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vote1Dates have been set for the election to fill the Minnesota Senate District 35 seat, which covers a chunk of the north metro, being vacated by Sen. Branden Petersen (R-Andover). The election is on February 9, and the primary, if needed, on January 12.

Roger Johnson is going for it on the DFL side.

Long-time community resident and activist, Roger Johnson, in response to a “Draft Johnson” effort, has agreed to seek the endorsement of the Senate District 35 DFL party to fill this impending vacancy. His wife, Vicki, soon to be President of the Anoka Philolectian Society, is eager to support him in this new leadership role.
According to Wes Volkenant, SD 35 DFL Chair, Johnson is the perfect candidate for this Senate seat. “Roger Johnson has lived in this Senate District for 41 years, sent his children to Anoka-Hennepin schools, MnSCU Colleges, and has a granddaughter enrolled at Anoka Ramsey Community College. Johnson has never slighted his attention to and participation in boards, committees and events that are an important part of the civic life of Anoka County and this Senate District,” according to Volkenant.
(Developers Are Crabgrass)

That blockquote is from a press release embedded in the Crabgrass article. You should click and read the whole thing.
For the GOP, this is from a July article:

Those possible candidates include Republican party activists Andy Aplikowski and Don Huizenga, state Rep. Abigail Whelan and former state Rep. Kathy Tinglestad.

I’m not going to look up those names and see whether they’re running for sure, or not, at this time. I’m busy, and we can wait for the filing period in December anyway. Since that was written, though, former longtime Rep. Jim Abeler appears to have become a “definite.”
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goodwin Laine

(The following is a press release from Laine for Senate.)

COLUMBIA HEIGHTS, MN – ‘Unbought and Unbossed’ Rep. Carolyn Laine Announces Senate Run; Senator Goodwin to Step Down
Rep. Carolyn Laine has announced her plans to run for the Minnesota State Senate seat to be vacated by Sen. Barb Goodwin, who announced on November 12 that she will retire at the end of next year.
“I first need to thank Sen. Goodwin for her years of remarkable service to this district and to the state,” Laine said. “She served us well in the Minnesota House and has been a dynamo in the Senate, standing up for the underserved and for common sense.”
Laine will seek the support of her DFL party, starting with the district endorsement next April. She currently is serving her 5th term in the Minnesota House, having been first elected in 2006. Previously, she served ten years on the Columbia Heights School Board. Besides raising five children, all graduates of Columbia Heights schools, she has worked as a teacher in Minneapolis schools and as a financial director for a charitable foundation. She has a Masters degree in psychology with subsequent PhD coursework in education.
Her legislative goals include health care reform. “Rather than rely on a complicated insurance system that restricts access for patients and treatment options for doctors, yet costs twice as much as other nations,” Laine said “Minnesotans want simple, affordable access to health care. We know how to do it. It is achievable. We just need the focus and the will to get it done.”
Agreeing with the concerns that too many standardized tests are interfering with student learning, Laine said, “I will push for an intelligent, developmentally appropriate approach to real learning unfettered by the bureaucratic need for test scores.”
Strengthening environmental protections and reforming campaign finance are other legislative goals for Laine. She said, “I am running under the slogan ‘Unbought and Unbossed’ and will not be accepting money from special interests or lobbyists.” Her goals as Senator include making the institution more responsive and accountable to the people of Minnesota.

Comment below fold.


The politics of Keystone in Minnesota

by Dan Burns on November 12, 2015 · 2 comments

Tar Sands by Garth Lenz_0Last week, President Obama denied TransCanada permission to build the proposed northern leg of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The intent of the line was to transport fossil fuels from northern North America, especially from tar sands in Canada, to refineries in the southern U.S. Refined products would then mostly be shipped overseas.
The reason that there is a political dimension to this is that public approval of the project was generally high. Most people with opinions were basing them on widely disseminated claims from the line’s backers. Opponents did not have the same kinds of resources, to get the word out in the corporate media that unfortunately is still most people‘s primary source for information on the issues of the day. So activists should be aware of counterarguments.

We can start with what the White House had to say. The President gave three primary reasons for denying the permit, in his statement.

– The project would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy.
– The pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers.
– Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security.
(The White House)

I would emphasize two more that I think are potentially more effective than the above:


RoboCallsGood work from Minnesota’s senators. Though getting it through Congress will likely be a heavy lift. And the White House supports the robocalling.

(Two weeks ago), President Obama signed an emergency budget bill that kept the government from shutting down, which also opened the door to automated debt-collection robocalls to your cell phone. Buried in Section 301 of the Budget Act is a provision that would allow loan servicers and other collectors of federal loan debt to use robocalls and robotexts to contact Americans struggling to pay off student loans, mortgage, tax, and other debt owed to or backed by the federal government.
The provision allows robocalls not only to those who owe debt but also to their family, references, and even those who get assigned a phone number that once belonged to someone who owed debt.
A new piece of legislation hopes to roll that back…Senators Claire McCaskill (D – Mo.), Ron Wyden (D – Ore.) Robert Menendez (D – N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D – Conn.), Patrick Leahy (D – Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I – Vt.), Al Franken (D – Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D – Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) have cosponsored this bill.
(Consumer Reports)

Yeah, all Dems, plus Bernie. One would think that being flooded with robocall harrassment on their cell phones will get millenials out to vote, if anything will. Also, the article linked in the first paragraph above discusses how the measure is likely to produce a relative pittance in added repayment.


clown carThe next GOP presidential debate starts tonight at 8PM central time. Yes, once again I’m skipping the “undercard” debate because it just doesn’t matter. This debate is on Fox Business, which will be the first time that channel has been watched by pretty much anyone. Fox Business: because the Wall Street shills on CNBC just aren’t conservative enough! So I’ll be simultaneously noting what the candidates say, doing some instant fact checking (no time for linking, so your own fact checking of my fact checking is advised), and maybe even providing some instant yet clever commentary.
So click the “read more” link if you’re reading this on the home page, and hit your browser reload button once in a while. Feel free to comment, but do understand that I may not have time to get it posted right away. Please excuse me if I miss something visual, because my eyes are on the editing page, which means essentially the debate is radio for me.


stoppolymetThe final EIS for the proposed PolyMet mine in northern Minnesota was released on Friday. I’m waiting on those who are more expert than I am in reviewing something like that from a progressive, environmentalist perspective – and who get paid, though probably not enough, to plow through it – to produce a comprehensive critique. Today, I’m talking public opinion. Polling I’ve seen:

– From February 2013, by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz, and Associates and Public Opinion Strategies for the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, had the public opposed by 48-37.

– From September 2014, by Mason-Dixon for the Star Tribune, the public supported the project by 40-23. That was down from 46-21 earlier in the year.

– A week or so ago, SurveyUSA for KSTP showed public support at a barely-above-water 37/35.

The difference between the first of those polls and the others is obvious at a glance. The first included the word “sulfide” in the question. It’s a great example of how apparently small differences in question wording can swing responses.
One thing, that same KSTP/SUSA poll has Ben Carson beating Hillary Clinton by 9 points in the state that has gone longest (43 years) since handing a Republican its electoral votes, and with a state Republican party that can be generally characterized as inept and flailing, for some time now. In reality SUSA is a pollster that is very good in its polling just before elections, but when there’s a while to go will give its clients, mostly conservative media “news” outlets like KSTP, the kind of, er, unlikely, numbers that they’re looking to pimp on their broadcasts. But I have to say that I have not seen anything so flagrantly outlandish as this, from SUSA in Minnesota, before now. Not even, as you may recall, Mills+8 in MN-08, a few weeks before election day, in 2014. Yet they nailed MN-Sen and MN-Gov, a week or so before that election.


So you have to take that into account, when looking at SUSA’s polling on PolyMet. But these numbers do seem to make some sense. PolyMet has the resources for a big media advertising push, and they’ve been doing precisely that, off and on, for years now. (I’ve already steeled myself to endure another big fat dose of their drivel, during the upcoming high school football Prep Bowl.) But we opponents have ways of getting our views out there, too. And the state’s popular governor is clearly very unsure about this, and corporate media has to report that, like it or not. The what some would call repugnant political antics of some of PolyMet’s backers could also be souring some views.

Timberjay has a great article about where Governor Dayton is at on this, and the major factors influencing that.


Reactions to the TPP text release

by Dan Burns on November 9, 2015 · 0 comments

tpp2The full text of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement was made available for anyone to see. The common – indeed, pretty much universal – thread on the progressive left has been “it’s even worse than we thought.” There was always the issue of whether the leaks and second-hand reports from those who were previously able to see it were providing a one-sided take. Apparently not.

“Worse than anything we could’ve imagined.”
“An act of climate denial.”
“Giveaway to big agribusiness.”
“A death warrant for the open Internet.”
“Worst nightmare.”
“A disaster.”
As expert analysis of the long-shrouded, newly publicized TransPacific Partnership (TPP) final text continued to roll out on Thursday, consensus formed around one fundamental assessment of the 12-nation pact: It’s worse than we thought.
“From leaks, we knew quite a bit about the agreement, but in chapter after chapter the final text is worse than we expected with the demands of the 500 official U.S. trade advisers representing corporate interests satisfied to the detriment of the public interest,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.
(Common Dreams)

“Minnesotans warn of threats posed by massive trade deal:”


clown carWhen Bernie Sanders was asked about the bizarre things Ben Carson said in the past, he said it wasn’t fair to hold candidates accountable for what they said decades ago. I would agree with him if he were speaking just generally. We shouldn’t be held accountable for something we said decades ago as if we were prevaricating flip-floppers just because we now say something different. We change our minds on some things over time, and would we want a candidate incapable of that? Likewise, we all make factual errors. Possibly we all not only make factual errors, but at some point believe something nuts, which is embarrassing once we figure it out. We all have some time when we behaved badly, and our worst moment back whenever shouldn’t define us.
So looking at Carson’s claim that the Egyptian pyramids were built by Joseph as granaries, if that’s all it was, a factual error, a belief he no longer holds, a bad moment that happened to get recorded on video, then Bernie would be right. We should, were that the case, just move on to current issues and forget a speech 17 years ago — but that’s not what happened. It could have been what happened, if Carson, asked about it now, had said something like he wasn’t an egyptologist but should have known better as an educated person, or now he knows better and is a bit embarrassed about it. However, he said he still believes it. That’s different. That changes it from something he said 17 years ago to something he says now. Thus why I disagree with Bernie. This is completely fair game in terms of judging Carson as a prospective president.
What does one crazy belief have to do with being president? Nothing, were it only one isolated weird belief, one mistake that wasn’t repeated. However, it’s part of a pattern that has persisted right up until now. Carson says a lot of weird stuff, now, not only in decades past. What he’s said about Obamacare being worse than slavery, Jews being able to fend off the Nazis if only they’d had more guns, and prison inmates turning gay after being raped all happened recently. That first instance might be mere hyperboly, the second is a common belief on the gun nut right despite its easy debunking, and the third is maybe just unskeptical ignorance, but how to explain away the pyramids claim? And also throwing in the opinion that scientists can be ignored on what the pyramids were built for because some believe aliens built them? Either he’s thinking of the archaeologist character in “Stargate” under the misapprehension it was a documentary, or he keeps giving the impression he disconnected from reality.


The myth of the liberal media gets a new boost

by Dan Burns on November 6, 2015 · 0 comments

mediaThe farcical gaggle of delusional, egomaniacal lunatics that is the GOP presidential field have recently been pimping the myth of the “liberal media’ even more stridently than wingnuts generally do. From reality-based articles:

Media Matters’ Brendan Karet had a good catch today on how fake news enters the media food chain. His example started with Fox News‘ Sean Hannity telling Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush that “the president said he’s going to bring in 250,000 refugees into this country.” The next day, Hannity gave the same statistic to candidate Donald Trump:

This president has committed to nearly 250,000 coming to America. That tells me we’re—we have a pre-9/11 mindset again.

What was Hannity’s source for this remarkable claim? PolitiFact looked into it, and could find only one possible source: the joke website Real News Right Now, which featured that story in September, along with reports like “Vatican City Conducts ‘Successful’ Nuclear Test” and “Joe the Plumber Caught Trying to Enter North Korea.”
…It’s a problem when presidential candidates from a major political party are getting their information about the world from a news outlet that evidently can’t tell the difference between a sub-Onion hoax site and actual news. It’s an even bigger problem when those candidates bring those bogus claims onto supposedly reputable network TV—and the real journalists aren’t able to recognize that the politicians they’re interviewing are parroting garbage factoids from Fox‘s land of make-believe.

This next article is mostly about “mainstream” media’s drooling love affair with House Speaker Paul “Lyin” Ryan (R-WI), and should be clicked on and read in its entirety. I’m just blockquoting the last paragraph, which is more general in scope.


TFA buys school board seats in Richfield

by Dan Burns on November 5, 2015 · 2 comments

abanschoolThis is not about going after idealistic young people who give Teach for America a try. But the fact is that the organization is being used to undermine and corporatize public education, and that makes this bad news.


That’s one word to describe the campaign finance report for Teach for America–Twin Cities employee Crystal Brakke. Brakke is one of nine candidates gunning for three open seats on the Richfield, Minnesota school board, and if she wins, she will have heavy hitters like venture capitalist and TFA board member Arthur Rock to thank…
In 2014, the free-flowing money from the likes of Rock, Michael Bloomberg, and charter school champion and Oxycontin heir Jonathan Sackler was not enough to tip Minneapolis’ board into a solidly pro-reform camp. One candidate whose campaign benefited from the money, Don Samuels, won, while the other candidate, Iris Altamirano, did not.
Now, the big money is back, for a very local school board race, and TFA is the tie that binds all of this together…
To Brakke’s credit, she has been a Richfield resident for years. And, she’s not in this alone. Another fellow TFA alum, Paula Cole, is also running for a spot on Richfield’s school board.
(Bright Light Small City)

Brakke and Cole both won.
Comment below fold.