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Monday, June 20, 2005 

Up in Smoke

Another front-page blow to the Bush administration today, in the form of a second failed cloture vote for John Bolton. Bush's political capital, always meager, is evaporating more quickly now than at anytime before, between the Iraq quagmire (including both the growing questions about the Downing Street Memo and congressional Republicans' growing tendancy to distance themselves from the war), the revving Guantanamo issue, his powerlessness in the Bolton and judicial nomination fights, his DOA Social Security plan, soaring energy prices, and even more news of congressional Republican corruption (via TPM), among other things. His approval ratings are in the toilet, and he's showing great weakness on his core (and by core I mean only) strength with the voters, national security. If things continue this way, Republicans really are going to take a stunning hit across the board next November.

Other notes:

Again, apologies for the unreasonably light posting over the past few weeks. It will pick up; I'm hoping to write more or less daily from now on.

I'm considering beginning a petition to change the Minnesota state bird to the Mosquito. While I love the Loon, the size of some of the skeeters I've seen lately make me think it's the more realistic choice.

The Legislature remains deadlocked, meeting every three days (as required by law), adjourning, and getting closer to a government shutdown which may well prove disastrous for the slew of House DFL freshmen. At this point, I think that all vulnerable DFLers (especially in the House, which is still GOP controlled) should be playing defense, doing whatever they can to remind constituents that the House is run by the GOP and that the Governor is a Republican, and convincing voters that they're not to blame for the logjam. Here around Rochester, there was great relief when Gov. Pawlenty decided he'd ask for the Highway 52 expansion to be deemed essential, thus continuing in the event of a shutdown, as a delay in the work (scheduled to be finished this November) would have made Rochester residents apoplectic. As of this writing, there are less than 244 hours until the shutdown.

The 2006 elections in this area are shaping up to be interesting, especially with another less-than-successful session: every race here should be close, with freshmen DFL Reps. Tina Liebling and Andy Welti expected to try holding their seats, while strong challengers are preparing to take on veteran GOP Reps. Fran Bradley and Randy Demmer. Unknown are District 30 Sen. Sheila Kiscaden's plans, but as an Independent, she may face a three-way race next year, as she did in 2002 when she narrowly beat Republican Lynn Zaffke. Personally, I'd love to see her join forces with the DFL: she's fairly popular, with a reputation as a moderate, and would strengthen the party. This may be more likely than in the past, since Liebling and Welti have shown it's possible for DFLers to win in her district.

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