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MN-02: The John Kline replacement sweepstakes

by Dan Burns on September 24, 2015 · 2 comments

gopWhen Rep. John Kline (R-MN) announced his retirement, and many names were being thrown around by observers as potential replacements, I figured that I’d hold off for a while on blogging about it, and hopefully save myself considerable time and effort. Was I ever right, for a change.
To get the DFL side out of the way, first, Angie Craig and Mary Lawrence obviously have big head starts. Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-St. Paul) expressed interest, but subsequently declined.

As far as Republicans go, this article is from yesterday:

Two Republicans are now competing to replace John Kline in Congress.
Former state Sen. John Howe on Tuesday joined David Gerson in seeking the Republican endorsement to run for Congress in the 2nd District next year…
At a recent tea party event in Red Wing, Gerson gave about two dozen people an update on his campaign. Dressed in a blue button-down shirt, jeans and a handgun on his hip, Gerson told the tea partyers that he wants Congress to defund Planned Parenthood and that he hopes to reduce the size and scope of the federal government…
Former state Sen. Ted Daley, former state Rep. Pam Myrha, state Rep. Tony Albright and Savage-based businessman Chris Andryski are other Republicans thinking about jumping into the race.

Those who I saw had their names thrown out there, and in at least most cases expressed interest at some point, but who have all now explicitly said no, include former Minnesota district judge and First Lady Mary Pawlenty, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty press secretary Brian McClung, State Reps. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa), Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), and Roz Peterson (R-Lakeville), State Sens. Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) and Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake), U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s utterly hapless 2012 opponent Kurt Bills, and Sen. Al Franken’s 2014 opponent Mike McFadden. Nearly all of the preceding have lengthy records of utterances and actions that would have provided ample attack material for opponents. I thought that Pawlenty would have been a pretty strong candidate, though there could have been suspicion that she was just running on her last name working against her. I’ve also seen talk about state Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont), but no indication as to whether she is really considering it or not.

We’ll see what more shakes out in the next couple of weeks.
Image: Randy Molton.
Comment below fold.


MN-02: So, what got into John Kline?

by Dan Burns on September 9, 2015 · 3 comments

kline2(Update: Dig “John Kline’s Top 10 Greatest Hits Of Evil.”)
That is, why did he suddenly announce that he’s leaving Congress at the end of this term? I think the biggest reason is that he is starting to burn out on Washington, D.C., and while he still has energy and drive of some sort left, it’s time to make his pile. His likeliest destinations for lobbyist gigs are with the warmongering-industrial complex and/or shameless, despicable education deform profiteers. But, really, every corporate greedhead has reason to be grateful to John Kline. He hasn’t been a leader on every issue, but his vote for plutocracy has always been there.

The number two reason, which he’s acknowledged, is that Kline is about to be term-limited out of his chairmanship of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. (As an aside, his dismal record in that job is very unlikely to improve, in the time remaining). For an authoritarian social dominant like Kline, the congressional equivalent of being knocked down from brigadier general to captain or something is presumably far, far from pleasing.

I don’t think that fear of a humiliating electoral defeat was a big factor. Like most right-wingers in politics his belief as to where he really stands in the eyes of the populace is so unrealistically inflated as to be legitimately called “delusional.”
For the bigger picture, the key thing is whether or not this becomes part of a wave of GOP retirements. That’s usually a good sign that word within a party (it happens with both) is that the upcoming election isn’t looking good. Even if a player is confident of holding onto his own seat, a pending lessening of party power can be demoralizing.
Comments below fold.


MN-02: John Kline will not seek reelection

by Dan Burns on September 3, 2015 · 3 comments

271_19344293946_1831_nMakes my day, and I know I’m not alone.

Republican Rep. John Kline announced Thursday he won’t seek re-election in 2016, after serving in Minnesota’s 2nd congressional district since 2002…
Kline’s announcement Thursday didn’t say why he had decided to step down, but he is 67. He scheduled a call with reporters later in the day.
(CBS Minnesota)

We’ll have plenty more about this. Just getting the great news out there, far and wide, for now.
Addendum: I’m passing along this, from Daily Kos, with useful numbers on recent district outcomes for big races. And this, from mnpACT!, speculating on who all might be running to replace him (in addition to the current candidates, Democrats Angie Craig and Mary Lawrence). State Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), who is mentioned in the latter, is my pick for Minnesota’s most obnoxious legislator, and him on the general election ballot should make it easy pickings for our side. So, Run Pat Run!
Addendum 2: More from Kline himself.

On a call with reporters shortly after the announcement, Kline was relaxed and candid, saying it was “just kind of time” to move on, and emphasizing the work he still has left to do in Congress over the next 16 months, including the passage of a package to reform the No Child Left Behind K-12 education law.
Kline also made clear that his decision was not made due to health concerns, or worries that he might not win re-election in 2016. He explained that “it’s been a lot of years of me being in Washington,” adding that his grandkids had grown up in a “blink of an eye.” Kline was elected to Congress in 2002, and turns 68 this Sunday.
The seven-term congressman also acknowledged that his decision was partly motivated by the imminent end of his chairmanship of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the apex of his influence in Congress. (House committee chairmanships are limited to three terms.) “It’s time to let someone else have a shot,” he said.

Comment below fold.


Cooper-Union-We-are-Students-Not-Customers-e1373664073701I’m passing along a couple of recent items about for-profit colleges. The purpose of for-profit “educators” is to make money. The legitimate purpose of education is to create a more intelligent, knowledgeable, able populace. You’d have to be a moron to think that those two are compatible, based on “the markets” or some such imbecile nonsense.

For-profit colleges in Minnesota have been coming under increasing scrutiny in the past year.
The state Office of Higher Education has been sending out “secret shoppers” to see whether colleges are dealing honestly with prospective students. It’s starting to compare notes with the state Attorney General’s Office. Its new watchdog also is investigating an increasing number of student complaints.

I’m probably pushing it, here, but while in a positive, optimistic frame of mind one can get the impression that AG Lori Swanson and Gov. Mark Dayton intend to see that for-profits shape up or get run out of business, and that it’s unlikely to be the former. It’s not about a political attack on Rep. John Kline (R-MN). It’s just an understanding that Minnesota will be better off without these places.

Federal and state investigators have suspected the for-profit school of defrauding its students for years. But with protection from powerful members of Congress — like Burnsville Republican John Kline — ITT nonetheless flourished. The Carmel, Indiana corporation now has 57,000 students at 135 campuses, including Brooklyn Center and Eden Prairie.
Its specialty is using multimillion-dollar ad campaigns to carpet-bomb the vulnerable: poor folks, minorities, military veterans, and single moms, people unaware that a degree at half the price and with twice the respect can be had at the community college down the street.
ITT sells career fulfillment and a better life. The reality, however, is thousands of alums with lives unchanged — except for the crushing new burden of student loans.
(City Pages)


kline2Coming off a holiday weekend things generally are not very active. But it so happens that I can, with remarkable ease, quite literally always find items to pass along, about how Rep. John Kline (R-MN) has done, and continues to do, a very bad job in Congress, and why he needs to be replaced in the next election.

(In May 2014) John Kline, Minnesota’s Most Reprehensible Congressman (TM), hosted a job fair at the Eagan Community Center “to assist Minnesotans with an uncertain job market.”
Among the Kline invitees looking to “assist” people trying to better their lot was a disproportionate number of for-profit colleges, including DeVry University, Crown College, and ITT Tech, the Carmel, Indiana-based company whose two executives were indicted on federal fraud charges earlier this week…
Kline hosts job fairs where for-profit schools land new students. Their tuition dollars from federal student loans and grants make the companies rich. These companies and their execs bankroll Kline’s campaign committee.
As the powerful chairman of the House Committee of Education and the Workforce, the congressman plays devout obstructionist to any meaningful reform that would turn off the spigot of taxpayer dollars amounting to $32 billion annually.
(City Pages)

The proposed budget does not provide any FY16 funding for Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers nor for any vouchers to restore the remaining 67,000 vouchers lost due to the 2013 sequester cuts. The bill does not increase funding for voucher administrative fees, as HUD requested, but flat funds voucher administrative fees…
And it isn’t just ignoring the homeless veterans issue, voters need to be aware of some of the other cuts which are being pushed to satisfy John Kline’s “realistic balanced budget that reflects the needs of the American people.”
(MN Political Roundtable)

Of course spending levels on Kline’s own congressional operations are sacrosanct.
Comment below fold.

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MN-02: John Kline and the Iran agreement

by Dan Burns on April 6, 2015 · 2 comments

reaganTalking about what happened last week.

Iran has just de facto announced that it does not want a nuclear weapon, at least in this generation, and probably ever. That American and Western hawks can’t see this is a measure of their own blinkered view of reality or their own corruption. Some hawkishness is a business plan; if you use up bombs in an elective war, you have to order more planes, bombs, tanks, etc. from the arms manufacturers who fund your political campaign…
In short, Lausanne looks more like the Brazilian-Argentinian Guadalajara Agreement or like the 1979 Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel, both of which have held, than it looks like 1938.
The people who argue for 1938 are unbeknownst to themselves actually stuck in Berlin, August 1914 and are perpetually playing von Moltke. They imagine an attack from a France that has already offered to stay neutral. They imagine a short war. They are intrigued by the possibilities of new military breakthroughs if only a years-old Schlieffen Plan can be implemented. They initiate aggression and genocide in the name of a phantasmic preemption. They act on paranoid hallucinations with real tanks and bombs.
(Juan Cole)

And what has Rep. John Kline (R-MN) been up to?


capitol2A couple of days ago.

Mary Lawrence, a Minneapolis doctor who had been a deputy executive director of the Vision Center of Excellence for veterans, has filed her paper work for jump into the race.
“After serving our nation’s Veterans and Service members as a physician at the VA for over 17 years, practicing and teaching medicine, I’ve seen first-hand the negative consequences a hyper-partisan government can have on the people it’s supposed to serve,” Lawrence said in a statement released to the Pioneer Press. “But there’s nothing wrong with Washington that can’t be cured with some Minnesota commonsense.”
(Pioneer Press)

Angela Craig has previously announced her run as a Democrat.

You can click on John Kline, on the topics bar above, for starters on why he needs to go. And you can go to MN Political Roundtable, the best source in the world for all that’s wrong with John Kline in elected office, and read all day.
Comment below fold.

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MN-02: Big news about DFL candidacies

by Dan Burns on January 27, 2015 · 1 comment

craigAngela Craig will run for the seat held by the odious Rep. John Kline (R-MN).

St. Jude Medical Inc. executive Angela Craig will step down from her post ahead of a run for Minnesota’s Second Congressional District, the medical-device maker said Monday.
Craig, a Democrat, serves as vice president of global human resources for the Little Canada-based company.
(Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal)

Here’s a profile, from womenwinning, which is where I got the photo.

Mike Obermueller will not run again.

Mike’s efforts are tremendously appreciated. He’s known as an otherworldly worker on the campaign trail, and it’s unfortunate that things didn’t break right for him and for every resident of MN-02 except, of course, John Kline.
At least on paper, with the probability of a very strong Democratic year behind Hillary (there it is, like it or not), Kline faces a much tougher reelection race in 2016 than those to which he’s been accustomed. I won’t be shocked if he retires from Congress between now and then, though I’m not expecting it.

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Kline’s buddies should pay to fix pension funds

by Dan Burns on December 12, 2014 · 2 comments

271_19344293946_1831_nRep. John Kline (R-MN) may be getting more backlash than he anticipated, for his key role in advancing a plan that would drive retirees into poverty. The Kline-Miller plan has never been introduced into the House or Senate on its own; this is a despicable effort to sneak it into law as part of a must-pass budget bill. (As of 630 this morning, it’s still in the bill, as far as I could determine.)

Problems with pension funds are primarily due to the foul machinations of Big Finance, who have been essentially stealing them.

No one disputes that there’s a retirement crisis, but the crisis was no demographic accident. It was manufactured by an alliance of two groups: top executives and their facilitators in the retirement industry – benefits consultants, insurance companies, and banks – all of whom played a huge and hidden role in the death spiral of American pensions and benefits.
Yet, unlike the banking industry, which was rightly blamed for the subprime mortgage crisis, the masterminds responsible for the retirement crisis have walked away blame-free. And, unlike the pension raiders of the 1980s, who killed pensions to extract the surplus assets, they face no censure. If anything they are viewed as beleaguered captains valiantly trying to keep their overloaded ships from being sunk in a perfect storm. In reality, they’re the silent pirates who looted the ships and left them to sink, along with the retirees, as they sailed away safely in their lifeboats.

This article, from Rolling Stone, details how the same is being done to pensions for public-sector workers.

So, how about making the crooks pay to fix the ones that are in trouble? Better yet, Big Finance could do it voluntarily, and get a good start on trying to repair its public image. But it won’t; arms will have to be twisted, and John Kline is not a politician with the integrity and decency to try to make that happen.


kline3One of my interests is world religion, myth, and folklore. There are examples of mythological beings with second faces on the backs of their heads. What with always looking backward, perhaps they were inspired by the John Klines of their time.

Two key House Republicans on employment issues have asked the Labor Department to withdraw its new rule protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors from discrimination.
House Education and Workforce Committee Chair John Kline, a Republican from Minnesota, and Rep. Tim Walberg, the Republican chair of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, made the request for a 60-day public comment period for the rule in a letter to the head of the office responsible for enforcing it…
After laying out their argument, they write, “We therefore urge OFCCP to withdraw its final regulation submitted to [Office of Management and Budget] … so the process for implementing [Obama’s executive order] can be done with the transparency and public participation typically afforded under the APA.” They ask for a response from Shiu “no later than December 17, 2014.”

While there are many things equally preposterous, literally nothing is more preposterous than Rep. John Kline complaining about an alleged lack of public input into government decision-making.
Oh, and this, too:

As lawmakers pressed Monday to finalize the legislative language of a must-pass omnibus spending bill, labor unions and retiree groups were mobilizing to defeat what they are characterizing as a lame-duck sneak attack on the pensions of some already-retired workers.
At issue is an effort led by Reps. John Kline and George Miller, the top Republican and Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, to bring reforms to troubled multiemployer pensions. The exact language of the proposal had not yet been announced, and it was not clear whether House leaders had in fact decided whether it would be attached to the spending bill.
But the lawmakers and staffers were working on such a proposal through the weekend. And it was widely expected on Monday that it would give multiemployer plan trustees the ability to cut benefits of already-retired workers or widows to help shore up some of the plans.
(National Journal)

Comments below fold.