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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hakeem for Governor Video 2

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mark Dayton is Too Conservative

If you think Mark Dayton is on the Left, think again. Let’s review his record, issue by issue.

Mark Dayton voted to fund the Iraq War.

He voted against the use of military force (Oct. 2002), but then he voted to spend $86 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan (Oct. 2003). He also voted against redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007 (Jun 2006). The Green Party opposed both wars from the start, and opposed any funding that would keep the wars going. We favored providing enough funding to get the troops home safely, and there was no doubt already enough money “in the pipeline” to do just that.

The Iraq War was unprovoked. No weapons of mass destruction were found. There was never a link to 9/11. The U.S. suffered over 4,000 dead and 31,000 wounded, and Iraq may have lost over a million, many of whom were civilians including children. The torture that occurred at the Abu Ghraib prison was our national shame. To destroy tanks, we used depleted uranium weapons, which left behind poison dust that will remain radioactive for thousands of years. It is thought that the U.S. will maintain a minimum of 50,000 troops until all the oil has been drained from Iraq.

Mark Dayton voted for the Patriot Act.

This was a reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act (Mar. 2006). The original law was passed in 2001. The Patriot Act gave government powerful tools to collect information. The congress and public have still not received real information about these tools and how they are being used. As it currently stands, the FBI can compel Internet service providers, libraries, banks, and credit reporting companies to turn over sensitive information about their customers and patrons. Using this data, the government can compile vast dossiers about innocent Americans. The Patriot Act criminalizes a wide array of activities, such as providing any tangible or intangible good, service, or advice to a terrorist group, even if it was not on purpose.

Since Dayton’s vote, congress has expanded government powers with a new “material support” law that was upheld by the Supreme Court (June 2010). The FBI may have been testing its new powers recently when it raided the homes of peace activists in Minneapolis. It should be noted that the Obama administration argued before the Supreme Court on the repressive side: For expanding the definition of material support.

Mark Dayton supported providing military aid to Israel.

In response to the Minnesota Newspaper Association Election Questionnaire (Jul. 2, 2000), Dayton wrote: “I support providing aid to Israel - both military and economic - at its current level.” This type of aid is often passed as part an omnibus spending bill, where various expenditures are lumped together. Dayton also attended a June 30 meeting of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), America’s Pro-Israel Lobby, held at the University of Minnesota.

It is important to distinguish anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism. It is consistent with the Green Party Key Value of Diversity not only to respect the Jewish faith, but also to celebrate its contributions to U.S. culture and traditions. Opposing the political and military actions of the leaders of Israel is a separate issue.

To some, the construction of a wall seemed a sensible solution to the suicide bomber problem. They may not have been aware that the wall zig-zags so that most of the water wells are on the Israeli side. Even more humiliating are numerous Israeli settlements on the Palestine side of the wall. The Israeli army has used bulldozers to demolish Palestinian homes without warning. Palestinians must wait at numerous checkpoints to commute to work or perform routine errands. Unemployment among Palestinians is sky-high, and life is said to be unbearable.

In response to sporadic rocket attacks to its west, Israel invaded the Gaza Strip and killed over 1,000 Palestinians. Gaza is blockaded to this day, with only limited medical aid. Cynthia McKinney, our Green Party presidential candidate in 2008, joined the passengers of the ship Dignity as it attempted to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. On December 30, 2008, the Israel Navy rammed the Dignity, and directed gunfire at the water, on international waters, forcing the boat back to Lebanon. On June 30, 2009, McKinney was aboard the ship Spirit of Humanity, which was seized by the Israeli Navy. Along with fellow passengers, she was held in a detention center for a week. On May 31, 2010, Israel killed nine humanitarian members of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

Mark Dayton voted to build a fence along the Mexican border.

He voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (Sep. 2006), which allowed for 700 miles of double-reinforced fence along the 2,000-mile border. To build the fence, the U.S. hired the Israeli company Elbit, the same company that built the wall to keep out Palestinians. The multi-billion dollar fence has had setbacks with cameras and other technology, and immigrants use hacksaws, blowtorches, ladders, and ramps to breach the fence. Last year there were thousands of breaches, each costing an average of $1,300 to repair.

Immigration by undocumented workers increased steadily after the start of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), which was negotiated behind closed doors and signed by Bill Clinton. Under NAFTA, heavily-subsidized U.S. corn undercut Mexican farmers. Wal-Mart drove out local businesses. The Mexican government crushed unions, driving down wages, with U.S. firms unwilling to pay even minimal taxes. Many Mexicans must contend with sweatshops, subsistence-level wages, pollution, congestion, cardboard shacks, and open sewers. It would seem more progressive to insist on righting these injustices before trying to make the U.S. into a gated community.

The border was drawn as a result of the Mexican-American War in the 1840’s. Most Mexicans are descendants of indigenous peoples, and the fence severs the lands of the O'odham, Cocopah and Kickapoo Native American nations. The fence also disrupts animal migration, with disregard to laws concerning endangered species.

As alternatives to a fence, we can require employers to obey existing laws, provide undocumented workers a pathway to citizenship, and modify U.S. foreign policy to improve living conditions in Mexico. Recognizing the world has limited resources, we can also focus more on feminism. Studies show that when women are empowered, population rates tend to stabilize.

Mark Dayton helped pass the Bush tax cuts.

Dayton voted both for and against this legislation. He voted against the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, but he voted for the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 (Feb. 2006), which extended the reductions in capital gains and dividends tax rates from the 2003 act. After the reductions had passed the House, he voted for final passage in the Senate, which allowed the bill to go on to conference committee. In the May 11, 2006 Congressional Record, Dayton said, “Last year, when this body passed a version of this legislation, I voted for it, principally because it included my amendment requiring corporate executives to pay their fair share of taxes when they use their company planes for their personal use…. My amendment would have raised $44 million in Federal revenues during the next 10 years…”

By contrast, according to a report by the Congressional Resource Service, the 2-year cost of the extensions on capital gains tax cuts was $20 billion. This is 2273 times greater than the amount that would have been saved by plugging the corporate jet loophole.

Dayton voted against the conference committee version, but if they had retained his amendment, we can’t be sure how he would have voted.

Mark Dayton voted to give billions to coal, oil, nuclear, and ethanol.

According to Public Citizen, the disastrous Energy Policy Act of 2005 (July 2005) provided tax breaks and subsidies of $9 billion for coal, $6 billion for oil and gas, and $12 billion for nuclear power. Ethanol is also included throughout the legislation.

Coal emits mercury and greenhouse gases. Entire mountaintops are removed in Appalachia, polluting headwaters and destroying entire ecosystems. In fact, the Green Party affiliate in West Virginia is called the Mountain Party. It was in that state that 29 coal miners were killed April 5 after serious unrepentant safety violations at Massey Energy, headed by Don Blankenship.

Oil also emits greenhouse gases and other pollution. Likely more urgent is the problem of Peak Oil, which means that discoveries of new wells have peaked, and world supplies are now about half gone, with demand increasing. Oil is not only needed for gasoline, but also for plastics, rubber, baby oil, and many other things we take for granted. It is believed by some that Peak Oil is the real cause for our current high unemployment, and rising oil prices will halt any growth-based economic recovery. The demand for oil has caused drillers to resort to ever more risky sources, such as deepwater drilling, which led to the catastrophic BP oil leak. According to DFL Rep. Jeremy Kalin, the bill Dayton voted for “gutted environmental safeguards in deepwater drilling.”

Nuclear power emits waste that remains radioactive for thousands of years. Handling the fuel and waste safely is just part of an exceedingly complex process that is extremely expensive.

Ethanol is not an efficient energy source, because fuel is required to power the tractors, combines, etc. necessary to grow the corn. Also, it takes away land that could be used for food production and biodiversity.

On the Energy Policy Act, the Center for American Progress wrote, “Amendments in the House and Senate to raise fuel efficiency standards for vehicles failed. Amendments in the House to remove provisions limiting state and local roles in the siting of oil refineries also failed, as did measures to ensure environmental justice for minority and low-income communities. Senate amendments requiring a renewable energy standard of 10 percent by 2020 and addressing global warming through mandatory limits on carbon emissions were dropped during conference.”

Mark Dayton supports a state-run casino.

Dayton is on record supporting a state-run metro casino as a way to raise revenue. One drawback that becomes immediately apparent is how gambling addictions can ruin personal finances and tear families apart. One might ask, “Why then do we have gambling on Indian Reservations?” The answer is that we can respect tribal sovereignty without adopting their methods of raising revenue.

A more progressive solution is a state-run bank. According to Ellen Brown, author of The Web of Debt: “The Federal Reserve’s charts show that ‘base money’ is rapidly expanding—meaning coins, paper money, and commercial banks’ reserves with the central bank. But the money isn’t getting where it needs to go to stimulate economic growth: into the bank accounts of American businesses and consumers…. The only state that owns its own bank today is North Dakota. North Dakota is also one of only two states (along with Montana) on track to meet their budgets by 2010. It currently has the lowest unemployment rate in the country and the largest budget surplus it has ever had, tallying in at $1.3 billion.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of Aug. 2010, North Dakota had the lowest unemployment in the nation, at 3.7%. South Dakota was second at 4.5%. The highest was Nevada at 14.4%.

Mark Dayton supports taxpayer-funded stadiums.

Mark Dayton, Tom Emmer, and Tom Horner have all come out in favor of spending our public tax dollars for a private sports stadium. Greens not only oppose tax funding for a new Vikings stadium; they also opposed it for the Twins stadium. The Twins stadium tax was supposed to go before the residents of Hennepin County for a vote, but legislators, led by DFLer Margaret Anderson Kelliher, circumvented the referendum process. We need to hold the corporate parties accountable. It’s a question of priorities, putting needs before wants. The homeless shelters next-door to Target Field are a stark reminder. As long as there are people who truly need help, we don’t need to help millionaires.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hakeem for Governor Video 1

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Farheen on Almanac

In tonight’s debate on Almanac, Cathy Wurzer asked the candidates where they are on the political spectrum, and Farheen Hakeem seemed to be the only one who didn’t dodge the question: She’s on the Left. For example, she was the only candidate who was at the protest of the FBI raids. Like Chris Wright, she supports legalization of marijuana, but she’s also speaking out on social, racial, and economic justice. I would add that the Green Party has four pillars: Two are Ecology and Democracy, the name of Ken Pentel’s party, but the other two are Peace and Justice, which is what Farheen is all about. Ken’s economic vision is not human-driven. Farheen’s is human-driven, with the expectation that humans want to live in harmony with nature. I was pleased that Ken mentioned earth homes and a Minnesota currency.

If they won’t place themselves on the political spectrum, I will. From left to right, they are: Farheen Hakeem, Ken Pentel, Chris Wright, Mark Dayton, Linda Eno, Tom Horner, and Tom Emmer. The first three are liberal, the last four are conservative. Wright is mostly on the left, but he did mention Libertarianism in conjunction with legalization, his repeated primary focus and emphasis.

Wurzer said the candidates’ web sites don’t address the budget crisis. Farheen said hers does, and here’s an excerpt:

“Fiscal Responsibility…Significantly raising taxes on individuals that are making more than $250,000 is one of the many solutions that I will bring as Governor of Minnesota. Others are creating a Minnesota State Bank so your money is working to benefit you and your community, creating a wind energy company to bring jobs and clean energy revenue to our community, and reducing salaries of state employees that are making over $100,000.”


Eric Eskola asked Linda Eno about how her web site talked about aquaculture, and she said she wasn’t sure. This I just pasted from the Resource Party web site:

“Aquaculture – Fish Farming…The states or federal government should invest more money in the infrastructure needed in water treatment facilities for the expansion of the aquaculture industry. The industry could create new sustainable jobs, new markets for food crops, stop the over harvest of our lakes that is destroying our sportfishing tourism economies and be win, win, win for everyone.”


She also got their Attorney General candidate mixed up with her Lieutenant Governor candidate. At the Lt. Gov. debate Wednesday, when asked about transportation, Howard Hanson talked about a river of crippled babies. I think his point was that kids on drugs lead to deficits and less money for transportation. He was critical of corporations at least, which is why I put them left of Horner. But they don’t recognize tribal sovereignty, they’re in denial of broken treaties, and they’re outspoken critics of the American Indian Movement. If there are problems on the reservations, we can create more economic opportunities on the outside by means of a state-owned bank, rather than a state-owned casino.

This is from the MPR debate, but I still think Chris Wright had the best response to the spoiler argument: “You can’t change the status quo by voting for the status quo.” I was pleased the “wasted vote” question did not come up in this debate. Thank you TPT!

Farheen was not asked about how Dayton helped pass the Bush tax cuts, but she would have been ready to explore that in depth. Basically, Dayton voted both for and against them. He wanted to plug a loophole in the tax on corporate jet flights, but that would have only been a drop in the bucket compared to the revenue lost in capital gains and other tax cuts that they retained. If the Republicans had kept Dayton’s amendment along with the Bush tax cuts, we can’t be sure he wouldn’t have voted for the final conference version.

Farheen did have a chance to say that she would be at least as progressive as Dayton on taxes, which may have prompted the question about where they all are on the political spectrum. Farheen answered last, and I’d say she knocked it out of the park.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Dan Dittmann at Lt. Gov. forum

Here's an article on the Lt. Gov. candidates' forum:

Leading candidates absent at gubernatorial forum on poor
by Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
October 8, 2010


Dan Dittmann was a little late because he had to bike from work, but he was there alright. The article’s photo caption describes him as the Grassroots candidate, but actually he is the Green Party candidate for Lt. Governor.

I sat next to MPR’s Madeleine Baran, author of the article, in the front row. I also took some pictures, a little blurrier, at the public link below:


Dan talked about a moratorium on foreclosures, and transit passes for homeless that are at least as affordable as what he gets through work. He received loud applause when he said he opposed taxpayer funding for Twins and Vikings stadiums.