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Democratic Visions One-on-One

by JeffStrate on December 29, 2016 · 0 comments

What happend? What's next?

The Uptake, the citizen driven, online, news service, was “baptized” during the tumultuous, September 2008 Republican Party Convention at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.  That’s the G.O.P. convention associated with un-announced search warrants, the torching of squad cars, the arrest of more than 300 protestors including journalists, roughed-up demonstrators and conventioneers; that’s the one that nominated John McCain and placed a tiara on Sarah Palin as its VP candidate to an amused and bemused electorate.

 

Two months later, voters, Obama and Biden solved that problem.

 

This past election season, neither Sanders or Clinton and Kaine were provided a position to help solve the Trump problem.  With DT’s carnival about to enter the big top’s center ring, America’s political culture continues to morph into the kitsch world of a John Waters film.  The cynical fun, however, is now a real nightmare.

 

The Uptake executive producer Mike McIntee  joined Tim O’Brien for a 22 minute, one-on-one, Democratic Visions meet-up on December 19th.  Much has since happened.  The following day, McIntee was carting office and streaming gear into the renovated press bunker at the Minnesota Capitol.   Six days later, the StarTribune reported that Amy Klobuchar had told it that she would run in 2018 for re-election to the U.S. Senate and not for Governor.   A few days after that, the President-Elect was defending Israel’s settlement policies and damning Kerry and Obama via tweets. Only the tandem deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds have dimmed these recent Twitter flare-ups.

 

That said, the new edition of Democratic Visions features Mr. McIntee and Mr. O’Brien sharing still timely perspectives on  the life political as the informed and engaged adults that they are.    Mike and Tim have a lot to say about where we’ve been and where we’re headed, about the DFL, future DFL leadership, the national Democrats and DT.

 

The second and third courses of the viewing include a visual essay set inside the winter time, tropical redoubt of the Como Conservatory and some ruminating by truck driver, critic-at-large Bruce Baird.

 

View the half hour program on YouTube here.

 

Democratic Visions on cableTV

 

Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Edina, Hopkins, Richfield, Comcast Channel 15 —

Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m., Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m.

 

Bloomington – BCAT 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.

 

Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.  Programs are streamed during airings.

 

Champlin, Anoka, Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Community Channel 15 Schedule varies consult website – http://qctv.org/program-guide/

 

Democratic Visions is hand made by unpaid volunteers from Edina, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins and Bloomington. Our program is not financially supported or endorsed by any political party, political action committee or special interest group.

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Videos: DFL 48 Soap Box

by JeffStrate on October 2, 2012 · 0 comments

On July 14 when 95 degrees of Minnesota heat was sapping the life out of most mortals, we set up an old fashioned soap box with an open invitation for folks to speak out.  DFL 48 was holding a banquet of sorts in the air conditioned redoubt that is Eden Wood, a retreat tucked into a woods and lakes quadrant of Eden Prairie.  I recruited a pair of high school kids to lens who ever showed up.  The thinking was, we could use some of it for Democratic Visions our political issues CableTV series.

Wow were we right (that doesn’t  happen often these days).  One Jim Klobuchar (most likely the best damned columnist ever) and Carlos Kelley (he’s in the same rock band as my daughter) stepped up on the box and let it rip.

Carlos Kelley, who has met Sen. David Hann twice, is on the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg1DSEDS90s

Jim Klobuchar issues an articulate advisory about the general election – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pidsVKw-I8c

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Bills on the issues: facts are optional

by Eric Ferguson on May 22, 2012 · 0 comments


I wonder if there’s a ready-made web site template for Republican candidates. I don’t mean merely a wrapper to go around the content, but the common talking points atop of which the candidate’s photo and logo get tossed. Come with me to Kurt Bills’ issues page, if you can stand a mixture of “that’s just wrong” and “ugh, that’s just wroooong!”.

Right at the start, Bills says:

The United States Senate should pass a budget; they haven’t since April 29, 2009, which is over 1,000 days.

What does Bills think the Budget Control Act is? Let’s call this one half-true, because there hasn’t been a budget resolution, but a resolution is just a sense of congressional opinion. The Budget Control Act (BCA), the deal that ended the Republicans’ debt ceiling crisis, is actual law. Call it a super-budget, or a budget on steroids, but you can’t pretend it isn’t the passing of a budget. Those defense sequestrations coming at the end of the year that have the congressional Republicans in such a tizzy — part of the BCA.

Bills also claims, “Federal spending per household has grown more than 150% since 1965.” In what sense? In absolute dollars? I would assume it’s more than that. In inflation adjusted dollars? Maybe. That was right before Johnson’s escalation in Vietnam, and we’re still at war, so maybe. Relative to GDP? We had a healthy economy in 1965, and now we’re still recovering from the Great Recession, with reduced government revenues and stabilizers still high (like food stamps and unemployment insurance) so that sounds feasible, but there’s still the question, why are we having to guess at what he means? Did Bills just pull this number out of his butt? He doesn’t seem that original, and looking for the number on the web, it can be found at the usual conservative outlets, so, I conclude Bills didn’t just pull this out of his butt. He pulled it from someone else’s butt.

The next section is about the Federal Reserve and inflation. There isn’t a call for abolishing the Fed, which must be damned annoying to the other Paulites to whom that’s an article of faith, and no one on the left disagrees with auditing the Fed, but does Bills know that’s already the law and already being done? Beyond that, the whole section is basically incoherent:

Federal Reserve Bank – Prices are signals. The price of money is known as the interest rate. It is the most important price in a free enterprise system. The policy of printing more money decreases interest rates and the value of our dollar. This affects the ratio of dollars in circulation compared to the amount of goods and services available. It is the root cause of inflation and the business cycle. Monetary policy and devaluation of our dollar is a GIANT that we face. We all work for, spend, invest, or borrow money. Printing money causes the most regressive form of taxation…the inflation tax. Stealing the purchasing power of working class people by printing money keeps interest rates low and encourages people to go further into debt rather than save. This is one of the most morally corrupt policies I have witnessed in my study and teaching of economics. The solution is to audit the Fed and, at minimum, change its dual mandate from promoting full employment AND providing price stability to simply promoting price stability. I will work for a stronger approach to allow working class people to be paid in wages that maintain or grow their purchasing power.

What’s worse, that he thinks he needs to explain what inflation is like it’s his high school class, or that he gets it so wrong? What next, a history teacher who laments that no one in the past wrote down what happened?

Here’s how to cut through the clutter of inflation hysteria: what’s the rate of inflation? Pretty close to zero. Quite the contrary, with the crisis leading to a steep drop in demand, the threat was deflation. How do you fight deflation? Print money. Yes, this is inflationary — that’s the point. Inflation is a problem, when it’s high. When it’s 1%, not so much. Hyerinflation fearmongers like Bills have been predicting hyperinflation for at least as long as the federal government and Federal Reserve have been coping with the financial crisis and Great Recession by bailing out failing industries and stimulating the economy through fiscal stimulus and lower interest rates. At some point, can’t even Bills, allegedly an economist, admit inflation didn’t happen? That their predictions about the effects of Obama’s and the Fed’s policies have been consistently wrong? That we were right to worry about lack of demand, high unemployment, and deflation?

It doesn’t seem complicated: Bills says government policies should produce a certain effect, and the opposite happened. Will ideology give way to facts? And this guy teaches economics. Pity his students. And no, I didn’t say “incoherent” as hyperbole. How would auditing the Fed stop inflation, even if there were any? How would reducing the mandate to just fighting inflation help the working class whose purchasing power he says is being stolen when not only isn’t inflation our problem, but does he think unemployment doesn’t erode purchasing power? Not just the unemployed see their purchasing quickly reduced, but high unemployment drives down wages (that deflation thing we actually have to worry about). If Bills is serious about “I will work for a stronger approach to allow working class people to be paid in wages that maintain or grow their purchasing power,” he’ll seek to actually raise their wages. It’s not like we don’t know how to do it.

Let’s be generous, and leave open the possibility this was written not by Bills, but by some staffer who didn’t really understand what Bills was trying to say, and nobody is checking the web site content. That’s at least more fixable than an economist in denial of economics.

On healthcare, Bills says:

Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid are not self-sustaining programs. Obamacare is becoming an even greater infringement on our rights and economy than we ever imagined. Medicare and Medicaid often only reimburse hospitals and other medical facilities for half of the actual medical expenses for treating patients. To compensate for the lack of payment of these medical claims and to stay in business, these health care providers raise their fees for everyone, which negatively affects the efficient and affordable cost of care for all of us. I will work to slow down and eliminate mandates that expand control over the private healthcare system. Doing so will drive costs down, improve services and provide the patient with control.

“Obamacare is becoming an even greater infringement on our rights and economy than we ever imagined.”  Considering his party imagined death panels, that quite the infringement. And what does “self-sustaining” even mean in this context? Maybe whoever wrote this paragraph should have switched with whoever wrote the prior section and improved the odds of coherency. Not only do government programs try to control the fees they pay, but every private insurer does too. Know who can’t negotiate, and gets stuck with much higher fees? People without insurance. Yes, they get charged far more than insurance companies. Know what could fix that? Guaranteeing access to health insurance. Know what does that?

If you guessed “obamacare”, you are officially better informed than whoever wrote Bills’ issues page.

Switching to Social Security:

Given the current state of this government program, Social Security benefits will not be available to the young adults that are paying into it.

How much more wrong can one statement be? Seriously Bills campaign, start checking your talking points. If the trust fund runs out, with no changes being made before then, Social Security revenues will be roughly 75% of benefits it pays out. Coping would mean a huge sudden benefit cut, or equally traumatic tax increase, but payments would continue. It wouldn’t stop, and that’s a worst-case scenario. Dispute the preferable fixes as a matter of policy and philosophy, fine, but don’t make up nonsense scenarios.

This was put under foreign policy:

With American and European debt crisis concerns, we must be vigilant not to allow international organizations such as the IMF to propel or catapult these monetary and fiscal issues to a magnitude that is irreparable. Reversing the course of debt and dependency should be our top priority as a nation

Does he really think the IMF caused the debt problems in developed economies? In underdeveloped economies, sure, the IMF was a big chunk of the problem. We, and the EU, weren’t borrowing from the IMF. It’s as if Bills, and to be fair this seems true of almost all conservatives, can’t grasp that the debts and deficits on both sides of the Atlantic were caused by the financial crisis and bursting bubbles. The debt is the symptom, not the cause, and you’d think the way the debts exploded after the crisis, not before, and that some countries now in depression weren’t even carrying government deficits and debts, would make that obvious.

On jobs:

The expenditures of the federal government are approaching 25% of total GDP under President Obama’s budgets. In 1930, federal spending was 3.4% of GDP and the average of government expenditures since World War II has been 18%. In order to grow private sector jobs, we must cut spending by the federal government. Don’t fall for the utopian plans of Democrats or Republicans who claim that they can “create jobs.” As a public school teacher, I know that the only way my classroom is funded is through a vibrant private sector economy. There is a role for government, however it is out of equilibrium with the private sector and has grown too large, crowding out private sector job growth. As a U.S. senator, I will work to get the government out of the way of the people.

Interesting he chooses to compare to 1930, because funny thing, that was the early days of the Great Depression, when conservatives had the presidency and Congress, and went all-out with austerity. How did that work out? Likewise for Bills’ current prescription, “In order to grow private sector jobs, we must cut spending by the federal government.” In other words, let’s be like the Europeans, and do what has failed miserably and what both experience and theory tells us will fail. I like the way Marlys Harris phrased it at MinnPost, “…; reject the Keynesian model of economics as the basis for federal policy (which, let me tell you as a long-time financial reporter, is a lot like rejecting gravity);…”

Bills says “As a public school teacher, I know that the only way my classroom is funded is through a vibrant private sector economy,” except an educated population is a prerequisite of a vibrant private sector, not a result. You don’t get rich and then fund schools. You invest in education because it allows you to build your economy. Is there any wealthy nation with a healthy private sector that was wealthy before it built its education system? Or did they build schools first? It’s really not that hard a question. No logic or philosophy needed. Just look and see which came first.

Sadly, when Bills says the government is crowding out the private sector, he shows the sort of grotesque ignorance that shouldn’t be any more tolerable from an economist than a refusal to believe the moon landings were real would be tolerable in an employee of NASA. The private sector has plenty of cash. Bags and bags of cash. That might seem weird to a small business certainly, but for big business, they’ve maybe never had so much money. And they won’t invest it. They won’t hire, won’t build new facilities, so just what private investment is the government crowding out? OK, the economy has been growing so business clearly isn’t quite as unwilling to build and hire as it was, but there is still a lot of pent up cash, making the claim of crowding out false.

Under “Bureaucratic Growth”, Bills has the closet thing in the whole issues page where there’s a source. He refers to a 2009 USA Today article for his claim that federal employees make $123,000 on average. I think he’s referring to this article, popular on the right because it confirms their prejudices about federal employees, despite a huge flaw. It does the classic media fake even-handedness by saying, “Public employee unions say the compensation gap reflects the increasingly high level of skill and education required for most federal jobs and the government contracting out lower-paid jobs to the private sector in recent years.” Well, are the public employee unions right, or not? The reporter didn’t say. As it happens, they’re right. It’s not a comparison of equivalent jobs. Civil engineers and accountants and IT workers are being compared to cashiers and busboys.

Bills provides no sources for his “facts”, except in this one instance, where he grossly misinterprets it. Why? Because bloggers like me are likely to look it up? So as I complained about regarding his claim that federal spending per household rose 150%, we don’t know where he gets his “facts”, so we can’t check them, but merely suspect they’re nonsense.

On Housing, Bills says:

The housing market crash was just another great folly of the politicians and bureaucrats who think they can plan an economy better than the market can naturally guide it.

Conservatives are fond of blaming the housing bubble on government regulation. If someone wants to be skeptical that deregulation caused the bubble, that’s one question, but that the bubble was preceded by deregulation, not additional regulation, is a simple matter of which came first. To refuse to admit this is denialism, which readers might be sensing is pretty common among Bills’ issues. As it happens, we do know that the practices that caused the financial crisis were made possible only in the deregulation of 1999 (repeal of Glass-Steagel which prevented financial corporations from getting into other businesses, like commercial banks buying brokerages) and 2000 (the financial “modernization” act that deregulated derivatives).

More on housing, Bills says:

Even President Obama has called for the restructuring of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Behemoth government sponsored enterprises need to be privatized and the trillions of dollars for which taxpayers are liable need to be taken off the public books.

What does he mean “even” Obama? Did Obama ever object do doing something with them other than just sticking them back out in the market as they are? The funny part is Bills seems to think Obama wants them on the government books. Sure, because these political headaches are so much fun. Maybe Bills thinks there’s a buyer out there just wishing the government would sell its stock? Know what else is funny? Fannie Mae was founded during the Depression as a public entity, and privatized in the sixties to get its liabilities off the public books, just like Bills is calling for. Freddie Mac was created to provide a competitor. I won’t directly connect that to the financial crisis because too much time passed, but I will point out that the GSEs (Government Sponsored Enterprises — federally chartered corporations) operated in a deregulated environment just like other financial corporations. It was their sheer size, and the fact their business was mortgages which was exactly where the bubble burst, that forced the US Treasury to put them under receivership to avoid a collapse of the financial system — thus how Fannie and Freddie became the government’s property and problem.

Finally, one more of his issues isn’t really an issue, but an attempt to make up his own definitions:

The greatest obstacle we face as a country is political virtue. Let me explain. Political virtue takes place when politicians make decisions based on self-interest rather than in service to the Constitution and people they represent.

No, “political virtue” is a literally ancient concept, about what constitutes virtue in politics. He’s defining the opposite of “political virtue”. What’s just as interesting is that he’s taking his philosophical musings and treating it like a current issue. Say what?

When I read that, my first reaction was this sounds like something a crank would write. Maybe I was primed to think that way, because I already saw him deny the basic order of events in the financial crisis, go off on inflation when there isn’t any and our problem is more likely to be the opposite, reverse cause and effect in the relation between debt and a weak economy, and call for more austerity as if we hadn’t been able to see it experimented with in real life with consistently disastrous results. Apparently, when ideology comes into conflict with results, it is results that must give way.

One clarification I want to make, to avoid a conflation of Bills and his supporters’ positions: nowhere on his issues page did Bills call for either the abolition of the Federal Reserve or a return to the gold standard. His supporters at the GOP convention called for those things, but Bills hasn’t, to my knowledge, which is why I didn’t go after Bills for taking those positions.  

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There Was A Day…

by TwoPuttTommy on May 20, 2012 · 0 comments

Back in the day, I was there when Giant’s Ridge Quarry Course opened (actually, on that same media day, so did The Wilderness; but that’s a different story).

And Tim “The Mullet” Pawlenty was there to speak.

And before we tee’d off; before the “Gentlemen, start your golf carts!” announcement, Tim got up to speak (before cutting the IRRRRRRRRRRRB ribbon): “So I’m on the way over here, and my aide goes: “Governor, you ready to play?  Got your sticks? Shoes? Glove? Balls?”

Tim continues: “Listen, I’m a Republican that travelled willingly to the Range; I got plenty of balls!”

Don’t care who ya are; that’s a funny joke.

And: it doesn’t excuse Timmeh’s horrible record as Governor.

But:  it does help explain why Timmeh won – TWICE.  He’s personable, and he knows how to tell a joke.

DFL endorsed candidates should pay attention.

Well, the Party, on Plato, too.

So, watch out for Kurt Bills. He’s personable; the jury’s still out on if he can tell a joke.  If he can, and with the Ron Paul Anointment, it may spell trouble…..

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Prioritizing the 2012 races

by Eric Ferguson on October 6, 2011 · 0 comments

There have been some recent posts on which races next year deserve our attention. Here’s a good one from Big E, and another from taxpayinglineral. It’s not too soon at all to have this discussion when we’re only four months away from precinct caucuses, but I wonder if we’re getting ahead of ourselves by going straight to a discussion of which districts should be priorities. Some assumptions are probably safe, but I’d like to step back and look at all the priorities competing for our attention.

This list is not in priority-order since we haven’t thought that through yet. I need some order though, so I’m of doing my best to remember what goes on a presidential year ballot, and ranking these from national to local:

  • President
  • Klobuchar Senate seat
  • Constitutional amendments
  • State Supreme Court
  • US House
  • State legislature
  • local races
  • Wisconsin governor recall

    I lumped together all the congressional and legislative seats which isn’t where we need to end up, but that’s in order to step back and look at the whole picture before digging into which specific districts deserve the most attention.

    What are the considerations at each level?
    President: though I said these weren’t in priority order, I’ll go ahead and be inconsistent and put president at the top. We’ve been focused on the state legislature and some congressional seats ever since election night 2010, but president still seems obvious. The next president will probably pick two Supreme Court justices, probably replacing one liberal (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) and the one conservative with might vote with the liberals once in a while (Anthony Kennedy). The court could flip to 5-4 liberal, or the conservative majority could become not only bigger, but firmly ideological. Imagine Antonin Scalia voting six times.

    Though I think the court argument is plenty to put president at the top of our priorities, I also expect both houses of Congress to be Republican. If you liked the debt ceiling crisis, wait until there’s no Democratic president to at least make them work for it. And no Democratic president to make appointments, or exercise regulatory authority.

    I understand the counter-argument, that Obama is likely to win Minnesota, and resources we put into re-electing him aren’t available for other races, especially districts outside the DFL strongholds. I too think Obama is likely to win, and if I must hazard a guess, which I must since we’re prioritizing, I’ll guess he wins Minnesota by seven. That’s not a comfortable lead. Looks like we won’t get a reprieve from the walk-and-chew-gum problem, which is probably a phrase I better explain to readers who haven’t been reading posts on this site for the last year. It refers to the DFL’s problem that it needs to sway swing voters and dig up infrequent voters in swing districts to win majorities, but it has to pump up the turnout in heavily DFL precincts to win statewide. We managed both in 2006 and 2008, but only managed the second task last year.

    Senate: the case for making Sen. Klobuchar a priority is the difficulty Democrats will have holding the Senate. I earlier predicted a Republican majority, and that’s based on math. The Democrats have to defend 23 seats to the Republicans paltry 10. If Democrats win the Senate elections 19-14, which would be a pretty good election, they still lose the majority. That makes each seat important.

    The counter argument is that Klobuchar is looking strong in the polls, and no credible opponent has appeared yet. The MNGOP needs to run someone, but major candidates probably would rather not risk what may be their one serious run in such a long-shot, especially if they assume Franken and Dayton will be more vulnerable just two years later. I’m supporting the counter-argument this time. It’s obviously important the Klobuchar wins, but she can win only once. It’s not like more resources for her affects other states.

    Constitutional amendments: this is the one that’s the biggest thing we’re forgetting when thinking about what to focus on next year. It’s again the walk-and-chew-gum problem, since defeating them will probably need massive opposition from safe DFL precincts. It’s also an unknown since we don’t know what the legislative Republicans will put on the ballot. They already put on the anti-marriage amendment. Voter restrictions seem so near and dear to their hearts that I can’t see them not having an amendment, at least for photo ID requirements. They might have an amendment requiring a supermajority to pass a tax increase. We don’t know how many or just what we’ll face, or how the number of amendments will affect an attempt to defeat them. Since passage will mean restricting the rights of vulnerable people and handicapping the ability of state government to cope with whatever the future holds, there’s a case for making these our second priority after president. Retaking the legislature means a chance to repeal the amendments, but the repeals, being amendments themselves, would have the same high bar to get over, so we’re much better off beating the amendments’ passage in the first place.

    State Supreme Court: think back to last year, when the Republicans endorsed judicial candidates, and seemed to choose as their criteria a high degree of theocratic religious conservatism. I see no reason to think they won’t try the same thing. The DFL doesn’t endorse judicial candidates and most judicial candidates chose not to seek party endorsement, so in a way picking supreme court candidates is easy: look at the GOP endorsements and vote for the opponent. In terms of priorities, this is tough because putting an emphasis on these races means politicizing them, which we strongly prefer not to do. On the other hand, when the other side politicizes them, we don’t get the choice.

    State Supreme Court justices tend not to stay for life like the US Supreme Court, and certainly the stakes aren’t as high. While we can hang on to the governorship we avoid dogmatic conservatives getting on by appointment. On the other hand, we can look over into Wisconsin and see the potential dysfunction when court seats get captured by ideological warriors disinterested in law. I’m really not sure where to prioritize these races.

    US House: when I predicted the Republicans would keep the House, that wasn’t just pessimism. Voters tend not to turn out a majority in just one election. It has happened though, and the benefits of taking it back are pretty obvious. Even if the blue dogs again interfere with their own party’s priorities, at least Democrats would be setting the agenda and our frustration will be the inability to pass good legislation, not the inability to stop bad legislation. Besides, I also opined that the Senate will probably flip and Obama’s reelection is looking dicey.

    The problem is the the unknowns, especially redistricting. Probably the court will think like it did ten years ago and make only modest adjustments to current districts, but they could do anything. So everyone’s plans get a big asterisk even without the other big unknown, who will run for reelection. Most incumbents who choose not to run will probably announce over the next six months. Open seats tend to be easier to win. Conventional wisdom (which I have a feeling is wrong) holds that incumbents are easiest to beat in their first reelection, and there are loads of GOP freshmen. That makes the House a tempting target.

    Thinking long-term, as big a backlash as it was taken to be against Democrats that they lost their majority after just two terms, think of the effect on the current variety of conservatism if Republicans lost their majority right after losing it. So as a backup plan to the presidency if nothing else, the House needs to be a high priority, even before selecting specific districts to focus on.

    State legislature: this is the one that’s been on our minds since losing both houses in the 2010 wave. We finally had a DFL governor, and all he could do was veto lousy legislation. On a gut level we want to take it back, and we could make Minnesota a model of effective government again. However, we have governor two more years. I don’t blow off the opportunity to take back the legislature, but I have to put it after taking at least one house of Congress.

    A counter-argument is that much of the damage this year is coming from state legislatures. The US House clearly has the same intention to deny rights to people who tend not to vote GOP as legislatures do, but the Senate and president are in the way. Legislatures are passing things. In Minnesota, they have the option of constitutional amendments to get around the gubernatorial veto. Another counter-argument is that if we have MNGOP majorities again in the 2013 session, we’re going to have another government shutdown. They’re unlikely to change their non-compromising natures in that time, especially if they feel vindicated after being reelected.

    The main counter-argument is that redistricting means the Senate is up for reelection too, so we have an opportunity to flip both houses in a presidential year, when presumably turnout will be greater. If only the House was up, as would normally be the case, we would know we’d still have a MNGOP Senate, so not much would change.

    The good news is many swing seats — under the current districts, which again will change in ways we don’t know — are located in what we think will be competitive US House seats, so the votes scrounged up for one race should help the other.

    Though it’s presumably obvious, but just to be clear, whatever resources we devote to legislature and Congress, we then have to have another discussion about which districts to focus on. That though will have to very provisional pending redistricting and retirements.

    Local races: few of us will have much idea about county board, city council, etc. races outside our local areas. Making a case to put a local race above anything already mentioned is tough, but that doesn’t mean some local circumstance could make a local race move up in importance, like the role of former (!) Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher in the militarization of the RNC in 2008, or at least his attempts to stick his face in front of cameras and claim a large role, made that race a big deal last year.

    Next year, my personal focus will be on the Soil and Water Conservation District race.

    No, I’m not serious. Though maybe I should learn the candidates’ names prior to seeing them on the ballot this time. And learning what that board does might be good too I suppose.

    Finally, what’s with putting the Wisconsin governor recall on the list of Minnesota priorities? My thinking is there probably will be a recall campaign, and if there is, Minnesotans of both parties will presumably be asked to help just like last year. The help we give is time and donations we can’t put into Minnesota races, so we do have to consider how important it is for us. A successful recall might be a bracing lesson for our own Republicans about the risks of taking away the rights of people they don’t like. A defeated recall might be a morale booster for them. If the recall happens, the effect of success or failure will be about the same whether Minnesota DFLers help or not, so we might as well help. I don’t know where to rank the recall as a priority, but I strongly suggest it be included in our planning instead of something extra thrown in that makes us suddenly revise plans.

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  • Jim Klobuchar on Amy and Politics

    by JeffStrate on September 12, 2011 · 0 comments

    Author, columnist, adventurer and father of U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Jim Klobuchar offers his personal, sometimes moving takes on campaigning with his daughter and the state of American politics.  Its part of the September edition of Democratic Visions, the public issues series produced by DFL Senate District 42.  

    Here’s the link to Jim>
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

    More Democratic Visions videos are available at http://www.dflsd42.org

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    Today is a sad day

    by youmayberight on August 1, 2011 · 0 comments

    Dear Senators Klobuchar and Franken, and Representative Ellison:

    Today is a sad day. It is the ninth anniversary of the John Yoo-Jay Bybee “torture memos,” which were eventually withdrawn after unsuccessfully attempting to define torture out of existence. But it’s our actions in the nine years since that time that truly sadden me.

    I am saddened that we have yet to charge a single person under the Federal Torture Statute for any torture ever committed in the name of the United States. Given the overwhelming evidence, how is that possible? How have we — and you, as federal officeholders — let that happen?

    I am saddened that the recent completion of the preliminary investigation by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham confirmed what many of us suspected: no one responsible for authorizing the torture program was ever the intended focus of that investigation.

    I am saddened that no one can take seriously any claim that we live under the rule of law, applied equally to all of us.

    I am saddened by your silence. I am saddened that not one of you has seen fit to ask how a former high-ranking public official, George W. Bush, can repeatedly proclaim his involvement in torture and no one in the Justice Department says a word, let alone raises a finger. And two of you sit on a committee with oversight responsibility for the Justice Department.

    I am saddened that Senator Klobuchar, in a meeting with a group of us, said torture was officially authorized and, other than line people, those responsible should be held accountable, but she would leave it up to the Justice Department. The same Justice Department that has opposed virtually every attempt on the part of victims of U.S.-committed torture to seek civil redress in our courts? Give me a break.

    I am saddened that Representative Ellison, when a Republican was President, saw fit to co-sponsor impeachment resolutions that included accountability for torture provisions, but now that we have a Democratic President who wants this issue to disappear, Rep. Ellison’s call for accountability has disappeared as well. No mention of it since President Obama took office. Claiming “I am not a prosecutor” doesn’t cut it.

    I am saddened that Senator Franken’s staff told us he was with us, but we have looked around and can’t find him. We have heard not a word from him about accountability for torture.

    I am saddened by your capitulation to what is politically fashionable. We heard from you about the lack of political will to move on this issue. We heard requests for large numbers of phone calls that would give you cover. My God, we’re talking about torture here. Can you not summon just a smidgeon of political courage?

    I wrote you previously that Mary Robinson, former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, has said that the United States, as the standard bearer for human rights, has a higher obligation to see to it that its standards are upheld and enforced. “Once the United States started to dip those standards,” she said, “it was like a tsunami of bad practice around the world.”

    I am saddened that none of my representatives in Congress or the Senate seems willing to be the standard bearer. You and I are part of a tradition that created those standards. From Harold Stassen to Hubert Humphrey to Don Fraser, Minnesota has been the cradle of human rights standards. And now we lack anyone willing to ruffle some feathers and uphold that tradition. Even as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Even as Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

    Today is a sad day.

    Sincerely,

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    The 10 Strikes legislation passed out of the Senate Judiciary committee last Thursday, and is now advancing quietly through the Senate. More than 30,000 Demand Progress members have emailed their lawmakers to urge them to oppose the bill.
    <div>Sen. Amy Klobuchar's "10 Strikes" legislation would make streaming of unlicensed copyrighted content a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. As written, the bill would subject internet users who stream content 10 times or more to criminal charges. Potential uses that would be criminalized under Klobuchar's bill are:
    – Youtube Karaoke
    – Homemade web videos with music
    – Videos of public performances
    – Videos of parties that include background music
    David Segal, Demand Progress Campaign Director stated, "Senator Klobuchar's 10 strikes bill has the potential for innumerable unintended consequences that would stifle innovation and personal expression on the internet. The special interests pushing this legislation seem to have little understanding of or concern for how many ordinary Americans use — and should be free to use — the Internet"
     

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    This week, senators will be voting on a "Ten Strikes" bill to make it a felony to stream copyrighted content — like music in the background of a Youtube video — more than ten times.

    Will you email your lawmakers and urge them to vote no? Just click here.  

    As the writers at TechDirt point out, under this bill you could go to jail for posting video of your friends singing karaoke:

    “The entertainment industry is freaking out about sites that embed and stream infringing content, and want law enforcement to put people in jail over it, rather than filing civil lawsuits…. We already pointed to one possibility: that people embedding YouTube videos could face five years in jail. Now, others are pointing out that it could also put kids who lip sync to popular songs, and post the resulting videos on YouTube, in jail as well.”

    Senator Klobuchar, who first introduced this bill, claims that “individuals or families streaming movies at home,” will not be targeted — only “criminals that are intentionally streaming thousands of dollars in stolen digital content and profiting from it.” Yet, how can Congress draw such a line, when oftentimes, a personal video (perhaps accompanied by those ubiquitous overlay advertisements) innocently goes viral and gets millions of hits?

    Will you email your lawmakers and tell them to vote against the Ten Strikes Bill? Just click here.

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    Video – Humphrey Day Dinner on June 11

    by JeffStrate on May 17, 2011 · 0 comments

    Had he lived to see Mark Dayton become Governor, Hubert Humphrey would be celebrating his 100th Birthday.  Alas, its up to we DFLers to throw one.  It’s gonna a be a big one on Saturday,   June 11th at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Joining us will be Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken as well as the Gov, surpises and laffs.  Timid Video has produced a video about the fete.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

    And here’s where you can reserve tickets on-lines;
    http://hhhdinner.com/

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