Sunday, December 20, 2009

MN-06: Bachmann Benefits from Person of the Year

Time misses the mark naming it's Person of the Year -- Ben Bernanke.
It still missed on its runner-ups : Stanley McChrystal, the Chinese Worker, Nancy Pelosi, Usain Bolt ...
and then Time listed all The People Who Mattered :
• Neda Agha-Soltan
• Glenn Beck
• Lloyd Blankfein
• Rahm Emanuel
• Dr. Thomas Frieden
• Jon and Kate Gosselin
• Hamid Karzai
• Adam Lambert
• Jay Leno and David Letterman
• Bernie Madoff
• Alan Mulally
• Barack Obama
• Manny Pacquiao
• Sarah Palin
• Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart of Twilight
• Alex Rodriguez
• Olympia Snowe
• Sonia Sotomayor
• Chesley B. (Sully) Sullenberger III
• Taylor Swift
• The Twitter Guys
• Joe Wilson
• Tiger Woods
• Manuel Zelaya and Roberto Micheletti
• Zhou Xiaochuan

How could they miss the obvious choice ?

First off the list is Pattinson and Stewart … when they have to include a hint ( Twilight ), it is obvious that they have not made an impact regardless of how many cover shots they have done for Time’s sister publications People, EW, or InStyle.

Seeing Glenn Beck and Joe Wilson on the list should be a clue as to who the Person of the Year should be.
It’s not the figurehead talker but instead the people behind the curtain pulling the puppet’s strings.

The winner should be Tim Phillips.
If you don’t know Mr. Phillips by name, you know him by his creation … the grassroots’ political activist events … some have had minor success like the Ending Earmarks Express and some have had major press … like the Tea Party movement.

It is not uncommon to see Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann at these events … most recently last week at the Code Red Rally which by thier own accounts, the attendance was small … in the 5,000 range.
But Ms. Bachmann increased her profile after attaching herself to Mr. Phillips’ Congressional House Calls rally in November. According to Ms. Bachmann, “I was near despair” thinking that the House would pass health care reform. "I was thinking, 'It looks like this bill is going to go through.' But then I thought, 'This is it. This is the Super Bowl of Freedom.' " Then she heard about Mr. Phillips’s "Congressional House Calls", Bachmann said, "I just did a take-off on it."

2010 will be a big year for Tim Phillips. In Florida, there already is a registered political party named the "Tea Party" and is promising to run candidates against Republicans and Democrats in state and national races. Mr. Phillips has already made his imprint on political campaigns … most significantly with the television commercials question the patriotism of Senator Max Cleland (D-GA) who as a result of the ads is now known as Former Senator Cleland.

Which leads to the question for 2010 politics, will there be a formal Minnesota political party called the Tea Party and will Representative Bachmann be their first endorsed candidate ?

Runner-up to Mr. Phillips as Person of the Year, is the Health Care Lobbyists who are set to shatter their financial records. Many of the organizations involved posted six- and even seven-figure increases.
And if anyone is keeping tally, reported thus far for Representative Bachmann’s re-election campaign is $21,850 from the Pharmaceuticals/Health Products industry.

Mr. Phillips and the lobbyists game plan is simple … excite and anger … the result is that a vocal minority out-shouts a silent majority … and as their Queen – Representative Bachmann – appears in FOX television and various selected radio programs espousing whatever the puppeteer tells her to say.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

MN-02 : Kline and his Unconscionable Afghanistan Stance

How Will We Know When the War Is Over?

That was the questioned posed by John Kline. His response was “I think the answer to that question lies in the answer to another question:
W h y are we fighting the war?”
The answer to this question, surely, is not to seek revenge or even justice. The answer is to rid the world of the scourge of international terrorism. It is to have relative peace and security for ourselves and the rest of the world. So how do we know when this is accomplished ?
There is, I am afraid, no simple answer to the question.

In the end, Kline concludes “as long as there is a single country on the list [countries as state sponsors of international terrorism], a single refuge for terrorists, the war is not over.”

Kline’s paper was written in 2002 just after – using Kline’s words – “We crushed the Taliban” in Afghanistan … but the war was not over as Kline went on to suggest that there could be future military actions … “There is much talk of returning to Iraq to “finish the job.”

Fast forward from 2002 to 2009 and Kline’s assessment is correct … the war ain’t over.

And as such, another question needs to be asked … Not WHY but WHEN will we pay for this war ?

Admittedly, when Kline wrote in 2002 acknowledging the need for military action, he – nor the Bush Administration – knew how much it would cost. But the numbers are now known … and are staggering.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost close to $1 trillion thus far. According to the CRS, the marginal cost of continuing the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is about $11 billion per month, with no end in sight. An adding 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan, as President Obama has requested, will cost another $30 billion per year.

In a recent OpEd, Kline wrote Since coming to Congress seven years ago, I have traveled to Afghanistan and neighboring nations on multiple occasions. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have participated in countless hearings about the evolving situation in that troubled region. A recurring theme in nearly all of these encounters is the struggle our commanders and troops face in trying to convince the local population the United States will not abandon them.

While Kline advocates not abandoning Afghanistan, he fails to address how long will the DOD budget be funding military operations. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says it could take 20 years for Afghanistan to be able to pay for its own security. Defense Secretary Robert Gates seemed to accept that premise stating "I think that there is a realism on our part that it will be some time before Afghanistan is able to sustain its security forces entirely on its own.

So when will we pay for this ?

And why haven’t the fiscal conservatives in Congress raised this question ?

Bruce Bartlett,a Reagan-era Treasury Department economist, asks this very question. His assessment is that Republicans have resolved to fight our wars on the cheap and with deceptive cost estimates. The suggestion is that if it takes wars to end ill-conceived social programs, then that's another argument in favor of continuing the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns.

When Representative Kline was asked about the costs of military actions on Almanac 12/04/09 broadcast, he dodged the quesiton. He complained of an “exploding Federal government” and that it was a “bad idea” to enact a “war tax.”

Obviously, when one trillion dollars is spent on just Iraq and Afghanistan, it shouldn’t be a surprise that defense spending has risen more than 65% since 2001 but Kline, the politician, points the finger at the all encompassing “exploding Federal government”.

As Kline wrote “Our Freedoms Do Not Come Without A Price” thus the lesson is that we need to spend our monies wisely.

If it’s a spending issue, choices can be made.

Should the country spend $300 million for the National World War II Museum (which has been championed by Representative – now Senator – David Vitter (R-LA) … or 600 MRAP All Terrain Vehicles (M-ATV) that are needed in Afghanistan ?

As Kline well knows, the war zone in Afghanistan is different than the one in Iraq … and although some personnel may easily be moved, the equipment is different. Yet, Kline has continued to vote for F-22s even though the DOD doesn’t want them and they are not used in the current war zone. When confronted about his vote (which was an earmark offered by Rob Bishop R-UT) by a true fiscal conservative, Tim Penny, Kline said it would be good for jobs.

During election season candidate Kline likes to talk about stopping pork projects but Representative Kline has no problem with military pork.

Since Kline is unable to control military pork, the alternatives are : Letting future generations pay; or enact a tax such as H.R. 4130, the "Share the Sacrifice Act of 2010." It would establish a 1% surtax on everyone's federal income tax liability.

As a fiscal conservative, it is unconscionable that Kline has done nothing but play the blame game without taking any responsibility for his own actions.
This discussion should not be a Democrat versus Republican issue. Jim Hagedorn, a Republican candidate to represent the First District in Congress, has expressed that his campaign will be based on "restructuring foreign entanglements and defunding “nation building”". That's an option that can be debated next year, but Congress should not wait until after the next election.
This is about being fiscally responsible NOW. IF the Minnesota Tea Party Patriots really care about our financial future, they need to lobby Kline to accept responsiblity.

Being fiscally responsible, Kline should join Congresswoman Betty McCollum and become a co-sponsor of H. R. 4130. Kline's right that “Our Freedoms Do Not Come Without A Price” but that “Price” should not be paid by future generations.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

MN-01 : Minnesota’s Newest Funny Man

Although this is the time of the year that candidates are announcing their intentions to run in 2010, let’s look at one candidate’s assessment of the 2008 elections.
For example here’s his assessment of how Wyoming would vote : “As always, the only residents not voting Republican are the ones Dick “Big Time” Cheney shot in the head or ran off the road on his record number of D.W.I. convictions.”
Or, Idaho : “Everyone from Idaho’s Governor down to the state’s white supremacist greeter will vote for McCain-Palin.
Or, Iowa : “Iowans are considering a ballot initiative that would change the state’s constitution to preclude “idiots” from voting. This confirms suspicions that Iowa actually stands for “Idiots Out Walking Around.” The idiot initiative was supposed to be on the ballot in 2006, but a screw up by the Secretary of State delayed consideration until this election. Idiot. Had this new voting standard been in effect for today’s election, the final vote would have been: McCain 973,340 - Obama 0. Instead, Obama-Biden win by 10.
And in accessing the US Senate contest in North Carolina, he writes “last minute advertisement by husband and former Senator Robert Dole, who pulled out all the stops to try and save his beleaguered wife’s campaign. The advertisement, a take off on Senator Dole’s old Pfizer commercials, went like this:
Hi. I’m Bob Dole. I take Viagra because I have ED - Elizabeth Dole.
Dole Loses badly

And in a tribute to Minnesota’s former Senator, the writer gives an award in his name : “Each election the Rod Award is extended to the Republican Member of Congress who performs the most idiotic, immoral behavior that virtually guarantees defeat. The award is named after former Senator Rod Grams (Playboy-Minnesota), who was soundly defeated for reelection in 2000. This year the Rod Award goes to two numskulls who couldn’t keep “it” in their pants long enough to get reelected. The two award winners are: Idaho Senator Larry ”Wide Stance” Craig and New York Congressman Vito “Vino” Fossella.

WOW … I’m rolling with laughter. Reading candidate’s Election Masterpiece can only mean that the debates won’t be boring.

So who is this candidate bashing these Republicans ?

Long time Minnesota voters may remember the Hagedorn name … that has been missing from local politics since Tom Hagedorn was defeated by Tim Penny in 1982 to represent the southern Minnesota in Congress. Hagedorn is now president of a number of real estate operations in Virginia (Premium Properties, LLC, Premium Financial Services, Inc., etc.) and is listed on the Board of Directors of Electromed, Inc. - a New Prague medical company.

But this not Tom trying to return to Minnesota politics, but his son Jim. Oh, yeah, Jim has announced his intent to seek the Republican nomination to represent Minnesota’s First District.

Don’t know Jim … that may be the first joke on First District voters. According to his bio, he entered George Mason University in 1980. Then did a little work as a legislative assistant and spent most of his career as part of Congressional Affairs Office at Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Currently, Hagedorn is employed as Director of Government Relations and Corporate Development for Electromed, Inc. (see company link above).

The picture seems clear … a son of a Congressman wants to follow his father footsteps and use his father’s contacts to make that happen.

So who does Hagedorn want to represent in Congress … his neighbors in southern Minnesota whom he just met in the past few months … or the financial and medical companies’ lobbyists that will surely provide the campaign contributions ?

So can Hagedorn win in 2010 ?
Well, here’s his assessment of the 2008 contest : “MN District 1 -Freshman Democrat Representative Tim Walz squares off against novice Republican candidate Dr. Brian Davis. Dr. Davis was roughed up in a bruising Republican primary and sadly the Congressman will wal(t)z to victory. Sorry about that one. However, the Congressman’s true beliefs are out-of-step with this right-leaning district and a competent Republican candidate could retake the seat in 2010 or 2012.
Well, I hope the 2010 MN-GOP primary isn’t that bruising, but at least he’s already got his eyes set on 2012.