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2018 DFL State Convention Day 2

by Eric Ferguson on June 2, 2018 · 7 comments

Yesterday’s live blog got really long, so I decided to start a fresh post for today. See yesterday for an intro to what a live blog is, disclosure of biases, yesterday’s events, and I’m unlikely to explain procedural stuff or regurgitate opinions explained in yesterday’s live blog.
If you want to watch the live stream, go to The Uptake web site. If you want to glance over at the MNGOP convention also going this weekend, go here.
Today is governor and attorney general. My wife snapped a photo of the Matt Pelikan pelican in the concourse outside the convention hall. That’s fun.
Pelikan pelican from outside DFL state convention
The convention has reconvened. Lots of delegates missed yesterday, unsurprisingly since governor is the big attraction, so rules and procedures are being explained again. The noise level on the floor is more obvious here than watching on the live stream. So if you’re streaming, feel smug that you can hear better than people here. Though those of us here can hear the videos since we’re not under Youtube’s thumb. So there.


DFL State Convention Live Blog

by Eric Ferguson on May 31, 2018 · 3 comments

The DFL state convention starts tomorrow (or today if you’re reading this on June 1). A “live blog” means that I’ll be blogging about it as it happens rather than writing up something later. I’ll be explaining what’s going on, and maybe opining on some things. We’ll see what provokes me to opinionating. The current plan is to watch the livestream on The Uptake Friday, which obviously you can watch yourself and I’ll post a link so you can do that. Saturday, I’m hoping to be there watching in person, so hopefully I’ll pick up some stuff that’s not apparent on the livestream. Sunday will likely be another livestream day. Yes, I maybe could have gotten a hotel if I hadn’t been so cheap and tried to reserve a room early enough and blah de blah. Fortunately I live in daytripping distance.

Convening time Friday is 4. The rest of the schedule I assume will be adjusted according to circumstances. The proposed agenda is posted here. Emphasis on proposed, since delegates can move to change the agenda when the rules and agenda are debated, and you never know for sure what will be proposed and what will pass. I’ve run some conventions as a local party chair, and worked on some as a committee member or with a campaign, and can attest that unexpected changes get made. I’ll spare you the “expect the unexpected” cliche — except I guess I just didn’t. You should have expected that. What you can expect is I will explain some of the “what on earth are they talking about” parts that conventions have.
Probably, you care more about the state office endorsements and not committee reports or party office elections or rules debates. So, according to the proposed agenda, Friday will see the endorsements for the US Senate seats and Secretary of State. Attorney General and Governor are scheduled for Saturday, and Auditor is scheduled for Sunday.
Actual updates and reportage start below. Keep refreshing during the convention for updates. If you’re curious about the 2014 or 2016 convention, check out those live blogs. See if you can catch me griping the same gripes (yes, you can).



smokestacksThese sorts of votes are basically political stunts, in this case sucking up to Big Filthy Fossil Fuels. This one is nonetheless butt-ugly.


The vote was non-binding but all too telling. On Friday, the U.S. Senate voted 62 to 37 in favor of building the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline, with 17 Democrats joining all of the Republicans. It was just an amendment to a budget plan that won’t even be going to the president’s desk, but it shows that the political class in D.C. views the pipeline very favorably — and believes voters view it very favorably too…


The Keystone decision still ultimately rests with President Obama, who appears to be dithering — and procrastinating like mad.




Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken both righteously voted “nay.”


I had been unaware that polls show strong public support for this wretched travesty. Of course corporate media hasn’t been highlighting how the pipeline will raise gas prices in the Midwest, on purpose. Or that it will in fact produce only a miniscule quantity of permanent jobs in the U.S. Or anything else that doesn’t carry Big Dirty Energy’s stamp of approval.



In the end, CNET got it wrong.

Sen. Patrick Leahy’s bill to rework privacy protections for email passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today. His bill requires federal law enforcement to get warrants to read our emails. The exception involving possible national security threats (via the Patriot Act) will still exist.

It won’t be up for a final vote until possibly a year from now.

CNET alleged that Leahy was going to weaken email privacy and try to sneak his bill out of committee. A Leahy staffer denied CNET’s claim. Currently, law enforcement don’t need a warrant to gain access to our email. Leahy’s bill actually strengthens our privacy rights.

A Senate committee on Thursday unanimously backed sweeping digital privacy protections requiring the government, for the first time, to get a probable-cause warrant to obtain e-mail and other content stored in the cloud.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, amends the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The amendment would nullify a provision that allows the government to acquire a suspect’s e-mail or other stored content from an internet service provider without showing probable cause that a crime was committed.

The development comes as e-mail privacy is again in the spotlight after FBI investigators uncovered an affair between then-CIA chief David Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell after gaining access to e-mail accounts used by Broadwell.

Currently, the government can obtain e-mail without a warrant as long as the content has been stored on a third-party server for 180 days or more, and only needs to show, often via an administrative subpoena, that it has “reasonable grounds to believe” the information would be useful in an investigation.

Sorry I ever doubted you. I’m just a little paranoid after FISA and SOPA/PIPA.


Leahy may or may not protect email privacy

by The Big E on November 27, 2012 · 0 comments

Last week I noted that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) may have been trying to sneak an anti-privacy bill through the US Senate. Initially, CNET reported that he had altered a email privacy bill to allow federal law enforcement the ability to read our emails without getting a warrant.

Changing the bill just before a holiday and scheduling the vote right after the holiday is pretty underhanded. But a Leahy staffer then denied the claim and alleged that CNET got it wrong.

The proof will be this Thursday when the Judiciary Committee votes on the bill. There will be no hearings. At this point nobody is sure what is in the bill.

Minnesota’s Senators both sit on Judiciary. Please call them and ask them to make sure our privacy is protected.

Sen. Franken at (202) 224-5641

Sen. Klobuchar at (202) 224-3244

Here’s the latest details:

When McCullah’s article went live last Tuesday morning, Senator Leahy was faced with a deluge of criticism, including the American Civil Liberties Union saying that warrants should be required, and the conservative group FreedomWorks launching a petition to Congress – with more than 2,300 messages sent so far – titled: “Tell Congress: Stay Out of My Email!”

Since the publication on CNet, Senator Leahy has backpedaled to his original stance on ECPA.  His official twitter account was updated last week with the comment, “Technology has created vacuum in privacy protection. Sen. Leahy believes that needs to be fixed, and #ECPA needs privacy updates.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote on the bill this Thursday, but as of the moment, there is a measure of doubt as to how much of our privacy will really be protected and how much latitude the government will still have when it comes to gaining access to our electronic communications.
[my emphasis]


Yesterday I wrote about a sneaky move by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) pulled to try and pass a bill which would allow a wide variety of federal agencies to read our email without a warrant. Changing the bill just before the Thanksgiving holiday and then holding a hearing and trying to pass it immediately after the holiday is particularly sneaky because it doesn’t allow opponents much time to organize.

Now a staffer for Leahy denies the Senator changed the bill and claims CNET has it all wrong.

“CNET has it wrong,” an aide tweeted from Leahy’s account. “Sen. Leahy does NOT support an #ECPA exception to search warrant requirement [for] civil enforcement [for agencies] like FTC, SEC.”

A Judiciary Committee aide confirmed to The Hill that Leahy “does not support broad carve-outs for warrantless email searches.”
(The Hill)

Regardless, please call Senators Franken and Klobuchar and ask them to vote against the bill.

Sen. Franken at (202) 224-5641

Sen. Klobuchar at (202) 224-3244

Many Democrats, including Klobuchar, voted to weaken FISA despite claiming they wanted to protect American citizens from warrantless wiretapping. Many Democrats, including Franken, supported SOPA/PIPA. Unlike FISA, a netroots uprising killed the bill.

If CNET is wrong, then we can relax. But if Leahy is trying to sneak this bill through, I wouldn’t be surprised … it wouldn’t be the first time.


Klobuchar for President?

by The Big E on November 20, 2012 · 3 comments

The rumors have begun that Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) is aiming for a 2016 Presidential run. Klobuchar first ran for Hennepin County Attorney in 1998 and was reelected in 2002. Soon after her reelection victory she began touring Minnesota relentlessly. Nobody was surprised when she ran for US Senate in 2006.

She walloped rising MNGOP star Mark Kennedy in the 2006 MN-SEN race and her popularity has always remained high. In her 2012 reelection bid, she klobbered Ron Paul minion Kurt Bills who barely even campaigned after winning the MNGOP nomination.

I’ve spoken with plenty of political insiders and hacks who are convinced Klobuchar will run for President. Personally, I always thought she’s angling for a Supreme Court nomination. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong. Either way, these rumors are rampant.

Now we have a well-connected woman urging her Facebook followers to tell Klobuchar to run.

So what is the deal? Does she have a chance? What are her strengths/advantages? What are her weaknesses?


Her chances hinge entirely upon one and only one name: Hillary. If Hillary Clinton does not run, she is well-positioned to vie for the nomination.

Klobuchar the Moderate

Sen. Klobuchar has positioned herself as a moderate. Despite the clear and obvious dysfunction of the US Senate in that the minority (concerned only about political posturing) virtually controls the Senate via the threat of filibuster, she always talks up bi-partisanship and explains how she works across the aisle.

She has a liberal voting record on all the important issues and she’s reliably voted the right way on the big issues. Democrats can trust her to do the right thing.

On the other hand, she rarely takes a stand on the issues of the day.

She’s vote correctly, but she won’t lead. For example, she was absent during the health care reform debate. When pressed she offered non-commital statements about how important the issue is.

Her triangulation toward the middle is probably an advantage nationally, but progressives in MN consider it a weakness. We want a leader and this is something Klobuchar hasn’t done.

She is quick-witted and funny

Klobuchar is great at the unscripted moments. She is really calm under pressure and this is a huge advantage over the stodgy, over-scripted alpha males she’ll face if she runs.

Furthermore, she’s often quite funny.

There is no better way to make voters comfortable with you than making them laugh. She’ll never get herself in trouble, either, as her humor is self-effacing. Her jokes are about herself and her family or about her interactions with the press or other politicians.

Don’t discount the ability to make non-offensive jokes that make people laugh. It’s a rare ability. I think she has the ability cut through to the heart of issue in a memorable way.


Klobuchar will likely join Michele Bachmann and make it two Minnesotans (and 2 MN women) to vie for their party’s presidential nomination. One representing the wackiest far right and the other a confirmed moderate.

Unlike Bachmann, Klobuchar will not embarrass us if Hillary decides not to run. It will be nice to have a Minnesotan on the national stage who isn’t crazy.

So … who has Hillary’s cell and can ask her what she’s planning to do?


Kurt Bills will now pass quietly off the political scene. He lost badly to Sen. Amy Klobuchar and will return to inflicting his disturbed worldview on the students of Rosemount Senior High. He was a one-term, back-bench Republican legislator who dreamed of joining his idol, Ron Paul, in Congress.

Like the clay character that graced SNL back in its heyday, Kurt Bills is a sad clown who just can’t catch a break. This photo epitomizes the Bills campaign:

Yes, that’s Mister Bills bus broken down on the southbound entrance ramp to I-35 just south of Forest Lake.

Mister Bills rode a wave as Ron Paul supporters took over the Republican Party of Minnesota. The Paulbots organized at the caucus level and ended up sending all Ron Paul supporters (with the exception of Michele Bachmann) to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL.

Mister Bills seemed like he was counting on Ron Paul to help him raise tons of money and help his campaign gain traction. Apparently, he forgot that a primary tenet of libertarianism is you’re all on your own.

Mister Bills immediately began work on an edgy, non-conformist ad to define himself and his campaign. That was the intention but, while it certainly defined him, it didn’t define him in the way he intended.


Seriously, this is worse than Carly Fiorina’s Demon Sheep ad or Mike Gravel’s ad in which he just stares into the camera for a minute before walking away.

Mister Bills lurched from failure to flop.  
It appears that the people who helped win him the endorsement weren’t about to work hard to get him elected.

Mister Bill frittered away the summer. Two candidates challenged him in the primary. He barely broke 50% in the MNGOP primary. That’s embarrassing.

In September we learned that Mister Bills hadn’t quit his day job. Instead of campaigning full-time, he’d been teaching and then campaigning in the evening and on weekends. And he wondered why the media didn’t take him seriously?

When the Minneapolis Star Tribune released a poll showing the inevitable. Mister Bills fought back. First he claimed that the Strib was lying and he was only losing by 15% not 28%. Then he had his surly and rude campaign manager, Mike Osskopp, complain that the Strib was only helping the daughter of their former correspondent. Her Dad hadn’t worked for the Strib in 20 years (at least).

Then Mister Bills decided that attacking Sen. Klobucher for saving jobs in Minnesota was a good idea and a surefire way to garner his campaign a little attention.

Kurt Bills told MPR he would have opposed saving the auto industry, which would have been absolutely disastrous for our economy. Trying to turn his foolish stand to his advantage, Bills claimed Klobuchar supported saving the auto industry so she could get Walser’s donation:
“I don’t know why you do an ad like that,” Bills said. “It’s showing you’re a crony capitalist. You’re going to side with the people who can fill your campaign coffers up.”

Sigh. No, Mr. Bills. It shows that people value results over abstract ideology. Nobody cares about your ideological basis for saying you’d have let the American auto industry collapse; they’re simply going to vote for the person who saved a million jobs, including their own.

When September job numbers were released, they were bad news for Republicans. Unemployment drop below 8% for the first time in a long time. This didn’t fit the Republican narrative, so Mister Bills joined the chorus of crazies claiming the unemployment numbers were faked.

In mid October I noticed that polling guru Nate Silver had given Sen. Klobuchar a 100% chance of reelection. That had to hurt. But Mister Bills is a happy kind of clown. He suggested the following:

With polls showing little hope for his bid to upset Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Republican Kurt Bills found what he thought was a silver lining courtesy of Google.

Somebody told him that if you typed the Democratic incumbent’s name, one of the first results the search engine guessed was: “Amy Klobuchar’s opponent.”

That, the GOP longshot reasoned, must mean that voters are searching — quite literally — for an alternative, even if they don’t know his name.

Mister Bills next brilliant strategic maneuver was to attack Klobuchar based upon a conspiracy theory concocted by a guy Klobuchar jailed while she was Hennepin County Attorney.

But the final two scenes in Mister Bills sad journey into irrelevance epitomize his campaign:


Amy Klobuchar was declared the winner 2 minutes after polls closed. I’ll keep you updated on Senator Klobuchar’s margin of victory, and I’ll try to check in on other Senate races throughout the country this evening.

11:50 PM: Democrats have won 53 seats, the same amount they currently control. There are still three seats up for grab, all of which are possible wins. In a year where it once seemed the GOP was a shoo-in to regain control, it now looks likely that Dems will instead gain a seat or two.

10:20 PM: Dems have clinched control of the Senate. Can they add a few seats over the rest of the night?

9:40 PM: Klobuchar is now making her acceptance speech. Congratulations, Senator!
9:20 PM: Incredible. Now seeing projections that Tim Kaine (D) will defeat George Allen (R) in Virginia. It seems unlikely that Dems will sweep the table in these tossup races, but so far, that’s what they’re doing.

9:10 PM: CBS news now calling Missouri for Claire McCaskill over Todd “legitimate rape” Akin. So far, an incredible night for Democrats in the Senate. They may well be on track to actually pick up a seat or two.

9:00 PM: The string of Democratic victories continues, as Joe Donnelly will defeat Richard Mourdock in Indiana.

8:25 PM: More good news for Dems in the Senate: Tammy Baldwin wins in Wisconsin.

8:15 PM: I’m seeing reports that NBC has called MA-SEN for Elizabeth Warren. A major win for the Democrats, and for liberals in general.

8:02 PM: KLOBUCHAR WINS! WCCO is already calling Klobuchar the winner, 2 minutes after the polls close. The only question is how large the margin will be.

7:50 PM: Polls are still open here in Minnesota, but we’ve already got a Democratic win on the East Coast. CBS is already projecting a win for Chris Murphy in Connecticut. A few months ago, this was seen as a major opportunity for the Republicans.

11:58 AM: With the polls closing in 8 hours, I think I can confidently project a Klobuchar win tonight.

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One week from tonight, former legislator Kurt Bills will lose to Sen. Amy Klobuchar in a landslide. It has been a foregone conclusion that Mister Bills will lose. It is exactly like an episode from the Mister Bills Show from the good old days of Saturday Night Live. We know its going to end badly for our inanimate hero, the only question is will it be Mister Sluggo or Mister Hand to do him in.

In Minnesota’s version of the claymation classic, we know its going to be Sen. Klobuchar with the grassroots campaign in the election.

How badly is it going for Mister Bills? This bad:

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