Recent Posts

Front Page

Obamacare trutherism is a thing

by Eric Ferguson on April 18, 2014 · 1 comment

It's a conspiracy!Yes, Obamacare trutherism is a thing. Conservatives don’t believe it can possibly work, so all the good news is lie. There’s the national version, that the numbers are made up, and in Minnesota we have our own version, that MNSure was bailed out by the state.
Probably many reasonable people are also incredulous at the idea Obamacare worked, because the pundit class and the beltway media joined the conservative bubble in trumpeting everything that went wrong, except the Medicaid gap; they were happy to ignore that. Reasonable people, however, will eventually figure out there wasn’t a disaster (hopefully before election day). Conservatives are off in full-throated denial after their media and politicians spent years telling them Obamacare is a disaster, already failed, lost in a death spiral, blah de blah — and now turns out Obamacare failed to fail. Even works now. Bad enough the predictions of failure were wrong, but conservative media often announced it had failed, and how can anybody be so stupid as to not see that? So the numbers must be all fake!
Yeah, um, about that. Let’s see if I can help any conservatives browsing by (let’s play concern troll!), and who buy the notion that Obama’s numbers are so fake you’d think he was trying to sell an invasion of Iraq. How can you tell if the numbers are real? Regarding the Census Bureau changing some questions, you could send a journalist to actually ask them for details. Granted, that would require having some journalists, so that’s a tough one for conservatives. Still, then you could find out they’ve been working on these revisions since before Obamacare and testing for a few years, so comparisons will be apples to apples. Nothing hidden there.
Also, there are outside sources of information, so no having to take Dick Cheney’s word for it that Saddam and Osama are best buddies and no, you can’t see any intelligence but the few bits we cherrypicked for you. Gallup is doing its own surveys, insurers collect their own information, and no doubt public health researchers will be conducting their surveys. No need to simply trust the government’s claims.
And of course, like is often the case with conspiracy theories, for this to be a conspiracy, loads of people need to be in on the plot, and able to keep quiet about it. None of that huge number can blow the whistle, be overheard by the wrong person, leave memos or data laying around. Ever. If you believe that can be the case, you’re pretty much the definition of someone who would believe anything (provided it was unprovable).
“Trutherism” might be a bit strong on MNSure. I suppose that’s really just a talking point that’s dishonest or grossly uninformed, your mileage might vary. Specifically of course I’m referring to the “bailout” claim, that the state bailed out MNSure. The linked MPR article explained what happened with MNSure’s shortfall that supposedly required a bailout. Briefly, premiums were lower than expected (generally a good thing, unless you’re a Republican candidate determined to complain about anything), which resulted in lower federal matching funds, so MNSure’s funding ran short. The shortfall was made up by transferring some costs from the MNSure fund to the general treasury. If you believe that’s a bailout, then you must think you can bailout yourself, which most of us actually refer to as “the opposite of a bailout”. This is like paying for your purchase by digging into your pocket and coming up short, so you get a “bailout” in the form of digging into your other pocket for the rest of the money. “Hey look, my pants pocket received a bailout — from my jacket pocket! Oh no, I’m about to become a MNGOP talking point!”
I’m glad I could lay conservatives’ concerns to rest. So of course Obamacare haters are going to look at the numbers, look at where they come from, apply some logic, fact-check talking points, be glad that millions of uninsured people now have the security of insurance, and accept the now obvious point that uninsured people badly want the security of insurance no matter how much trouble it is to get it, making Obamacare bound to attract millions.
Stop laughing!

{ 1 comment }

What the Ryan Budget would mean for Minnesota

by Dan Burns on April 17, 2014 · 4 comments

Seriously, people, seriously, both Rep. John Kline (R-MN) and Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) voted for the “Ryan Budget.” Both are of course up for reelection this year. The following is from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. (I know that “Tax Day” was in fact a couple of days ago.)


How to tell if a poll is an outlier

by Dan Burns on April 16, 2014 · 2 comments

questionmarkIt just so happens that we have excellent real-world examples, contained in a poll of Minnesotans recently conducted by SurveyUSA for KSTP. SUSA is among the most accurate pollsters, cycle after cycle. But in this game, even the best sometimes miss.
A fundamental rule of public polling, arguably the #1 rule, is that if numbers are way out of line with everybody else‘s, they’re wrong. There are three prime examples, here.
- Obama job approval: 36% approve, 54% disapprove. The current national average is about 44% job approval, and that’s where it’s been for quite a while. It doesn’t make sense that blue Minnesota would have him down in George W. Bush territory.

- Marijuana legalization: 29% approve, 64% disapprove. I’m not suggesting Minnesota is pro-full legalization at this time. For one thing, the drug is simply not as popular here as in many other states, especially on the coasts. But, again, way out of whack with the national numbers, which are pretty regularly around 50/50, or even slight majority approval, these days.

- Obamacare: 33% approve, 54% disapprove. Note that the question is worded a little differently than straight up/down. That goes for the marijuana question, too. Anyway, that too is well into the double-digits below the approval levels expressed in other polling. The biggest problem here, though, is readily identifiable: like much Obamacare polling, there is no identification among disapproves, between those who want the law repealed, and those who want it strengthened, in the direction of universal single-payer. When that is explored, you get 2-1 overall support. (The relevant bar graph is near the bottom.)

It’s OK to use common sense, when evaluating poll results. Also, if numbers diverge widely from what else is out there, for no apparent reason, it’s not conspiracy theory time. The occasional outlier is inevitable, with statistical sampling. If you flip a coin 50 times every morning, just for the heck of it, once in a while you’re going to get a split of, say, 35-15 or greater. And if you do a lot of sampling for public polling on the questions of the day, sometimes you’re going to get a skewed (in this case, to the right) sample.
Obviously, if polling yet to be done also shows numbers like these, then these examples are not outliers, after all. But that seems unlikely.


As the news comes out about the shooting in Kansas of an old man, a boy, and a woman, allegedly carried out by an angry old white supremacist (aka ‘klucker’), we learn that while he targeted Jewish institutions, none of the three he killed were actually of that faith or ethnicity.  He appears to have assumed they were, based on the location, although he was caught at what appears to be a public elementary school.  It is unknown if he intended to shoot anyone there as well.This was arguably not just a hate crime, but an attempted act of radical right wing racist domestic terrorism.  White supremacists are part of the radical right.  They are embraced by the right, including CPAC.  There is a segment of the radical right that is distinctly anti-semitic.

Craig Cobb is facing sentencing in North Dakota for threatening people in that town.  He claims the shooter (alleged) was a long-time friend of his, and that he was in contact with him quite recently. 

Cobb got a sweet plea deal, with sentencing set for April 29th, according to this No Dak news source, but that might still fall through, as the locals are seeking to have the prosecutor replaced and an actual trial held – with stiffer penalties.

BISMARCK – A sentencing date is set for April 29 for a white supremacist accused of terrorizing people in Leith, the small southwestern North Dakota town he targeted for a takeover last year.
Craig Cobb entered guilty pleas Feb. 27 to one charge of felony terrorizing and five counts of misdemeanor menacing as part of a plea deal with Grant County State’s Attorney Todd Schwarz that would require Cobb to serve four years of supervised probation but no additional jail time.
Judge David Reich said he wanted more information before accepting the plea agreement and sentencing Cobb, and he ordered a pre-sentence investigation, including a psychological evaluation.
The investigator’s sealed report was filed in Grant County District Court late last week.
Cobb’s sentencing is set for 11 a.m. April 29 at the Burleigh County Courthouse in Bismarck. A July 15 jury trial has been canceled.
Cobb, who is wanted on a hate-crime charge in Canada, moved to Leith a year ago and bought up property there with hopes of creating an all-white enclave.
Last week, Leith Mayor Ryan Schock, City Councilman Lee Cook and New Leipzig resident Gregory Bruce, the city’s website developer, filed a complaint with the North Dakota Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board alleging unprofessional conduct and possible unethical practices by Schwarz. They’re asking the board to censure Schwarz, remove him from the Cobb case and appoint a special prosecutor to bring Cobb to trial.

Cobbs relationship with the other violent right winger is detailed here, and since this was written it is my understanding that Eric Holder has directed this be taken to court as a federal hate crime – and rightly so.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – White supremacist Craig Cobb is friends with a man jailed in the killing of three people at a Jewish community center and Jewish retirement complex near Kansas City on Sunday.
Cobb says he last spoke with Frazier Glenn Cross on Thursday and that Cross gave no indication that he might be planning an attack.
Cobb says the allegations against Cross have nothing to do with him and so he isn’t commenting. But he says he hopes Cross didn’t do it.
Cobb is jailed in North Dakota while he awaits an April 29 sentencing for terrorizing residents of Leith.
Cross, of Aurora, Mo., hasn’t been formally charged in the Kansas City killings, but U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says there’s enough evidence to justify submitting a hate-crimes case to a grand jury.

{ 1 comment }

minwageYesterday, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed the new minimum wage bill into law. This sort of thing is popular everywhere. But several public figures – who have already rendered themselves exceedingly tiresome, and we yet have months of campaign season before us – have run their mouths in predictable ways.

At least three Republican gubernatorial candidates — Kurt Zellers, Dave Thompson, and Jeff Johnson — assert they have near-absolute power to stop indexing annually, if elected. One economist says forecasting is uncertain enough to make that possible. If so, indexing would effectively disappear during GOP administrations.

The remainder of the indisputably motley crew that are the GOP gubernatorial hopefuls, Marty Seifert and Scott Honour, have apparently held their tongues, on this matter. All five candidates previously expressed opposition to any minimum wage increase.
If Minnesota was in a lot of trouble, economically and/or otherwise, then pandering to the base just might be enough to get a GOPer elected governor this November (it nearly was in 2010). But it’s not. Far from it. We’ll see whether any of the Republicans are able and willing to become cognizant of that.

{ 1 comment }

mndistrictsBy which I mean, both of Tom Emmer’s opponents have indicated that they will go on to the August 12 primary election, at least.

Republican activists in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District gave Tom Emmer a resounding endorsement in the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Emmer and Anoka County Board chair Rhonda Sivarajah vied for the endorsement of party delegates Saturday at the 6th District GOP convention at Monticello High School…
(Phil) Krinkie, the longtime president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, had (also) been seeking the Republican endorsement in the 6th District race. He changed course Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t attend the convention or seek the endorsement there. Krinkie said a third-party run is possible for his campaign, but that a run in the Republican primary is his most likely avenue.
(St. Cloud Times)

That third-party deal is interesting. Constitution Party? Maybe. Independence Party? Guess not; it has a candidate, John Denney. Pirate Party? Nah, not Phil.

We see campaigns continuing, after all realistic hope appears to have been lost, all the time. It’s tough to call it quits after all the work a candidate – and, perhaps more compelling, a candidate’s volunteers – put in. But in this case it seems like more is going on. Sivarajah and Krinkie, like a lot of us, probably still feel like there’s a very real chance that Emmer will screw up, big time, because that’s the kind of guy he is. And they plan to be there when it happens.


pollyannaIt is not my intent to go all Pollyanna, here. I am well aware that at the federal level, especially when it comes to control of the United States Senate, things are going to be tough. But, since even in the left blogosphere one doesn’t readily run across items that are not all doom and gloomy, these days, I’m passing one along.

This poll gives Democrats a seven-point lead, giving us a better than even chance to retake the chamber. But notice the massive “unsure.” Part of that comes from the fact that this is a poll of all adults, not just registered voters. In fact, about a quarter of the sample didn’t vote in 2012, so we can safely assume they won’t vote in 2014 either. (We can also assume that a chunk of 2012 voters won’t vote this year, weighed heavily among our core base groups. For example, 25-34 year-olds favor Democrats 40-15. Too bad too many of them will sit things out. As always, if we turn out, we win, but I digress.)
Regardless, we’re in good shape with those who express an intent to vote this November.
(Daily Kos)

Am I really all brimming with confidence that D+7 is spot-on, right now? Of course not. But Google Consumer Surveys did have a good year in 2012, when it launched. And in fact (and though you almost certainly have not seen this noted anywhere in corporate media), polling averages in generic House ballots have consistently favored Democrats, albeit not by enough to make a real difference. Not yet.


Why No Republican Should Ever Volunteer Again

by Grace Kelly on April 11, 2014 · 1 comment

money claim your fair share

Our democracy has changed from people and votes to corporations and money. Now, with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the McCutcheon case joins Citizens United to allow money to speak very loudly. Even before these rulings, Open Secrets estimates that in 2012 alone, $301 million poured into the dark money system.


With this abundance of money, any Republican who volunteers – works without being paid real money – is daft. The reason to sell one’s soul is to actually get the real money. Republican power has ensured that Kochs and the richest get everything for almost free. The Republicans who put and keep them there should get the spoils. The Kochs get the cheap rents on land where they extract oil. The Kochs get to spill oil and damage the land for free. The Kochs get to transport oil across freeways. Republican volunteers need to figure out that they deserve their entitled share.


Indeed my counterpart bloggers ought to be in the highest tax bracket. It takes real talent to lie about being taken every time. There is a reason that Rush Limbaugh sounds like a raving lunatic. It is because the policies are lunacy.


Volunteering for Republicans is especially wrong because competition determines worth. Republicans value people by money. In the Republican world, volunteers are therefore just conned people with no monetary value.


Why would any Republican ever demean themselves by volunteering? Indeed even the minimum wage would be offensive. Republican workers ought to be paid the same as plumbers, a simple blue collar wage. That would be the minimum of respectability. Last I checked, plumbers charge $150 to walk in the door and $60 an hour after that.

{ 1 comment }

Today the lege passed a bill to help end gender inequality in compensation.


We need it.  Women make less, as a gender, than men – in some cases by quite a lot.

The heady stink from  the thick and pungent combination of insult and injury to women from the right is likely to backfire on them.


The radical righties are having fits; they hate equality, and only give it lip service when they must.  The rest of the time, their lip service is to bashing women.


For example, Mitch McConnell literally gave women the ‘kiss off’ when he slammed the Democratic effort to guarantee end gender inequality in compensation.  From the Daily Beast:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to couple his criticism of the pay equity bill with his fury at Majority Leader Harry Reid’s attacks on the conservative Koch brothers. All that Democrats are doing, McConnell said, is trying to “blow a few kisses to their powerful pals on the left.” He characterized Reid’s tactics as a “bizarre obsession” and said it’s part of the Democrats’ “never-ending political road show.”

A Pew Research Center survey finds that women earn 84 percent of what men earn and that young women have a much smaller gap, 93 percent. Women fall behind when they take time out to raise children and then return to the workplace at a disadvantage. And women are far more likely to experience multiple “career disruptions” for family reasons.

State by state, the numbers vary as well, with 64 cents for women in Wyoming and 85-90 cents in the Beltway around Washington. “The pay gap between men & women is wider in Louisiana than in all other states except one,” tweeted Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, where the number for women is 67 cents. Calculating gender differences is complicated, but the politics are simple.

Perusing the local radical right extremist blogosphere, I found the legislation passed in Minnesota characterized as “pampered women” wanting to be paid ONLY “on the basis of gender, without education, work experience, skills, reliability or merit being considered.”


Of course, this is not true. MORE working women have college degrees and additional advanced degrees than men, according to the census and other research. Women do not have less work experience than men, they are not as a group less skilled, or less reliable employees, and they don’t want preferential treatment on the basis of gender, they want EQUAL treatment, and FAIR treatment. As to being pampered? Women make up roughly half the total workforce, and more than half of the technical and professional workforce.


And that ‘pampered’ claim? Women still, as a demographic, do more than half the chores around home and more than half the child-care. From the OECD:


Conservatives consistently are fact averse, and believe things which are not true – things which are usually demeaning and derogatory towards anyone not old, white, flabby and crabby expecting to be privileged as an innate right of THEIR gender.  For example, one of the dog whistles on the right, blown among others recently by Fox News Megyn Kelly, is that guaranteeing women equal pay is ‘infantilizing’… because apparently in their radical right wing alternate very silly reality, getting the respect accorded adults of being paid as an equal adult for your accomplishments is like being a baby……..NOT.


I have to admit, that given the numbers of women who increasingly are voting AGAINST the misogyny and inequality of the radical right wing nut extremists, I wonder how long it will be before they make more overt efforts to obstruct women voting, the way they have other groups.  That they will attempt to deny women’s right to vote rather than change their thinking seems pretty unmistakeable.

Time for a repeat of that 70′s feminist anthem? Nah.  (But for those of you readers old enough to know it, it’s probably now stuck in your mind’s ear….)


mncapitolI admit to having been skeptical that legislation as far-reaching, and excellent, as this, would get far. But not any more. 106-24! Right on!

After nearly four hours of debate Wednesday, the House passed the so-called “Women’s Economic Security Act” on a 106-24 vote…
“This is about economic security for working families and lifting women out of poverty,” said Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing), who sponsors the bill in the House. “This bill will strengthen the workplace for all workers.”
This bill has seen many supporters throughout the session, but also opposition from those who say the bill moves women backward by assuming that women can’t take care of themselves and need the government to assist them.
(Session Daily)

I’m not going to go off on the last part of the blockquote. I’m sure most – indeed, probably all – people reading this have ample knowledge already, of where the heads of the bill’s opponents are at.
This website has it all.

{ 1 comment }