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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Nolan, Walz, Peterson: Standing With The Cowards

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 11/19/15 16:08

by Dave Mindeman

Nolan. Walz. Peterson.

These are Democratic Congressmen in Minnesota. And they all voted with the GOP on the Syrian refugee bill.

I am very disappointed at the lack of political courage in this country. I expect it from the Republicans - for all of their tough talk, they have no spine. But Democrats! Please! Why would you buy into this stupidity?

Is your Congressional job so important that you are willing to throw people in desperate need under the bus? We are not even talking about a likely threat in this instance. Syrians will be vetted extensively, but even the idea that an ISIL militant might somehow get through the system, seems to be enough to send our representatives into a state of hand wringing.

The premise is that you believe you are keeping our country safe. The fact of the matter is that you are acting on one possibility in a haystack of a thousand possibilities. There is no method of eliminating all the threats that can besiege us in this day and age.

We are more likely to get attacked by a deranged gunman with legally obtained guns than be subject to a terrorist attack. Yet, our idea of safety seems to be to deny safety for others.

These Syrian people have withstood unimaginable horror. They have seen their homes bombed while we worry about an increase in our cable bill. They have had relatives gunned down in front of them, while we curse the dead battery in our car. They have put their children in boats to cross the Mediterranean Sea, while we consider which pontoon to buy. And they have seen their dead children wash up on a foreign shore, while we get angry at our teenager for staying out later than planned.

We have a lot of talk about this terrorist war, but we have not felt it in any real way. We spend billions of dollars to keep the terrorists away from us. Paris could not do it - and we cannot realistically do it either...not completely.

So, we should be standing with those who live with this war. The innocent people who are victimized yet again because we are fearful.

There is risk. There is risk in everything. But at some point, we have to define ourselves. What does "give me your tired and poor" really mean to us? If ISIL can simply threaten us and achieve their goals, then we are losing.

I am disappointed in our Congress. Very disappointed. But I am even more disappointed in Nolan...Walz....and Peterson.
comments (6) permalink

2nd District GOP Candidates On The Almanac Couch

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 11/01/15 12:16

by Dave Mindeman

Last Friday, on Almanac, they held an introductory debate for the 2nd District GOP Congressional candidates. It was brief, but it was enlightening. Let me give you some impressions....

Pam Myhra: Myhra looked completely out of her element. She stumbled on a couple of broad topic questions and looked uncomfortable. Her answers were very short and had no depth. She really looked unprepared...for the debate and for Congress. She quickly faded into the background.

David Gerson: When John Kline retired, Gerson lost the only credible reason for his candidacy....to fight the establishment. ALL of the candidates have taken up that mantle to one degree or another. With his purpose over, I expect that Gerson also will soon become fairly irrelevant. When Jason Lewis entered the race, Gerson became extraneous material. His anti-establishment views are pretty clear, but he is no longer the "alternative" candidate.

John Howe: Howe has the most government experience of the group, but he knows that this might be a detriment in a primary race. When asked about abiding by the endorsement, he gave one of those nuanced answers that clearly indicates he might indeed head into the primary election. He has been self funding to a greater extent than the others and seems to be preparing for a race beyond the endorsement. His answers to the questions were meant to please hard right primary voters, but based on his answer about joining the "Freedom Caucus" (options open), he seems to be willing to court establishment voters as well....when the time comes.

Jason Lewis: Lewis is clearly comfortable in debate formats. He looked like he was enjoying himself and captured the most time speaking. He makes it clear that if he is elected, he will be joining the "Freedom Caucus" with the purpose of wreaking budget havoc with his potential future compatriots. Lewis has a long talk show record (and John Howe pointed out that he has eliminated most of his public blog posts....so as not to provide juicy quotes).

When the four candidates were asked about who they would support in Presidential primary, three of them had something to say. (Myhra declined to "endorse" because she holds a vice president position in a GOP group that cannot endorse prior to a primary.) Lewis went with Rand Paul in keeping with his Libertarian bent; although he said he is not "afraid" of Donald Trump as a candidate. Howe mentioned Ben Carson. And Gerson lumped his support to any "outsider" candidate.

This is going to end up being a race between Jason Lewis (who by the way does not live in the district and tells us that he doesn't need to because he only needs to represent the "views" of the district) and John Howe. I suspect that Lewis will probably end up with the endorsement and John Howe will challenge him in the primary - setting up the classic GOP insider vs. outsider contest.

Jason Lewis would be another Michele Bachmann and John Howe would be another John Kline.

How's that for a "choice"?
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Rep. Joe Atkins & IGH BEST - Nothing To See Here

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 09/24/15 19:00

by Dave Mindeman

Everybody knows that I am not a big fan of money influences in politics... and I have difficulty dismissing lobbyists and corporate donors trying to stuff the coffers of legislators without expecting something in return.

But there is a story that MPR put out regarding Rep. Joe Atkins and a non-profit that gives scholarships to high school kids in his area that seems to insinuate a little more than is really there.

Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist for Washington, D.C.-based Public Citizen, a national consumer advocacy group, has criticized the corporate donations that go to the Atkins' directed non-profit (called IGH BEST) indicating that there is corporate influence going on. I'm not sure how Holman was tipped off about this connection....one has to wonder if the possibility of Atkins' getting into the Congressional race caused some anonymous e-mail flurries, and although his criticism has some merit, I don't think it rises to the same level as, say, John Kline and the For Profit Colleges.

Joe Atkins is the lead Democrat on the Commerce Committee and policy made there does have effects on corporate business. But if Atlanta based Delta is worrying about a Minnesota legislative committee and a Democrat on the committee who is not the chair, I think there might be more influential places to park their dollars than a local scholarship fund. The article goes back to 1996 when the fund accumulated funds of $184,000 which went to 124 scholarships. And it should be noted that this was before Atkins was elected to the legislature in 2002. A look at the web page shows that in 2014, the non-profit brought in $160,250 which funded 120 scholarships. Doesn't really look like the corporate coffers opened up once Atkins hit the legislature.

In fact, like many non-profits, the corporate donor base seems to be remaining fairly consistent on an annual basis. The fact that Joe Atkins is a legislator may keep the donations coming, as a courtesy, but I have a hard time seeing this as any kind of "influence pedaling".

Joe Atkins has not indicated that he will run for the 2nd District Congressional seat as yet. If he does, he will be a good addition to the race....if he doesn't Democrats would be happy to keep him in the legislature. That part is up to him.

But maybe somebody doesn't want him to run and are trying to label him with a negative story before he even gets out of the gate.

It's been known to happen.

But as for the story itself, there is nothing to see here.
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