edina, west Bloomington and a few eastern precincts of Minnetonka and Eden Prairie.   These DFLers do not have strong Republican opponents but huge amounts of money are being spent on legislative races that can be won or lost by fewer than 40 votes.   Calvert, Pryor and Franzen are interviewed by Ted O’Brien in Democratic Visions September Program One here.


Senator John Hoffman is being challenged by Republican Brooklyn Park Mayor John Lunde in Senate District 36. But the personable and effective Hoffman has helped deliver funding for schools, highways and parks in the north suburban district and is strong on environment and jobs.   His district includes all of Champlin, and parts of Coon Rapids and Brooklyn Park.
Hoffman appears in the first segment of Democratic Visons’s second September program which also includes humorist Jon Spayde’s Professor of Negativity, author-comedian Lorna Landvick and a pro-Hillary, Junk Yard Democrats music video that splashes DFLers with home grown whimsy. Oh yes, Mike Gelfand splashes vinegar on distracted drivers and his romantic relationships.   Click here for program two.


mn_capitolThis is about some pickup opportunities in SE Minnesota. Rich Wright is running in SD26.

I am running for the State Senate to invest in education, promote economic growth and opportunities for all, and to ensure all of us have access to affordable high quality healthcare.
These are ambitious goals with complex solutions that require effort and cooperation from all of our leaders.

The current occupant, Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) has a mixed record, and is even a member of something called the “Purple Caucus.” I gotta say that though the idea of that is not without merit, any practical impact wasn’t very prominent during these past two sessions. At R+1 this district is begging to be flipped.
Bev Cashman is running in HD 24A.


Some unexpected results in the Minnesota Poll

by Woden on September 22, 2016 · 0 comments

There were some unexpected results in the Star Tribune’s Minnesota Poll, though to admit the click-baity nature of the headline, most results were what was expected, at least by me, but they’re interesting nonetheless. But since the headline says “unexpected”, let’s start with something unexpected.
There seems to be good news for the DFL in the cross-tabs that show self-identified Democrats are finding no appeal in third party candidates. Gary Johnson is getting zero, Jill Stein is getting 2%, and 9% are still trying to decide. At the same time and seemingly in contradiction, younger voters, defined in the poll as 18-34, are the most favorable to third parties, giving Johnson 10%. Yet younger voters are part of the Democratic coalition, leaning something like 60% Democratic. 2% are for Stein and a full 13% are undecided. How does that work? It makes sense if we distinguish between self-identification and voting behavior. Younger voters are the age group most likely to vote Democratic, but least likely to self-identify with a party. The bad news is they’re the group least likely to remember what happened when Democratic-leaners voted third party in swing states in 2000. In Minnesota that didn’t matter, but not in only in Florida, but in other close states too, those who voted for Ralph Nader had the means to easily prevent the Bush Jr. administration and everything that went horribly wrong as a consequence. How many young voters remember that? The good news at least is that when younger voters decide, or decide they can’t stick with a third-party candidate in a close election, they’re likely to vote for Hillary, even if with pinched noses. Of course, with the consequences of a Trump presidency being so horrible, best to talk to third party supporters and not make assumptions. Really, Johnson supporters, do you have any idea of what Libertarians are about? Please look into that before not merely throwing away your vote, but shredding it, stomping on it, and burying it deep in the compost heap.
Fully expected is that Trump is doing terribly in the metro area, defined in the poll as Ramsey and Hennepin counties, but leading by a few in the outer suburbs, defined as the suburbs outside Ramsey and Hennepin counties, and by a bit more outside the metro area. The definitions can be dickered with, as the western stretches of Hennepin sure seem like outer suburb, and first tier suburbs are counted as “outer” because of which county they’re in, but broadly the definitions are useful. This is trend we’ve seen in Minnesota in recent elections, and we were actually behind the times compared to most states in that central cities are deep blue, inner suburbs are nearly as blue, outer suburbs are deep red, rural areas are just as red except maybe for some off blue spots, and there’s a band of purple through the second or third tier suburbs. The areas of Trump’s strength fits that pattern. Sadly, that pattern suggests a cultural divide we’ve seen in other polls, and recent elections, not to mention some non-political measures. It’s a nationwide trend, and there was no reason to think Minnesota would remain exceptional indefinitely. The rural/metro divide is something Republicans have tried to exploit for momentary political advantage, but they didn’t create it. Pretty much pick a state, and it’s there.


hero_image_main_2If you remember much about the months before the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, it doesn’t take much paying attention to this one to work up a pretty strong sense of déjà vu. In both of those, we also saw polling from September into early October claiming that the race had “tightened” to very close, or even tied, before in the end President Obama pulled away to win by about the margins he’d had right after the Democratic conventions.
Various explanations have been mooted for this phenomenon. Here’s a certainly viable one that I saw last week:

One way to describe that problem is “non-response bias;” in other words, the responses of those who choose to respond would be different than those you choose not to respond. It’s a phenomenon that we’ve been aware of for a long time … it may have been the primary culprit in the notoriously disastrous Literary Digest poll that predicted a landslide victory for Alf Landon in the 1936 presidential race … but one that pollsters are just now starting to grapple with.
A more recent case was the polling spike that Mitt Romney received after a poor performance by Barack Obama in the first debate in 2012. Research after the fact, however, suggested that Romney didn’t suddenly get an influx of new backers, as much as Obama’s backers were demoralized and temporarily​ less willing to talk to pollsters, and Romney was temporarily winning by subtraction, which explained why that debate bump quickly wore off. Pollsters using more advanced techniques … especially Obama’s internal pollsters, who were relying on multiple levels of voter file information to sort voters, instead of just using random-digit dialing and talking to whoever answered … found that there really wasn’t much of a debate effect at all, and the race stayed in pretty much the same narrow band from April on.
And pollsters who are willing to dig a little below the surface (and not interested in feeding a horse race narrative in the media) are finding similar things this year.
(David Jarman/Daily Kos)

Be that as it may, there’s another hypothesis that doesn’t seem to be being given much voice, though for me it fairly springs from the data, past and present, like a jaguar. Consider:
– Much corporate media is facing further downsizing, if not outright extinction in its current embodiments, any time. (Note, for example, the age distribution among those who still inexplicably get their “news” from the plutocratic/war pig propaganda that is the network TV broadcasts. I don‘t know about their websites and radio, but I doubt that the situation is much different.) They’re desperate for a neck-and-neck race, to hopefully keep people “glued.” We’ve seen how the coverage has been, with the relentless invention of Hillary Clinton “scandals” whenever she so much as blinks her eyelids, compared to the coddling of the most vile and repulsive, and unqualified and dangerous, presidential candidate, in historical context, in U.S. history.

I don’t believe that most of the Republicans or corporate Democrats who own and operate corporate media really want Donald Trump in the White House. But they figure that the chances of that are small, and they’re probably right. Probably. (More here and here.) But they are, in addition to ratings and web traffic and so forth, hoping to help mute any Democratic downballot wave. Plus, they’re a**holes. Of a truly fetid, repellent sort.

– We’ve known from Day One that Clinton has huge advantages among minorities, women…really, everyone except white people with no post-secondary education. I personally know Republicans who are refusing to vote for Trump, and I suspect that you do, too. Moreover, Clinton’s ground game is state-of-the-art, while it’s doubtful that Trump even knows what “microtargeting” is. It just does not add up that this is tied or anywhere near it.
Given the above, to claim that polling commissioned by, or otherwise intended for use by, corporate media and other public entities looking for attention – that is, most of what’s out there – is all on the up-and-up seems to me to be pretty naïve. I do indeed hypothesize (and I’m far from the first to do so) that in all likelihood much of it is being deliberately skewed, in order to make this thing appear closer than it is.


Motivated reasoning and politics and stuff

by Dan Burns on September 15, 2016 · 1 comment

brain2Every so often I use the phrase “motivated reasoning” in a blog post. When I try to find a good hyperlink, everything is either too complicated or too simple. So I’m writing up my own.


First of all, the phrase “cognitive dissonance” is often misused. It is not the same thing as motivated reasoning. Cognitive dissonance happens when people are trying to hold different beliefs that don’t fit together well (for example, “the Twins are all set to be a contender next year” with “the Twins will lose 100+ games this year.”) Or when we notice that our attitudes and behavior are notably inconsistent (when we don‘t notice, or affect not to notice, that‘s called “hypocrisy”). It’s not a pleasant feeling, and people try to get rid of it.
Motivated reasoning is basically all the mental gymnastics people do to justify believing what they want, based on dogmatism, emotionalism and/or (often ego-driven) cognitive biases, when said beliefs have little or no apparent grounding in fact and/or reason. People use it to, among other things, quell cognitive dissonance. In some ways, a well-known phrase that could be a synonym for m. reasoning is “wishful thinking,” only you don’t accept that it’s wishful when it’s you that’s doing it.
(It’s possible that learned specialists would take issue with my definition, perhaps as too rough-and-ready. I certainly wouldn’t claim that I’m right and they’re wrong. I’m just trying to provide an indeed rough-and-ready description for practical understanding in socio-political contexts.)
Suppose I feel the need to internally justify a vote for Donald Trump for president. I fall back on unthinking, irrational, completely unsupported dogma that right-wing conservatism is good doctrine that produces good results. Emotionalism in that I will be gleeful to see people of color, assertive women, liberals, etc., get theirs. And I can call on all kinds of cognitive strategies like denial, rationalizing, confirmation bias, authoritarianism, groupthink, and so forth to convince myself that he is in reality knowledgeable, fair, honorable, kind, generous, and all that good stuff. Again, despite apparently infinite evidence to the contrary. All of these processes generally are, in real life, entirely or at least mostly subconscious.
By no means is motivated reasoning confined to the political right wing. On the contrary, it is as pervasive as the very air. We all do it. Including me. Trying to be aware that one is doing it is the first step to replacing it with the discipline of logic – that is, to really reason from fact.

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Minnesota-State-CapitolThis post is about three races in tough, red districts that would be oh so very, very sweet to win.
Josh Haseman is running in 23B.

This race, this effort is not about me. It’s about the hard-working families, senior citizens, farmers and small business owners in District 23B who represent the backbone of rural Minnesota. It’s important to have someone fighting for them.

The incumbent is Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center). I doubt that on this blog, or in any place where I’m posting the link to this, more needs to be said. But I’m adding items anyway about where he’s at on guns and race relations.
Elise Diesslin is our candidate in 21B.


New developments on Minnesota sulfide mining

by Dan Burns on September 14, 2016 · 0 comments

Tailings Pond Breach 20140805Twin Metals is going to court to try to get old mineral leases renewed.

Paul Danicic, Executive Director of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness issued this statement in response:
“We’re deeply disappointed that Twin Metals is suing to prevent the Bureau of Land Management from conducting a diligent and comprehensive review of their mineral lease application.
Over 65,000 public comments were submitted this summer opposing renewal of these leases near the Boundary Waters. The BLM and U.S. Forest Service have heard from thousands of people that sulfide mining on the edge of the wilderness is an unacceptable risk. Twin Metals’ lawsuit seeks to silence them…

(Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness)

The Duluth City Council shot down proposed PolyMet hearings.

Backers of the proposal argued that a contested case hearing — as this process is also known — would add something new to the regulatory process. J.T. Haines of Duluth said such a hearing would weigh competing claims of whether PolyMet can mine safely.
“Unlike public meetings … where much of the time people simply state their opinion without scrutiny, a contested case hearing would provide a more rigorous forum, including subjecting testimony to cross-examination, a key distinction,” Haines said. “That’s something both sides should welcome.”
But after lengthy debate, the City Council voted against the resolution. Councilor Barb Russ said it was the job of the Minnesota DNR to decide whether evidentary hearings on PolyMet are needed.

You have your good days and your not-so-good ones. The saga is ongoing.


trump3When people who at least try to be clear thinkers, rather than go through life in benighted fogs of motivated reasoning, are shown to be wrong, we endeavor to figure out what went wrong, in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes. (“Motivated reasoning” is basically all the mental gymnastics people do to justify believing what they want, based on dogma, emotionalism and cognitive biases, when said beliefs have little or no apparent grounding in fact and/or reason.) Sorry to sound all lecturing and pretentious.
When Donald Trump became the GOP presidential nominee, I believed that by this time, mid-September 2016, the only remaining question would be just how big the Democratic electoral tsunami would be. Kinda f*cked that up, didn’t I?
To be clear, I still believe that Hillary Clinton will win the Electoral College quite handily. And that it’s considerably more likely than not that we’ll take the U.S. Senate, although quite possibly with no more than 51 seats at best. And that we’ll take the MN House and have legislative majorities for Gov. Dayton’s final two years. And all of those will be wonderful things.
But, at least for now, the Landslide of Historic Proportions appears to be off. And the reason that I didn’t see that coming is that I had no idea that corporate media would take its coverage to the fetid extremes that it has, on behalf of both a misogynistic, racist, bloodthirsty, pathologically narcissistic lunatic, and on behalf of the wretched failure of a political party and ideology that he represents. I knew there would be plenty of bias, but not like this. For far from the first time I’ve underestimated how far the Establishment would go to try to protect its interests, even to the point of risking a Trump presidency and what that would mean. I should have known better by now, but I didn’t.
I’m not alone. Not with those remarks about corporate media, anyway: