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trump15Yeah, there are still plenty of hurdles, like trying to reconcile whatever the Senate pukes up with anything crazy enough to satisfy the House Freedom Caucus. But my belief is that some kind of Obamacare repeal is more likely than not. Hopefully I’m wrong.
 

And even if you don’t use Medicaid, taking it away from 14 million people, as this bill will do, is going to devastate small communities, where Medicaid is a lifeline for rural health facilities and a source of good jobs. Rationing it will throw rural hospitals and nursing homes into a financial tailspin.
 
It will toss kids and their parents off coverage. It will pull the rug out from seniors and people with disabilities who live independently thanks to Medicaid. It will take dollars from the Indian Health Service when IHS is already woefully underfunded.
 
The politicians who support the Republican health care repeal know that many of us are outraged, so they’re swearing up and down that it won’t hurt ordinary people at all. That’s a lie, plain and simple.
(OurFuture.org)

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Trump looks to screw veterans

by Dan Burns on June 8, 2017 · 2 comments

veteransMuch has been made of the fact that the Trump budget proposes an overall increase in Veterans Administration funding. What’s not emphasized enough is that much of that added money is for starting to turn VA health care over to the greedheads via privatization. Here’s a reality check, from a source that can hardly be termed “left-wing.”
 

The plan to cut financial support for aging and disabled veterans included in President Donald Trump’s $1.1 trillion federal budget proposal has led to bitterness and confusion among the estimated 225,000 vets who could lose the payments.
 
The reductions may also trigger a political backlash against the president, who made reforming and increasing support for the Department of Veterans Affairs a major part of his campaign against Hillary Clinton…
 
The comments came from a flurry of emails from veterans and spouses to Military.com in response to a story last week about the proposal in the White House budget plan to cut the Individual Unemployability (IU) benefit in part to pay for an expansion of the Choice program, which allows veterans to seek health care in the private sector.
 
Veterans service organizations have also been flooded with calls and emails voicing concerns about the budget proposals and potential cuts to IU benefits.
(Military.com)

Comments below fold.
 
…READ MORE

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Setbacks for the MN sulfide mining crowd

by Dan Burns on June 8, 2017 · 0 comments

sulfideI did not expect this first one. Maybe Trump has some kind of personal beef with Twin Metals’s owner, the ecological disaster-monger Antofagasta. Whatever the motivation is, here, it looks good to me.

 

The U.S. Department of Justice late Monday filed a motion asking a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit by Twin Metals that seeks renewal of federal mining leases that had been withdrawn by the Obama administration.
 
The move is a blow for copper mining supporters who had hoped the Trump administration would drop opposition to the lawsuit and re-issue the permits to allow the mine to advance…
 
Twin Metals sued to get the leases back. Now, the Justice Department is fighting that effort, a sign that the Interior Department under Trump may be sticking with the moratorium.
(Duluth News Tribune)

Minnesota’s mining regulators at the Land and Minerals Division of the Department of Natural Resources face a stiff test of fidelity to the citizens of Minnesota as described in an article by Josephine Marcotty in the Strib’s paper edition on May 14th. The issue is: what are the financial reserves that must be set aside to assure the state that PolyMet’s proposed mine will be cleaned up and closed properly, maintenance free, with no losses to the state?
 
Two sets of experts have looked at the cost of pre-planning PolyMet Mining Corp.’s funeral, so to speak, and the numbers are grim. The state’s own retained experts say it’s in the neighborhood of $650 million, while an independent expert, who delivered a presentation at the University of Minnesota recently, said it was more like $934 million, up front. That is just shy of a billion dollars, people. That is three or four times PolyMet’s market capitalization, let alone book value.
(Left.mn)

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Trump looks to screw farmers

by Dan Burns on June 7, 2017 · 0 comments

cornTo be a farmer you have to have a lot of common sense. So it doesn’t add up that farmers tend to be politically conservative. Until, that is, you look at the other factors at play, like the (among many others) socio-political attitudes with which they were raised, a tendency to still get their “information” from corporate media, and the pervasive influence of old, bad habits.
 

U.S. farm groups on (May 23) pushed back against President Donald Trump’s proposal to slash agriculture spending, viewing it as a fresh threat to a struggling farm economy.
 
The White House on (May 22) proposed $46.54 billion in cuts to federal government funding for the agriculture sector over the next 10 years, including limits on federal subsidies for crop insurance premiums. Congress has the final say on the government’s budget and lawmakers said the president’s plan stands little chance of passing…
 
Farmers in the U.S. agricultural heartland overwhelmingly supported Trump last November and are struggling with low crop prices that are hurting incomes.
 
“This budget seems to really go after the people that got the president elected,” said Zack Clark, director of government relations for the National Farmers Union.
(Reuters)

This next article is a few weeks old. I looked around a little, and the information on who is being picked seems to have not changed.
 

President Donald Trump and his agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, are finally getting around to staffing key positions at the US Department of Agriculture, reports the trade journal AgWeb. Surprising no one who watched the chaotic process that finally ended with Trump settling on Perdue as USDA chief, the rumored picks to fill top USDA roles are a bunch of agribiz flacks and political hacks.
(Mother Jones)

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trump17Be aware that if you do click and read this one, it verges on being literally, physically nauseating. An adjective like “scummy” barely begins to describe the repugnant reality.
 

And while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses.
 
All of this seems to defy federal tax rules and state laws that ban self-dealing and misleading donors. It also raises larger questions about the Trump family dynamics and whether Eric and his brother, Don Jr., can be truly independent of their father.
 
Especially since the person who specifically commanded that the for-profit Trump Organization start billing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the nonprofit Eric Trump Foundation, according to two people directly involved, was none other than the current president of the United States, Donald Trump.
(Forbes)

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oilspillClick here to find a map with meeting dates and locations.
 

June is your chance to speak out against tar sands in Minnesota!
 
Between June 6 and June 22, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is hosting 22 public meetings across the state about Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 tar sands pipeline expansion.

The website from which I got the following is packed with info on the issue.
 

Line 3 is a disaster waiting to happen. This Enbridge oil pipeline was built in 1961 and despite having hundreds of thousands of structural anomalies, Line 3 continues to ship crude oil from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. This aging pipe as ten times as many corrosion anomalies per mile than any other Enbridge pipeline in the same corridor. Enbridge wants to abandon this legacy of contamination in the ground, walk away, and build an entirely new corridor, through the heart of Minnesota’s best lakes and wild rice beds, and through Anishinaabeg treaty territories.
(Stop Line 3)

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trump16This looks at some of the theories as to why Trump diehards are hanging on, and why many will likely continue to do so no matter what.
 

The most popular theory in the mainstream media is that Trumpists think that Trump will bring jobs back. The hypothesis here is that their support for Trump derives entirely from economic anxiety over globalization, loss of manufacturing, the supposed failures of Obamacare, wage stagnation, income inequality, trade deficits, and soaring national debt. But economic angst does not really explain Trumpists’ unwavering devotion to Trump, whose cabinet appointments, executive orders, and legislative proposals generally do not help them or even pretend to help them.
 
…why Trumpists love Trump: he shares their bitterness and resentment. As long as he keeps giving all those self-righteous, contemptuous “elitists” the finger, a gesture that started with his Birtherism, it doesn’t matter what else he says or does, how many lies he tells, how many mistakes he makes, or how many detrimental policies he advocates or enacts. All that matters is that he keep disrupting and subverting the arrogant, oppressive establishment – or “deconstruct[ing] the administrative state,” as Trump’s white nationalist advisor Steve Bannon put it.
 
Trumpists’ politics, then, are ultimately rooted in raw emotion, not principles or thoughtful ideology.
(CounterPunch)

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State Auditor Rebecca Otto on her property in Marine on St. Croix on Friday, January 8, 2016.  (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)

State Auditor Rebecca Otto on her property in Marine on St. Croix on Friday, January 8, 2016. (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)

Professor Michael Mann, the famous climate scientist who produced the Hockey Stick Graph demonstrating that recent anthropogenic global warming is a big deal when viewed in the context of deep time, has endorsed State Auditor Rebecca Otto for governor.

 
This is a national level figure noticing the importance of the Minnesota governor’s race and carefully choosing among the candidates, picking the one that has the best record on climate policy.
 
Here is Dr. Mann’s endorsement:
 

Rebecca Otto is a shining example of the kind of integrity and leadership we hope for in our elected leaders but too rarely see: someone who puts their money where their mouth is.
 
I’m proud to support Rebecca Otto for Governor of Minnesota, and urge everyone who is concerned about climate change and clean energy to join me in supporting her.
 

Michael E. Mann, director of Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, shared with his colleagues the honor of receiving the Nobel Prize awarded to the IPCC and its team for its work on climate science.  Mann and his colleagues Malcolm Hughes and Raymond Bradley produced the famous Hockey Stick Graph in 1998.

Michael E. Mann, director of Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, shared with his colleagues the honor of receiving the Nobel Prize awarded to the IPCC and its team for its work on climate science. Mann and his colleagues Malcolm Hughes and Raymond Bradley produced the famous Hockey Stick Graph in 1998.

After studying the evidence, Rebecca and her husband Shawn became national leaders in charting ways for governments to reduce fossil fuel energy use, and in combating industry propaganda campaigns that sow doubt about the billions of points of evidence that all point in the same direction. As the Minnesota State Auditor, Rebecca issued a nationally award-winning report on how local governments can reduce energy costs dramatically by switching to clean, carbon-free energy sources. Shawn has authored two books on the War on Science, on what the evidence says about climate change, and on how we can combat the disinformation and move forward; he also co-founded the US presidential science debate initiative and was involved in planning the March for Science. The couple built and live in a solar and wind-powered home and drive electric vehicles.

 

Rebecca wants to make Minnesota a national leader in tackling climate change and creating well-paying new jobs in the clean energy economy, and I’m confident she will achieve her goal with our support. We need her leadership to help move the ball forward globally on this pressing issue.

 
This is an appropriate endorsement given Otto’s long term commitment to doing something about global warming. Note that they first built the house decades ago, so this is not a recent short term commitment, but a long term passion.
 
I asked Professor Mann why a climate scientist working in Pennsylvania would worry about a governor’s race in Minnesota. “In climate change, we face a threat that knows no boundaries—continental boundaries, national boundaries, or state boundaries,” he told me. “We must support politicians everywhere who are willing to act on climate. Rebecca Otto has demonstrated that she places great priority on science-based policymaking on climate change and I am happy to support her candidacy.”
 

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MN lege: The court battle over defunding

by Dan Burns on June 5, 2017 · 0 comments

mncapitol2Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has defunded the Minnesota legislature, using a line-item veto, in response to “poison-pill” tactics used by legislative Republican majorities. The GOP is taking the matter to the state Supreme Court.
 

Mary Jane Morrison, professor emeritus at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, said a lawsuit against Dayton could be followed by another suit challenging the Legislature and whether its budget bills violated the clause of the state constitution that says bills must be limited to a single subject.
 
“When the court has to deal with one of them, they’ll take up both of them,” Morrison said. “The solution won’t necessarily be one that the Legislature will ever be happy about, because the single-subject clause is really clear.”
(MPR)

While Dayton’s line-item veto is the immediate cause of the constitutional crisis, flagrant violation of the single subject rule by the legislature is the real culprit…
 
The stripping away of the State Auditor’s powers was attached to a larger unrelated bill under the cloak of darkness. The same can be said about the legislature’s poison pill in the tax bill. But even if they were not hidden as the Republican legislative leaders contend, they still violated the letter if not the spirit of the single-subject rule. They also point to how leadership has failed to enforce germaneness rules that would keep policy and appropriation bills separate. Viewed in this context, the governor’s line-item veto was constitutionally under-minded. Yes, Dayton could have vetoed entire omnibus budget bills, but that would have triggered another political and constitutional crisis in terms of another governmental shutdown. No matter the choice Dayton faced, there was a constitutional problem.
 
Viewed in isolation Dayton’s line-item vetoing of the legislature’s funding is constitutionally wrong. He cannot use that veto to negate or undermine the authority of another constitutionally-explicit branch of the government—this is a major separation of powers issue. Yet if the only lawsuit filed is one by the legislature then that may be the decision the Minnesota Supreme Court is forced to bring. However, there needs also to be a lawsuit brought by legislators—and Senator John Marty is contemplating one—raising the single-subject rule to many of the omnibus bills passed this term. They should also join the State Auditor in her appeal to the Supreme Court. Why? If the Court is given the opportunity to rule on both the line-item veto and the single-subject rule then it would perhaps be able either to join the cases or resolve them in a way that defines the proper limits on what the legislature can do, thereby also drawing lines regarding what the governor can do. Defining the limits of the single-subject rule and the line-item veto would then also clarify the separation of powers issue.
(Schultz’s Take)

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Class Warfare – Republican Style!

by Bill Prendergast on June 1, 2017 · 0 comments

IMG_0089

Script: Bill Prendergast Art: Dan Murphy

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