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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Howard Dean as DNC Chair

Posted: 04/21/05 12:39

By Jay H. Steele

I attended the ACLU fund-raiser last night and heard Howard Dean speak. His basic message was that Dems need to build a movement, frame their arguments better, and speak not about programs but from "the heart." Same message that is coming from everyone.

The most interesting discussion, I thought, was about abortion. No one, he said, is pro-abortion. He thinks the "pro-choice" language is a loser. He thinks we should be framing the argument in terms of who gets to make decisions about a women's healthcare. Is it the woman, or is it Tom Delay and the government? I think there could be some traction to be gained there if we can keep talking about how the religious right is trying to impose their understanding of God's will on everyone else -- and, if the right keeps going off the deep end, and the responsible wing of the Republican Party doesn't wake up soon before the GOP is destroyed.

Still, I think we really need to take back the language of pro-life. I am a pro-life Democrat. I want to improve the quality of life for every child and adult in America. That means universal healthcare for all, quality early and public education that is well funded, and a foreign policy that doesn't have us sending our children off to war to spread the Christian empire around the world and at the same time saddling them with oppressive dept. That is what it really means to be pro-life. I am not pro-abortion, but I want to see us create the kind of communities and country where children are welcomed into the world. But I am also not naive; abortions are going to happen. So I agree with Bill Clinton that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. That is the limited goal regarding abortion in an overarching pro-life agenda.

One worry I have about Dean. He wants to bring his movement-creating skills to the Democratic Party. Will he succeed, or will the establishment-based old guard cow him over time? He succeeded as much as he did as a presidential candidate by creating an anti-establishment movement on the edge of the party. I am not sure what he did on the outside can be done from the inside. Hope I am wrong.
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Troops in the Lege!

Posted: 04/01/05 12:21, Edited: 04/01/05 13:03

by Glen Marshall

I have the deepest respect for the people that protect our country. I admire their ability to put their own best interests behind them in favor of defending often ungrateful citizens. Soldiers' willingness to take an order and go with it, regardless of the personal harm that may come to them, is the stuff of true heroism.

Now, there are a couple of former soldiers that represent me in a couple of different legislative bodies. Actually, I'm sure that there are many, but there are two in particular that feel the need to crow about it...a lot:

John Kline, US Representative from Minnesota, CD2
Lynn Wardlow, State Representative of Minnesota, District 38B

To listen to these two guys, the personna of the soldier is so much a part of their identity that they can't shake it. The profession of the soldier is an honorable one of service; however, you better leave your whole idea of "chain of command" at the door when you step into the lege.

I watched in astonishment as Lynn Wardlow defended his failure to defend a potential fix for Minnesota's schools with the excuse: well, the Governor would probably have vetoed it anyway.

What? WHAT? I'm sorry, Mr. Wardlow... this ain't the Marines anymore. You don't wait for your orders to determine what battle is winnable or which one is important. You decide what your constituents want, you decide upon the honest, moral and ethical stance and you make the decision on your own.

You aren't a soldier anymore, and your party is not the brass. You are a failure as a representative if you think that anywhere NEAR the majority of the people of Eagan, Minnesota want you to drop the ball and not make a ruckus about the gutting of our schools. A true hero would have voted to protect schools regardless of his chances of victory. The nobility of championing even the most lost of causes, if it be a noble cause, is a compelling thing to a voter.

And don't you slink away anywhere, John "The Football" Kline. In order to support your party leadership, you abandoned your party's central ideal: small government. You voted to introduce the Federal Government into a family's tragedy. Time to stop following orders and to start representing your constituents.

Now, Mark Dayton voted with you on this issue. But there's an important difference. He knew that he would be savaged by his own party for doing so. I intensely disagree with him on this vote. But do you know what? I can be pretty sure that his vote was a vote of conscience. I also believe that I could discuss the issue with him and then walk away either understanding his point of view or even possibly convincing him to change his view. Either way, I believe that he would discuss the issue honestly.

So, Mr. Kline and Mr. Wardlow, it's time for you to be legislators, not soldiers for your party. Your constituents are your commanding officers. You may disagree with them and you may even vote against their wishes, but you better damn well have a better reason than wanting to be on the winning side or taking marching orders from your party.
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Supporting Democracy in Asia - NOT

Posted: 03/20/05 06:13, Edited: 05/26/13 11:25

by Jay H. Steele

Larry Pressler, former Republican Senator from South Dakota, has a good editorial in the New York Times today about the President's supposed belief in the spread of democracy around the world. Why is it, Pressler wonders, that we are so cozy with Pakistan, which is run by a dictator, and so cool in our relations with India, which is the largest democratic state in the world?

Pressler notes that although Pakistan is an "ally" in the President's war on terror, it is an autocratic state with a history of torture and selling nuclear technology around the world. India, on the other hand, has a thriving Muslim minority with protected rights, a history of tolerance, a free press, a democratically elected government, and a strong trade relationship with the United States.

Yet on her recent visit to the region, Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice paid lip service to the spread of democracy in Pakistan and then moved forward a plan to sell F-16s to Pakistan, weapons that have nothing to do with the war on terror but everything to do with Pakistan's long-standing feud with India.

Why the cozy relationship with a brutal dictator? Pressler thinks it is because key decision-making about allies lies in the hands of our military-industrial complex, which actually prefers dealing with dictators:

Our military-industrial complex, which I believe dominates our foreign policy, favors Pakistan not only because we can sell it arms, but also because the Pentagon would often rather deal with dictatorships than democracies. When a top Pentagon official goes to Pakistan, he can meet with one general and get everything settled. On the other hand, if he goes to India, he has to talk to the prime minister, the Parliament, the courts and, God forbid, the free press.


If this quote about the power of the military-industrial complex to influence foreign policy decision-making was coming from a liberal, conservatives would be talking about wacky conspiracy theorists. Pressler was on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee for almost 20 years; he is not liberal and it is no conspiracy theory.

We need perpetual war and we need brutal dictators to feed the beast that is the military industrial complex. Bush is giving them just what they want.

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