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John Kline's Record

Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

John Kline: Reliably Opposed to Ethics and Oversight

This isn't exactly news, but I didn't want to let it pass without comment. About two weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives, for the first time in history, established an independent ethics oversight panel. Nancy Pelosi deserves a lot of credit for getting this done; it faced considerable opposition, and not just from Republicans:

The final vote, 229 to 182, belied the measure's controversy in the House; 159 Republicans and 23 Democrats opposed it. Even with two House members under indictment, two others sent to prison, and several others under federal investigation, nearly half the House did not want to submit the body to the scrutiny of a panel not under its control.

It should come as a surprised to no one that John "he doesn't need to talk about ethics; he's lived it" Kline voted against creating this ethics committee; moreover, he and the rest of the obstructionists came within one vote of preventing an "up or down vote" on the measure.

Despite my opposition to Kline on the issues, I have no reason to believe he's guilty of any breaches of ethics. So why is he opposed to an ethics oversight panel which Congress so obviously needs? Is there something going on we don't know about, or is he simply trying to protect the sizeable number of GOP legislators who might be exposed by such oversight?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

It Can Happen Here

That's an ominous statement. It is typically used to refer to acts which were once unthinkable in America --- a President routinely declaring his intent to ignore all or part of the laws passed by Congress, unchecked government surveillance of citizens, arbitrary arrest and detention of citizens, and government-sanctioned torture. But of course, George Bush and his enablers (like John Kline) have ushered in all of those things in the past 7 years, with remarkably little outcry --- indeed, Bush just reaffirmed his devotion to torture yesterday.

However, that's not what I'm referring to here. Rather, I'm referring to the fact that the NRCC lost the race for Denny Hastert's old seat in a special election yesterday.

I would like to think that Bush's blatant and repeated violations of the letter and spirit of the Constitution --- and congressional Republicans' complicity in it --- are a big part of the reason. This is a solid conservative district, a seat Hastert had held for 20 years. What's more, the NRCC outspent the DCCC 2-to-1 to hold this seat, and they still lost.

If it can happen in IL-14, it can happen anywhere. John Kline's back-to-back 16-point re-election wins mean nothing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Kline Playing Politics with Earmarks

[This is a letter to the editor, submitted to ThisWeek Eagan on February 23, 2008.]

Far from showing integrity, as another reader suggested, John Kline's position on earmarks is politics as usual.

An earmark is a congressional mandate that part of the budget must be spent on a given project. Earmarks can guarantee funding for worthwhile projects, and are only a problem when used for unnecessary boondoggles like Alaska's famed 'Bridge to Nowhere'. The solution is not to end earmarks, but to hold Congress accountable by identifying each earmark and the legislator who requested it.

John Kline put politics over principle and voted against earmark reform legislation last January, because it was more important to him to obstruct the new Democratic majority in Congress. Now he is playing political games by rejecting earmarks altogether, instead of doing his job to advocate for worthwhile projects in his district --- projects he acknowledges have merit. Some integrity.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

We're Back --- Sort Of

Hello again.

If there's anyone out there still reading this, you may have noticed that I took a bit of a sabbatical. I'll get to the reasons for that in a minute.

First, I want to set expectations about what will appear here over the next 8+ months. I most certainly do not intend to continue posting at anything close to the rate I did while volunteering on the Rowley campaign. That experience left me tremendously burned out, and I'm not eager to go through it again.

But . . . I can't simply sit back and do nothing any longer, either. The Bush administration is still incompetent, corrupt, and the worst threat to the Constitution our nation has seen in my lifetime. To remain silent in the face of such malignant government is unconscionable. Compared to Bush, Cheney, Mukasey, et al, John Kline is small potatoes. But he's still their enabler, and still a poor representative for the people of Minnesota's 2nd congressional district. And if people like me don't work to send him back to Texas, he'll continue to collect taxpayer dollars while acting as a speed bump to progress for as long as he likes.

So, for now anyway, I've decided to wade back in to the shallow end of electoral politics, in the form of writing letters to the editor. No doubt Kline will not be the only target of these letters; Coleman and McCain will likely take their shots as well. And since many of these letters will never appear in print, I'll publish all of them here, just so the four or five people a day who accidentally browse past this blog might see them.

As to my reasons for the hiatus --- well, the fact of the matter is that I'm a family man with a full time job. I poured my heart and soul into the Rowley campaign 2 years ago because I believed Coleen Rowley would be effective in getting Congress to stand up and do its job to check Bush's power grabs. And I still believe she would do a better job of upholding the Constitution than at least 400 or so of the 435 House members currently serving.

But putting that much energy into a campaign while trying to keep up with my other responsibilities really took its toll. And I needed some time away from politics. A long time, as it turns out. And as I mentioned above, I have no intention of getting that deeply involved in any campaign this time around. Two years ago, Kline's folks attacked me, and attacked me hard because they seemed to think they needed to discredit me in order to discredit Coleen.

This time around, let me state clearly and unambiguously: I am not paid by, nor do I volunteer for any candidate for office at the state or federal level. Before it's all over, I might spend a weekend or two doorknocking; that's pretty much the most I'm likely to be involved in the campaign of any particular candidate.

As always, the views and opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Kline Flip-Flops on Earmarks

One of the few issues on which I have agreed with John Kline is his call for greater transparency in earmarks --- special provisions inserted in appropriations bills to fund pet projects for various legislators in their home districts. On his congressional web page, Kline cites at least two pieces of earmark reform legislation he has co-sponsored. And as recently as December 9 of last year, Rob Hotakainen of the Star Tribune wrote that Kline "said he will support a crackdown on earmarks for pet projects . . . ."

For some reason, none of that seems to matter now. On Friday, Kline was one of 152 legislators --- all Republicans --- who voted against the Democrats earmark reform legislation (Michelle Bachmann was another --- birds of a feather).

Why the change of heart, congressman? Could it possibly be that you oppose the Democrats' bill because it's more rigorous than anything the Republicans proposed --- but failed to enact?

Kline Silent About a Surge "For No Particular Reason"

Not long ago, I gave my opinion on George Bush's "surge" strategy for Iraq:

The surge is not driven by military considerations, but political ones. Hundreds if not thousands of our troops will die for it, and our military will be critically weakened for at least a generation. It should be opposed, loudly and repeatedly, by anyone with an ounce of concern for our men and women in uniform or the greater good of our country.

So I'd like to send out kudos to Minnesota reps Ellison, Oberstar, and Walz, and to Senators Klobuchar and Coleman for coming out against the surge. On January 5, MPR made an effort to interview all Minnesota representatives and Senators about Iraq. Peterson and McCollum didn't make an outright statements against a surge, but indicated their belief that a surge could make the situation worse. Jim Ramstad came out in favor of setting benchmarks for withdrawal, but said he wanted to hear Bush's case for a surge before making a decision about it.

That's what all of the adults had to say. What's left are the two clowns.

Michele Bachmann wants to visit Iraq before forming an opinion about what should be done. How did she manage to win an election without having an opinion about Iraq?

Of course the biggest clown of all was none other than our good friend John Kline, the only member of Minnesota's congressional delegation who refused to talk to MPR. A Kline spokesman reportedly told MPR that Kline will "sit this one out for no particular reason".

Yes, our congressman has time to whine and complain about the fact that he's in the minority now, but he can't be bothered to make a statement about the number one issue facing the country. Heckuva job, Klinie.

John Kline Whines About Getting Treated Like a Democrat

After whining about the fact that the majority Democrats have hit the ground running to live up to their promise to pass major reform legislation in the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress, Kline joined a handful of other Republicans to demand that the Democrats treat them better than the Democrats were treated during their 12 years in the minority.

Led by Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Kline and 10 other Republicans held press conference to promote their Minority Bill of Rights --- ironically drawing on a proposal then-minority leader Nancy Pelosi put forward two years ago, which the Republican leadership greeted with deafening indifference.

The hypocrisy and whining involved here is staggering, and I finally discovered a news report which does it justice:

Of course, the 11 Republicans did their best to quickly brush over the fact that, well, when they were in power, they failed to allow Democrats the same minority rights they now seek.

"Uh, you know, look," Cantor said. "Um, a lot of things that went on in prior Congresses, um, um, may not have been, uh, what we all would have liked to see, but we are here now."

"If you look at many of us here, here on the stage today," McHenry said, "we were not in Congress in 2004 so I didn’t have an opportunity to do that."

But the press was having none of it, accosting the members after the cameras went black.

"Isn’t this a case of the pot calling the kettle back?" one reporter asked McHenry.

"You do see the irony here, right?" barked another.

"Is this an acknowledgment that the GOP leadership was wrong?"

A light mist of nervous sweat appeared on McHenry’s forehead.

"Don’t you worry that this is going to sound like a lot of whining?" snapped one last journalist.

For twelve years, Republicans have by and large gotten away with making completely ridiculous statements to a guileless press, which rarely called them on their nonsense. Let's hope this is the start of a new, more responsible media who will ask tough questions of leaders who talk nonsense.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Four Years Late, Kline Criticizes GOP Tactics

Today Democrats formally took control of Congress, and immediately began working to keep their campaign promises by passing the 11 bills Democrats promised to pass during their first 100 hours in power.

Republicans are grumpy about this.

However, almost all of the bills enjoy the overwhelming support of the American people. Some people might look at this and praise these as "bipartisan" bills. However, the Star Tribune (January 3, 2007) has decided that the Democrats' effort to pass this legislation quickly violates the spirit of bipartisanship --- because Democrats are adopting Republican tactics to insure the bills get passed.

They now say they need to sideline the Republicans, much as they were set aside, to ensure their goal of passing half a dozen top-priority bills within the first 100 hours of legislative business. They'll move the bills straight to the House floor without putting them through committee review, where Republicans could challenge them, and without permitting Republicans to offer amendments or alternatives on the floor.

Minnesota Rep. John Kline joined fellow Republicans at a news conference Wednesday to complain. Kline said he was disappointed to learn of Pelosi's plans for the first 100 hours.

"That certainly implies we won't see business done in a new way," he said.

As usual, Kline is putting partisanship over principle in expressing his mock "disappointment" that the Democrats are fulfilling their promise to pass popular legislation. But I must applaud Kline's honesty in acknowledging that freezing out the minority is an old Republican tactic.

Of course, Kline's professed disappointment rings remarkably hollow when one considers how he abjectly failed to lift a finger to prevent the Republican leadership from using these same tactics, and worse, to ram through the Medicare Part D legislation. And Kline himself was complicit in more Republican subterfuge in putting an end to all meaningful oversight of reconstruction activities in Iraq just weeks before the November election.

Hypocrisy, thy name is John Kline.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Iraq is a quagmire. By an overwhelming margin, the American public wants to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and they made their feelings crystal clear on election day.

George Bush knows that continuing to "stay the course" is a political loser, but because he has staked his presidency and his legacy on Iraq, the only thing he can do is increase our presence, a tactic which has come to be known as a "surge".

Steve Benen, guest blogging at the Washington Monthly, provides a concise summary of how well folks are receiving this idea:

The troops don't seem to care for the idea. Neither does the public. The Joint Chiefs aren't enthralled with the proposal, and new Defense Secretary Robert Gates apparently has some concerns of his own.

On the Hill, while congressional Democrats are nearly universal in their opposition to escalation, the list of high-profile Republican opponents, or at least skeptics, has grown considerably in just the last three days. Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Chuck Lugar (R-Ind.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) are all expressing doubts, if not outright opposition.

There is good reason to oppose the surge. No one --- I mean, literally no one --- appears to believe that it will move Iraq a single step closer to stability. And a great many people, such as W. Patrick Lang and Ray McGovern of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, believe it will make things much worse, while critically damaging the U.S. military:

Analogies come to mind: Stalingrad, the Bulge, Dien Bien Phu, the Battle of Algiers.

It will be total war with the likelihood of all the excesses and mass casualties that come with total war. To force such a strategy on our armed forces would be nothing short of immoral, in view of predictable troop losses and the huge number of Iraqis who would meet violent injury and death. If adopted, the "surge" strategy will turn out to be something we will spend a generation living down.

Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., spoke for many of us on Sunday when George Stephanopoulos asked him to explain why Smith had said on the Senate floor that U.S. policy on Iraq may be "criminal:"

"You can use any adjective you want, George. But I have long believed in a military context, when you do the same thing over and over again, without a clear strategy for victory, at the expense of your young people in arms, that is dereliction. That is deeply immoral."

The surge is not driven by military considerations, but political ones. Hundreds if not thousands of our troops will die for it, and our military will be critically weakened for at least a generation. It should be opposed, loudly and repeatedly, by anyone with an ounce of concern for our men and women in uniform or the greater good of our country.

From John Kline, a sitting member of Congress who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, we have heard not one word. We know he opposes a surge, because he praised the Iraq Study Group's recommendation against sending additional troops to Iraq.

What are you doing to stop it, congressman? If the ends of your electoral victory are to justify the less-than-honorable means used to obtain it, now is the time to step up and make a bold stand of principle over partisanship.

Leaders lead, congressman.

John Kline's Perfect Record

I don't want folks to get the idea that this is some kind of attack blog. My aim is to highlight all aspects of John Kline's Record: the good as well as the bad.

So, in addition to, say, pointing out that John Kline continues to campaign on his record of support for veterans, even though the record shows that his support for veterans is spotty at best, I'd also like to call attention to the fact that John Kline was one of 4 members of the House of Representatives with a perfect voting record during the 109th Congress.

Congratulations, congressman.