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Zellers Brags About Failure in Leadership

by Grace Kelly on July 14, 2014 · 2 comments

zellars failure

Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Kurt Zellers is bragging about his failed leadership in shutting down the state government in a press release:


“Democrats, political pundits, special interest groups, and even many Republicans predicted that we wouldn’t hold to our principles and that the Republican-controlled legislature would cave to the intense political and media pressure during the shutdown,” said Zellers. “But I did not surrender and the GOP legislative majorities did not cave. Instead, it was Governor Dayton who surrendered to us after two weeks.”


In the legislative races in the year after the shutdown, it was clear that Minnesotans thought the shutdown was the worst possible choice, They rightly blamed the Republicans because the Republicans are still bragging about it. I knew in the Jim Carlson race that I had a winning argument with Business Republicans. I would ask Business Republicans: Would they run a business this way? Would they run a negotiation this way? Would they trust a supplying business that ran this way? The answers are resoundingly “no”. As an MBA, I knew this. There is even a class in negotiating in the MBA curriculum, that Minnesota Republicans would have failed. Obviously, the improved winning margins in a non-presidential year meant that many voters saw the shutdown as wrong.



Voter fraud story not quite over

by Eric Ferguson on July 14, 2014 · 1 comment

Brian Rice, we’re waiting. Not for evidence. We waited in vain for that. We’re waiting now for your apology.
The news Thursday was bad for Rice. Hennepin County investigated his claim of a “coordinated effort” to have people vote illegally using the address of a business that rents mailboxes. They dismissed this allegation not merely for insufficient evidence, and not even for no evidence. They actually disproved the charge. Ouch.
Wasn’t hard to disprove. From the Minnpost link, “In fact, all but 16 of the people who registered there had done so before January of this year.”
That was Thursday. It’s now Monday. Well? Any apology coming? Rice surely knew he was dragging the reputations of legal voters through the metaphorical mud. He took his claim to an irresponsible media outlet to play up the story, knowing how voter fraud claims incite the partisans of the right, knowing he was throwing charges at an immigrant community that is detested in some quarters. How detested? Let’s put it this way: the Star Tribune stopped enabling comments on articles on certain subjects because of the hate speech those subjects attract, and one of those subjects was Somalis. Articles on Somalis bring out the racists, nativists, and islamophobes. Rice must have been aware this was the atmosphere into which he was throwing his scurrilous charges.
It didn’t have to happen this way. Had Rice restrained himself to claiming it appeared some people voted from an address that wasn’t a residence, he would have been fine. There was evidence for that. He could have said that without claiming or implying organized fraud or individual fraud. That would have saved him looking churlish in light of this paragraph:

A large number of the improper registrations were the result of the change-of-address process, which requires Hennepin County officials to update registration information when voters move. Though many of the 141 voters involved in the complaint maintain a mailbox at the Cedar Avenue center — it’s an easy way for people who move often to keep a permanent mailing address — those voters didn’t expect that their registration information would also change to the mailing center’s address.

In other words, many of the 141 did things right, registering with their current address, and adding the permanent address as the place where mail should be sent, and something got mixed up on the clerical end. Even the rest, where the voters made a mistake, were just voters making a mistake. Not one instance of fraud.
Republicans of course took the bait, jumping up and down in excitement because now the voter fraud accusation was being made by a DFLer. Vindication! Oops. Like every other claim of voter fraud, this one fell apart upon examination. So, Republicans, isn’t it time to admit you were wrong on this one? That you believed a charge that proved false? So far, nothing. A word of advice Republicans: if the information is coming from a Democrat, and you don’t want to get played like this again, then no matter how much you want to believe it, check it out first. You see how I saw right through it. You can do the same.

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UPDATE — This morning I noticed Lieutenant General Robert Gard, whom Sheila trashed on her blog, was published in Defense One; The Good General’s article is entitled “The One Thing The U.S. Can’t Train The Iraqi Army To Do”. It’s a good read – much better than the divisive tripe Sheila wrote, and it’s an excellent example of why reasonable people don’t need unreasonable people like Sheila Kihne in government. — TPT

Sheila Kihne, Republican Candidate for State Representative (HD48B), had a blog. Two of them, actually. One is still up, it’s called “The Activist Next Door”. The other, picking up where the first left off, is not. Which makes sense; Sheila is mounting a primary challenge on August 12th on the basis of her incumbent’s “record” – and it’s always convenient for a challenger when the incumbent has a record but the challenger does not. A record, like, say, that cute little picture, to the right that adorned Sheila’s blog – “No Liberals Allowed” – which pretty much sums up Sheila.

Except, Sheila DOES have a record – it’s her record of her thoughts that she put into words on her blogs. And through the wonderful technology of The WayBack Machine, all those posts never really went away.

Some of Kihne’s writings are simply bizarre; such as the one where she seems to advocate a voting Poll Tax on poor people, or her “welfare to work” treatise, “My Redistribution Plan”. My personal favorite, from Sheila’s “plan”? Number 5:

5. you will not own any of the following items (if you do, you’ll immediately sell them) an iPod, a flat screen television, video games, a computer or any designer clothing


After all, everyone knows it’s super easy to prepare resumes and find a new and/or better job without a computer, yes?

As bizarre as those ones are, this blogpost jumped out:

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1517400_220553111462348_617540504_nThe Trans-Pacific Partnership is a potential disaster in the making. Here’s some news that could be worse:

Negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade initiative still see no clear path to signing an accord, six months after missing their primary deadline at the end of last year.
Chief negotiators of the TPP deal from Japan, the U.S. and 10 other Pacific Rim countries wrapped up a meeting Saturday in Ottawa without agreement, even on a date for the next meeting, due to major differences over contentious issues such as intellectual property.
Observers say some negotiators may start questioning whether the TPP negotiations can maintain momentum as the United States, the leader of the process, is unable to make any game-changing decisions in the coming months due to midterm elections in November.
(Japan Times)

And this has even more indicators that those of us in opposition – and we do have a great deal of company – might be in luck. Might.

TISA is an acronym for a proposed trade deal that is even less well-known to the general public than the TPP. I don’t know why President Obama, among many others, is so wrongheaded on these. He won’t explain, or at least hasn’t so far, that I know of. Just facile platitudes about the purported glories of “free trade.”

The whistleblower and transparency website WikiLeaks published on (June 17) the secret draft text of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) Financial Services Annex, a controversial global trade agreement promoted by the United States and European Union that covers 50 countries and is opposed by global trade unions and anti-globalization activists.
Activists expect the TISA deal to promote privatization of public services in countries across the globe, and WikiLeaks said the secrecy surrounding the trade negotiations exceeds that of even the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that has made headlines in the past year.


MN State Senator goes financially belly-up

by Dan Burns on July 13, 2014 · 3 comments

32NienowState Sen. Sean Nienow (R-Cambridge) perpetually seeks to emphasize what a great steward of “the taxpayers’ money” he’s supposed to be. As far as I know, there are still no answers as to where the big ol’ chunk of change he got from the SBA actually went. Here’s a previous post for more background.

Nienow filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on June 1. According to court papers he has debts of $930,883 and lists total assets of $121,836. Because of the filing, Nienow will have to liquidate all of his nonessential assets and turn them over to creditors. Court papers say Nienow has declared his home, household goods, two cars, his wedding ring, four firearms, other hobby equipment, a boat and other household items as exempt assets…
The biggest debt listed on Nienow’s bankruptcy filing is $747,937 owed to the United State government for a loan Nienow and his wife took out from the Small Business Administration. The couple used the money to create the National Camp Association, which aimed to help families find camps for children.

“Four firearms” as exempt, essential assets. Of course.
Obviously, I’m noting this because I think if people in his district know about it, it will hurt his reelection chances, if he runs again in 2016. It’s not personal animus or anything like that. Rather, all conservatives should be out of public office, for the simple reason that when they’re in power, they screw up everything they touch. And we’re all worse off, as a result.


MN-08: Mills fumbles the gun issue

by Dan Burns on July 10, 2014 · 2 comments

Stewart Mills III is running for Rep. Rick Nolan’s (D-MN) congressional seat. I have yet to see reliable polling numbers. Here’s Mills’s latest ad.

What Nolan has in fact primarily supported is stronger background checks, favored by around 75-80% of Americans if you average the legitimate polling that I‘ve seen. But where Mills is stepping on his tongue, yet again, is that he apparently forgot he ever said the following.

In 2013 Mills said “So what’s the solutions, we need to put armed security in every school and fund that price tag. We have to stop putting things on our credit card and mortgaging our children’s future to China. The ATF collects approximately $ 24 billion a year in excise fees. If we need to increase the 11% ATF excise fee on firearms to 15% or whatever to pay for it, we need to do that.”

Vote Mills for higher taxes on guns! That ought to work with the base.


Mike McFadden is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Al Franken (D-MN). He also has to win a primary in August; he’s considered a heavy favorite, there. His most recent TV ads are strange and weird, and call the general competence of his campaign very much into question. (Note that not long ago his staff got a big change.) Maybe he figures he has to try something unusual, all things considered.

First, it’s presented as a positive that he cluelessly performed a medical procedure, presumably under septic conditions, on a child.

Then, apparently there is something cute and/or funny about being sucker-punched, square, in the nuts.

Keep ‘em coming, Mittclone. Please.


530523_3878473843186_2032060039_nThe recent Supreme Court decision does not mean that home health care worker unions are illegal, however much greedhead corporatists wish that it does. In practical terms, it means that workers need to be effectively persuaded to contribute to the vast improvement in their own wages and working conditions that unionization has been shown to provide.

State legislation in 2013 passed a bill that allows a unionization vote by workers who provide care to elderly and disabled people in their homes. There are more than 26,000 workers who are eligible to vote, and the 9,000 cards delivered to the state Bureau of Mediation Services exceeded the 30 percent required to trigger an election…
(Tyler) Frank and other union advocates are seeking representation from the Service Employees International Union, which began its organization effort shortly after the 2012 election. Rosemary Van Vickle, of Crosby, said she wants basic benefits such as fair pay, sick days and paid time off.
“Now I and other home care workers in Crosby have decided that we are going to fight to make home care jobs good jobs, and make sure everyone across the whole state is able to get care in their home,” Vickle said.

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Valuing the Contrary Opinion

by Grace Kelly on July 8, 2014 · 2 comments

People have a great need to believe in groups. A single lone dissident voice can change the group pack behavior. That is why leaving the right wing extremists all alone is dangerous.


That is why our current “targeting” of voters may hurt us in the long run while it helps in the short run.


The tolerance and cultivating of that contrary voice is a difficult organization feat. Is it worth it?


I have frequently been the voice going against the flow of opinion. Indeed being a contrarian is an interesting feat in itself. It takes great courage to go against the flow of opinion. Also, one has to back off at just the right time. Also, there are no “I told you so” moments, for people are even more vicious when they are wrong. Then why do it? Because there are decisions that are that important.


The ability to see differently, speak well to describe what one sees and then to back off and join the group decision is very rare. Contrarians eventually burn out without positive support.


Science has now gotten to the point that we can see that brains of contrarians act measurably different. A contrarian is most valuable in trading where “Buy low, sell high” is the way to make money. Very cool chart after the fold.



Fracking makes bad things happen

by Dan Burns on July 8, 2014 · 2 comments

Hydro-Fracking-FieldThe evidence keeps snowballing.

After examining the publicly available compliance records of more than 41,000 wells in northeastern Pennsylvania, the Cornell-led researchers have dropped this bombshell:

About 40 percent of the oil and gas wells in parts of the Marcellus shale region will probably be leaking methane into the groundwater or into the atmosphere…. This study shows up to a 2.7-fold higher risk for unconventional wells — relative to conventional wells — drilled since 2009.

Study after study has found consistently higher methane leakage rates from natural gas production and distribution than reported by either the industry or EPA (which uses industry self-reported data).
(Think Progress)

In addition to being poisonous to most life, including humans, methane is a super-potent greenhouse gas.
At least in some areas, it looks like one reason for seals on wells to fail will be seismic stress. Which it’s obvious will cause a whole lot of other problems, too.

A dramatic uptick in earthquakes has been shaking central Oklahoma this year, continuing a recent trend of unusually high earthquake activity in the state and leading scientists to speculate about a possible link to oil and gas production there…
Scientists have drawn links between earthquakes and wastewater injection wells used for oil and gas production, including fracking. Researchers say the toxic wastewater, stored thousands of feet underground, reducing friction along fault lines, which can trigger earthquakes. The ongoing fracking boom has led to a growth in national demand for disposal wells, according to Bloomberg.
Nicholas van der Elst, a post-doctorate research fellow at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, says the “most reasonable hypothesis” to explain Oklahoma’s spike in earthquakes is they’ve been triggered by injection wells used for oil and gas production. “The burden of proof is on well operators to prove that the earthquakes are not caused by their wells,” van der Elst told The Nation.
(No Fracking Way)