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2018 DFL State Convention Day 3

by Eric Ferguson on June 3, 2018 · 4 comments

This is the day 3 live blog. Day 1 (US Senate, secretary of state, and my explanation of convention procedures for newbies) is here, and day 2 (governor and AG) is here.

The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.

The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.

And it’s auditor day, and maybe the lieutenant governor endorsement. The filing deadline is Tuesday, so Erin Murphy will have to announce quickly if she hasn’t already. I’m not there today and trying to tune in to the livestream, but so far it isn’t working. While we’re waiting, I’d like to handicap the auditor race: no idea. No information to go on at all. When I mentioned it to anybody, no one was even thinking about it with governor sucking up all the attention. Might be well to remember that governors Mark Dayton and Arne Carlson held the state auditor position. Rebecca Otto didn’t get endorsed, but being auditor made her an immediate serious candidate for governor or whatever else she should choose to run for. So even aside from the actual job, it matters.


Here is what will happen in 2014

by Eric Ferguson on January 10, 2014 · 10 comments

Yes, we’re already into the second week of 2014. Too late for predictions? Why, because that first week gives away the game? I suppose it’s a bit of a game, because making predictions is hard. Actually, predicting is easy. Being right is hard. But hey, it’s a community blog, so feel free to join in.


So here is what will happen in 2014, judged by this grading system:
100% correct: Hello Nate Silver!
75%: Somebody’s been paying attention.
50%: Coin flipper.
25%: Should have stuck with the coin.
0%: Professional psychic. (if you’re a psychic, you might not find that humorous, but you should have seen it coming)


These will be predictions of a political bent, not much in the way of predicting which celebrity marriages will end. Hopefully that’s not too dismaying on a political blog, though I predict my marriage will get through the year just fine. That means that I just gave myself an extra incentive to make it work, and I have a poor grasp of the meaning of “celebrity”.


OK, first serious prediction: the legalization of marijuana will result in only a small increase in the percentage of people who use it. By small, I mean a percentage increase in the single digits. My thinking is few people wanting to try it have been deterred by illegality, and most non-users have other reasons for declining to use, like thinking legal marijuana still stinks, it tastes foul, or has unacceptable health risks. Of course, if the statistics on usage aren’t all that reliable, then maybe we’ll never know for sure, so I’ll just plan on claiming I was right.




Strategy and opportunity with marijuana legalization

by Eric Ferguson on November 2, 2013 · 3 comments

A recent Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans favor marijuana legalization for the first time, and supporters skew towards the younger end of the age spectrum. TPM gets a hat tip and credit for calling it correctly. They said last April this would happen, “Surprised At Speed Of Gay Marriage? Pot Legalization Is Next“. In that article, they posted a graph using polling data going back to 1995 which showed that support for marijuana legalization followed the same trajectory as support for marriage equality, being just a bit behind. With the increase in support for marriage equality which a few months earlier allowed supporters to win at the polls in four states, they predicted marijuana legalization would shortly reach the same level of support. Apparently they were right. TPM unfortunately lost the graph when the redesigned their web site, but I found it in an internet archive. Here it is:

(click to enlarge):


changing attitudes: marriage equality and pot legalization


After seeing that chart, I looked into whether the same might be true about immigration reform, which was the third issue where progress seemed to be coming rapidly. The upshot is that the polling data wasn’t nearly so robust as for the other two issues, but what there was suggested the same trend. This suggests a strategy, both in terms of making progress on other issues long term, and a specific application to campaigning next year.




Why did marriage equality come so quickly?

by Eric Ferguson on May 23, 2013 · 11 comments

marriage equality wins at the state capitolYou already know this if you’ve been hanging out in the liberal blogosphere or lefty social circles, but for everyone else, a recent topic of discussion is how the issue of marriage equality reversed so fast, and so certainly. Or was it so fast and certain? The context is wondering how it happened so we can copy it with other issues. Gun sanity seemed to have sudden momentum after the Newtown massacre, but then faded. Not entirely of course, but enough that opponents have been able to protect the cruel jokes we call gun laws.  Climate change is an urgent issue yet, despite being high on the national agenda for a generation, progress is incremental. It’s there, but not close to what we need. Yet marriage equality moved, in what feels like a blink, from a wedge issue for Republicans to a wedge issue for Democrats; from a long string of lopsided defeats at the ballot box to four wins last election day, and several states legalizing it this year, with the opinion polls steadily in our favor. Why? And could correctly understanding why help us on other issues?


I have three theories, which I call “good news”, “bad news”, and “no news”. That last one isn’t a great descriptor, but seems to fit the naming pattern. The first two though … great naming on my part IMHO, even if readers decide the naming was the only part I got right. Let’s start with the good news.



A bit of patriotism and a bit of fun

by Eric Ferguson on July 5, 2012 · 0 comments

Earlier today, Big E posted the text of the Declaration of Independence. It was common in the early days of the republic for Independence Day celebrations to include a reading of the Declaration, perhaps reflecting a time when many more people were illiterate, and when oratory was an admired skill rather than one of those signals of liberal elite untrustworthiness. NPR has an annual tradition of having their staff read it during Morning Edition, and here is this year’s. Or here is this year’s:

That’s the patriotism, and now here’s the fun: one of dumber right wing lies disintegrating quickly, not that being shown blatantly false is likely to stop them from repeating it. Guess where Obama spent Independence Day?
Would you believe he spent it in France attending a fundraiser? You wouldn’t? Good for you, but the conservative media believed it, or at least got a kick out of passing it on.

Obama had to be somewhere though, right? Right: in America, presiding over a naturalization ceremony for active duty military personnel.

Here’s Ezra Klein reporting on the decision of conservative media to report but not check, in which Klein shows his sources, and below is the actual ceremony in case anyone holds out hope Klein was lying.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Rep. Tim Walz (DFL-MN) will face either former legislator Allen Quist or current State Senator Mike Parry (R-Waseca) in the 2012 election in November. Quist and Parry are going to try and out-crazy each other to win the MNGOP primary in August.

Quist wants Obama impeached over his immigration policy:

Allen Quist, a former state representative running against Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) in Minnesota’s 1st congressional district, told a town hall late last week that Obama’s recent immigration policy, as well as his decision not to defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act, were both unconstitutional. While some Republicans would cautiously leave the matter there, Quist pressed on, declaring that Obama had committed an impeachable offense. If elected, he promised he would “not only propose it, [he] would argue it to the utmost of my ability and [he] would carry it like a banner to the American public.”
QUIST: When Richard Nixon was threatened with impeachment, one of the articles of impeachment was violating the Constitution of the United States. So is this an impeachable offense? Yes. Whenever the Constitution is violated, it is an impeachable offense. […]

QUESTIONER: Would that be something you would propose amongst your fellows there?

QUIST: I would not only propose it, I would argue it to the utmost of my ability and I would carry it like a banner to the American public.

(Think Progress)


The Supreme Court of the United States ruled on Arizona’s racist laws targeting all brown-skinned people in the state. They ruled that police can begin enforcing immigration law.

The Supreme Court upheld a key part of Arizona’s tough anti-illegal immigration law in a 5-3 decision on Monday that allows police officers to ask about immigration status during stops. That part of the law, which never went into effect because of court challenges, will now immediately be enforced in Arizona. Other parts of the law, including a provision that made it a state crime for illegal immigrants to seek work, will remain blocked, as the justices affirmed the federal government’s supremacy over immigration policy.

Interestingly, the conservative activists on the court, Scalia, Alito and Thomas think the entire law should be upheld!

What are the implications? Will Arizona begin their plan to round up all the brown-skinned people? Will Minneapolis and St. Paul police be forced to begin checking for immigration status of people they pull over?

The answer is not under the Obama Administration:

The Obama administration said Monday it is suspending existing agreements with Arizona police over enforcement of federal immigration laws, and said it has issued a directive telling federal authorities to decline many of the calls reporting illegal immigrants that the Homeland Security Department may get from Arizona police.

When the Arizona police call in an immigration check on the brown-skinned person they’ve profiled, federal agencies like Homeland Security, the FBI and etc. will respond only when the person has a felony conviction.

The long-term implications are not so good. A Republican Administration would bow to its racist, teabagger base and force all police departments to become ICE agents.

How is it again that Romney thinks he has a snowball’s chance with the Latino voters?


Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is always ramping up the language she uses.  Every issue is alwaysa  clear cut, black/white issue without any gray.  To say she oversimplifies everything is a vast understatement.

In her latest attempt to make herself relevant in the Republican presidential race again, she’s increasing the hysteria of her language about immigration.  She hopes to delineate herself as the only ‘true’ conservative candidate.  She wants Republican voters to see that her opponents are waffling, flip-flopping weaklings.

But even Bill O’Reilly thinks she’s a wacko on this one:

Her idea is to deport an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.  The cost would be mind-boggling.  The human cost is unimaginable.

The crying children watching their parents boarding buses even bugs Bill O’Reilly.  And when O’Reilly is the voice of reason … you know she’s gone too far.

Now Bachmann is upping the ante with perhaps the most cruel anti-immigrant statement to date. Media Matters reports that in an interview with Fox host Bill O’Reilly, Bachmann dismissed the humanitarian crisis of mass deportations and reiterated her baseless fear-mongering about “anchor babies.” Bachmann then expressed a “can do” attitude when it came to O’Reilly’s mock idea of dragging immigrants onto buses in front of their screaming children:
O’REILLY: [T]here are a lot of people here who’ve been here for a lot of years. And if you’re gonna start dragging them out of here, it’s gonna be very, very difficult to do that…I’m just saying on a human basis, I don’t think that – theory is one thing. Dragging people out, putting them on a bus with their children’s crying can be quite something else.

BACHMANN: It can be done. That’s the thing, it can be done.

O’REILLY: It can be done, but at what cost?

And the best part is that in the next breath, Bachmann states that she’s compassionate.


What we learned from yesterday’s elections

by Eric Ferguson on November 10, 2011 · 0 comments

Update: one more thought

Did we learn anything from yesterday’s elections, or are we just having one happy day after a good night? dan.burn’s post last night and the attached comments have the many good results, and I suspect a few got missed in there. Are there any broader lessons?

The highest profile race was the repeal of SB5, the new Ohio law that essentially outlaws public unions. Ohio US Sen. Sherrod Brown pointed out something that sounds rather significant — this was the first statewide vote on the right to organize:

Brown’s interpretation is worth dwelling on at some length, because it suggests a very clear path forward for Democrats heading into 2012.

Brown started out by making a historical point that invests the results with newfound significance: “This was the first time in our nation’s history there was a statewide vote on bargaining rights.”

Brown noted that yesterday’s results, when viewed in a historical context, reveal that the middle class didn’t grow organically – and that it doesn’t have organic staying power, either.

“If you pay attention to history, you know that collective bargaining is perhaps the single biggest reason we have a strong middle class in this country,” he said. “It has provided a path to the middle class for hundreds of thousands of workers.”

“The middle class doesn’t happen on its own – and it doesn’t unravel on its own, either,” he said. “Last night Ohio took a very big step towards rebuilding the middle class.”

Brown also argue[sic] that the public is wising up to the fact that the financial crisis and the actors who helped create it – and not public workers – are the ones to blame for our fiscal travails. In a reference to the economic meltdown of 2008, Brown said: “Budget deficits came from that, not from the salaries and the benefits that our public workers earned.”

Organized labor has been under withering assault, and in decline, for as long as most of us have been alive. My own suspicion is the attack on public workers has nothing to do with who they work for, but merely with being the next target in the campaign to prohibit labor unions. We have the recall in Wisconsin to go along with Ohio and show that Republicans have gone too far, that there is a base of support, and that asserting the right to organize is good politics. Sherrod seems to be saying Democrats should run on protecting the right to organize as a foundation of the middle class, and to be sure, before unions, there was no such thing as a blue-collar middle class.

Republicans are trying to spin Ohio as a neutral night because the amendment to ban the federal health insurance mandate passed easily, but that’s always been the most unpopular part of health care reform. In fact, it might be the only unpopular part. Conservatives were looking at anything that might stop reform, but many liberals support a single-payer system, and realize that if the mandate fails, then private insurance becomes untenable without reinstating discrimination against pre-existing conditions, which is also deeply unpopular. In other words, lots of lefties would have voted against the mandate too (I’d give up the mandate if it meant the end of the private system rather than the reinstatment of pre-reform insurance, but without that assurance, it’s a bad risk). So sorry GOP, no significance there.

Anti-abortion activists are going to keep trying personhood amendments, which is no surprise since previous heavy defeats haven’t deterred them, but failing so heavily in so bible belt a state as Mississippi shows they’ve gone too far. It seems the significance is to set the parameters of the debate, since even many people who regard themselves as pro-life are open to exceptions, and are unwilling to abolish contraception, in-vitro fertilization, and stem cell research.

Here’s one other point on this referendum: it wasn’t the Democratic Party’s massive turnout operation that won this. There isn’t much Democratic Party. Not only was the gubernatorial candidate blown out, but three of eight statewide races weren’t even contested.

Republicans must be happy the photo ID constitutional amendment passed, but together with the result in the Maine repeal of the law abolishing election day registration, I think I see something here, and I don’t just mean the actual percentages. Photo ID won big, but still by a smaller than expected margin, while reestablishing election day registration won big when it had just a narrow lead, but that’s just the trend of this one election. What might be immediately important for Minnesota is that Maine had election day registration almost as long as we have (we went first, from back in the days when we actually innovated instead of copying conservative ideology) and despite the Maine Republicans taking the first chance they had to abolish it, it’s very popular. In Minnesota, I’ve run into people who didn’t even know they could register outside the polls, so that’s how ingrained it is. While a photo ID requirement is popular, what if it meant the end of election day registration? The scheme proposed by the MNGOP last session would have IDs scanned by a scanner connected to a central registration database — which makes election day registration impossible. Will photo ID be so popular if it means the end of being able to register at the polls? I’m pretty sure not. I see some hope we can actually beat this thing.

By the way, Maine Republicans tried turning election day registration into an anti-gay campaign, including this newspaper ad and a mailer, and can we presume conservative talk radio repeated it too? Just a year after the gay marriage ban was reinstated by referendum, the homophobic appeal failed. That’s always good news.

Since there’s a clear theme in these referenda of attacks on the rights of people who tend not to vote Republican, let’s look at one more I hope indicates a backlash. Arizona state senator Russell Pearce, who sponsored the anti-immigrant law known as SB1070 and became Senate president for it, was successfully recalled. He was replaced by another Republican, and he had other problems that might have put the recall over the top, but this was backlash for saying anyone could be stopped and made to show their papers because someone in law enforcement took a notion. Maybe this isn’t such a good issue for Republicans. Maybe it is a good issue for us.

Maybe Republicans should stop sticking their names in the blank for “Author” on bills from ALEC.

UPDATE: One more thought: I’ve long harbored a pet theory that the conservative era that dominated US politics for 30 years started with Proposition 13 in California that essentially outlawed tax increases. A state that once had the country’s best public schools is now near the bottom, a wealthy state is now in perpetual budget crisis, and at least one city closed all public libraries because they’re broke and can’t raise taxes. Will SB5 turn out to be the left’s Proposition 13? It stopped something bad instead of establishing something good, but it was still such a big fight over basic rights, one that hadn’t been fought in an entire state before, that it might have changed the national agenda and reenergized labor and its allies.


They Live Among Us – scary video

by JeffStrate on November 5, 2011 · 0 comments

NOTE:  We’ve removed “They Live Among Us” from the internet in anticipation of a director’s cut version that will include scenes deleted by the the State Video Board for Minnesota Nice.  Jeff Strate

About six weeks ago I discovered sewers of caustic gossip, conjecture, stereotyping, scapegoating and mud slinging targeting the elementary school boundary changes in Eden Prairie.  The stuff flowed though the mostly unmanaged Star Tribune, on-line reader comment trenches and two citizen groups: one calling itself “Yes for Neighborhood Schools” (website) and the other calling itself “Eden Prairie School Board Accountability” (facebook).

There are numbers of good, respectful and reasoned parents in these groups, but their collectives have provided a safe harbor and stage for bullies who lob insults, misinformation and rumor at school officials, consultants and parents who support school boundary changes and our Spanish emersion school.   They’re like adolescents who pout and scream when they don’t get their way.  They want to flip the school board during Tuesday’s vote and then bully the new board to roll back the clock to the days when Eden Prairie didn’t have so many immigrants.  

The scary thing is, these folks live down the block, shop at the same grocery stores and cheer for the Vikes and Twins just like I do.  They walk among us — which is the title of my latest Timid Video satire.  Enjoy Enjoy, but ask yourself this question:  Is Strate pricking an expanding bubble of Eden Prairie bigotry or is he dissing a progressive’s horror fantasies?

You be the judge.  

Here’s the YouTube direct link.