Minnesota’s West Metro Republicans Say They’ll Serve Greater Minnesota by Silencing Its Citizens

Polluted Stream Near a Factory Farm, by the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project
The suburban Minnetonka and Wayzata zillionaires that run the Republican Party of Minnesota threw a lot of money and effort this year into rebranding themselves as the party of rural Minnesota. If by “rural Minnesota” they mean “gigantic big-city business interests”, they’re absolutely right:

On the other side, a new group called A Greater Minnesota (AGM) retained the services of Himle Rapp & Co. The new outfit was formed by the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, the Minnesota Pork Producers Association and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, among other existing agriculture interest groups. AGM also involved itself in electoral politics, challenging legislative candidates to sign its “five-point pledge.” The group’s opposition to “pseudo-science labeling proposals regarding GMOs” was one element of that policy platform. Other points call for environmental policies “based on sound science … [which] do not put Minnesota farmers and companies at a competitive disadvantage,” as well as “responsible
regulation and … voluntary practices” from farmers to insure food safety.

Perry Aasness, executive director of the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, also pointed out that several dozen newly elected
members had taken the five-point pledge.

“I think the message, hopefully, that both parties took from [the AGM campaign] is that rural Minnesota, and these food and agriculture issues, they shouldn’t be ignored,” Aasness said.

That “Minnesota Agri-Growth Council”? It claims to be a “bipartisan” rural farming advocacy group, but the Twin-Cities-based outfit seems to be all about telling its newly-purchased-and-soon-to-be-installed Republican legislators what they should back — which seems to be factory farms and sewage lagoons the size of Rhode Island. Sustainable ag practitioners like the fine folks behind Stand for Food? They don’t count as “real” ag, according to State Senator Julie Rosen of the secretive Senate Rural Task Force, which keeps no minutes and doesn’t make audio or video recordings of its meetings. Rosen vastly prefers 8,860-cow dairy factories. (Of course, she doesn’t have to actually live next to stinky, polluting CAFOs. She lives in a huge 5700-plus-square-foot mansion in the Twin Cities suburb of Mendota Heights, whereas her official home in the rural district she claims to represent is barely 800 square feet.) Meanwhile, AGM, which claims to be equally for organic as well as non-organic farming, didn’t raise a peep of protest when Rosen went on the attack against sustainable agriculture. Quelle surprise. (more…)

Slut-Shaming the Obama Girls: Republicans in Glass House Shouldn’t Throw Stones

By now I’m sure everyone in the world has heard Elizabeth Lauten’s catty attempt to slut-shame the two sweetest people anywhere in or around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Whatever one may think of their parents, most people are in agreement that the Obama daughters, Malia and Sasha, are very sweet, well-behaved young ladies, and may well be the best things their parents ever created.

Of course, if you’re a partisan Republican who has been in a permanent rage state ever since Eeeeeeek A BLACK MAN Took the White House!!!! you might not see it that way. Even if you’re an alleged professional like a communications director for a congressional representative. Then you screech and scream and call these innocent teen girls “classless” because — well, just because. It’s allegedly about their outfits, but their outfits are so modest that if they were on white Republican girls, Ms. Lauten wouldn’t have batted an eye.

What makes this especially ironic is that, in the fine tradition of Republican hypocritical projectionism wherein people like Newt Gingrich, Helen Chenoweth and Dan Burton constantly and often falsely call out Democrats for doing what the Republicans are in fact doing, Ms. Lauten has been “classless” in public herself — and not that long ago, either:

Lauten tweeted about her love of “shagging.” The tweet was eventually deleted, but it still made its way to Politwoops.

She says it was an accident, that when she tried to share “I Love Beach Music” by The Embers to her Facebook friends, it also posted it to Fincher’s official Twitter account.

She later tried to say that “shagging” on the beach was just about dancing. Tell that to Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr.

Crossburner Chuck: Still Racist (And Wrong) After All These Years

You can tell the Turner Diaries arm of the right wing is feeling frisky. Charles Murray’s popped up again, apparently hoping that nobody remembers his history of cross-burning as he tries to fit scientific research on the Procrustean bed of his white-power agenda:

It’s one thing to point out that programs to improve children’s cognitive functioning have had a dismal track record. We can always focus on short-term improvements, blame the long-term failures on poor execution or lack of follow-up and try, try again. It’s another to say that it’s impossible to do much to permanently improve children’s intellectual ability through outside interventions. But that’s increasingly where the data are pointing.

Two studies published this year have made life significantly more difficult for those who continue to be optimists. The first one is by Florida State University’s Kevin Beaver and five colleagues, who asked how much effect parenting has on IQ independently of genes…

The second study breaks new ground. Six of its eight authors come from King’s College London, home to what is probably the world’s leading center for the study of the interplay among genes, environment and developmental factors…

So much bullshit and misdirection in those words! Just what you’d expect from a member in good standing of the American Enterprise Institute. And the rest of his piece is no better.

Geez, where do we start? Besides noting that Russ Whitehurst’s anti-preschool and anti-government crusade, which is what that link in Murray’s first paragraph links to, has been ripped to shreds by actual early childhood education experts? And that James Heckman’s 2007 research showing the benefits of early intervention and education — research from which the chart that graces this post is taken — neatly pre-debunks Whitehurst, Murray, and the rest of the “let the kids rot so the guys who sign our paychecks can have that extra house in St. Moritz” brigade?

Fortunately, a Disqus commenter named Sonja7039 has already done much of the heavy lifting for us.

Here she is, pointing out the problems with citing FSU’s Kevin Beaver and the publication Intelligence as reliable authorities for the purposes of this discussion:

The “journal” Intelligence is not particularly distinguished or highly regarded. Nor are the contributors from very good schools. I took a very close look. The FSU study is headed by someone from the department of Criminology. It’s not particularly compelling.

Look, anyone can start a journal and publish their friends’ papers. This “journal” is highly ideological, and has always been. The phenomenon of inventing “journals” so that academics can publish and preserve their jobs is widespread, and has caused the level of research to decline across the board. The same thing has happened in many fields.

And this:

This is NOT a distinguished editorial board.

http://www.journals.elsevier.c…

This is nothing compared to the leading journals in the field of human cognition, and this is not where the best teach or publish their work. These people are all ideologues, and I’d be embarrassed to have my good name associated with them.

It was most amusing to watch the white-power freaks run away from her links to studies proving the efficacy of efforts to increase intelligence (links like this 2008 PNAS study by Susanne M. Jaeggi, Martin Buschkuehl, et al, or a 2010 study by Buschkuehl and Jaeggi, or this 2012 APA study by Richard E. Nisbett et al — they’d pretend to read them, but their cockeyed responses showed they were lying.

Crossburner Chuck: Still Racist (And Wrong) After All These Years

You can tell the Turner Diaries arm of the right wing is feeling frisky. Charles Murray’s popped up again, apparently hoping that nobody remembers his history of cross-burning as he tries to fit scientific research on the Procrustean bed of his white-power agenda:

It’s one thing to point out that programs to improve children’s cognitive functioning have had a dismal track record. We can always focus on short-term improvements, blame the long-term failures on poor execution or lack of follow-up and try, try again. It’s another to say that it’s impossible to do much to permanently improve children’s intellectual ability through outside interventions. But that’s increasingly where the data are pointing.

Two studies published this year have made life significantly more difficult for those who continue to be optimists. The first one is by Florida State University’s Kevin Beaver and five colleagues, who asked how much effect parenting has on IQ independently of genes…

The second study breaks new ground. Six of its eight authors come from King’s College London, home to what is probably the world’s leading center for the study of the interplay among genes, environment and developmental factors…

So much bullshit and misdirection in those words! Just what you’d expect from a member in good standing of the American Enterprise Institute. And the rest of his piece is no better.

Geez, where do we start? Besides noting that Russ Whitehurst’s anti-preschool and anti-government crusade, which is what that link in Murray’s first paragraph links to, has been ripped to shreds by actual early childhood education experts? And that James Heckman’s 2007 research showing the benefits of early intervention and education — research from which the chart that graces this post is taken — neatly pre-debunks Whitehurst, Murray, and the rest of the “let the kids rot so the guys who sign our paychecks can have that extra house in St. Moritz” brigade?

Fortunately, a Disqus commenter named Sonja7039 has already done much of the heavy lifting for us.

Here she is, pointing out the problems with citing FSU’s Kevin Beaver and the publication Intelligence as reliable authorities for the purposes of this discussion:

The “journal” Intelligence is not particularly distinguished or highly regarded. Nor are the contributors from very good schools. I took a very close look. The FSU study is headed by someone from the department of Criminology. It’s not particularly compelling.

Look, anyone can start a journal and publish their friends’ papers. This “journal” is highly ideological, and has always been. The phenomenon of inventing “journals” so that academics can publish and preserve their jobs is widespread, and has caused the level of research to decline across the board. The same thing has happened in many fields.

And this:

This is NOT a distinguished editorial board.

http://www.journals.elsevier.c…

This is nothing compared to the leading journals in the field of human cognition, and this is not where the best teach or publish their work. These people are all ideologues, and I’d be embarrassed to have my good name associated with them.

It was most amusing to watch the white-power freaks run away from her links to studies proving the efficacy of efforts to increase intelligence (links like this 2008 PNAS study by Susanne M. Jaeggi, Martin Buschkuehl, et al, or a 2010 study by Buschkuehl and Jaeggi, or this 2012 APA study by Richard E. Nisbett et al — they’d pretend to read them, but their cockeyed responses showed they were lying.

Come Saturday Morning: Solar Roadways Is Open for Business

The new home of Solar Roadways
After spending the better part of a decade working extra jobs on the side, hiring part-time and volunteer help when they could, and stretching the occasional bit of grant money as far as it could go, Scott and Julie Brusaw now have, thanks to Indiegogo and Uncle George Takei, a big full-scale facility and the full-time staff to go with it:

We are excited to share the first pic of our new Solar Roadways headquarters in Sandpoint, Idaho! We just put our sign up! Thanks to all of the wonderful Indiegogo supporters, we were able to purchase a building with space for both manufacturing and offices.

We have hired our first 3 employees (Electrical/ IT Engineer, Environmental Engineer/Hydrologist and Graphic Artist/Web Developer) and they have been busy helping us with perks and with renovating our building in addition to their other duties (all of us at Solar Roadways wear many hats :)). We will announce our team as soon as it’s complete.

We are still interviewing for other positions and our next focus is a Mechanical Engineer (more resumes welcome). We’ve been having a lot of meetings with potential customers in our new space and we are excited to have a place to welcome visitors. We’ll be announcing a date for an open house as soon as the interior is completely finished.

Their first projects will be for the city of Sandpoint. Next up: The local Amtrak station, among other spots.

It’s a thing, folks. It’s happening.

Late Night: Take Me to Church


Tonight’s musical interlude is by a charming and talented Irish soul singer – and no, that’s not an oxymoron – named Hozier. Courtesy of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts.

In other news:

— There’s a new college football rivalry trophy out there: The Bits of Wooden Chair Trophy.

— One of the barriers to clean energy has been the fact that most practical mass energy storage is quite dirty. The research on ‘bio batteries’ could change that.

The deeply moral conservatives of the American Enterprise Institute are saying that the drugging-rape epidemic is a myth. Of course, this is largely because they want to attack a black president’s effort to combat it:

The video is part of a larger campaign by Kitchens and AEI to push back against the growing national movement to combat sexual assault, particularly on college campuses. Eighty-five colleges are currently under federal investigation for mishandling sexual assault on their campuses, and there has been a slew of bipartisan efforts to address campus rape.

Since the Obama Administration made an unprecedented push against campus sexual assault earlier this year, Kitchens and other conservative pundits have been leading the backlash.

And how was your weekend?

Come Saturday Morning: Obama, Immigration, and the Cray-Cray

cray-cray
Well before November, the Senate Republicans had a big fat list of all the things they intended to do once they retook the upper chamber: kill the EPA, gut Federal employees’ pensions, hand out more free-money tax breaks to the rich, yadda yadda yadda.

But they can’t do any of that just yet, because their base is all riled up by the bright shiny object called “immigration”:

All but drowned out by Republicans’ clamorous opposition to President Obama’s executive action on immigration are some leaders who worry that their party could alienate the fastest-growing group of voters, for 2016 and beyond, if its hottest heads become its face.

They cite the Republican Party’s official analysis of what went wrong in 2012, the presidential-election year in which nominee Mitt Romney urged Latinos here illegally to “self-deport.”

“If Hispanics think that we do not want them here,” the report said, “they will close their ears to our policies.”

Well, no kidding, Sherlock.

McConnell and Boehner and in fact the entire institutional part of the Republican Party have spent the past year working to tone down the cray-cray in their candidates, both for this year’s midterms and for 2016. Many if not most of the nuttier Tea Partiers were defeated by well-funded establishment Republicans in the primaries, and the nutjobs that did make it to the general were immediately wrapped in cotton batting and kept from the media gaze except for carefully-choreographed appearances.

The election’s now over, and the Tea Party baby’s sick of being put in a corner for the better part of a year. The cray-cray was looking to explode, and as Kevin Drum notes, President Obama supplied the fuse and the lit match under folks like Steve King:
(more…)

Late Night: Say Bye-Bye, Keystone XL

In case you hadn’t heard, which is probably true if you depend on the evening TV news for most of your information, the Keystone XL is all but dead, and there’s nothing that Mary Landrieu, Congressional and Senate Republicans, or the White House can do to save it.

The cause? As I’ve saying for the past three years now, it’s the cost. The tar sands project always had a very narrow window of profitability, and now it’s all but slammed shut. Tar sands goop is fairly expensive to extract even in the warm climes of Venezuela (around $75 a barrel), but that’s still less than the cost (between $85 and $110 a barrel) of blasting frozen hunks of it out of the permafrost and mixing it with natural gas just so it can flow in a pipeline to refineries capable of handling it. With West Texas Intermediate crude oil trading at less than $77 a barrel, there’s no way Keystone XL can turn a profit moving tar sands goop.

That’s why the Norwegian firm Statoil recently halted, likely for good, all of its Keystone XL involvements.

Meanwhile, China’s economic slowdown, coupled with a growth in its domestic solar and wind power installations, is causing reduced demand for both oil and coal. In addition, other developing nations are increasingly bypassing the fossil-fuels stage of development and going straight to solar and wind power, which is good news for those of us who’d like to see CO2 levels drop for a change.

Gopher Staters: Minnesota GOP Is Trying to Take Away Your Rights. Again.

The clowns haven’t even been sworn in yet and already they’re plotting once again, just as they tried back the last time they held the legislature, to trash our rights on behalf of their Big Business masters as they seek to take down both local control and state stewardship of our land, air, and water.

Bluestem Prairie’s Sally Jo Sorensen sounded the alarm against Jeff Backer, the lead public face of the rights-destruction movement, back in September:

In the September 24, 2014, “Meet The Candidates” debate for Minnesota House District 12A, Jeff Backer was lamenting regulations in the state of Minnesota when he said (21:39 stamp):

We have regulations that are very difficult. We have a farm in Stevens County who was turned down by the Minnesota Pollution Agency for a permit.

That’s not exactly what the Minnesota Pollution Control Agancy’s Citizen’s Board did at its August 26, 2014 meeting; rather, after hearing testimony from local residents and a townshop official, as well as receiving letters raising concerns about the project, the board voted 6-1 to require an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Riverview LLP before it would grant a permit.

In other words, Jeff Backer objected to the empowering actions of his neighbors — and now, after his defeat of incumbent state representative Jay McNamar (who was endorsed by various local and state farming interests) in this month’s midterms, his constituents.

In response, blogger Sorensen asked this question:

Is Backer simply bloviating on Republican anti-government talking points? Or is he suggesting that he’ll strip the MPCA Citizens Board the ability to review permit applications–and the ability of local citizens to raise questions before the Board?

As we’ve just had confirmed, the answer is not just “yes”, but “hell yes”, as Backer’s kindred spirit Julie Rosen uses her position as a Republican state senator and her key role in a brand-new Senate group to advance Backer’s agenda:: (more…)