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Rich Wright for Minnesota House 26B

by Dan Burns on August 20, 2014 · 0 comments

wrightThis is the first of many Minnesota House races that I’ll be noting, in the next couple of months. It’s a Republican-leaning district, but it’s of particular interest because it’s an open seat. And the thing is, if we DFLers can get a couple of unlikely wins wherever, we should hold the House, whatever happens in the handful of close, high-profile suburban races. In addition to the many practical benefits of that outcome, consider the blow to the morale of the state GOP. Sweet!
Here’s Wright’s website. He’s a lawyer who lives near Rochester. There is a righteous emphasis on education funding.

It’s an open seat because the incumbent, Mike Benson, determined to try his luck running for the U.S. Congress in MN-01. Fortune did not smile upon his efforts, but that’s irrelevant, now. His would-be replacement is Nels Pierson, who was Gil Gutknecht‘s campaign manager in 2006.

“The campaign itself is about jobs and the issues that relate to that,” (Pierson) said. “One of the big key components is the state’s budgets and how the Democrats this time around so heavily favored increasing taxes.”
He said he will emphasize how those tax increases can have “a direct impact on our local businesses and what that means for jobs in our area and really about the prosperity of our region,” he said.
(Rochester Post-Bulletin)

Yeah, things are looking pretty awful in Minnesota, in the wake of those brutal tax increases on the rich. It’s pretty obvious that Nels’s head is not in a reality-based setting. That’s not what we need making public policy.


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.


Shadow banking reaches new depths of excess

by Dan Burns on August 19, 2014 · 1 comment

explosionI’m passing along a couple of recent economics articles. I’m not convinced that another big bubble/crash is swelling right now, but I’m not convinced that it’s not, either.

Among those hot topics was the runaway shadow banking system, defined by Investopedia as “The financial intermediaries involved in facilitating the creation of credit across the global financial system, but whose members are not subject to regulatory oversight. The shadow banking system also refers to unregulated activities by regulated institutions.” Examples given include hedge funds, derivatives and credit default swaps…
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not rein in the growth of the shadow banking system, despite the 828-page Dodd-Frank Act. Instead, the derivatives pyramid has continued to explode under its watch, to a notional value now estimated to be as high as $2 quadrillion…
Worse, raising interest rates could implode the monster derivatives scheme. Michael Snyder observes that the biggest banks have written over $400 trillion in interest rate derivatives contracts, betting that interest rates will not shoot up. If they do, it will be the equivalent of an insurance company writing trillions of dollars in life insurance contracts and having all the insureds die at once. The banks would quickly become insolvent. And it will be our deposits that get confiscated to recapitalize them, under the new “bail in” scheme approved by Janet Yellen as one of the Fed’s more promising tools (called “resolution planning” in Fed-speak).


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Rep. Nolan opposes Enbridge Sandpiper route

by Dan Burns on August 18, 2014 · 0 comments

1098432_644541492223499_1490753966_nWith so much attention focused on the Keystone XL proposal, it can slip one’s mind that there are proposals from Big Filthy Fossil Fuels for pipelines everywhere.

Citing both environmental and economic concerns, Minnesota’s Eighth District Congressman Rick Nolan has expressed his opposition to the proposed route for the Enbridge Sandpiper pipeline.
In a letter to the Environmental Manager of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, who is evaluating the project’s application, Rep. Nolan spoke of his ongoing concerns, as well as those of local residents, regarding the proposed route’s threat to environmentally sensitive areas of Minnesota. The current route requires the pipeline to cut through vulnerable northern wetlands, porous sandy soil and water tables used for drinking water, and some of the clearest lakes in the state.
“There’s no compelling reason why the Sandpiper pipeline can’t be rerouted to avoid environmentally fragile areas,” said Nolan. “From my meetings and communication with agencies and local advocacy groups, it’s clear there are several alternative routes out there that would take the pipeline south of this region, and thereby prevent a devastating ecological disaster in the event of a pipeline spill.”
(Rep. Nolan press release)

Here’s an overview of the Sandpiper project. Opposition to the proposed route is in fact not a brand new phenomenon.


Racism can be defined as a belief or willingness to believe things about a group of people based entirely or in part on assumptions about ethnicity and culture, that you don’t believe or assume about other races or ethnicities of people (especially your own).


Bigotry can be defined as a belief or willingness to believe things about a group of people which 1. are factually false, and 2. are denigrating or derogatory or which you believe are inferior to your own identified group.


Conservatives routinely moan and groan that they are unfairly characterized as racists.


It’s not unfair.


A perfect example would be the abundance of right wingnut sources which are claiming police shooting victim Michael Brown is pictured in photos flashing gang signs, and is therefore a thug and gangster who deserved to be shot, because apparently extra-legal executions are ok if you’re a white cop, keeping America white and safe for white Americans.


The problem is that there is NO indication whatsoever that Michael Brown was ever a gang member, or a thug or a criminal. The ‘gang signs’ he is supposedly flashing are NOT identifiers of gang membership, but could more accurately described as rap music associated gestures, used by not only black teens but teens of all races and ethnicities. These gestures not only are NOT definitive indicators of gang membership, they are used in photos by arguably hundreds of thousands MORE people, ranging in age from elementary and middle school kids to adults over 30, who are NOT in gangs and never have been in gangs.


Similar claims were made with as little justification about Trayvon Martin.


Wonkette did a great peace on this, as did the BBC, regarding the social media movement #IfTheyGunnedMeDown.

From Wonkette:

Evil Stupid Dick Explains Why Michael Brown Deserved To Die
and from the same post,  a white couple of a similar age flashing ‘gang signs’ without anyone accusing them of gang membership:

and the Wonkette post went on to highlight photos claimed to show Michael Brown with a gun, that are not actually Michael Brown, circulated by right wingnut media, and concludes with this link to why those who jump to conclusions about gangs and black teens are racist – because white supremacists are NOT a good source on gang signs used by people of color:

Also worth noting: Charles Johnson points out that Hoft is quite happy to share information from unapologetic white supremacist sites — a photo claiming to decode the gang signs is a link from the nice KKK sympathizers at the Council of Conservative Citizens. Oh, but now we’ve gone and provided a link to the same site, so we’re probably just huge liberal hypocrites.

The Beeb is less snarky in tone, but makes the same points about so-called gang signs with a couple of apt photos by a criminal defense lawyer C.J. Lawrence, showing a photo of his college graduation with former Pres. Clinton, where he is giving a graduation speech, and a second photo from a Halloween party, looking mock-sinister:

benjamin photo


When you are too quick, with too little justification, to believe black teens deserve to be shot, when you are too quick, with too little justification, to believe black teens or other black men are gangsters, when you are too quick, with too little justification to swallow the propaganda lies of conservative sources — because you WANT to believe it — then you DESERVE to be called a racist, because you ARE a racist.


DirtyDenier$ Day 9: Congressman John Kline

by afrank on August 15, 2014 · 2 comments

John Kline

Today’s featured Dirty Denier is Rep. John Kline from Minnesota. While his denialism is more mild-mannered than the brash, outspoken style of some of his #DirtyDenier$ compatriots, it’s no less dangerous.
After more than a decade in Congress, Kline has racked up an appalling 4 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters. In the previous two years (2013 and 2012), Kline voted in favor of the environment just once. At every possible opportunity, he has voted against clean energy investment and against action to address climate change. He has also supported the dirty energy agenda by trying to roll back bedrock environmental laws like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
Kline’s opposition to action on climate change is particularly disappointing. Kline has been pretty silent about the causes of climate change or the costs of inaction. He doesn’t talk about the way Minnesota’s anglers and lakes will be affected by climate change. He doesn’t talk about the way homeowners’ insurance premiums are already rising in the face of more extreme weather.
Who might be happy with Kline’s votes and his silence? Well, take a look at the list of his top campaign contributors. Two of his top five are Boich Companies and Murray Energy, both coal mining companies. They are certainly thankful that Kline voted to allow both existing and new coal fired power plants to continue emitting unlimited amounts of climate-changing carbon pollution.
Kline can no longer hide behind his silence on climate change. Kline’s record speaks for itself and there’s no denying that he’s a Dirty Denier.
Our Advice: Climate change is a serious challenge and your country needs your voice and your vote, Rep. Kline. It’s time to start speaking the truth and helping your constituents in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.


MN-07: GOPer Westrom’s Romney moment

by Dan Burns on August 15, 2014 · 2 comments

imagesCAAWKF7LOK, I’m not going to claim that I’ve ever been exactly what you’d call “on fire” for Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN). But, better a conservative Democrat than a right-wing Republican. Torrey Westrom is the Republican running for Peterson’s seat.

The defining gaffe of the 2012 presidential race came when Mitt Romney was recorded saying, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what… These are people who pay no income tax.”
…Turns out that more than two months before Romney made that infamous comment, Torrey Westrom, a Republican Minnesota state senator representing a west-central part of the state, made essentially the same comment during a town hall meeting, only he didn’t single out income taxes as Romney did.
(City Pages)

Westrom’s fundraising has been solid but certainly not mind-blowing, and I’ve thought all along that MN-07 is only getting national attention as purportedly competitive because there are so few House races that even loosely fit that description, this cycle. I think MN-07 will fade from the national radar, between now and Election Day. If it turns out that I’m wrong, I’ll say so.


Johnson, Otto, and primary thoughts

by Eric Ferguson on August 15, 2014 · 2 comments

Fresh off his win in the MNGOP gubernatorial primary, Hennepin County commissioner Jeff Johnson has already released his first campaign video:

Oops, that was Eddie Murphy from “The Distinguished Gentleman”. Sorry, didn’t mean to compare Jeff Johnson to Eddie Murphy. That’s unfair. After all, Murphy is funny on purpose.

Here’s Johnson being funny, presumably not on purpose:


McFadden Mittromneys a Highway Fund Increase

by Invenium Viam on August 14, 2014 · 1 comment

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

Meet the New Boss … Same as the Old Boss

Want more evidence that Mike “Nutshot” McFadden’s campaign is Not Ready For Prime Time?


Just ask him what his position is on raising the federal gas tax to replenish the Federal Highway Trust Fund.


The last time that fund saw an increase, the price of a gallon of gas was $1.10. When initially asked whether he supported an increase in the fund, which hasn’t seen a new capital injection in twenty years — he answered in the affirmative. Minutes later, he changed his mind and answered in the negative.


Questioned by a local reporter, McFadden at first said he would support a higher gasoline tax if revenues were cut somewhere else.


Per the Strib:


He took another question on a different topic and left with a pair of campaign staffers. Seconds later he reappeared and addressed reporters again.


“I just want to reiterate that I will not support raising the gas tax,” McFadden said. A reporter then said, “I’m sorry, I thought you said you would as long as there was a corresponding decrease …”


“No, I won’t,” McFadden interjected.


The reporter then said, “No support? So how would you …”


A McFadden staffer jumped in and said, “We gotta go.”


Later in the day, McFadden called reporters and said he wanted to clarify his position.


“What I didn’t want to do is support an increase in the gas tax because I don’t think that’s the right long-term solution,” he said.


Although he wasn’t specific, McFadden reiterated that overhauling the federal tax codes could free up money for transportation projects.


Yup, he’s looking more and more like the Mitt Romney Clone he got labeled early on.

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MN-08: Mills wrong about unemployment up north

by Dan Burns on August 14, 2014 · 1 comment

millspartying2The other week I posted about how the GOP candidate for Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) job, Mike McFadden, had been babbling very inaccurate numbers about unemployment in northern Minnesota. At the end I typed:

The Republican congressional candidate in MN-08, Stewart Mills III, has also talked a lot about joblessness in northern Minnesota, purportedly as a result of Democratic policies – including, presumably, insufficient tax cut welfare for very wealthy people like himself. But it seems that for once he’s shown a bit of sense, if only inadvertently, and has not spouted specific figures that can be factually refuted.

Mills has in fact made at least one specific allegation about this issue. And it too was an exaggeration.

Mills is the vice president of Mills Fleet Farm Corporation, and he made a campaign stop in Duluth on (June 2). He called out Nolan on unemployment in the 8th district.
“We have an 8 percent unemployment rate currently. Contrast that with a 4.5 percent unemployment rate statewide. We know we can do better,” Mills said.

It’s not that hard to get this stuff right. A quick search, a click or two, and:

As of June, 2014, the unemployment rate in this area was 5.8%; compared to the state where the rate was 4.6%. One year earlier, the rate in the area was 6.5%; compared to the state where it was 5.2%.
(My District Data)

8% is about 38% in excess of the correct figure. The national number in June was 6.1%. In context, this is far from Stewart III’s most craptacular display of blundering idiocy, but it’s certainly part of a relentless pattern. Nobody this clueless and careless should be handed political power, at any level.

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