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Republican candidates attempting to get on to the debate stage

Let’s start with the schadenfreude just for a laugh. Or to show we know one word of German, whichever. The best part of the New Hampshire primary was watching Marco Rubio finish fifth after giving the most exuberant victory speech maybe ever, despite finishing third. He sounded like he was celebrating actually winning the presidency, not finishing third in one state. The first state, but just one state. From the dribbles of rumor from the Senate to the public, apparently he is spared the disdain of his Republican colleagues only by the noxious presence of Ted Cruz. Avoid Rubio and you might have to talk to Cruz, so…
 
Yet there’s another contender in the race for the “You’re celebrating THAT?” award. John Kasich, delighted at finishing a distant second to an insult comic, saying, “Maybe, just maybe, we are turning the page on a dark part of American politics because tonight, the light overcame the darkness of negative campaigns.” The “light” got 15% and the — well, I infer Kasich’s opponents are the “darkness” — got 85%. This is apparently a use of the word “overcame” I was previously unfamiliar with.
 
A phrase I hope goes away when the election is over is “the establishment”. What is the establishment? Does it give out membership cards? It seems the halls of power in DC are crawling with people bragging of how they defy the establishment and the establishment hates them. I would have guessed that when you’re a congressman or a governor or a billionaire or some such, you are the frikkin’ establishment. I’d like to dump “the establishment” into the trash bin of meaningless old buzzwords, but I’ll settle for an unwritten rule that no one says “the establishment” without saying who the hell they’re talking about.
 
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Kim Davis and same-sex marriage licenses update

by Dog Gone on February 12, 2016 · 0 comments

Earlier this week a court issued a decision that Kim Davis, Rowan County, Kentucky clerk, acted legitimately and legally in removing her name from marriage licenses, including those issued to same sex couples.

 
Kim Davis had attempted to thwart the legal decision of the Supreme Court by not issuing any same-sex marriage licenses.  Pending the progress of a law suit through the courts about her religious rights to deny same sex couples marriage licenses, she was ordered not to interfere with the issuance of such licenses by her office — and her office has moved forward, issuing marriage licenses, including to same sex couples.

 
What remains to be seen, to be decided by a federal court, is whether or not Kim Davis as the top elected official responsible for issuing marriage licenses may continue to refuse to do so while allowing subordinates in the office to issue such licenses.  The issue has never been important to anyone else as to whether or not her name was included on a form, and in point of fact, the state of Kentucky is in the process of removing individual county clerk names from such forms.

 
However, for the moment, it does appear that Kentucky state law DOES require that format of clerk identification.  The recent decision is based on an unproven assumption that those licenses without the name of a county clerk would be recognized as legal.

 
Davis’ term of office runs until 2019, if she chooses to complete her term, in the likely event that the federal courts rule against her having any right to force her religion on others in her official capacity.

 
One of the proposals for same sex marriage licenses in Kentucky would have two different forms of marriage license – a separate but equal kind of development that would likely be illegal due to disparate treatment of same sex couples.  This strikes me as one of the dumber so-called compromises for those who have difficulty adjusting to the 21st century extension of rights and freedom to those previously excluded from them.  In any case such a measure would not address the core issue, that Davis and those other bureaucratic officials seek to use their office to thwart or interfere with same sex marriage, and to impose their religious beliefs on others who do not share it, using their positions – elected or otherwise – to make their offices theocratic in nature, as in effectively creating an official state or local government level religion.

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Update:

From CNN by way of wlky.com:

(CNN) —David Fry — the final holdout in the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge’s headquarters in Harney County, Oregon — surrendered to authorities Thursday,…

From earlier Thurs, 2/11/2016:
All of the remaining four occupiers of the Malheur wildlife refuge in Oregon have either surrendered or agreed to surrender. The only apparent condition has been the escort of the lunatic occupiers by fellow extremist and right wing nut preacher Franklin Graham, (son of popular televangelist Billy Graham).

From Think Progress:

 

But in the end, the occupiers agreed to disarm and surrender
themselves in the morning so long as the right-wing Reverend Franklin
Graham, who spoke with one occupier by phone during the standoff, was on
hand to physically escort them off the refuge. It took more than an
hour from the first time that possibility was raised for the group to
agree to it, in part because they remained convinced that the FBI would
come in shooting overnight and in part because they said they would
never agree to go to prison or give up their guns.

[From his twitter feed:]

7h7 hours ago

Pray for all involved in the . On my way there now.

The occupiers will be in jail and will be giving up their guns, in spite of their whining and gnashing of teeth.  It beats getting shot, and appeals to their desire to be crazy over-the-top drama queens,  obsessed with factually inaccurate notions of civics and history.
As a bonus, the Feds arrested Cliven Bundy, father of two of the Oregon occupation leaders, notorious for his own governmental armed stand off back in 2014, in Nevada.
Courts will be busy, demonstrating that while justice moves slowly, it does move.  I am looking forward to a bit of that ‘grinding’ mentioned in numerous historic quotes:

“Millstones of Justice turn exceedingly slow, but grind exceedingly fine.”
~John Bannister Gibson (1780-1853), American jurist, Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
( a paraphrase of the ancient Greek, Euripides)

and

Justice, though moving slowly, seldom fails to overtake the wicked~Horace, Odes, (23 BC)

Now it is time to sit back, and watch the administration of justice occur; listen for the subtle grinding sounds.

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Trump is not the cause of the GOP’s problems—he’s the symptom.
ukprogressive.co.uk

 

 

A few more candidates have dropped out, Fiorina and Christie. The shelf of candidates on the right have been singularly shallow, none of them really have great depth, and all of them have serious “oppo” material that would be a detriment to their candidacies the same way the ‘47% are takers’ and his record of exporting jobs hurt Romney (and some, worse than what properly came out about Romney).

 

For example, it would not surprise me to find that Trump had shafted plenty of veterans and their families, like those former casino employees who lost their health care and retirement funds in the failure of his New Jersey casinos – contrasted with Trump exploiting veterans for political advantage with his fund raising stunt while dodging the Iowa debates.  Trump has no history of supporting veterans or of acting on veterans issues, which makes his recent actions at best specious and suspicious.  While I would regard anything coming from Pete Hegseth, failed Minnesota right wing nut candidate, now on the payroll of the Koch brothers as a political activist, the criticism that Trump has no new ideas for veterans, no past advocacy for veterans, and is not serious when it comes to his policies for veterans is pretty much on target.  And that is just one example of many possible oppo issues that could sink Trump in a general election with voters – including his low information supporters who don’t really know who he is, but are swayed by style / attitude, over substance.

 

I would argue that neither one has ever been a serious contender to be the presidential nominee for the GOP – and neither have the others who dropped out (left or right).  Candidates like Jindal and Perry never had a prayer of winning the nomination, in spite of all their prayer rallies. (Does anyone even remember Perry was briefly a candidate, ….or Jindal…. or Pataki?)

 

A few who still hang on, like Jim Gilmore, John Kasich, and Ben Carson have never really been serious contenders either, they just haven’t left yet. Gilmore, for example, got 0% of the New Hampshire primary vote and received 0% of the Iowa caucus vote as well.

 

I doubt that even most of the political savvy, the most extensively and encyclopedic informed follower of the 2016 election cycle, could readily identify Jim Gilmore without a caption identifying him, and that few more could readily identify Kasich without a label (myself included) among the candidate line ups.  Even Carson’s advisers and coaches find him to be a joke.  I expect that we will see Gilmore and Carson quit soon, with Kasich following their example after South Carolina.  I expect Jeb to hang on until April, maybe May. The Bush brand is so badly tarnished, and Jeb is so lacking in any ideas that were not already espoused and implemented by his brother Dubya, that regardless of how much money, or what aging family member Jeb drags out to be his proxy supporters, it is unlikely anything he could do would change the deep disaffection that the country holds for the Bush legacy.

 

Even though they won the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, respectively, I would further argue that neither Trump nor Cruz have a serious chance at being the GOP candidate either; the establishment still holds the real power, if less so than in the past.  And the establishment doesn’t like either one, and are, I expect, going to be successful, ultimately, in preventing them from running under the Grand Old Party imprimatur, with all that goes with the official party approval.

 

I can only surmise that the candidacies of the unlikely proceeded from some angle, some strategy, that participating as a candidate would in some way pay off afterwards, that it would add some degree of prestige or profit.  A few, like Kasich and Fiorina, appear to have been /appear to be running more for the second spot on the ticket of VP.

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Beating down the education deformers, Part 1

by Dan Burns on February 10, 2016 · 0 comments

education2The important thing about the Every Student Succeeds Act, the replacement for No Child Left Behind, is whether it will ultimately help or hinder the education deformers as they continue to pursue their loathsome ends. The fundamental long-term mission of vile greedheads is to turn schools everywhere into rote-drilling factories to be strip-mined for profit.
 

So, what about this bill?
 
One of the better, measured statements about ESSA comes from Monty Neil, the executive director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, an assessment watchdog that generally opposes using standardized tests to make high-stakes decisions about students, teachers, and schools.
 
Neil acknowledges the first reason to support the bill is akin to what doctors do when a patient approaches them with a splitting headache: Stop the pain. ESSA certainly does that because not passing it will mean NCLB and its associated waivers would “continue to wreak havoc for at least another several years,” to use Neil’s words.
 
According to Neil, ESSA balances its flaws – maintaining the federal enforcement on states to use a battery of standardized tests to measure outcomes – with its strengths: recognizing the rights of parents to opt their children out of tests in states that allow it…
 
And a significant improvement in ESSA Neil fails to mention is the elimination of federal government requirements to use standardized test scores to evaluate teachers, a favored requirement of NCLB waivers pushed by the Obama administration.
 
In sum, Neil judges the new legislation to be “a modest step forward.”
(Campaign for America’s Future)

(You should read that whole article, as well as anything else you see by Jeff Bryant, who is perhaps the best contemporary researcher/writer on this issue. I’m relying heavily on his work throughout this series.)
 
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vote2(Update: Bad night. Abeler and Anderson won.)
 

All progressives in these districts need to get out AND CRUSH THE WINGNUTS!!!!!
 
Senate District 35 includes Ramsey, Andover, and Anoka. The DFL candidate is Roger Johnson. He’s running against Jim Abeler (R) and Zachary Phelps (Legal Marijuana Now). This is a tough, red district and we need every vote. Frigid, crappy weather should hold down turnout and thereby ripen our upset chances.
 

House District 50B is in Bloomington. Our candidate is Andrew Carlson. I wrote about this one here.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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Because you can’t make up this stuff

by Dog Gone on February 8, 2016 · 0 comments

Donald Trump and the rest of the 2016 cast of clown candidates are all promoting some degree of Islamophobia, to gin up fear among their base in the hopes that will translate into votes.  I have routinely – and accurately – described conservative voters as poorly educated, and as being low information voters, and as being bigots.

 


Nothing makes that point more clearly than this sad commentary on the lack of geography and history knowledge among United States citizens  (from Public Policy Polling, December 2015):

 

…41% of his [Donald Trump] supporters would favor
bombing Agrabah to only 9% who are opposed to doing that. Agrabah is the
country from Aladdin. Overall 30% of Republican primary voters say they
support bombing it to 13% who are opposed.

Sadly, the Dems are better, but not by nearly enough of a margin to avoid shame.

 

We asked the same question
of Democrats, and 36% of them opposed bombing Agrabah to 19% in support.

I can only hope that in the context of polling questions, which often come at inconvenient times while respondents are multi-tasking, that there was some unfortunate confusion with a familiar sounding place name not registering correctly as fiction rather than fact.
To elaborate further on the poll which produced that sad bit of Islamophobia, from Public Policy Polling year-end:

 

-54% support Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, to only 25% who oppose it.
Among Trump’s own supporters there’s 82/5 support for it. Cruz voters
favor it as well, 57/25. Rubio voters are pretty evenly divided on it
with 39% in favor and 40% opposed, while Bush voters oppose it 21/37.
-46% support a national database of Muslims, to only 37% opposed.
Trump voters support this 66/15 but voters for the other top candidates
are more closely divided- Cruz’s (40/41) and Rubio’s (44/45) narrowly
oppose it while Bush’s (36/49) do by a wider spread.
-36% think thousands of Arabs in New Jersey cheered when the World
Trade Center collapsed to 35% who don’t think that happened. Supporters
of Trump (49/24) and Cruz (47/22) both pretty firmly think that occurred
while Bush (37/51) and Rubio (22/46) voters don’t think it did.
-Only 28% of GOP primary voters go so far as to think mosques in the
United States should be shut down to 47% opposed to that. Trump voters
are on an island on that issue- they support it 45/28 but backers of
Cruz (23/40) and especially Rubio (18/66) and Bush (14/68) are strongly
against it.
-Supporters of most of the major GOP candidates agree with the basic
premise that Islam should be legal in the United States- it’s 59/21 with
Cruz voters, 67/11 with Bush voters, and 77/10 with Rubio voters. Trump
supporters are off on their own on that one too though- just 33% think
Islam should be legal to 42% who think it should be illegal. Overall 53%
of primary voters think Islam should be allowed to just 26% who don’t
think it should be.

To put some of these findings about real modern day issues and Trump
voters in context, 41% of his voters think Japanese internment was a
good thing, to 37% who don’t.

While I expect Trump’s popularity to continue to decline overall, I sadly do not expect the insidious and deep rooted Islamophobia on the right to do so.

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The time has come for the big field of Republicans to go away, according to this recent info from the Huff Po:

 

A majority of likely Republican voters think that every candidate save Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), businessman Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson should drop out. (The survey was conducted in part before Paul and Santorum’s announcements, but finds ample support for the idea of them ending their respective campaigns.)

The other GOP candidates whom voters say they wouldn’t miss much include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.

Even Carson is teetering on the bubble — 43 percent say he should quit the race, compared to the 12 percent or fewer who say the same about Trump, Rubio or Cruz.

According to a poll by YouGov.com, this is what failure looks like:

 

But when asked who is most likely to win the primary overall, only 27% of Republicans cite Trump, down 30 points from a poll conducted just days before caucus night. 29% now expect Marco Rubio to be the nominee, following the Florida senator’s surprisingly strong finish in Iowa. Last week, only 9% thought Rubio was most likely to win. Expectations for Ted Cruz, at 24%, are slightly behind Cruz and Trump. No other candidate is higher than 2%.


 
I applaud Ben Carson for his polite skepticism regarding the apology from Ted Cruz, the one where he indicated he would wait to see what the actions of Cruz show about his sincerity.  The reality though is that Carson would likely come in third out of three among the candidates from Florida, Rubio, Bush and Carson. It is not clear that any one of those three could win Florida in a national election, with Florida being an important swing state essential to achieving the presidency.  Carson is an idiot savant, brilliant in his profession, but clearly prone to weird and wandering statements that indicate he lacks the broad, well-rounded education and background necessary for the presidency.  He is unpopular outside of the other crazy evangelical extremists like himself, and losing ground fast.
 
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Serious obstacles for PolyMet

by Dan Burns on February 5, 2016 · 0 comments

stoppolymetAnd I’m a little more confident, these days, that they won’t be overcome.
 

Paula Maccabee still holds out hope that the state and federal agencies whose permission is needed to open the door to copper–nickel mining in Minnesota will yet come to their senses — but just in case they don’t, she is prepared to sue.
 
As attorney for WaterLegacy…Maccabee submitted an 80–page comment to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), alleging violations of the federal Clean Water Act…
 
Now that the “Co–Lead Agencies” (PolyMet, the DNR, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the US Forest Service) have finalized their plans, PolyMet can begin applying for a multitude of federal, state, and local operational permits — and mining critics can begin sharpening their legal arguments to fight back.
 
Maccabee says the Final Environmental Impact Statement violates Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which governs the regulation of discharge into American waterways. “In their words, if you want to destroy the waters of the United States, there are specific requirements under the Clean Water Act.”
(Zenith City News)

But righteous people may not even have to go to court.
 

The announcement late last Wednesday that Glencore had agreed to loan PolyMet another $11 million to pay for an update to its definitive feasibility study, was greeted by some as a piece of good news — that suggests the giant Swiss-based commodities broker still sees potential in the company’s NorthMet copper-nickel mine despite the recent collapse in metals prices.
 
Yet the terms of the loan, and the likely results of the feasibility update, point to a project that’s teetering on life support. While PolyMet saw a bump in its stock price in November with the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement, investors have grown increasingly pessimistic ever since. As of this week, the company’s stock price had recovered slightly, to 89 cents, but is still down 20-percent since its post-FEIS peak. Savvy investors can’t be unaware that major copper mines around the world are being shuttered by companies like Glencore, Rio Tinto, and others, in a desperate attempt to stem the financial bleeding and the production oversupply that has cut copper prices in half from their peaks in the late 2000s.
 
The nickel market has been even more brutal, as prices for the metal have fallen by nearly 75 percent from the levels that PolyMet had assumed in its 2008 update of its feasibility study…
 

Even if an updated financial assessment shows a modest profit, it’s difficult to imagine the scenario under which the massively debt-laden Glencore opts to sink another $650 million into copper-nickel production it needs like a hole in the head.
(Timberjay)

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Rand Paul and Another Libertarian Fizzle

by SJGulitti on February 4, 2016 · 0 comments

If Rand Paul had ever had the juice behind his presidential bid that Donald Trump had and then failed to perform I’d label his departure from the 2016 race a flameout. However in this case, as in many libertarian efforts in the past, it’s really just another fizzle. An analysis of Rand Paul’s political fortunes shows that he has been consistently mired in single digit support levels or low double digits at best. This can be verified by an analysis of the data in RealClear Politics and PollingReport.com going back to the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign, referenced below.
 
Every time Americans become disillusioned or disenchanted with government, particularly the concept of “big” government, the country’s Libertarians seem to pop up like mushrooms after a spring rain touting their well worn, stock critique about how we currently govern ourselves. Every time this happens more than a few politicians suddenly voice support for Libertarian ideas, say that they are devotees of Ayn Rand or that they subscribe to the ideas of the Mises Institute with its the Austrian school of economics and libertarian political theory. Conservative media  grabs onto the new found enthusiasm for Libertarian ideas with headline stories or an interview of some small band of college Libertarians who, like Pope Urban the Second, proclaim that we are on the verge of a great crusade to free people from the serfdom of modern government, one which will take us back to the realm of the unencumbered “noble savage’ who is free to do as he pleases, the public be damned. And every time, as in the past, this passing flirtation with Libertarianism fades as the dynamics of the American political process plays itself out. What is noteworthy about this latest Libertarian fizzle is that even during a time of great turmoil in the American political life where so many are searching for something new or revolutionary, the ideas of our current Libertarian standard bearer have been trampled underfoot in the melee of the 2016 presidential contest, left to bleed out on the field of political battle and largely ignored.
 
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