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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Disappointed: But Won't Shut Up or Give Up

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 05/27/07 15:21

by Dave Mindeman

Some personal notes:

The past few weeks have had a lot of disappointing results. The State Legislature and the Congress, despite solid Democratic majorities withered in the face of executive vetos. I expressed some of my personal disappointments with all that in past posts, and that reality has certainly not changed.

But, I am not one of those who will call for the "heads" of those who lead us into those disappointments. I am too much of a realist to join that chorus. Democrats may not have developed spines yet, but the alternatives are far less palatable. I stopped counting on "the party" long ago. I prefer instead to work for progressive issues.... often, as it stands now, that means working for Democratic candidates, but it doesn't mean I am 100% convinced that election of Democrats means the goals have been achieved.

In regards to the Iraq Supplemental bill... Frankly, I have more respect for Tim Walz's YES vote then I have for Hillary Clinton's and Barak Obama's NO votes. Although I disagree strongly with Walz, he, at least, offered an explanation that shows some soul searching. At first blush, the cynic in me remains skeptical that the timing of RNC Ads against Walz and his vote are too coincidental. But after reading his Op-Ed explanation, I think he is sincere....wrong, but sincere.

On the other hand, Clinton and Obama did what was politically expedient for their personal campaigns. They concealed their hand up to the last minute. The cynical side of me would, again, be convinced that they counted up the votes to see that the bill would pass overwhelmingly without them, then cast their own NO votes to appease those of us who are on the anti-war left. Too cynical? Maybe.

Amy Klobuchar is still a puzzle. Although she never seemed to be strongly in the anti-war camp, her rhetoric seemed to lead to a conclusion of getting out of Iraq, sooner rather than later. I guess I was mistaken and won't make that assumption again.

Overall, the Democratic leadership is most to blame. They cannot articulate a coherent strategy. They continue to react to White House talking points rather than initiating their own. My only hope is that their future strategy has more potency....as they are the only other horse to back. The problem continues to be time.... waiting for September will mean at least 300 to 500 more American soldiers will pay the ultimate price.

In Minnesota, the Democrats in both Houses are just a few votes short of veto proof majorities.... yet they act as though they are completely powerless. Negotiating positions are abandoned at the first sign of an executive objection. The Governor seems in complete control of the media message. Maybe it is just a first round feeling out process, maybe inexperience, or maybe new tactics are needed. Whatever it is, I hope there will be better outcomes during the next session.

Although disappointed, I haven't given up. The DFL Party wants the progressives to just accept what happens and shut up. That isn't going to happen. The progressive movement has worked too hard to sit quietly in the corner when opportunities are there. Some are very angry.... some want to see changes in leadership. I won't go that far but I am pretty desperate for better results.

Patience may be a virtue, but when soldiers are dying in Iraq and the poor keep getting neglected at home, it is hard to put patience at the top of the list.
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Get Out of Iraq!

Category: US Politics
Posted: 05/26/07 13:34

by Dave Mindeman

What kind of message are the Democrats looking for? How much failure in policy are they willing to accept? And the main question... how many more have to die?

Democrats were elected to make changes in Iraq. Does anybody question that? Whenever Republicans talk about a losing campaign... they say, "Well, it was the war." Even in local Minnesota politics, when the Democrats gained large majorities in both State Houses, Steve Sviggum said that they couldn't overcome an unpopular President and the war.

How low in the polls do things have to go to indicate the country wants some action? Over 60% of the country says that we should never have gone to war in Iraq. They think the whole thing was a mistake from the beginning. Yet, Democrats are confused?.... uncertain?.... looking for answers?

The answer is GET OUT OF IRAQ!

The excuses are varied.

If we leave there will be chaos. But, frankly, what have we got now? The word chaos seems to be a pretty good description of current events in Iraq.

The Iraqi government needs more time. But in 4 years has anything really changed? If anything, the country has gotten worse. It will take another upheaval in the Iraqi government to make the necessary changes.... and it cannot come from a puppet regime. Frankly, we may not like what we see in the end.... but sometimes you have to accept what happens in the normal course of events. Anything that happens in Iraq with an American occupation is simply artificial.

The Surge will give the government a chance. When the surge was announced, Al-Sadr left the country and most of his forces went silent. That made things look calmer for a time...but the Sunni insurgents and the Al-Qaeda operatives took up the slack with more spectacular attacks. And now, Al-Sadr is returning with a regrouped force and probably more backing from Iran. The surge is just another tactic that the "enemy" (who or whatever that is) will adapt to.

We have to fight the enemy there so they won't follow us here. How utterly ridiculous! The enemy will continue to try to attack us here no matter what. All we are doing in Iraq is making our troops stationary targets for every anti-American group in the Middle East. We will be attacked, here, on our soil, again... maybe tomorrow, maybe 15 years from now, but it will happen. We should be focusing on disruption of those plans as best we can, not bogging a huge portion of our military down in one place and spending billions of dollars that could be used to bolster our own country.

The Democrats in Congress have the power of the purse. Yet, they refuse to use it. They could have simply left the appropiations sit.... make the President compromise or simply stop the funding. There is enough money out there right now, without a new appropriation, to fund an orderly withdrawal.

Republicans like to use the word defeat. If we leave, it is not defeat... it is a final statement to the Iraqis to find their own real solution. We defeated the tyrant...we set up a structure of government to work with.... we protected them from outside threats. We laid the groundwork. Now, it is up to them.... and only to them.

If they decide on civil war, then they will pay the consequences. If they decide to talk to each other... then more power to them. But America's part has ended. It ended long ago. Our military sits in Iraq protecting a black market... shadow government tactics... and militia build ups.

It is time for political courage....it is time to stop the death and destruction. It is time to GET OUT OF IRAQ!
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Minnesota Transportation: Who's Going To Fix It?

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 05/24/07 18:00, Edited: 05/24/07 20:45

by Dave Mindeman

During the chaotic final day of the session, an override of Pawlenty's Veto on the Transportation Bill was attempted. It failed by 7 votes....4 if you don't count the Republicans who changed at the last minute.

True, the timing of the vote by the Speaker was an issue here. The vote needed to be announced in advance to give time for both sides of the issue to be heard one last time.

But, everyone knew the stakes. The funding shortfall in transportation is well known and understood. Several Republicans had voted for the bill originally....they knew the problems, but they played politics instead.

In the South Metro, the issue of transportation has been at the forefront of local districts. Dakota County in particular, has been feeling the pinch of congestion and maintenance issues. This area has been dominated by GOP legislators in the past -- that logjam was broken in 2006 with the election of Will Morgan in 40A (Burnsville), Shelley Madore in 37A (Apple Valley), and Sandy Masin in 38A (Eagan). They ran on bread and butter issues with a particular emphasis on Transportation.

And the local GOP legislators are well aware of the issue. Pat Garofalo of Farminton and Dennis Ozment of Rosemount have been supporters of gas taxes in the past. They went against their own party because the issue is just too important to their constituents.

But, these GOP South Metro legislators refused to vote for the override. They sided with the Governor and in essence, they voted to worsen the transportation problem.

Transportation costs don't decrease with time. Every year of inaction increases inflationary costs to projects that are already years behind. Polls show that gas taxes have been ok'd by the public...even with prices at the levels they are at. Most people understand that maintenance and transit options will cost some money but should have tangible results.

Pat Garofalo and Dennis Ozment have been reasonably good representatives in the past. They are loyal to their party but to them, the district has always come first... at least in the past.

But this session, their districts lost their representation. Garofalo and Ozment let the Governor and Marty Seifert decide for them. On just about every other issue you can argue party philosophy and cases can be made based on party line. But on Transportation, the choice is clear...fix it or don't fix it.

Mr. Garofalo and Mr. Ozment.... next session, the people will again be looking for transportation answers and will be asking a very pointed question: "Whose side are you on?"
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