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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

The Race for the Governor's Mansion Is On

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 02/22/06 19:56, Edited: 02/22/06 20:00

by PDW58

The race for Minnesota Governor could be one of the most interesting election dramas we have had in along time. Granted, Governor Pawlenty will run for re-election without opposition on the Republican side, but his recent stances on issues have muddied up his conservative support -- especially amongst the Taxpayer League crowd.

The Democratic side has a really interesting field. We have 4 candidates here and each one has a very unique strength.

Senator Steve Kelley has a clear education focus -- he will battle the No Child Left Behind law and is a clear favorite with teachers. Education is an issue that needs a champion and needs some funding help, but I am not sure that the general electorate sees it as the most pressing need right now. Senator Kelley is a true policy wonk on the subject but he will need push the issue and make the electorate pay attention. His main problem wil be, can he simplify it enough for the average voter?

Mike Hatch has been dubbed the front runner but recent rhetoric has not been as passionate and his confrontations with Pawlenty have been toned down. Maybe that aspect of his campaign will pick up during the legislative session but right now, he may be reassessing some things. Hatch has always run counter to the DFL party establishment.. he embraces them only when he needs them. His feisty style and dislike for Pawlenty would make a one on one fight between them a press favorite. He has built up a strong base of support over the years... he will need to call in all the political capital he has to pull this off.

Becky Lourey is becoming the champion of Health Care. Her new health care initiative that was recently released shows some promise of finally making coverage for all Minnesotans a reality. Minnesota is close enough to full coverage that a well disciplined plan and message could bring it to fruition. Lourey's plan will be well scrutinized and the inevitable questions about how much it will cost will come... but she goes after cost containment within the HMO companies and that is a primary factor in health care's rising costs. Like Kelley, she will have to articulate her message in ways the electorate can embrace... she, too, will have a challenge.

Kelly Doran's main advantage is money. Although, this isn't exactly a policy strength, it is a message strength. He can buy a megaphone with big bucks. Additionally, he has a clear cut outstate strategy which will make him a formidable primary opponent. In today's political climate, money cannot be ignored.

Now we throw in the X-Factor... the Independence Party's apparent nominee Peter Hutchinson. This guy is personable and knows policy. He won't attract the Ventura voters but he will have a constituency. The question will be, who does he hurt more... the Democrats or Pawlenty. The assumption has always been that he will again spoil it for the DFL and give Pawlenty another 45-48% plurality. But there may be enough fed up Republican moderates out there that will find the Hutchinson message appealing. Like I said, it is an X-factor.

So, fasten your seat belts... the caucuses are coming! Time for a little political theatre. Probably, a double feature!

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Selling Our Security Down an Oily River

Category: US Politics
Posted: 02/21/06 00:32

by Dave Mindeman

The ultimate in outsourcing. Now, it would seem, we have decided that American companies take second place when it comes to our own security. For the price of $6.8 billion, the Bush administration has turned over operations control of 6 major American ports, to a company from the United Arab Emirates.

In defending its decision, this administration said the sale was "rigorously reviewed" by a US committee that considers security threats regarding foreign purchases in US industries. The Treasury Dept.'s Committee on Foreign Investment in the US received an assessment from US Intelligence Agencies (I think we have heard this before). The committee agreed unanimously that the sale posed no threat.

The Bushies don't have just the Democrats to convince on this one. Republican governors in New York and Maryland are raising objections, as well as conservative New York Congressman Peter King... even Rick Santorum got into the act.

It has been pointed out that the UAE has a history of being an operational and financial base for the 9/11 hijackers and has also been an important tranfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components shipped to Iran, North Korea, and Libya.

As Bush touts his sincere desire to protect America -- he outsources the protection of its ports to the financiers of suspected terror networks.

Who's watching the watchers?
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The New Opiate of the Masses

Category: Society
Posted: 02/19/06 11:26

by Paul Bartlett

Speaking from the perspective of a quickly developing coot, the
American banking industry, with the complicit cooperation of the
American government, sealed the financial fate of many Americans with the advent of two financial products: the second mortgage and the bank credit card. At the time my lovely bride and I recited our nuptials in 1970, these products didn't exist. We didn't fall into a financial abyss because we didn't have a swarm of bankers pushing us over the edge.

Perhaps easy credit has been liberating for some, but it has been an opiate for most. It has caused families to leverage their future, incur massive debt, and purchase unaffordable homes and attendant stuff. Uncle Sam played a complicit role, at first enticing us with credit card interest deductions and then with second mortgage interest deductions.

So now that the country is hooked, Bush and the bankers do the expected: "reform" bankruptcy. The irony is surreal. The biggest borrower and spender on the planet, Bush, wants to shelter his banker buddies, all in the name of personal responsibility. And the hypocrisy goes on.
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