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  Progressive Political Blog

Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

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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Attacking Cindy Sheehan

Category: US Politics
Posted: 08/17/05 11:04

By Robert Lattery

The Republicans are angry and want blood, and little Cindy Sheehan is their target. Anyone who gets in the way of their agenda must be destroyed. There is no sympathy, there is no taking prisoners. This is the way the neo-cons operate under Karl Rove.

Cindy Sheehan has lost her son in George W. Bush's War in Iraq. This is not America's War in Iraq, it is wholely and totally George W. Bush's war. He designed it, he created it, it is his monster. And it has devoured Casey Sheehan. His mother is bitter, and with good reason.

However, the Republicans don't care. She is in their way. Matt Drudge does not care, he attacks her nightly on his radio show. Rush Limbaugh certainly does not care, he makes fun of her and her pain daily. The entirety of the neo-con blogosphere could not care less about her son or her feelings about his death. They simply want her out of the way. She is making too much noise and too much trouble.

"How dare she demand that our President actually meet with her. Who is she?" they say. "She must not be a patriot. She is villifiying our beloved President! What a crackpot!"

The damnations go on and on.

More mothers and fathers will feel her pain in the months, dare I say years, to come. The Republicans will try to destroy them as well if they dare speak out. They want the sons and daughters of the citizens of the United States to die for their cause and they want them to please stay quiet and out of George W. Bush's way. How dare they complain!

Now the American public must answer this question: Is this the compassionate conservatism you voted for?

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Education & Intelligent Design

Posted: 08/16/05 11:36, Edited: 08/17/05 09:26

By Paul Bartlett

So G.W. Bush thinks that "Intelligent Design" should be taught in science classes along side evolution, with equal footing. Why am I not surprised?

Perhaps Bush should just rework our entire educational curriculum. Let's see, how about these subject tweakers: geography texts must include the plausible theory that the earth is, in fact, flat; all chemistry classes must devote some time to the advancement of alchemy; astrology must be given equal status with the teaching of astronomy; no math class could be complete without including a good dose of numerology; and, most importantly, our science teachers must plant the notion in all impressionable young minds that the sun does indeed revolve around the earth.

Bush should keep his nose out of our science curriculum and do what he does best, things like: starting unprovoked wars, driving up the deficit, slashing the taxes of the most privileged, overseeing our continued environmental degradation, offending and alienating every historical foreign friend, giving major corporations free access to empty our national treasury, targeting gays and lesbians as our next state sanctioned group to be collectively harassed, and on and on. Hasn't he done enough damage to our public schools with his
wrong-headed "No Child Left Behind" debacle?

The next time you hear a news report that rightfully condemns the
Islamic madrasas, keep in mind that that is precisely the path that
Bush would have us take. Teaching "Intelligent Design" would be just the first step toward the "Christianizing" of the entire curriculum. While he lectures the Islamic world about the importance of modernity, Bush has us headed back to the Middle Ages.

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