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Minnesota looking more like the rest of the country

by Eric Ferguson on November 26, 2014 · 2 comments

Minnesota has been something of an outlier compared to almost every other state. Most states have Democratic cities, Republican rural areas, and competitive suburbs. We have long flipped those last two. This last election though, the state house election looked pretty typical of what might be expected in almost any randomly chosen state.
 
This raises some questions, namely:
— Is this trend of reddening rural areas and bluing suburbs really happening here? Didn’t I just say it was, one paragraph ago? I actually have my doubts, about which more later.
— Why is this happening? I won’t actually spend much space on this because there seem to be multiple plausible explanations, which can be simultaneously true, so it’s more complicated than can be dealt with here.
— How do we respond?
 
I used this chart repeatedly in that series on Democrats needing to do better with white voters, but that was nearly two years ago, so here it is again:
 

 
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Was it political cowardice or bad strategy?

by Eric Ferguson on November 21, 2014 · 6 comments

announcement of Donald Rumsfeld's resignation
UPDATE: Heard from the Speaker of the Minnesota House, sadly shortly to be minority leader (replaced by this guy), and looks like some state-specific comments of mine might not hold up. Details here.
 
When Pres. Obama announced his support for net neutrality right after the election, I thought I understood how Republicans felt when Bush Jr. forced out Defense Sec. Don Rumsfeld right after the 2006 election. Well, that was nice, but couldn’t you have done that before we got toasted in the midterm election?! Of course my first response to Obama’s announcement was to be glad he came out so strongly on the side of the angels, but my next thought was to recall an image of Rumsfeld’s resignation being announced. Why not do this before the election, and maybe save some seats?
 
The silver lining of an election loss is it makes us more likely to consider our assumptions. We may not even realize we’re making assumptions. The assumption in this case is the spinelessness of Democratic candidates and elected officials. We in the Democratic base have pleaded for more spine for I don’t recall how long. Back to the 80’s maybe? The 70’s? The 90’s at least. Election after election, but especially during midterms when there’s a Democratic president, we see one self-defeating move after another. The seeming political cowardice wasn’t just on the part of Obama, despite my reaction to the timing of his net neutrality announcement, and despite his failure to do anything on immigration until last night, which I blame for the lower than expected (lower than expected by me anyway) turnout among Latinos. I’m inclined give him a pass on the timing of his strong stances on global warming since those likely had to wait for summits in China and Australia, though that doesn’t explain other Democrats not running on it.
 
Nor do Obama’s decisions excuse Democratic candidates who avoided him during their own reelections, and the many who avoided other Democrats at all, as if they weren’t running on a ticket. There were exceptions: Minnesota’s statewide candidates very much ran as a ticket, campaigning on the Democratic successes most Democrats rarely mentioned, for example; but in general, Democrats ran every-candidate-for-themselves with campaigns focused on appeasing, if not conservatives, then those mysterious centrists.
 
But was it really cowardice? I’m asking the base to question our assumption of gutlessness. Maybe this was strategy; lousy, awful strategy. If that’s the case, if spine isn’t the problem, then no wonder our appeals for political courage seem to achieve so little. We’re making the wrong demand.
 

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Post-election observations

by Eric Ferguson on November 6, 2014 · 5 comments

With the voting done in 2014, let’s talk about 2016. Kidding! Stop, don’t go away! In fact, I’ll give you this handy link to Minnesota election results, but don’t leave yet.
 
The following thoughts about 2014 are more or less in the order in which they came to mind, though I tried to seize opportunities for coherency.
 
Starting with admittedly a repeat of my comment on Dan Burns’ post on women voting, assuming my walk lists of voters were the drop-off Democrats, it’s a bit disturbing those lists were heavy with younger women, meaning under 40. They arguably lost the most when Republicans did so well in 2010, between Republican governors and legislatures repealing equal pay laws, closing women’s clinics to restrict abortion access (and restricting access to health services in general thereby), photo ID laws (women’s birth certificates get rejected if they changed their names when they married), and blocking minimum wage increases which hurts women much more than men. Why aren’t younger women the most motivated to turn out?
 
Despite the wailing and media hysteria, if you didn’t roughly predict the results of the 2014 midterms once the results of the 2012 election were in, you have much to learn about US politics. We’re the presidential party in a midterm — Tuesday was always going to be bad. I expected we would net a governor or two, instead of a net loss of I think it will turn out to be two. But losses in Congress, albeit worse than they needed to be, no surprise. Looks like losses were small compared to 2010 in state legislatures. Not that we couldn’t have mitigated the losses without some bad decisions — yes, that’s a prelude to bringing up things I’m ticked about, and in my own defense, all things I raised before the campaign was over. We’ll get there shortly. Some good news, besides a good night for Democrats in Minnesota whatever happened elsewhere, is the GOP Senate majority is likely short-lived. Their odds of holding on in 2016 are worse than ours this year, for the same math problems: whether it’s a presidential year, who defends how many seats, and which states have elections.
 
Weirdly, given how the elections turned out, Democrats nearly ran the table on ballot measures. Unlike 2012, they seem not to have had coattails.
 
No one wants to believe the polls when they predict bad news, but for Senate and governor races, following them meant you weren’t surprised. Disappointed, but at least you knew it would be a generally bad night. Not so much for the US House, which I attribute to few polls and small sample sizes — so I was pleasantly surprised by CD8, since the last poll showed Stewart Mills with a strong lead, plus a Green candidate taking a few percent. Point being, better to accept the polls are roughly right and deal with reality. At least no one on the Democratic side went so far as to get into “unskewing”, so we have that going for us.
 
Apartment buildings folks, come on. I’m not naming sources or candidates, because no one knew in these conversations I might be blogging about it later on. Trying to do better at contacting people who live in apartments, or “multi-unit buildings” to not exclude residents of condominiums, is something we’ve worked on in the SD I chair, and the Keith Ellison campaign developed methods of doorknocking in apartments over the last couple elections. Ellison is safe, so the main beneficiaries are on the rest of the ballot, but lots of candidates and campaigns still want to bypass multi-unit buildings. The reasons why aren’t important. What’s important is we’re passing up voters Republicans also don’t contact, or, to be more positive, where we focus on multi-unit buildings, we’re contacting people Republicans ignore. Besides, whatever fudge factors there are, can anyone claim we solved the drop-off Democrat problem? Yet turfs are still cut to steer away from multi-unit buildings.
 
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Artist's conception. Not actually Dan Severson

Artist’s conception. Not actually Dan Severson

Can it be called “full” tin foil hat unless someone is literally wearing a tin foil hat? So OK, Dan Severson’s tin foil hat might be purely metaphorical. How tin foil hatty? In a speech to the West Metro Tea Party last June, he said:
 

This was my attempt as a sitting State Representative to say you know what there’s fraud going on, this is during the Franken-Coleman recount, and you guys need to pay attention to this. This is relevant, right now. Why do we have Obamacare? Al Franken. Why do we have Al Franken? Voter corruption. Fraud. Why do we have a majority in the House and the Senate right now, and a Governor that are anti-business? They are anti-business. Voter fraud. Because they will go across the state and they will find the seats that are vulnerable. They will find the ones that are within a certain margin and then they will load the buses. And they will stuff the ballots.

His evidence? He believes it. Should we have some schadenfreude with an article of faith in the GOP, recalling the fools they made of themselves in the Franken-Coleman recount? Sure. So, in order to believe that Franken somehow stole the recount, you have to believe Franken pulled this off despite:
— An observer from each campaign watched each ballot being counted, with the right to challenge the decision on any ballots they wanted.
— The canvassing board, including Republican appointed judges, was unanimous on all decisions and all but a few votes.
— The entire proceedings was webstreamed live by The Uptake, so anyone who wanted could see each ballot.
— The election contest court, also webstreamed live, including Republican appointed judges, was unanimous in its decision, and found for Franken on all facts and rulings.
— The state Supreme Court, including Republican appointed judges, unanimously upheld the decision of the election contest court.
— The Coleman campaign, asked by the judges if they were alleging fraud, said “no” every time.
 
In that classic act of people in denial, in a press conference earlier this week, Severson cited a debunked study. He said Minnesota Majority found 6,000 illegal voters in the 2008 election. They actually sent county attorneys and election officials on thousands of wild goose chases. They found a few former felons who voted or merely registered without voting before their rights were restored, and election officials had already detected most of those. My understanding is even Minnesota Majority doesn’t stand by that report anymore. But conspiracy theorists, including the voter fraud variety, never give up the one bit of evidence they have no matter how false.
 
But if you can’t convince the fact-based world, then just shoot the people with Obama bumper stickers. From that same speech:
 

When we were coming in the streets were blocked up on 395, 394 whatever, and I’m thinking ‘what in the world is there an accident up there?’ And sure enough there’s cars blocked across, people are backed up for literally a mile on both sides, and I’m thinking ‘this is Barack Obama’. He’s here in our state tonight and he’s in, and I, and I think you know all those cars that have Obama stickers on the back oughta turn into targets at that point, you know?

 
Shoot Obama supporters, that’s funny, funnier than still calling himself “Doc”.
 
Oh, heck no, we’re not done yet. Click the “read more” link.
 
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And the Band Played On …

by Invenium Viam on October 16, 2014 · 1 comment

titanic_sinking“We are born naked, wet and hungry. Then things get worse.” Anonymous 

 

In her superb narrative history A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, Barbara Tuchman examines the startling parallels between our times and those of the late middle-ages. One of the subjects she examines was the effect of the Bubonic Plague on the social and economic structures of the times.

 

Ebola may very well constitute another parallel with that distant century in the making. Yesterday, President Obama cut short a fundraising trip and returned to Washington to meet with his cabinet to develop a response plan for dealing with the emerging Ebola “crisis.” He’ll be doing the same today and perhaps tomorrow as well.

 

What that tells me is that there’s a very good chance our top public health officials have advised the President that there’s a significant chance that Ebola may now have entered into the general population here in the US. Political leaders often know more than they tell us, for fear of affecting markets or causing political backlash. If that’s the case, then we now have a major emerging public health crisis on our hands that the President has taken immediate action with his cabinet to address, as he should. The World Health Organization predicts that the number of new cases of Ebola in Africa could top 10,000 a week within a couple of months. That pencils out to more than a half-million a year.

 

Let’s be clear about what all this means for us: Ebola has a fatality rate of more than 50%. If the virus gets into the general population here in the US — beyond the reach of the contact identification and isolation control measures now being employed — it could mean mass death measured by the millions in this country alone. Since our culture is one of extremely high mobility, outbreaks could occur simultaneously in large urban centers around the country and then filter rapidly into the rural areas.

 

In the 14th century, the Bubonic Plague had a similar mortality rate among the general population (actually approaching two-thirds). Tuchman points out that the wealthy fared far better than the urban poor, since they had the means to remove themselves and their servants to remote country estates where stocks of food, fuel and medicine were laid in and the outer grounds were patrolled by paid mercenaries to keep roaming beggars and bandits from the door.

 

Food prices soared as the breakdown of supply channels caused widespread shortages. Public security failed as the local gendarme’s abandoned their posts in the face of what appeared to be certain death. Roving criminal gangs and marauding bands of mercenaries pillaged, raped and burned at will unopposed by the power of government to enforce the laws. As the nobility fled the cities, the civil institutions failed and everywhere the social structures collapsed.

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McFadden Reveals ‘Contract with Minnesota’

by Invenium Viam on October 8, 2014 · 3 comments

Contract with Minnesota

Contract with Minnesota ~ Use with Caution

“Fate delights in revealing defects of character.” Matz’s First Metaphysical Insight

 

Taking a page from former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s ‘Contract with America’ from a-w-a-a-y back in the mid-1990’s, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike “Nutshot” McFadden today released his new ‘Contract with Minnesota’ initiative to wide acclaim from nobody stating that he would accomplish absolutely nothing of the least possible benefit to anyone.

 

First, McFadden boldly and forthrightly proposed that he would sponsor or co-sponsor legislation to amend the U.S. Constitution to require that the federal budget be balanced — a bill that would, with the certainty of tomorrow’s sunrise, die in committee. Still, it sounds like a big deal, right, amending the Constitution? Except that it requires passage by both Houses of Congress and ratification by two-thirds of the states. How, exactly, is a junior senator from Minnesota — who will have control of NO committees and will have NO chops whatsoever among the Big Dogs running the caucuses — supposed to pull THAT one off? Being Senator ain’t like being CEO, Mike: you don’t get to bark the orders and watch the little guys jump.

 

Next, McFadden said he would sponsor bills in support of building the proposed Keystone pipeline and other pipelines. Whoa, daddy, does this guy know how to senator! Newsflash for you, Mikey, there’s already plenty of support for the KeystoneXL pipeline and other pipelines from big-ass moneyed interests like Trans-Canada and Koch Industries. To those guys, you’d be more of an annoyance and unwanted background noise than anything like a real asset in that fight. On the other hand, there’s also plenty of opposition from Minnesotans who would rather not watch our planet burn up and see our groundwater contaminated for 1,000 years just so a bunch of soulless fat phukkers can live a little better between now and when they burn in hell a few years from now, thank you very much. So consider those Minnesota voters written out of your contract.

 

You could probably use those votes. Jus’ sayin’ …

 

Then, McFadden said he would support legislation to repeal the medical device tax and simplify the tax code. But there’s already been legislation to repeal the medical device tax, which hasn’t gotten anywhere, and there’s perennial legislation to simplify the tax code. So there’s no need for any newly-minted Senator McFadden to make any of that happen and there’s no need for a contract with Minnesotans to guarantee it. So strike that clause altogether.

 

McFadden also is promising to “post reasoning on his Senate website behind every vote he casts.” As opposed to what, genius, stating your reasons for the votes you take in newspaper and television interviews? Are you saying that you won’t be accessible to the mass media once elected — but you’ll deign to reveal to any devotees who visit your website your Special Powers of Thought? That’s damn big of you, whiteboy, but I don’t really know how it’s of any real benefit to me or any other Minnesotans.

 

What exactly are you trying to sell us with this contract, Mikey? Blue sky in July?

 

Finally, McFadden repeated a pledge not to seek a second term if he votes with “any president or party,” 97 percent of the time. Which means that he’s clear any contractual obligation by any margin less than 97% — like 95% or even 96% of the time. Of course, all that assumes that he’ll be awarded a first term by the voters, which is almost certainly not going to happen because the more the voters get to know this guy the less they seem to like him.

 

His new “Contract with Minnesota” will only serve to seal the deal.

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Bad pollsters active in Minnesota

by Dan Burns on September 30, 2014 · 5 comments

mndistrictsLast night I got a robocall poll from none other than Rasmussen Reports. I went ahead and did the whole thing. It was about the U.S. Senate and Governor races, which other polling has consistently shown to be pretty much locks, and quite possibly even double-digit wins, for Al Franken and Mark Dayton, respectively. The robo-voice asked whether I vote in every election (“yes”). Some questions later it spit out something like “Sometimes, something comes up that may prevent people from voting. Do you think there’s any chance that maybe you won’t vote on election day?” (That’s not an exact quote, I wasn’t recording it, but it’s the gist.) That may indicate that Rasmussen intends to apply a super-tight “likely voter” screen, in order to get numbers more favorable to Minnesota Republicans, which the latter, and corporate media, can then pimp as evidence of Mike McFadden and Jeff Johnson “surging.” Or, Rasmussen may correctly recognize those races as lost causes for the GOP, and tell it like it is, so they can claim to have been “accurate.” Either way, I suggest not taking seriously whatever they provide. The firm may be under new ownership, but it’s still Rasmussen.
 

If indeed the plan is to knowingly apply a too-tight voter screen in order to produce numbers more favorable to one side, that would be an example of “skewed polling.” Another way of doing that is to “prime the pump” with initial questions intended to produce a negative (or, rarely, positive) frame of mind about an officeholder, candidate, or policy, and then ask about whether one approves or disapproves. “Push polling” is when the intent isn’t really to do accurate polling at all, but rather to spread negatives about a candidate under the guise of an opinion survey. That appears to be what’s currently happening in MN-08 (Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) vs. Stewart Mills III); here’s a sample question I heard about someone getting over the phone: “ISIS terrorists beheaded innocent American journalists. Congressman Nolan voted NOT to fund the fight against ISIS and the threat of terrorism against Americans. Does that make you more or less likely to vote for Nolan if the election were held today?”
 
I don’t know if this is being directly done by the Mills campaign, or on its behalf. It’s not that common, as it can backfire, through being perceived as “dirty politics” engaged in by a desperate campaign. I’m not saying that’s definitely the case here. I have no way of knowing that, though I have my suspicions.
 

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McFadden benefits from allegedly involuntary donations

by Eric Ferguson on September 26, 2014 · 0 comments

Meet the New Boss ... Same as the Old Boss

Receiving involuntary donations: something else Romney and McFadden appear to have in common

Some of the more control-freakish and ideological employers push their employees to donate to the employer’s preferred candidates. They may stay on a legal line in terms of requiring employees to make donation as a condition of employment, but when the employer pushes for those donations to go through the employer, the message is pretty clear. One such employer is Murray Energy Corp., which is being sued by a former employee on the grounds she was fired for failing to donate to the specified candidates, including Mike McFadden.
 
Before going into details, just to be clear, I’m not accusing McFadden of knowing about this. The allegation is Murray’s CEO, Robert Murray, directed involuntary donations to his specified candidates, one of which is McFadden.
 
Specifically,
 

The allegation from Jean Cochenour, detailed in her suit and well-summarized by the Charleston Gazette’s Ken Ward Jr., is as follows: Cochenour worked at a mine in Marion County as a foreperson. While in that position, which is supervisorial, she received letters from Murray detailing candidates to which she should make donations. One letter, which she received after she’d already been fired, is included in the lawsuit. It ends like this [click the image to enlarge]:
 
Murray letter to employees

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MNGOP’s False Equivalence is Demeaning to Women

by Invenium Viam on August 27, 2014 · 0 comments

demeaning to women

Demeaning to women?

“God … God … why did you put so many a**holes in the world at the same time?” Major Santini, The Great Santini

 

The latest cornerstore hoo-hah to issue from the Hivemind of the Glifnards is that Senator Franken somehow demeaned women by briefly holding two traffic cones to his chest as if they were female breasts. This was in apparent response to DFL Chair Ken Martin’s call for congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn to apologize for his very real, repeated, caustic demeaning of women, minorities, and every other non-male, non-WASP group that happened to come to mind.

 

In a 12-second iPhone video, Franken appeared to be clowning for someone off-camera.

 

While it may be Humor Unbecoming of a Comedian of Franken’s stature as a local stand-up (of fond memory) and former comedy writer and skit-player for SNL — humor at about the same comedic level of sophistication as Mr. Whipple squeezing the Charmin — it hardly descends to the level of demeaning women.

 

That is, unless you think that breasts as reproductive organs are dirty and shameful and that that dirtyshamefulness somehow devolves upon their owners and therefore ought not be used for jokes. If that’s the case, it explains a lot, since pointing out that women have breasts and men don’t is almost as clever a revelation as pointing out that human beings like to have sex … noisy, clumsy, sweaty, messy, wet sex … which seems to be a continuing bugaboo for a good many conservative types who need to be in control, man.

 

Without stating what, exactly, is demeaning to women about Franken’s juvenile behavior, several Republican women in the Minnesota legislature — including State Senator Michelle Fischbach and Representatives Marion O’Neill, Joyce Peppin, Cindy Pugh and Peggy Scott — demanded an apology from Franken in a letter drafted by Party Boss Keith Downey to DFL Chair Ken Martin. “I am so offended,” avowed Representative O’Neill, who joined Downey at a news conference, “not only this, but his pattern of behavior to degrade women and to put women down. We are in 2014. I think it’s time to apologize and it’s time to move forward and it’s time to stop this terrible behavior.”

 

Sound genuine to you? Me neither. Putting the shoe on the other foot, if any of those women stuffed a cucumber down the front of their jeans and proceeded to dick-swagger bow-legged around the room like they had testicles the size of hen’s eggs suspended in their scrotal sac, would I feel demeaned? U-m-m-m-m-m …. Nope!  I’d just feel mildly amused …

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Mike McFadden

 

In his latest television ad, Mike “Nutshot” McFadden attempts to heap scorn on Senator Franken for “missing the mark.” It looks to me like yet more evidence that McFadden’s campaign is Not Ready for Prime Time.

 

The ad portrays a Franken look-a-like replete in suit and tie attempting to back the family boat into the water, failing repeatedly, knocking over garbage cans, while others are waiting impatiently and shaking their heads. The subtext reads contempt: Pity the Fool. Of course, Mighty Mike gets it on the first try. ‘Cuz he’s no fool.

 

Or.Is.He? If the ad’s intended audience is boat-owners, he may be on to something. Minnesota has more boat-owners per capita than any other state in the union. But to my knowledge boat-ownership has never been identified as a persuade-able voter demographic. Maybe I’m wrong …

 

No, I think he actually missed the mark himself. It appears that the ad is appealing to those viewers who dislike Coppertone®-tan Presidents, dislike Obamacare, dislike votes on higher taxes (never mind that the House GOP majority makes those votes moot), and dislike bespectacled Jews in suits trying to back boats.

 

If that’s the demographic he’s appealing to, I’ve got a newsflash for Team McFadden. Those guys are already voting your way. You’re wasting the old man’s money. Why not give the money to me and I’ll pass it on to a worthwhile charity — it’s better spent.

 

Also, I thought McFadden was supposed to be a smart business guy. The smartest move he could make right now would be to six his ad agency and find someone who knows what the hell they’re doing.

 

Mike, you need to widen your message, starting right now, and begin appealing to moderates, or your campaign is DOA on Election Day. Time is short: early voting begins in five weeks.

 

As the ad says, “Here in Min-ne-SO-ta, there’s a right way and a wrong way.” Looks to me like you picked the wrong way. Pity the fool.

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