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Anti-choice zealots fire up for more

by Dan Burns on December 14, 2014 · 1 comment

prochoiceIt won’t be long.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Republicans plan to reignite debate over the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which passed in the House in 2013. Contrary to the argument put forth by proponents of the ban, the “science” underpinning the measure — that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks gestation — has been debunked. But that’s not expected to stop Republicans from pushing a bill that might finally have a chance in the Senate.

Fanatics in Ohio already tried to get a six-week ban. It didn’t get through the state legislature. But they’ll try again, there and in a lot of other places.

An appeals court struck down an Arizona law that tried to, for all practical purposes, ban medication-induced abortion. We’ll probably find out this week, if the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up the case. (Update: SCOTUS has declined to hear the case.)

Here is a useful discussion about maybe trying to add some different emphasis to the mix.

We need to see abortion as an urgent practical decision that is just as moral as the decision to have a child—indeed, sometimes more moral. Pro-choicers often say no one is “pro-abortion,” but what is so virtuous about adding another child to the ones you’re already overwhelmed by? Why do we make young women feel guilty for wanting to feel ready for motherhood before they have a baby? Isn’t it a good thing that women think carefully about what it means to bring a child into this world—what, for example, it means to the children she already has? We tend to think of abortion as anti-child and anti-motherhood. In media iconography, it’s the fetus versus the coat hanger: that is, abortion kills an “unborn baby,” but banning it makes women injure themselves. Actually, abortion is part of being a mother and of caring for children, because part of caring for children is knowing when it’s not a good idea to bring them into the world.

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538554_417321918296055_196601040368145_1516637_2083533339_nA few good things did happen in the 2014 election, and this was among the best.

Anti-abortion activists have pushed for “personhood” in five separate ballot initiatives since 2008. These amendments would likely restrict abortion access as they give unborn fetuses more rights.
Five times now, those amendments have failed, with voters in North Dakota and Colorado rejecting personhood ballot initiatives on (election) night. These amendments have failed even in conservative strongholds like Mississippi, which rejected a personhood amendment in 2012.

These keep failing, even in elections that go badly in general for everyone except right-wingers, because in fact the public strongly supports abortion rights.

This article is something of a guilt trip, and I usually avoid passing those along, but I’m making an exception.

It was women like me—married white women, specifically—who failed (Texas gubernatorial candidate) Wendy Davis—and ourselves, and our families, and Texas families—on Tuesday night. According to exit polls, Black women, Black men, Latinas, and a near-majority of Latinos who voted turned out in solid numbers for Davis…
The story does not begin and end with “men” and “women”; we have to look at which men, which women—particularly if the Democratic Party is ever going to decide to come out fighting hard on issues like immigration reform and moving the gamepiece aggressively forward, rather than backward, on reproductive rights.
(RH Reality Check)

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Post-election observations

by Eric Ferguson on November 6, 2014 · 5 comments

With the voting done in 2014, let’s talk about 2016. Kidding! Stop, don’t go away! In fact, I’ll give you this handy link to Minnesota election results, but don’t leave yet.
The following thoughts about 2014 are more or less in the order in which they came to mind, though I tried to seize opportunities for coherency.
Starting with admittedly a repeat of my comment on Dan Burns’ post on women voting, assuming my walk lists of voters were the drop-off Democrats, it’s a bit disturbing those lists were heavy with younger women, meaning under 40. They arguably lost the most when Republicans did so well in 2010, between Republican governors and legislatures repealing equal pay laws, closing women’s clinics to restrict abortion access (and restricting access to health services in general thereby), photo ID laws (women’s birth certificates get rejected if they changed their names when they married), and blocking minimum wage increases which hurts women much more than men. Why aren’t younger women the most motivated to turn out?
Despite the wailing and media hysteria, if you didn’t roughly predict the results of the 2014 midterms once the results of the 2012 election were in, you have much to learn about US politics. We’re the presidential party in a midterm — Tuesday was always going to be bad. I expected we would net a governor or two, instead of a net loss of I think it will turn out to be two. But losses in Congress, albeit worse than they needed to be, no surprise. Looks like losses were small compared to 2010 in state legislatures. Not that we couldn’t have mitigated the losses without some bad decisions — yes, that’s a prelude to bringing up things I’m ticked about, and in my own defense, all things I raised before the campaign was over. We’ll get there shortly. Some good news, besides a good night for Democrats in Minnesota whatever happened elsewhere, is the GOP Senate majority is likely short-lived. Their odds of holding on in 2016 are worse than ours this year, for the same math problems: whether it’s a presidential year, who defends how many seats, and which states have elections.
Weirdly, given how the elections turned out, Democrats nearly ran the table on ballot measures. Unlike 2012, they seem not to have had coattails.
No one wants to believe the polls when they predict bad news, but for Senate and governor races, following them meant you weren’t surprised. Disappointed, but at least you knew it would be a generally bad night. Not so much for the US House, which I attribute to few polls and small sample sizes — so I was pleasantly surprised by CD8, since the last poll showed Stewart Mills with a strong lead, plus a Green candidate taking a few percent. Point being, better to accept the polls are roughly right and deal with reality. At least no one on the Democratic side went so far as to get into “unskewing”, so we have that going for us.
Apartment buildings folks, come on. I’m not naming sources or candidates, because no one knew in these conversations I might be blogging about it later on. Trying to do better at contacting people who live in apartments, or “multi-unit buildings” to not exclude residents of condominiums, is something we’ve worked on in the SD I chair, and the Keith Ellison campaign developed methods of doorknocking in apartments over the last couple elections. Ellison is safe, so the main beneficiaries are on the rest of the ballot, but lots of candidates and campaigns still want to bypass multi-unit buildings. The reasons why aren’t important. What’s important is we’re passing up voters Republicans also don’t contact, or, to be more positive, where we focus on multi-unit buildings, we’re contacting people Republicans ignore. Besides, whatever fudge factors there are, can anyone claim we solved the drop-off Democrat problem? Yet turfs are still cut to steer away from multi-unit buildings.


It’s great when women vote

by Dan Burns on November 3, 2014 · 2 comments

If women, especially young women, vote, we win. Everywhere. Remember, if we get turnout, we have a very real chance of shutting the GOP out in Minnesota. And that would be pretty wonderful for practically everyone.
Comments below fold.


Willmar Tea Party Rally featuring Tim Miller

Willmar Tea Party Rally featuring Tim Miller

Maybe that’s not what GOP candidate for HD17A, Tim Miller, meant to say, but how else do you take this statement on abortion?

Our nation has lost respect for all life through the abortion industry. This is a blight on our nation and it must be ended. I do not support abortion of any kind as my oldest stepdaughter is a product of rape/incest.

Not even if the mother’s life is in danger? Why? Because women will lie about medical problems in order to qualify for an abortion? Because he doesn’t believe their medical conditions are ever really that serious?
I suppose, if he wins, we can hope he just forgot to make that exception. Should women with medical emergencies just hope he merely forgot to consider their circumstances and he won’t get in their way if he’s elected? That’s asking a bit much.
Speaking of a bit much, I hope his stepdaughter is OK with having something so personal disclosed to the world. If she didn’t consent, I bet a difficult conversation ensued at home. She has nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s her right to keep it private if that’s her choice. By the way Mr. Miller, what is the “abortion industry”? Do you know or are you repeating someone’s talking points?
I do find it generally odd when all these conservatives who try to deflect questions on global warming with the claim that they aren’t scientists suddenly turn into obstetricians when it comes to telling women and doctors what to do.
Hopefully Mr. Miller understands that I’m attacking his position, not his manhood.

When and why have we become a country of finger pointing victims? When I was a kid, if someone called me a name or questioned, say for example, my manhood, I chose to prove them wrong. Nowadays we run screaming foul.

I can’t tell if that means he proved them wrong by picking a fight or showing off his wiener, but I assure him I’m uninterested in being on the receiving end of either of those. The radical positions and repetitions of tea party nonsense are the objectionable parts.
Though I guess to give credit, unlike Republicans who courted the people demanding the Kenyan Muslim produce his real birth certificate, and now say “What tea party?” when the press comes calling (Hello Jeff Johnson!) Miller at least is up front about being a tea partier:



Greg Pariseau for Minnesota House 38B

by Dan Burns on October 10, 2014 · 2 comments

pariseauFrom his website:

Democrats in the legislature worked to advance women’s economic security with laws that promote equal pay for equal work; allowing mothers to stay in the workforce by expanding family leave and providing reasonable accommodations for pregnant and nursing employees; and increasing economic opportunity for women in high-wage, high-demand jobs. It’s time women and families get ahead, not just get by. Although we’ve made great strides, women in Minnesota still make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. We have more work to do to promote economic security for women- which will help grow our economy for all.
(Greg Pariseau for State Representative 38B)

The incumbent, Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood), was regarded as quite a rising star within the party for a time. That doesn’t seem to have had longer-term traction. I suppose that he’s best known to the public at large, to the extent that any individual state legislator is, over a bizarre episode a few years ago.

As you no doubt have heard, our House majority leader got into a public snit last week as part of an assault on the Legacy Amendment. For whatever reason, Dean decided to phrase his criticism of money set aside for the arts as a personal expression of contempt for writer Neil Gaiman, “who I hate.” According to Dean, Gaiman is a “pencil-necked weasel who stole $45,000 from the State of Minnesota.” It should be noted that Dean later recanted, sort of, saying that his mother was making him apologize, which suggests that our bicameral is now run by the sorts of children who used to throw spitballs and stuff other kids into lockers until a teacher caught them.



Vote Republican for more government shutdowns

by Dan Burns on October 2, 2014 · 1 comment

betikuThe U.S. federal government shutdown of 2013 started a year ago yesterday, and ran through October 16. Believe it or not, those who don’t happen to be wealthy white men were particularly impacted. It was wildly unpopular politically; congressional generic ballots saw huge jumps in Democrats’ favor when it was over, but that unfortunately hasn’t lasted. Americans’ short political memories are indeed the despair of many; if not for that, right-wing conservatism would be long gone as a political force, and practically everyone would be better off as a result.

There are indications that congressional Republicans will be looking at another shutdown threat as soon as May 2015, when the extension of the Highway Trust Fund authorization expires. Hopefully President Obama understands by now that people who behave with the psychological maturity of your typical two-year-olds are not to be allowed to have their way, or everything will only get worse.

Anybody who is planning to vote for any Republican is probably voting for one or more additional government shutdowns. So is any would-be Democratic voter who chooses to “sit this one out.” Believe me, I do get how frustrating Democrats’ antics, from the White House on down, often are. But giving the crazies more power will just push things downhill. There is absolutely no indication that it ever works politically to “send a message” or “provoke a backlash,” and things don’t have to get worse before they get better. Obama and Congress would still be plenty disappointing for progressives, but things would be significantly better if we had the Democratic House majority we lost in 2010, because Democrats stayed home.
It’s probably quite a bit more unlikely, but it’s far from unthinkable that GOP control of the Minnesota House could result in another state government shutdown, as well.

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The INNER Michele MacDonald,
the one that occasionally comes out
in her bizarre behavior?

We have the MN GOP endorsing the wack-a-doodle Michele MacDonald for the prestigious position on the state Supreme Court, running against the very distinguished incumbent candidate David Lillehaug.


The MN GOP would have better luck running a female version of Bozo the Clown, if you go by the series of antics and gaffes and criminal charges are trailing behind Michele MacDonald wherever she goes.


Earlier this week she was convicted of obstruction of justice, and speeding.  Obstruction of justice, NOT something most voters want on ANY bench, much less the state Supreme Court.


Perhaps the most serious concern for the electorate of Minnesota should be this gem, gleaned from the Strib:

“Judge Leslie Metzen ordered a psychological evaluation for MacDonald.”


The daft woman is as far from qualified, and as far from possessing a judicial temperament, as one could get from incumbent Justice David Lillehaug.


MacDonald’s apparent sole claim to the MN GOP endorsement — and they knew about her legal problems when they endorsed her — is that she likes to wave a Bible and say silly things.  I suppose that is still a step up from the I am not a witch conservative diz in Delaware, Christine O’Donnell, but not by much.


Then we have the latest west coast version of the conservative lady wack-a-doodle, Monica Wehby, who is a surgeon who apparently performs unnecessary surgeries, some of which harm children.  She is currently involved in a court case because of this.


But that is not her only problem; as noted from the WaPo this morning:

Monica Wehby: The pediatric neurosurgeon was already an underdog against Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and this didn’t help. On Tuesday, Buzzfeed reported that Wehby’s health plan appeared to have been plagiarized from a survey conducted for a conservative group. A Wehby spokesman denied the claim. Then came another Buzzfeed story on Wednesday revealing that Wehby’s economic plan appeared to be plagiarized, too. Wehby’s campaign admitted the material was problematic and removed it from her campaign Web site. The campaign pointed fingers at a former staffer who has denied being the culprit. In short, things have gotten ugly. Wehby has already had to deal with another major distraction: A Politico report in May about how she was accused of stalking her ex-boyfriend. Overcoming two big-time distractions in any campaign is tough — let alone for a Republican running in deep blue Oregon.

The conservative group in question appears to be Karl Rove’s crossroads folks.  Wehby tried to pass the blame on to her employees (and had a spokesperson explain she was too busy performing brain surgery on sick kids to pay attention to such stuff, much less respond to questions about it).  THAT does not appear to be true either.  Wehby tried to blame a former staffer, Charles Pearce.

From Oregonlive:

UPDATE: An email obtained by The Oregonian containing the original Word document draft of the economic policy appears to show that it was written by an employee at Meridian Pacific, a consulting firm working for Wehby, and not by Pearce.  John Peschong, a partner in the firm, told the Salem Statesman-Journal that he couldn’t authenticate that the document was produced by his firm and said he couldn’t reach the person named in the Word document, who no longer works for Meridian.


So you know how liberals keep insisting that conservatives of all stripes, but especially the tea partiers have utterly failed to come up with ANY new ideas? It’s true.  And it’s not like Wehby is the only right wing plagiarist (who is also involved in the medical profession) — there’s Rand Paul, and also Greg Brannon of North Carolina, an obstetrician.


And Wehby did not only stalk her boyfriend, including breaking and entering his home, she also has had police called by her ex-husband for stalking him.  But hey — the NRA endorsed her, because the NRA doesn’t seem to have a problem with guns and stalkers who break and enter, or people with integrity problems; any gun lover will do.  So we shouldn’t ONLY blame the GOP.


MN-02: The real John Kline manifests

by Dan Burns on September 10, 2014 · 1 comment

Here’s Rep. John Kline (R-MN), just, well, just being John Kline, on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.


Now, with the #FlipADistrict challenge, people across the country are looking closer at the Kline Agenda … and this video is making the rounds showing a floor debate during which CHAIRMAN John Kline was so vehemently defending the Republicans’ excellent treatment of women … featuring the exchange between Judy Biggert (R-IL) and the CHAIRMAN … with the CHAIRMAN interrupting and ignoring Representative Biggert…
(MN Political Roundtable)

Fundamentally, the authoritarian Kline’s incredibly crude and limited perception of how human interaction should work is one of those qualities that render him, and his far-right ilk, entirely unfit for political office.

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Is it Rape? OR Rape?

by Hollyccairns on September 3, 2014 · 5 comments

noSeveral out-of-touch lawmakers voted that a woman’s life had to be in danger in order to actually be “raped”. Hey lawmakers, in this century, there is only “rape”, not “different kinds of rape”.  “NO” means “NO.”
If your Congressperson is stuck in the past, doesn’t understand women, and voted, “YEA, there is rape, and other kinds of rape, remember they did this and VOTE THEM OUT.  Minnesota’s Congressional District 2 Congressman John Kline voted  YEA.  VOTE HIM OUT!
If John Kline had his way, these rape numbers would be greatly reduced.  And that’s the wrong way to reduce the occurrence of rape!