/* */

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.


At Mon Oct 25, 06:46:00 PM CDT, Blogger Tom Cleland said...

Vikings stadium gets 3 yes votes

Dayton, Emmer and Horner agree that the state should help the NFL franchise.

Last update: August 26, 2010 - 6:29 AM

Dayton said he looks at the stadium like any other economic development project with statewide significance: If there's a clear benefit for Minnesotans, he'd support it.


At Tue Oct 26, 06:24:00 AM CDT, Blogger Tom Cleland said...

Please vote for Farheen at http://fairvotemn.org/node/1826/simplevote. Remember, with IRV you can rank your favorite candidate first. My second choice was Ken Pentel, and my third choice was Chris Wright. This is an unscientific opinion poll.

At Fri Oct 29, 10:59:00 AM CDT, Blogger Tom Cleland said...

5% is very doable, but we need everyone to Get Out The Vote!

The Democrats are campaigning on a platform of gradual change, which is very dangerous, because you can’t tell if you’re getting gradual improvement or gradual decline. If it’s gradual enough, people never take to the streets as their civil liberties are unraveled thread by thread.

Dayton voted against flag burning. The problem with this is where do you draw the line? What about burning a picture of the flag? How about a picture of the president? What if somebody wants to speak against the president? Better to defend the Constitution and Freedom of Speech!

Even more disturbing, according to Robert Halfhill and Michael Cavlan, when people talked to Dayton about Bush possibly stealing the presidential election of 2004, Dayton told them that they were seriously misled. The scary thing about Ohio was that it was as if the Democrats were all too eager to go along with the outcome. Kerry wouldn’t even stick up for himself. It took the Green and Libertarian presidential candidates to insist on a recount. And many irregularities were indeed found. Nothing is more central to democracy than our right to vote.

Meanwhile, Farheen has a positive vision for our future.

Remember, when you vote against us, you’re voting to kill off our ideas.

Remember, you can’t change the status quo by voting for the status quo.

Let’s Get Out The Vote and help Farheen get 5% this year!


Post a Comment

<< Home