Recent Posts

Hubbard News being humiliated over Pointergate

by Dan Burns on November 7, 2014 · 4 comments

That would be “5 Eyewitness News” here in the Minnesota metro. It’s owned by the state’s top Republican financier, Stan Hubbard. You have to read the whole article, for all of the context.

What you are about to read and watch is stranger than fiction. It’s so racist and so outrageous, that people are questioning whether or not it’s satire from The Onion. It’s real though, and that’s what is so shocking and heartbreaking about the whole ordeal…
Sadly, only racism allows such an ugly story and stereotype to be advanced about a young man who was clearly not flashing a gang sign with the mayor of Minneapolis. He deserves a public apology and heads should roll at this station for even allowing it to ever make it to the air.
Furthermore, some real investigative journalism needs to uncover just why the police were willing to get behind such a phony story. Something smells off in a major way. Could it be because the mayor is behind the police wearing body cameras and the police faked this story hours before the pilot program was due to launch? Or could it be that she called out police corruption and vowed to clean it up last month?
(Daily Kos)

Stan Hubbard and his wretched minions are getting their comeuppance, in a way, through a whole lot of “tweets.” For example, apparently Jeff Johnson is not yet completely irrelevant.
Again, you have to click and read the whole thing. Unreal.
Comments below fold.


Post-election observations

by Eric Ferguson on November 6, 2014 · 4 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.


The Unforgiven Sins of Bill Maher

by Invenium Viam on November 6, 2014 · 1 comment

jesus-KornKing“There is no worse enemy of God and Man than zeal armed with power and guided by a feeble intellect.” ~ William James


Over the last several weeks, social critic/comedian Bill Maher has found himself in conflict with various groups of people for espousing some unpopular views regarding Islam. He recently stated on his television show Real Time with Bill Maher, for example, that “Islam is the only religion that acts like the Mafia and will f**king kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.”


He is, of course, referring to various acts of murder and violent reprisal by Muslims against Western writers, artists and authors, including fellow Muslims, for perceived offenses and crimes against their religion or their prophet.


Recently, Maher managed to brook the ire of the U.C. Berkeley student body, who find his opinions so unforgivably offensive that they protested his invitation from the university regents to deliver a commencement address in December, demanding that the invitation be withdrawn.


Maher’s first offensive political view seems to be an assertion that there is something inherent in the Islamic religion that gives rise to institutional, organized violence by some of its adherents towards others including both non-Muslims and other Muslims. His second offensive political view seems to be an assertion that Islam is antagonistic towards, and/or its teachings antithetical to, the personal freedoms we take for granted in the West, which puts Islam in direct conflict with Western values.


In that light, Maher has been lately admonishing liberals to publicly uphold ‘liberal’ values. “Liberals,” Maher said, “need to stand up for liberal principles. Freedom of speech. Freedom to practice any religion you want without fear of violence. Freedom to leave a religion. Equality for women. Equality for minorities including homosexuals …”.


Maher may be right about his assertions … or he may be wrong. That is for you to decide. But the more important, underlying, question of the moment is not whether he is right or wrong, but whether he has a right to voice his opinions in the arena of public discourse regardless of how unpopular they may be in some quarters. He is not wrong in simply asking the question whether there is something inherent in Islam that leads to institutional, organized violence by some of its adherents. Nor is he wrong in suggesting that that inherent something — if it exists — would put Islam in direct cultural conflict with Western values.


Whether Maher is right or wrong, he has posed assertions worthy of examination. That others see in them evidence of bigotry, and in their zeal move to suppress both him and them, only lends weight to his arguments. First, if there is nothing in the practices and teachings of Islam that can give credence to his assertions, why is the reaction by Muslims and others to damn him for bigotry quite so immediate and strident? Why not simply answer those assertions with calm, deliberative argument? Secondly, doesn’t the zeal for suppression by Muslims itself evidence a conflict with Western values?


Unsettling, even disturbing, questions often challenge us to rational examination through open-ended inquiry, which leads to a newer, better understanding of the world around us and our place within it. Accordingly, in Western culture, we have learned over time to allow all to speak their opinions freely and to uphold the rational over the dogmatic in sorting out truths from falsehood. We see evidence every day that some sects or groups within Islam have not yet learned how to do this, and tend to uphold the dogmatic over the rational even to the point of violence and murder. However, in my view, that failing on the part of some does not make it inherent to the whole of Islam. Furthermore, we see the same failing within groups in Western culture: Flat-earthers, Creationists, White Supremacists, and the Berkeley student body. Does their predilection for the dogmatic over the rational prove a broadly inherent failing of Western culture? It does not.


What is dead-certain in any society’s bifurcated search for truth, as conducted by those whose predilections run to the rational versus those who uphold the dogmatic, is that the dogmatists will always first attempt to suppress the rationalists. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s Neo-Nazi’s, Christian Fundamentalists, 15th-century Spanish Jesuits, modern-day Sunni Salafists, or a student body living in a distorted world seen through the coke-bottle lenses of political correctness — the reaction by the dogmatists to suppress is as predictable as the sunrise. The reason is quite simple: the revealed truths of rational, open-ended inquiry always poses an existential threat to the convenient, comfortable, received truths of dogma.


More Below the Fold

{ 1 comment }

Minnesota winter1I wrote this for DailyKOS, where you can also comment and recommend it. I write this because I really do think we in Minnesota have come up with better campaign strategies.


If you look at Yougov survey of state rankings, then you will see that Minnesota is ranked 18th in scoring on progressive issues. Minnesota was behind Wisconsin and Michigan. Yet Minnesota is doing better in elections. Why? While even Minnesota can improve what we do, I do think that we have significant differences from national trends in campaigning.

Proud to be a Democrat, Proud of Democratic Leadership and Proud of Democratic Policies


When Democrats are proud to be Democrats and proud of Democratic policies, then we win. Minnesota did lose significant house seats in rural house districts where there is less spoken in that strong kind of pride. Minnesota was especially strong on comparing itself favorably to Wisconsin, where Minnesota’s choice of Democratic policy and leadership has really helped the Minnesota economy. Duh, Obama is one of our greatest speakers. How did we ever get talked into not using him? On every poll, Democratic policies score higher, why wouldn’t one run on winning numbers?


People Power vs Money Power


Doorknocking is the key to success. Whenever possible the Minnesota Democrats hit every door in highly-Democratic, high-turnover districts. Minnesota held key seats in areas where that strategy was used. In rural areas, getting to every door is not easily done, so this strategy cannot be used there. The money power is getting scary high with state races now going to a million dollars with outsider money. Yet 20 dedicated people doorknocking every weekend can hold against the money. We say thank you to our dedicated people often, they are the heroes of our party.

{ 1 comment }

MN-08: About the election

by Dan Burns on November 6, 2014 · 3 comments

nolanI grant that it was close. Uncomfortably – indeed, distressingly – so, though the (entirely legitimate) presence of a Green Party candidate was partly the reason for that. Distressing that so many are still politically foolish and gullible enough to have fallen for Stewart Mills III’s repugnant, failed plutocratic drivel. Turnout was 68.5% of registered voters (not of all eligible voters) in this race, compared to 63% for governor (those numbers are based on registered voter totals on the linked pages, and don’t include at-the-polls signups). So, not awful, but far from great, by Minnesota standards. (Update: It turns out that total turnout was awful, at 50.31% of eligible voters statewide. Which partly explains the closeness of this race, too.)


I’m obviously very relieved that we won’t have to put up with Minnesota’s corporate media deifying Mills as the Unstoppable Future of the Republican Party. And you know that they were pumped with eagerness, to do that. Probably not the reporters themselves, for the most part, but those who tell them what to write.
Contrary to what some concern trolls claimed, taking particular note of Mills’s unearned privilege worked. Probably made the difference. Well, that, and The Hair. I saw somewhere that Nolan has the most progressive voting record overall of any Democrat who faced a really tough challenge. I’m not sure about that – I haven’t seen the data, myself – but it’s likely at least close to accurate, and makes his win something to feel all that much better about.


This seat probably won’t have to be worried about much in 2016, even if Rep. Nolan hands it off, but the longer term remains to be seen. Tuesday’s result, given the overall climate, shows that the district is blue, but not dark blue. (And that any candidate who is perceived as not red-hot enough for sulfide mining is not automatically doomed. I’ll write more about that. A lot of people will.) Demographic movement (as in greater diversity and better-educated) will push things left, but that’s a slow process.
Comments below fold.


Harry Potter and the 2014 Election

by gregladen on November 5, 2014 · 2 comments

Separated at birth? Maybe not. But still ...

Separated at birth? Maybe not. But still …

Harry Potter and the 2014 Election

The Potter Metaphor


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s stone is the first in a series of books that are metaphorical of the central theme of politics and society in the Western world. Voldemort represents purity of race and racism, the good Witches and Wizards of Hogwarts represent the struggle of self aware consensus around the idea of fairness. The key protagonists — Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley, together with a few others — succeed because of the diversity in ability they collectively represent.


One of the key moments in J. K. Rowling’s book is the solution of the potions challenge on the way to the hidden room containing the Sorcerer’s stone. There are several challenges and problems, and each one is met by a different protagonist. Harry has the ability to make Hagrid reveal his poorly kept secrets, so among other things the three students find out how to control Fuffy, the giant three-headed hound. He is also a skilled Seeker, and can thus grab the flying key. Hermione is the one that notices the trap door. Ron for all his failings is a master at Wizard Chess. The theme here is obvious. The three students often fail to understand each other and often do not see eye to eye, but by combining their different strengths and working together, they accomplish what no individual Witch or Wizard could do. The part about the potions challenge is a notably extreme case of this.


Voldemort and his death eaters, and the Slytherin such as Draco Malfoy and his father, as well as Snape, resent the half breeds and muggle-born. They wish to see those who are not pure removed from their society, by any means. The historical fact that Voldemort himself is a halfbreed, a thinly veiled reference to Hitler’s Jewish connections, is beside the point. But it is the muggle-born Hermione who solves the potions puzzle using a Muggle capacity rarely found in Wizards. Wizards, we are told by Rowling, have magical minds, not logical minds. Among the Muggles we find those like Hermione, who probably spent hours with brain teaser books as an eight year old, who are capable of solving complex logical problems, problems that seem impossible but in fact have only one solution. When Hermione and Harry reach the potions challenge, where drinking all of the liquids but one will cause a horrible outcome, but that one potion will open the next door, her Muggle mind comes into play. Harry does not understand how Hermione has solved the problem, but he trusts her with his life.


It is very unfortunate that this scene was left out of the movie version of the story, even though it is alluded to after the fact. As far as I can tell, the scene was never shot (correct me if I am wrong). To me, this is a key message in Rowling’s book. The fact that it was not transferred into the movie version, and that commentary on the book vs. movie differences tend note it but do not lament it, is a bit disappointing.



2014 election results liveblog

by Dan Burns on November 4, 2014 · 5 comments

537AM: Rep. Rick Nolan has won in MN-08. But the GOP has gained control of the Minnesota House, it looks like by two or three seats. It was mostly rural seats that flipped.
1108: MN-07 has been called for Rep. Peterson. MN-08 and the state House both look promising, as far as I can tell, but I’m not waiting up for a couple more hours to be sure. Thank you to everyone who stopped by.
1037: John Kline is up by 20%, with 60% reporting. Insane. It’s almost as if Flip a District did more harm than good.
1029: The MN-08 race is tight – Rep. Rick Nolan is up by about 2%, with about 1/3 reporting – and Collin has a double-digit lead in MN-07 with half reporting.
1024: The GOP will probably win the Senate race in North Carolina (putting us at 46 barring a miracle in Alaska and/or the Louisiana runoff), and Rick Snyder has been reelected in Michigan.
1017: Rebecca Gagnon and, yes, Don Samuels have won the citywide Minneapolis school board seats.
1014: It’s been called for Governor Dayton!
1004: In the MN House, Yvonne Selcer has held 48A. I provided the link partly because I doubt I’ll stay up late enough to see the House totals through.
953: Scott Walker has won in Wisconsin. It’s entirely possible that the only Tea Party governor who’ll get booted was Pennsylvania. Maybe Kansas. Well, Minnesota had to suffer through two terms of Pawlenty to get its act together.
948: With about 35% in statewide Governor Dayton’s up by about 12 points, Steve Simon by 8 for SoS, and the other executive races are blowouts.
941: We’ve lost the Senate seat in Iowa, too. And Georgia has stayed GOP. Hopefully we won’t end any worse than 47.
928: Bad stuff. The GOP has won the Senate seat in Colorado, and Rick Scott has been reelected Florida governor. Apparently, South Florida did not come through, with turnout. Here in Minnesota, all of our incumbents are ahead, though in most cases with less than 20% reporting.
916: With 86/127 reporting the race for two citywide school board seats in Minneapolis, Rebecca Gagnon has 33.5%, Don Samuels 28.6%, Iris Altamirano 25.5%, Ira Jourdain 12.4%.
912: I’m sorry to have to report that incumbent Rich Stanek is winning huge in the Hennepin County sheriff’s race.
859: Two entries below, I spoke too soon. The AP has called Minnesota for Sen. Al Franken. Hear the anguished howling of Al-hating wingnuts? Sweet, ain’t it? Now, we’ll see about coattails.
855: From DKos:

No surprise: The AP is calling a runoff in LA-Sen. That happened once before in 2002, and Democrat Mary Landrieu pulled off a miracle victory that year. Can she do so again? Looking a lot harder this time.

850: In Minnesota, once we get up to around 30% of precincts reporting, I’ll start doing the same. We’re nowhere near that, yet.
820: I may as well put this out there. Remember how last year the Virginia governor’s race was far tighter than the polls indicated? The same thing is happening, right now, with the Senate race there, and losing it would be brutal. If we end with anything less than 46 Senate seats, there’s no guarantee we’ll take it back in 2016.
800: Senate races in general are going per the form book, which isn’t great, but the ones that will determine have yet to significantly manifest. We’ve won New Hampshire, lost Arkansas.
720: In general, when I have multiple things to note, I’ll start at the bottom and work my way up. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has a cold, dark soul, and he has won reelection. Pennsylvania has replaced its Tea Party governor, Tom Corbett. Don’t take this too seriously: there are indications that Dems are outperforming polling aggregates in more races than not.
I’ve put the previous body of this below the fold, and below the comments.


It’s Election Day

by Dan Burns on November 4, 2014 · 1 comment


{ 1 comment }

Ebola Political Ad  Large 1The Hagedorn campaign for CD-1 against Tim Walz has taken a hard right turn for the nastier foolish propaganda as the date for the election nears.  This is intended to appeal to the right wing neo-con hatriots, the ones who are the most science illiterate on the right, and who never met a war they didn’t like (so long as someone else fought it, and paid for it).


Not only does it fear monger to the anti-immigrant bigots, reaching for the broadest possible appeal among that ugly, wilfully ignorant demographic, but it reflects the attempt by the right to turn Ebola into a big dumb stick with which to try to beat Obama, in the hopes that it might at least indirectly damage any and every Democrat in the country running for office through guilt by association.


I’ve been watching this trend of right wing propaganda for a few weeks now.  It includes the usual suspects in the right wing propaganda machine, beginning with Alex Jones and his silly info-wars, claiming that the President and the CDC are LYING TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ABOUT EBOLA!


In support of that red meat for the conspiracy theory crowd, they offer a publication in the Lancet, cited in the New York Times back in 2000 to argue that people riding the bus with you could appear perfectly healthy, not having any Ebola symptoms (you know, like bleeding from every orifice, looking like a Zombie), not even feeling ill, AND STILL SPREAD THE DISEASE TO EVERY AMERICAN (especially the right-wing red-blooded ones).  They don’t even have to eat your brain, or bite you (wait…that’s vampires, not zombies), all they have to do is breathe or sneeze on you!  You can get it like flu, from doorknobs, even if they don’t bite you or eat your brain!


Of course, the righties don’t actually READ these studies that gin them up and send them to the polls, but I do.  That 14 year old study appears to be an outlier, doesn’t appear to have been replicated anywhere; while another  referring to a few pig farmers in the Philippines who never showed any symptoms of having ‘the Ebola’, but who did register a weak immune response to it, suggesting they had been infected by it at some point in time.  Apart from the fact that it appears you can be infected and not be symptomatic, from the two different reports, it does NOT appear you can actually infect someone while asymptomatic, as no documented case of doing so appears anywhere.

from the original 2000 Lancet article:

The Lancet study does not warn of an apocalyptic scenario where any casual contact could cause infection. It is more focused on contagion through sex or blood transfusions.


It should be noted that NEITHER study claims that Ebola can be transmitted by asymptomatic individuals, or that anyone, anywhere, EVER, caught ‘the Ebola’ from asymptomatic individuals.  But part of the fear being generated by fliers like the one above, of ISIS suicide terrorists infected with Ebola is that they might not LOOK or FEEL sick enough to be identifiable, and if they lose their obvious terrorist outfits, they could walk among us — like ZOMBIES AND VAMPIRES!– infecting us all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


{ 1 comment }

DFL excitement in the SW ‘burbs

by JeffStrate on November 3, 2014 · 1 comment

The troops at the DFL Coordinated Campaign Office in Hopkins were visited by Senator Amy Klobuchar, Lt. Governor Candidate Tina Smith and State Senators Melisa Franzen and Terri Bonoff. The elected  luminaries were there to cheer the hardworking southwest suburban candidate teams on. Those candidates included Congressional District 3 DFL endorsed Sharon Sund and MN House Candidates John Applebaum (44B -Mtka, Plmth), Cheryl Youakim (46B-Hopkins, St.LP) and Yvonne Selcer (Mtka, Eden Prairie). Rep. Selcer has the most competitive race.
No one expected anything less than full throated but seasoned cheer leading and they got it. All were in top spirits. Yvonne Selcer reminded the gathered that her 202 vote victory two years ago was only possible with lots of volunteer shoe leather during the last two days of that campaign.  Right winger Kirk Stensrud and big check writers have been at it again with toxic mailings in an attempt to take back House District 48A, northern Eden Prairie and southern Minntonka.
This internet only video is from Democratic Visions.

{ 1 comment }