Minnesota

More very bad things for Karl Rove, and Bolton was probably involved with Yellowcake as well

Stay tuned here for one hell of a scandal.... Damn skippy, things are blowing up all over the place.

The Star Tribune just put up a pretty scathing editorial about Rove, Wilson and the case for war, for the July 14 newspaper, "Karl Rove/Real issue is the case for war". What do you know, they cut right to the chase:

The real issue, more serious and less glitzy than whether Bush will stand by his political adviser, is the extraordinary efforts the Bush administration made to protect a case for war in Iraq from all contradictory evidence -- in effect, as the British spymaster Sir Richard Dearlove put it, to "fix" the facts and intelligence so they would support a decision already made.

[.......]

In January 2003, however, President Bush asserted an Iraq-Africa uranium connection in his State of the Union message. Subsequently, it turned out that Bush was indeed referring to Niger. The Niger-Iraq connection became one of the pillars in Bush's case for war with Iraq.

After the start of the war, Wilson wrote a lengthy op-ed piece for the New York Times laying out the facts of his trip and saying he had "little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

Five days later, Rove told Time reporter Matt Cooper he should "not get too far out on Wilson." His trip to Niger, Rove said, wasn't approved by Cheney or CIA Director George Tenet. Cooper wrote to his boss, "It was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd issues who authorized the trip."

[.....]

This is a classic Rove technique: undercut a critic by planting the notion that he was off to Africa on a lark arranged by his wife. Rove's history as a rough political player is well-documented. But this wasn't about a political campaign; this was about a serious question of national security and the justification for a difficult war.

[......]

It is instructive to remember that the investigation into who revealed Plame's identity was initiated by Tenet, not by administration critics. Remember also that Wilson was correct; ultimately the White House had to retract Bush's State of the Union statement on the Niger connection.

In addition to discrediting critics of the Niger connection, the Bush administration, through the actions of John Bolton -- now nominee to be U.N. ambassador -- sought to intimidate intelligence analysts who objected to conclusions about Iraq's WMD, and to get a U.N. chemical weapons official fired so he wouldn't be able to send inspectors back to Iraq, where they might disprove more of the case for war.

In the scheme of things, whether Rove revealed Plame's identity, deliberately or not, matters less than actions by Rove, Bolton, Cheney and others to phony up a case for war that has gone badly, has cost thousands of lives plus hundreds of billions of dollars, and has, a majority of Americans now believe, left the United States less safe from terrorism rather than more.

The Republican communications team shifts into high gear trying to lay out a multi-pronged defense for Karl Rove, now that he's been outed for telling Matt Cooper of TIME that Plame worked at the CIA. It looks rather half-cocked, as Republican partisans try hard to spin while claiming they don't want to impede the investigation. President Bush and Scott McClellan have declined to answer questions about the matter. The RNC and its chairman Ken Mehlman are playing the attack dog role while the White House waits and hopes the story will blow over. As it very well could when Rehnquist suddenly turns into a pile of dust...

System halt approaches

It is nearly time to relocate into 1630 Selby. Kennedy is gone for the week, visiting family, and Alison has already moved out, so it is eerily quiet at both ends. My stuff is more than half-packed up. I bid an ambivalent farewell to dowdy plaid shirts that stuck with me far longer than they should have, and threw away old notes and bits of paper, signifying elements of the trail over the last four years.

The server may go down for a while here, and may take some time to come back. Hopefully quickly.

Many objects found in the room, a mapbook of Paris, cards and CDs, photos from the war protests and London. The Hongpong.com Gentoo Linux server, a Pentium 4 Dell Dimension that has performed admirably since I got it from Dan Schned's brother Alex last summer, has faced the challenge of websurfers from the CIA and thousands of virus attacks with great stamina and more importantly, almost unshakeable stability. The server will go down after 42 days in operation. Not bad, but not as good as its all-time record of 111 days.

1957: "Minnesota's Non-Party Legislature" by Daniel S. Feidt

Thursday was a very interesting day. I went to the Capitol to try to do some research about my grandfather, Daniel S. Feidt Sr., who once served in the Minnesota legislature. As it turned out, there was a GLBT rally that afternoon, with at least a few hundred gays, lesbians and their heterosupporters around on the Capitol lawn.

For older state archives I was directed to the Minnesota Historical Society across the freeway, where their top-notch library has all sorts of state resources going back before 1900.

I found my grandfather's sole published contribution to the state's library: a curious 15-page pamphlet entitled "Minnesota's Non-Party Legislature," a 1957 reflection on why he, as a serving senator, loved the non-partisan system. The piece rails against the party machines common in so many states, and he makes the compelling argument that an independent legislature, free of individuals 'subservient' to political parties, provides more sound, economical and progressive administration of the state.

It's a paean to a totally lost form of politics in America, written straight from its heart. This piece helped explain to me why I so distrust the arbitrary power of political parties and their cynical manipulations. Feidt's potshots at the political machines of the day show me how right it always is to whack at the bastards...

It's a rare sort of freedom he and his colleagues had: no national party shadowing them, no executive bureaux, no matrix of special interests to kowtow to. This piece forces us to ask: what the hell do political parties really do for us, anyway? As Minnesota swiftly becomes a scorched-earth partisan battleground, we could all use some more independent wisdom.

Minnesota's Non-Party Legislature

by Senator Daniel S. Feidt

Minneapolis, MN

April, 1957

FORWARD

The states of Minnesota and Nebraska have the unique distinction of electing their legislators without a designation of party affiliation of the candidate on the ballot. The Minnesota Legislature became non-party by a law enacted in 1913 and Nebraska by a constitutional change in the 1930's.

The purpose of this writing is to consider, in summary form,

(1) the historical background of the Minnesota law,

(2) the present system of electing public officials in Minnesota,

(3) the validity of arguments against the non-party elective system,

(4) the record of the Minnesota Legislature since 1913, and

(5) to evaluate the personnel, functioning and legislative results of the Minnesota system in comparison with her sister states who elect legislators on a party basis.

The author has been a member of the Minnesota Legislature for twenty-two years [ultimately twenty-six] which has included service in both its House and Senate.

GEORGE WASHINGTON AND THE FIRST CONGRESS WERE ELECTED NON-PARTISAN

The federal constitution and the constitutions of the original thirteen states were drafted and adopted under the belief that these governments would function without political parties. George Washington and members of the first Congress were elected on a non-party basis, but by the close of Washington's second term as president, political parties were developing and thereafter for a period of about one hundred years the phenomenon of the American political scene was the strengthening of political party controls at all levels from the ward and township to the national capitol. By the early 1900's it was not the elected official who was making independent decisions in his representative capacity for the voters as had been intended by the founding fathers, but rather these decisions on public questions were frequently made by subservient public officials under party dictation.

WITH POLITICAL PARTIES CAME POLITICAL SCANDALS

Political scandals followed the rise to power of the political party in much the same way that scandals followed the rise to power of the unscrupulous labor boss. Domineering, graft-corrupted political machines of both parties, of which Tammany Hall in New York and Boyse Penrose in Pennsylvania were perhaps the most notorious. The party boss became an accepted figure in the American political arena. The party boss selected judges, dictated judicial decisions, determined entire legislative programs, and it is common knowledge that even presidents became subservient to party domination.

In the 1890's and by the early 1900's it was notorious that judgeships, postmasterships, seats in state legislature and even in Congress itself were being sold by political racketeers to the highest bidder. It was the heyday of the party boss and political racketeer.

POLITICAL BOSSISM TODAY

Despite the efforts of able men in many states opposing party bossism, we have seen much of it remain. Typical examples are Boss Crump of Tennessee, Boss Hague of New Jersey, Boss Pendergast of Missouri, Tammany Hall in New York, the Vare machine in Philadelphia and the Kelly-Nash machine in Illinois. Only in a state where party domination of candidates to the state legislature exists can party bosses gain control of political machines to the exclusion of the general public of a state.

Al Franken sighted at Capitol near a hongpong



Photo by Matt Entenza (D-St. Paul)

Today, we were running around collecting the feedback from the legislators on their profiles. The book is really getting close to finished now... So Peter told me that he has spotted Al Franken around the Capitol with Entenza and some of the other Democrats before the House session started.

Around 2:30 Franken went into a somewhat open (press allowed) Democratic caucus meeting and yukked it up with everyone. They finished a little after three, and there were various interviews with local media going on. Franken is apparently going to reestablish his residency here, and as has long been speculated, start teasing Norm Coleman. Now that would be an entertaining campaign to watch.

A suicide in Fat City *

"How many more of these goddam elections are we going to have to write off as lame but 'regrettably necessary' holding actions? And how many more of these stinking double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me at the at least 20 million people I tend to agree with a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils? I understand, along with a lot of other people, that the big thing, this year, is Beating Nixon. But that was also the big thing, as I recall, twelve years ago in 1960 - and as far as I can tell, we've gone from bad to worse to rotten since then, and the outlook is for more of the same."

I have been away for too long. Today was one of the better days of my life. We passed back to the Legislature the profiles for the next edition of the book. I've been hesitant to say anything about the whole adventure until after the Powers that Be approve what we wrote.

Just six profiles to go

It has been a rather unexpected venture in my life to go interview the Minnesota Legislature, and I'm tinged with a bit of sadness now that the experience will be encapsulated, finally, by finishing my last six legislator profiles going into tomorrow.. (It's 1:12, and I think I might be able to make it)

Two exciting matters on Monday: the class walkout scheduled for 1:10 and Randy Kelly coming to see the Mac Dems, in the wake of his really quite difficult to believe endorsement of Bush. Hopefully I'll make it around to both events, but it depends if I can get through the geographic additions that have yet to be made to the book.

PoliticsMN: The list of state legislators so far

Well, I have been going at this for a couple weeks now, and school officially starts today. The big concentration of interviews is mostly over with, but they've piled up to profile quickly. This entry is intended to as a way to console myself that I've already gotten a large chunk done, because by God it doesn't yet feel that way.

So here's the list of Minnesota legislators I've interviewed, and profiles I've written:

Interviewed but haven't written profiles:

Senators:

Representatives:

A Really Quite Ironic Twist

A Summary: Straight from the Rambling Periphery to the Talkative Core

On Wednesday I quit Computer Zone Consulting and suspended my job at the library because I got a paid internship with an organization putting together a huge directory of the politicians in the state of Minnesota. This has chomped up all my time, and I won't have nearly the time to write on the site for probably about a month. Therefore some of those in Hongistan could perhaps offer a few tidbits to help keep us goin? And is it possible that Dan is working for.... a Republican??!!? More below...

Class

What More Can I Say?

Skeet shooting at the Lyons residence

class

Minnesota Public Radio purchases third local station

While listening to MPR this afternoon I learned that they are in the process of purchasing St. Olaf College's non-profit radio station WCAL, another classical station on 89.3 FM, for $10.5 million. They don't have the cash on hand, so they are borrowing it. Gary Eichten just asked, "Is Minnesota Public Radio out to conquer the world?" in his classic way. Hahahahaaa....

I would say this will probably work out very nicely, but I'm not sure if such a nerdy thing as a St. Olaf classical station could ever become cool.

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