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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Howard Dean as DNC Chair

Posted: 04/21/05 12:39

By Jay H. Steele

I attended the ACLU fund-raiser last night and heard Howard Dean speak. His basic message was that Dems need to build a movement, frame their arguments better, and speak not about programs but from "the heart." Same message that is coming from everyone.

The most interesting discussion, I thought, was about abortion. No one, he said, is pro-abortion. He thinks the "pro-choice" language is a loser. He thinks we should be framing the argument in terms of who gets to make decisions about a women's healthcare. Is it the woman, or is it Tom Delay and the government? I think there could be some traction to be gained there if we can keep talking about how the religious right is trying to impose their understanding of God's will on everyone else -- and, if the right keeps going off the deep end, and the responsible wing of the Republican Party doesn't wake up soon before the GOP is destroyed.

Still, I think we really need to take back the language of pro-life. I am a pro-life Democrat. I want to improve the quality of life for every child and adult in America. That means universal healthcare for all, quality early and public education that is well funded, and a foreign policy that doesn't have us sending our children off to war to spread the Christian empire around the world and at the same time saddling them with oppressive dept. That is what it really means to be pro-life. I am not pro-abortion, but I want to see us create the kind of communities and country where children are welcomed into the world. But I am also not naive; abortions are going to happen. So I agree with Bill Clinton that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. That is the limited goal regarding abortion in an overarching pro-life agenda.

One worry I have about Dean. He wants to bring his movement-creating skills to the Democratic Party. Will he succeed, or will the establishment-based old guard cow him over time? He succeeded as much as he did as a presidential candidate by creating an anti-establishment movement on the edge of the party. I am not sure what he did on the outside can be done from the inside. Hope I am wrong.
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Buddy, Can You Spare $119,000

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 04/20/05 18:05

by Dave Mindeman

I am getting used to the little tricks of our glorious Minnesota speaker, but I think we are witnessing a real "sewer sucker" this time.

At long last, we are close to raising the minimum wage in Minnesota. Although the vote would be close, it looks like a floor vote on raising the minimum wage could pass the House in Minnesota. It would easily pass the Senate and the Governor has indicated he would sign a "reasonable" bill.

One person stands in the way. The Speaker of the House. The champion of all that is corporate.

It seems that one of Sviggum's partners in "circus" tactics, Rep. Jim Knoblauch asked for a "fiscal" note on this bill. A simple procedure that would determine what passage of the bill would actually cost the state. The bill itself doesn't appropriate any money on its own, but there would be $119,000 in costs to the Dept. of Labor to "print and mail new workplace posters outlining the new wage and the law that governs it". Hmmmm... $119,000 in a fiscal budget of $15 billion. At first glance that doesn't sound like much -- after all how much does it cost the state to print up all those worthless bills that never get out of committee?

But wait! The Speaker says that extra cost changes the bill... we have to send it back to committee!!! Knowing full well sending it back to committee will, for all practical purposes, kill the bill.

You know, for 7 years minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15. How many people can live on $5.15 an hour? It is ridiculous. You take a job for minimum wage you are guaranteed to live your life in perpetual debt.

But let's put this in perspective. The Speaker thinks $119,000 is a burden for the state to carry. Let's see... if a minimum wage worker donated all of his salary to the state to cover that $119,000, it would take him 11 years and 5 weeks to pay it off. Yes, Mr. Speaker that is a lot of money to a minimum wage worker. But then, let's talk to Dr. William McGuire, the CEO of UnitedHealth Group. Maybe he could remedy this problem for us. Maybe Dr. McGuire could donate a portion of his salary to help the State of Minnesota give a raise to its minimum wagers. Hmmm, let's see, based on his 2004 reported earnings, he would have to donate a total of 2 hours and 10 minutes of his work day to pay that bill. Whew! Thank heavens he won't have to miss lunch!

C'mon Steve, old boy, give the little guy a break!
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The Military Industrial Complex -- Alive and Well

Category: US Politics
Posted: 04/19/05 13:30, Edited: 04/19/05 22:05

by Paul Bartlett

Under GOP tutelage, congressional approval of Bush's Mideast $82 billion war budget, and continued American hegemony throughout the Mideast, is fait accompli. With his war budget spouting a gusher of red ink, it is vital that we recall our thirty fourth president's farewell address to the nation.

On January 17, 1961, President Dwight David Eisenhower delivered a moving and insightful speech to the American people, warning us of the danger posed by the emerging military-industrial complex. Ike's caution included, "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

Ike served as Supreme Commander during the WWII European campaign and then as Republican president. He was certainly not a dove. As a warrior and a leader, Ike "walked the talk". If he were alive today, Ike would be horrified by Bush's coziness with behemoths like Halliburton and the pro-war zeal of the Bush hawks .

Ike was speaking about hubris, arrogance and the abuse of power. While I am not hopeful, I pray that Bush is capable of historic perspective, and that his team of zealous hawks fully consider Ike's wise admonishments. If this nation continues on its current course, we will collide with the future that Eisenhower feared.
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