Doran’s Demise, Weber’s Analysis, and the Ultras

After posting the email from the Dreckless folks I reread Vin Weber’s analysis of Doran’s departure from the race for Governor. I agree with Vin. When I went to the DFL caucus I voted for Doran myself. His measley 6% of the straw vote is probably what drove him from the race even though it looked as though he would challenge in the primary.

Weber is probably right that Doran would have been the most successful candidate but the ultra’s in the Democratic party are as enamored of people on their end like Howard Dean as ultra Republicans are enamored of their Santorums and Brownbacks. What’s a centrist to do?

My sense is that while the Republican powerbrokers lost their party to their extremists the Democratic power brokers have a little more influence. I could be wrong.

Thank God for primary elections. They are the one place that party averse voters can go to punish candidates that pander too much to the ultras.

Minnesota’s newest blog

No Corey,
I’m afraid I have a newer Minnesota political blog than you have.
I took a look at yours. Good writing, huh? Well, the powerful graphics with Dean Johnson’s head superimposed on another person’s body shaking Bill Clinton’s hand or with a poster of Lenin in the background….woo hoo…this  is quality stuff.  And Vin Weber is associated with you? In flagrante delecto indeed!
“Dreckless?” Is that meant to be an oxymoron?
Best Regards,
Harry Welty 


—– Original Message —–
Sent: Sunday, March 26, 2006 9:04 PM
Subject: dreckless – Minnesota’s newest political blog
Greetings from dreckless, the state’s newest blog discussing political people and events here in Minnesota. Since we began publishing in mid-January, we’ve been delighted and humbled by the interest our readers have shown. To be honest, we’ve been surprised at the number of visits we receive each day!
“What?” you say. “Yet another blog?” 
In our first posting, back in January 17, we layed out our reasons for starting yet another blog. As the fomer Executive Director of the Republican Party of Minnesota, I believe that we have a unique perspective on political people and events here in Minnesota.
“Who is we?” you ask.
Dreckless is fortunate to have as a contributing editor, former Republican Congressman Vin Weber who now serves as managing director of Clark & Weinstock, one of Washington, D.C.’s premier strategic consulting firms. Take a minute to check out his latest analysis on a bright spot for Republicans.
We’re delighted to also be joined by my former colleague at the Republican Party of Minnesota Jonathan Blake. Jonathan and I have worked together for a number of years and it will take only a minute of reviewing some of his postings to see that he has an impressive writing style all his own.

So, take a moment and check us out. We welcome your active participation in the coming months and look forward to hearing from you.
Corey Miltimore


Minnesotans gays and the shriveling Republican base

A recent poll suggests that a majority of Minnesotans now oppose the DOMA law (Defense of Marriage Act) being pushed by religious conservatives and their Republican lackeys. This is a change from a year or two ago when voters were afraid that gay marriage might be forced down the state’s throat.

Today it looks like the religious conservatives are the ones pushing DOMA down Minnesota’s throat and Minnesotan’s are spitting it back out.

There is, of course, no guarantee that DOMA would lose in a referendum. Having it on the ballot will drive social conservatives to vote and and possibly defeat less motivated voters. Stalling is probably the best defense that Democrats who oppose DOMA could pursue. Time is on their side as even religious conservatives rethink their opposition to the granting of civil rights for gays.

Republicans pushing for this referendum are in a death spiral on this and other subjects. Voters who object to gays being treated with some measure of legal protection are becoming more scarce. Yes, if this were on the ballot these voters would feel impelled to come out and vote but they will continue to shrink election by election until the Republicans get very little milage out of DOMA.

Additionally the Republicans are pushing hard on a very strict anti-immigration policy. While this might be good tactic for the next election it will have the long range result of scaring away hispanic voters who were poised to become part of a permanant GOP majority for years to come. Any party reduced to such short term strategies is foreclosing on its future.

Oh, and I heard Governor Pawlenty’s appraisal of Iraq on the radio today. Boy, was he ever subdued. Maybe he’s a traitor too, which seems to be what the most ardent Republicans think of anyone who expresses any doubts about Bush’s success in the middle east.

Saturday Research

After two weeks of constant posts I let yesterday slip by without one. I hope my seven readers weren’t too disappointed. Seven readers is what I claim for my biweekly column in Duluth’s tabloid the Reader Weekly – “the best paper money can’t buy.”

For last week, the second of its existance, this blog has averaged 300 daily hits. Since it has a couple dozen pages that suggests 20 to 40 visiters a day. It goes without saying that my select readers are the creme de la creme.

Its not as though I didn’t have anything to say but yesterday was more of a day for catching up with my reading and reflection. Among the most interesting articles I read was a review of Kevin Phillips new book American Theocracy. Phillips was the prescient young conservative who predicted the conservative sweep of America back in the late 1960’s. He’s spent much of the last two decades slowly recoiling from the worst excesses of that revolution. He’s one of my intellectual heroes. Phillips sees very little “conservative” in today’s Republican Party.

Another article which caught my eye was a NY Times Magazine piece written by Zev Chafets. It begins with a short, mortifying description of Lynchburg, Virginia, but goes on to give a remarkably charitible story about Liberty University’s debate team. I’d read about their success a few weeks ago and had thought about writing a dismissive column about the team and the ambitions of its greatest champion the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Falwell’s been reported as saying that he’s training a new generation of  young lawyers who will sweep America with their verbal skills to promote good religious and conservative values. Its just the latest example of the Republican penchant for organization.

“Conservatives” have been methodical in the sweep the Phillips describes. Like the Avis car rental company having to work harder than number one Hertz Rental, conservatives had to work harder to best Democrats who ruled the roost until the Reagan Revolution.

First it was Richard Vigure who cultivated massive lists of conservative leaning folks for his direct mail fundraising. Then it was the establishment of dozens of conservative think tanks to promulgate and diseminate conservative dogma. Then it was a legion of politically street smart young political operatives raised from the ranks of College Republicans which were tended to with care by the National Republican Party. The Moral Majority brought in religiously orthodox but independent churches, knitting them together and weaning them from their traditional disdain for the temporal world of politics. Finally, when Republicans took control of Congress, it was the K Street Project which put a gun to the head of corporate America forcing it to hire eager young Republicans almost exclusively. Those lobbyists then saw to it that the lion’s share of Corporate PAC money went to Republicans.

I suspect that Falwell’s young debators will find it more and more difficult to win over Americans when, like seeds, they are finally broadcast onto the Earth. The incompetence of President Bush and whistle blowers like Phillips will inocculate America against the worst excesses of fundementalist self righteousness. 

This will resemble nothing so much as the conservative movement’s inocculation of America against the smug self righteousness of Liberals in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Curious George Hoot

Check out the marvelous cartoon “Curious George” by R J Matson on Cagle Cartoons. Hit the thumbnail for a larger picture.

Its hard for me to believe that I was reassured that Bush picked Dick Cheney to be his Vice President in 2000. Now it looks more like Cheney picked Bush to be President so that he, Cheney, could run the country without kissing all those babies and shaking all those hands.

Its also hard to believe how much Republicans chortled about the nation’s good fortune after 9/11 because Bush was the President and not Al Gore.

I have a different attitude now. Aren’t we lucky that JFK was in charge during the Cuban Missile Crises and not George W Bush?

On 2nd Thought – Only Prettner Solon is Embarassed

Plato described the metaphor of the cave with a campfire casting people’s shadows on it. He said that people watching the shadows from the other side of the fire couldn’t really be sure what the people casting the shadows were doing. So it is with politics. That’s why I wrote my own on-line political diary a few years ago; to move people past the fire and shadows closer to the behind-the-scenes action on the Duluth School Board.

Today’s story in the DNT suggests to me that the DECC’s omission from the Senate bonding bill has Tom Bakk’s fingerprints all over it. Bakk tells us that the 11 percent of bonding that the Senate plan directs to the Arrowhead is such a big deal that losing the DECC expansion isn’t all that important. Duluth’s most important proposal on its bonding wish list, is not that big of a deal! The proposal which has our voter’s seal of approval! Whoa!

Where is Bakk coming from? Well, getting the DECC in the bonding bill could squeeze out funding for other projects on Bakk’s wish list. The last two reaportionments both used Duluth precincts to pad northeastern Minnesota’s legislative districts with their shrinking populations. The vast majority of Bakk’s Senate District 6 lies north of Duluth. He’s in an awkward position to push for the DECC if he doesn’t want to lose these other projects.

It’s also entirely possible that the ambitious Bakk has other objectives which the DECC interferes with. I’m sure he’s paying close attention to the troubles of his caucus leader, Senator Dean Johnson. The Republicans have beaten Johnson up for “sanding over the truth.” (see previous entries) The Republican’s ethic’s investigation could weaken Johnson enough so that the DFL Caucus might consider replacing him. That someone could be Tom Bakk. If so, Bakk doesn’t dare get too greedy in the bonding bill. By doing so he would antagonize his potential supporters. If Duluth’s losing the DECC helped Bakk move into the majority leader’s office, well, it would be a small sacrifice – for Bakk.

This at least is what the shadows on the cave wall suggest to me. But like Plato warned. I could be completely wrong.

Senate DFL stiffs Duluth – Embarasses Bakk and Prettner-Solon

Word came yesterday that the Senate DFL left the expansion of the DECC off its bonding bill. There are two competing theories to explain this decision. Senator Keith Langseth, the Chairman of Capital Investment Committee, has suggested the first: that sports complexes just don’t deserve bonding. A second theory is that DFL Senators are angry that Republican Governor Pawlenty didn’t include enough projects for other DFL districts.

If the first theory is true then Duluth’s citizen lobbyists will need to persuade legislators during Duluth Days that the Arena complex is much more than a “sports complex.” They must stress that the Arena is such a vital economic engine that local voters overwhelmingly voted to pay for half of it.

If this proposal dies because of DFL opposition it will impose a terrible humiliation on Duluth’s two Senators Tom Bakk and Yvonne Prettner Solon. It would mean that the DFL caucus is treating Duluth the same way that Democrats are often accused of treating African Americans – as guaranteed votes for which no real effort need be expended to keep their votes.

Senator Langseth may be hoping to leverage the DECC expansion so as to add more projects for other parts of the state. If he fails he could simply doom the DECC. Governor Pawlenty has already gotten credit for putting the project in his bonding bill. If it is not funded Duluth voters will mostly remember that it was the DFL that killed their economic hopes not the Governor.

My Gift of Prophecy (it was originally misspelled “profecy”)

When I was on the Duluth School Board 3 years ago I started saying “Allah” rather than “God” during the Pledge of Allegience. Then I wrote about it in the Reader. Either no one read my column or nobody who did read it cared enough to comment. That surprised me because even then Republicans were hysterical that California’s “liberal” 9th District Court might overturn the mandatory reciting of the Pledge in schools.

Despite my eagerness to defend all religions I take a dim view of religious fanaticism. The news that newly liberated Afghanistan is about to execute a Christian for his conversion from Islam troubles me.

Even while George Bush has switched his rational for the Iraq war to saving Iraqis from religious fanatics he has managed to keep his own religious fanatics happy.

I’ve always been sympathetic to to one of Bush’s earlier war rationales – that of rescuing the Iraqis from Saddam. Nonetheless I’ve always been skeptical of Bush’s ability to win this gamble. This is how I put it three years ago as our troops were days away from invading Iraq: “Of course, if we get stuck in a terrorist’s playground for a decade and become desperate, paranoid and vengeful like the Israelis it will be a fiasco. It will be especially bad if every terrorist we kill is replaced by two more (which is what happened in Ancient Greece whenever some hero chopped off one of the heads of the terrible Hydra).”

Sadly, Iraqi’s have almost as much to fear from our Peace movement as our inept President. The former is demanding the return of US troops which will guarantee a civil war vastly more bloody than the current terrors.

Like it or not we are in a war between western values of tolerence and Islam’s medieval ethos. We should honor Middle easterners who have the courage to stand up for the values of tolerance and inquiry which we in the West prize. Here’s one such hero.  

The shame is that there are many Republicans, Kevin Phillips estimates they comprise about 50% of the Party, who are as radical as the medieval Islamic mullahs who pine for Heaven’s 72 virgins. The heaven that our Republicans pine for, however, will only come with the Rapture when the rest of us are condemned to an eternity in Hell. I pointed this out too.

When “Pension Reform” means making pensioners more vulnerable

Its not only workers who have to worry about having their jobs outsourced. Retirees pensions are under a similar threat as their former employers have to compete with overseas companies that don’t have such costs to weigh them down. Although Bush attempted to shore up pension programs Tom Delay’s Republican lobbyists from the “K Street project” have successfully made pensions more vulnerable than ever. Threatened American pensioners are better for a go-go economy.

Is Bush a real theocrat?

NPR’s Morning Edition had a telling clip of Bush answering questions at the City Club of Cleveland yesterday. An audience member asked the President if, as charged by Kevin Phillips in his book “American Theocracy,” he invaded Iraq to please “prophetic Christians” who hope that the Iraq war will bring about the Apocalypse. Bush paused, laughed in his nervous/aw shucks way, and said to his laughing audience that he hadn’t thought of his invasion that way.

Whether prophetic Christians would appreciate having their theology provoke so much laughter is anyone’s guess. That they support the President at least in part for this reason is undeniable. I suspect that part of the President’s hemming and hawing was a stalling tactic while he caluclated whether it was politically safe to speak dismissively of his “born again” constituency’s theology. In the end he decided it was more important to win over the larger majority of non apocalyptic Americans whose support for Iraq has been eroding. As he told his questioner, he thought of himself as a “practical fella.”

Yes indeed, President Bush has been so practical that he never challenged the born again’s theology because currying their favor guaranteed their votes. Until, that is, the war in Iraq started going sour.

Endowing Duluth

I’ve just come back from our finance committee meeting of the Duluth Public Schools Endowment Board. We’ve got big plans. We hope to build our $450,000 endowment up to a million dollars by the end of this year. To that end we’ve scheduled a meeting on the morning of May 2nd for people who love the Duluth Public Schools. Send me an email if you’d like an invitation.  (put the word “endowment” in the subject heading)

The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."