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MN 08

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.
 
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millspartying2First of all, the best reason to not elect Stewart Mills III is that it involves reelecting Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN), who has for the most part been a strong progressive while in office. More so than I expected, in fact. Not perfect, but if your whole thing is quaffing the purity goblet to the bitter dregs, I don’t know why you’re reading me to start with.
 
With Mills, there’s the same entitled, fatuous self-absorption as with George W. Bush, the same “I’m born to rule” cockiness, and the same inability to comprehend why everybody doesn’t admire him as much as he so obviously admires himself. And absolutely the same belief that the purpose of government is to aggrandize #1 and his buddies, in every conceivable way.
 
My previous characterization of Mills as “mildly to moderately stupid,” which in fact puts him right about at the average for contemporary conservative political types, is based largely on many of his public pronouncements, earlier during his campaign, before apparently his staff finally convinced him to for God’s sake quit ad-libbing. And, just his general bearing, and his overall take on the world. A fundamental lesson of the last 30+ years, that everyone should understand, is that when “movement conservatives” like Stewart III get into power, they proceed to f*ck up everything they touch.

 

Someone like Mills is the last person who should have any kind of political power, in a complex, changing world. Like any wingnut he just doesn’t have what it takes, intellectually or psychologically, to handle it at all well. It’s profoundly unfortunate that the entire electorate doesn’t understand that, by now.
 
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MN-08: Coleman’s anti-Nolan ad is mostly false

by Dan Burns on October 24, 2014 · 1 comment

millspartying2A new TV ad that you’ve probably had to endure is the work of a dark money group headed by a former U.S. Senator from Minnesota, Norm Coleman, a true weasel who seems to have indeed found his proper, if odious, place in society. The ad’s a piece of crap.
 

Last year, Nolan voted against a funding bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is typically a solidly bipartisan piece of legislation.
 
But that wasn’t because Nolan doesn’t want to fund veterans’ care. It’s because he thought the bill didn’t put enough money into health care services for vets. Further, Nolan has since voted for other bills that increased funding for veteran care.
(MPR Poligraph)

I don’t see that there’s any doubt that between pushing for more earned benefits for veterans, or more tax cut welfare for the pampered and privileged like himself, where Stewart Mills III’s priorities in Congress would lie.
 
It has long since been the case that most of the Mills-backing mailers I’ve been getting say “Vote against Rick Nolan,” not “Vote for Stewart Mills.” Even Republicans sense that they’re not going to get anywhere by emphasizing the alleged strengths of their own wretched candidate, because there aren’t any. Except, apparently, his fine-looking mug and well-toned musculature. Because that’s what matters, right?
 

There’s a possibility that Mills is picking up some electoral assistance from an unlikely source; I’ll call it the “Ventura effect.” When the latter was elected governor, he undoubtedly got some help from normally apolitical rednecks, mostly male and mostly in their twenties, who were like “Whoa! Jesse the Body for governor?! Cool! I’m gonna VOTE!!” This time, we may be seeing “Whoa! Beer Bong Guy for Congress?! Cool! I’m gonna VOTE!!” Probably not enough to be a big factor in the race, though.
 

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millspartying2Because that’s how a guy like him best aggrandizes #1. Like many mildly to moderately stupid people who have nonetheless found themselves in extremely privileged places through sheer accidents of birth and circumstance (George W. Bush is the most prominent contemporary example), Stewart Mills III is probably just plain incapable of really comprehending the potential effects on others of the policies that he supports.
 
– Along with the warmongering, the general worsening of unequal access to opportunity and resources is the worst result of the absolute political, social, and economic disaster that has been “movement conservatism,” “Reaganism,” or whatever you want to call it. Mills supports more tax cut welfare for the super wealthy like himself.

 

You can count on Stewart III to ride along as congressional GOP leadership continues to often bluff, and probably sometimes follow through on, government shutdowns, threats to default on the national debt, and whatever other despicable bullsh*t those worthless losers can think of.

 
And that’s just for starters.
 
If he somehow squeaks out a fluky, one-term win, entirely due to extremely wrongheaded DFL voter apathy/laziness in the district, Mills will in some ways serve as MN-08’s own Crazy Michele Bachmann – not able to personally do anything like the damage Bachmann has done, because that time has passed, but as an essentially clownish figure. And he certainly won’t get anything more done for his district in Congress than Bachmann has for hers. Not sure why he’d show up, except that he’s a cocky little f*cker (just like W.), and would undoubtedly do plenty of struttin’. Let’s prevent that, shall we? And, let’s prevent the fulsome – indeed, downright sickening – adoration he’d continue to enjoy, from Minnesota, and national, corporate media.
 

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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.
(KSTP)

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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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.
(Politico)

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.
 

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MN-08: Nolan has double-digit polling lead

by Dan Burns on October 2, 2014 · 9 comments

nolanHot off the presses:
 

A new DCCC poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner finds Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan up a rather comfortable 48-37 over Republican Stewart Mills, despite the fact that Green Party candidate Skip Sandman is taking 7 percent of the vote. This is actually the first poll we’ve seen here, but just a couple of weeks ago, Nolan admitted that the race was a “dead heat.”
 
So either Nolan’s internals were whack, this poll is off-base, or the Democrats’ ad campaign has simply been a lot better than the Republicans’. I’m gonna bank on door number three, particularly if we don’t see responsive numbers from Mills.
(Daily Kos Elections)

I’m thinking the third door, myself, though there’s also the possibility that Nolan wasn’t being entirely straightforward about that “dead heat” thing. Have to avoid complacency, you know. And of course I have to add the caveats about this being just one poll, the only one that counts is on Election Day, etc.
 
A lot of people will claim that this should be dismissed, because “Democratic pollster.” Don’t buy it.
 
As far as an explanation, in addition to the above, it also so happens that Mills, a veritable exemplar of unearned privilege, can’t seem to open his mouth without sounding like an idiot. And there’s The Hair. I’m serious; a lot of crusty old farmers, factory workers, and so forth, take it as a personal insult that some kid won’t even get a grown-up haircut before asking for their votes. That recent DCCC ads have included images of Stewart smoothing down The Hair is no accident, and that’s at least as effective as anything else in them. Most people vote mostly based on habit. The #2 factor, though, isn’t careful, objective consideration of the candidates and the issues (which, in this case, certainly goes Nolan’s way by, like, infinity). It’s first impressions and snap judgments.

 

This is a blue district. Nolan beat down an incumbent by almost nine points in 2012. Many “analysts” are choosing to focus entirely on President Obama barely having won it. Well, if Barack Obama was a white guy named something like “Don Smith,” he’d have won MN-08 by plenty more than one point or whatever it was. Trust me; I live here. Which isn’t to suggest that any other district, anywhere, is really “post-racial,” yet, one way or another, either.
 

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Bad pollsters active in Minnesota

by Dan Burns on September 30, 2014 · 5 comments

mndistrictsLast night I got a robocall poll from none other than Rasmussen Reports. I went ahead and did the whole thing. It was about the U.S. Senate and Governor races, which other polling has consistently shown to be pretty much locks, and quite possibly even double-digit wins, for Al Franken and Mark Dayton, respectively. The robo-voice asked whether I vote in every election (“yes”). Some questions later it spit out something like “Sometimes, something comes up that may prevent people from voting. Do you think there’s any chance that maybe you won’t vote on election day?” (That’s not an exact quote, I wasn’t recording it, but it’s the gist.) That may indicate that Rasmussen intends to apply a super-tight “likely voter” screen, in order to get numbers more favorable to Minnesota Republicans, which the latter, and corporate media, can then pimp as evidence of Mike McFadden and Jeff Johnson “surging.” Or, Rasmussen may correctly recognize those races as lost causes for the GOP, and tell it like it is, so they can claim to have been “accurate.” Either way, I suggest not taking seriously whatever they provide. The firm may be under new ownership, but it’s still Rasmussen.
 

If indeed the plan is to knowingly apply a too-tight voter screen in order to produce numbers more favorable to one side, that would be an example of “skewed polling.” Another way of doing that is to “prime the pump” with initial questions intended to produce a negative (or, rarely, positive) frame of mind about an officeholder, candidate, or policy, and then ask about whether one approves or disapproves. “Push polling” is when the intent isn’t really to do accurate polling at all, but rather to spread negatives about a candidate under the guise of an opinion survey. That appears to be what’s currently happening in MN-08 (Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) vs. Stewart Mills III); here’s a sample question I heard about someone getting over the phone: “ISIS terrorists beheaded innocent American journalists. Congressman Nolan voted NOT to fund the fight against ISIS and the threat of terrorism against Americans. Does that make you more or less likely to vote for Nolan if the election were held today?”
 
I don’t know if this is being directly done by the Mills campaign, or on its behalf. It’s not that common, as it can backfire, through being perceived as “dirty politics” engaged in by a desperate campaign. I’m not saying that’s definitely the case here. I have no way of knowing that, though I have my suspicions.
 

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MN-08: Mills TV ad rated false

by Dan Burns on September 25, 2014 · 0 comments

millspartying1There’s a link to the ad, produced by the National Republican Congressional Committee, in the blockquoted MPR article. (I haven’t found a copy I can embed here, yet, and it wouldn’t go on the front page anyway, because it is just too obnoxious. And you know that if I, of all people, consider something too obnoxious, it’s gotta be awful.) It pimps the big scary terrorists. (I have to point out here that 9/11 happened because of the criminal incompetence of the profoundly conservative presidential administration of George W. Bush, to whom Stewart Mills III is very similar in many ways.)
 

Like the rest of Minnesota Public Radio (which I hasten to add is still far better than most corporate media), PoliGraph’s prime directive is to avoid really offending anyone. It rates plenty of campaign ads “misleading,” but to call something “false,” outright, is not common, and indicates a recklessness on the part of the perpetrators quite possibly borne of desperation.
 

Nolan has a track record of wanting to deal with prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, but nothing he voted for would have simply released dangerous captives as the ad implies…
 
Nolan didn’t vote to cut funding for troops. He voted to block the government from funding a resolution it’s used in the past to justify going to war.
 
For not telling the whole story, this ad is misleading to the point of being false.
(MPR)

Incidentally, I saw a couple of Mills campaign signs here in town. They’re little things, about 2′ x 15″, and the lettering is green (the same color as the lawns they’re standing in) on a white background. They’re about the last thing that will get the attention of a passing driver, even for a split-second, and yet another indication of how the Mills campaign can’t seem to do anything well.
 

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12376938I wrote here about how Stewart Mills III, the GOP candidate for Rep. Rick Nolan’s (D-MN) place in Congress, implied that voters in the district just don’t much care about what’s going on elsewhere on the globe. (Specifically, I titled it “Mills calls district voters a bunch of dumb rubes.”) I don’t mean to say that his campaign is paying any attention to me, I don’t see why they would, but there does appear to have been an effort to upgrade his public standing on this.
 

After Nolan’s ‘no’ vote, his Republican challenger’s camp was quick to issue a statement:
 
“Rick Nolan’s vote tonight against the bipartisan agreement to equip and train Syrian rebels was deeply disappointing,” said Chloe Rockow, communications director for the Stewart Mills campaign in a statement. “The solution was a responsible way to fight ISIS without putting any American troops on the ground, but Rick Nolan continued his trend of voting against what’s best for our troops and veterans. He wants to ignore the gathering threat of ISIS for philosophical reasons, but once again, his vote was wrong for the 8th Congressional District.”
 
Nolan’s camp fired back Wednesday night:
 
“It’s surprising that Stewart Mills III has awoken to this issue, despite telling the Duluth News Tribune that voters aren’t concerned with foreign policy. Rep. Nolan opposes spending taxpayer dollars on another costly war. Instead he believes we should reinvest in America, rebuild our middle class, and support veterans by tackling the backlog of VA benefits claims, increasing access to mental health services, and ensuring veterans living in rural areas can visit their local doctor. Rep. Nolan will continue to oppose wars of choice abroad and do everything he can to support our veterans here at home,” Nolan’s communication director, Sacha Haworth, said in a statement.
(WDIO)

Or there hasn‘t been such an effort. There seem to be internal communication issues.
 
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