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  Progressive Political Blog

Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Geezers With Boom Boxes

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 02/01/08 11:05, Edited: 02/01/08 11:07


(Note: This blog is the second in a series about the "Mainstream Motorist Protest" project on the Highways of Minnesota)

By Roxanne Mindeman

Like every good cause, we have our music. Those who question the similarities between this war and the Vietnam ?conflict? of our youth, would do well to dig through the basement closet (or the attic above the garage) and excavate those long forgotten boxes of LPs and 8 track tapes. Of course, you?d then need to make the rounds to the local thrift stores, in hopes of finding a working antique on which to play them. Or you could just pay your 99 cents to the i-tunes Store and download them to your computer. I got a buck that says you?ll play ?em a lot more than you think. Music from our youth, like meatloaf and mashed potatoes, has a comfort and familiarity, the draw of which is hard to ignore.

You may have never felt a nostalgic yearning for ?Blowing in the Wind?, ?Eve of Destruction?, or ?Peace Train?, but I guarantee that when you play those ?60s and ?70s songs, with your present 2008 world view, you?ll know in your bones that the times ? and the wars ? are far more alike than different.

With that in mind, it is ? to me anyway ? a bit surprising that onlookers often fail to anticipate that the protesters they are observing today, have deep roots in the anti-war protests of the ?60s and ?70s. Each time a new law enforcement official (there have been many) approaches the bannering group on a bridge or overpass, I personally imagine what they might be thinking. You can often see it on their faces. They were expecting to ?lay down the law? to a rowdy bunch of unruly college kids. Instead they encounter a generally quite calm collection of near social security age suburban parents and grandparents with grizzled beards, middle age spread, and a clarity of purpose that often eluded us in our youth. And did I mention the copies of Supreme Court opinions and the business cards of ACLU lawyers in our pockets?

And did I mention that ?We Shall Not Be Moved??
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Governor Pawlenty: Even the Sky's Not the Limit

Category: Tim Pawlenty
Posted: 01/31/08 03:12, Edited: 02/01/08 10:54

by Dave Mindeman

There are two current things in life that bug me immensely...one is people who leave there shopping carts cross wise in an aisle while looking for something, guaranteeing nobody can get by... and two, Governor Pawlenty's approval ratings.

All I can do with the former is keep clearing my throat until the shopper gets the hint.... and all I can do with the latter is wonder how many of those shopping cart imbeciles were called for the poll.

I often contemplate about how people define a good job for a politician. What is it, exactly, that Tim Pawlenty has done so well? Has Minnesota's economy been improving? No, it has gotten much, much worse. Have our bridges and roads gotten better? That's a big no. Has education funding been adequate? Judge that by the number of referendums.

Pawlenty exudes that clean cut, All American guy image. Just like the guy in high school who wins all the class contests for student council or class president, and then tells you any complaints you have about the school are all in your head.... don't rock the boat.

Pawlenty also manages to have a good "deflector" dish. For instance, when it comes to transportation, its always Carol Molnau on the hot seat. She makes a great punching bag... she is arrogant, defiant, and stubborn as hell. Perfect foille for the governor with the perfect hair cut.....and he can let her twist in the wind while he stands quietly in the background, nodding his head and gently pushing her to the front.

When the Health Dept screwed up the cancer reporting from the Iron Range, Pawlenty let Diane Mandernach hang herself, while he promised to get to the bottom of it.

And then there is the fate of the surrounding political players. When Pawlenty was elected in 2002, the Republicans were riding a wave.
Norm Coleman just won (stole) his Senate seat and John Kline had unseated Bill Luther giving the GOP a 4-4 split in Congress. The State House had a huge GOP majority under Speaker Sviggum and the State Senate Democrats barely held onto control, with Sen. Dick Day leading a vocal minority there. Plus the Republicans held all the Constitutional offices except Attorney General. It was GOP hog heaven!

But in each subsequent election cycle, the cast of players have been disappearing. GOP House control shifted to a large Democratic majority by 2006 -- Speaker Sviggum is gone. The Democratic majority in the Senate has burgeoned to a veto proof number -- and Dick Day is opting for immigration wars. The Minnesota Congressional delegation changed to a 5-3 DFL majority. Gutnknecht and Kennedy are long gone and Jim Ramstad is retiring. Mark Dayton retired but Amy Klobuchar simply took over the spot. And while the Democrats held the Attorney General slot, they added Secretary of State and State Auditor.

The last man standing.... Tim Pawlenty.

And then there is the masterful way T-Paw has of minimizing potential trouble. Remember back in 2003 when Pawlenty was associated with Elam Baer's telecom scandal. The press was digging into it, so Pawlenty called a news conference where one of his quotes was:

"I don't want to say I wasn't responsible," he hedged. "All I want to say are the facts. Should I have known? If the answer is yes, then I am responsible, no question about it."

What the heck does that mean? I don't think the press figured it out either. The whole affair was glossed over and Pawlenty moved on.

And then there was the campaign finance violation in his first campaign... a mere $800,000 worth. His explanation:

"Integrity is really important to me," he said. "This whole situation angers me. It frustrates me. And it gives me a lot of personal pain. But a strong leader takes responsibility. And today, I am going to take full, unequivocal responsibility for the decisions and actions that were the subject of the campaign board's decision yesterday."

Translation: Ah shucks, they caught me on that one...but I am powerful sorry about it.... (at least about the getting caught part).

The press gets taken in by that unflappable demeanor. He chooses his words carefully and then shrugs off the criticism. It's always a version of, "C'mon, let's move on, people."

You have to admire that kind of masterful manipulation of any situation. He chastises the press... the Democrats... his critics. And they always back off. He's not only encased in teflon.... it's also bulletproof.

What's going to change any of that? His friends take the political defeats without a whimper. The legislature treats his veto pen as if it were a Harry Potter wand. And the press corps is at his beckon call because he's quotable and gosh darn it, such a nice guy. Add a little national attention with the VP speculation and gushing words of admiration from the conservative press and look where you end up..... Tim Pawlenty, 59% approval and rising.

As for me, I still see a guy whose shopping cart is parked crossways.

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Katherine Kersten on Peace and Norwegians

Category: Kersten
Posted: 01/30/08 19:04

by Dave Mindeman

The world of Katherine Kersten must be a colorless void. Everything is black and white. Her observation of the world is this: there is the right view (mine) and everyone else's.

Kersten generally shrouds everything in a semi-religious context. Only the people who have true moral beliefs "get it"... and everything else is to be criticized or dismissed.

So it is with her view of Rep. Keith Ellison and his affirmation of his support for the Department of Peace. He is living in a "pie in the sky" fantasy world that has no relevance. She even takes it one step furthur by chastising the entire country of Norway. Take heed Norwegians... you have been challenged.

Kersten and her "ilk" always criticize the Department of Peace proposal as if it has the power to somehow replace the entire "military industrial complex". We have plenty of war machinery... after all, the Defense Dept (which should more appropriately go back to its original name -- the War Department) gets the bulk of our Federal taxes every year. There is certainly no shortage of administrative will for war. The Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs, the CIA, the NSA, and a multitude of alphabetical names, all coalesce around the need to destroy.

Even the State Department, which in theory, was supposed to act as a counter balance to the military arm of the country has diminished influence. Diplomacy is dead, long live pre-emptive war.

To Kersten, a Peace Dept shows a dangerous sense of weakness. Which is why she brings Norway into the conversation.... the place that Rep. Ellison visited to study "peacemaking". Norway has promoted peaceful solutions for over a century. They use their resources to provide for its citizenry....and very little on defense. Kersten points out that the Norwegian government tried vainly to maintain a policy of neutrality in World War II, only to be swallowed up in the Nazi blitzkrieg. A fate that encompassed all of Europe.. whether they were fighting back or not.

Before Kersten disdainfully dismisses the "peaceniks" of Norway, she might want to read up on the Norwegian resistance. Especially operations entitled "Grouse" and "Gunnerside". These two military sabotage operations successfully foiled the Nazis research into "heavy water" or Plutonium 239 (The Germans had a plant in Norway where they could get proper supplies of ammonia)....possibly saving the world a Nazi atomic threat.

The story details how members of the Norwegian underground were dropped behind enemy lines and made preparations for a military assault team. The British assault team was to come by glider but the cable connecting it to the main plane was severed. They crash landed with several injuries. Before the Norwegians could rescue them, the Gestapo captured them and tortured them mercilessly. The Norwegians escaped to the mountains and suffered a long ordeal surviving a hard winter. After the winter, however, it was learned that the team was still alive and a few more Norwegian commando reinforcements were parachuted in.

During the time since the first failed attempt, the Nazis had increased security for the plant heavily. But the saboteurs found an old rail line that entered a lower level of the plant. The Nazi troops were either unaware of it or not worried about it because it was unguarded. They made their way to the electrolysis chambers of the facility, planted their charges and made their escape. They left a British machine gun behind to make it look like it was a British plot and hopefully lessen the retaliation on the local populace. The damage pushed the research project way behind and allowed the allies to keep the Nazis away from the nuclear age.

Not bad for a bunch of peaceniks, eh?

The point here is that promoting peace is not a substitute for fighting tyranny.... but it is a method of preventing tyrannical ideas from growing. The Bush administration has proven that even our own government can lead us down a destructive path if we don't have other voices and methods available.

Debating policy requires more than one voice or one idea. A Defense Department should and must prepare us for the ever present possibility of war. But we should also have a department that promotes resolution without conflict and cultural understanding without mistrust.

I can't think of a better name than...the Department of Peace.
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