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Vile deformer scum target Minnesota teachers

by Dan Burns on April 18, 2016 · 0 comments

abandoned2Yeah, I rarely adorn my posts with titles like that. I’m generally more about just passing along information, and letting other people, who are better bloggers than me anyway, do the righteous hyperbole. But this one is worthy.
 

A group of parents backed by a national nonprofit say Minnesota’s teacher tenure laws perpetuate the state’s academic achievement gap between white students and students of color.
 
The group on Thursday filed a lawsuit that challenges Minnesota laws that make it more difficult to fire teachers once they’ve been employed for more than three years. The suit was filed in Ramsey County district court…
 
The state teachers’ union president Denise Specht said in a statement that the contested laws “protect teachers from discrimination and arbitrary punishment, including for speaking out about the learning conditions in their schools.”
 
Specht said the laws “explicitly do not protect ineffective teachers.”
(MPR)

I did a bunch of blogging recently about efforts to destroy public education, and replace it with rote-learning mills to be strip-mined for profit. In the longer term, the intent is also to take control of curricula, and imbue young people with the purported glories of continued plutocratic, warmongering rule. That’s the right wing’s only chance, really, in the longer term, because young voters certainly aren’t buying that odious, failed, corrupt, reactionary crap, now.
 
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image courtesy of Imagine magazine
NOT an actual photo of
TN State Rep. Jeremy Durham

It has long been my contention that conservatives give lip service to the Constitution, but do not in practice support the content in that Constitution.

 

The continuing hypocritical efforts of conservatives, particularly those who are southern evangelicals, demonstrate equally a desperate desire to regulate the lives of others, demanding conformity to their own beliefs, while not themselves behaving consistently with those beliefs.  We have the interference in the lives of other people, while not managing one’s own very well, in the example of Tennessee’s own state representative Jeremy Durham, pervert for Jesus.

 

Evangelical Tennessee
State Rep Jeremy Durham Is ‘Banished’ From Capitol Complex After THIRTY
FOUR Women Accuse Him Of Inappropriate Sexual Behavior

Lawmakers in Tennessee have ‘banished’ a state representative by moving
his office at the state Capitol complex after more than three dozen
women have accused him of inappropriate behavior.
Rep. Jeremy Durham’s office is being moved to the ground floor of a
building across the street from the Capitol, House Speaker Beth Harwell
announced Thursday.
According to Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s memorandum to Harwell,
he is investigating Durham’s ‘pattern of conduct’ toward women after 34
current and former lawmakers, lobbyists, staffers and interns allege
that he made sexual comments, used his position to obtain personal
contact information from women, try to meet women alone, involve alcohol
in his interactions with women and inappropriate physical contact with
them while working at Legislative Plaza, CBS News reported.

I have to wonder if Jeremy Durham will have any office when the next election cycle comes around in Tennessee, not even one across the street.  But then again, by promoting the anti-LGBT bathroom harassment bill, he might get in good with those other pervy and ignorant conservative Evangelicals again.  They go in for a lot of forgiveness so long as one conforms and grovels sufficiently, as we have seen in the past.
The establishment clause of the Constitution requires no preferential treatment of religion. That is simple enough, yet conservatives tend as a group, over and over, to attempt to replace democracy with theocracy.

 

 

We see it in the mediocre legislators of Tennessee who are persisting in trying to give preferential treatment to the Bible.  Thurs. (April 14th) Gov. Haslam vetoed an attempt to make the Bible the official book of the frankly mediocre at best state of Tennessee.

 

 

But the conservative religious extremists in government are hell-bent on pushing this through anyway, and don’t give a tinker’s damn about the provisions of religious freedom in the Constitution.

 

From the Raw Story:

The lawmakers who sponsored the measure vowed to hold a vote that
would overrule Haslam’s veto. A simple majority in each legislative
chamber would overrule his decision.
“According to polling, 62 percent of all Tennesseans favor making the
Holy Bible the state book in order to recognize its significance from a
historical, economic and cultural standpoint,” the House sponsor,
Representative Jerry Sexton, said.
“Senator (Steve) Southerland and I are prepared to move forward with a veto override and we plan to do exactly that.”

Because Tennessee is, apparently, not dumb enough or second rate enough without that next step?  Seriously, this is a state legislature which has far more important and far more legitimate issues with which to properly concern itself than forcing their religion on people.

 

It made an interesting cab ride recently where my driver, whom we’ll call Tom, knowing I do research especially fact checking, asked me if it were true, as he had heard on right wing talk radio (an occupational hazard of cab driving apparently) that four out of the five first presidents had been either ordained as clergy or held a degree in religion of some kind, and therefore that was the reason we have “In God We Trust” on our money and “under God” in the pledge of allegiance.  And no, none of those first five presidents were particularly religious; in fact George Washington is on record as never having taken communion and rarely attended church, and the other four were Deists.

 

We have been stuck (for the moment) with “In God We Trust” and “under God” because President Eisenhower (I DO like Ike, as Republican presidents go) made a deal with a group in politics known as ‘the family’, the same bunch of people who started the National Prayer Breakfast.  They are the same group who tried to get the death penalty for being LGBT in Uganda with pseudo-science.  So, we have the family influence continuing in politics, pushing an extreme form of religion, after their early success; but we also got the Interstate Highway Program which dramatically contributed to our success post WW II.

 

I’d call that a barely fair tradeoff of good (the highway system) for evil (crackpot religious conservatism).

 

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Palestinian Prisoners Day

by Dan Burns on April 17, 2016 · 0 comments

palestineIs today. From an email I got from End the Occupation (that’s where I got the image, too):
 

As Palestinians prepare to mark Prisoners’ Day on April 17, a day to be in solidarity with thousands of Palestinian political prisoners by demanding their freedom from Israeli jails, we are excited to announce the launch of a new website highlighting the various injustices perpetrated by G4S, the world’s largest private security company, in the United States, Palestine, and beyond.
 
G4SFacts.org documents the various abuses of the company ranging from its complicity in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians to its transportation of undocumented immigrants in the United States, a service it brands as “The Bus No One Wants to Catch – The End of the Road for Illegal Immigrants.” It is co-hosted by groups working on a range of issues related to G4S such as prison divestment and immigrant rights including Dream Defenders, Enlace, Hands Up United, and Palestinian Youth Movement.

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Pension rights rally in DC

by Dan Burns on April 15, 2016 · 1 comment

pensionsYesterday.
 

Many multiemployer pension funds, which provide retirement benefits to unionized workers employed at different companies, are covered by the reform law, but Central States is one of the first to apply to cut benefits under the law, according to the Pension Rights Center. The fund, which covers 400,000 people, of whom a little more than half are retired, is projected to run out of money in 10 years.
 
“I’ll lose everything,” said Pete Lomonaco, a retired Georgia truck driver and Teamster. “I’m 75 years old, and I’m going to lose my house.”
 
Lomonaco’s pension will be cut by 61 percent under Central State’s plan, he said. John Wilkinson, 58, said he’ll lose 43 percent. Del Viehland, a Missouri Teamster, said he knows retirees who could lose anywhere from 70 to 75 percent of their pensions. Ray Brofford, a 73-year-old retiree from Columbus, Ohio, said he’s going from getting $2,600 a month to $1289.
(McClatchy)

Here’s background. Outgoing Rep. John Kline (R-MN) is a bogeyman here, and with excellent reason.
 

This was actually one of a number of events this week. For example, on Monday, there was a sit-down, get-arrested event at the Capitol protesting gerrymandering, voter suppression, and buying elections. One group originally marched from Philadelphia to Washington. These are all exceptionally cool and righteous people.
 
Comment below fold,
 
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Keeping filthy fossil fuels on the run

by Dan Burns on April 14, 2016 · 0 comments

solar2A few pleasing items. This first one is a bit wonky, but it does have considerable real-world importance.
 

In a stunning trend with broad implications, the U.S. economy has grown significantly since 2007, while electricity consumption has been flat, and total energy demand actually dropped…
 
Equally remarkable, this “decoupling” between energy consumption and GDP growth extends to the power sector: “Since 2007, electricity demand has been flat, compared to a compounded annual growth rate of 2.4% from 1990 to 2000.” As I discussed in my recent renewables series, this decoupling is an unprecedented achievement in modern U.S. history. It may seem especially remarkable for an economy underpinned by soaring usage of the internet and electronic equipment — but as I wrote in a 1999 report, a true Internet-based economy was always likely to be a more efficient economy.
(Think Progress)

“How Green Energy is already taking over the World”

 
– “Existing state laws collectively require a 50 percent increase in US renewable electricity

 
And a mega-coal company, Peabody Energy, just declared bankruptcy. If you do click, read the whole article, not just the happy face industry flacks try to put on this.
 

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MN-02: What’s up with this GOP field?

by Dan Burns on April 13, 2016 · 4 comments

capitol2There were as many as seven candidates. A couple have dropped out. I suppose that right now, four of them look like “serious” players. Yeah, quite a crew. The Democratic candidate is Angie Craig.
 

– David Gerson, who in the past ran quixotic campaigns against the retiring/fleeing incumbent, Rep. John Kline (R-MN), keeps winning straw polls. Whether that will carry to more comprehensive success…we’ll see. Dude’s one of those pseudo-libertarian types, whose levels of self-admiration tend to vastly outstrip their real-world political success. Like with Rand Paul’s presidential “effort.”

 
– Speaking of which, I read somewhere that Jason Lewis wiped his past blogging when he announced, presumably with the intention of trying to get away with acting more reality-based in the here and now. Whether or not that’s true, he seems to have found that like the shades of Borley Rectory the past does not go down so readily, and so he’s determined to embrace the crazy and let it roll.

 

– John Howe was pretty much a nonentity in the Minnesota legislature, and maybe the idea was that a record like that would make him a “safe” pick. There hasn’t exactly been a groundswell.
 
– Darlene Miller has been endorsed by Kline, will presumably have plenty of money, and is clearly aiming for the primary.

 
Gerson might well win at the endorsing convention on May 7. But as for the August 9 primary election, right now, your informed guess is as good as mine. Probably better.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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Several stories have caught my attention in the past few days.
One was the news that between 2000 and 2014, hate crimes against Muslims had increased 800%, even as hate crimes overall – at least, those that were reported – were declining.

 

Another story was the news from the WaPo that the perpetrator and planner of the terrorist attacks in Paris had been arrested, through the direct action and cooperation of a Muslim woman cooperating with authorities (and her husband).  Without this help, it is not certain that the lead Paris terrorist or the related Belgian terrorists, who targeted Brussels in lieu of further attacks on Paris.  As noted in the WaPo piece, one woman helped authorities, while another woman, one alienated by her surrounding culture, helped the terrorists, if only marginally.

 

“It’s important the world knows that I am Muslim myself,” the woman said, citing that as a reason for being willing to speak to The Post. “It’s important to me that people know what Abaaoud and the others did is not what Islam is teaching.”

 

And then there were the assorted stories where conservative candidates for President, and their assorted official advisers, advocate EXACTLY the kind of thinking that ENCOURAGES hate crime attacks on Muslims, and DISCOURAGES the very essential cooperation of Muslims to combat terrorism.  That ranges from fear peddling false stories about sharia law in cities like Minneapolis, to banning Muslims (except a few rich personal friends of Drumpf) from entering the country.

 

We have Ted Cruz wanting to turn Muslim neighborhoods into heavily patrolled police states, not unlike the Nazis did with Jews. Cruz claims when pressed that he would work with Muslim community leaders, but his tone and intent give no basis for those communities or their leaders to work with him.   And we have Donny Drumpf advocating that along with torture for Muslim prisoners, and the killing of their families, which would be a human rights violation and a war crime.
I doubt law enforcement would be willing to cooperate.  As noted by anti-terrorism expert in the city of New York, site of the 9/11 attack (among others) :

 

Both de Blasio and Bratton pointed out that the NYPD has more than 900 active Muslim officers.
“I have over 900 very dedicated officers in this department, many of whom do double duty,” Bratton said. “They serve as active duty members of the U.S. Military in combat, something the senator [Cruz] has never seen.” [or Trump/Drumpf either -DG].

I don’t know about you, but that certainly would not motivate me to cooperate with authorities, and that kind of antagonistic proposals would certainly provoke the opposite response.   This is an insult to all of the Muslims, and there are many, who have put their lives in danger to defend this country against all threats, including terrorism.  This is an insult to the many Muslim members of law enforcement as well, who protect this country, as noted by authorities in cities like New York, scene of the 9/11 attacks.

 

As noted by alternet:

 

Of course, the claim that Muslims pose a greater threat is patently false. There is a long and disturbing history of domestic terrorism committed by people of Christian backgrounds, from the Oklahoma City bombing to the Charleston church massacre. A report released last year by the New America research group found that, since September 11, 2001, non-Muslim domestic terrorists posed the greatest security threat.

We have insanely false statements made by the Cruz campaign advisers and supporters. One example would be Clare Lopez, who made inflammatory false claims on St. Cloud radio, unchecked by a crackpot right wing radio host and hate monger.
From the City Pages:

 

Clare Lopez told her lie on something called “Ox in the Afternoon,” a St. Cloud-based radio show, where she implied that Minneapolis was setting itself up for a Brussels-style terrorist attack by giving over control of the streets to religious law. “In Minneapolis, for example,” Lopez said, “places where police don’t go, because they know they’ll be attacked, have been attacked in the past, and places where police know Shariah is being practiced.” Once Clare had established the underlying lie, she expanded. “Now, Americans might not know this, but, under Shariah, honor killing, female genital mutilation, domestic abuse, underage and polygamous marriage, are all part of Shariah. Those are all part of Shariah.” Lopez went on to imply that Minneapolis was, by allowing the made-up stuff she just talked about, making itself vulnerable to a homegrown terrorist attack. “Because we have, like Europe, like Western Europe, allowed in, and invited in, populations of Muslim migrants and refugees, who do not have the same worldview — the same principles, the democratic, constitutional principles that we live by in this country — their worldview is completely different than all of that. Because we’ve invited them in and allowed them not to assimilate, we are inviting the same kind of problems here that we’re seeing in places like Brussels, Belgium, and Paris, France.”

This reminds me of the shallow and simplistic thinking we saw from the right to protect the US from an epidemic of Ebola, recommendations which the science and medical communities argues were the worst possible responses (like banning travel from Africa) combined with unconstitutional actions against Americans. These are people, whatever level of education they have attained, who respond with emotions, with feelings, not with rational thought, reason or logic. These right wingers endanger us all, both inside and outside our borders.

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In the 2016 election cycle, no surprise, given the pandering to white supremacists by Donald Drumpf and his family, Craig Cobb is a supporter. It’s not only David Duke, but largely Trump has been left off the hook for this segment of political support.  Last October Nightline did an interview with Cobb that underlines why some see a connection to Nazi-style fascism and the rallies and proposed policies of Donald Drumpf /Trump.  (In prior election cycles, it was Ron Paul who arguably most pandered to this demographic on the right.)

 

Cobb is delusional if he thinks the problems people have with him are in any way discriminatory or contrary to his first amendment rights.  It is a sadly conservative phenomenon when those who attempt to victimize others then claim THEY are the victims when it doesn’t go well.  It is endemic among conservatives.  The problem in Leith was a minority attempting to terrorize the majority.  An example of Cobb in action was this call to Nightline producers.

 

Trump-Loving Racist Craig Cobb Repeatedly Calls Nightline Anchor Byron Pitts N-Word During Interview
 
While recently doing a story about known White Supremacist Craig Cobb, ABC producer Jasmine Brown and anchor Byron Pitts were subject to hateful tirades and now the story has been brought to life through a produced video by timesXtwo…
 
“He is very much in love with Donald Trump,” adds Brown. She continues to describe a line of Cobb’s saying, “I would
almost rather talk to a Jew, because then at least they would be
intelligent.”

 

 
The final closing of the book on the attempted white supremacist takeover by Craig Cobb in the tiny town of Leith, North Dakota took place a little over a week ago, just as TPT was running the documentary of the takeover on public television.

 

It is worth watching the independent documentary “Welcome to Leith,” here.

 

From KVRR:

North Dakota Officials Close Craig Cobb Investigation
 
State officials have closed their investigation into ten human rights complaints filed by white supremacist Craig Cobb. Cobb alleged discrimination because of his white supremacy religious views.
 
The Department of Labor and Human Rights rejected all of the complaints, including one Cobb filed against Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who’s running for governor.

Cobb and one of his crazy side-kicks, an Ichabod Crane lookalike named Kynan Dutton, were arrested and spent some time in jail for terrorizing the town of Leith before making a plea deal that set them free.

 

Had Cobb and his confederates been smarter and had more money, they might have pulled off their town takeover.  This kind of neo-Nazi intimidation is not a smart way to try to take over a town; you can count on push back.  Meet your not-so-friendly neighborly Trump supporters, and those with whom they choose to associate under the 1A.
 

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Minnesota legislative elections news 4/10/16

by Dan Burns on April 10, 2016 · 2 comments

Minnesota-State-CapitolThese are not meant to be comprehensive, at all. Just a few items at a time, that caught my eye.
 
Andy Hillebregt is running in 35A, in the north metro, vs. Rep. Abigail Whelan (R-Anoka). Among many other things, last fall Whelan hosted a haterfest, along with Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover). I just have to say that the north Twin Cities metro is not some intellectual and social backwater transplanted from the Texas panhandle or something, and there is no good reason for it to keep electing representation of that miserable caliber. Hillebregt is not merely a desirable, but a necessary change.

 

– So is Josh Haseman, who is running vs. Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center), in 23B down by Mankato. Anyone who doesn’t know about Cornish, I suggest that you just search “Tony Cornish Bluestem Prairie.” The results will provide reading material, of an enlightening and compelling nature, for a while.

 
– In 28B, way down near the SE corner, Thomas Trehus is challenging Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston), who is still all about tax cuts for the rich, after all these years. Despite Davids’s electoral longevity, this district in fact slightly leans DFL.
 

Here is an up-to-date list of incumbents not seeking reelection in 2016.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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The loathsome TPP crawls along

by Dan Burns on April 8, 2016 · 0 comments

tpp2This vile, corporate atrocity was signed by delegates on February 4. It now has to be ratified by legislatures. It’s telling that that’s not expected to be a problem in more totalitarian-leaning places like Malaysia and Vietnam, but it is perhaps iffy in somewhat more democratic ones.
 

Japan’s parliament has started in on it. This article does not include speculation on whether it’s expected to pass, there. It does note a great deal of controversy.
 

Canada and Australia has been suggested as other countries that may not go for it. There’s plenty of opposition, and therefore grounds for hope, in Canada. My searches this morning turned up nothing recent about where Australia may be headed.
 

The biggest question mark is probably right here in the U.S., where among other things all four major remaining presidential candidates (Clinton, Cruz, Sanders, Trump) have expressed opposition. The plan appears to be to try to get it passed in a lame-duck session in December, with tactics that could well include all-but-open bribery for outgoing congresscritters. I wish that I was as optimistic about it being killed as the author of this kind of appears to be. I really hope he’s right.
 

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