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Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Republican eclipse

I've always enjoyed Calvin and Hobbs. I was at my Mom's the other day and while looking for something entirely different I came across a box of items that I thought I had lost. In this box was a Sunday Stribune cartoon page I'd saved fifteen years ago. It's a take off on Montaigne's expression "Ignorance is bliss". I liked the cartoon so much I taught a Sunday School lesson on it, complete with copies. As I re-read it, I thought that it so clearly encapsulates the left wing.(Click on the image to get a larger version to read):
That was, until yesterday.

Saturday was a Republican Leadership Summit called by MN Republican Executive Chair Ron Carey. Ron responded to the November Massacre with a call for four task forces to regain seats lost. So, Savage Republican and I went. There were 6,000 letters to go out and maybe 250-300 attendees. And Savage Republican and I seemingly were the only ones from SD35. Ron Carey opened up the Leadership Summit. Republican House members talked. As did Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann and Congressman John Kline. Congressman Jim "White Flag of Surrender" Ramstad was conspicuously absent.
We then broke out into the four task forces. However, before that I knew the Republican Party was in trouble. Deep, deep trouble. And the same leadership that was at the helm as we went over the cliff last November is still at the wheel
On our chairs was an eight page booklet from the MN House Republicans. At the bottom it proudly broadcasts that though outnumbered 2-1, the House Republicans "stood up for families"(oh,oh)"and fiscal responsibility in January 2007."
So, I started paging through the booklet. And there on page 6, left hand side of the page was this headline "RENEWABLE ENERGY IS A KEY FOR HOUSE GOP". In a bill sponsored by farmer special interest representative Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont) it's nothing but mandated programs and subsidies for every failed alternative energy attempt that's been tried for three decades. Oh, and an attempt to find an alternative to the alternative ethanol fuel source, corn. And all this for Minnesota energy independence. Wow! I didn't know that we were at risk for going to war with Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska. Good thing I went to the summit. Now, on the same page was another article "MARKET-BASED POLICIES FOR AGRICULTURE". And I thought that was certainly an ironic juxtaposition of headlines and articles-government mandates versus market based policies. Ah, silly me. Upon further reading beyond the headline, it was all about subsidizing the farmers for corn/ethanol/biomass, etc. And there are the two money quotes (pun intended) "Helping farmers improve their economic viability is the main goal of an agricultural proposal..." proposed by another farmland lobbyist posing as a Republican House member (Rod Hamilton R-Mountain Lake). The second quote:"Realizing that there is a corn price issue at play for farmers, and understanding that corn alone will not be able to fulfill all ethanol needs...the plan would expand research and focus on cellulosic-based ethanol to help meet Minnesota's future demands."
And one more, of course, "To keep the dairy industry competitive..."
There is so,so much wrong here. And this whole page could have easily been written by the DFL (Democratic FARMER Labor).
I am not interested in "the farmers economic viability" as planned by any politician. The market will do an excellent job: I get hungry. Farmers grow food. Instant market! Where's the problem? Absolutely no need for any politician to get between the two of us. Or to be involved at all.
Corn prices in play? Yah, because of ethanol mandates by politicians who can not cite a single study that shows that ethanol or "biomass" is effective, efficient or economical. Food prices increase as the price of corn increases due to mandates and subsidies.The only "biomass" that's effective? Coal. There is a theory that oil comes from the interaction of heat, pressure and carbon and/or compression of methane (abiotic theory of oil formation). But, the House Republicans publish this and are proud? And the top irony prize of the booklet? Right across from these articles is a little article title "5 Governing Principles: 1. Common sense 2. Fiscal Responsibility and lower taxes 3. Personal responsibility and individual freedom 4. Stronger families 5. Safety and security.
Ethanol is anything but sensible. Fiscal responsibility and lower taxes with mandates,subsides for ethanol and farmers to prop up an industry that would fail on its own? Individual freedom with this Republican sponsored boondoggle? Stronger families as the House Republicans pile on with this tripe to the taxpayer?
Now, for the leadership Summit: The task force I went to was involved taking back the suburbs. And a good part of the meeting was the members of the committee telling us what they thought. And the chair was a member of the committee that was instrumental in keeping Sue Jeffers from talking-a tactic that Republicans regularly excoriate Democrats for. If what I saw in that one committee was representative of the other three, the Minnesota Republican Party is in deep trouble. And the leadership seems to be making one huge error in judgment: mistaking energy expended and furious and serious activity for progress.
Note to leadership: you need new leadership. You need new blood. Too many people who voiced their opinions looked back to the days of Reagan and think that that's the way to win again. That was a quarter century ago. We certainly need Reagan like leadership today. A man or woman who's not afraid to engage. Who's not afraid to fight. We need a Reagan for the times. It seems that the current leadership is much more interested in just electing Republicans, which is exactly how we got into this spot. You/we need task force committee members who are willing to fight and challenge the entrenched establishment that seems to be trying to take a different route to the top of the same mountain. Believe me kids, the view from that mountain top will be exactly the same as it was the morning of November 8th, 2006. And it will not be pretty.
We need committee leadership that has had or will have a paradigm shift.
However, I will urge the Republicans to follow the lead of Rep. Dean Simpson (New York Mills): Ever wonder why we pay 6 and ONE HALF % sales tax? I repeated this for years. In 1992 Governor Arne Carlson proposed, and the MN Legislature passed a 90 day TEMPOARY emergency one half percent increase in the sales tax. As Rep. Simpson accurately points out, with over $2,000,000,000 in overtaxation, the emergency is obviously over (and it only took fifteen years. I guess we were still in an emergency in 1998 when we ran those huge over-taxation surpluses that were all spent. The new emergency is that we committed to spending all that extra money year after year). This is exactly what the House Republicans need to do if they ever want any to have any hope of seeing the Speakers gavel in the hands of a Republican ever again.
"You can not solve a problem at the same consciousness that created it"- Einstein
And it seems that the House Republicans and Republican leadership are at that same consciousness they were at two to four years ago.


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