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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

$3 Gas Politics

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 09/03/05 14:19

Paul Bartlett

Three bucks a gallon and still rising .... why have Phil Krinkie, Steve Swiggum, Tim Pawlenty and all of the other jaw-flapping neocon ideologues been so recently silent about that great socialist menace -------> PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.

Even their exalted leader, "W", recently uttered words of such profound insight that they will surely be repeated in future editions
of Bartlett's quotation books (nope, no relation): "Don't buy gas if you don't need it."
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Vast Incompetence

Category: US Politics
Posted: 09/02/05 14:04, Edited: 09/05/05 08:52

by Robert Lattery

I hardly know the words to describe the horror and embarassment we Americans are feeling as we watch the daily crisis in the city of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

This storm was well forecast to deal a body-blow to the city three days before it hit. The local government, the state of Louisiana and the national government had those days to prepare for the inevitable destruction and to prepare a proper response.

The response has, until today, been horribly mismanaged, inadequate, and just plain bungled. The incompetence on the state and national level is beyond compare.

To think that a large city like New Orleans could be so easily reduced to chaos in this day and age and in our advanced society is almost beyond belief. The Republicans are in control of government on practically every level in this nation, and their "compassionate" response has been to sit on their hands while gangs of thugs roam the streets, looting, raping and murdering the victims of this storm.

Finally, today, five days after the storm devastated the entire central Gulf coast, we are seeing an appropriate response. The troops have finally spilled into the area to restore order and deliver aid.

What the hell took so damn long?

The American public is going to demand an answer from President Bush and his entire administration. This should never have happened and those in power are to blame for the lack of proper response to a disaster foreseen well in advance.
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Following the Money..

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 08/20/05 14:55

by PDW58

Republicans always seem to have incredibly deep pockets for political puposes. Here's a case in point.

Let's talk about John Kline.

Looking at some of the facts about Kline's money "friends" leaves a lot of questions to be asked. Maybe someone smarter than I needs to ask them because I am left with a growing curiousity.

First, you need to get to know Mr. John Wren. Mr. Wren is the CEO of a company called Lakeville Motor Express. This is a family owned trucking business that started in Lakeville, MN in 1921 but moved its corporate offices to Roseville in 1979. The big break for this business occurred in the 1980 deregulation of the trucking industry. LME expanded rapidly to other states and the business flourished. Mr. Wren soon became very involved in the ATA, the American Trucking Association. The landscape for the ATA portrayed this lobby as a loose confederation of trucking firms that couldn't come to a consensus on what they needed.

John Wren had a plan... he was put in charge of a task force to fix the situation and make the membership more responsive. The "Wren Committee", as it was called, did just that. They coordinated dues and lobbying efforts of the ATA and the Truckload Carriers, the two largest groups representing trucking firms, into a structure that eventually turned the ATA lobby into a single voice; and into one of the 50 biggest spenders among lobby groups.

Mr. Wren was becoming wealthy and powerful. He became chairman of the ATA in 1998 and for 2 years, he consolidated his "plan" and began to expand the influence of the trucking lobby. He stepped down as chairman of the ATA in 1999; and turned over the office of President of LME to Peter Martin in 2000. When he stepped down as ATA chairman, Mr. Wren's departing words were:

"I've not given my sweat and blood for 2 years to just walk away from this. I have some ownership in the plan's implementation. I plan to remain as active as can be without stepping on the toes of the new chairman."

So, what does that have to do with John Kline? Nothing.... or everything. It depends on how you interpret the facts. John Kline lives in Lakeville and although John Wren now lives in Stillwater, the Wren family has heavy family ties to the Lakeville area. John Wren became head of the ATA in 1998 and John Kline began his first run for Congress against Bill Luther in 1998. Nothing terribly significant about that for sure, but it starts to get real curious when you follow the money.

Starting in 2002, (Kline's first successful run for Congress) the Wren familiy have been heavy and regular contributors:

............John Wren.......Mary Wren (spouse).....Joseph Wren (son)

2002........$2,000..............$2,000...............................$500

2003........$1,000..............$1,000

2005........$2,000..............$2,000.............................$1,000

During 2003-04, the family gave $8,000 to the Bush campaign

During 2001-03, the family gave $6,000 to the Coleman campaign.

During 2001-03, the family gave $12,000 to Mark Kennedy's campaign.

OK, so they are big contributors to the Republican Party, so what?

Well, it gets even more interesting when you look at the 2006 contributions, so far. This data comes from OpenSecrets.org. If you look at the recipients of money from the Trucking Industry, both House and Senate, John Kline tops the list at $20,999... the next closest is an Indiana Congressman with $13,850. The top Senate candidate had $11,000. When you break it down to furthur, you find, surprise, that Lakeville Motor Express is the top Kline contributor for the 2005-06 cycle at a whopping $10,000. The ATA PAC is his 6th highest contributor at $4,999... in fact, out of the the entire Congress, only one Missouri Representative received more ($1) from the ATA than John Kline.

So, why does the trucking industry have such a sudden enormous interest in John Kline? Its hard to say with any certainty, but one of the factors has to be CAFTA.

The Trucking industry wanted CAFTA badly. Imports from the affected Latin American countries would certainly increase and the trucking industry would certainly benefit. Minnesota, with a prominent sugar beet industry, would normally be an unusual place to be looking for votes. But not only did John Kline attract that trucking money but he managed to play both sides of the fence by taking in $10,000 from the sugarbeet plants in 2004 and another $2,000 this year. Kline took the money and ran because his vote was never in doubt. He sided with the truckers and voted for CAFTA, despite its dubious effects on Minnesota agriculture.

Still, it seems likely to me that there is some other connection between Kline and Wren. Too much money that Wren has influence with, is coming to Kline. If anyone is willing to do some serious digging, there is something under that rock!
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