LeftMN http://left.mn a Minnesota website that leans left Sun, 27 Sep 2015 14:58:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 Get your election predictions here! http://left.mn/2015/09/get-your-election-predictions-here/ http://left.mn/2015/09/get-your-election-predictions-here/#comments Sat, 26 Sep 2015 18:00:26 +0000 http://left.mn/?p=17247 The post Get your election predictions here! first appeared on LeftMN.

Michael Brodkorb, former Republican Party activist and current special correspondent to the Star Tribune, was the guest at Drinking Liberally on September 24th to talk about, especially, the race for Republicans in the Second Congressional District. But some other things got discussed, too. If memory serves, and I believe it does, here’s how Michael sees some of the congressional districts, and who will be the ultimate winner:

1st – Walz

2nd – Toss up, but DFL with a tailwind in a presidential year. (Which is why I suspect some Republicans are annoyed at Kline for picking this cycle to retire. That’s my comment, not Michael’s.)

3rd – Paulsen

4th and 5th – Not even discussed.

6th – Emmer

7th – Peterson

8th – Close, but not as close as the 2nd; Nolan wins. Again, the presidential year helps.

The only seat really, really in play is the 2nd; it will attract a lot of money and attention nationally. The lack of A listers jumping in is a sign of how difficult and expensive the campaign will be, and how difficult the seat will be to hold if won.

Obviously, it is a year from the election, and it will be fun to see how this all holds up. I suspect it will.

Michael Brodkorb and AM950's Ian Levitt at DL

Michael Brodkorb and AM950’s Ian Levitt at DL

And in the Minnesota 3A election, Aaron Klemz predicts that Bill Hansen, a Sawbill Trail canoe outfitter, will win the DFL special election primary next week (9-29), and the general election, too.

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Intensification slowly yields to extensification http://left.mn/2015/09/intensification-slowly-yields-to-extensification/ http://left.mn/2015/09/intensification-slowly-yields-to-extensification/#comments Sat, 26 Sep 2015 14:30:43 +0000 http://left.mn/?p=17252 The death throes of the Industrial Revolution

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The Industrial Revolution gave us the golden fleece known as the economy of scale.

Bigger schools, bigger industries, bigger banks, bigger institutions etc., each remedied some underlying assumptions about the smaller inefficiencies.

Merging, consolidating, reorganizing are all manifestations of the intensification taking place over the last centuries.

With the advent of local sourcing we are witnessing the slow extensification so necessary to erode these oversize and megalithic constructions.

You might conclude these are conservative arguments. Ironically they are the underpinnings of the progressive movement.

Banks probably are too big to fail. When large industrials slump, like Caterpillar’s current global situation, the impact is to thousands of households and no longer localized to a single community.

There was a time, not so long ago, that every neighborhood had a small grocery, a place for bread, milk and last second ingredients for the evening meal.

A place you could send a child on an errand and the grocer would know the kid, the family, their network in the community.

We lost all that to the economies of scale.

It has become rare now to get sales help in a store, to be greeted by name in a checkout line, to have your children attend school with the children of local merchants.

Intensification has corrosively broken the links that once bound a neighborhood and characterized a community.

It is hard to say what the emerging economy will look like but it certainly will involve extensification. Every building has a roof. And even if that roof exposure won’t allow complete household passive generation it can mitigate the total demand.

We must recognize these death throes of the industrial age. Our mutual outcome depends on a proper burial.

Progressives are dreaming of a world for their grandchildren… and yours.

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Wow, the GOP created a job! http://left.mn/2015/09/wow-the-gop-created-a-job/ http://left.mn/2015/09/wow-the-gop-created-a-job/#comments Fri, 25 Sep 2015 21:30:32 +0000 http://left.mn/?p=17243 Republicans show us how job creation can happen

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Boehner has created a job, or at least an opening.

Will wonders never cease?

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What do you do when your Sugar Daddy is out of sugar? http://left.mn/2015/09/what-do-you-do-when-your-sugar-daddy-is-out-of-sugar/ http://left.mn/2015/09/what-do-you-do-when-your-sugar-daddy-is-out-of-sugar/#comments Fri, 25 Sep 2015 03:00:59 +0000 http://left.mn/?p=17228 The post What do you do when your Sugar Daddy is out of sugar? first appeared on LeftMN.

This is no doubt the question on the minds of all of the bright lights at PolyMet Mining at the moment. You see, PolyMet recently released its second quarter financials, and it made just as much money in the last quarter as it has ever quarter of its existence, going back to 1981.

None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. That’s thirty-six years of solid financial performance. That’s because PolyMet has never been a miner and has never operated a mine. All hat and no cattle, except without the hat.

Remember, PolyMet is the company that Executive VP Brad Moore said was “a real company” at a Minnesota House hearing in January of 2014.

These people have a operating loss tax-carryforward to the moon, Alice.

In summary, PolyMet spends about US$8 million US per quarter, and it has about US$10 million in current assets.

The holiday bonuses promise to be thin at PolyMet this year, with a cash bar at the party!

PolyMet is, to put it bluntly, up against the wall. It has to raise more money, and soon. Because it has never earned a dime — either US or Canadian — it is entirely unbankable. It can raise money two ways, well, three if you count bake sales.

First, it could sell stock to the public, perhaps including to long-time shareholder and former Lieutenant Governor candidate, Karin Housley. Seriously, though, even if Sen. Housley buys a lot, this is not likely to be successful. Why? Here’s why:

3 mo polymet stock chart

(The legend at the top just shows the day’s movement.) The stock has been on a skid, no doubt at least in part because the price of copper is on a skid. This is not a price trend on which to try to raise money in public markets.

That just leaves prominent underworld figure Glen Core to loan shark PolyMet out of the jam. After all, he’d done so several times in the past. But dealing with Glen Core always has a price: loss of equity by other shareholders, including Sen. Housley, because Glen always gets an equity spiff.

Glen Core is, of course, Glencore PLC. Glencore is the largest shareholder in PolyMet, and it is PolyMet’s Sugar Daddy, too. It has PolyMet tied up seven ways from Sunday; it has loaned PolyMet millions and has a first lien position on everything that PolyMet owns.

But sadly, even the Sugar Daddy has fallen on hard times. The Business Insider reports that Glencore’s stock is on a skid, too, and that its credit rating is imperiled. Glencore stock is way off for the last year:

glencore year

It is reported in the Financial Times (behind a paywall) that Glencore is going to shutter two African copper mines that it owns that would have had nearly 400,000 tons of production during the planned 18 month shutdown. For context, that’s the equivalent of 11 years of PolyMet’s proposed production, and more than half of the total amount that PolyMet would produce during proposed life of mine operations.

Frankly, Glencore needs PolyMet like it needs a hole in the head. But PolyMet really, really, really needs Glencore. But Glencore is waking up and smelling this coffee:

Copper is still high relative to historic trends. But don’t expect that to last and don’t assume that mines like the one PolyMet is proposing in upper Minnestoa will remain financially viable. And don’t be surprised if any new or existing Iron Range ventures go through even more financial restructurings. And not just in Minnesota. The entire global iron ore and steel sectors are going to take a deep-knee bend.

And the truly amazing thing is that anyone at the Land and Minerals Division of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources thinks (and they do) that PolyMet is a responsible party to deal with in assuring the maintenance of PolyMet’s grave for 500 years after the mine closes.

Hell, these people may not be able to keep the lights on come January.

Update: At the same hearing referred to above, DNR Land and Minerals Division Director Jess Richards testified that he had a reverse osmosis water treatment system (proposed for water cleanup at PolyMet) in his house, and it “works great.” How well it would work if he died and left the system unattended for a few hundred years he didn’t say.

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2016 GOP WH win = Hubris + War http://left.mn/2015/09/2016-gop-wh-win-hubris-war/ http://left.mn/2015/09/2016-gop-wh-win-hubris-war/#comments Thu, 17 Sep 2015 14:00:33 +0000 http://left.mn/?p=17223 "War! Children, it's just a shot away, it's just a shot away, yeah!"
Gimme Shelter, Rolling Stones

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Well, with the rare exception, it was clear last night that if the GOP takes the WH in 2016, we’re most likely going back to warring.

Fiorina in particular was ready to arm the hell out of Europe and beyond to put Putin in his place. She didn’t offer to be on the front lines, that is for America’s 1% warring class. Obviously not those with money, but those with a sense of service.

Bush, same old family bluster and smirks. Trump still a lightning rod salesman. Self absorbed Walker still self infatuated. It was quite the show indeed.

War is good for business. It is an accelerated form of a disposable society. Build it then blow it up or leave armaments behind. Subsequently spend money to rebuild things destroyed months earlier. It’s a Republican world view and form of dominance after the act.

Yes, the supposed GOP front runners, should they win the election, are promising quick financial turnaround via war.

Per the old Country Joe and the Fish song, “Be the first on your block, to have your boy come home in a box!”

The issues of the country were all subsumed by the “What I would do to bolster American dominance if I win” blather.

War! Coming to an election near you.

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Counted in or counted out before the counting begins http://left.mn/2015/09/counted-in-or-counted-out-before-the-counting-begins/ http://left.mn/2015/09/counted-in-or-counted-out-before-the-counting-begins/#comments Tue, 15 Sep 2015 16:00:24 +0000 http://left.mn/?p=17219 The curious case of Hillary Clinton and the 2016 presidential race

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The curious case of Hillary Clinton and the 2016 presidential race

Remember: not one primary vote has been cast, nor one caucus delegate stood up to show support for a candidate.  No primaries have been held and no caucuses have begun.  Yet despite the fact that the official presidential race has yet to begin, winners and losers are already being declared, often no more than based on polls, pundits, and the game of perception which is at the heart of American presidential politics.  More so than any other candidate, this is the fate of Hillary Clinton.  Yet we should be skeptical of what all this pre-primary noise tells us in terms of assessing the presidential candidates, including Clinton.

One presidential candidate (Rick Perry) has already dropped out.  Others will no doubt do the same before the real start of the presidential race on February 1, when the Iowa caucuses take place.  Expect this week’s CNN Republican presidential debate to winnow out the fortunes of a few more candidates.  It could be Pataki, Christie, Graham, Walker, Jindal, or someone else. But one or more of them will have another bad debate performance, their money will dry up, the media will declare them dead, and their campaigns will fade away.  But for others, such as Trump and Carson, who have never received a single political vote for them in their entire life, they seem to be riding tall, with poll numbers that almost seem ephemeral.  The test for them will be delivery in Iowa and New Hampshire, the ability to attract donors, volunteers, and voters who will actually turn out for them when they need to be counted.  Can they translate name recognition and personal brands into a real campaign?  This is really the only thing that should matter.  For now, it is all about perception.

Perception in many ways is the fate of Hillary Clinton.  I know of no candidate subject to more speculation and expectations than her.  Some of it is self-inflicted.  Her resume as Senator and Secretary of State are impressive, although her real record of accomplishment is thin.  First in ‘08 and now in ‘16 she seems to be building an impressive political machine, raising money, securing endorsements, capturing super-delegates.  She also started months ago with the best name recognition among Democrats, high approvals from her Secretary of State days, and great poll numbers and a lead that towered over her rivals.  This year, as in 2008, she has created and air of inevitability and invincibility.

Yet as with 2008 her political campaign seems to be floundering.  Yes, she is still in the lead in terms of endorsements, money, and many polls, but in the last two months much has changed.  Polls show Sanders beating her in New Hampshire, a new poll this week shows Sanders tied with her in Iowa among likely causes attendees.  Her enormous popularity from her Secretary of State days has lapsed and her negatives have gone up.  Head-to-head polls show tight race with her and Republicans in the swing states or overall, and some polls show Biden (so far a non-candidate) and Sanders doing better than her in the presidential race.  In so many ways, Clinton looks better as a candidate when she is not one.

Clinton’s problems are multiple.  She is the target of enormous sexism.  Republicans hate her, and she is the subject of many false claims.  Seriously, does anyone really think she order troops to effectively surrender in Benghazi?  Her private e-mail server while Secretary of State smacks of aloofness and privilege, but at the end of the day she was not selling secrets to the enemy.  She is neither a socialist (Sanders is) not a closest one.  She is a mainstream Democrat.

But Clinton has created her own problems.  She never appreciated the political baggage of the private e-mails.  She thinks that the proper response to criticism that she is not authentic is to send out a press release saying she will be more authentic.  She has built a campaign strong on her personality, but more importantly, one based on expectations.  Specifically, her greatest strength is her perception of her great strength – it is the impression she has created that she is inevitable and unbeatable that is the source of both her power and her ultimate weakness.

If one runs as inevitable everyone wants to beat you. Everyone looks for dings in the armor, for signs of weaknesses.  This is where Clinton is again in2016.  She ran as a bully in 2008 and lost and she seems to be doing that again.  People want to beat the bully, to take down the front runner, to beat the person everyone declares will win.

Yet remember, as well as Sanders is doing and as badly as Clinton seems to be doing now, no caucuses or primaries have taken place.  Polls are flawed, especially in predicting caucus and primary attendees.  They have margins of error and sampling problems.  Polls are merely snapshots in time that can change rapidly.  They fail to capture ground games or other intangibles that make for good candidates and campaigns.

The point is that one should never declare a candidate a winner or a loser until the votes are counted.  This is true with Clinton.  She has both many assets and liabilities as a candidate and judging her now as in trouble or not months before the first votes are cast is risky.  But if politics is often about perceptions, and you are a candidate like Clinton who has played politics your entire career based on it, be ready to be judged by these standards and not simply by actual votes.

Cross posted from Schultz’s Take

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Upcoming Drinking Liberally events you won’t want to miss http://left.mn/2015/09/upcoming-drinking-liberally-events-you-wont-want-to-miss/ http://left.mn/2015/09/upcoming-drinking-liberally-events-you-wont-want-to-miss/#comments Mon, 14 Sep 2015 20:30:09 +0000 http://left.mn/?p=17214 September 17th and the 24th

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It’s going to be warm this week, but the seasonal worm has turned. How do I know this? There are programs two weeks in a row at upcoming Drinking Liberally gatherings. Very unsummerlike.

For the uninitiated — and sadly, there remain a few — Drinking Liberally meets in Minneapolis every Thursday evening at the 331 Club. The group starts to get together at six (some stalwarts earlier) and we’re there until nine. Or so. If there is a program, it starts at seven.

This week, on Thursday, September 17th, the Executive Director of Common Cause – Minnesota, Jeremy Schroeder, will speak to our group about the outsized influence of money in politics and what Common Cause is trying to do about it. Jeremy will speak at seven, and there will be time reserved for your questions.

Next week [in italics for the inattentive], on September 24th, we’ll have a discussion about two of the most interesting upcoming political races in Minnesota, and we’ll be joined by DL friend Michael Brodkorb; Michael always has interesting and insightful remarks, and his comments about one of the races ought to be especially enlightening. Joining Michael on the stage will be an as-yet undetermined assortment of DL hosts.

In a recent surprise statement, Second Congressional District Rep. John Kline announced that he would retire at the end of his current term, setting off a mad scramble among Republicans to replace him. Except not really, so far. David Gerson is the only announced Republican at the moment; Dave Thompson and Roz Peterson are out (the former is a surprise to me). Mike McFadden and Steve Drazkowski are thinking about it, as is apparently Mary Pawlenty, the spouse of Governor Gutshot. Which might, or might not, be helpful to her. Update: McFadden sez no.

We’ll also discuss the soon upcoming primary election to fill the seat vacated by the death of David Dill in Minnesota’s House District 3A. This is a pretty safe DFL seat, but the primary promises to be wild. Curiously, the DFL party unit had decided not to make a endorsement in the race. One of the candidates, Bill Hansen, a business owner (a canoe outfitter) and activist, did get the endorsement of the DFL Environmental Caucus.

The primary is the following Tuesday, the 29th of September.

There will be time for your questions, too.

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Kelly & CPAC Mack, perfunctory apologists, an alternative view http://left.mn/2015/09/kelly-cpac-mack-perfunctory-apologists-an-alternative-view/ http://left.mn/2015/09/kelly-cpac-mack-perfunctory-apologists-an-alternative-view/#comments Mon, 14 Sep 2015 18:00:00 +0000 http://left.mn/?p=17208 An alternate wording and view of the Kelly CPAC Mack apologies

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Turning things on their head for a moment let’s take another view of things.

An alternate wording of the Kelly, CPAC Mack apologies combined as one:

Dear electorate, public and public safety people,

While we were initially willing to lie and destroy the career of the ranger, we now realize that truth will out. Since we are not really big enough people to leave our legislative seats, and though we are known deceivers, we wish to continue to serve and hereby resign one committee seat each as atonement.

We really, really mean it!

Oh yeah, we really believe in law enforcement a whole big bunch too!


Kelly and CPAC Mack

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Oh Oh! Lying lawmakers. Who’d have thought? http://left.mn/2015/09/oh-oh-lying-lawmakers-whod-have-thought/ http://left.mn/2015/09/oh-oh-lying-lawmakers-whod-have-thought/#comments Fri, 11 Sep 2015 14:30:19 +0000 http://left.mn/?p=17201 Kelly and CPAC Mack are willing to lie profusely

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Well it has come to pass that the righteous have fallen, yet another moralistic set of legislators have succumbed to primal instincts and chosen love over law.

The contemporary example is the Republican duo of Tim Kelly and CPAC Tara Mack.

“Let’s make love, I mean law” he cooed in her ear. “Wait, let me get my pants down” she urgently responded.

Silly isn’t it. And highly unlikely, but like a cheap dime novel that’s about how the Kelly and CPAC Mack storyline reads.

Most folks probably don’t care who these two drop their respective pants with in their private lives.

That’s the case despite the fact that both transgressors had “attitude” toward the LGBT community and did seem to care about what they were up to in private.

Sent to make fair, just and equitable laws and fully expected to be truthful in their dealings it would seem the baser instincts prevailed.

Their mendacity, that being a fancy word for deceit and lying, leaves one to wonder what legislation these two characters will be promoting and backing this cycle since with each utterance any thinking person will be asking about either legislator’s veracity, the fancy word for truth.

So the cover up becomes the thing. The statements made by Kelly and CPAC Mack about the officer’s veracity, about what transpired, about documents and what not amount to a frail cover up.

This is hardly a case of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. These two touted righteous societal positions only to discover, if they have an ounce of introspection between them, that gosh, people do foolish things and it can happen to you.

People who run away from truth, who willingly and blatantly lie, who besmirch the character of an innocent attestor, well these are not people who should be making law.

Kelly and CPAC Mack, go back at it. Enjoy yourselves, your humanity, your frailties, your passion for one another.

Go ahead and make love, but don’t try and make law anymore.

As for your other first instinct, to lie and obscure the truth, well that is a problem.

We can’t believe a word you say from here on out.

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A mountain of rotting food http://left.mn/2015/09/17166/ http://left.mn/2015/09/17166/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 15:00:07 +0000 http://left.mn/?p=17166 Eat your beans, people

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Lately, I’ve been hearing more and more and more about the amount of food that is wasted. The estimate of the amount of waste runs from 33 to 40%. This applies across the board from the farm, to the store, to the consumer.

There are so many issues that this touches, in addition to just the idea of being wasteful. Agriculture is the largest user of water. The majority of grain grown in the United States is used to feed animals to be slaughtered for people to eat . . . or throw away. The amount of manure produced yearly by animal agriculture in the United States is estimated to be 100 times the amount produced yearly by humans in the U.S. To this point, the website GRACE Communications Foundation writes:

The USDA estimates that more than 335 million tons of “dry matter” waste (the portion of waste remaining after water is removed) [Hmm, and where does that water go? ed.] is produced annually on farms in the United States, representing almost a third of the total municipal and industrial waste produced every year.

With so many environmental problems directly linked to agriculture, it’s mind boggling to think of how much they are magnified just because we are throwing so much away.

Examples are all around us:

… these are just off the top of my head, I’m sure you could find more. I like to imagine how much these problems could be lessened simply by stopping overproduction.

For a good and really humorous overview of this issue, watch Food Waste with John Oliver. For a more in depth treatment, read Waste by Tristam Stuart. For insight into the freegan diet, go here.



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