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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).



TPP fast-track gets another headwind

by Dan Burns on April 30, 2015 · 0 comments

tppIt’s been taken for granted, more or less, that fast-track authority for the noxious travesty that is the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, is a gimme in the Senate. Not so fast, according to this:

Trade legislation is sowing discord among Senate Republicans that could make it tougher than expected to pass fast-track trade authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
While much of the attention in the trade fight has focused on the divide between President Obama and liberal Democrats, Republican leaders are facing dissent within their own caucus because of currency manipulation and immigration concerns.
“The polling is bad, and some people are getting nervous,” said a GOP senator who requested anonymity to talk about his conversations with colleagues.
(The Hill)

The fast-track votes apparently still aren’t there in the House, either. The U.S. and Japan are currently trying to wrap things up, on the deal itself.

“No, the TPP Won’t Be Good for the Middle Class.”

The basic argument for why the TPP is likely to be a bad deal for the middle class is pretty simple. For one, even a genuine “free trade agreement” that was passed with no other complementary policies would actually not be good for the American middle class, even if it did generate gains to total national income. For another, the TPP (like nearly all trade agreements the U.S. signs) is not a “free trade agreement”—instead it’s a treaty that will specify just who will be protected from international competition and who will not. And the strongest and most comprehensive protections offered are by far those for U.S. corporate interests. Finally, there are international economic agreements that the United States could be negotiating to help the American middle class. They would look nothing like the TPP.
(Economic Policy Institute)


McFadden benefits from allegedly involuntary donations

by Eric Ferguson on September 26, 2014 · 0 comments

Meet the New Boss ... Same as the Old Boss

Receiving involuntary donations: something else Romney and McFadden appear to have in common

Some of the more control-freakish and ideological employers push their employees to donate to the employer’s preferred candidates. They may stay on a legal line in terms of requiring employees to make donation as a condition of employment, but when the employer pushes for those donations to go through the employer, the message is pretty clear. One such employer is Murray Energy Corp., which is being sued by a former employee on the grounds she was fired for failing to donate to the specified candidates, including Mike McFadden.
Before going into details, just to be clear, I’m not accusing McFadden of knowing about this. The allegation is Murray’s CEO, Robert Murray, directed involuntary donations to his specified candidates, one of which is McFadden.

The allegation from Jean Cochenour, detailed in her suit and well-summarized by the Charleston Gazette’s Ken Ward Jr., is as follows: Cochenour worked at a mine in Marion County as a foreperson. While in that position, which is supervisorial, she received letters from Murray detailing candidates to which she should make donations. One letter, which she received after she’d already been fired, is included in the lawsuit. It ends like this [click the image to enlarge]:
Murray letter to employees



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.




Ortman joins US Senate race

by Dan Burns on August 3, 2013 · 3 comments

47OrtmanMinnesota State Sen. Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen) is announcing today that she’s running for the seat currently held by the effective and popular Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).

Julianne Ortman and Republicans in the legislature shut down our government after rejecting seven – that’s right, SEVEN – compromise budget offers from Governor Dayton. They put thousands of Minnesotans out of work, just to protect tax breaks for big corporations.
Julianne Ortman chose to raise property taxes on most Minnesota homeowners, but exempted big corporations. Even worse, she voted to let corporations hide their profits overseas and avoid paying taxes.
(Alliance for a Better Minnesota)

More than a few GOP “thinkers” in Minnesota have determined that a primary component of their return to power is running suburban women for key political offices. Former State Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch was supposed to be the premier can’t-miss prospect, in that context, but, well, that didn’t work out. Ortman will have to do, but I don’t see any prognosticators changing their forecasts to “toss-up” or “leans Republican” because of this. Quite the contrary.
Other declared Republicans are State Rep. Jim Abeler, and a financial industry parasite named Mike McFadden. There’s no indication that either is packing any more electoral mojo than Ortman is, at this time.


Senate cuts a bad student loan deal

by Dan Burns on July 19, 2013 · 1 comment

Geneva_medical_college_lgThe Senate appears to have cut a deal on Stafford loans. It has far more in common with a proposal from Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, than with the enlightened plan advanced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), that didn’t get far.

But student advocates don’t like the deal, because rates are expected to rise in coming years.
“It’s a missed opportunity, because this is going to cost students more than leaving current rates in place,” said Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access & Success, a nonprofit that advocates for more affordable higher education.
Under the deal, a high school senior who takes out college loans in 2017 would see interest rates as high as 7%, higher than current law. And by 2015, graduate students would pay more in interest than is set by current law.

I suppose that the House could still tank this, as not severe enough, but that seems unlikely. Kline’s not the only problem here, but he’s certainly in a position to have helped do something a lot better for students, and their families, than this. Of course that was never going to happen, and that’s part of why there is no good reason for anybody at all to vote to elect John Kline in 2014. Not that there ever was.
This is pretty obviously a pragmatic, anything-is-better-than-nothing choice for Dems. We can look to fix it in 2017, I suppose. 2015, if we’re incredibly lucky, and smart.

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MN Rep. Abeler to challenge Franken

by Dan Burns on June 20, 2013 · 0 comments

AbelerBlog-300x143Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) appears to have acquired another GOP opponent for his 2014 reelection bid.

Currently serving his eighth term in the Minnesota House, Abeler’s decision to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken in 2014 caught local Republicans off guard.
“It was a complete surprise to all of us,” said Senate District 35 Deputy Chairman Don Huizenga.
Local Republicans were “pretty shocked,” he said.

Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) was actually one of the “Override Six” from the Pawlenty era. But that was an anomaly; here are examples of his ordinary legislative behavior, from Alliance for a Better Minnesota, where I also got the image.

Abeler even voted to cut $900 million from Minnesota hospitals and health care – putting our jobs and health at risk. Abeler proposed a budget in 2011 that cut almost half a million dollars from programs for the elderly, disabled and chronically ill. Instead of asking the richest Minnesotans to pay their fair share, he chose to cut vital services and good paying jobs.
Additionally, Abeler acts on his divisive political self interests. Two weeks into the 2011 legislative session, Abeler held a hearing on government shutdowns. Four months later, Republicans chose to shut down our government rather than ask the richest and big corporations to pay their fair share.

Seriously, in the context of a U.S. Senate run, Abeler is a fine example of the proverbial “some dude.” If a lost-cause politics junkie like me – and one with an unusually copious memory, at that – barely recognized the name, what are the chances that any significant portion of the general populace does?
Franken’s other declared opponent at this time is Mike McFadden. Word is that State Sen. Julianne Ortman might very well run, and Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek is considering it. And this is, after all, the sort of race that could attract any number of entrants with a lot more misguided ambition than ordinary common sense.


Bachmann Family Values

by Mark My Words on October 14, 2012 · 0 comments

Anne Rice, the popular vampire series novelist, published on her Facebook page an interesting NY Times article entitled Bachmann Family Values which takes a look at Bachmann’s half-sister Helen LaFave and her life-partner Nia.  Frank Bruni, the author of the Times article looks at LaFave’s point of view and how she deals with her very homophobic sister’s vitriol and the damages it’s caused within the family including her own.  

Religious and political extremists enjoy a free-ride demonizing GLBT Americans.  They’re freely making outrageous claims that gay and lesbian people are “recruiting” through our education system and after-school programs such as the American Boy Scouts without anybody challenging on those claims. They bluster silly ideas that if gay and lesbians were allowed to marry their life-partners that would somehow “damage” traditional marriage or “take away certain rights from heterosexual couples.   (I just have to ask on the latter: “How many rights have been stripped away from heterosexual couples in places like Iowa, Vermont, Rhode Island or in Canada?!”) They blow-smoke up the American backsides claiming GLBT are hurting the “American family”.  Yet, they never explain what those damages might be!

At some point in time, both the Minnesota and the American public needs to have a frank debate on the damages these religious and political conservatives are having on the American family.  I encourage you to read the article and consider having that conversation within your own.  Discuss freely how extremist views shared by folks like Bachmann hurts families like my own.


Oh boy, is this year going to be expensive.

The national conservatives just bought the state of Wisconsin for Scott Walker, outspending his recall opponent three-to-one in a tens of millions of dollars race to keep a two-faced human-despising creep in power. Mitt Romney out-fund raised Barack Obama easily; just afternoon the Obama campaign called my house in an attempt to make up the gap.

And just today Michele Bachmann sent out a fund-raising letter telling conservative supporters that they take back control of the Senate by winning just “four seats.” All she’s asking for (for now) is just $40 foir her MichelePAC Senate effort.

The story is at MPR’s Capitol View tonight, the reporter is Catherine Richert, the link’s below the jump.

Some day I’m going to pitch a coffee table book to a publisher: “The Collected Fund Raising Letters of Michele Bachmann.” It will look sort of like one of those Martha Stewart picture cookbooks. But instead of recipes and lovely food photography, it will feature page after page of Bachmann’s desperate and never-ending pleas for donations–offset with illustrations of actual fundraising total results for each letter.

If I clinch the publication deal and turn out this beautifully bound, lovely addition to any living room–I’ll send presentation copies to all the Minnesota activists who’ve said over the years that there’s too much focus and too many resources devoted to vain efforts to beat Bachmann.

Because those Bachmann fund raising totals on behalf of herself and other wingnut candidates–are scary. I think Democrats who don’t have a national perspective need a scary coffee table book.
Here’s MPR’s observations on this latest fundraising effort by Michele PAC:

So far this year, MICHELE PAC has raised roughly $11,800 (peanuts! say Bill) and spent more than $52,500 (uh-oh). At the end of April, the fund had about $147,700 in cash on hand, according to the latest federal fundraising reports. (UH-OH.)

…because this is just the beginning. The other day I ran a piece here noting poll results: Minnesotans agree; Michele Bachmann is indeed the most unpopular Republican in the state. So (since popularity and public support is the be-all and end-all for most political careers in a democracy)…Bachmann can’t be any real threat to Democrats…and focus on her is unjustified and counterproductive…right?

Oh, that was the view for so long, and so many people opposed to conservative governance still hold that view. But the money she raises, and distributes to the hated conservatives…the national fan base that still admires her and believes in her, and contributes…and the inspiration her personal success has been… and the way that success–*and the Dem and progressive impotent inability to stop her career,* even though she’s a nut, liar and bigot…

…that historical experience has launched so many other political careers. (Some of the Dem politicians and activists are facing wingnuts at the polls because of Bachmann’s success–and in districts where the GOP is strong, the wingnuts are beating Dems.) Many more right wing nuts going into government these days–because Dem inability to stop Bachmann proved not only 1) that right wing nuts are electable, but also 2) even though they’re right wing nuts, they can stay in office, fending off Dem challenges.

So that’s that. Bachmann says they only need four seats to take back the US Senate. And (even though she’s also telling supporters she desperately needs their money for her campaign) she knows those same supporters have cash left over. Enough for them to donate hundreds of thousands to creepy right wing Senate dominance–on the basis of Bachmann’s personal appeal.