Saturday, May 13, 2006 

Wetterling

In the 6th, it's Patty Wetterling for Congress.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006 

Dynasty

In a shocking, shocking turn of events, Pres. W. Bush has publicly encouraged his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, to run for President.

Thankfully, it'll never happen, because by the time W. is out of office the Bush surname will be poisonous. H.W. wasn't great, but at least he didn't leave the kind of intensely negative legacy that W. will. How could Jeb possibly dissociate himself from the mess his big brother will leave us with? But even given that, could anyone possibly think that this is a good idea? We've had two Bushes and two Adamses, but could three Presidents from the same family really be worth it for our democracy? Two is already pushing the envelope, while three is drifting dangerously close to a hereditary monarchy.

The George W. Bush Administration has already been one of the least democratic (lowercase d) in the history of the nation. Do we really need to create (continue?) an American royal family by electing yet another Bush? It's not like we have an incentive to do so: Bush's father was a failure, Bush himself is a failure, and there's nothing to suggest that Jeb wouldn't continue the family tradition. There's not a reason in the world to elect another Bush, and every reason in the world not to.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006 

Stadium Madness

The House has passed stadiums for the Twins and Gophers, two proposals which I have vehemently opposed. Today, after a lot of failures to get off the ground, the Senate passed a Gophers stadium bill and a Twins-Vikings stadium bill with transportation projects. The Gopher bill gets is expected to get the money in a later bill from a statewide sports memorabilia tax, while the Twins/Vikings/transportation is funded by a half-cent metro-area sales tax subject to voter referendum. It's not perfect, and it's still disheartening how much money we're giving to the filthy rich so they can get even more filthy rich, but it's better than it was and the pressure for stadiums is a political reality that needs to be faced. The transportation element of the bill is especially encouraging, because it helps reduce our dependence on gasoline (see the previous post). Gov. Pawlenty, predictably, says he'd veto the bill if it came to him in its present form. It won't, of course, because it will go to conference committee, and it will undoubtedly look very different when it emerges. I wonder, though, how Gov. Pawlenty justifies supporting a Twins proposal that would raise taxes on the citizens of Hennepin County without a referendum while he'd veto a proposal to raise taxes on the metro area. Maybe he's just opposed to raising his own taxes in Eagan and in St. Paul?

One thing to note in the article is Speaker Sviggum's insistence that "[The Senate's] bill does not get the job done". Sviggum and his caucus are obviously still taking heat from last session's shutdown - when they frequently used the red herring "get the job done" line - and feel squeezed by the continuing lack of accord on the stadium issue. They have only themselves to blame; Sviggum and Gov. Pawlenty have made stadiums the centerpiece issue this year, making it absolutely imperative for them that at least one or two of the proposals have gone all the way through before the session ends. While it's looking very likely that something will make it, the situation has the potential to put Pawlenty in a bind - if he is faced with a less-than-ideal stadium bill, perhaps one that raises taxes, can he afford to veto? If he does, he can expect a backlash from the very people whose expectations he has helped to raise, but he has already alienated anti-tax folks with the "health impact" thing. Stadiums aren't going to win elections for anybody, but they might be able to lose them for a few.

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Energy Idiocy

Today, Minnesota House Republicans' grand proposal to help us move into the future is...to suspend the $.20/gallon gasoline tax for six months. This will certainly help for a little while, but it will encourage consumption, possibly causing a price rebound, and may screw things up near the end of the suspension if people start to stockpile gas. In any case, it's an extremely short-term solution to a very long-term problem. It also disproportionately benefits those who drive more. In short, it seems like a pretty bad idea.

The money in the "tax relief account" is only for one-time tax assistance, but wouldn't it be great if the state could invest the funds into something that would help us to break our addiction to oil for good instead of putting a Band-Aid on the problem? Until we manage to find something else to create our energy, gas prices are going to remain high for the forseeable future, and we need to come to grips with that. Instead of helping Joe and Jane Citizen pay for their increasingly ridiculous daily commutes, we need to be solving the problem. More transit options, better mileage standards, driving disincentives, and alternative/renewable energy are the answers here, not tax cuts.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006 

Replacing Sabo

Maybe covering for the GOP is why 5th CD delegates didn't choose to continue Martin Sabo's legacy. Don't get me wrong, on the whole Sabo has done a fine job, but why would he of all people have stabbed real lobbying reform in the back? Does anyone know the reason for his no vote?
In an e-mail, Mr. Sabo told us that the proposed changes "have the potential to do more harm than good in conducting the people's business in Congress."
I guess that's a start, but it's a little vague, doncha think?

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Convention Report

So, the most important pair of conventions in the state are over, and Minnesota now has a Republican nominee for Congress in the 6th and a DFL nominee in the 5th.

Mr. Sponge has a comprehensive pair of wrap-up posts on the 5th. Keith Ellison won convincingly in what can only be described as a massive upset, and Mike Erlandson's meltdown is something that no one could have predicted. I'm not entirely sold on Ellison yet, but it's hard not to be impressed by his performance yesterday. Chances are good that he'll win the primary; Erlandson doesn't seem to be a particularly appealing candidate, and without the DFL endorsement he has very little to run on besides his record with Martin Sabo. The other primary candidates will probably have an insignificant effect on the outcome. Expect Ellison to win by a comfortable margin. The behavior of the delegates at the convention, as reported by Mr. Sponge, was extremely inappropriate and embarrassing. If they really were acting the way that he says, I'm almost happy about the competitive primary. Endorsements should be respected in general, but the 200-some folks at the convention don't sound like the people that we want choosing the next U.S. Representative from the 5th.

Michele Bachmann's endorsement, which is tantamount to the Republican nomination, is about the best outcome possible for the DFL from that convention. Bachmann, while no pushover by any means, is eminently beatable in November by either DFL candidate. It's hard to handicap the race without knowing the DFLer, but MN Politics has it right: running the right campaign that focuses on the right issues is key.

Has it occurred to anyone that it's entirely possible that the DFL could control 6/8 congressional seats after 2006? Tim Walz and Patty Wetterling/El Tinklenberg are far from sure things, but they're going to be extremely competitive to say the least. The DFL has done a far better job putting up competitive challengers for Congress this year than the GOP has. Reps. Oberstar, Peterson, McCollum have very little serious opposition, and the 5th isn't even going to be a race once the DFL primary is decided.

On that note, it's good that the Republicans have a relatively serious candidate for the 5th in U of M Carlson School consultant/lecturer Alan Fine. He's not going to win the seat or even come remotely close, but I'm glad that there is a challenger able to tie his shoes (or more relevantly string a sentence together). Uncontested seats and joker candidates are bad for democracy.

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