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millspartying2All three certainly have a great deal in common. A few of the basics:
 
- Each owes it all to vast helpings of unearned privilege.
 
- They are not precisely thick-witted, but certainly by no means of outstanding intelligence in any meaningful sense of that phrase. And, psychologically, each appears to be a delusional narcissist, which means they can be readily manipulated by anyone who properly strokes their egos.
 
- It would be, or would have been, much better if all three, and everyone like them, stayed out of politics, past, present, and future.
 
You know, it’s a tough, tough call, and I’m not sure that there’s any point to a drawn-out parsing of the minutiae. I do know that if Mills wins this race, he will almost certainly display future ambition far beyond being a low-seniority member of the U.S. House. That seems ridiculous, but, like I said, “delusional.” It would be best if voters firmly put an end to that, in 47 days.
 
That being said, my general sense is that Mills is more like George W. Bush than he is like Mitt Romney. W., more so than Mitt, always seemed genuinely flabbergasted at any indication that the whole world doesn’t worship him as much as he does himself. Stewart III comes across that way, too.
 

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Rebecca Otto’s opponent implodes

by Eric Ferguson on September 18, 2014 · 0 comments

sad elephantState Auditor Rebecca Otto might as well be allowed to pick her opponents. Wouldn’t get much of a different result. Her primary opponent ran a well-funded lousy campaign, but I thought she might have been the one statewide DFLer to draw a serious opponent. Randy Gilbert is a professional auditor and a small town mayor, so he actually has a relevant resume for the job. The other Republicans are pretty much running just on “vote for me because I’m extremely rich” or “vote for me because I’m extremely conservative”, maybe spiced with shouts of “Obamacare!” and “voter fraud!”. So I wondered, after he was nominated, if Gilbert might be the Republican with the best chance. Then a week ago, Dan.Burns posted:

Whatever this turns out to be, this isn’t the highest-profile race on the ballot. But veteran politics-watchers know what kind of spillover effect, fair or not, these kinds of episodes can have, not long before Election Day.

It’s now less vague, maybe as bad as feared. KSTP reported they have suggestive emails, and sources speaking of turmoil inside the MNGOP. Since I’ve criticized KSTP before and I’m about to do so again, I’ll give credit where due: KSTP did go after a story that’s bad for their owner’s preferred party. The emails are substantive. They seem to show not just that Gilbert carried on an affair with a local realtor, but that their assignations happened in the houses she was selling. Well, that’s a unique form of trespassing.
 
Maybe not unique, but certainly bad for a candidate, is Gilbert’s decision to avoid the press and not answer questions. KSTP said he wouldn’t respond to them. I looked on his campaign web site, and as of this moment, there’s nothing about it. There’s “news” from last June about DFLers being divided, and something from 9/11 attacking Otto for being anti-mining. Nothing in between or since.
 
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isil-300x162‘There are roads which must not be followed,
armies which must not be attacked,
towns which must not be besieged,
positions which must not be contested,
commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.’
Sun Tzu ~ On the Art of War

 

‘Don’t do anything stupid.’
President Barack Obama

 

War hysteria is a fascinating and horrifying thing to watch. I’ve seen it several times now in my life and it is always beyond ugly, like watching scorpions mate.

 

Aside from the verminous lies that tumble over each other like a swarm of filthy rats to electrify public opinion with fear and frenzy, our national leaders — grown men and women whose strength of character and deliberative judgment we rely on — daily prove susceptible themselves to the most transparent mendacity and appear spineless in the face of true moral challenge.

 

Until a few short months ago, the American public had never heard of ISIL and didn’t know a thing about them, even though ISIL has been fighting an insurgency in Syria against the Assad regime for years, and for years it has committed unspeakable atrocities against the Syrian people. The brutal murders of two American journalists notwithstanding, why now the sudden sense of urgency and demand for action in the public discourse and among our leadership?

 

The answer lies in war hysteria.

 

As the New York Times put it:

 

“… as President Obama prepares to send the United States on what could be a years-long military campaign against the militant group, American intelligence agencies have concluded that it poses no immediate threat to the United States. Some officials and terrorism experts believe that the actual danger posed by ISIS has been distorted in hours of television punditry and alarmist statements by politicians, and that there has been little substantive public debate about the unintended consequences of expanding American military action in the Middle East.”

 

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Jon Pieper for Minnesota House 28B

by Dan Burns on September 17, 2014 · 0 comments

pieperThis is that rare district that is rated “even.” But Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston) has been winning it for quite some time (11 terms, all told, if I‘m not mistaken. He‘s missed one since he first started, barely losing in 2006, I believe). Perhaps demographic drift, and the general disdain for Republicans that is clearly evident in other contexts, here in Minnesota, can make this our year.

 

As a child, I was given great opportunities. I had a great public education which gave me the opportunity to decide my future, to choose my life. I chose a quality life. I came home. I wanted my children to have the same opportunities as I did, to live in a healthy and safe community. There is no more important responsibility than to preserve the quality of life for our children and grandchildren…
 
After extensive rehabbing, we opened The Old Village Hall Restaurant (in Lanesboro, MN) in 1994. Since opening the restaurant, my property taxes have more than quadrupled. My opponent must not think this is real money for ordinary people. He has consistently voted to hurt our main streets, our friends and our neighbors. He has consistently voted to raise our property taxes. So much has changed in the last twenty years, but my opponent has not.
(Jon Pieper for House 28B)

Unlike many of these sorts of races that I’ve been blogging about, there is no shortage of noteworthy media items about the incumbent. This, from 2011, is typical. (The link no longer works, so I’m blockquoting from a blockquote – you‘ll see what I mean):
 

When Rep. Greg Davids was in Willmar Tuesday night to explain the new tax bill to local government officials, he said the elimination of the market value homestead credit was proposed by Gov. Mark Dayton during special session negotiations in July.
 
Davids, a Republican from Preston, is chairman of the House Tax Committee, and reiterated that statement in a telephone interview Thursday morning…
 
Katharine Tinucci, Dayton’s press secretary, called the Tribune to say that Dayton did not propose eliminating the homestead credits and that the proposal came from Republican lawmakers. She said the governor reluctantly agreed to proposal the as part of a compromise to end the state shutdown.
(Bluestem Prairie)

Just to be clear, Tinucci was correct, and voters held Republicans accountable in 2012.
 

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Reasoned, learned discussion of the MNsure news

by Dan Burns on September 17, 2014 · 0 comments

I’m quoting this via Minnesota Brown. Jennifer Schultz is the DFL candidate for Minnesota House District 7A (Duluth); she’s probably at least a 99% favorite to win. She’s also an economics professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth. There’s no way to blockquote this effectively. I’m just lifting some tidbits, but it’s all useful for, among other things, figuratively wiping the smug smirks from the mugs of obnoxious, gloating – and most of all, desperate – righties.
 

“The Affordable Care Act and MNsure are programs based on market capitalism,” said Schultz. “The program was developed twenty years ago by the very conservative Heritage Foundation. In market capitalism, we expect that some players will find difficulty in competing and make mistakes. We expect the market to weed them out.
 
“Of the more than 327,000 Minnesotans who are insured through MNsure, only 10% are insured through PreferredOne. These customers do not need to be alarmed by this development.
 
“It is especially important to note that no customers will be uninsured as a result of this change…”
 
“The most likely reason for PreferredOne leaving the program is that its clients, obviously enrolled because PreferredOne was the lowest cost insurer, are the most price sensitive, and if PreferredOne found itself unable to match prices of other insurers in the exchange, they probably stood to lose a large part of their market share.
 
“I am surprised that people are surprised by this development. That shows lack of understanding of how markets work. I am very suspicious that most of the excitement we are seeing is pure opportunism on the part of political partisans hoping to gain an advantage by acting like this is a crisis.”
(Minnesota Brown)

Try as they might, Minnesota’s corporate media outlets have obviously been unable to make MNsure a political liability for DFLers. That’s another thing that won’t change.
 

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Bill Maher, John Kline, Mike Obermueller and student debt

by Eric Ferguson on September 16, 2014 · 1 comment

As interesting as it is that Bill Maher picked one of our congressmen, Rep. John Kline, CD2, for his #FlipADistrict contest, the reasoning is interesting. He explained it on his Sept. 12 Real Time with Bill Maher. The bit I refer to starts around 2:40, where Maher said the issue of student debt inspired most of the votes for Kline, and then he tore into Kline’s record:
 

 
Student debt is a huge issue for young adults. If Democrats want young adults to vote, something they’re less inclined to do than older age groups in any sort of election, then we can only help our cause by addressing their biggest issue. Judging from Holly’s post yesterday, Kline’s opponent, Mike Obermueller, has already taken that advice. However, this doesn’t apply just to Democrats running specifically against the representative sometimes described as “Rep. John Kline, (R – for-profit education industry)” (and with pretty good reason). It applies to all Democrats, obviously more so those with more more young adults, but are there any Democrats with no young adults whose likelihood of turning out is concerning? GOP outreach has been a joke, if it’s been there, even though I gave the GOP some friendly advice. I don’t normally care to help the opposition, preferring to let them continue when making mistakes, but I told them to reach young voters on student debt in hopes of making some progress on the issue. Partisan opportunity is just the consolation prize. For now, looks like a consolation prize will have to be enough. However, that consolation prize is just an opportunity, not a win.
 
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minerunoffAnd it really is “mostly.“ I would have to say that the public, the informed part of it anyway, has weighed in. Could well be time for some politicians to reassess.
 

In all, 52,887 people and organizations took time to submit comments on the proposal, which broke the previous state record for comments by nearly 50,000. An analysis of all of the submitted comments conducted by Mining Truth, found that 51,970 (98.2 percent) of the comments raised concerns about the proposal as currently written. There were 883 (1.6 percent) comments supporting the project, and another 84 (0.2 percent) where the author’s position was not clear…
 
“The intensity of the opposition to this project is testament to the fact that the mining companies still have some fairly big information gaps in their proposal,” said Paul Danicic, Executive Director of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. “Since we don’t know how long polluted water from the site will need to be treated once the mine closes, it is clear that there is growing opposition to the idea of Minnesotans shouldering all the long-term financial and environmental risks while foreign mining corporations rake in all the profits.”
(Mining Truth)

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Susan Witt for Minnesota House 37B

by Dan Burns on September 16, 2014 · 0 comments

wittI also plucked this one from a “most vulnerable Republicans” list. I see nothing but progressive potential in the north metro, though I recognize there is a way to go, yet. Seat by seat, just a matter of time.
 
Susan Witt is a retired teacher. I’m quoting from her website, and here’s her Facebook page.
 

I thought that I should read the Minnesota Constitution so when I took the oath of office to support the constitution I knew what I was affirming. The first article, first section states “Government is instituted for the security, benefit and protection of the people, in whom all political power is inherent.” Paul Wellstone once stated, “Politics is not about power and money games, politics can be about the improvement of people’s lives.” Indeed, this is how our Constitution begins and should be the words that guide our actions. The issues that are brought before the legislature are issues that are about people’s lives.
(Susan Witt for Minnesota House)

From a north metro DFLer:
 

There’s a 6th District doorknocking caravan getting underway for various candidates the next four weeks, and Susan happens to be scheduled this Thursday from 4-7. It organizes from Subway – Blaine – 108th Ln NE & Radisson Road.

One indication of how Minnesota Republicans have been flailing, is how some of their legislators have been getting into leadership despite little time served. Rep. Tim Sanders (R-Blaine) was elected in 2008, yet is already Minority Whip. A thankless job, perhaps, and district voters might well be doing him a favor by sending him on his way. They certainly would be helping out everybody else.
 

During his three terms in office, Tim has been recognized as a steady voice for fiscal responsibility and free market opportunity. He is a strong advocate for spending and tax restraint, pro-job growth initiatives, and government reform.
(Sanders website)

In other words, more handouts for the rich, and cutting government services for everyone who’s not. It all worked so well during the Pawlenty era.
 

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klinewinsRep. John Kline (R-MN) has rated low in his district, and now he rates low in the national eye. HBO Real Timers’ Bill Maher picked Kline as the worst of the worst.  Maher said, as he announced Kline’s win on the #flipadistrict chart, “He’s one of those silent threats you never see coming…Ebola…ISIS…John Kline…He embodies the sellouts that keep this town running.”  I agree, Maher. And yes, let’s win one for the Flipper (if you don’t know what that references, look up win one for the Gipper).
 
Kline penned the bill to increase student loan interest rates resulting in the government profiting billions off of students and some of his biggest donors are for-profit schools with questionable records.  Kline and his opponent Mike Obermueller were recently invited by the national organization Student Debt Crisis to participate in a virtual town hall on the student debt crisis.  Kline neglected to answer the organization, but Obermueller responded to the questions. Here’s Mike Obermueller on  refinancing, government making money off of student loans, and for-profit schools with questionable records.
 

 
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MN-08: A little cheese with that whine, Stewart?

by Dan Burns on September 15, 2014 · 1 comment

This ad was uploaded to YouTube some days before the “Steve” ad that has backfired badly. So it’s not surprising that this is the one that seemed to be blanketing the airwaves Friday night. I watch little television, but I was tired and idly flipping channels, then.
 


 
Some of you may recall the final reelection campaign, in 2000, of the late U.S. Sen. Rod Grams (R-MN). At one point, he aired an ad with his own mother waxing indignant about the attack ads aired on behalf of his opponent; “Stop picking on my boy!” or some such thing. (I couldn’t find a video.) Grams lost. To Mark Dayton, in fact.
 
Mills’s campaign has been a consistently ridiculous clown show. There’s no reason to believe that any time of his spent in Congress would be a damn bit different.

 
This great, must-read item from Developers Are Crabgrass notes that:

 
- Mills does indeed explicitly support additional federal tax cut welfare for himself;
 
- He is far, far more wealthy than is generally realized;
 
- He also has a gig as a vice president of something called “Crow Wing Oil Company,” which “appears to be a shell for commodity speculative trading adventure.” (It’s not a big company, but it doesn’t have to be. They quite possibly do mostly just buy, transport, and sell fuel oil. But in this day and age, when a candidate for high-profile elective office discloses any financial interest in Big Filthy Fossil Fuels, people will raise questions. As they should.)
 

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