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Minnesota Republican Party leaders are calling for unity behind presumed presidential nominee Donald Trump as GOP faithful gather at their state convention this weekend…
Not everyone was aboard the Trump train.
In party meetings Friday ahead of the convention, a resolution reaffirming the right of party members to “focus efforts on races of their own choosing” failed on a voice vote. The majority of members of the Minnesota GOP’s governing body, the State Central Committee, voted against the measure indirectly aimed at Trump.
(Rochester Post-Bulletin)

The big question is whether long-time Republican voters who will simply refuse to vote for a presidential candidate who openly stands for racism, bigotry, and misogyny – and there are plenty; I know some, myself – will show up to vote in down-ballot races. I don’t know of a way to predict that, at this time.


StrasWebTrump’s list has drawn hoots and derision, but also a measure of concern. Associate Justice David Stras was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2010 by Minnesota’s Worst Governor Ever, Tim Pawlenty.


Ironically, much of Stras’ scholarship prior to joining the bench offered ideas to limit the power of the United States Supreme Court. Stras proposed creating a “golden parachute” for justices to encourage them to retire. He also proposed requiring justices to “ride circuit,” a practice abandoned more than a century ago whereby Supreme Court justices would spend much of their time traveling to various parts of the country to hear ordinary cases rather than focusing exclusively on the difficult and contentious cases that reach the Court in Washington, DC.
(Think Progress)

Stras has not been able to do a lot of mischief while on Minnesota’s top court, which has thankfully moved a little leftward since Gov. Mark Dayton has been making the picks. It’s tough to find much about Stras’s actual record; at least, it was for me, despite trying numerous search parameters and looking all the way to page 8 or 9 in some cases. A recent article notes that he would likely not be good for LGBT rights. This older one points out his limited qualifications, and the likelihood that he was wholly a political pick by Tea-Paw. And an article from this very blog does have specifics about his record prior to his elevation. (Like the Pawlenty article linked above, it’s from before we changed platforms, and I apologize for the crunched formatting. The reasoning from fact therein nonetheless remains entirely valid.)

Speaking of Trump, check this out, too. Hilarious.
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palestineJ Street is an organization that supports both Israel, and Palestinian rights. Whatever you may think of certain of President Barack Obama’s policies, and perhaps even more so missed/declined opportunities, objectively he’s going to go down as one of the better presidents. Right now, without thinking about it very hard, I could see him rated as highly as #8, and probably no lower than maybe #13. It could help him to the top of that range, or even higher, if he can somehow make real progress in the Mideast. I know it’s a long shot, but there’s certainly nothing to lose.

President Obama has eight months remaining in office and one last meaningful opportunity to take concrete action on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Of course, we’re under no illusion about what’s possible. There’s little chance of renewed negotiations, let alone an agreement during the Obama Presidency.
But the President and his team, as they consider their overall legacy, are well aware that, in the absence of diplomacy, the situation on the ground between Israelis and Palestinians is going from bad to worse.
The choice for the President in his remaining time in office is clear: Take meaningful action that charts a course for Israelis and Palestinians toward a two-state solution or do nothing and walk away.
(J Street)

“Middle East – The Mother of All Humanitarian Crises”
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New overtime pay rules to take effect

by Dan Burns on May 18, 2016 · 0 comments

scotusThis is from an email I got last night. As one of the brilliant, beautiful, and well-informed people that reads MN Progressive Project, you probably got the same thing, or something like it. Here’s the link embedded therein.

I wanted you to be the first to know about some important news on an issue I know you care deeply about: making sure you’re paid fairly.
Tomorrow, we’re strengthening our overtime pay rules to make sure millions of Americans’ hard work is rewarded.
If you work more than 40 hours a week, you should get paid for it or get extra time off to spend with your family and loved ones. It’s one of most important steps we’re taking to help grow middle-class wages and put $12 billion more dollars in the pockets of hardworking Americans over the next 10 years.

And here’s something that I think will happen, and I’m sure that I have plenty of company. Some right-wing lawsuit mill already has one ready to go to block this, and most importantly, has already identified the right judge to go to, a reactionary extremist who on both intellectual and psychological grounds should never have even been admitted to the bar, much less given a seat on the federal bench. He or she will issue the desired “halt” order, and millions will continue to be grossly overworked and underpaid as this slowly makes its way up the judicial ladder. Corporate media, meanwhile, will present it as a disastrous “burden on job creators,” or some such infantile nonsense. Progressives need to do what we can to make electoral hay of this, and to work toward a moderate – perhaps even a little bit “liberal,” – U.S. Supreme Court, for when this and so many other items ultimately end up there.



A bill that would substantially revise the state’s drug laws for the first time in nearly three decades sailed through its first legislative hearing Monday.
The bill, sponsored by Senate judiciary committee chair Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, represents a compromise between law enforcement, defense attorneys and some lawmakers, worked out in private talks over the past several weeks.
Monday’s hearing by the Senate judiciary committee was the first time that compromise received formal feedback at the Legislature; it passed unanimously Monday out of the Senate’s judiciary committee to the finance committee.
(St. Paul Pioneer Press)

The changes originally proposed by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission would take effect in August in any case. In some ways this legislative compromise, which would supersede that, is a step back from those. But still a solid change for the better, overall, and that’s a damn tough thing to accomplish with a legislature half under the control of Koch/ALEC puppets.


Tar Sands by Garth Lenz_0It’s one of those never-ending sagas.

After 22 public hearings, long proceedings before the state Public Utilities Commission and a Minnesota Court of Appeals case, two proposed pipelines that would together carry more than one million barrels of oil per day across the northern part of the state find themselves again at the beginning of a long regulatory process…
The hearings were prompted by a Minnesota Court of Appeals decision last September. The ruling overturned a June 2015 decision by the utilities commission to grant the proposed Sandpiper pipeline a so-called “certificate of need,” saying state regulators first needed to complete a full-blown environmental impact statement for the project.
Calgary-based Enbridge has proposed two pipelines that would each stretch about 300 miles across the state. Sandpiper would carry 225,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken region of North Dakota to the company’s hub in Clearbrook, Minn. From there it would carry 375,000 barrels per day to Superior, Wis.
The company also plans to replace its existing Line 3, which was built in the 1960s and transports crude from the oil sands region of Alberta, Canada. By replacing the aging pipe, the company plans to boost the line’s capacity back up to 760,000 barrels per day.

A couple of relevant additional items:


MN-02: Jason Lewis wins GOP endorsement

by Dan Burns on May 8, 2016 · 1 comment

lewisbuckley(Our candidate, representing the major party that is not running Donald Trump for president, is Angie Craig. You can help her out here.)

I wrote about the race here. I did not specifically note a long-priced outsider, Gene Rechtzigel, but he apparently did provide the most memorable part of the convention, using his presentation to accuse President Obama of having ordered the murder of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and so forth. Anyway:


Under Minnesota’s endorsement system, party conventions vote to endorse candidates, but other candidates who don’t get the endorsement can ask voters to overrule that endorsement and pick them instead at the Aug. 9 primary. (David) Gerson said Saturday that he would abide by the endorsement, drop out and support Lewis.
But at least one and possibly two candidates will challenge Lewis for the Republican nomination in the Aug. 9 primary. Businesswoman Darlene Miller has promised to run in the primary, while former state Sen. John Howe said he will decide soon whether to stay in the race.
(St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Retiring/fleeing Rep. John Kline (R-MN) has endorsed Miller. Given that Kline’s time in Congress has been nothing but a negative for students, women, workers, the elderly…really, everyone except rich white men, there’s no good reason for his endorsement to matter. But it might, anyway. We’ll see. Howe is presumably under a lot of pressure – as in, might even get a phone call from Kline himself – to drop out and avoid splitting the “sane,” anti-Lewis vote.

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Business as usual for Minnesota lege GOP

by Dan Burns on May 4, 2016 · 0 comments

mn_capitolA couple of current examples.

The American Energy Alliance, a prominent conservative energy group, said (April 27) it is backing a push in state legislatures across the United States to bar funding for work on the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.
This effort has already proved successful in several states this spring, including Virginia, Wyoming and Colorado, where lawmakers passed budget bills restricting money for state agencies to plan for the federal climate change regulation. Similar budget language is currently being floated in at least four other states, including Minnesota and Missouri…
And in Minnesota, where Gov. Mark Dayton (D) said the Supreme Court stay “does nothing to diminish our resolve in Minnesota to keep moving forward on clean energy initiatives, including the development of our state’s Clean Power Plan,” the Legislature is also moving forward with a bill to bar funding for compliance work with the rule unless the stay is lifted.

A proposal to boost spending for so-called “student support services” will get a look in final budget negotiations as the end of the legislative session nears.
Advocates say the need for more counselors, social workers and other support workers is critical in Minnesota. But heading into negotiations, the DFL-controlled Senate and GOP-controlled House are far apart on the issue.
The Senate wants to set aside $13.1 million for matching grants to help schools hire more counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses and drug addiction counselors. The House doesn’t want any money for the idea so far — its bill calls for studying the proposal and reporting back next year.


There’s a new idea being thrown around in liberal and progressive circles: that if Trump or Cruz were to win the presidency, it would ignite a revolution in America. This idea is coming from multiple directions, most publicly from Susan Sarandon, but also more and more frequently on media and social media outlets. Now, many will be quick to point out that Sarandon has backpedaled a bit, stating that she would never, ever vote for Trump, but let’s be quick to point out that it doesn’t rule out her voting for a third party. “I’m more afraid of Hillary Clinton’s war record and hawkishness than I am of building a wall,” is clearly downplaying the danger of a Trump presidency.


Prior to this I’ve heard many people say that if Sanders doesn’t get the nomination, they won’t vote for Clinton. Many of these are the same folks that seem to be now putting forth this idea that somehow we’d (eventually) be better off if Trump or Cruz were to win. The idea is that Americans would be so cheesed off that Democrats (or presumably some “truly progressive” candidates) would sweep the presidency and both houses of Congress in 2020, thus setting us up for the Glorious Liberal Revolution.


Here’s the problem: the vast majority of those putting forth this idea don’t really have anything to lose if Donald “Build a Wall” Trump or Raphael Eduardo “Lucifer in The Flesh” Cruz (oh, Boehner, we missed you!) were to be elected. The vast majority of those putting forth this idea are white, the vast majority are straight, and the vast majority are men.



Workers Memorial Day

by Dan Burns on April 28, 2016 · 1 comment


On April 28, the unions of the AFL-CIO observe Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew the fight for safe jobs. This year we will come together to call for work in this country that is safe and healthy and pays fair wages. We will celebrate the victories won by working people and commit to fighting until all workers have safe jobs and the freedom to form unions without the threat of retaliation.
(Minnesota AFL-CIO)

More on the issue.

By the time you’re done reading this article, roughly one person will likely have died from dangerous working conditions somewhere in America. It could happen in virtually any job, but it’s especially likely to happen to a Latino worker, maybe someone working on your office building’s roof. There’s also good chance they’ll be killed in a rigging mishap while extracting the natural gas powering your laptop, or perhaps they’ll be an immigrant woman killed in a farming accident while harvesting your groceries…
The roughly 3.8 million occupational injuries and illnesses reported in 2014 represent the myriad ways that the economy values capital over human life: from unmonitored toxic exposures at lucrative oil and gas fields, to construction workers falling from faulty scaffolding on million-dollar office towers―150 work-related deaths daily. Tragedy was often preventable, but risking lives more profitable.
(The Nation)

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