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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Kennedy & Kline -- "Fib"ber McGee and Gee Golly..

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 11/25/05 14:23

by Dave Mindeman

Well I am so glad I listened to MPR this morning. I now know the "facts" on Iraq. Mark Kennedy and John Kline set us all straight on the reality of our newest democracy. Here is what I know now:

1) The soldiers morale has never been higher but they worry that the true message about Iraq's progress does not get out in the media.

2) The progress towards an independent Iraqi army is astonishing in the face of the constant changes the civilian government has taken.

3) 50% more students have enrolled in college in Iraq than did so last year.

Congressmen Kennedy and Kline spent a couple of days in Iraq. Now, even though they stated that the infamous airport road is now under control and is safe to travel -- they, themselves, took an alternate route under heavy guard. But, this time (this is their 3rd trip to Iraq), they stayed in the Green Zone instead of shuttling securely from Kuwait. Huge progress! Almost like native Iraqis!

Congressmen Kline did admit that news coverage always tends to focus on the negative because it is simply more newsworthy; but he expressed his wish (and of course, the troops wish) that the word on new school openings and the constant upgrade in Iraqi troop readiness would get reported on as well.

They mentioned that they were given a demonstration from the new Iraqi special forces and how impressed they were by their combat readiness. This seems to be the same group that the Pentagon reported to Congress about and is probably the same group that every Congressional visitor sees. After 2 1/2 years of constant training, it would be nice to see a little more.

And although the official reports state that only 1 brigade is combat ready in Iraq, the "War Twins" say there are so many more who are very close and need only limited supervision from American forces.

As for the college enrollees... 50% of what? We don't know how many colleges have even been able to operate compared to last year -- so a 50% improvement is probably on the low end of what we should be expecting. It would be nice to make some accurate comparisons.

Congressional assessments are useless. They are pre-ordained based on party line. Pentagon assessments are skewed toward whatever gets the funding they want. Media looks for the sensational story. How do we really know?

A recent poll shows that 45% or almost half of the Iraqi people think that attacks on American and British forces are justified. Maybe that says the most.

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A Very "Special" Election!

Posted: 11/23/05 19:29

by Dave Mindeman

A very encouraging sign happened on November 22nd. Terri Bonoff, a Democrat, won a special election in District 43 for the vacated Senate seat of Senator Gaither. Now, there is a couple of things to keep in mind... (1) Democrats rarely win special elections. The reason being, Democrats can't get out the vote without a full election in progress.... and (2) in 2002, the Republican won this election 54-34 over the Democrat (an independent had 11%).

It was a very short campaign with not much time to point to a lot of issues. Intelligent design came up but it is difficult to analyze how that affected the vote. But it stresses the point that, of those who voted, they were ready to make a change. So we increased the DFL Senate majority by one.

The other special race was won by the Republican as expected, but even that had a twist. This is retiring Republican Mark Ourada's district and he won in 2002 by a 62-38 margin. In the special election, a 3 way race developed with an independent. The Republican winner, Amy Koch, got a bare majority of the vote at 51.8%. Now the Democrat only got 31%, while an independent got 16% (The independent Del Haag was very active and a strong candidate), but this still shows that 48.2% of the voters, in this Republican stronghold, wanted a new direction.

We have a couple more special elections coming in St. Cloud... and again, the Democrats have a real opportunity here to pick up a seat. Governor Pawlenty is doing all he can to reduce the vote count -- the election date for District 15, is December 27, two days after Christmas! But the Republican Senator, Dave Kleis won this seat by only 500 votes in 2002. His opponent was Taryl Clark, a former associate chair of the DFL and she has already filed for the seat. The 15B House seat is also up for election. Democrat Joe Opatz is taking a position at Central Lakes College and has been popular in his District. He won in 2002 by a 56-38 margin and in 2004 by 64-36. So the Democrats just need to get out their own vote to keep this seat and have a real chance to turn over another Senate seat.

We can build real momentum going into the 2006 election year. But we need to get out there. We need to step out from behind all the talk and take some action. If we are to bring Minnesota back to its progressive tradition, this is our year. The public is restless and we are determined. That determination must get translated into financial support, volunteer work, and organization.

Step back a moment and think about this. A lot of us are angry about national issues. We feel frustrated and powerless at times. But look at what we can do. Medicaid is a federal program but most of the money is controlled by the State Legislature. No Child Left Behind is a federal mandate but the implementation is done by the State Legislature. Bonding contracts, minimum wage, income and sales taxes, light rail, education standards, and education funding.....these are all things that affect our lives on a daily basis and they all are implemented by our State Legislature.

Tip O'Neill was famous for saying, "all politics is local". In Minnesota, we need to take care of business at the local level first. Then we can again take our place on the national stage and lead the way to the quality of life that all of us expect and deserve. So lets all help out in District 15... Let's win 2 more special elections and then lets get busy in our own districts. Give those $50 contributions that are reimbursed by the state, knock on those doors, talk to your neighbors, and by all means, lets flood those caucuses next March. Our time is now, the opportunity is real.
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Mark Kennedy's "UPBEAT" Assessment

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 11/22/05 11:05

by Dave Mindeman

I don't understand why we are wasting taxpayer money sending Congressional Representatives to Iraq to "assess" the progress. Take for instance, the return of Congressman (and Senate candidate) Mark Kennedy. The headline says he is "upbeat" about how things are going. As proof of the tremendous progress made, he uses the example that this is the first visit to Iraq where security conditions allowed him to stay overnight in Baghdad.

For Pete's sake, that's progress? Well, at least he doesn't have that long commute from Kuwait now. If you are going to go to Iraq for assessments, please don't pander us with party lines and insult our intelligence about what's happening.

Here is another Mark Kennedyism: "Each year we've seen a stronger Iraqi government and a stronger Iraqi security force." Is he referring to the 700 fully trained Iraqis we have now or the several brigades we supposedly had last year? And in regards to the government, is he talking about the one that will be dissolved next month in the December elections or the shadow authorities the Sunnis and the Shiites are creating below the radar.

We are approaching 3 years of "keeping the peace" in Iraq. Our troops are under constant hit and run attacks, roadside bombings, and trying to train troops whose only reason for signing up is that they are desperate for a job.

I'm so "glad" that Congressman Kennedy investigated the situation so thoroughly that he can say with confidence that the only thing the troops are worrying about is the tone of the debate in Congress and the media. I'm not sure that any of the grunts on the ground give a rip about what Congress or the media are doing or saying... they just do their jobs, the best they can, and hope the politicians don't make it worse.

As for Mark Kennedy, well, he's an idiot.
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