Tag Archives: Politics

Relaxing after a long and difficult Campaign 1.0 season.

Interesting day. Christine Hallquist has been nominated by the Democratic Party in Vermont to run for governor. She is transgender. In Minnesota’s primary, Democrats bothering to show up at the polls on Primary day outnumbered Republicans 2:1. Usually it is about even. That’s the first draft of the Blue Wave, right? Twitter just closed Alex Jones’ account. And no, that is not censorship.

All indications are that we will get to hear Trump say the N-word some time over the next week or two. I don’t really need to hear that, but there may be those who do.

What happened in your politics today? For those in the handful of states that had primaries today, you’ve got one night to rest. Tomorrow, all roads lead to November 6th.

And now for your entertainment and inspiration:

Facebook Chief Mark Zuckerberg

Latest Fake News: Facebook battling fake news

Facebook leader Mark Zuckerberg has made moves to look like he battling fake news, but his project is doomed to fail. First, Facebook is explicitly not banning fake news, nor is it banning individuals known to be 100% fake news purveyors. Second, Facebook has brought in “experts” to examine news to see if it is fake that are, in turn, Koch funded right wing/libertarian tools. Continue reading Latest Fake News: Facebook battling fake news

Stop fretting about the Feinstein – de Leon thing

In a recent “jungle primary” (all parties, all voters, and there but the grace of dog go the rest of us), long time us Senator Diane Feinstein resoundingly defeated fellow Democrat Kevin de Leon. But given that Feinstein has been a Senator representing the state since forever, the very idea of a challenge, and the very idea of a 51-33% victory, is a form of insurgency within the party. In this case, it is a progressive insurgency against a strong liberal. If you are outside the Liberal-Progressive zone, that might seem like cats fighting cats, but there is meaning to the differences. Liberals and Progressives all support the same policies, at the 20,000 foot level, but at the more detailed level, they are different. Both want health care for all. Liberals will tolerate a hybrid of insurance companies and some sort of Medicare for Everyone Else or a Public Option, while Progressives want nothing to do with the insurance companies and want a single payer. Or, depending on the individuals, Liberals and Progressives all want Universal Single Payer with no insurance companies, but Progressives want it now, and Liberals don’t think that is possible, and have more incremental plans.

Whatever.

Now, the California state Democratic party has had an endorsing event. You will see the following FALSEHOODS promulgated because of it:

  • Now that Berniebots/Progressives have added their own candidate to the race, the Democrats can’t win, this race
  • Progressives are going to throw Diane Feinstein out despite her great power and service and wondrfulness
  • Other similar things.

But, the truth is, the way the system works in California, there are exactly two people running in the general election for Senate: Feinstein and de Leon. There are no Republicans, do the Democrat will win.

Also, given that Feinstein cleaned de Leon’s clock in the primary, you can bet that she’ll win the general election as well. But, who knows, either one could win.

There is relevance to what is happening here. Within the California Democratic Party, progressives have suddenly developed a significant power base, quite possibly displacing both centrists and labor. If that is a bad thing, don’t worry. Given the primary system in California, they can’t do too much damage. If it is a good thing, then this is a real good thing, in my opinion, because we actually need to have more progressives, and we need to drop the centrist, incremental, line and be more strongly true to our values.

Personally, I’d like to see Feinstein stay to continue the fight against Trump. Personally, I’d like to see de Leon win, because we need to be shifting towards a more progressive landscape. Personally, I’d like to see the Republican lose this race, and that is going to happen for sure because there is no Republican in this race.

So everything in California is good. Stop whinging, y’all!

Minnesota’s Democratic Party (DFL) Convention, 2018

Today, Rebecca Otto, Minnesota Auditor, suspended her campaign for Governor of Minnesota.

Rebecca had run to seek the endorsement from the Minnesota DFL (that’s what we call Democrats in Minnesota). The state convention, at which endorsements are determined by a large collection of dedicated delegates and alternates, was held in Rochester. (Note: candidates can still run in the August primary, but it is often considered bad form to ignore the endorsement process.) I was there as a delegate. I’d never been to a state convention before, though I’ve been to plenty of state Senate District and Congressional District ones. The state convention was similar but ten times bigger, twice as loud, three times as long, and doubly exhausting.

Rebecca lost the endorsement process with a gut-punching and unexpected low number of votes on the first ballot, followed by a long period of chaos, followed by the exuberant endorsement of candidate Erin Murphy. Congratulations to Erin, who has doubled down on this process with her choice of picking a second Erin, Erin Maye Quade, as her running mate. That was a stunningly excellent choice.

But back to the Otto campaign. I was truly expecting the numbers to be different in this endorsement process. I was not personally privy to the detailed data on this campaign, but I had seen the top-line analyses. I expected Murphy, not Otto, to be in distant third. Clearly the numbers were wrong!

I don’t fault the people in the Otto campaign for getting that wrong. Well, yes, they did get it wrong, but this is not uncommon. I myself have had the job of counting delegates. I’ve gotten it at least as wrong. I know others who have as well. Campaigns often, perhaps to some extent, in most races, end up with incorrect delegate counts. (I note that as far as I know, the Murphy campaign had the numbers close to correct.) I have some ideas as to how this happens, and it might be helpful to work out some theory on this. But that is for later. For now, there is this one element of getting surprised by a low delegate count on the first ballot that I’d prefer to dwell on for just one moment:

It feels really, really, bad.

I don’t feel it is my place to relate how things were in the war room after the end of the process. That is private. But I was struck by one thing I’ll leak out. The people in the room, all of whom I have great love and respect for, exhibited the full range of expected emotional states from quietly stunned to liquefied-in-place, except for Rebecca Otto herself. Rebecca was the strength in the room. That was not unexpected, but I think it is something that should be said. I know she felt just as bad. I know her just enough to have sensed that. But she was not the quivering bowl of jelly I would have been.

I helped Rebecca in her campaign for two reasons. One is simply that she and her husband, Shawn, are my friends. But I’ve had a lot of friends run for office for whom I offered only perfunctory help. In the case of Rebecca Otto, there was another reason. I knew that Rebecca was blindingly smart, and a deeply good and honest person, and ever thoughtful. I know that for each area of policy, Rebecca would assemble her best assets and then ask them to assemble their best assets. These teams would then develop details and try ideas, in order to ultimately advance well developed proposals that could be brought to fruition in the State House to change the fundamental nature of economy, society, and culture in Minnesota, all in good ways. I was at the tail end of at least one of those assemblies, and contributed a bit to the policy development. There was a fact Rebecca often repeated in her stump speeches that I had worked on. I was proud to hear it mentioned again and again.

The other candidates are great people, great democrats, any one would be great as a governor, but I was supporting Rebecca Otto because I knew her approach and her results would be uniquely and powerfully transforming. People around the country were going to look at Minnesota, and go, “Wow, what the heck was that??? Why can’t we do that? Who did that? Let’s do that!” And the answer would be Rebecca Otto and the team she leads.

In the end, we are all Democrats. Just as importantly, those other guys? They are all Republicans. So, we have work to do. I like Erin Murphy. I will support her and her campaign, as the endorsed candidate. I’ll support all the endorsed candidates. I’ve been working on the campaign of our local Minnesota House, where my friend Ginny Klevorn hopes to unseat Representative Sarah Anderson, who is is a less religious but just as tea-happy mini-me version of Michel Bachmann, and leader of the evil Republican redistricting ploy in our state.

But I’ll be standing by for future versions of a Rebecca Otto campaign, should that happen, and I hope it does, somehow, sometime, somewhere.

A few notes about the other events at the convention.

The first one is a major piece of news that is still unfolding even as I write this.

Lori Swanson is the Minnesota Attorney General. Swanson has been the perennial heir apparent for that job forever. What I mean by that: everybody always assumed she’d be endorsed, then win. She has a great reputation and everybody likes her, etc. etc.

But this year, Matt Pelikan ran against Swanson for AG. Everybody seemed to like Matt, but everybody also said this about that race: we need Lori, she’s been great, Matt is great, but he has no experience, maybe he can run for something else someday.

Meanwhile, Swanson made a nuisance of herself at the very beginning of the pre-election season, last summer, telling everyone she might or might not run for Governor. This moved several good people into the position of running for the AG seat, but promising to pull out if Lori gives the governor’s race a pass. She pulled that trick (do I sound annoyed? sorry!) for way too long, using the fact that she was a state AG but also, not really an actual candidate, to exploit her moves along with other state AGs against Trump for positive Democratic Party cred.

At the convention, two things happened, then the boat tipped over.

First, Matt Pelikan, who is one very impressive young man, gave a speech that in my view was in the top three given at the convention, maybe the best one. He had the crowd on their feet. He also landed about eight good punches on the Swanson campaign, including noting Swanson’s NRA endorsement over the years, and her stand on various other issues that have become highly questionable even though everybody loves Lori and assumes she’s the automatic candidate.

Then, the Swanson campaign totally messed up their own presentation. Each campaign gets a certain number of minutes, then they have to get off the stage. Most campaigns have a short video, a person or two talk in favor of the candidate, then the candidate gives a rousing speech. Swanson had a mediocre video. Then, some dozen or so people lined up to each speak on her behalf. They were mostly unpracticed and poor speakers (including at least one who is an experienced politician who simply had not woken up that morning, it seemed). Each one spoke for 3-5 minutes. But they were supposed to speak for one minute! SO, half way through that awkward and embarrassing event, the whole lot of them got thrown off the stage, and Swanson never got to speak.

When the delegates voted, Pelekan had denied Swanson the endorsement. A very large number of delegates had probably figured, “OK, Lori is the obvious candidate, but Imma cast this one vote for Pelikan because he is so impressive.” The outcome of that vote was so astonishing, they had to bring in a special sweeper device to remove everyone’s jaws from the floor.

Before the second vote, Swanson dropped out. Ear shattering collective gasp.

My first thought? She’ll run in the primary for the AG slot!

My second thought, seconds later? No, wait! She’s running for governor!

And, low and behold, seconds ago as I write this, the news has leaked out: Swanson is running for Governor with Congressman Nolan as her Lt Gov.

In a less dramatic and less complicated event, former Republican and Bush ethics lawyer Richard Painter ran against Senator Tina Smith for the endorsement. Smith got the endorsement, but Painter got a surprisingly large number of votes.

And, finally, another sad thing. I’ve always supported Jon Tolefson in his political career, and I wanted him to be endorsed for auditor. He had a lot of support, including the endorsement of the Environmental Caucus. In something of a surprise, Julie Blaha took the majority of votes on the first round, and Jon stepped away, allowing Julie to be endorsed by acclamation. That was sad for me, but more sad for Jon’s Mother, who was sitting with me in my unit delegation at the event.

That’s all I have for now, but later, there are some people I want to thank. First, some dust has to settle and and I have to go through some photos and videos I may post.

OK, everybody, get to work!

ADDED: Keith Ellison, US Congressmember and Democratic Party co-head, considering running for Minnesota AG? This makes no sense! The world is spinning in the wrong direction!

Trump almost won in Minnesota, thanks to Democrats

In a year in which Democrats show up, like they did in 2012, Trump would have been trounced in Minnesota. Instead, he barely lost. It was a very very close call, just a couple of percentage points.

This graph says it all:

One thing this means is that the Democrats, in putting up candidates in Minnesota, are not trying to win back Republicans or Trump voters. They are simply trying to win back their own.

Many months ago I coined the term “snowflake” to refer to liberals, progressives, or Democrats, who felt that since their own personal point of view is not perfectly represented in the mind of each and every other liberal or progressive or Democrat, that they should therefore complain incessantly, stay home from the polls, and sit there in a funk hoping someone like Trump wins the election in order to show the rest of them how bad they are being.

Unfortunately, the snowflake moniker has been co-opted, without my permission, by others! But, here, I revise it for the special purpose of talking about this graph.

Roughly six percent of Minnesotans are snowflakes.

This year, dammit, show up.

Also, in the coming convention, if you are a DFL delegate, vote for Otto because you don’t need a medium size male with a lumberjack shirt and a booming voice to win in this state.

Minnesota Could Get A “State Bank” if Rebecca Otto Becomes Governor

In 1919, the farmers of North Dakota got fed up with predatory lenders, and successfully lobbied for a credit union style state-run bank for them to use instead. Private sector financial institutions elsewhere in the country would have none of this, and destroyed this initial effort by freezing the North Dakota bank out of access to bonds, and by underwriting a political attack on bank supporter Governor Lynn Frazier, leading to his recall. Frazier was, in fact, the first governor to be successfully removed from office in the United States. The leader of the anti-farmer and anti-labor movement, a member of the Independent Voters Association party, took over the governor’s seat. Frazier was later elected senator.

State Auditor Rebecca Otto on her farm.
Although anti-farmer interests managed to get rid of pro-farmer and pro-union Frazier, they didn’t exactly get rid of the bank. It continued to exist, but with an altered mission. Today, the bank is still a state bank. The state uses this bank to hold its funds, instead of using a privately owned bank. Local governments can optionally use it, as can other entities.

A state bank that is not chewed up by Wall Street goons has the potential to help a lot of people and advance important progressive ideals. Therefore, you can expect Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, and of course, bankers, to vigorously oppose it.

But Minnesota may well get a state bank. Continue reading Minnesota Could Get A “State Bank” if Rebecca Otto Becomes Governor

Are health insurance companies pulling the wool over our progressive eyes?

A core Democratic Party value, it seems, is to not talk about health insurance reform. This is at odds with the rapidly developing grassroots movement that insists that we talk about almost nothing but health insurance reform, until we get it fixed. And, for a majority of Americans, fixing it means going to a universal, single payer plan. Continue reading Are health insurance companies pulling the wool over our progressive eyes?

Give The Gift of Nostalgia and Angst

For a holiday gift this year, consider giving a book about politics, since politics this year is so very special.

There are two kinds of books out this year of special interest. There is a plethora of books that expose the evil underpinnings of the white supremacist meritocratic oligarchic patriarchy. And, there is a growing collection of books about the last time America was going under for the third time, and the people of those times. Here is a selection for you to ponder. Continue reading Give The Gift of Nostalgia and Angst

My Review of Hillary Clinton’s Book Part I

Before discussing What Happened by Hillary Clinton, the nature of the political conversation demands that I preface this review with some context.

First, about me.

I supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election because I did not want Donald Trump to be president.

During the primary, which was not the 2016 election, I seriously had a hard time deciding between the various candidates (Clinton and Sanders). On an issue by issue basis, I preferred Sanders’ position over Clinton. However, on the issues about which I have an informed view (climate change and energy related, and education) by view was different from both, and the difference between Sanders and Clinton was smaller than the difference between either of them and me.

I decided early on during the primary to support the candidate that was likely to win the nomination as soon as I was pretty sure who that was. In order to facilitate that, I developed a model predicting the primary outcome. At the very outset, Clinton was predicted to win, but we needed to pass through several actual primaries to have confidence in that. In the end, it turns out that my model predicted almost every primary outcome to within a few percentage points, often getting the outcome exactly correct, and predicted the winners very well (when a primary is a half point difference, the difference between a very good prediction and the actual outcome is literally a coin toss). A very small number of primaries were different from what I predicted in magnitude, and I never made predictions using my model for Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and the various territories (the model could not work in those areas). (I made predictions, but not based on my model.)

It became clear to me that Clinton was going to win the primary long before I openly stated that. I avoided stating it because I knew that would cause an unfair and obnoxious reaction from many Sanders supporters. So I waited until a blueberry muffin would have the brains to see who was going to win. In retrospect that was a mistake because none of those folks I was worried about ever got smarter than a blueberry muffin anyway.

So, to summarize, I supported Sanders and Clinton both, liked them both, avoided being mean to either one of them, attended fundraisers for both, attended rallies by both, but all along I knew Clinton was the more likely nominee.

I want to add something else about Sanders vs. Clinton. I regarded Sanders non-incrementalism as better than Clinton’s incrementalism for many but not all issues. I Think both candidates were flawed in having one or the other of a strategy. I know because I’m much smarter than a blueberry muffin that there are times for incrementalism and times for revolution. I also knew it was time for more revolution in two or three areas (such as the energy transition and health care). That’s why I leaned more towards Sanders than Clinton with respect to that philosophy.

Having said that, I felt that Clinton was the more competent and more likely to simply do a good job as president, and I had no sense whatsoever as to how Sanders would do with foreign policy. I did, however, have confidence and reason to believe that Sanders would have come up to the challenge of foreign policy excellence, and Clinton have put the hammer down on certain issues, casting aside the incrementalism.

Now, a quick word about Hillary Clinton.

Clinton was a gubernatorial first lady, and a presidential first lady. She was a trained lawyer and political activist fighting hard fights. She brought the whole idea of public preschool to the US and did more for health care reform, including and especially for children than any other individual until Obamcare. Then, she was an effective and much liked Senator and an excellent Secretary of State. She then became the first woman to win a major party nomination for president, won the popular vote, and probably would have won the election were it not for Russian meddling.

After her loss, she withdrew from public view for over half a year.

Then she wrote a book, What Happened, expressing her point of view.

Then, a lot of people felt compelled to tell this woman to shut her pie hole based on this book.

Finally, my review of the book:

I don’t have one. The book is not published yet. I don’t intend to say anything about the book until I’ve read it (I pre-ordered it). And, if I hate it, I will tell you what I did not like about it, and I’ll even tell Clinton if I get a chance, but I will not tell this woman that she should not have written it. She gets to do that, and all those people telling us that the book that is not yet published is terrible and that Secretary Clinton should not have written it, are deeply embarrassing themselves.

Disagree with the contents of this book you haven’t read, if you can manage to eventually read it and be fair and not a cherry picker with your opinion. But do not, I repeat, do not, tell her to shut up. That’s what Republicans do, that’s what dictators do. That’s what the original American Patriots did, who burned literature they didn’t like and physically assaulted the authors, and burned their homes, back before we got civilization.

I’ll tell you this: I am very interested in what happened during the last election. I’ve written quite a bit about it, I’m writing more about it. Why would I not want Clinton’s point of view?

Stay tuned for Part II of this review, in which I … actually review What Happened after I have actually read it!

(PS: If you didn’t know that bit about the original American Patriots you must read THIS BOOK. )

Upcoming D v R challenges

There has been a trickle of state or federal level races pitting Democrat against Republican, which potentially serve as a barometer for how politics will actually play out on the ground over the next 18 months or so under the Trump Regime.

In my view, these races have shown two things.

1) Republicans beat Democrats even when all the available evidence strongly suggests that the Republican Party shouldn’t even be allowed to exist by any logical analysis of democracy and free society, and the Republicans continue to try as hard as they can to hurt the largest number of people.

2) Democrats have a much stronger than expected showing, indicating that Republicans are on the run and a big change is a coming.

The fact that these two observations are both true and in total conflict with each other should worry you.

Anyway, there are some more races coming up and I thought you might like to know about them.

In Oklahoma, Democrats have already flipped two Republican districts this year, and now, Democrat Jacob Rosecrants was defeated in 2016 by the Republican incumbant (Scott Martin) in House District 46, by a pretty big margin (60:40). But practice makes perfect, and Rosecrants is running again for the same seat in a general election called for September 12.

In Mississippi, Republicans have a super majority in the House, which means they are able to inflict the maximum possible damage that body can manage. Democratic candidate Kathryn Rehner is running in a special election, in House District 102. The Republican incumbent in that district left office to become mayor of Hattiesburg. Rehner is a social worker who is strong on education, and has explicitly stepped up to stop Trump. In the election, Republican Barker won by neary 3/4ths, so you can regard this as a strong Republican district.

New Hampshire has a somewhat unusual legislature. First, it is called “The General Court.” Second, it is huge, one of the largest legislative bodies in the world. There are 400 members in the House of Representatives (Note: New Hampshire is so small, to put it on a postage stamp they have to blow it up first!) a given “district” may be represented by multiple individuals. Anyway, there are some five races open, some were held by Democrats, some by Republicans. So, the relevant outcome here will be more of a differential breakdown before and after. There may also be one state Senate seat open in NH as well.

There are two Democrats running to flip Republican seats in Florida, and apparently the Republicans are pouring money into these races. Annette Taddeo is running for Senate District 40. She had earlier been defeated for a house seat, and is the chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. She is running against Republican Jose Felix Diaz, and independent Christian “He-Man” Schlaerth. The seat is open because incumbent Republican Frank Artiles was forced to resign because he was too much of a Trumpish asshole. The politics here are uncertain and this may be a close race. Clinton beat Trump here by 17 points, but Rubio beat Murphy (but by only 4 points). I can’t tell if this He-Man dude is a spoiler and if so, for which party . He is an academic who gets low ratings on Rate my Professor (which may be meaningless). He appears to be a joke candidate, and may not be taken seriously.

Meanwhile, in the Florida House, Gabriela Mayaudon, running against Republican candidate Daniel Perez.

In South Carolina, Rosalyn Henderson Myers is running in House District 31 against Republicvan Michael Fowler, each trying to replace a Democrat who resigned citing health issues.