Minneapolis/St Paul are good cities and good places to live. This state was largely occupied by German Catholics and Scandinavian Lutherans, so it may be 80% white, but they also have increasingly diverse populations, with rising numbers of African Americans and Hmong and Somali people — it’s a city where a Muslim, Keith Ellison, can get elected to congress, and that, as the largest by far population center in the state can get a fairly liberal state legislature elected. Hey, Prince lives there!

The rest of the state…well, I can say that the people are generally laid back and well intentioned, and friendly as all heck. Lake Wobegone isn’t a total misrepresentation. But it’s also poorer and much more conservative.

This is Minnesota’s 6th congressional district.


You might think it looks a bit like a frog leaping away from Minneapolis, that ball between its legs. I see it more as a stunted, lumpy, slug-like blob with massive jaws closing around the city, but I’m biased. This is the gerrymandered product of Republican social engineering, a collection of suburban and rural areas amalgamated into a xenophobic monstrosity that reliably produces the most insanely reactionary politicians in the state, and elects them.

This is Bachmann country. It’s 96% white, and they like it that way. It also has a lot of cities named after saints — that German Catholic heritage — and there’s a fair bit of godly sanctimony lurking there (again, Lake Wobegone isn’t far off the mark in that regard).

I live west of the 6th district. You see that line running down the center of the blob, from west to east? That’s I94. When I drive to Minneapolis, as I do, I basically enter the cloaca of the beast and crawl up its alimentary canal to be vomited forth from its gaping maw, thus arriving in the Twin Cities. I can visibly sense the transition into the 6th district on my drive.

Outside, it’s all corn fields, endless rows of fenceposts, and the occasional non-commercial billboard, mostly featuring Jesus or smiling babies begging you not to abort them. Those continue sporadically as I wend my way to the big city, but round about the time I get to Avon, there in the rectum of the 6th district, I see the bitter, angry signs: they really hate Obama there. That’s where I first encounter signs telling me that atheists are all going to burn in hell. It’s John Birch country: US out of UN! But it’s not all hate. They also really love the military.

Bachmann, at least, is gone. She’s been replaced by Tom Emmer, who is less flamboyant but just as wretchedly awful. Emmer is against abortion, taxes, and same sex marriage. He wants to pass a state sovereignty bill that would allow states to ignore federal laws. He doesn’t want to oppose bullying of gay and transgender people in the schools. He suspects that servers in restaurants are making hundreds of thousands of dollars in tips, and thinks the restaurant owners ought to be able to deduct tips from wages. He is a perfect representative for the 6th district.

He also voted for HR 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act.

Never mind the fear-mongering title; HR 4038 is the act that refuses desperate Syrian and Iraqi refugees entry into the US. It is the product of shitting-their-pants cowardice. If you want to understand US foreign policy, this is it: we are terrified of ‘foreigners’, so we build up a massive military that lets us bully everyone else, but when battered, fearful men, women, and children knock on our door and ask for mercy and understanding, we blubber in fear and add extra locks.

We’re cowards. Understand that, you understand America.

It’s not just Republicans, or the 6th district, either. Three Minnesota Democrats voted for fear. My own representative, Collin Peterson, voted for greater cowardice, too. He’s a Democrat, sort of, one of many who voted for xenophobia. He mainly panders to agricultural interests while opposing women’s choices — I’ve never voted for him. Every time I’ve seen his name on a ballot his opponents have been even worse, though, so I end up not voting for any representative for the 7th district. Goddamn Blue Dogs.

So this is where we stand. We are happy to bomb foreign countries, wreck their economies, and destroy their infrastructure, all while deluding ourselves into believing they will love us for Democracy! Whisky! Sexy!. But when the civilians crawl out of the rubble and ask for help, we turn our back and call them terrorists.

America, home of the craven.

We should be ashamed.


  1. says

    And states that are run by Blue Dogs, very quickly turn Republican. West Virginia was run into the ground by the Blue Dog/Coalcrat establishment, and as the coal industry went under, due to lower prices, fewer easily mined seams, and competition from natural gas, the economic establishment blamed everything on Obama and threw out the political establishment and replaced it with the most rabid set of reactionary assholes they could find.

    This Blue Dog/DLC establishment is pretty much the biggest hindrance to democracy in the United States. It is the force that actually enables the whackadoo right. All the right has to do is take a crazed position and the Democrats just meet them halfway.

  2. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    The amazing thing about politics, just when you think you got it figgered out they smack you hard. I was flabbergasted to see Massachusetts as one of the ant-Syria-immigration scoundrels. Here I thought Massachusetts was the most liberal of all 50, but appears I’ve been mislead. Or expecting too much from “most liberal”, if even “most liberal” is “sometimes bleh”.
    The cartography of that 6th district is quite amusing, once you you identified it as a frog jumping (Minneapolis is the lilypad from which it is leaping). Like to think the gerrymanderers have a shred of creativity in their gerrymandering pursuits (making the gerrymanders into amusing shapes). yet a single instance is not evidence, so nevermind that distraction…

  3. jaybee says

    The first axiom of distressingly many Americans is that America is the good guy. Therefore everything we do is is right and just, and anyone who disagrees is either evil or jealous if not both. This attitude prevents any sort of self criticism or reflection. Bad things happen to other people because they are bad, so no need to get too worked up about it, but when bad things happen to them it is because of bad people.

  4. says

    I recall reading the other day about some lawyer whose retirement project has been trying to get the courts to recognize gerrymandering as what it is: unconstitutional attempts to disempower individuals’ votes.

  5. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Daily Show had an interesting piece about a gerrymander backfire. they gerrymandered a district to impose a sales tax, where the district was composed to include zero residents for no possibility for voter opposition, yet they missed one. The district was actually left with a single resident who is adamantly opposed to this sales tax on food and other staples that would unfairly burden the least able to afford the tax.
    sadly, the gerrymanders will just try to get more “clever” in their proposed district “updates”.

  6. tororosoba says

    The US military didn’t have any problems immigrating to Iraq some 12 years ago.

    And why do they fear Syrians and Iraqis? The attackers in Paris were Belgians and French.

  7. congaboy says

    So, even our national anthem has become mere propaganda: “. . . and the home of the brave.” It rings so hollow now. We are a nation of bullies; cowards who use our strength to hurt those weaker than ourselves, but whimper and cry like frightened children when faced with acts that take real moral courage. I’m ashamed of what this country has become.

  8. gmacs says

    Collin Peterson voted with the xenophobes? I’m shocked! Shocked I tell you!

    No, wait. Not shocked. What’s the opposite of shocked? That’s what I am.

  9. mareap says

    Tim Walz caved, too (MN – 1). Very sad on principle but incomprehesible given that he is a former social studies teacher.

  10. dianne says

    So, even our national anthem has become mere propaganda: “. . . and the home of the brave.” It rings so hollow now.

    Nah, it’s just a misunderstanding. The last word there was meant to be in German: Home of the brav. Brav=good in the sense of obedient. And the US is certainly the home of good, obedient people who don’t question the powerful when they say that Syrians are dangerous or lowering taxes on the rich will help the economy.

  11. gmacs says

    Tim Walz caved, too (MN – 1).

    Ex-fucking-scuse me?! That goddamned traitor! I know Republicans in that district with more spine and compassion on this issue.

  12. says

    More rightwing nonsense mixed with incitement to violence:

    WorldNetDaily columnist Burt Prelutsky writes today that he has an ingenious but “politically incorrect suggestion” of how to defeat ISIS, namely that the U.S. “bomb Mecca off the face of the earth, not concerning ourselves in the least with collateral damage, letting the Muslims know once and for all that our God is far more powerful and, yes, vengeful than their own puny deity.” […]


    The above was cross-posted from the Moments of Political Madness thread.

  13. says

    Here are the 47 Democrats whose constituents should shame them for voting for xenophobia.

    Pete Aguilar (CA)
    Brad Ashford (NE)
    Ami Bera (CA)
    Sanford Bishop (GA)
    Julia Brownley (CA)
    Cheri Bustos (IL)
    John Carney (DE)
    Gerry Connolly (VA)
    Jim Cooper (TN)
    Jim Costa (CA)
    Joe Courtney (CT)
    Henry Cuellar (TX)
    John Delaney (MD)
    Lloyd Doggett (TX)
    Tulsi Gabbard (HI)
    John Garamendi (CA)
    Gwen Graham (FL)
    Gene Green (TX)
    Janice Hahn (CA)
    Jim Himes (CT)
    Steve Israel (NY)
    Marcy Kaptur (OH)
    Bill Keating (MA)
    Ron Kind (WI)
    Annie Kuster (NH)
    Jim Langevin (RI)
    Dan Lipinski (IL)
    Dave Loebsack (IA)
    Stephen Lynch (MA)
    Sean Maloney (NY)
    Patrick Murphy (FL)
    Rick Nolan (MN)
    Donald Norcross (NJ)
    Scott Peters (CA)
    Collin Peterson (MN)
    Jared Polis (CO)
    Kathleen Rice (NY)
    Raul Ruiz (CA)
    Tim Ryan (OH)
    Kurt Schrader (OR)
    David Scott (GA)
    Terri Sewell (AL)
    Kyrsten Sinema (AZ)
    Louise Slaughter (NY)
    Marc Veasey (TX)
    Filemon Vela (TX)
    Tim Walz (MN)

  14. says

    How Republicans help President Obama fight terrorism … NOT.

    Adam Szubin, who has bipartisan support, has been waiting more than 200 days to be confirmed as the Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes. The job involves tracking terrorists to prevent them from raising money on the black market and elsewhere.

    Szubin’s nomination got a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on Sept. 17, and Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) praised his past work in countering terrorist financing during his time with both Republican and Democratic administrations.

    “He is eminently qualified for this,” Shelby said at the time.

    But Szubin’s nomination hasn’t moved since. There’s no clear reason why, beyond trying to make it difficult for President Barack Obama to fill administration posts.

    Huffington Post Link

    Sorry for the Huff Po link, but they do sometimes get the news right.

  15. says

    We can give Republican Ken Buck points for creativity. He connected the Republican problem with Syrian refugees to Benghazi:

    Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck on Thursday blamed the President’s handling of the 2011 terrorist attack in Benghazi for Americans’ distrust of Syrian refugees today.

    In a back-and-forth with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Leon Rodriguez, Buck argued that no one should be surprised Americans are deeply concerned about refugees considering the way Obama handled the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks.

    “It is a result of this administration’s lack of credibility that has caused the fear and panic among many of the Americans in this country.”

    Talking Points Memo link

  16. greg hilliard says

    Our congresswoman in Phoenix, Kyrsten Sinema, did the same. That would have cost her my vote, but she lost it when she voted against the Iraq deal.

  17. anteprepro says

    “It is a result of this administration’s lack of credibility that has caused the fear and panic among many of the Americans in this country.”

    Republicans: Undermining credibility, spreading fear and panic, and then sitting down after and saying “damn, you must have fucked up to make people feel this way about you”.

  18. blf says

    Pesky data and facts are getting in the way again, 81% of Isis-linked suspects charged in US are American citizens:

    As politicians rush to curb refugee intake, research reveals 55 of 68 people indicted over alleged Isis ties were born in US and none came from Syria

    None of the Isis-linked suspects who have ever been charged in the United States came from Syria and the overwhelming majority were born in the US, research reveals.

    Sixty-eight people have been indicted because of alleged involvement in Isis […] according to figures published this week by Center on National Security at Fordham University.

    Yet despite a growing political clamour over a perceived security threat posed by an influx of Syrian refugees, the data shows that only three of those indicted in connection with Isis was a refugee or asylum seeker; none came from Syria.

    Instead 55, or 80.9%, of the individuals concerned are US citizens, including 44 who were born in America. The rest include six born in Bosnia, four in Uzbekistan, three in Somalia and two in Sudan. […]

    The typical alleged Islamic State adherent is intent on fighting abroad rather than plotting attacks at home, research shows.

  19. naturalcynic says

    Sigh. We need another Hunter S Thompson to write a book about places like the 6th, with a title starting with that personality Fear and Loathing..

  20. blf says

    Unfortunately, a Hunter S Thompson doing her/his research in the 6th would be gunned down by the policegoons whilst shooting at his foreign (and therefore obviously guilty, especially since his skin wasn’t sufficiently white) attorney. If the shootings ever even make it to a Grand Jury, they’d be dismissed because Mr Thompson had some drugs, besides associating with the beforementioned furriner.

  21. blf says

    From the No Shite Sherlock Department, ‘Beyond terrifying’: Muslim Americans shocked by Trump and Carson quotes:

    Leaders fear worsening ‘climate of hostility’ as conservative candidates call for database to track Muslims and equate Syrian refugees to ‘rabid dogs’

    Prominent Muslim Americans have reacted with anger and dismay to the incendiary remarks of Donald Trump, the leading Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential race who called for a database of all Muslims in the country to be set up, in order to track their movements.

    Trump’s comment was compared by several Muslim-American groups to the branding and forced identification of European Jews that paved the way to the Holocaust.

    Muslim leaders told the Guardian they were shocked that a public figure who is the current frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination would utter such an inflammatory idea in the wake of the Paris attacks, when relations were already fraught.

    “This is beyond terrifying, any student of history knows what special IDs did in Europe,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the largest Muslim advocacy group in the US, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair). “In 20 years I have not heard such intolerance and hatred from political leaders in this society.”


    “We are talking about America in the 21st-century potentially about to be led by dangerous people,” he said.

    Saif Inam of the Muslim Public Affairs Council […] also likened Trump’s proposed database to the “J” that was stamped into the passports of European Jews by the Nazis.

    “The fact that he has the gall to say that and still be up there in the polls is troubling to say the least,” he said.


    The anxiety that Republican rhetoric will trickle down to the wider community has been borne out by analysts monitoring hate groups in the US. Heidi Beirich, an authority on the subject with the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the Republican dialogue was “adding fire to the xenophobia expressed by far-right groups.

    “This is a serious problem,” she said. “It’s fuelling bigotry and hatred.”

  22. marcoli says

    It was said elsewhere, but it deserves to be said here and in other places: We should give the statue of liberty back to France ’cause we are not using it anymore.

  23. PatrickG says

    Speaking of cowards, let’s bring up AIPAC? The hateful rhetoric Trump is espousing is the precise reason AIPAC exists. You’d think they’d be front and center on this, but *radio silence*.

    Mind you, the Anti-Defamation League is doing exactly what you would expect a Jewish organization that remembers the Holocaust to do: concern, criticism, condemnation, albeit not calling out Trump specifically (comity or some such). Many, many Jewish organizations are doing the same.

    But AIPAC? Zilch. AIPAC’s current headlines are about Palestinian violence and the US standing with Israel. Twitter — nothing. Facebook — nothing. Cowards.

  24. blf says

    Teh Trum-prat is now trying to say he didn’t say what he clearly said, Donald Trump distances himself from endorsement of tracking Muslims in US:

    ● Republican frontrunner: ‘I didn’t suggest a database — a report [sic] did’
    ● Previously Trump said he would ‘absolutely’ implement database system

    Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has sought to distance himself from comments in which he said that as president he would “absolutely” implement a tracking system that would require Muslims in the US to register with a federal database.

    On Friday, Trump said on Twitter that he “didn’t suggest a database — a reporter did” after he had expressed full support for a system that tracks Muslims in the United States during a conversation with that reporter on Thursday.

    Pedantically, Teh Trum-prat seems to be correct, but he did not call out (reject) the reporter’s suggestion, he also repeated the call later, in other interviews / speeches.

    In the ensuing conversation, Trump seemed to conflate the refugee situation with illegal immigration into the US, at times appearing not to distinguish between the two.

    The NBC journalist asked Trump if Muslims would be legally obligated to sign into the databases. He replied: “They have to be — They have to be.”


    During a later interview, the reporter ask how the practice of registering Muslims would be different from registering Jews in Nazi Germany. Trump said: “You tell me,” and then stopped responding.


    When asked in [an interview with Yahoo] if he would consider registering Muslims in a database or giving them a special form of identification, Trump said: “We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”

    Bush I!I did, to his credit, reject Teh Trum-prat’s blattering: “‘You talk about internment, you talk about closing mosques, you talk about registering people,’ Bush said on CNBC on Friday morning. ‘That’s just wrong. I don’t care about campaigns. It’s not a question of toughness. It’s to manipulate people’s angst and their fears. That’s not strength, that’s weakness.'”

  25. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Easy! Drivers License: [name], [dob], [home address], [sex], [religion]. Easy as pie. No terrorist would avoid getting a drivers license, truthfully filled out, eh? And all the good Muslims would proudly want to have their faith as part of their drv.lic. What’s the problem? Good management will fix it all, Trump says he good manager, shaboom prob solved when Trump POTUS and can manage us all.

  26. parasiteboy says

    From blf@29

    …It’s to manipulate people’s angst and their fears.

    Bush I just summarized the republican playbook

    That’s not strength, that’s weakness

    To quote the Fonz “Correctamundo”

  27. says

    Seven Republicans running for president spoke at at an event called “Presidential Family Forum” in Iowa yesterday. Rick Santorum, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul were happy to associate themselves with Bob Vander Platts, the organizer.

    Vander Platts wants to defund any courts that rule in favor of marriage equality, and he thinks that government should be an instrument of God. “God’s principles and precepts” govern government.

    Some tidbits from this evening of bigotry and silliness:

    Asked to name the first person they would call upon hearing about a terrorist attack, Carson and Rubio both said the Department of Homeland Security; Fiorina and Mike Huckabee both said they’d fall to their knees and pray.

    When Huckabee said he would fall to his knees and “make a call to God,” the audience responded with the loudest applause.

    That’s what Huckabee would do if simultaneous terrorist attacks were made on Times Square and Yankee Stadium on September 11, 2017.
    NBC News link

    And there’s this from Ted Cruz:

    He brought down the house at the close of the evening with an impassioned plea for conservative unity that may, come the Iowa caucuses in February, turn out to be prophetic.

    “If conservatives come together and stand as one, it’s game over,” he said. “This primary is over if conservatives unite. And if conservatives stand together and unite, the general election is over.”

    Cruz also claimed that President Obama is “serving as an apologist for radical Islamic terrorism.”

  28. blf says

    parasiteboy@31, That was Bush I!I, Teh Jeb!inator or whatever he is calling himself de jour, who called out Teh Trum-prat, not Bush I. Which is not to say Teh Jeb!inator is being entirely sensible, he isn’t. From Muslim databases and ‘rabid dogs’: Trump, Carson and GOP in explosion of rhetoric over Syrians/wm>: “[Ted] Cruz and [Jeb] Bush proposed a religious test for refugees from Syria — only about 2,200 of whom have entered the United States in the last four years after extensive security vetting — saying that Christian applicants should be prioritized.” (If my recollection is correct, at least one of those two thugs actually seemed to say that only xian refugees should be allowed entry.)

    Bush l!I also told lies, e.g., “There are no Christian terrorists wandering around the world trying to take out peace-loving Muslims.” So whilst he called out Teh Trum-prat, not a hard thing to do, Bush I!I, Teh Jeb!inator, is also a reality-denying kook, and is very probably owned by Faux & Kochroach Bros., UnLimited.

  29. says

    This is a followup to blf’s comment 29.

    Rachel Maddow follows yesterday’s reporting about Donald Trump’s apparent position on tracking Muslims in the United States with new reporting on Trump’s response to the controversy. His position, however remains clouded in half-answers and deflections, leaving him open to further questions and criticism.

    The video is 7:24 long.

  30. rietpluim says

    We’re cowards. Understand that, you understand America.

    This also explains the many gun incidents. Fear and guns are a very dangerous combination.

  31. Von Krieger says

    A few years ago when election time rolled around I did some research on all the candidates available on my mail-in ballot using the ol series of tubes.

    Of 196 or so Democratic reps, Colin Peterson was something like the third worst for voting along the party line. Basically the third most Republican-leaning Democrat.

  32. rubaxter says

    You mean it’s like the old very common-wealth of PA… Phila on one side, Pittsburgh on the other, Alabama in between?