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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

There Are More Houstons To Come

Category: Environment
Posted: 08/28/17 13:05

by Dave Mindeman

Houston is the 4th largest city in the US. It is built on the coast. It is built over marshland.

In a country run by climate deniers, Houston is not just a disaster but it is also a symptom. A symptom we need to react to and plan for.

The global temperature is warming...faster than predicted. And ignoring the effects is not only a state of denial, it is a tragic mistake. Our coastline cities are vulnerable to events like Houston is experiencing. And we still have not properly protected New Orleans from another Katrina like event.

Are we going to band aid these disaster as they come up with massive investments in emergency services? or are we going to make the harder decision of investments in prevention.

We seem to be in love with ocean front housing. We move farther out and on shakier foundations. We build houses on stilts as if that is smart thinking. We reclaim land from the sea only to give it back quickly and at devastating costs.

The ocean is going to reclaim more land. And storms are going to get worse and with more devastating consequences. Our coastlines need better management and better planning. It is flat out wrong to subsidize this foolishness. And it is unfair to the rest of American taxpayers to pay for rebuilding on unsafe ground.

We have past the point of stopping global warming. Let's face facts. We can only hope to contain it some and that would require a political philosophy shift. One that again has been delayed by an election gone wrong.

Instead of making Al Gore the focus of ridicule, how about we listen to his message. He has been right about climate change. And all the denials and made up facts from the other side have been proved wrong or undergone yet another talking point revision.

Houston is a symptom of a broader coming catastrophe. The ongoing debate about those effects is a foolish waste of time. Time we may have less of than before. Time we may regret with our inaction.

The simple truth is that we must have a drastic political change. We need climate to come to the forefront of current debate. We need to get rid of fossil fuel industry doctored facts and advertising tripe.

There are more Houstons waiting in the wings. We need to address that emergency - but we need to look ahead and get realistic about coastal development and protection.
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False Equivalencies - Stop It

Category: GOP Politics
Posted: 08/25/17 23:07

by Dave Mindeman

I get very tired of false equivalencies.

The 2016 election was full of them. And we continue to deal with the fallout and damage even now.

Here are just a few of them:

1. Money in Politics

Hillary Clinton was reviled for taking money from Wall Street banks as compensation for speeches. Bernie supporters railed against this as if it never happened before and as if Republicans don't do far worse. Republicans reinforced the story line and hacked e-mails offered more fodder via the DNC.

An examination of her donors reveals that the Hillary campaign itself got 3.9% of its total funds from Wall Street. And if you include SuperPacs it comes to 7.2%. Not insignificant, but hardly the stuff of Koch Bros and Sheldon Adelson legend. If you look only at Jeb Bush's PAC Right to Rise - 27% of the funds in that PAC came from Wall Street.

Yes, Bernie took very little from Wall Street. Very little. And if his model could be duplicated some where, it would make all of us very happy - but that is not happening. However, singling out Clinton in the money gambit problem is a little disingenuous. Especially since she was so willing to share funding with House and Senate candidates. Bernie could not do that with his own funds.

No, Citizens United is a boon for one Party - the Republican Party. Millionaires and Billionaires (especially Billionaires), funnel unlimited amounts of money into pro-Republican candidates, PACs, and the Party itself. Republicans give faint lip service to the problem of money in politics while Democrats, all Democrats - even the so called "corporate" Democrats- are more than willing to support an amendment to get rid of the Citizens United loophole. Beating up Democrats on corporate greed is just plain counterproductive...and frankly worsens our problem.

2. Qualifications Ignored

I would hope that the election of Donald Trump will end this ridiculous idea that we do not want experience in elected office. Please end it. We passed up the most qualified person who ever sought the office of President....and she won her primary against probably the second most qualified person to seek the office. But with experience comes baggage. Experience has history. Experience gives definition. Still, to embrace the idea that private sector novices can govern effectively is crazy - and Trump proves the point. I would hope that proof is definitive. Trump is wrecking our government. And counterintuitively, I am sure there are a number of people who feel that wrecking the government is exactly what they voted for. Still, looking at the reality of what happens in that regard must be sobering, even to them.

3. Minimizing the Russian Intervention

There is also a false equivalency in how much damage the Russians caused in interfering with our democratic process. Too many people minimize it as a minor issue. A problem that didn't make a difference. I didn't think too much of it at first either, but the revelations that keep coming forward get more and more alarming as times goes by. Republicans and Democrats blame the losing campaign in nearly every instance, but the idea that this election was stolen is gaining evidence. It was always strange that a candidate could get nearly 3 million more votes and a full 2 percentage points advantage - and still lose the electoral college...especially by nearly 70 electoral votes. It is a statistical anomaly. But the anomaly was getting help. Help from hackers who colluded with a campaign for advantage. Robot accounts spewing out propaganda across a social network that reaches every person and home in the country. Attempted hacking of voter data bases - with a success rate still unknown. False news feeds that satiated the appetite of candidate supporters in opposition to the Clinton campaign. On both Dem and Repub sides. And Russian revelations of money laundering funneling foreign money into political operatives. The evidence is getting too big to ignore.

4. Environmental Concerns

And then there is the climate topics where facts are simply ignored and regulatory disdain wins the day. Corporations have been known to ignore the health and quality of life of this country's citizens in order to promote the pursuit of profit. Greed wins the day and a better example cannot be found in how we treat Mother Earth. The Trump administration has ignored all fact based data. They discredit it, they hide it, they ignore it. The EPA gets gutted. And fossil fuel subsidies continue to increase. It is more than a false equivalency - it is an ignorant gutting of science itself. We no longer have facts vs. denial...we have facts vs. willful destruction.

5. Future of Transportation

Another false equivalency is that transportation is a problem of too little asphalt and too many trains. Adding lanes seldom solves traffic congestion. Buses can help but they wear the roads down as well. Trains are a necessary alternative of the future. They move more people. They are more environmentally sound. They have lower maintenance costs. And the business community supports it fully. Yet, we, especially in Minnesota, have one Party who thinks the future generations do not need choices. That they do not deserve their preferred methods of transport. That we need more roads, more and bigger trucks, and more wasted gas sitting in traffic jams. This is NOT an either/or question. We need roads - we need transit. We can do both. We always could, but we have one Party obstructing our future.

These false equivalencies are not based on facts. They are based on emotion and political strategy. That is not a way to govern.

False equivalencies have given us Trump - NO MORE OF THAT. NO MORE.
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The Class War

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 08/19/17 12:11, Edited: 08/19/17 12:11

by Dave Mindeman

Conservative populism (which is not a real thing by the way) counts on anger and racial division to hype a base of white victims, who have been convinced that their enemy is the minorities taking their jobs, their college placement, and their taxes via welfare.

People like Donald Trump have managed to convince the people less fortunate than him, that they could be wealthy, too, if only those people who don't look like them would go away.

It's not an argument based on any semblance of fact, but it serves as a distraction and a means of keeping the 1% outside of any kind of focus on being the cause of the problem.

And the reality is, that it is the wealthy in this country who have caused the economic problems for the working class. They have kept wages low via foreign manufacturing movement and robotic replacement. They have taken tax breaks from competing states which cut their costs. They have lobbied for tax laws that favor them. Lobbied for corporate tax subsidies to fund their new ventures. They push for infrastructure spending from their state's taxpayers while keeping their own taxes as low as possible.

We hear the GOP complain about welfare as some kind of redistribution of wealth to rally their base. When the truth is that the redistribution of money is from the bottom up - not the top down.

Donald Trump has risen on hate, racial division, diversions from criticism of the wealthy, promises he can never keep or plans to keep, blaming immigrants for everything he can remotely attach them to, and rhetoric which the grumbling populace believes to be true - even though it is factual bunk.

People in poverty and the lower to middle classes are being told that they should blame each other for their problems. Not the people who hold 80% of the wealth in the country. Not the people who buy their access to legislative actions. Not the people who manipulate the tax code. Not the people who tell us that tax cuts for them means jobs for us (which is also bunk).

True populism will realize that it is the 1% that are the enemy of democracy and economic freedom. The 1% are unwilling to give up any portion of their massive wealth - in fact they scheme to get more. The 1% are creating this toxic political climate by funneling their extra profits into political access and issue ownership.

It has become a pathetic pattern.

So, as long as they can get the people on the left to turn on each other rather than the true cause of the problem, they will continue to succeed.

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