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One can only scratch one’s head when it comes to the incredulous nature of the Fox News Network. On a day as momentous, after a week as momentous as this, the O’Reilly Factor’s nightly feature is on global terror, completely ignoring today’s SCOTUS decision on same sex marriage.
 
Is it any wonder why or how Media Matters found that those who watch Fox News are less informed than those who don’t follow the news regularly via any format? So much for mainstream conservative media.
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The Court this week has delivered a series of devastating blows to America’s conservative movement with their second decision affirming the constitutionality of Obamacare, today’s decision on same sex marriage along with another decision on discrimination in housing.

 

It’s been kind of funny watching the Fox crew attempting to recover from the multiple blows sustained by conservatives this week. Conservatives have been looking with regard to upending Obamacare to additional cases wending their way through the lower courts and hoping that these cases will somehow undo what’s already been settled. Political commentator Amy Walter, appearing on Fox News last night, pointed out that many of those cases have already been dismissed and that now with a second affirmative decision on Obamacare, most of the rest will probably be dismissed too or the Court will agree not to hear them.

 

And conservatives shouldn’t take to much solace in the idea that Obamacare will be undone on Capitol Hill either. Let’s be honest about one reality. Conservatives on Capitol Hill have voted some 50 times to repeal the A.C.A to no avail. Their last presidential effort was based in part in undoing the A.C.A and that failed too. To date the G.O.P. has failed to come up with an comprehensive alternative to the A.C.A. Thus what will change now? Not much likely with regard to Obamacare.

 
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Sweet Schadenfreude Ambrosia

by Dog Gone on June 26, 2015 · 0 comments

First we have Governor Dayton’s leadership as governor and liberal policies putting Minnesota #1 for business by CNBC’s ranking.  Minnesota generally, and Minneapolis in particular, have generally done well in comparison to other states and cities.  Under liberals, we ARE COMPETITIVE! We have an excellent quality of life, or as Dayton refers to it, the state gives good value for the collected taxes and tax rate.
 

Of course the MN GOP keep trying to push wealth and income inequality policies with tax cuts to the rich, cuts to levels of education funding sought on the left, and fail fully to fund the necessary infrastructure, while attempting to contaminate the environment for the benefit of business at the expense of citizens. The MN GOP HATES HATES HATES that unlike so many red states, Minnesota has a surplus, not a grand canyon sized deficit.

 

Then we have the consistently good news out of the SCOTUS, arguably the most conservative Supreme Court in the history of the nation.  So far as of this morning, we have success for the Fair Housing Act upheld, and success for the ACA (aka Obamacare).

 

Personally, for me the cherry, whipped cream, hot fudge and sprinkles on the whole conservative epic fail is the massive repudiation of right wing racism, combined with the recent Gallup poll showing nearly 50% of Americans would vote for a socialist (like Bernie Sanders).

 

…it’s news that 47 percent of Gallup poll respondents say they’d vote for a socialist candidate for president. Though the political designation placed last on a hypothetical list of candidates that included women, gays and lesbians, Muslims and atheists, the survey response still seems to offer hopeful news to democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, who’s running as a Democrat.
The Gallup poll found a huge split in opinion between Republicans and Democrats on the issue. While 59 percent of Democrats said they’d be willing to cast their vote for a socialist presidential candidate, just 26 percent of Republicans did. (Nearly half of Independents, 49 percent, said they would be in favor of the idea.)

Throw into the mix of joy at conservative sorrow the substantial lead of Hillary Clinton announced on Monday, from the Daily News:

 

Hillary Clinton with comfortable lead over Jeb Bush, other potential GOP rivals: poll

Hillary Clinton has a comfortable lead over Jeb Bush and the rest of her potential GOP rivals, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday.  Clinton leads Bush, the former Florida governor, 48%-40%.
That expands to 50%-40% against Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and 51%-37% against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the two other national front-runners.

turnip tops – Trumpesque

Rounding out the bad news for conservatives — Donald “Turnip-top” Trump, swaggering, blithering idiot of offensiveness, has gone further than previous campaign cycles in appearing to run for the nomination.

 

Along with him, the most unpopular governor in the nation Bobby “Pretend I’m White” Jindal has declared, and second to least popular governor Chris Christie is scheduled to climb on or set a date to climb on the 2016 conservative clown car, known for only going in the same dizzy tiny circles to the right.

 

Sadly for the unpopular candidates the mean girls running the RNC are making these candidates climb on the roof rack, the trunk and the hood, rather than letting them inside the clown car, and are trying to keep them off the stages for the officially scheduled debates.

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I’ve been amazed at the speed with which support for official state sanction for a white supremacist symbol has collapsed. I applaud it, but I also had a look in the mirror. The former confederate states aren’t the only ones with racist imagery. I’m looking at us, Minnesota. We need a new state seal. Click the seal to the right to enlarge.
 
The seal is explained, sort of, on the state secretary of state web site. It shows a white settler plowing a field, facing East, while an Indian rides into the sunset. One guess who the settler’s gun is meant to be used against. I have a feeling Indians pick up on the imagery a bit faster than whites. More to the point, our state seal commemorates Indians being pushed out for white settlement. Not exactly inclusive of all races.
 
It perhaps isn’t on a par with the flag of a nation formed explicitly to protect slavery (if anyone doesn’t get what “explicitly” means, read the seceding states’ declarations of secession). It’s not like Minnesota was formed for the purpose of oppressing Indians. Nonetheless, the removal of Indians was required for Minnesota’s formation, and this tragedy for Indians is commemorated in our seal. Remember that removal didn’t just entail buying land. It entailed Indians facing the prospect of an unwinnable war if they didn’t move, and of promises of ongoing payment not kept. In the case of the Dakota, removal included a war provoked by failure to make payments that made subsistence impossible, a concentration camp, and a mass hanging.
 
Changing the seal might not be as important as when our current governor marked the 150th anniversary of the Dakota War by telling the truth, including the contemporary governor’s call for the Dakota to be exterminated if they didn’t leave the state. But it also seems like not much to ask that we have a seal that doesn’t tell some Minnesotans that they’re no longer part of this place. We should have a seal that represents everybody. I’m not saying the images can’t somehow include a white settler and an Indian — just don’t make it about pushing out the Indian. A new seal certainly could keep St. Anthony Falls, “1858”, and “l’étoile du nord”, which is French for “Star of the North”*. Surely “Star of the North” has to suggest some better images than an Indian leaving, something that represents all of us. It suggested good logos for sports teams so why not the whole state?
 
And while we’re at it, bad news on the flag. It’s just the state seal on a blue field. So, we need a new one of those too.
 
Does having our own problems mean we can’t tell anyone else they can’t fly a confederate flag? No, it just means we have to be willing to tell the truth about ourselves, and in Minnesota’s case, part of that truth is the imagery on the state seal. Being honest about our own history of race relations means admitting that while the state never officially approved slavery or the symbols thereof, we did have slavery here. Dred Scott, living in what was supposed to be free territory, was like most black residents of what would become Minnesota in that he was a slave to an army officer who used him as a domestic worker. When we became a state, our first constitution prohibited voting rights to blacks. Not exactly a plantation, but not something we’re proud of either. But let’s tell the truth while we ask others to do the same, and let’s get rid of our own racist symbols while we ask others to get rid of theirs. Time for a new seal.
 

*French was the language of the first whites in Minnesota, and appropriately to the point of this post, they traded with the Indians rather than removing them. Some stayed when the Indians were removed and the fur trade ended, so most whites were French Canadians when Minnesota became a territory. So having the state’s long standing nickname remain in French seems appropriate.

 
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The Far Greater Threat of Domestic Terror

by SJGulitti on June 24, 2015 · 0 comments

After obsessing for the past year, or more, about whether or not the Obama administration will ever bring itself to utter the words “Islamic Terror” or “Radical Islam” one can only wonder when conservatives will wake up to the greater threat, that once again, is seen to be emanating from the far right. To wit: “In a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations. And only 3 percent identified the threat from Muslim extremists as severe, compared with 7 percent for anti-government and other forms of extremism.”

 

The recent racially driven terror shootings in Charleston once again bring to the fore the threat that I detailed below in “Coming Unhinged on the Far Right”. The Charleston tragedy shows that the underlying issues outlined in 2010 are still salient, relevant and no less dangerous today.

 

What is most interesting in the aftermath of Charleston is that even though folks on the far right, like Bill O’Rielly, admit that it was an act of terror, they cannot resist using the tragedy to promote an ongoing anti-progressive political agenda. The aftermath of the Charleston terror attack is seen by the talking heads on the far right as an opportunity for the “America haters” and “race hustlers” to launch a new round of attacks against our country. They ignore the fact that many of the alleged “America haters” and “race hustlers are merely pointing out the enduring shortcomings of race in American society and all the problems resulting there from.

 
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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.

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photo clowns.jpgI get it. Donald Trump declared for president and he’s endlessly entertaining. Anyone who says “I don’t have to brag” when that’s all he does is satirizing himself. No wonder Jon Stewart is so happy. Trump is a diverting entertainment, with emphasis on the “diverting” part, as in he’ll divert us from paying attention to the candidates who might actually win, and might have a political future when their presidential campaign is over. I suppose, if someone absolutely must pay attention, then try to pin down other candidates on what they think of the nuttiness that Trump will no doubt engage in since that’s his whole reason for running and the reason anyone pays attention. Make other candidates try to find the middle ground between denouncing what Trump says so as not to appear likewise crazy, while staying close enough to avoid annoying the conservative base that thinks Trump makes some sense. Try to appeal to both sanity and the base, go!
 
Otherwise though, Trump isn’t worth our time. He’s not going to win the nomination because of how unpopular he is among likely Republican primary voters, and he has no political future beyond this campaign. Maybe he’ll run for president perennially, but it’s not like he’s going to try to make a serious run for Congress, let alone try to work his way up from state legislature or city council. The “unpopular” part is confirmed in a new Public Policy Polling poll, which finds the same results as their last poll, at least among Republicans. Four of the candidates they asked about have negative favorable ratings, and they happen to be the same four candidates as the last PPP poll, which is why I crossed them off the list of candidates to be followed. Yes, Trump is one of those, for the reasons just stated, fun as he might be to kick around. George Pataki is also a “look at me please” candidate I’m not bothering to look at further since he’s unlikely to run for anything else. Chris Christie will be entertaining in the bully-gets-comeuppance way, but Republicans dislike him too much to nominate him, he’s term limited as governor, and he’s grown too unpopular in New Jersey to run anyway. Lindsey Graham will presumably run for his Senate seat again, but given the difficulties South Carolina Democrats have just getting a name on a ballot makes his seat safe, watching him run for president seems like a waste of time.
 
So yes, beating the GOP candidates in some future election is a point of this exercise, though to be sure it’s pretty much about this presidential race. The reason for doing #ThisGuyWantsToBePresident is that this stuff from 2015 will be useful once the nomination is settled, but it will also have gone down the memory hole. However, it can at least be made searchable. The reason for seeking to narrow is, can’t speak for anyone else, but I can’t do this full time, and I can’t track however many Rachel Maddow counted up merely as a hobby. So I’m trying to cut down the list, and trying to be objective in case my judgment is wrong.
 
So in brief, on the Republican side, with another thorough poll, nothing changed. To step away from the clown car (clown bus? There’s a reason I started using the clown graphic with more clowns) however, there is a little something interesting on the Democratic side.
 

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Proposed SWLRT route

A special edition of Democratic Visions considers the challenges to and future of the Southwest Light Rail Project

 

Among electeds, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin remains one of the strongest voices for an up-to-date public transit system in the Twin Cities metro area.  McLaughlin chairs The Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority and the Counties Transportation Improvement Board.  The HCRRA has committed to fund 10% and the CTIB, 30% of the Southwest Light Rail Transit project being planned to connect Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, Saint Louis Park and the west lakes district of Minneapolis and the southern fringe of North Minneapolis to the Blue and Green LRT lines at Target Field.  The State of Minnesota will shovel-in 10%.  The plan has been to qualify for Federal Transportation Agency monies which would account for 50% of the project.   But, dear possums, as we all know, its complicated.   SWLRT  now involves a $2 billion price tag, an upset Governor Dayton, transit equity activists in North Minneapolis and Eden Prairie, economic growth, law suits, 5 cities, three exurban counties and Hennepin and Ramsey, anti-rail buzzards along Kenilworth and Eden Prairie LRT alignments, pro-LRT businesses and employers along the entire route, the Met Council, the EPA and scores of anonymous trolls in the reader comments sections of the Strib.    Without interference from pundits, Peter McLaughlin and host Tim O’Brien measure the challenges to and the promise of the troubled project in a special edition of Democratic Visions.  Long time SWLRT and bus transit proponent Eden Prairie Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens, also provides her perspective on likely station cuts noting that thousands of jobs will remain too difficult to get to for public transit dependent people along SWLRT corridor.
 
The Future of Southwest Light Rail here on YouTube –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6veY7cI5FZ0

 

Two Frustrated State Legislators
 
Currently playing on various cable systems (see below) the late spring edition of  Democratic Visions features two, sharp, southwest suburban DFL law makers and a smart, very funny example of what a truly honest U.S. Senatorial campaign ad might look like.
 
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photo clowns.jpgBen Carson is seeking election for the first time so we can’t wonder what voters were thinking, but really Florida, you elected Jeb Bush as governor twice? Today we learn (or get reminded) that Ben Carson is nuts and George W. Bush is the smarter brother.
 
Put an asterisk on “smarter”, just in case Jeb is smart enough to say he was an insensitive twit 20 years ago and now he knows better. What I hope he no longer thinks is the way to reduce pregnancies by unmarried girls and young women is to deliberately shame them.
 

In his book Profiles in Character, Jeb Bush dedicated an entire chapter to the need for more shame, titled “The Restoration of Shame.”
 
In it, he writes:

One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame. Many of these young women and young men look around and see their friends engaged in the same irresponsible conduct. The parents and neighbors have become ineffective at attaching some sense of ridicule to this behavior. There was a time when neighbors and communities would frown on out of wedlock births and when public condemnation was enough of a stimulus to be careful.

Bush is simultaneously advocating for the use of societal shame against some of our most vulnerable and marginalized citizens while ignoring the history and reality of teen and unwed pregnancy. He waxes poetic about the days when unwed pregnant girls and women were neither seen nor heard after either being quietly whisked away for nine months or subject to a dangerous back-alley abortion. He pines for a time when shame was enough to deter young women from becoming pregnant.

I hear Republicans do poorly among single women voters. Gee, can’t fathom why.
 
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Step away from the clown car

by Eric Ferguson on June 8, 2015 · 7 comments

Step away from the clown car, just for a moment. Maybe it’s more of a clown bus this time. Anyway, yes I know, the Republican accidental comedy show is endlessly entertaining. I’ve been indulging in it myself and will again. But we have Democrats running too; four declared candidates in fact. And here they are in embeddable video form.

 
The first video is Hillary Clinton speaking on voting rights, which readers likely heard about in terms of highlights, at least the universal registration and alluding to 2000 being stolen, but here’s the whole speech from C-SPAN. It’s roughly a half hour long in the middle of the video. Second is Bernie Sanders speaking recently in Minneapolis. He spoke mostly about economic inequality and attracted a crowd of a few thousand. Third is Lincoln Chafee’s announcement speech. He spoke mostly about foreign policy, including voting against invading Iraq. Fourth is Martin O’Malley’s announcement speech. He stated positions on a bunch of current issues.
 

 
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