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Archive for the ‘Minnesota’ Category

PPP: Minnesota Voter Suppression And Marriage Suppression Amendments Look Doomed

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 5, 2012

Here is very good news from Public Policy Polling. In addition to reporting that Obama leads Romney comfortably in the state, 53% to 45%, there is also good news on the two crummy amendments the state GOP wanted to shove down our throats:

The more interesting findings on our final Minnesota poll deal with the state’s high profile amendments to ban gay marriage and require voter identification. We find both narrowly trailing. 45% of voters say they’ll vote for the gay marriage ban, compared to 52% who are opposed to it. And 46% say they’ll support the voter ID amendment to 51% who are opposed.

Not only is the “Voter ID” voter suppression amendment losing (46% to 51%), so is the marriage suppression amendment, 45% to 52%. Since amendments to the state constitution need not just a plurality, but a majority of the votes cast, this bodes well for Tuesday.

Now, the marriage amendment never got much more than 50%, and it’s been below 50% for some time now, so it’s not surprising to see that it’s now in the mid-40s. What surprises the local punditti is that the voter suppression amendment is also losing — it had started out with between 70% and 80% support, so much support that various big local Democratic-affiliated groups didn’t want to waste time and money fighting it. But Sally Jo Sorensen, the best blogger in the State of Minnesota and one of its top five journalists, period, noticed that a lot of county governments were expressing to their local papers their absolute horror at the damage this massive unfunded mandate would do to their already-stressed budgets. We are literally talking about counties having to forego fixing roads or hiring cops because of this amendment.

Over the months, as winter turned to spring and spring to summer, more of these county governments started speaking out about this — and more to the point, they started to compare notes, aided in large part by Sally Jo’s publicizing of the issue (a publicizing I did my small bit to aid), even as both the StarTribune (the Minneapolis paper of record) and the Pioneer Press (the Saint Paul paper of record) largely ignored this. Soon, a critical mass of note-comparing turned into the production of a few studies, studies that confirmed the counties’ worst fears as to the costs and complexities that would be forced upon them by this amendment.

This hit home with the vote suppressors. Even as the Republicans laughed off efforts to condemn the voter suppression amendment as racist — the racist intent would appeal to a lot of Minnesota voters, so the GOP was quite happy to see Democrats talk it up — they didn’t laugh off efforts to enumerate the cost to rural counties. They sent out the attack bozoes at the Center of the American Experiment to create some numbers purporting to show that the amendment wouldn’t cost as much as feared, but Sally Jo’s good friend, Gustavus Adolphus professor and elections expert Max Hailperin, shot down their numbers right quick. Finally, the voter suppressors turned to running TV ads — but by that time the various movers and shakers in Minnesota’s Democratic establishment and allied groups had started running TV ads of their own, ads featuring guys like former Republican governor Arne Carlson and current Democratic governor Mark Dayton.

Again, keep your fingers crossed. And I’m knocking on wood with one hand while I type this with the other. But if what I think will happen does happen, a good chunk of the credit for doing the early, unglamourous spadework will go to my friend Sally Jo Sorensen, who in a just world would be entrusted with the editorship of a big daily paper or the media operations of AFSCME or SEIU or the DFL.

Posted in 2012, Minnesota, voting rights | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Out of pocket in the Gopher State

Posted by Charles II on March 8, 2012

Paul Krugman linked a study by Laura Wheaton and Jamyang Tashi at The Urban Institute on poverty in America, with a focus on Minnesota.

The means by which poverty is measured by the US government are obsolete and inappropriate. The National Academy of Sciences developed a superior measure that includes in-kind income (like Food Stamps and school lunches) and adjusts for taxes, work-related costs, and medical expenses. For two adults and two children, poverty in Minnesota cities is income below $24,972. For urban areas, it is $20,593.

The good news, if that’s what one calls it, is that fewer children are in poverty than was thought. The bad news is that more elders are in poverty than was thought. It would cost about $1.5 B annually to end poverty in Minnesota. On the other hand, if benefits like Food Stamps and school lunches are cut back, the rise in desperate poverty (less than half of the poverty line) would rise considerably.

Posted in Minnesota, poverty | 4 Comments »

Minnesota Tax Follies and What’s the Tea Party Smoking?, tax edition

Posted by Charles II on September 18, 2011

There are three basic Republican tax/budget lies:
1. “Taxes are very high.” They are, of course, the lowest among major industrial nations. This is achieved even while wasting huge sums on military adventures partly by failing to provide healthcare and partly by running deficits.
2. “Government is riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse.” There’s a grain of truth in this lie. Privatization of services, especially in military contracting, has created opportunities for corruption by making congressional oversight not merely optional, but impossible.
3. “Government just screws things up.” I’m fairly critical of government operations, but for exactly the opposite reason that Republicans are. Government workers are so intimidated by business control of the regulatory process and by the Republicans using government as its whipping boy that they don’t enforce the law and more lower level workers are in on “revolving door” corruption, in which government workers use their jobs to get industry jobs. Regulations are written by big business, sometimes to keep small business out, and sometimes to protect them from lawsuits.

Anyway, reality always gets the last vote, and in Minnesota, the vote is that the Legislature has totally screwed up education funding. CTJ writes (article includes links):

Minnesota lawmakers balanced the state’s budget earlier this year (after an historic government shutdown) by cutting vital programs, delaying payments to schools and issuing bonds against future tobacco settlement monies. Of course, they have been boasting that they balanced the budget without raising taxes, but in reality all they did was pass the buck to localities. Literally. Their cowardice and unwillingness to consider Governor Dayton’s proposal to ask the wealthiest Minnesotans to pay a little more in income taxes is astounding and is resulting in a new kind of “trickle down” economics that we’re seeing in more and more states.

This week the Star Tribune reported that in November a record number of Minnesota school districts – 133 to be precise – will be asking taxpayers to support referendums to help “ward off cuts that have condensed class schedules, provoked higher pay-to-play fees and forced schools to resort to in-school advertising to make ends meet.” Some school districts are accepting ads on student lockers and in mailings to parents. Other still have invited businesses to parent-teacher conferences to hawk their wares, and many have increased parking fees for students. All at a time when 40 percent of school aged children in Minnesota are eligible for reduced cost meals because their parents are already facing their own hard times.

In the St. Cloud area, some local officials are reeling from the impact of the state budget, which reduced the property tax base for some localities and cut local aid. As St. Cloud Mayor (and former state senator) Dave Kleis put it, “There’s certainly a tendency to shift that burden onto those local communities.”

With the multiple fiscal pressures cities face, state legislators who balance their budgets by cutting local funds are putting short-term political gains over the long term economic health of their citizens.

The stupidity of stinting education, especially by pushing costs to the local level where poor communities are disproportionately harmed, beggars belief. But putting school spending on tobacco settlement money, which should be used to pay for medical care, not only beggars belief, it takes the money from the beggar’s cup.

Tax fantasies were on full display during the Tea Party debate as well. The most blatant lie was Romney’s claim that Obama raised taxes. CTJ:

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney made misleading statements about President Barack Obama’s tax record, claiming that Obama “had raised taxes $500 billion.” What’s deceptive about this is that while Obama raised taxes by $500 billion dollars (mostly through the progressive tax included in the healthcare reform bill), he has simultaneously cut taxes overall by more than double that. Specifically, Obama cut taxes by $243 billion as part of the economic recovery act in 2009, $654 billion as part of the tax compromise he signed at the end of 2010, and is now proposing $240 billion in additional payroll tax cuts, to say nothing of his proposal to continue 81 percent of the Bush tax cuts and other smaller tax cuts at a cost of an additional $3.5 trillion.

Realistically, Obama cut taxes in net by about $4 TRILLION dollars. This is what passes for a tax hike in Republican circles. CTJ, don’t call it “misleading.” It’s a lie.

CTJ cites additional tax lies, notably those of Michelle Bachmann:

Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann attempted to rewrite fiscal history by claiming that the reason the deficit went “up and up and up” during the past decade was not due to the Bush tax cuts, but rather trillions in increased spending. In reality however, the Bush tax cuts were the primary driver of the deficit during the Bush years, adding some $2.5 trillion to the deficit from 2001-2010.

Still, it would do well to mention that the wars, including the sometimes wildly unconstitutional Department of Heimat… er, Homeland… Security and the Pharmaceutical Profit Maximization Act…that is, Medicare D… have contributed substantially to the deficit. Republicans, however, seem to believe that it is black women on welfare who suck up all the federal dollars, when social support is at disastrously low levels.

As long as Republicans feel free to tell such outrageous lies without fear of contradiction, as long as basic national needs like education have to be stinted so that corrupt contractors can conduct (and, as we will eventually find out when the truth about the alienation of the population of the occupied lands becomes undeniable, lose) unnecessary wars, the country cannot find the right course.

Posted in Minnesota, taxes | 2 Comments »

Grauniad discovers Minnesoda

Posted by Charles II on August 28, 2011


They mention the 4 pound mosquitoes in passing, but don’t explain that the Kevlar canoes are to repel the piranhas which infest Minnesota’s lakes.

Posted in Minnesota | 5 Comments »

Lying About Tweets: Mike Parry Shows It’s OK, If You’re A Republican

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 15, 2011

Two prominent politicians lied about what they tweeted, and tried to cover it up. One was forced out of politics, the other got a free pass.

The one forced out of politics? A Democrat. The one who got the free pass? A Republican, Mike Parry — who keeps getting free passes and wet kisses from various Minnesota media.

It’s enough to make a cat laugh — or bark, as the case may be.

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

Posted in Minnesota | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

GOP Sends O’Reilly to Battle Bachmann

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 13, 2011

Republican bigwigs fear a Michele Bachmann candidacy almost more than they fear taxing the rich.

This was shown yet again by FOX News mainstay Bill O’Reilly’s adversarial treatment of Bachmann when she was on his show Monday night:

Bachmann refused to directly address any of O’Reilly’s tough questions, prompting the visibly frustrated conservative host to role his eyes, audibly sigh, and finally laugh in Bachmann’s face when she invoked her “titanium spine.” Noting that the Republican leadership understands the need to raise the debt limit, O’Reilly chided Bachmann, saying, “You are the renegade here.”

Whoa! Not only is he ripping into Bachmann, he’s also telling FOX viewers that the debt ceiling must be raised. Guess Boehner and McConnell, on orders from the Wall Streeters who will be hurt first and worst in event of a default, have asked FOX to both try to explain fiscal reality to teabaggers thus far sheltered from it AND to try and hamstring Bachmann before she achieves her goal of becoming the next Tom DeLay: a powerbroker with access to the wallets of the religious right and thus the ability to run primary candidates against Republicans she doesn’t like.

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

Posted in 2012, Michele Bachmann, Minnesota | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

To Understand The Minnesota Legislature, Follow Bluestem Prairie

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 8, 2011

It’s really that simple.

See, for example, this.

And this.

And this.

And this.

All in the space of two days.


(Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

Posted in Minnesota | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on To Understand The Minnesota Legislature, Follow Bluestem Prairie

The crazy just masks the corrupt: the full story of Michele Bachmann

Posted by Charles II on June 28, 2011

DemocracyNow! carried an extremely good segment on Michele Bachmann. It featured blogger Karl Bremer of Ripple in Stillwater, and Michelle Goldberg (ex-Salon, now with The Daily Beast) who praised the MinnBloggers.

While Matt Taibbi emphasized the crazy, and sometimes got it wrong, this segment emphasized the corruption, the hypocrisy, and the ties to totalitarian (theocratic) groups. Bachmann’s major funders include many members of an organization called Alliance for the Separation of School and State, a fact pieced together by Bremer. Bremer has also proven that Bachmann is lying when she claims that she has not profited from federal subsidies to her father-in-law’s farm. As Bremer said, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has utterly failed as a journalistic enterprise, meekly accepting Bachmann’s lying denials rather than doing shoe leather journalism.

Congratulations, MinnBloggers! Arise and shine, for your good work has become known!

Posted in corruption, liars, media, Media machine, Michele Bachmann, Minnesota | 1 Comment »

First Gilmore, Now Prosser: What Is It with Republican Hotheads and Women Hatred?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 25, 2011

Prosser cartoon by Mike Konopacki of the Madison, WI Capitol Times; Gilmore mugshot by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.

Barely a week after local Republican insider and Minnesota Conservatives blogger John Gilmore was arrested for harassing a pair of Muslim women and their Caucasian pedicabbie friend, we hear that just over the border to the east Supreme Court Chief Justice (and former Republican Assemblyman) David Prosser was trying to choke a female colleague of his into submission:

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser allegedly grabbed fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley around the neck in an argument in her chambers last week, according to at least three knowledgeable sources.

Details of the incident, investigated jointly by Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, remain sketchy. The sources spoke on the condition that they not be named, citing a need to preserve professional relationships.

They say an argument that occurred before the court’s release of a decision upholding a bill to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees culminated in a physical altercation in the presence of other justices. Bradley purportedly asked Prosser to leave her office, whereupon Prosser grabbed Bradley by the neck with both hands.

Charming. NOT.

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

Posted in Minnesota | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Classy John Gilmore Update: Now with Video

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 21, 2011

Thanks to Jeremy Ryan of Defend Wisconsin, who gave permission to AmericaBlog to post this on their YouTube channel, we now have video of prominent Minnesota Republican activist and party functionary John Gilmore right as he’s about to get arrested for harassing a few women who made the mistake of being openly Muslim in his presence.

Oh, and guess what? It turns out FDL’s very own Gregg Levine was an inadvertent witness to the start of the harassment:

OMG, after looking at the videos, I realize I saw the start of this whole thing Thursday night on Nicolette Mall. I assumed Gilmore was some drunk local or tourist. He was screaming in a sort of drunk-sounding slur, THIS IS AMERICA, and holding his camera three feet in front of his face and flashing pictures while he yelled at the women.

The women in hijab had this so under control, I felt no need to intervene. Really, they were calm and smart and mostly just told him they were practicing their religion and to leave them alone–and I felt they didn’t need some pasty NYer escalating things. I didn’t realize it did escalate after I walked on.

Gilmore came off as a screaming freak. I’m glad the police intervened–he was harassing the women. And since it is now theoretically illegal to take pictures of bridges, it should at least be investigated when someone tries to intimidate by snapping picture after picture of you when you are minding your own business.

And, now that it is in context, think what lies beneath. Gilmore is taking pictures to show how insidious the left Netroots is because we include these “obviously subversive terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.” I’m sure he thought he had some sort of scoop, himself. What a pig.

This tallies well with what we see on the video as well as with the various other eyewitness descriptions, such as these at City Pages, the local arm of the Village Voice:

Elisabeth Geschiere, a pedi-cab driver, was working on Nicollet Mall when she recognized a friend, Jamila Boudlali, standing outside of the Dakota Jazz club. She came over and started talking with Boudlali, and her friend Anwar Hijaz, who were downtown for an afterparty for Netroots Nation, the progressive political blogging conference. Both Hijaz and Boudlali were wearing Muslim headscarves.

That apparently attracted the attention of a gray-haired man — 52-year-old Gilmore — who suddenly approached the trio and said the name, “Ayan Hersi Ali.” Ali is a vocal, female critic of Islam. The three women tried to brush him off, saying they did not want to debate with him.

And that, according to cops and witnesses, is when Gilmore became belligerent, taking photos of the women, and demanding to know why they were in the U.S. Geschiere says when she asked him to stop taking their photo, things only escalated.

“He started saying things like, ‘This is America, welcome to America, this is the western world,'” says Geschiere. “So I immediately retorted like, ‘Dude, we all grew up in America.'”

As bystanders started to intervene, the shouting ramped up, and Gilmore started pacing around the crowd and yelling “Andrew Breitbart — hello!” into his phone. That was the first time, says witness and visiting Netroots Nation-attendee Matt Glazer, that he realized the man was a conservative.

“He made it sounds like he was about to hurt people, so then that’s when I called the police,” says Glazer.

More on this as it develops.

Note, ladies and gentlemen, that this occurred the evening before Andrew Breitbart’s attempt to sneak into Netroots Nation without paying. Much of the early scuttlebutt about this conflated the two events, leading to confusion that still exists today in some quarters.

(Crossposted to MyFDL.)

Posted in Islam, Minnesota, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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