Tag Archives: Chip Cravaack

Republicans are huge government spending hypocrites! We need to vote with compassion.

Did you read this story in the StarTribune about Chip Cravaack’s massive pay raises to his staff after he lost the election?

StarTribune 3/31/13: Lame-duck Cravaack handed out large raises to his staff

This is exactly why I vote for people who demonstrate love and compassion for people first. You cannot trust politicians when they say they will cut taxes or spending, or eliminate waste. But when a politician has demonstrated sincere concern for other humans, and cares how people and families live and survive, you know they will vote to make their lives better, even if they eventually fail on spending promises.

Chip Cravaack was a huge government spending hypocrite! He talked continuously about “what’s best for all Americans.” He attacked Oberstar and Nolan on trust, spending, and government waste. He was a TEA Partier, which should mean he is concerned about how our taxes are spent. And he voted to cut aid and college grants for many people who needed it. I think it is safe to say, he didn’t like “welfare.” But apparently that only applied to people he didn’t know personally. People who pledged an allegiance to him were fine getting welfare. When he lost the 2012 election, he gave his full-time staff and friends a 93% government pay raise for the final two months of their government employment. And worse yet, this government spending hawk, and welfare hater, admits he gave them government welfare. Cravaack said “at the end of the year, I maxed out everybody because I had no idea how long these guys would be out of work.” He gave them extra unemployment. If any of them claimed unemployment Americans paid them twice!

It wasn’t his money to dole out to his lackeys. This is the perfect example of why you shouldn’t trust politicians who care more about taxes than people. This is why I don’t trust politicians like Chip Cravaack, John Kline, Michelle Bachman, Tom Emmer, or Dave Thompson, whose solution to everything seems to be lower taxes and less government. I want politicians whose solution is to improve lives for the next several generations, not to give me an extra $50 at the end of the year. I believe these are self-righteous politicians who want control and prestige more than they really care about their ideals. If these politicians were Doctors rather than lawyers, they would have a God Complex, and a few that I’ve met might have that anyway. In the end, I think they will do what benefits themselves and their friends not what benefits the rest of us, despite what they say.

That’s why it is so unimaginable for me to vote for Republicans these days. I think at one time, there were Republicans who cared about the future and families, and still had plans for less spending. Now it seems caring about people is a bad thing in the Republican Party, and the world and those less fortunate are jokes to them. I can’t see myself voting for anybody other than a liberal in the near future. It is about compassion first, even if fiscal responsibility is second. That’s not happening on the right side of the aisle.

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Congressman Kline gets angry for all the wrong reasons

I thought this MPR headline was kind of interesting when I read it:

“Kline and Cravaack angry over dropped wolf provision”

The headline refers to a policy rider that was attached to a spending bill that would limit judicial review of US Fish and Wildlife decisions.  By the way, the gray wolf, or timber wolf, is still slated to be taken off the endangered species list in the next few weeks regardless of this rider to a spending bill.

I’m annoyed by two things here.  First, the real purpose of this policy is to make it more difficult for environmental groups to challenge decisions made by the US Fish and Wildlife Agency.  It’s funny that Kline and Cravaack want less government control, but here want the government to have all the control.  As I said, the gray wolf is still scheduled to come off the endangered species list by the end of the year, maybe they shouldn’t be upset, and tie their anger to wolves, maybe they should admit that they are upset that private citizens who value the environment and God’s creatures still have a say in what our government does.   By the way, I will also add that I read an article recently that reported that less than 1% of Wisconsin farms in gray wolf territory have had a wolf attack livestock.  I’m not saying’, I’m just sayin’.

The second thing I am annoyed by is that my congressman, John Kline, and the 8th district’s representative, Chip Cravaack, are angered by this.  I did a Google search of other things John Kline might be “angered” by, and nothing came up.  He is not angry about poverty levels rising in the US, or the terrible job market, or even the uber-partisanship that has developed in Congress.  I also looked at what he might be “disturbed” by, just to cover my bases.  He wasn’t disturbed by the fact that the Iraq war was not paid for, nor was it included in budget shortfalls.  He wasn’t disturbed that medical insurance rates are rising faster than even college tuitions, or that millions of people have lost billions of dollars thanks to greedy and unscrupulous bankers and investors.

You might think he just doesn’t get upset unless it means protecting farmers from the big bad wolf, but that isn’t true.  Recently, Congressman Kline was upset when for-profit colleges were being asked to prove that they were actually teaching students, not just taking their money.  He is disturbed that we are subsidizing wind energy, the problem is I’m not sure he is quite as disturbed about subsidizing the oil industry, or the corporate farm industry.  And he is upset that it is important to a majority us that we provide affordable healthcare for every American.  Most of all, I think Kline is upset that the president is Obama, and not an extremist TEA Party Republican who would return the country to a time like the Guilded Age when the rich were rich and the poor were really poor. When giant mansions held giant weekend long parties, and tenements in dirty cities held giant masses of sick and beaten down people.

I wish they could get angry at things most of his constituents might get angered by, not topics that only the most extreme and partisan Republicans who support him get angered at.  Way to go Congressman Kline, keep fighting for everything but the people.

2012 Senate strategy Amy Klobuchar vs. ??? and early 2014 Minnesota Senate odds Al Franken vs. ???

So where do we stand when it comes to future elections?  For statewide elections in 2012, we only have Senator Klobuchar, President Obama and the Anti-Marriage Amendment.  In congress we are not sure about Michelle Bachmann yet.  Chip Cravaack has already moved his family to New Hampshire, and everybody else is safe with the remote exception of Rep. Collin Peterson who might be challenged by Lee Byberg.  But I’m not even sure about that being close.  At the height of the 2010 Republican wave Byberg still lost by 18% to Congressman Peterson. 

In one sense, the future is predictable.  Just like I can look at the Twins minor league teams and shudder at the future possibilities of Minnesota Twins success in coming years, political parties can look at their “minor leagues” and begin planning for the future.  Obviously you cannot account for a Tim Walz or a Chip Cravaack accomplishing the unexpected, but statistically, and realistically, we can look at the current crop and make some decent predictions.
2012 Election Amy Klobuchar vs. ???

Amy Klobuchar may be the safest bet in 2012.  Dan “Doc” Severson has stepped up to challenge her.  “What’s up Doc” is best known for losing to Mark Ritchie in the 2010 Secretary of State race and making the unfounded accusation that there was widespread fraud during the Franken-Coleman race and recount the main theme of his campaign.  I guess he should also be credited for an undistinguished career in the state legislature during the 2000s where he authored five bills, two of which were constitutional “redefinition of marriage” bills.  It also sounds like some guy named Joe Arwood is going to throw his hat in the ring and Phil Krinkie, always willing to get his name in the news is dangling ideas out there that he might get in. 

Few current or future statewide political heavyweights are willing to risk what will likely be a horrible loss on this race. Actually, those three no-names may be a blessing in disguise for Republicans in 2012.  I would contend that the worst thing the Republicans can do, at least in terms of maintaining their shaky hold in the state legislature in 2012, is to have a contested race for senate.  A contested race might draw out Klobuchar supporters who might otherwise be a little apathetic about the president or other races in their district, and maybe be willing to consider staying home if Amy is safe, especially if there is a little snow or cold weather.

It is a well known that Republicans do better when turnout is low, and a low turnout strategy has been a piece of Republican election planning for over 30 years now.  (Voter ID is one step.) If Tim Pawlenty for instance were to enter the race to lose to Senator Klobuchar, you can bet that DFL faithful would turn out in droves to make sure he has no shot at doing what he did to Minnesota to the rest of the nation, and other local races would be affected by that.
2014 Senate Odds

2014 is another story.  In 2014 Senator Franken’s seat, the Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Auditor are all up for election.  My hope is that everything stays status quo there.  I think Senator Franken is doing a great job, Governor Mark Dayton has done the right things and Attorney General Swanson and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie are phenomenal.

But things may not remain status quo.  Governor Dayton will be 67 in 2014 and looking at the possibility of 4 more years like we just had.  Secretary of State Ritchie and Attorney General Swanson need to consider if a third term is something they want to do.

Senator Al Franken is a lock to run again, and is raising money right now.  Franken is more vulnerable than Klobuchar from a political standpoint, but many DFLers are much more passionate about Senator Franken than Senator Klobuchar.  Al Franken is somebody who will really fight for the little guy, sure he isn’t as moderate as Amy Klobuchar, but he is more passionate when it comes to issues he believes in.  I really believe Senator Franken is a Minnesota senator in the mold of Hubert Humphrey (pre-presidential aspirations) and Paul Wellstone, a passionate liberal fighter who people like because he cares, is honest and he is straightforward.

In my mind, the biggest question mark is Governor Dayton.  This year had to be really tough and stressful, and he still has another year with this current crop of legislators.  I do believe he will get a reprieve in 2013, because I think it is very possible that the House and Senate might revert back to control on the liberal side of the aisle after the 2012 elections.

On the DFL side, should Governor Dayton choose not to run, 2010 gubernatorial candidates Mayor R.T. Rybak and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen would jump to the top of the list, but so do Congressman Tim Walz and Attorney General Lori Swanson.  Either of those two could bump Rybak and Thissen, who finished second and third at the 2010 endorsement convention, out of the running.

But the GOP side for Franken’s seat and Dayton’s seat is more interesting.  On the Senate side, the big names are Tim Pawlenty and Michelle Bachmann.  While they have the name power, there a couple of Republicans with real political skills and followings: Senators Dave Thompson and Geoff Michel, and former Representative Laura Brod.  They might be the future big names.  Some others based on a speaking ability and overall presentation ability, however knowing very little about them personally, or about the skeletons in the closet, might include Representatives Keith Downey and Andrea Kieffer and Senators John Howe and Julie Rosen.  Those are prospects at least.  I know there are people like Zellers, Dean and Koch that might have aspirations, but to be a major candidate today people have to see you as a politician, looks, height, hair style, speaking ability, camera presentation and confidence all factor into the equation as much as political stance and political actions.  I don’t think everybody who has aspirations has thosedown.

This is how I see it playing out:

Early 2014 Republican Senate Candidate Endorsement Rankings vs. Senator Al Franken:

  1. Michelle Bachmann – She will be the odds on favorite in my book.  Her presidential aspirations, although serious, are not really serious.  She hasn’t stopped campaigning for Congress yet, but  should she, leaving the House opens up the door for her to campaign full time for Senate.  That said, I don’t think she can beat very many people in a statewide race.
  2. Tim Pawlenty – Tim Pawlenty has to decide if he wants to risk another losing battle with Michelle Bachman.  Then he has to decide if he wants to risk what would be another embarrassing loss, but this time to Senator Al Franken.
  3. John Kline – Not mentioned before this, John Kline is in my opinion the top Republican candidate in the state.  I think he could win anything he runs for.  He won’t run for governor, because he doesn’t really live in Minnesota, and he is very, Very, VERY safe in Congress, so he may never risk taking the chance on Senate.  Additionally, in 2014 he will be 67 and he would likely keep his House seat with very little work.  And who knows, maybe he is interested in House leadership.  Odds are not likely he runs, but he could win.

Early 2014 Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Endorsement Rankings:

Without ranking them, I think the favorites are Geoff Michel, Laura Brod and Dave Thompson.  I’ve never met Geoff Michel.  Laura Brod seemed a little rude to me when I had the chance to meet her once.  I was wearing a DFLer’s t-shirt, so she knew I was a Democrat, and she along with so many Republicans seem to have an automatic dislike for Democrats without knowing them.  I was going to say hi and introduce myself, but she never made eye contact and kind of walked by with her nose in the air.  Dave Thompson is the one person here that I have had a personal conversation with, and although I really disagree with his political policies, I kind of like him.  The couple problems for him that I see are that he is a little short, and sometimes I’m not sure if he is talking to me because he is interested in a conversation, or if he feels like he needs to be polite.  He did it on the radio for years, so he may be genuinely bored by conversations with people.  I feel like he may not care, he’s just waiting to be done,
which could be a negative in campaigning. I’m not sure though, maybe it is just me or maybe he doesn’t like me and is counting the minutes until he can be done. 

If all three happened to run, I think Laura Brod would be the prohibitive favorite, I think women have an advantage with independents and moderates these days.  But since she is younger and probably has a younger family than the other two, she may decide to wait a little longer.  Plus, there is that mysterious health problem that caused her to drop out in 2010.

Between Dave Thompson and Geoff Michel, I personally think Dave Thompson has a better chance, but what do I know.  I guess it depends on who the higher ups in the Republican Party want.  Either way, there are other important seats, Attorney General and Secretary of State are both very important, and stepping stones to higher office that any of them may be interested in.

Chip Cravaack’s entire common-sense government frugality mantra is a lie

Two congressmen from Minnesota lease cars at taxpayer expense, Collin Peterson and Chip Cravaack.  Rep. Peterson leases two Ford Focuses, spending $652 a month in taxpayer money for his staff to use cars to travel the district.  Rep. Cravaack spends about $1,000 a month in taxpayer money for a Chevy Equinox.  It is “about $1,000” because even though the most recent report lists the car $1,700, a Cravaack spokesperson said that figure included lease startup costs so the true costs will be about $1,000 every month in taxpayer money.

It seems just a little bit hypocritical that Chip Cravaack who said “Congress must learn to do what families in Minnesota do every day, live within our means,” is the same Chip Cravaack who has a $1,000 a month car lease that very few Minnesotan families could afford, but who are still the taxpayers paying for his high lease when he is supposedly concerned about government living within its means. 

It also seems just a little bit hypocritical that the Chip Cravaack who has been painting a grim picture of the consequences of current government spending, who said at a May town hall meeting that if spending doesn’t change, the U.S. will end up facing the same economic issues as Greece and Portugal, is the same Chip Cravaack who is spending $1,000 a month in taxpayer money on a car lease, when he thinks government spending needs to change.

And I guess it seems still just a little bit more hypocritical that the Chip Cravaack who thinks the U.S. is so broke that we can’t afford to continue to fund something so basic, and crucial to our wellbeing as a nation like funding Medicare and Social Security, is the same Chip Cravaack that thinks it is different to spend $1,000 a month in taxpayer money on a Chevy Equinox SUV so his staff has a safe, roomy and reliable car to travel around the district in.  Did I mention at taxpayer expense?  That means government spending. 

In fact, Chip Cravaack’s entire common-sense government frugality mantra is nothing more than a lie to get voter’s who may not be paying really close attention to support him.  He and practically every other Republican don’t have an answer for what to cut or how to solve our financial problems.  They have a darn good slogan though.  It seems like the only money saving ideas they have are to cut services and benefits in the country as long as those services and benefits don’t affect their own services and benefits.  So they cut Medicare, Social Security, education, worker’s rights, gay rights, women’s rights, child labor laws, clean air laws, clean water laws and every other line item as long as it does not reduce their livelihood coming from big business, big oil, financial markets and military spending.

Here’s an idea Rep. Cravaack.  You could have gotten three of Collin Peterson’s Ford Focuses for $978, had your staff running around your district like hamsters in a habitrail, and still saved taxpayers $22 a month.  That’s a start toward changing government spending.  Here’s another idea, stop spending $15 billion a month on wars and let those countries govern themselves.

Three Minnesota Congress Members Among the Republicans Trying to Redefine Rape

I’m an advocate for ignoring House Speaker John Boehner, but it is hard to when he recently called an anti-abortion bill that redefines what rape is “one of our highest legislative priorities.”

In the bill, H.R. 3, some abortions would be denied except in cases of “forcible rape.”  That means many statutory rapes, incest, unconscious rapes involving alcohol or date-rape drugs, rapes of coercion and impaired mental ability might not be deemed “forcible.”  One pro-choice advocate said something to the effect that this bill would take us back to a time when saying no isn’t enough. 

So the big question is, who would define what forcible is?  And how would whether it was “forcible rape” or “just rape” be determined in each case?  Would there be rape panels determining the severity of the force?  Would the rape victim be judged based on resistance?  It seems very wrong, but I guess in the end it really doesn’t matter because the bill will not pass.  Regardless, Republican supporters should be ashamed of this.

They should be held accountable because it is a “top priority.”  Never mind that if Republicans really wanted to make it a top priority and pass an anti-abortion bill they could have done it a few years ago when they controlled the Presidency, the House and the Senate, rather than now when they know it won’t pass the Senate or the President.  Of course, maybe that is the point.  It looks good to their supporters who support them on that single issue, and this way they can continue to count on their support in the future.

And never mind the Republican battle cry of less government control, which is really laughable because the only people they want “unburdened” from government control are themselves and wealthy businessmen.  They still want to control you and me, with a special control emphasis on minority communities.  Why else would the Republicans want to decide who we love, what language we speak, if we can vote, whether babies born in the U.S. should be citizens or not, how clean the air is, whether women are equal or which populations get special treatment.  They want government to control your personal life as much as possible if it could impact them. 

And never mind the fact that some rich kids, who feel they are better than everybody else (maybe like the children of rich politicians and rich businessmen,) like to use date-rape drugs like Rohypnol.  Maybe they want to set the precedent that since there was a date rape drug involved, it really wasn’t “forced rape,” so it should have a lesser sentence.  That way they can protect their sons and all his frat buddies.

I realize I might be going a little over the top, but this bill isn’t about making our country better!  It is another cheap, hypocritical, poorly thought out stunt to feed to their base.  This bill not only deserves to be defeated, but the many Republican co-signors, including John Kline, Michelle Bachmann and Chip Cravaack, should be chastised for trying to say a rape isn’t really a rape unless it is violent.  This is just another wedge driven in to divide America.