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safe_imagephpdAQA0Ubd1yNoWTNbvw90h90urlhttp3A2F2Fwwwhumanbannersfcom2Fwp-content2Fuploads2F20112F102Ftax-the-1-percent-d-150x150Yet conservatives continue to pimp the same whimpering, groveling welfare-for-the-wealthy crap. David Cay Johnston is among my favorite political writers.
 

According to an analysis by Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter David Cay Johnston, formerly of the New York Times, the Bush tax cuts, touted as a harbinger of prosperity by the Republican Party, actually robbed each American taxpayer of $48,000 in pre-tax personal income during the twelve years of their existence, for a total of approximately 6.6 trillion dollars.
 
This is more than enough to pay for every student loan, car loan, and credit card debt in the U.S, while still leaving 2.4 trillion dollars in the pockets of Americans. It is the equivalent of an extra 11 dollars a day lost to each American taxpayer over the last twelve years.
(Daily Kos)

This has a long, involved explanation of the above, for the truly wonky among us.
 
(Update: Here is Johnston’s original column, which is kind of hard to get to via the links posted above.)
 
And, also on the theme of right-wing claims about the economy inevitably being complete and utter BS:
 

We see that while (as per usual) there is considerable variation in unemployment rates across groups, the unemployment rate is substantially higher now than it was before the recession started for all groups. The unemployment rate is between 1.2 and 1.7 times as high now as it was seven years ago for all age, education, occupation, industry, gender, and racial and ethnic groups. Elevated unemployment across the board, like we see today, means that the weak labor market is due to employers not seeing demand for their goods and services pick up in a way that would require them to significantly ramp up hiring, not workers lacking the right skills or education for the occupations or industries where jobs are available.
(Economic Policy Institute)

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Is Mike McFadden Running to Lose?

by Invenium Viam on July 17, 2014 · 9 comments

snakeyes-born-to-loseErnest Hemingway once said, “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, sh*t detector.”

 

I like to think I’ve got a pretty good functioning unit. It may be old, but it’s pretty reliable.

 

That may be the reason why I’ve struggled with the nagging question whether Mike McFadden’s campaign to unseat Senator Franken is for real, or just for show. Something hasn’t felt quite right, not quite genuine, about what I’ve seen so far. My spidey-senses are all a-tingle.

 

I understand that McFadden is a political newcomer, never having held political office before. So it would be easy to pass off any misgivings about McFadden’s campaign bona fides onto that. While inexperienced he may be, McFadden’s certainly not dumb. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of St. Thomas with a B.A. in Economics. He earned a J.D. from Georgetown. So you know he’s got the raw horsepower upstairs.

 

Presumably, he’s also a skilled business manager. He would know that you don’t try to push your way into a developed niche market against several strong competitors without having a helluva business plan, some ironclad financial backers, and Triple-A core competencies across the board. The risk of failure is just too great — and nobody wants to back a loser, especially the money guys.

 

So it’s telling that, after more than a year on the campaign trail, with less than a month before the primary election and little more than three months remaining before the general, McFadden remains largely unknown to Minnesota voters, his campaign is undistinguished, his messaging is unremarkable, his fundraising is woeful, and his crew seems unfocused and directionless.

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Wow, deputies endorse the new candidate for Hennepin Sheriff, Eddie Frizell, not the incumbent Rich Stanek, by a vote of 170 to 14 votes. There must be some serious reasons because I am sure that endorsing against one’s current boss is a risk. An announcement is expected out soon.

 

Today, Eddie did his kick off announcement for Hennepin’s County Sheriff. Eddie Frizell is currently Deputy Chief of the Patrol Bureau in Minneapolis, with 25 years experience. He is also a Colonel in the Minnesota Army National Guard for 25 years. He commanded the Red Bull Cavalry Squadron in Iraq. His medals and citations include the Medal of Valor for his heroic efforts during the I-35W bridge collapse. He has a long list of accomplishments.

 

Frizell suggested three ways that he would be a better sheriff. In contrast to Sheriff Stanek’s “70% increase in administrative costs”, Frizell would shift those expenditures to “boots on the ground” meaning deputies, training, and equipment. Frizell said that he would recruit more diversity in candidates (including veterans) so that Hennepin county staffing reflects the community that it serves. Frizell said that he would be a better leader because he is a “straight shooter” not a “career politician”.

 

In contrast, based on google searches, Stanek has a history of racism issues, budget issues, and privilege issues. Stanek is better known for being more politician than professional. Having not had a challenger for awhile, now Stanek will now have to defend how he runs the Sheriff’s office.
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The RFRA is backfiring and needs to go

by Dan Burns on July 16, 2014 · 1 comment

REPEAL RFRA2I was raised Roman Catholic, and took it fairly seriously, but not super-seriously, as a youth. At least as an altar boy (it was only boys doing that, then) I had something to do during Mass, to cut the boredom, a little. Then I got to college and got sunk in philosophy and became an atheist, as I am now. At the time I thought pretty highly of myself and my “intellectual courage,” but I recognize now that “courage” was not a factor. My temperament is scientific/skeptical, much more so than religious, and that’s that.
 
Certainly I continue to be critical of religious efforts to foist dogma on others, via politics, but I have long since stopped “bashing” religion in and of itself. I see said bashing as pointless and often counterproductive. Moreover, if you consider the bloodiest, most violent and destructive century in human history so far – the twentieth – the primary problem wasn’t religion. It was totalitarian socio-political doctrines like Stalinism, Nazism, and Maoism. Not that the U.S. and other somewhat more democratic nations reacted all that well, especially post-WWII.
 
I recognize why many continue to choose religion. I can relate to the desire for guidance, solace, and (far and away the most important, imo, even if believers don’t get all hung up in what really motivates them, and why should they?) participation in a community of shared belief and values.
 
Finally, I think that plenty of coverage, in the left-progressive blogosphere, of the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision has been apocalyptic overkill. Full-blown religious right Pentecostal/fundamentalist theocracy is here, because of this? Come on.
 
All that being said, it is one awful decision. And we can’t really just blame it entirely on the excesses of five reactionaries on the Court. More below the fold.
 
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Looking under Rocks in the Catholic Church

by Grace Kelly on July 15, 2014 · 2 comments

archbishop 3Jennifer Haselberger was told to “stop looking under rocks” when she was employed as archdiocese canon lawyer for the local Catholic church. She resigned. Our legislature changed the statues of limitations to allow for older abuse cases to be heard. Haselberger’s whistle-blowing testimony is essential to building the case that Catholic archdiocese is a “public nuisance” because the archdiocese has practices that systematically and continually endanger children.

 

Hat tip to the Star Tribune to its coverage and making the entire testimony available. I find Haselberger’s own words to be the most compelling testimony. Here are important excerpts that tell the story:

 

Unlike our ordinary justice system, the internal Catholic Church structure has absolute power to act quickly and decisively.

 

The Church is not a democracy and had there been any serious desire to implement change, it could have been done quickly and easily with the stroke of a single pen. Canon law requires consultation in only a few, well defined circumstances, otherwise the Archbishop’s administrative authority in his diocese is basically unlimited. Assembling a task force or a working group in such a situation is akin to Nicholas II convening the duma. It is a way of appearing to be open to change, without the risk of having to implement any changes that may be unpalatable.

 
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amd_300This is a very important online article about the mining proposals in Minnesota, that I need to pass along. I really encourage clicking and reading the whole thing. With PolyMet and Twin Metals, we’re talking about financial houses of cards that are deliberately constructed that way.
 

Given the dissolute nature of the thirty-three-year old ne’er-do-well PolyMet, and given the evidence of the faithless nature of the senior mining companies in general, you’d think that the regulators at the DNR would be screaming and demanding a guarantee of the environmental liability obligations of PolyMet by Glencore, wouldn’t you?
 
Well, my friends, you’d be sadly mistaken if you thought that. At the hearing on financial assurances in the Minnesota House last session that I mentioned earlier, representatives from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said they would not seek guarantys of environmental liability obligations from shareholders of PolyMet, even a large shareholder like Glencore, which is in practical control of PolyMet.
 
You can bet your bottom dollar that the moment that Glencore decides, We don’t see the upside, that the State of Minnesota, its citizens, its environment, and even PolyMet, itself, will be holding a potentially very large bag. That is an especial concern when the mine closes, in say twenty years, and there is no more revenue coming from it.
(Left.MN)

And this one has valuable debunking:
 

If you take U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden’s words literally, he’s making a lofty promise.
 
On at least a couple of occasions, when discussing regulations on mining jobs, McFadden has pointed to the copper and nickel reserves in northern Minnesota.
 
“It has Bakken-type economic impact on our state,” he said on conservative talk radio in May. He repeated the line when talking with MinnPost’s Eric Black a few weeks ago. “It’s a game-changer for the region.”
 
“Bakken” refers to the oil- and gas-producing region in North Dakota, an economic engine that has completely transformed the western half of the state in under a decade.
 
And there’s where the analogy falls apart. If industry-favored projections are correct, copper and nickel mining would, right away, provide a modest boost for Minnesota’s economy, while potentially leading to bigger gains in later years. But those estimates, rosy as they might be, produce not even one-tenth the jobs Bakken has created in North Dakota.
(MinnPost)

To buy into “industry-favored projections” is indicative of just jaw-dropping naivete. And/or, of course, personal agendas.
 

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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.

 
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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.
(Truthout)

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