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Worth viewing as we near the inauguration date

by Dog Gone on January 18, 2017 · 0 comments

I find this particularly informative as now apparently Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer has given his approval to those senators who wish to exercise their conscience boycotting the inauguration. This does appear to be unprecedented, since Lincoln’s inaugural.
 
This is not about petty politics, these are actions in response to unprecedented, unpresidential issues that relate to probable treason.
 


 

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minnesota_state_capitolThe assertions in the article are backed with ample quantities of data.
 

This year, (Minnesota Senate) Republicans get to appoint whomever they want to these committees. Fairness, tradition, the will of the electorate, and clearly established Senate Rules (see section 10.1) demand that Republicans do not simply screw Democrats on this.
 
Whatever party proportions are overall, that’s what committees are supposed to look like too. Which means that most should be about half and half, with a teensy advantage to the GOP.
 
But this session, Republicans are doing away with all pretense of bipartisanship. They’ve stacked the committees with so many of their own guys, Democrats will be totally powerless to object to any bills they want to ram through.
(City Pages)

This is actually just a small, but significant, example of the sort of thing that’s been going on all over this country, at all levels of power, for a while now. One of the clear lessons of history is that when those who’ve been provided tremendous wealth and power feel it threatened, they will, often via their political toadies, resort to ever-worsening excesses to try to hold on. Voter suppression, right-wing judicial overreach, and the use of Republican-owned “news” media as an all-but-explicit propaganda tool are just three of the most flagrant current examples. And it’s all really brought us to a wonderful place, now, hasn’t it?
 

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References to unicorn droppings seems to be a frequent euphemism for unrealistic expectations or ludicrous political promises in the UK. I have become a big fan of the phrase while reading comments at the BBC web site on a range of topics, including in particular Brexit promises from the right relating to funding the UK National Health Services.

 

(An aside, gentle readers; be prepared for the unexpected should you choose to google the term Unicorn Poop.)

 

Similarly we might as well get out the shovels for the unicorn poop when it comes to Donald Rump and his promises of health care and health insurance for everyone, better and cheaper and serving more people than what was provided under the ACA aka Obamacare.

 

A recent poll from the Pew Research Fact Tank shows that a sharply increasing number of Americans, including the Conned-servatives who vote Republican, NOW believe that the federal government should ensure Health Care Coverage! As with the change in public opinion, which the right tends to consistently lag, this reflects a similarly dramatic change which in some respects parallels the shift in public opinion relating to the LGBT community and how they should be treated fairly. In that regard the shift is both unexpectedly rapid, and likely to be reflected in demands for legislative changes. This is a dramatic change that the political right would be wise to follow; however they appear hell bent on the opposite. That doesn’t bode well.

 

More Americans say government should ensure health care coverage
As the debate continues over repeal of the Affordable Care Act and what might replace it, a growing share of Americans believe that the federal government has a responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
Currently, 60% of Americans say the government should be responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans, compared with 38% who say this should not be the government’s responsibility.
Just as there are wide differences between Republicans and Democrats about the 2010 health care law, the survey also finds partisan differences in views on whether it’s the government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage. More than eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (85%) say the federal government should be responsible for health care coverage, compared with just 32% of Republicans and Republican leaners.
…The survey also finds continued differences on this question by race and ethnicity as well as income. A large majority of blacks and Hispanics (85% and 84%, respectively) say the government should be responsible for coverage, while non-Hispanic whites are split on the issue (49% agree, 49% disagree). And while about three-quarters of those with family incomes of less than $30,000 per year (74%) say the government should ensure coverage, only about half (53%) of those with incomes of $75,000 or higher say the same.
Currently, 52% of Republicans with family incomes below $30,000 say the federal government has a responsibility to ensure health coverage for all, up from just 31% last year. There also has been a 20-percentage-point increase among Republicans with incomes of $30,000-$74,999 (34% now, 14% last year). But there has been no significant change among those with incomes of $75,000 or more (18% now, 16% then).
Those who think government should ensure health coverage for all are divided on a follow-up question about whether health insurance should be provided through a mix of private insurance companies and the government (29% of the overall public), or if the government alone should provide insurance (28% of the public).
…Most of those on the other side of the issue – people who say the government does not have a responsibility to ensure health coverage – say on a subsequent question that the government should continue Medicare and Medicaid (32% of the overall public), while just 5% of the public says the government should have no role in health care.
Among Republicans and Republican leaners, most of whom (67%) say the government does not have a responsibility for ensuring health coverage, there is very little support for the government not being involved in health care at all. Just 10% of Republicans favor no government involvement, while 56% say it should continue Medicare and Medicaid.
While Republicans in Congress have already taken the first steps toward repealing the ACA, Americans remain largely divided on what Congress should do with the health care law. Overall, in a Pew Research Center survey in December, 39% said it should be repealed, while an equal share (39%) said the law should be expanded. Just 15% of Americans said the law should be left as is. Although the public is divided on the future of the law, there is bipartisan support for a number of ACA provisions.

…READ MORE

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MN-02: MiniTrump starts off as expected

by Dan Burns on January 17, 2017 · 0 comments

lewisMy fingers burn with disgust as I type “Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN).”
 

During his successful congressional campaign to represent Minnesota‘s Second District, Jason Lewis said just because you are in the same party you don’t work in lockstep — adding that he would be someone who is principled over party — in contrast to his opponent, Angie Craig, who he said would be a rubber stamp for Hillary Clinton…
 
Representative Lewis did not object to the work schedule or to increasing reporting of contributions to Presidential Libraries … but he did object to the federal government ( the Executive Branch) establishing rules that address the amount of lead in public drinking water…
 
“Representative” Lewis also sponsored his first bill … H.R. 184 repealing the medical device excise tax…
 
For his first week on the job, “Representative” Lewis has proven to be a great friend to the Washington Establishment … something that has become quickly evident — who Jason Lewis “represents.”
(MN Political Roundtable)

More from the same place, here.
 

This is certainly not unexpected. Lewis’s pretensions to providing any kind of constituent-focused, self-determined voting record were ridiculous all along. Sadly, that’s a big part of why authoritarian right-wingers get out and vote for the likes of him.
 

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Image result for John Lewis
A young John Lewis, from the days of Jim Crow,
arrested 41 times for his non-violent civil rights protests

Back in the late 1950s and through the 1960’s John Lewis fought for civil rights.  He was a non-violent protester who was severely injured during peaceful protests.

 

As a result of those peaceful protests, civil rights legislation was passed, and became law with the signature of then-president Lyndon Johnson.  Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the conservatives have worked tirelessly to bring back Jim Crow and to undo the provisions that guaranteed voting rights.

 

This is the shame, the stain, on conservatives and on our history that we let them get away with doing it.  No one understands that better than now-Congressman John Lewis.  Throughout the south, and in places other than the deep south which have Republicans in control of state legislatures we see voter suppression taking root.  This has been reflected in the decreasing voter participation among those targeted by voter suppression efforts.

 

I would argue that the lower the voter participation, the less legitimate, the less valid is any government of the people, by the people, or for the people.  To selectively take away the right to vote is not only a racial attack, it is an attack on the very premise of our nation, representative government, by limiting government representation as much as possible to conservative white people.

 

Nothing could be more in opposition to John Lewis, or to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

When we have a racist drug policy that disproportionately makes felons of minorities for what were previously not felony crimes, not only imprisoning them in largely for-profit jails which steal their labor for pennies an hour — sometimes as little as 8 cents an hour.  This is Jim Crow all over again.  To further deny these minorities the restoration of their voting rights has further shifted the participation in voting to white voters, and been part of the rise of white supremacy again in the south.

 

If anyone doubts that there is still an unrepentant population of white bigots in the US, we have only to look at the polling on those who desire to bring back anti-miscegenation laws which would again prevent intermarrying between people of different “racial” backgrounds.  This reflects not only a desire for racial purity that is synonymous with white supremacy, but also a completely false understanding by ignorant conservatives of race and the characteristics associated with that false understanding of race.

 

Make no mistake, Trump is himself a racist, and so are those who support him, or at the very least his supporters are tolerant of racism.  They are not supporters of MLK.

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30 Minutes with Ken Martin

by JeffStrate on January 13, 2017 · 0 comments

State DFL Chair Ken Martin and Tim O’Brien take measure of the 2016 election and the future of Democrats in Minnesota and the nation on this half hour Democratic Visions special. Martin and DFL Vice Chair Marge Hoffa took office in 2011 and are seeking a third term as DFL Party leads. Martin and Hoffa have a campaign website.

 

As of the publication of this post, only former State DFL Associate Chair Donna Cassutt (2005-2011) is challenging Martin. Cassutt served with state party Chair Brian Melendez who announced his retirement two days after the guberantorial vote recount that confirmed in December 2010 Mark Dayton’s win.   Cassutt has a campaign venue on Facebook.

 

Democratic Visions is an independent community access CableTV and internet program handcrafted by southwest suburban, lefty volunteers. I’m in my ninth year of producing the thing.

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While they like to give lip service to being the party of small government, and moan and groan about government over-reach ad nauseum, the GOP is the worst offender for unwarranted intrusion into the lives of citizens minding their own business.  The right is obsessed with controlling our sexual and gender identity, sexual orientation, and reproductive choices, attempting to variously criminalize those decisions, or to make them for us.  These are things which largely cannot be legislated, as gender and sexuality, and individual body autonomy are intrinsic and inherent parts of each human being.  The GOP, particularly the MN GOP, must get out of our bedrooms, our bathrooms, our locker rooms, and our pants.

 
It should be an accepted premise of government that any legislation that interferes with the free will and action of citizens should serve a demonstrated NEED for such legislation.  In the case of the transgender and bathrooms, there have been more instances of Republican politicians arrested for sexual misconduct in bathrooms than there have been documented incidents, much less arrests or convictions, of transgender persons behaving inappropriately or illegally.  One of those GOP pols, Larry Craig, was arrested right here in Minnesota, at the International Airport.

 

As noted by the Intellectualist:

 

According to Media Matters, there haven’t … been any reports of men ‘pretending’ to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them. You know who have been arrested in public bathrooms for sexual misconduct?Republican politicians.
Without even diving too deep, we found three GOP legislators who were picked up for lavatory indiscretions.
Their names: Larry Craig …, Jon Hinson, and Bob Allen.

We may need laws against GOP politicians using public bathrooms. By contrast, trans people are doing just fine.

It has long been my contention that not only are a number of conned-servatives are controlling, authoritarian hypocrites, but also that many are bigots, (bigotry being defined as “sincerely” believing broadly denigrating and factually false things about a broad group of people in order to in some way demean or discriminate against them). In the case of transgender people, American or otherwise, it is a fact that there have been more Republican members of Congress arrested for illegal sexual conduct in public bathrooms than there have been arrests of transgender people for either sexual assault or sexual harassment, both of which are the justification for transgender bathroom bill legislation.

 

The most recent example of that is HB 41, a bill introduce by three of the most consistently stupid members of the state legislature since the super star of MN lege stupid, Michele Bachmann, moved on to a larger public platform for embarrassment. Her most recent public embarrassment was the lie that President Obama had extorted foreign governments to walk in gay pride parades.  Because you can’t make up stupid, especially dishonest stupid, the way Michele Bachmann can.  Sadly all too often, when the facts are not on the side of conservatives, like Bachmann, like the authors of HB 41, they just make up stuff; worse they come to believe their lies.

From lgbtqnation:

 

Former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann appeared on the Family Research Council‘s “Washington Watch” radio program late last week to discuss the incoming Trump Administration.
In her appearance, which was captured by RightWingWatch, she denounced the State Department for forcing foreign government ministers to march in gay pride parades. It is unclear what she is referring to.

Financial incentives are withheld from countries unless they advance, for instance, the gay agenda. In a country that doesn’t believe in the gay agenda, the Obama State Department has said, “Look, you have to have a Gay Pride parade. You have to make sure that you can show us that ministers are marching in this Gay Pride parade.” What? The US government is telling another government, “You have to have Gay Pride parades”? That’s unbelievable! “You won’t get your PEPFAR money, you won’t get your USAID money, unless you follow our radical social agenda”?

HB 41 is the latest effort at a bathroom bill, a bill to make life more of a living hell for transgender students.

From OnTop magazine:

 

Three Republican members of the Minnesota House have introduced a bill that targets transgender students.
The Student Physical Privacy Act (HF 41) seeks to “protect and provide for the privacy and safety of all students enrolled in public schools and to maintain order and dignity in restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, showers, and other facilities where students may be in various states of undress in the presence of other students.”
It defines “sex” to mean “the physical condition of being male or female, which is determined by a person’s chromosomes and is identified at birth by a person’s anatomy.” The bill would designate restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms and shower rooms for the “exclusive use by students of the male sex only or by the students of the female sex only.”
The bill’s authors are Representatives Duanne Quam of Byron, Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa and Eric Lucero of Dayton.
Introduced on Thursday, the proposed legislation has been referred to the Education Innovation Policy committee.

 

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Reince Priebus on Face the Nation: Failure

by Dog Gone on January 11, 2017 · 0 comments

On Sunday, January 8th, Reince Priebus apppeared on Face the Nation, an interview which included the statement that we have 25 million uninsured people in the United States.  He further posited that this represented a failure of Obamacare to cover every person. He kept calling Obamacare a failure.

 

It is in fact a success, a success that is, or was, growing.

 

I would argue this was a bold faced evil intentioned lie.

 

The reality is that under Republicans prior to the Democratic sweep of the Senate and White House, there was ZERO effort on the part of Republicans to address health care issues, other than to find new ways to enact wealth redistribution to the wealthy, both corporate and individuals, the life and health of average Americans be damned.

 

Number of serious or new replacement ideas from the GOP? ZERO.

 

Number of uninsured Americans the GOP sought to provide health care or insurance coverage? ZERO.

 

THAT is failure. And they are continuing that failure, not learning from it or improving on it.

 

It was not an exaggeration when then-Congressman Alan Grayson back in 2009 referred to the Republican plan for health care, as “Die. Die Quickly.”.

 

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PolyMet gets its land swap

by Dan Burns on January 11, 2017 · 0 comments

sulfideThis was not a surprise, but it still sucks.
 

Paul Danicic, Executive Director of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, issued the following statement in response:
 

“The transfer of thousands of acres of Superior National Forest land to PolyMet is a bad deal for taxpayers, premature, and not in the public interest. No exchange of land can undo the damage that PolyMet would do to this area. The land that PolyMet seeks to mine contains thousands of acres of high-value wetlands that are irreplaceable.
 
The standard for federal land exchanges is that the exchange must be in the public interest. PolyMet would create polluted water that would require expensive treatment for hundreds of years. PolyMet would be the largest permitted destruction of wetlands in Minnesota history. The risk to the St. Louis River, Lake Superior, and downstream communities from this mine proposal demonstrates why it is not in the public interest…

(Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness)

Meanwhile, copper and nickel prices remain at long-term lows in a glutted market, and the inevitable Trump recession will only drive them further into the depths.
 

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minneapolis_skyline__heroThere are elections for Minneapolis City Council in November. I’m not going to be blogging much about them yet, but I am passing this along. I think it’s realistic to suggest that more than a handful of voters in the city, to say the least, wanted and expected more “change,” however defined, after the turnover that happened in 2013.
 

But when asked what made them take the leap to run, any remaining nerves transformed into resolve. One by one they opened their eyes and spoke long held truths that became seeds for stump speeches: because representation matters, because racial equity, because of my community.
 
We focused on these seven candidates – Jillia Pessenda, Samantha Pree-Stinson, Phillipe Cunningham, Raeisha Williams, Jeremiah Ellison, Andrea Jenkins and Erica Mauter – because they bring in terms of race, gender identity and sexual orientation, an unprecedented level of diversity to the 2017 elections. Not only do they embody a new potential for Minneapolis politics to be more reflective of its growing populations than ever before, but with platforms heavily focused on social justice, racial and economic equity, they bring a potential to shift the balance of power on the City Council.
(Twin Cities Daily Planet)

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