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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

What Is Offensive?

Category: Al Franken
Posted: 06/04/08 08:22

by Dave Mindeman

The conversation on the US Senate race in Minnesota seems to be stuck on determining what constitutes being offended.

That's really a hard determination to make. We know the Republicans are claiming offense at an article Al Franken wrote. But is it really offense they are taking or is it just another political shot?

Let's take Norm Coleman and his family. Here is a guy who espouses family values. The family value example of what Al Franken is not.

Yet, in Norm's younger days at Hofstra, he spewed forth a vulgar, gutter language diatribe at the establishment in this country. Was that offensive?

At the Republican convention, Norm spoke wistfully about the fact that his father was not able to witness his renomination, having passed away a short time ago. But, it is hard not to remember that it was also not long ago that Norm, Sr. was arrested for engaging in lewd sexual behavior in public. Was that offensive?

And then their is Norm's spouse, Laurie Coleman who did a photo shoot in lingerie where the only "family value" involved would be grabbing the attention of hormonal teenage boys. Was that offensive?

Words are still just words. And the offense can only be ascertained by the reader. Everyone has their own judgment on the matter.

But, I can be offended too. And here is a statement that still offends me to this day:

"I am a 99% improvement over Paul Wellstone."

Now, THAT'S offensive!
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It Is Obama's Time in Minnesota

Category: Presidential Politics
Posted: 06/04/08 06:02

by Dave Mindeman

Maybe this is his time.

Barack Obama was inspiring last night at the Xcel Center, as he claimed the Democratic nomination. The contrast between the stiff and wooden John McCain announcement with the electrifying, almost rock star, quality of the Obama rally, sets the tone for the November election.

If this election comes down to personal appeal, then we will have a President Obama. But elections are stubbornly unpredictable and this one has many roads to twist and turn through before it is over.

Another item to take note of last night, is that this may not be Tim Pawlenty's time. McCain's announcement from Kenner, Louisiana may be a strong signal that Governor Bobby Jindal may soon be John McCain's VP candidate.

Jindal would probably be a good choice for McCain in that the Louisiana governor will furnish some youthful zeal....even if it is religious type zeal. It should certainly satisfy and solidify the Christian right support.

It will be a Presidential campaign to remember...and maybe we will see one of those rare generational shifts in the direction of this country. That is the real message of hope.

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Main Weakness of US = Intransigence on Energy

Category: Environment
Posted: 06/03/08 05:12, Edited: 06/03/08 05:19

by Dave Mindeman

I sometimes wonder if this country is simply incapable of overcoming its basic weakness -- inept energy policies.

President Bush, the one who stated that this country is "addicted to oil", opposes the climate bill. And he states that it is because of economic considerations.

I'm not sure anyone in Congress really understands this, but if you are going to address climate issues in any kind of effective manner it is going to affect the economy....but it doesn't necessarily have to be in a negative way. We have to think differently.

Let's look at this directly.

Car manufacturers are poised to lose billions of dollars this year. Why? Because they still have their lots full of SUV's. The resale value of an SUV has plummetted by over 50%. There are long waits for hybrid vehicles. One has to ask.... why can't the car manufacturers read the marketplace?

President Bush used this tidbit as a reason for opposition to the climate bill:

Gasoline prices -- already at record highs in the United States-- could soar by as much as 53 cents a gallon by 2030.

Actually, if gasoline prices only went up 53 cents over the next 22 years, I personally would be astounded. If we could make a fair trade of a 53 cent gas hike for a 66 per cent reduction in global emissions, we should snap it up....now.

But we know the reality is that without an overhaul of our energy policies, gas prices will go much higher than that over the next two decades.

We need to look at the hard truth.

For all the bluster about drilling in ANWR or offshore, the increase in production will have minimal effect on gas prices. As noted:

A Dept of Energy Report requested in December by Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, found that oil production in the refuge "is not projected to have a large impact on world oil prices."

Another point.... Although the current surge in oil prices make the move to off-shore drilling attractive right now, the costs of off-shore rigs is also escalating.

The daily rate that operators pay to rent a high-end, deep-water drilling rig is now $500,000 to $550,000. That?s up from a day rate of $450,000 to $500,000 a year ago-and more than double the price per day on the spot market just three years ago....Is an era of $700,000 day rates lurking just under the surface?

If oil prices dropped temporarily for one reason or another, would the oil industry simply abandon the expensive (as well as environmentally risky) offshore production?

Ethanol production, at least the way we are currently doing it now, is not a solution either. The energy consumption needed to produce ethanol from current sources is too high and the over utilization of prairie and rain forest land to increase ethanol sources is simply not acceptable. It is the same problem, economic interests trump environmental concerns.

We want to fix our environmental issues without making any sacrifices or altering our lifestyle. That is not possible. Our aging industrial capacity needs a complete overhaul. We need outside the box thinking and stop letting fossil fuel industrial giants buy doubts about scientific truth.

We need to invest heavily in wind power, solar power, and hydrogen cell technologies. Our manufacturing sector needs to lead the world in innovation not cling to misguided notions that more of the old methods are going to help.

We have been getting some indications that we may get a slight reprieve in the trajectory of global warming for the next few years. That is not a time to relax, it is an opportunity to act.

New ideas, new leadership, and new incentives for change are the best hope for the future.
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