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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Supporting Democracy in Asia - NOT

Posted: 03/20/05 06:13, Edited: 05/26/13 11:25

by Jay H. Steele

Larry Pressler, former Republican Senator from South Dakota, has a good editorial in the New York Times today about the President's supposed belief in the spread of democracy around the world. Why is it, Pressler wonders, that we are so cozy with Pakistan, which is run by a dictator, and so cool in our relations with India, which is the largest democratic state in the world?

Pressler notes that although Pakistan is an "ally" in the President's war on terror, it is an autocratic state with a history of torture and selling nuclear technology around the world. India, on the other hand, has a thriving Muslim minority with protected rights, a history of tolerance, a free press, a democratically elected government, and a strong trade relationship with the United States.

Yet on her recent visit to the region, Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice paid lip service to the spread of democracy in Pakistan and then moved forward a plan to sell F-16s to Pakistan, weapons that have nothing to do with the war on terror but everything to do with Pakistan's long-standing feud with India.

Why the cozy relationship with a brutal dictator? Pressler thinks it is because key decision-making about allies lies in the hands of our military-industrial complex, which actually prefers dealing with dictators:

Our military-industrial complex, which I believe dominates our foreign policy, favors Pakistan not only because we can sell it arms, but also because the Pentagon would often rather deal with dictatorships than democracies. When a top Pentagon official goes to Pakistan, he can meet with one general and get everything settled. On the other hand, if he goes to India, he has to talk to the prime minister, the Parliament, the courts and, God forbid, the free press.


If this quote about the power of the military-industrial complex to influence foreign policy decision-making was coming from a liberal, conservatives would be talking about wacky conspiracy theorists. Pressler was on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee for almost 20 years; he is not liberal and it is no conspiracy theory.

We need perpetual war and we need brutal dictators to feed the beast that is the military industrial complex. Bush is giving them just what they want.

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Trending Republican? My Butt....

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 03/18/05 06:16

by Roxanne Mindeman

Who of us hasn't heard some right wing media talking head, or unfortunately of late, some genuine, real deal, comentator, refer to our Minnesota as "Trending Republican"? Well, here's my question, "What the hell are they thinking?" Or smoking, as the case may be.

Haven't they noticed that Minnesota has remained steadfastly blue as the whole mid-west has spent the last 20 years sliping into an ever broadening red sinkhole? Didn't they notice that in spite of their spending enough money to choke a Trojan horse, flying W in and out of this state last fall, he still lost here by almost 100,000 votes? Did they not see the national media coverage of the fact that Rochester Minnesota, the home of the Mayo Clinic, is now represented in the Minnesota House by an almost entirely blue delegation, in spite of having been solid Republican for 30 years? Are they not capable of doing the math to see that Minnesota was the only state in the nation that was more blue in 2004 than in 2000 (4% vs 2%)? Did they fail to notice that in the Minnesota House of Representatives there was a net gain of 13 seats for the Democrats - only 2 short of what is needed to restore a Democratic majority? We'll get 'em next time!

Maybe we need to refer them to Wy Spano, who accompanied his wife, Marcia Avner, to the last mnpACT! Leadership Team Meeting - to provide us with a pep talk and assist us with our strategic planning work. Wy pointed out, as he has previously done on "Almanac", the formerly universal opinion in this state that Democrats will win in the suburbs, "When pigs fly!"! Well, as he went on to point out, "Pigs Flew" - In Edina, no less! And Eagan! Kerry beat Bush in both! And WE, south metro Democrats in Apple Valley and Burnsville - the heart of mnpACT! country - came within less than 500 votes of sending 2 more Democratic Representatives to the Minnesota House! Next time!

Heck, we have pigs in the air everywhere, and lots more on the ground suiting up for 2006. We're thinking about getting "Pigs Flew!" Tshirts - seriously. So lets not let anyone tell us, or the rest of the country, that Minnesota is "Trending Republican". We know differently. Some right winger wrote it in a "talking points" memo and hoped that if it was repeated often enough, it would become the truth. They counted on us saying nothing. Wrong! Write a letter to the editor. Call a radio talk show. And do it NOW! If you've been itching to take a stand against some of this right wing absurdity, this is a perfect time. The facts are all on our side!

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Blumenthal Says Bush Will Fail Big on Social Security

Category: US Politics
Posted: 03/04/05 16:52, Edited: 04/01/05 07:01

by Jay H. Steele

Former Clinton advisor Sydney Blumenthal suggests in a Salon.com article that if Senate Democrats hold firm in their opposition to SS privatization, Bush will fail and it will have major repurcussions for the Republican Party:

Bush's impending defeat on Social Security is no minor affair. He has made this the centerpiece of domestic policy of his second term. It is the decades-long culmination of the conservative wing's hostility against Social Security and the Democratic Party. Projecting images of Roosevelt and Kennedy cannot distract from Bush's intent to undermine the accomplishments of Democratic presidents. The repudiation of Bush on Social Security will be fundamental and profound and will shake the foundations of conservative Republicanism. Bush's agony is only beginning, if the Democrats in the Senate can maintain their discipline.


Blumenthal points out how Bush draws his anti-SS language from right-wingers all the way back to the 1936 Republican Party Platform, who warned that the trust fund wouldn't be there for retirees. He gives us quotes from Republican strategist Frank Luntz on the need to avoid the word privatization, and on the importance of linking SS "reform" with 9/11:

Republicans, says Luntz, should never use the word "privatized." They should substitute "personalized." "And PLEASE remember that you are NEVER talking about privatizing Social Security, nor are you advocating INDIVIDUAL accounts. You are talking about creating PERSONAL retirement accounts." Republicans should also talk about "personalized accounts" as being about "the future," he says, and remind people that "Social Security was built for a different America."

Another problem, Luntz instructs Republicans, is that the public is familiar with the gyrations of the stock market. "There is a difficulty ... in talking too much about the stock market. The American people are sensitive to the ups and downs of the stock market." So, he urges, Republicans should claim that that Social Security is at "larger risk" if it is not "personalized."

When all else fails, Republicans should simply resort to the fear factor: "September 11th changed everything. So start with September 11th. This is the context that explains and justifies why we have 0 billion deficits, why the stock market tanked, why unemployment climbed to 6 percent ... Without the context of September 11th you will be blamed for the deficit ... Link the war on terror to the economy."


I think Blumenthal is right, but I also think that Bush has barely begun to fight, and that we are going to see a barrage of lies and smears in the weeks ahead. It is going to get a lot uglier before it is over, but if Dems hold their ground, the right wing of the Republican Party is going to be severly damaged.

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