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Bill Maher in Northfield

by JeffStrate on October 18, 2014 · 1 comment

Bill Maher with new best friends at the Grand Event Center, Northfield on October 7, 2014.

Bill Maher at the Grand Event Center in Northfield on October 7, 2014 to tape his Flip-a-District scheme for his HBO series.

Our colleague Bill Sorem at the Uptake informs me that Bill Maher’s “Flip-a-District” show that was taped in Northfield and premiered on HBO Friday October 17 is available free here for non HBO subscribers.

Click on the link, close the window over the page. Then click on the “Minnesota Town Hall” icon below the SPREAD THE WORD banner. A promo trailer is listed as, “Bill Maher in Northfield.”


This episode of Real Time with Bill Maher was produced at the Grand Event Center in Northfield which elder Carls, Olys and townies knew as the Grand Theater. When I lived in Northfield, The Grand offered respite from the academy with flicks like “Help,” “The Train,” “Ship of Fools,” and “The Sand Pebbles.”


Lefty activists in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District had won Maher’s well-publicized national contest to enlist Maher (television’s smartest liberal comedian working without a platoon of writers) to defeat a deserving-of-defeat Republican congressional troglodyte.  CD 2 lefties won Maher’s challenge because of John Kline’s lock-stepping Republican record and a shrewd and creative pitch using social media and stunts like hiring a plane to tow a “Flip-a-District” banner over exurbia.


Lordy Lordy, would that CD 3 lefties trash their pale picnics, coffees and lets hug one another validation banquets to consider the kinds of events that the farm, suburban and college town libs south of Twin Town are up to.  They deal with Kline, we deal with Paulsen.  DFL endorsed Mike Obermueller may not upset Kline in the Second – he was totally ignored during Maher’s Northfield chat fest – but in a rambling manner the event lightened our heavy brows with wit, nudge-nudge winks, vinegar and sparring. For an hour we were not unlike the British during one of their election seasons. This in a state whose political spirit these days is largely muffled by political correctness snipers, patronizing candidate effluent, unimaginative political party managers, pollsters, strategists and blizzards of pornographic hate mailers.


Maher’s guests were not from the limp, local mainstream media “A” list of, political pundits – no Sarah Janacek, Larry Jacobs or the curiosity that is Ember Reichgott Junge.  Adolescents John Rouleau, executive director of the Minnesota Jobs Coalition and Katie Kieffer who has authored a book about Obama waging war against millennials on Maher’s red panel were anchored by grown-up Steve Sviggum, ex-Speaker of the House and famous Kenyon Norwegian-American and mumbler.  The blue panel counted the Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi; Minneapolis-based Daily Beast writer, Ana Marie Cox; and the mayor of her city, Betsy Hodges.


The blues prompted most of the cheers. Taibbi couldn’t contribute much but the fox that is Miss Cox, has a bite and is most cool.  Hodges has clearly recovered from the shell shock of being mayor and dealing, now as a mayor, with Kenwood NIMBYs, North Side transit equity troops and Met Council suits prior to the pro Municipal Consent vote on SW Light Rail.   I was impressed with her levelheaded, fact-based interjections into Maher’s gab cloud.


The exchanges meandered a bit in front of an overbearing, cheap, vinyl banner screaming: REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER but were good-natured entertainment and understood as such by Mr. Swiggum and the others.  The gambit did raise awareness of the deeds (and lack of them) of cipher John Kline.  Mr. Obermueller, in the HBO presentation, is not mentioned once and can now commiserate with CD3 DFL endorsed congressional candidate Sharon Sund who is not seen or mentioned once on the home page of the DFL CD 3 website.   None-the-less, Flip-a-District will very likely produce more interest in and votes for Mr. Obermueller.   Courage Sir.  And Sharon, you’ve got my vote!

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Artist's conception. Not actually Dan Severson

Artist’s conception. Not actually Dan Severson

Can it be called “full” tin foil hat unless someone is literally wearing a tin foil hat? So OK, Dan Severson’s tin foil hat might be purely metaphorical. How tin foil hatty? In a speech to the West Metro Tea Party last June, he said:

This was my attempt as a sitting State Representative to say you know what there’s fraud going on, this is during the Franken-Coleman recount, and you guys need to pay attention to this. This is relevant, right now. Why do we have Obamacare? Al Franken. Why do we have Al Franken? Voter corruption. Fraud. Why do we have a majority in the House and the Senate right now, and a Governor that are anti-business? They are anti-business. Voter fraud. Because they will go across the state and they will find the seats that are vulnerable. They will find the ones that are within a certain margin and then they will load the buses. And they will stuff the ballots.

His evidence? He believes it. Should we have some schadenfreude with an article of faith in the GOP, recalling the fools they made of themselves in the Franken-Coleman recount? Sure. So, in order to believe that Franken somehow stole the recount, you have to believe Franken pulled this off despite:
— An observer from each campaign watched each ballot being counted, with the right to challenge the decision on any ballots they wanted.
— The canvassing board, including Republican appointed judges, was unanimous on all decisions and all but a few votes.
— The entire proceedings was webstreamed live by The Uptake, so anyone who wanted could see each ballot.
— The election contest court, also webstreamed live, including Republican appointed judges, was unanimous in its decision, and found for Franken on all facts and rulings.
— The state Supreme Court, including Republican appointed judges, unanimously upheld the decision of the election contest court.
— The Coleman campaign, asked by the judges if they were alleging fraud, said “no” every time.
In that classic act of people in denial, in a press conference earlier this week, Severson cited a debunked study. He said Minnesota Majority found 6,000 illegal voters in the 2008 election. They actually sent county attorneys and election officials on thousands of wild goose chases. They found a few former felons who voted or merely registered without voting before their rights were restored, and election officials had already detected most of those. My understanding is even Minnesota Majority doesn’t stand by that report anymore. But conspiracy theorists, including the voter fraud variety, never give up the one bit of evidence they have no matter how false.
But if you can’t convince the fact-based world, then just shoot the people with Obama bumper stickers. From that same speech:

When we were coming in the streets were blocked up on 395, 394 whatever, and I’m thinking ‘what in the world is there an accident up there?’ And sure enough there’s cars blocked across, people are backed up for literally a mile on both sides, and I’m thinking ‘this is Barack Obama’. He’s here in our state tonight and he’s in, and I, and I think you know all those cars that have Obama stickers on the back oughta turn into targets at that point, you know?

Shoot Obama supporters, that’s funny, funnier than still calling himself “Doc”.
Oh, heck no, we’re not done yet. Click the “read more” link.


Three Republican Targets

by JeffStrate on October 17, 2014 · 1 comment

Soutwest suburban Southwest suburban Democrats Yvonne Selcer, Ron Erhardt and Joan Howe-Pullis are watching their backs in their blue-trending MN House districts.

Southwest suburban Democrats Yvonne Selcer, Ron Erhardt and Joan Howe-Pullis are watching their backs in their blue-trending MN House districts.

Three DFL endorsed candidates in three politically purple southwest suburbs define their positions and records on the pre-election edition of Democratic Visions. Moderate Democrat Yvonne Selcer is seeking a second term in House District 48A.  She is being challenged by Republican Kirk Stensrud who held the same southern Minnetonka/northern Eden Prairie seat for a single term prior to narrowly losing the 2012 election to Selcer. Selcer’s team claims that the Republicans have made the former Hopkins School District Board chair their number one MN House target to flip.


My family, which includes two voting age kids, lives in 48A. The Stensrud, MN GOP and uber-conservative PAC pollsters, pitchmen and pornographers are hosing us over the phone and on cable TV, YouTube and Facebook ads and through our mailbox. The “pornographers” (employed here in only a figurative sense) include Pro Jobs Majority, Minnesota Action Project and the Republican Party of Minnesota.  Yvonne Selcer’s comforting, school marm charm and legislative record expose the right wing smears as graffiti, spray-canned by folks in need of anger management intervention.


Edina’s Ron Erhardt is also a target as he seeks his 11th term in the Minnesota House. Nine of those terms were served consecutively when Mr. Erhardt was an independently minded, moderate Republican; he is now an independently minded, moderate Democrat.  Erhardt was bounced out of the Republican Party after he and five other Republican legislators voted to over ride then Governor Pawlenty’s veto of a transportation-funding bill in February 2008.  The lean, chiseled bucaroo did not run in 2010 but found time to entertain the usual suspects at a Drinking Liberally therapy session in NE Minneapolis a few weeks before the election. In 2012, Erhardt-the-Democrat was returned to the MN House by Edina voters.


One of Ron Erhardt’s Edina neighbors, DFL elder Tim O’Brien (our lead host on Democratic Visions), sees Ron as the most effective and knowledgeable transportation advocate in St. Paul.  Blogger Steve Timmer (also of Edina) notes at Left MN  that his fellow villagers are trending blue but do not vote for ideologues blue or red. Explaining, perhaps why Erhardt’s G.O.P. opponent Dario Anselmo says very little.


Eden Prairie’s Joan Howe-Pullis is challenging Republican incumbent Jenifer Loon to represent House District 48B.  Loon was one of the few Republicans who voted for the marriage equality law last year.  She was punished by south Eden Prairie party Republicans and forced into a very expensive summer primary. Although Loon crushed her right wing primary challenger, she now faces a popular community organizer.   DFL endorsed Joan Howe-Pullis helped mobilize Eden Prairie opposition to the 2012 Republican supported ballot question that would have had the State Constitution define marriage as only between a man and a woman. With her votes back then, Jenifer Loon helped put that constitutional amendment question on the ballot.

House District 48B voters rejected the anti-gay, “marriage amendment” by 60%.  Joan Howe-Pullis and her marriage equity colleagues did the hard work in a district where very conservative Republican Senator David Hann also lives.


Joan Howe-Pullis can upset her respected and conservative incumbent on November 4th even as Democrats are supposed to wither into minority status. In southern Eden Prairie, as the song goes, “the times they are a changing.”  Howe-Pullis is well liked, knows her part of town and is an active member of the large, Pax Christie Catholic Community. Jenifer Loon’s overall conservative voting record (she opposed light rail and recent minimum wage hike legislation) may no longer fit her constituents.

All three DFL endorsed candidates need strong get-out-the vote support.


Democratic Visions on YouTube

Yvonne Selcer video segment

Ron Erhardt video segment

Joan Howe-Pullis video segment

Democratic Visions cable TV schedule

Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. MTN streams the program from its website during cable casts


Minnetonka, Hopkins, Edina, Eden Prairie and Richfield – Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m., and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.

Bloomington – BCAT Cable Channel 16 – Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.

Democratic Visions is independently produced by Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Edina volunteers at the Bloomington Community Access Television studio by arrangement with the Southwest Suburban Cable Commission and Southwest Community Television. Democratic Visions is not endorsed or supported by any political party or political action committee.


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MN-08: Mills leads in new poll

by Dan Burns on October 17, 2014 · 1 comment

millspartying1I was feeling pretty confident for a while, but not now. A previous poll had Nolan+11, and there have been other indicators that Nolan is comfortably ahead. SUSA has been bouncing around quite a bit this season, for example occasionally showing strong leads for unpopular Gov. Rick Scott in Florida where other pollsters aren’t.

…Republican challenger Stewart Mills leads incumbent Democrat (sic) Congressman Rick Nolan 47 percent to 39 percent. Another 4 percent support Green Party candidate Ray Sandman, and 11 percent are undecided.

Throw in the huge leads for Democrats in Minnesota’s highest-profile races, in addition to what is noted above, and this really does come out of nowhere. But it would be irresponsible to just dismiss it. We’ll see how quickly the Nolan campaign responds.

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HD17A Miller makes groundless charge of non-residency

by Eric Ferguson on October 17, 2014 · 1 comment

Republican candidate for the seat in HD17A, Tim Miller, made a charge in his debate with DFL incumbent Rep. Andrew Falk that Falk doesn’t actually live in the district. He made the charge in his opening statement, so it was unprompted by a question and presumably planned. He did look at his notes right before making the charge. It was rather sidewise though. Not a direct charge, but rather a “some guy said” charge. Here’s the relevant part, and it’s in the video starting at 7:28:

I have had many people come to me and ask, “Does Andrew Falk even live in this district?” That’s not for me to answer. That’s for him to answer. But it is a fair question because as I have gone throughout this district from Appleton all the way down to Fairfax, I have people sharing with me stories of challenges that they have, and that their representative is not representing them.


“Many people”, huh? So essentially, Miller is challenging Falk’s residency, which is a big deal since being non-resident is a disqualifier for state legislature. If Miller can prove it, he can get Falk removed from the ballot. The evidence Miller is presenting is … Fill in the blank with anything you want, and you’ve put in as much as Miller.

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And the Band Played On …

by Invenium Viam on October 16, 2014 · 1 comment

titanic_sinking“We are born naked, wet and hungry. Then things get worse.” Anonymous 


In her superb narrative history A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, Barbara Tuchman examines the startling parallels between our times and those of the late middle-ages. One of the subjects she examines was the effect of the Bubonic Plague on the social and economic structures of the times.


Ebola may very well constitute another parallel with that distant century in the making. Yesterday, President Obama cut short a fundraising trip and returned to Washington to meet with his cabinet to develop a response plan for dealing with the emerging Ebola “crisis.” He’ll be doing the same today and perhaps tomorrow as well.


What that tells me is that there’s a very good chance our top public health officials have advised the President that there’s a significant chance that Ebola may now have entered into the general population here in the US. Political leaders often know more than they tell us, for fear of affecting markets or causing political backlash. If that’s the case, then we now have a major emerging public health crisis on our hands that the President has taken immediate action with his cabinet to address, as he should. The World Health Organization predicts that the number of new cases of Ebola in Africa could top 10,000 a week within a couple of months. That pencils out to more than a half-million a year.


Let’s be clear about what all this means for us: Ebola has a fatality rate of more than 50%. If the virus gets into the general population here in the US — beyond the reach of the contact identification and isolation control measures now being employed — it could mean mass death measured by the millions in this country alone. Since our culture is one of extremely high mobility, outbreaks could occur simultaneously in large urban centers around the country and then filter rapidly into the rural areas.


In the 14th century, the Bubonic Plague had a similar mortality rate among the general population (actually approaching two-thirds). Tuchman points out that the wealthy fared far better than the urban poor, since they had the means to remove themselves and their servants to remote country estates where stocks of food, fuel and medicine were laid in and the outer grounds were patrolled by paid mercenaries to keep roaming beggars and bandits from the door.


Food prices soared as the breakdown of supply channels caused widespread shortages. Public security failed as the local gendarme’s abandoned their posts in the face of what appeared to be certain death. Roving criminal gangs and marauding bands of mercenaries pillaged, raped and burned at will unopposed by the power of government to enforce the laws. As the nobility fled the cities, the civil institutions failed and everywhere the social structures collapsed.


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Dan Kimmel for Minnesota House 56A

by Dan Burns on October 16, 2014 · 1 comment

kimmelThis is an open seat, and winnable. Tea Party Rep. Pam Myhra (R-Burnsville) signed on as Marty Seifert’s gubernatorial running mate, and so much for her political career in Minnesota. Our excellent candidate is Dan Kimmel. Here’s his Facebook. From his website:

That is why I support comprehensive and affordable health care for all. I support institutional and outpatient mental health programs and services that provide equal access, continuity of care, and protection of patient rights. We need programs that assist displaced veterans, youth and the homeless…
A vigorous and available system of public education is essential to a productive, democratic society. I support a strong system of public education at all levels with stable funding and equal educational opportunities, moderate class sizes and a safe, suitable environment for both students and teachers. We must have a broad curriculum of liberal arts, technology, social issues, vocational, and physical education; high standards for teachers and compensation that reflects the responsibilities society places on them. We need high quality, well-funded post-secondary education.
(Dan Kimmel for State Representative)

The far-from-excellent Republican candidate is Drew Christensen. He’s reality-challenged:

“I think they understand that some of our message is being lost to young people,” said the 2011 Prior Lake High School graduate. “I believe, and they believe, that Republicans have the right message for young people, and we’re the party of opportunity. We’re the party of jobs. At a base level, young people — my peers — want jobs and they want a prosperous future to be able to get married and have a family and settle down. And I think that’s something that’s slipping out of reach in our current economy and in our state.”
(ECM Election 2014)

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The importance of local races

by Eric Ferguson on October 15, 2014 · 5 comments

Before she was in Congress, Michele Bachmann was a state senator, and before that, pertinent to the title of this post, she was on her local school board. The fact I don’t have to explain who she is might demonstrate the importance of that one school board race.

It might appear at this point that the importance of local races is stopping crazy people from getting their start in elective office. Not that I’m saying everyone in local elective office is crazy. Just the Republicans. Yes, that’s an overgeneralization. Not all are Bachmann-wannabes. Local offices are, however, the primary bench for candidates for higher office. My impression, which I hope is wrong, is that Republicans are well aware of this while Democrats largely ignore local offices. I mean that in terms of turning out on election day, researching candidates prior to seeing their names on a ballot, and of course in actually running for office. It’s too late to do anything about the last one for 2014, but there’s still time for the first two. We concede these races to Republicans at our peril, as they get to build a bench of people with electoral office while us, not so much.
That’s without even thinking about how local officials do their jobs and affect our lives, apart from their future electoral possibilities. They don’t get national media coverage, much, but when they do, it highlights the effect they can have; the school board in Jefferson County, Colorado, for example. Think the Democrats and independents who skipped last year’s election regret it now? Know how often this happens and we never hear about it? Me neither.
And just to not overlook the obvious, Ferguson, MO: a mostly black and Democratic city, a mostly white and Republican city council, and really low turnout in local elections. Though not equally low across partisan and demographic groups. Think that might explain some things?
Then there’s the effect of the explosion of dark money. We worry about the presidency and Congress being bought, but I’m thinking we saw in 2012 that there’s a limit to how much spending in a presidential race does any good, and I’m skeptical about its benefits beyond a certain point in US Senate races too, but down the ballot is different. It takes little money to swamp a local race. I’m thinking of that referendum in Columbus, Ohio, to raise local taxes to fund the Columbus Zoo. It failed when supporters were surprised and grossly outspent by Koch brothers money, which was used to tell voters their taxes would double when the actual increase was something like 1%. The referendum failed because the Kochs, despite having no connection, just felt ideologically offended and saw a chance to beat a tax increase with a bit of money and a bit of lying, and that was in a big city. Think of the anecdotes you’ve heard of some mayor getting on getting on the bad side of some special interest, and the low spending local race is suddenly hit with massive outside money, like Richmond, CA, where the mayor has $22,000 while his opponent has $1.3 million, courtesy of Chevron:

We’re having a hotly contested race the two at-large school board seats in Minneapolis and it’s drawn a little national attention for the fight over, depending on how you view it, expanding charter schools or privatizing public education. It’s again the exception that proves the rule, because what was the last Minneapolis election to get any national media? There was laughter at our 2013 mayoral race because our combination of an open seat and a $20 filing fee drew in 30-something candidates, but otherwise, that’s it for attention. And that’s in a city the size of Minneapolis. The only time I can recall St. Paul’s elections being noticed was when nominally DFL Mayor Randy Kelly endorsed George Bush in 2004, so some national media were watching as he got blown out in 2005. Those are the only instances I know of for cities the size of Minneapolis and St. Paul, so how much can we count on the media telling us about our own local races?
The answer is “not much”.


scan0001OK, there’s only been one recent poll I’ve seen (Nolan+11), and it could be wrong, and all that. But apparently there are more indicators out there.

Fading Stars…Republicans once talked up Stewart Mills, the Minnesota congressional candidate dubbed “The Brad Pitt of the Republican Party,” but they’re becoming increasingly pessimistic about his prospects.

When a Republican has lost Politico, that is foreboding, indeed. For him, I mean. And recent advertising on Mills’s behalf certainly bears a taint of desperation. The pictured mailer – what with living in MN-08, I get one like it practically every day – is from the Republican Party of Minnesota. What caught my eye, before I launched it into the recycle bag, was that he’s going after Obamacare and taxes, still. Could something personal be going on?
You bet. An underappreciated reason for virulent, unreasoning right-wing hatred of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is that tax increases on the very rich are helping to pay for it. That is in direct contradiction to a basic tenet of Almighty Reagan, and that’s horrifying, and terrifying, from their perspective.

You see, up until Obamacare, the truly wealthy in our society, that passive income crowd that dodged the top tax bracket by getting their compensation in capital gains and such, was EXEMPTED from the Medicare portion of FICA.
This tax (2.9%) went up .9% for incomes over 250k under PPACA. .9%’s not that bad, of course, but for those living on passive income, the hit is much larger.
Until now, this law, they were exempt from that tax.
Now they’re not.
(Daily Kos)

What is the ACA costing Mills? His roughly $500K annual salary is public record, but how much unearned income he draws on his net worth of at least $50M isn’t, as far as I know. But just as very loose speculation, if Stewart III has $2M/year subject to the Obamacare tax, it’s costing him 0.38 x 2M = $76,000. Or something like that; I’m no tax expert. Five figures, anyway. Maybe even six.
Which doesn’t seem like much of a financial blow, in context. But we all know it’s not about the dollar amount. A bunch of liberals, led by the Kenyan Communist who invented Ebola, are costing Mills money – stealing it, as far as he’s concerned. And to take care of the undeserving rabble, who everyone knows don’t really have preexisting conditions. That is an affront. An unforgivable one, if you have the sort of rich right-winger mindset that Stewart Mills III clearly has.


Don Slaten for Minnesota House 54B

by Dan Burns on October 14, 2014 · 1 comment

slatenHere’s his Facebook. From his website:

I will continue to push for fair wage policies to enhance the wellbeing of workers and to secure job growth for all…
A strong educational system is necessary to prepare the next generations to tackle the challenges of the coming age. I support enhanced pre-school education, investment in all levels of schooling, and higher education opportunities for all students regardless of economic ability and without undue debt burden.
(Don Slaten House District 54B)

Rep. Denny McNamara (R-Hastings) is a pretty generic right-winger who like all of his ilk in the House (where he’s been since 2003) is past his discard date, by any rational standard. From his campaign website issues page, which still appears to date from 2012:

For the past ten years, Denny has fought to prioritize state government spending and opposed outlandish tax increase proposals. With a state budget deficit looming, you can bet there will be an outcry from many lawmakers next year to raise taxes in order to increase government spending. And when that happens, you can count on Denny to shoot them down.

I guess that Denny’s not a very good shot. And Minnesota is better off because of it.

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