Friday, December 29, 2006

2006 Reflections : Best and Worst of What Was

As 2006 closes, I come to the realization that some personal New Year’s Resolutions will not be achieved while others were accomplished. The last item on my list was a blog entry on the Best and Worst of 2006 … so with out further ado …

Most Fortunate Minnesota Politician – Norm Coleman
Somehow the Democrat-turned-Republican continues to be adept at smelling like a rose even when others have election losses. Coleman campaigned hard for the Republican Senate Campaign Chair … Libby Dole won by one vote… and I’ll bet Coleman is smiling now that he isn’t straddled with being the Chair when the Dems retook the Senate. And now after months of Mark Dayton pleading for support on the DM&E issue, Coleman realizes that Gutknecht’s fate was decided in Rochester over DM&E … so guess who’s trying to rally the cavalry? Oh, and did you notice that after a two day visit to Iraq, Coleman opposes increasing the troop presence in Iraq but would support an overall increase in size of the military … ah, this guy wants it both ways … recognizes that Bush/Rumsfeld have broken the military but realizes that America cannot put Iraq back together. Here’s hoping that the Dems pattern the 2008 election after the Klobuchar model and give serious consideration for Susan Gaertner - the Ramsey County Attorney -- or if nomination needs to go to someone who has already been tested in Congress, Rep. Betty McCollum be encouraged to seek the office.
Question : will any Republican compete for the Senate nomination now that Coleman is leaning so far to the middle? ( Kennedy again? Gutknecht? Brian Sullivan?)

MN Congressional District Looking Up – First District
Tim Walz is off and running. Hopefully the Everyman can ignore the tapestry of the political world and refrain from the temptation of earmarks … if so, the country may be able to make small steps at getting our financial house in order.

MN Congressional District Looking Down – Sixth District
Michelle Bachmann’s agenda may have had some Congressional support [Fiscal Issues (no taxes, cut taxes, extend tax cuts) and Social Issues (Constitutional Amendment on Abortion, Constitutional Amendment on Same-Sex Marriage)] in 2000, but with Democratic control of Congress, these are not going to be at the top of even Bush’s agenda. With Coleman’s evolving Iraq position, it may make Bachmann stand alone in her blind zealot-like support for Bush’s stance.

Best Book – Tempting Fate – An Inside Story of Political Seduction by David Kou
While there were many other good books (Cobra 2 : the inside story of the invasion and occupation of Iraq by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor; State of Denial by Bob Woodward; Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks; and
Chasing ghosts : a soldier's fight for America from Baghdad to Washington by Paul Rieckhoff), but Kou’s book was not what I expected. I knew about Bush’s faith-based iniatives and that some Republicans felt that Kou was doing a hatchet job while trying to capitalize on his White House job experiences for his own personal gain. Kou started out working for Ted Kennedy, wrote speeches for John Ashcroft, Bob Dole, and GW Bush … all with his intent of trying to promote the idea of fighting poverty. In the end, the reader sees that the politicians care more about getting political donations and maintaining power than actually improving society. I would love to hear Kou's opinion of Paul Wellstone.

Worst Book – Godless : The Church of Liberalism by Ann Coulter
I prayed for the strength to read this garbage without vomiting, but that is not possible … the venom is too strong.

Worst Foreign Policy Move – Oh, there are so many.
Long Term – United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act
The escalation of nuclear proliferation by North Korea and Iran (a Shiite country) will not be helped by this agreement. The US is rewarding India who developed its own nuclear weapons. Since regional neighbor Israel has nuclear weapons, when will Saudi Arabia (a Sunni country) begin to develop their own nuclear program? Saudi Arabia will state that they need nuclear energy power plants since their petroleum supplies are being depleted and will need the financial compensations derived from supplying oil to America … and from spent nuclear fuel rods they will build their own bombs.
Looking at the Senate approval of this legislation, Coleman supported an amendment that would have required India to agree to suspend military-to-military cooperation with Iran; that amendment failed. So Coleman realized the Iranian implications, but in the end voted to give nuclear technologies to India. This is a Bad Deal for humanity, but good for the business of nuclear technology.

Short Term – Bush’s tacit approval to allow Israel to invade Lebanon.
For the man who is a born-again Christian advocating compassion and promoting democracy, Bush did not get involved and the end result was, death and destruction to Muslims, Christians, and Jews. While previous Presidents would exert influence to mediate the situation, America has lost the high moral ground under Bush.

Best Foreign Policy Move – The Dubai Port Deal
Congress actually exerted some backbone and challenged this Administration on allowing a foreign country to operate a significant number of seaside ports. The funny thing is that the United Arab Emirates -- our ally – was purchasing the business from another ally – the United Kingdom, but in this day of fear of anyone that may be an Arab … much less a Muslim nation, that was political suicide. What we learned from this situation is that there are a lot of foreign companies running our ports … Congress got public support to support stopping the deal but the problem still exists. Bush was probably right that if the Brits could run our ports, then why not the UAE ... Congress needs to follow through.

Best Movie - An inconvenient truth
If you believe that global warming is overblown imaginary issue and/or that Al Gore is an android, you will be surprised and informed after viewing this movie. It’s an issue that should be non-partisan, and secular. It’s a short movie at 96 minutes, so SEE IT. Copies are available at your local library and the producers are offering 50,000 copies to teachers.

Best Columnist (Minnesota) – Nick Coleman – Star and Tribune.
Naturally, I would think he’s the greatest … he referenced me by name in two of his columns.

Best Columnist (National) - Fareed Zakaria – Newsweek
An insider with insight.

Worst Columnist (Minnesota) - Katherine Kersten – Star and Tribune
Minnesota’s own Ann Coulter … finding evil in everyone (including Tim Pawlenty) unless you are an affluent WASP. Reading her column is like listening to Rush or O’Reilly, sometimes you gotta do it to try to understand the narrow-minded thinking of some people.

Best Blog (Minnesota) – A Bluestem Prairie (
Hard working and informative blogger who focuses on the First District … something new there everyday.

Best Blog (National) - Informed Comment (
Cole is a professor at Michigan and an expert in the Middle East who provides a daily recap of events in that region. During my college days, one of my professors would travel to Washington for weekend meetings with Nixon’s staff to discuss Vietnam and that region. If Bush wants to hear from outside his bubble, Cole would provide great insight and opinion.

Here’s hoping that 2007 will be a lot better than 2006 !