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538554_417321918296055_196601040368145_1516637_2083533339_nA few good things did happen in the 2014 election, and this was among the best.
 

Anti-abortion activists have pushed for “personhood” in five separate ballot initiatives since 2008. These amendments would likely restrict abortion access as they give unborn fetuses more rights.
 
Five times now, those amendments have failed, with voters in North Dakota and Colorado rejecting personhood ballot initiatives on (election) night. These amendments have failed even in conservative strongholds like Mississippi, which rejected a personhood amendment in 2012.
(Vox)

These keep failing, even in elections that go badly in general for everyone except right-wingers, because in fact the public strongly supports abortion rights.

 
This article is something of a guilt trip, and I usually avoid passing those along, but I’m making an exception.
 

It was women like me—married white women, specifically—who failed (Texas gubernatorial candidate) Wendy Davis—and ourselves, and our families, and Texas families—on Tuesday night. According to exit polls, Black women, Black men, Latinas, and a near-majority of Latinos who voted turned out in solid numbers for Davis…
 
The story does not begin and end with “men” and “women”; we have to look at which men, which women—particularly if the Democratic Party is ever going to decide to come out fighting hard on issues like immigration reform and moving the gamepiece aggressively forward, rather than backward, on reproductive rights.
(RH Reality Check)

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The irony of a Minnesotan assassinated in Somalia

by Dan Burns on December 5, 2014 · 1 comment

somaliaHere’s worthwhile and insightful discussion about young Somali-Americans going back and joining militias. Note that a lot of young Americans, of all backgrounds, whose families have been here for generations, even centuries, feel exploited, too, though perhaps not in quite the same ways. And in many cases that unfortunately makes them more prone to, among other problematic matters, buying into the right wing’s, and corporate media’s, crass, bottom-feeding sensationalism about Somalis.
 

How could young men from South Minneapolis come to believe that they are doing something noble by joining al Shabaab and possibly killing someone like Abdullahi ali Anshur? What bitter lessons could these young men have learned in Minnesota that would make them embrace jihad?
 
Some of the young who were recruited to al Shabaab and ISIS were high school dropouts and juvenile delinquents. They were drifting without purpose, looking for something to believe. Life in America is hard and complicated. Most often their immigrant parents had marginal jobs working for minimum wage or driving cabs. To impressionable adolescents, the choice was clear. Stay in America and become losers like their parents or go back to their homeland and become winners.
 
George W Bush was asked why Islamic radicals hated America. He said, “They hate our freedom.” And that’s about right. Most nationalists in the Middle East hate the freedom America expresses in taking their natural resources and reducing them to second class citizens in their own country.
(Twin Cities Daily Planet)

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You know for all of the articles championing freedom of speech, which have appeared of late in the Weekly Standard, I was taken aback by the recent article: ‘Anti-Military Anthem Played at ‘Concert for Valor’. This past year numerous pieces have appeared in the magazine bemoaning the supposed loss of free speech on college campuses, detailing how the Democrats are actively undermining our First Amendment rights, how the Berkeley Free Speech Movement contributed mightily to undermining those rights and lately how, thankfully, courts have here and there thwarted this assault.

 

However, when it comes to the Weekly Standard truly being a beacon of free speech, well as far that goes, it is more than a bit equivocal in what it chooses to print. The author of the abovementioned article, Ethan Epstein, took umbrage with the “tone deaf” Bruce Springsteen and company for having performed Creedence Clearwater’s “famously anti-war anthem Fortunate Son” at last month’s Concert for Valor held on Veteran’s Day on the National Mall. Quoting Mr. Epstein: “The song, not to put too fine a point on it, is an anti-war screed, taking shots at “the red white and blue.” It was a particularly terrible choice given that Fortunate Son is, moreover, an anti-draft song, and this concert was largely organized to honor those who volunteered to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.” 

 

Well for one thing, if anyone is tone deaf it is Ethan Epstein for not having listened closely enough to the song and its message. Nowhere in the song does it encourage anyone to resist the draft, desert the armed forces or head north over the border. Neither does the song denigrate the flag or cheer on the Vietnamese Communists. What the words of the song do mock and denigrate are the privileged sons of America’s elites and upper middle classes who managed to avoid serving in the Vietnam-era military, particularly in combat, while the less fortunate among us went off to fight and die in Southeast Asia. Moreover the song goes on to mock the fortunate for their ability to avoid paying their taxes fully while the country is at war. Sound familiar?

 
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Looking at what happened in biggest races

by Eric Ferguson on December 4, 2014 · 0 comments

voters2If you want to look at 2014 most high profile elections mostly in one spot, David Jarman at Daily Kos has a bunch of them collected in one spot. There are some common themes, hopefully not surprising if you’ve been doing your election analysis reading, but if you’re surprised, just keep quiet and no one will know.
 

One theme of course is drop-off Democrats, but the drop off was hardly even from one state to another. It was generally worse where there was no hotly contested top of the ticket, but as we’ve face-palmed about since months before election day, there were Democrats who gave their base nothing to vote for.
 
One prime example is the US Senate election in Virginia. It meshes with another theme you’ll notice following Jarman’s links, the rural/metro* divide. Much as we worry about MNGOP success at playing up a rural/metro divide, the DFL is doing great winning white rural votes compared to other state Democratic parties. Virginia Democrats basically have Richmond and the DC suburbs, and that’s it. Sen. Mark Warner won by a squeaker instead of the predicted blowout because he didn’t get the memo. He devoted his efforts to winning rural voters he wasn’t going to get, and he mostly ignored Fairfax County. This is analogous to Al Franken putting his efforts into winning CD6 by claiming to be nearly a Republican while blowing off Hennepin County.
 
What scares me as I write this is that there are still Democratic candidates and campaigns that don’t get where their voters live and the need to get them to vote. Maybe they didn’t learn from studies showing politicians assume voters are more conservative than they actually are. I just don’t get how anyone can still not get that winning statewide means heavy GOTV in heavily Democratic areas. Maybe Warner made the common mistake of assuming the last election predicts the next one, in that he had previously won the rural southwest while losing the reddish DC suburbs. But this is a different year, and both regions had flipped. It’s the same sort of mistake as those who assumed Al Franken and Mark Dayton were in for tough reelections because they went to recounts last election.
 
Speaking of bad strategy, there was one link that illustrates why I have such reluctance about donating to the DSCC and DCCC. Though this one is specifically on the DSCC.
 
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Election 2014: My sloppy, half-baked assessment

by Dan Burns on December 3, 2014 · 1 comment

voters2It was indeed a bummer, nationally. I thought we’d end with 48-49 in the Senate, not 46, and that we’d certainly at least boot Tea Party governors in Maine and Florida. But it did take Minnesotans – enough Minnesotans, that is, not all, by any means – two terms of Gov. Pawlenty to realize that it’s really better to have a superior quality of politician, and human being, in the governor’s office. And if 2011 is any guide, the left blogosphere will continue to be dominated by over-the-top doom and gloom at least into the middle of next year. I’m not here to be part of that. We’re nowhere near high enough yet, in collective political IQ in this country, to where Democrats, much less progressives, can reasonably expect to win ‘em all. Note that important long-term trends, potentially positive for progressives though it will take a while yet, didn’t change.
 

While in many respects I’m certainly a nerd, I’m not very into academic types talking about “political narrative” and “messaging.” (I’m not saying they’re wrong; it’s just not my thing.) I’m suggesting a more fundamental explanation: our voters simply weren’t irritated/annoyed/angry enough to turn out.
 
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Eligibility under new immigration policies

by Dan Burns on December 2, 2014 · 1 comment

I got this in an email from SEIU. DAPA is Deferred Action for Parents, and DACA is the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
 
Print
 

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greedIt doesn’t get much scummier than this. If you know someone, a relative maybe, who might be tempted, I suggest encouraging him or her to be very careful.
 

This fact sheet describes pension advances, a relatively new practice in which a company gives a retiree a lump-sum cash payment in return for some or all of the retiree’s monthly pension payments for a period of time. Pension advances can carry high interest rates and threaten the economic security of the retirees who receive them.
 
Businesses marketing pension advances attempt to avoid state and federal regulation by claiming that pension advances are not loans. However, regulators are beginning to examine the practice to determine if it violates disclosure and interest rate laws. Missouri and Vermont have passed legislation to regulate the marketing and sale of pension advances. Other states are considering similar legislation.
(Pension Rights Center)

Minnesota needs to get going on strict regulation, too. See if House GOPers and/or corporate ConservaDems dare try to block such efforts.
 

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testingThis is an excerpt from a very solid essay, mostly about Minneapolis schools.
 

Taking the wide view we see a virtual war being fought over public education nationwide, and right here in Minneapolis. The fight over education makes one wonder why is it that we cannot just hug our public schools in a loving embrace instead of embroiling them in a culture of permanent contentiousness and change. We repeat over and over again failed experiments on our most vulnerable children, all the while ignoring methods proven to enhance educational attainment.
 
Make no mistake about it: What we are doing to K-12 education is performing experiments that are proven to be failures, creating chaos, educational malpractice, and disillusion among our front-line public servants, our teachers. I challenge one advocate of the so-called education “reform” movement to show one peer-reviewed academic study where unregulated “school choice,” an overuse of high-stakes standardized testing, and segregation, for example, brought good results.
(Left.MN)

Education, like so much else, is best served by thoughtful, knowledgeable people working together toward common goals. That it should involve a surfeit of “competition” is a crude, ignorant viewpoint, and it’s deeply unfortunate that it’s shared among many who should know better.
 
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Inequality, poverty, and homeless kids

by Dan Burns on November 27, 2014 · 1 comment

ceoSome of each; they obviously have a great deal to do with one another.
 

The flip side of these trends at the top of the wealth ladder is the erosion of wealth among the middle class and the poor. There is a widespread public view across American society that a key structural change in the U.S. economy since the 1920s is the rise of middle-class wealth, in particular because of the development of pensions and the rise in home ownership rates. But our results show that while the share of wealth of the bottom 90 percent of families did gradually increase from 15 percent in the 1920s to a peak of 36 percent in the mid-1980, it then dramatically declined. By 2012, the bottom 90 percent collectively owns only 23 percent of total U.S. wealth, about as much as in 1940.
 
The growing indebtedness of most Americans is the main reason behind the erosion of the wealth share of the bottom 90 percent of families. Many middle class families own homes and have pensions, but too many of these families also have much higher mortgages to repay and much higher consumer credit and student loans to service than before. For a time, rising indebtedness was compensated by the increase in the market value of the assets of middle-class families. The average wealth of bottom 90 percent of families jumped during the stock-market bubble of the late 1990s and the housing bubble of the early 2000s. But it then collapsed during and after the Great Recession of 2007-2009.
(Washington Center for Equitable Growth)

 
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MN House Mining and Outdoor Recreation Committee?

by Dan Burns on November 26, 2014 · 1 comment

Grasslands-mengguWell, that is an odd looking combination.
 

With the advent of the Mining and Outdoor Recreation Committee, (Rep. David) Dill (DFL-Crane Lake) may finally have the empathy he claims to have never found from those unnamed “metro-centric DFLers,” who maybe shouldn’t have gone fishing on lakes and rivers in their own districts.
 
Range-based blogger Aaron Brown reacted to news of the Dill-appreciating committee name on our editor’s Facebook page:
 

Ha. Now THAT’S a committee. Almost perfect, if only Mich Golden Light was in the name, too.

(Bluestem Prairie)

According to its enthusiasts, it will “focus on jobs and the economy.”

 
I’m guessing that the real purview of the “outdoor recreation” part will have mostly to do with efforts to loosen restrictions on yahoo rednecks tearing up wetlands, and other ecologically vulnerable areas, with their ATVs and snowmobiles. Like Bluestem’s article notes, it’s purportedly a “lifestyle” thing that haughty metrocentric types just don’t get. But we shall see. (My understanding is that in much of the state, what restrictions exist are not seriously enforced. Which is what a committee like this should be looking to fix. Highly unlikely.)

 
As far as the mining, the supposedly secretly anti-mining Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) carried the whole Iron Range, and Duluth Metals Ltd. ain’t looking real healthy. Just a couple of indicators that sulfide mining is far from a done deal, no matter what kinds of committees giddy House GOPers invent.
 
Comments below fold.
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