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


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


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



MN-03: Long past time for a change

by Dan Burns on May 2, 2016 · 1 comment

bonoffAs you undoubtedly know by now, Minnesota state Sen. Terri Bonoff is Rep. Erik Paulsen’s opponent. You can help Terri out here. Paulsen’s minions are already running a pretty iffy attack campaign.


Electorally, Paulsen’s biggest weakness (of many) is in my estimation his lack of accomplishment on behalf of all but the extremely wealthy. But if pointing that out was enough to get rid of Republican House members in swing districts, they would all be long gone. What can do the job is turnout, and unusual circumstances – like a loudly and proudly bigoted, misogynistic lunatic at the top of the party’s ticket.
Presumably thanks in part to Paulsen’s only legislative “accomplishment” of note – a hiatus in the ACA medical device tax – 2016 is being termed the year of “merger mania” in that industry. When all is said and done this sort of thing tends to result in job losses. I haven’t found any evidence for that on a large scale, yet, though I didn’t exactly spend all day looking. We’ll find out.
Comment below fold.

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Workers Memorial Day

by Dan Burns on April 28, 2016 · 1 comment


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

More on the issue.

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

Comment below fold.

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Chain link fence with barbed wire and razor wire.It seems unlikely that much will get done this session, and I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. Hopefully in the 2017 and 2018 sessions there will be no need to “compromise” with right-wingers, on anything, really. But if I had to pick just one item that I really wish would happen right now, from the current agenda, it would be this.

A legislative tug-of-war is forming over forthcoming reductions to prison sentences for some major drug offenders, as a top Senate Democrat announced plans (in early March) to expand the changes that some Republicans have vowed to block.
Minnesota’s Sentencing Guidelines Commission slashed proposed sentences for most first- and second-degree drug possession convictions in an effort to move more in line with the rest of the nation and ease prison overcrowding. The changes take effect in August unless the Legislature vetoes them, which could give lawmakers a way to free up prison beds without a vote that could seem soft on crime in an election year.
But while county prosecutors have balked and some Republicans have opposed the changes, Democratic Sen. Ron Latz introduced a proposal (March 2) that would retroactively apply the lighter sentences to current inmates — not just new offenders. That sets the stage for the commission’s action to proceed unchanged, since both the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-majority Senate would need to reject the reductions to undo them.

Here, from a couple of weeks ago, is where things are at.


MN lege GOP loses its mind on taxes

by Dan Burns on April 24, 2016 · 0 comments

imagesqtbnANd9GcRhlLTHok0fDiQpsx_IVQRQg-lVMpygkf1rEyJsns1mZT-bzjRXEven with all that I’ve seen from Minnesota legislative Republicans, I’m not sure I would have taken seriously the idea that we would witness something like this.

A new House Republican tax bill that was heard today in the House Taxes Committee would raise billions in taxes on middle-class Minnesotans while giving huge tax breaks to the wealthiest Minnesotans. HF 3594, the so-called “Fair Tax,” which is authored by House Republican Property Tax Division Chair Steve Drazkowski, and co-authored by House Taxes Chair Greg Davids, would eliminate all income and corporate taxes on Minnesotans and businesses and replace the lost revenue with a massive expansion of the sales tax, potentially doubling the sales tax rate and expanding the sales tax to everything from food and clothing, to child care services and prescription drugs. House DFL Leader Paul Thissen said the proposal is a confirmation of Republican priorities that are putting corporate special interests ahead of ordinary Minnesotans.
“This Republican tax bill is a dream come true for millionaires, but it’s a nightmare for ordinary Minnesotans,” said House DFL Leader Paul Thissen. “We should be helping reduce prescription drug costs and child care costs, not increasing them! It is disturbing that with less than five weeks to go in the session the House Republican Tax Chairs are making it a priority to consider an extreme bill that would raise taxes on ordinary Minnesotans.”
(Paul Thissen legislative website)

From another article, not all GOPers are on board, and I suspect that at least a few are none-too-thrilled with the Draz right now. The model here is presumably Texas, which is one of seven states without a personal income tax and four without a corporate one. Texas badly lags Minnesota in quality-of-life indicators. But many conservatives are too foolish to make that connection, and/or just don’t care.

Stuff like this is another good argument for a partisan redistricting, in the more-likely-than-not event that the DFL controls both houses next year.


Minnesota legislative elections news 4/21/16

by Dan Burns on April 21, 2016 · 0 comments

Minnesota-State-CapitolThese updates are not meant to be comprehensive. Just some items of interest that I noticed.
Chilah Brown is DFL-endorsed in SD15, which is where I happen to live. On paper, this is a tough one, because the district is quite red. But with the very fair and pleasing prospects that may – may – be opening up for Democrats everywhere, if things keep going as they are, I don’t consider that anything in Minnesota should be judged out of reach. And in this particular case, it’s an open seat, and Lisa Fobbe showed in 2008 that a DFLer can win here.

John Huot is DFL-endorsed in HD57B, to take on Rep. Anna Wills (R-Apple Valley). Wills hasn‘t been in the news much, but you can see here that she‘s a typical GOP-bot. This is another of many races that will be influenced by the high interest in the MN-02 congressional race.

Ami Wazlawik is DFL-endorsed in HD38B. The incumbent is Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood).

Roger Johnson is DFL-endorsed in SD35. Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) is the incumbent.

“Here’s a list of 35 Minnesota Republicans who love North Carolina’s terrible new law.”


daudt walker

It’s pretty obvious that Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt’s (R-Crown) model, for his likely gubernatorial run in 2018, is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Both are taking their agendas straight out of the Koch/ALEC playbook.

At a Tea Party event in Champlin (in early April), Speaker Kurt Daudt was asked about the GOP transportation plan and he had this to say:
“And I’ll tell you what, our goal going into session last year, number one was tax relief, we wanted to give as much money back to tax payers as we could. And number two we wanted to do a small transportation funding package. One of our constitutionally defined core functions of state government is to fund our roads and bridge infrastructure, so to take some of that money and transfer it, [I’ll take the revenue in our plan and] three sources: sales tax on auto parts, rental cars and lease vehicles, and move that from the general fund into the road and bridge fund, which would have a couple of impacts. Number one, it would fund our roads and bridges, but number two it would start to starve out the general fund so we move revenue that’s currently going into the general fund, which is a really good thing.”
DFL Chairman Ken Martin released the following statement:
“It comes as no surprise that when Speaker Kurt Daudt thinks nobody was listening, he says what he and his legislative colleagues truly believe. Daudt and the legislative republicans never wanted to solve Minnesota’s transportation problems. They only want to ‘starve out the general fund’ and take money away from students, seniors, small cities, and other critical priorities.

Walker’s disastrous reign, abetted by a Tea Party legislature and judiciary, is described here and here.

Bear in mind that conservatives believe that what Walker and his allies have done to Wisconsin is a wonderful thing. The facts don’t matter in the slightest; that he’s putting “the liberals” in their places does. This is what we’ll be up against in 2018, and (barring Citizens United being overturned by a newly moderate SCOTUS) Daudt will have, in practical terms, infinite money.


Vile deformer scum target Minnesota teachers

by Dan Burns on April 18, 2016 · 0 comments

abandoned2Yeah, I rarely adorn my posts with titles like that. I’m generally more about just passing along information, and letting other people, who are better bloggers than me anyway, do the righteous hyperbole. But this one is worthy.

A group of parents backed by a national nonprofit say Minnesota’s teacher tenure laws perpetuate the state’s academic achievement gap between white students and students of color.
The group on Thursday filed a lawsuit that challenges Minnesota laws that make it more difficult to fire teachers once they’ve been employed for more than three years. The suit was filed in Ramsey County district court…
The state teachers’ union president Denise Specht said in a statement that the contested laws “protect teachers from discrimination and arbitrary punishment, including for speaking out about the learning conditions in their schools.”
Specht said the laws “explicitly do not protect ineffective teachers.”

I did a bunch of blogging recently about efforts to destroy public education, and replace it with rote-learning mills to be strip-mined for profit. In the longer term, the intent is also to take control of curricula, and imbue young people with the purported glories of continued plutocratic, warmongering rule. That’s the right wing’s only chance, really, in the longer term, because young voters certainly aren’t buying that odious, failed, corrupt, reactionary crap, now.


image courtesy of Imagine magazine
NOT an actual photo of
TN State Rep. Jeremy Durham

It has long been my contention that conservatives give lip service to the Constitution, but do not in practice support the content in that Constitution.


The continuing hypocritical efforts of conservatives, particularly those who are southern evangelicals, demonstrate equally a desperate desire to regulate the lives of others, demanding conformity to their own beliefs, while not themselves behaving consistently with those beliefs.  We have the interference in the lives of other people, while not managing one’s own very well, in the example of Tennessee’s own state representative Jeremy Durham, pervert for Jesus.


Evangelical Tennessee
State Rep Jeremy Durham Is ‘Banished’ From Capitol Complex After THIRTY
FOUR Women Accuse Him Of Inappropriate Sexual Behavior

Lawmakers in Tennessee have ‘banished’ a state representative by moving
his office at the state Capitol complex after more than three dozen
women have accused him of inappropriate behavior.
Rep. Jeremy Durham’s office is being moved to the ground floor of a
building across the street from the Capitol, House Speaker Beth Harwell
announced Thursday.
According to Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s memorandum to Harwell,
he is investigating Durham’s ‘pattern of conduct’ toward women after 34
current and former lawmakers, lobbyists, staffers and interns allege
that he made sexual comments, used his position to obtain personal
contact information from women, try to meet women alone, involve alcohol
in his interactions with women and inappropriate physical contact with
them while working at Legislative Plaza, CBS News reported.

I have to wonder if Jeremy Durham will have any office when the next election cycle comes around in Tennessee, not even one across the street.  But then again, by promoting the anti-LGBT bathroom harassment bill, he might get in good with those other pervy and ignorant conservative Evangelicals again.  They go in for a lot of forgiveness so long as one conforms and grovels sufficiently, as we have seen in the past.
The establishment clause of the Constitution requires no preferential treatment of religion. That is simple enough, yet conservatives tend as a group, over and over, to attempt to replace democracy with theocracy.



We see it in the mediocre legislators of Tennessee who are persisting in trying to give preferential treatment to the Bible.  Thurs. (April 14th) Gov. Haslam vetoed an attempt to make the Bible the official book of the frankly mediocre at best state of Tennessee.



But the conservative religious extremists in government are hell-bent on pushing this through anyway, and don’t give a tinker’s damn about the provisions of religious freedom in the Constitution.


From the Raw Story:

The lawmakers who sponsored the measure vowed to hold a vote that
would overrule Haslam’s veto. A simple majority in each legislative
chamber would overrule his decision.
“According to polling, 62 percent of all Tennesseans favor making the
Holy Bible the state book in order to recognize its significance from a
historical, economic and cultural standpoint,” the House sponsor,
Representative Jerry Sexton, said.
“Senator (Steve) Southerland and I are prepared to move forward with a veto override and we plan to do exactly that.”

Because Tennessee is, apparently, not dumb enough or second rate enough without that next step?  Seriously, this is a state legislature which has far more important and far more legitimate issues with which to properly concern itself than forcing their religion on people.


It made an interesting cab ride recently where my driver, whom we’ll call Tom, knowing I do research especially fact checking, asked me if it were true, as he had heard on right wing talk radio (an occupational hazard of cab driving apparently) that four out of the five first presidents had been either ordained as clergy or held a degree in religion of some kind, and therefore that was the reason we have “In God We Trust” on our money and “under God” in the pledge of allegiance.  And no, none of those first five presidents were particularly religious; in fact George Washington is on record as never having taken communion and rarely attended church, and the other four were Deists.


We have been stuck (for the moment) with “In God We Trust” and “under God” because President Eisenhower (I DO like Ike, as Republican presidents go) made a deal with a group in politics known as ‘the family’, the same bunch of people who started the National Prayer Breakfast.  They are the same group who tried to get the death penalty for being LGBT in Uganda with pseudo-science.  So, we have the family influence continuing in politics, pushing an extreme form of religion, after their early success; but we also got the Interstate Highway Program which dramatically contributed to our success post WW II.


I’d call that a barely fair tradeoff of good (the highway system) for evil (crackpot religious conservatism).



Palestinian Prisoners Day

by Dan Burns on April 17, 2016 · 0 comments

palestineIs today. From an email I got from End the Occupation (that’s where I got the image, too):

As Palestinians prepare to mark Prisoners’ Day on April 17, a day to be in solidarity with thousands of Palestinian political prisoners by demanding their freedom from Israeli jails, we are excited to announce the launch of a new website highlighting the various injustices perpetrated by G4S, the world’s largest private security company, in the United States, Palestine, and beyond. documents the various abuses of the company ranging from its complicity in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians to its transportation of undocumented immigrants in the United States, a service it brands as “The Bus No One Wants to Catch – The End of the Road for Illegal Immigrants.” It is co-hosted by groups working on a range of issues related to G4S such as prison divestment and immigrant rights including Dream Defenders, Enlace, Hands Up United, and Palestinian Youth Movement.