.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

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.

Monday, October 30, 2006

More 'Empty Rhetoric' From Kline

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

Well, perhaps a more accurate term would be 'absent rhetoric'. For a man who claims to be so concerned about solutions, he has repeatedly come up short when asked to provide them.

Consider, for example, the information Kline provided to MPR, versus the information Coleen provided. Under Coleen's name, there are audio clips on a dozen different issues; for Kline, there are only five clips, all on the topic of Iraq.

Or consider the information each campaign provided to the CW. While there isn't exactly a wealth of information on Coleen's page, it's infinitely more than Kline has provided.

Not a CW viewer? Then how about WCCO? Kline provides his bio, and nothing else.

KSTP? They would have hosted the League of Women Voters debate between CD2 candidates, if John Kline had agreed to participate. But since he refused, KSTP talked to Coleen for a half-hour (requires Internet Explorer).

This is a pattern for Kline, who figures that the less he has to say, the less ammunition his critics will have to attack him. But as a member of Congress, John Kline has a responsibility to be responsive to the needs of his constituents, and a key part of that is telling the voters where he stands on the issues.

But it's hardly surprising that Kline has ducked almost every opportunity to discuss the issues; he hasn't even bothered to put substantive content on his campaign web site. Contrast that to Coleen's dozen detailed position statements.

We've already provided a brief comparison between Coleen's detailed positions and John Kline's empty rhetoric on a few issues they've recently debated. Kline seems to believe that the voters are more concerned about the distorted accusations he's been leveling against Coleen than they are about, say, the debacle in Iraq, the sinking middle class, 46 million Americans without health insurance, the suspension of habeas corpus, or the fact that John Kline and the GOP-led Congress have failed utterly in their Constitutional duty to provide a check on an out-of-control executive.

On November 7, we're going to prove him wrong.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Kline Votes Against Funding Veterans' Health Care

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

John Kline has recently chosen to make repeated, groundless attacks on Coleen Rowley's support for veterans. We have earlier noted just how absurd this claim is, and the fact that former NATO Supreme Alied Commander Wesley Clark just endorsed Coleen is yet further proof that Kline is spreading smears without substance.

Smears without substance are all that Kline has been able to offer in this campaign.

Anyway, since Kline has chosen to make support for veterans the cornerstone of his campaign, while providing no solutions to problems like the disaster in Iraq, comprehensive ethics reform, the solution for 46 million Americans without health insurance and other issues of importance to the district, we have been closely examining John Kline's own record of support for veterans, and found it wanting. Today we call out a number of votes John Kline cast to block increased funding for veterans' health care.

7/25/2003, vote #450:
Kline Voted to Maintain VA Funding at $1.8 Billion Below its Authorized Level. The Committee on Rules rejected an amendment in the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Indepenent Agencies Appropriations Act of 2004 which would increase funding for the VA by $1.8 billion to the level fully authorized in that year's budget resolution. Republicans held a floor vote confirming this ruling, which passed 229-196.

10/31/2003, vote #600:
Kline Voted Against an Additional $1.3 Billion for Veterans Medical Care. In reconciling House and Senate versions of Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Defense and for the Reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, David Obey made a motion to recommit the House version of the bill to accept the Senate's larger amount for veterans' medical care. The motion was defeated, 198-221.

3/25/2004, vote #91:
Kline Voted Against a $2.5 Billion Increase in Veterans Health Care. Spratt of South Carolina proposed adding $2.5 billion to the FY 2005 budget for veterans' health care --- money which the Republican chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs agreed was needed in order to prevent cuts to veterans' health care in a time of war. The amendment was defeated, 194-232.

3/15/2005, vote #69:
Kline Voted to Block Consideration of an Amendment to Increase Veterans Health Care by $1.2 Billion.

3/16/2005, vote #76:
Kline Opposed $150 Million for Military Health Care and Job Training. In 2005, Kline voted against a proposal to the budget to increase funding for military health care by $100 million and transitional job training for military personnel by $50 million. This proposal came in place of a $1.3 billion proposal which had been ruled out of order. The proposed increase failed, 200-229.

5/26/2005, vote #224:
Kline Voted Against $53 Million Boost for Veterans Health Care & Benefits, When A Single Vote Made the Difference. In 2005, Kline voted against an amendment to the Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs funding bill to add $53 million for veterans health care and other benefits, offset by a 9 percent cut to BRAC. The amendment would add $8 million for combat-related trauma care, $6 million for poly-trauma centers to support wounded troops once they return to their homes, $9 million for VA medical and prosthetic research and $7 million for 100 additional staff who process claims for compensation and pension benefits. Finally, the amendment would provide $23 million to help approximately 4,100 spouses of service members with children whose spouse died during the War on Terrorism between September 11, 2001 and November 30, 2004 by making them eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. The amendment failed, 213-214. This is one of the votes contributing to Kine's zero rating from DAV in 2005.

For those of you keeping score at home, this brings the total number of votes Kline has cast against veterans' interests to 15. And we're actually not done yet. The group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, "the nation's first and largest group dedicated to the Troops and Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the civilian supporters of those Troops and Veterans," recently gave out their congressional report card based on a comprehensive analysis of the voting record, and gave John Kline a C. We'll wrap up our analysis of John Kline's voting record by mentioning a couple of key votes IAVA noted.

Friday, October 27, 2006

More of Kline's Votes on Veterans' Issues

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

Over the past few days, we've been documenting John Kline's voting record on veterans' issues. We noted earlier how Kline consistently places a higher priority on Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy than on helping veterans, and how he has voted several times against legislation that would smooth a veteran's transition back into American society after returning from overseas.

Today's votes don't really have a theme, other than they are more examples of John Kline choosing not to help veterans when he had the chance.

3/15/2005, vote #71:
Kline Voted Against Consideration of an Additional $3 Billion for Veterans Health Care in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan. In the words of Rep. Filner, author of the tabled amendment: "Those who are coming back today from Afghanistan and Iraq, the vast majority have the potential of having post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD; and yet when they will need the services in the coming year, we will have reduced those PTSD services because of the cut in the budget that the President has proposed and this Republican Congress will approve.

We will cut nursing care. We will cut research. We will cut prosthetic devices. But we will add more waiting time for those who want a mental health examination or a dental examination. We will add months and months and months to the waiting time for those who want their claims established. Yet when I asked today for $3 billion, the majority of this House said no.

We can afford the $81 billion. It was for our active duty. We can afford a $7.5 trillion debt. We can go into deficits for $400 billion this year, but no, no, let us not pay that $3 billion for our veterans." The amendment was not considered 224-200. This is one of the votes contributing to Kine's zero rating from DAV in 2005.

3/17/2005, vote #87:
Kline Voted Against Rescinding Cuts to Veterans Programs. John Spratt offered an amendment to the 2006 budget resolution to rescind mandatory cuts likely to fall on Medicaid, veterans, student loans, and other services; provide increased funding for important domestic priorities, such as education, veterans, community and regional development, and the environment; and impose a pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rule, which protects the Social Security Trust Fund surplus by requiring that any mandatory spending increases or tax cuts be fully offset. The amendment failed, 165-264. This is one of the votes contributing to Kine's zero rating from DAV in 2005.

(It's worth noting here that Coleen supports re-implementing the PAYGO rule.)

5/25/2005, vote #221:
Kline Opposed Expanding TRICARE to Thousands of National Guard & Reserve Volunteers. In 2005, Kline voted against a motion to expand access to the military's TRICARE health insurance program to thousands of reservist and National Guard members. Despite the fact that more than 433,000 members of the National Guard and Reserves have been called up for active duty over the last two and one-half years, not all Guardsmen and Reservists have access to TRICARE. A 2003 report by the General Accounting Office showed that 20 percent of all Reservists do not have health insurance, and 40 percent of Reservists aged 19 to 35 lack health coverage. According to the latest Defense Department data, 18 percent of activated Reservists have no medical coverage. Currently, only those called up for active duty are eligible for the program. The proposal would have expanded military health care to provide access to TRICARE to most members of the Guard and Reserve and their families for a low fee. The motion failed, 211-218.

(In Coleen's issues statement on veterans, she states her explicit support for the expansion of TRICARE which Kline voted down.)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

John Kline and 'Empty Rhetoric'

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

This is really a story about Mark Kennedy, but for some reason, John Kline decided to jump into the fray as well.

Desperately behind in the polls, it appears that Mark Kennedy is hoping to complete a 'hail Mary' comeback by challenging DFL candidate Amy Klobuchar to a one-hour debate devoted exclusively to discussing the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

What makes Kennedy's challenge relevant to this campaign, however, is that John Kline is backing Kennedy up, saying "I, like Mark, am tired of people saying, 'Well, we don't like the war in Iraq, we'll just make it better.' That's empty rhetoric".

That's an interesting view coming from a man who himself ducked out on the opportunity to debate Coleen on Iraq and other issues at the League of Women Voters debate, as well as declining several other offers to debate. It's especially interesting considering that, far from offering "empty rhetoric" on Iraq, Coleen has proposed a plan very similar to that which is reportedly under consideration by Kline's mentor and hero, James Baker.

But what makes Kline's statement truly ironic is that his own plan for making Iraq "better" is to "move troops around".

Another Endorsement for Coleen!

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

ECM Publishers, owners of the ThisWeek chain of newspapers the Second District, have endorsed Coleen in her bid to defeat John Kline:

Like many Americans, Rowley is indignant at the country’s direction under President Bush and a Republican Congress. The ex-FBI agent and 9/11 whistleblower is bright, tenacious, a flexible thinker and an able voice of dissent.

In other words, she’s right for these perilous times. The Republican-leaning 2nd District may not be ready to elect a Democrat, but we think Rowley is the most capable and deserving of Kline’s opponents since 2002.


[Kline's] uncritical embrace of the Bush team’s Iraqi campaign is troubling, especially for a Marine veteran. His analysis of the challenges faced in Iraq is cogent, his list of solutions short and unsatisfying. Kline is loyal, and determined, and probably correct in stating that an immediate withdrawal from Iraq would bring an even greater terrorist threat. But he has little regard for reasonable criticisms of the war effort voiced by several retired generals. Neither he nor the Bush administration has adequately explained why Iraq is, or had to be, the central front in the war on terror.

Rowley supports a phased troop withdrawal that calls for allowing the Iraqi army and security forces to assume responsibility for the country. The plan, promoted by dissident U.S. Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, would have U.S. troops retreating to the perimeter of the fighting and being hosted by other countries. The plan may have flaws, but it’s a starting point for discussion.

A self-proclaimed former Republican voter, Rowley can’t be dismissed as a liberal tax-and-spender. Her call for repeal of Bush tax cuts to the top 1 to 2 percent of income earners comes at a time when economic forces are conspiring to fatten corporate profits and further enrich the wealthy while leaving the middle class in its place. Rowley says revenue from repealing the tax cuts should be applied only to reduction of the $300 billion national deficit, not new spending.

This is a very strong endorsement indeed, and confirms much of what we've been saying all along. For example, earlier today we pointed out how Kline's "list of solutions is short and unsatisfying". The final sentence says it all:

"A nation thirsting for change will be better served with Coleen Rowley in Congress than with John Kline."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

Listen to the Generals

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

Listen to generals . . . who are in Iraq. - John Kline on Almanac, October 20, 2006

To the extent that John Kline has a solution to the disaster of Iraq --- and it's not at all clear that he does --- he emphasizes the need to listen to experienced military leaders who have been there.

Leaders like Maj. Gen. John Batiste and Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton:

Two retired senior Army generals, who served in Iraq and previously voted Republican, are now openly endorsing a Democratic takeover of Congress. The generals, and an active-duty senior military official, told Salon in separate interviews that they believe a Democratic victory will help reverse course from what they consider to be a disastrous Bush administration policy in Iraq.

There's more:

Eaton, who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004, agrees that Democratic control of Congress could be the best way to wrest control from the Bush administration and steer the United States away from a gravely flawed strategy in Iraq. "The way out that I see is to hand the House and the Senate to the Democrats and get this thing turned around," Eaton explained, adding that such sentiment is growing among retired and active-duty military leaders. "Most of us see two more years of the same if the Republicans stay in power," he said.

Most of us see two more years of the same if Republicans like John Kline stay in power, too, especially since Kline supports an open-ended committment to the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and has even voted to allow the construction of permanent U.S. military bases there (and was in the minority, even among Republicans).


[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

"I constantly have difficulty getting a solution from Mrs. Rowley." - John Kline on Almanac, October 20, 2006

John Kline has registered the complaint that Coleen does not offer solutions to the problems facing America. Setting aside the fact that a number of the problems we face occurred or were exacerbated during Kline's four years in office, it's a valuable exercise to do a side-by-side comparison of Coleen's proposed solutions with John Kline's.

Here are just a few of the solutions Coleen has proposed for certain issues, side by side with John Kline's. (The video of the 10/20/2006 Almanac debate is available here):

 Issue  Coleen Rowley's Solution
 John Kline's "Solution"
 Iraq  Responsible redeployment "to regional positions to respond quickly to emergency scenarios and/or terrorist developments."  Get the surrounding countries, including Syria and Iran on board to prevent the violence from spilling over. (Almanac debate)

Coleen's position is substantially identical to the options reportedly under consideration by a commission led by James Baker, John Kline's mentor and hero.
 "move troops around" (Almanac debate)
 11 million undocumented workers in the U.S.
 Earned path to citizenship.  Undocumented workers may gain citizenship in the following manner:
  1. Possess a steady job for six years
  2. Pay a $2,000 fee and all back taxes
  3. Learn English and study American civics
  4. Pass a rigorous criminal and national security background check
 "Well, it wouldn't be, I mean, it's a false choice to say we have to let them stay or we have to bus them out.  That's not the choice that's there.  Many will leave themselves if there's a mechanism for them to come back in . . . ." (Access to Democracy, August 14 2006)
 Skyrocketing federal debt
 Allow tax cuts for the wealthiest 1%-2% to lapse, reinstitute the "pay as you go" budgeting model, and no more earmarks. (Almanac debate)
 "contain spending" (Almanac debate)

As of this writing, Coleen has published detailed positions and solutions on a dozen issues which matter in this election. As of this writing, John Kline has published zero. Which candidate is the one short on solutions?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Kline Votes Against Job Training, Debt Relief for Veterans

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

More votes where Kline had priorities other than helping veterans. For those keeping track at home, this brings the total so far up to six. But we're not done yet.

  • 1/28/2004, vote #9:
    Kline Voted Against Helping Reservists And Veterans With Their Debts. In 2004, Kline voted against a proposal that would exempt active-duty, reservists and veterans' families from a means test that was added to the bankruptcy code. Under the bill, most debtors earning above the median income for their region would be required to file under Chapter 13, which entails substantial repayment of unsecured debt, rather than Chapter 7, which requires little or no payment. According to the General Accounting Office, 16,000 active duty personnel filed for personal bankruptcy in 1999 - the most current data available. The exemption proposal was rejected 170-198.
  • 3/2/2005, vote #47:
    Kline Voted Against Additional Job Assistance to Veterans Returning from Overseas. In 2005, Kline voted against a motion to a job training reauthorization bill to provide extra assistance to veterans who are returning from conflicts overseas. Many veterans returning from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq may need skills and training to obtain or retain their jobs while Reservists who have spent a year or more overseas have put their careers on hold to serve our country. The motion failed, 197-228.
  • 4/14/2005, vote #107:
    Kline Voted Against Debt Assistance for Returning Guard & Reservists (Again). In 2005, Kline voted against a motion to the 2005 bankruptcy reform bill to exempt members of the National Guard and Reserve from the means test in the bill if their debt was a result of active duty or was incurred within two years of returning home from their service. The 2 years after they return from service are the most difficult. The motion to protect Guard and Reserve volunteers failed, 200-229.

Monday, October 23, 2006

John Kline's Priorities: Tax Cuts Over Veterans

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

In recent days, we've discussed how John Kline takes veterans for granted, assuming that they will vote for him because Kline is himself a 25-year Marine Corps veteran. But a dispassionate analysis of his record in Congress shows that helping veterans is not a high priority for Kline. One stunning example is the time a group of Minnesota veterans traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with the Minnesota congressional delegation, and Kline told them to their faces that toeing the Republican party line was a higher priority to him than they were.

As for his voting record, Kline has consistently demonstrated that he places a higher priority on Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy than on supporting veterans.

Kline has consistently voted to cut or voted against increases in veterans' health care in order to preserve Bush's tax cuts. Here are three examples:

  • 3/21/2003, vote #82:
    Kline Voted To Cut Veterans & Health Programs By Billions To Make Room For Tax Cut Favoring The Wealthy. In 2003, Kline voted for a budget resolution that called for cuts of $15 billion over 10 years in veterans' benefits, including cuts to disability benefit payments to former soldiers and reductions in money for GI bill benefits and health care. The cuts were made in order to make room for President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy. The budget passed, 215-212.
  • 3/17/2005, vote #82:
    Kline Put Tax Cuts Above Veterans' Benefits. In 2005, Kline voted against an amendment to the 2006 budget resolution to increase spending levels by $15.8 billion. The proposal boosted education, training and social services programs by $8 billion, provided $2.9 billion more veteran's health care and $1.7 billion more for homeland security than the GOP resolution. Furthermore, the amendment would have reduced the deficit by $10 billion and raised $25.8 billion by reducing tax cuts for those earning more than $1 million. The amendment was rejected, 180-242. This is one of the votes contributing to Kine's zero rating from DAV in 2005.
  • 5/26/2005, vote #223:
    Kline Puts Tax Cuts for Millionaires Above $2.6 Billion for Veterans (Again). David Obey proposed an amendment which would add $2.6 billion to veterans health care, and pay for it by reducing the Bush tax cuts on those earning $1 million a year or more. House Republicans prevented consideration of the amendment by a vote of 223-194. Every Republican voted to block the amendment, and every Democrat voted to allow it.

The Almanac Debate, Part II: Not Iraq

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

On Friday, October 20, John Kline and Coleen Rowley sat down for the only broadcast television debate of this cycle. The first half of the debate centered on the occupation of Iraq, and the second half covered many other issues. What follows is a summary of that discussion, complete with fact checks as necessary.

The Deficit/Budget: Coleen recommends getting the deficit under control by allowing tax cuts for the wealthiest 1%-2% to lapse, reinstituting "pay as you go" budget guidelines, which require that all new spending or tax cuts be offset by corresponding revenue increases, and "no more earmarks". Kline argues that the federal deficit has been cut in half "now, in 2006", and the economy is "robust". Stock market "reached an all-time high". Kline's solution to reducing the deficit is to "contain spending" --- no specifics.

As a fact check, the deficit has not been cut in half "now, in 2006," as Kline claims. The FY 2006 deficit came in at $248 billion. Kline is no doubt referring to the fact that this is less than half of the $521 billion deficit which was estimated for FY 2004, but the actual deficit that year was $413 billion. Half of $413 billion is $206.5 billion. And while smaller deficits are indeed a good thing, they nevertheless continue to grow the overall debt. That's why Congress has had to raise the federal debt ceiling 4 times in five years, as Coleen pointed out (to be fair, she transposed the 4 and the 5. Either way, the debt is skyrocketing). And the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that deficits will start to rise again --- at least if we maintain an open-ended presence in Iraq and make Bush's tax cuts permanent as John Kline advocates.

And while Kline is correct that the Dow Jones average recently hit a record high, that's just putting nice spin on the fact that it's taken 6.5 years for the Dow to get back up to the high point it had reached when Bill Clinton was in office.

Medicare/Social Security: Coleen supports requiring Medicare to use its buying power to negotiate lower drug prices, rather than prohibiting it as the current Part D plan does. She also mentions that this bill is a prime example of the cost of the culture of corruption (much more analysis is available here).

Coleen then jumps back to the issues of the economy, pointing out that "real, median income has remained stagnant or has dropped." Kline jumps in with "real wages, by the way, are up almost twice what they were in the 1990's. Real wages are up in this country, as well as family incomes. The economy is robust."

We know where Coleen got her information that "real, median income has remained stagnant or dropped" --- from the Census Bureau. That same report indicates that real average income is rising, and perhaps this is where Kline gets his statement that real wages "are up almost twice what they were in the 1990's." However, it's clear that average wages have not doubled in just 7 years, so I don't really know what Kline is trying to say --- other than to produce some really impressive-sounding statistics about the economy.

Getting back to entitlement reform, Kline says: "The upcoming crunch, when we baby boomers retire, in Social Security and Medicare, is going to be crushing. And we are going to have to have the courage to step up and fix that." However, he provides no specifics, such as his long-standing support for privatizing Social Security.

Energy: The two candidates agree --- in principle --- on all aspects of energy policy but one. Kline supports increased domestic production, specifically via increased production in ANWR and elsewhere, which Coleen does not. And Kline specifically cites his vote in favor of the recently-passed energy bill.

There's nothing really to fact-check here, but I would like to point out that the difference between the candidates is really much greater than whether or not to allow drilling in ANWR. For example, according to the Washington Post, the energy bill Kline voted for:

. . . exempts oil and gas industries from some clean-water laws, streamlines permits for oil wells and power lines on public lands, and helps the hydropower industry appeal environmental restrictions. One obscure provision would repeal a Depression-era law that has prevented consolidation of public utilities, potentially transforming the nation's electricity markets.


For example, it exempts oil and gas companies from Safe Drinking Water Act requirements when they inject fluids -- including some carcinogens -- into the earth at high pressure, a process known as hydraulic fracturing. Betty Anthony, director for exploration and production at the American Petroleum Institute, said states already regulate the process, but residents of Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia and other states have complained that it has polluted groundwater in their communities. Meanwhile, the measure will streamline Bureau of Land Management drilling permits -- even though the Bush administration already has granted a record number of permits on BLM land. Lawmakers also authorized seismic blasting in sensitive marine areas to gauge offshore oil reserves -- despite a moratorium on drilling in many of those areas. And the bill will exempt petroleum well pads from storm-water regulations under the Clean Water Act.

Certainly legislators need to compromise in order to get laws passed --- for example, this bill does not include the ANWR drilling which Kline supports --- but it's difficult to believe the Republicans couldn't have passed an energy bill which keeps our drinking water safe if they really wanted to. And Rowley for Congress has previously pointed out other votes Kline has cast which seem to serve no one but the oil industry.

Coleen, on the other hand, supports a much greater emphasis on alternative energy technology.

Immigration: When Cathy Wurzer asks whether a fence on the U.S. Mexico border will really work, Kline doesn't answer the question, saying only that "they're essential" and lists the need for a fence, sensors and increased border patrol. He also mentions the need for an identification system and employer sanctions.

Coleen's approach to immigration starts with fully-funding border patrol and providing them with the tools they need to do their job. Like Kline, she points out the need to enforce existing laws against illegally employing undocumented workers. But the real fireworks comes in the brief debate over Coleen's plan for dealing with the estimated 11 million undocumented workers already in the U.S.: a path to earned citizenship. Coleen supports granting citizenship to undocumented workers who

  • Work a steady job for 6 years.
  • Pay a $2,000 fine and all back taxes owed.
  • Learn English and American civics.
  • Pass a rigorous criminal and national security background check.

Kline opposes this, but has never said what he would do differently. He hasn't said that he would arrest and deport all 11 million undocumented workers, and that's a good thing since it would rip apart families and communities, not to mention that it would place an impossible burden on our law enforcement agencies. The closest Kline has come to stating a policy was on the public access cable show Access to Democracy, when he said:

Well, it wouldn't be, I mean, it's a false choice to say we have to let them stay or we have to bus them out. That's not the choice that's there. Many will leave themselves if there's a mechanism for them to come back in . . . .

As with the discussion on Iraq, Kline criticizes Coleen's plan without offering any of his own. He carps that he "constantly [has] difficulty getting a solution from Mrs. Rowley," but after 20 minutes of debate, Kline's "solutions" can be summarized as:

  • Win in Iraq.
  • Contain spending.
  • Fix Social Security and Medicare.
  • Increase domestic energy production.

These aren't solutions, they are goals. Kline provides no detail about how to accomplish any of these. He only gives specifics twice during the entire debate. He provides a lot of information --- much of it false or misleading --- about the health of the economy, and he provides a moderately detailed plan for preventing people from coming to the U.S. illegally from a certain 700 mile long area of Mexico. But he provides no plan for winning in Iraq, no plan for containing spending, no plan for fixing Social Security and Medicare (we know his plan for Social Security is to privatize it, but he's too clever to say that right before an election), and his only plan to increase domestic energy production is to encourage more drilling.

Anyone looking for solutions from Coleen need look no further than the issues page of this website. Anyone looking for solutions from John Kline has their work cut out for them.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Star Tribune Endorses Coleen!!

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

From the Star Tribune's endorsement in the Second District congressional race:

. . . we cannot endorse [Kline's] steadfast, increasingly strained, defense of the Bush administration over policies that have produced destructive budget deficits, mired the nation in a disastrous war and tarnished the nation's image as a defender of human rights and the rule of law.

Republicans have tried to paint Rowley as some sort of loose-cannon liberal. We don't see it: She was a career FBI agent, including a stint in New York investigating drug dealers and mobsters, and voted for George W. Bush in 2000 on the belief that he would govern as his father had. She would balance the federal budget by letting the Bush tax cuts expire exactly the way a GOP Congress wrote them and would reform immigration law by following the Senate Republican blueprint. She would move toward universal health insurance though a cautious strategy of state experimentation, and she would wind down the war in Iraq by following the sensible outline of Rep. John Murtha, the Pennsylvania veteran who has endorsed her.

While Rowley is short on political experience, she has proved herself a quick study and avid learner. Washington needs a change in course, and the Second District is a good place to start.

A complete listing of Coleen's positions is available here.

Coleen Rowley Supports Our Veterans

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

As promised earlier, we will soon begin to catalog a number of votes Congressman John Kline has cast against the interests of our veterans. But before we start in on that, I'd like to take a moment to highlight Coleen's support for and from veterans.

Coleen's father, brother, and brother-in-law all served in the military. So Kline's smear attacks alleging that Coleen doesn't support our veterans aren't only dishonest, they're personal.

No matter how much Kline might try to get people upset over the fact that Coleen once wrote a personal email critical of a particular general (and when did personal emails become fair game in a campaign?), or the fact that she recently chose to convene a campaign rally by reciting a portion of the U.S. Constitution rather than the Pledge of Allegiance, a fair number of veterans have decided they'd rather see Coleen in office than John Kline. These would include Pennsylvania Congressman Jack Murtha, former Third District Candidate Tommy Johnson, Major General (ret.) Jerald Albrecht, the DFL Veterans caucus and others.

But hey, Kline can list off his veteran supporters as well. Not surprisingly, veterans are pretty much like everyone else. Some will vote for Coleen, some will vote for Kline. The critical factor in determining which candidate is strongest on veterans' issues is their policies. As we have previously discussed, Kline has struggled to point to any significant policies he's advanced to benefit veterans. What does Coleen have to offer?

For starters, she supports the Assured Funding for Veterans Health Care Act, which assures that the Department of Veterans Affairs always has sufficient funding. This bill has the support of most major veterans groups, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and AMVETS, but our Republican-led Congress has shown little interest in passing it. Coleen also supports the expansion of the TRICARE program to cover reservists and National Guard members who do not otherwise have access to health care, a policy which John Kline explicitly voted against in 2005.

Support for veterans should not be a partisan issue. It's a shame John Kline has chosen to try to make it one.

(Disclaimer: This blog post is not a position statement. It is a discussion of Coleen's support from and for veterans.)

The Almanac Debate, Part I: Iraq

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

On Friday, October 20, John Kline and Coleen Rowley sat down for the only broadcast television debate of this cycle. At the start of the debate Eric Eskola immediately asked Kline whether a change of course is warranted in Iraq. Kline doesn't answer the question, instead spouting rhetoric about "we have to have victory" and the usual talk about "Islamist extremists". The closest he gets to an answer is to say that we might need to "move troops around". Then he says something remarkable:

As you know, my good friend and frankly, political mentor, James Baker, is part of a bipartisan team that's also looking at ways we might approach our activities in Iraq.

Cathy Wurzer then tosses Kline a softball, asking him to "define victory in Iraq." But it's quite interesting that Kline would mention the Baker commission. Kline once identified James Baker, a Republican stalwart and Bush family confidante, as one of his heroes (Star Tribune, September 6, 2004). And he refers to Baker now as his mentor. So clearly Kline must have a great deal of respect for Baker's opinion of the war in Iraq. And what is that opinion?

As reported in the New York Sun this past week, Baker is considering some of the alternatives which Democrats like Coleen have been pushing for over a year now (emphasis added):

. . . the commission is headed toward presenting President Bush with two clear policy choices that contradict his rhetoric of establishing democracy in Iraq. The more palatable of the two choices for the White House, "Stability First," argues that the military should focus on stabilizing Baghdad while the American Embassy should work toward political accommodation with insurgents. The goal of nurturing a democracy in Iraq is dropped.


The "Redeploy and Contain" option calls for the phased withdrawal of American soldiers from Iraq, though the working groups have yet to say when and where those troops will go. The document, read over the telephone to the Sun, says America should "make clear to allies and others that U.S. redeployment does not reduce determination to attack terrorists wherever they are." It also says America's top priority should be minimizing American casualties in Iraq.

So Kline's mentor, Kline's hero, the uber-Republican James Baker is heading up a commission which will recommend giving up on a democractic Iraq and withdrawing U.S. troops. Yet Kline spends the balance of the Iraq discussion sniping at Coleen for her support of responsible redeployment, which is much closer to Baker's plan than anything Kline has to say.

When he next speaks, Kline complains that "looking for a solution from [Coleen] is a little bit hard to find" --- when he has given no solution of his own beyond "move troops around". He proceeds to muddy the debate by mis-stating her position, telling people she wants to redeploy troops to Okinawa and "Kurdistan", which he claims are part of Jack Murtha's redeployment plan.

We know Kline has had trouble navigating this web site in the past, but for those interested in answers instead of distortions, Coleen's plan for Iraq has been available right here for almost a year, and it says nothing about Okinawa or Kurdistan specifically, but ". . . forces should be redeployed to regional positions to respond quickly to emergency scenarios and/or terrorist developments." Anyone with a grain of intellectual honesty will understand that when Coleen says "Kurdistan", she is of course referring to "Iraqi Kurdistan", sometimes also called the Kurdish region in the north of the country. There is little doubt the Iraqi Kurds would welcome U.S. troops as a buffer against the warring Shi'ites and Sunnis in the south.

But Kline doesn't give us intellectual honesty. He gives us quibbles about semantics. From his perspective, it works nicely to obscure the fact that his plan amounts to more of the same failed policies we've seen for more than three years.

When Coleen begins to explain her responsible redeployment plan, Kline erupts with: "I'm sorry, that's just a slogan. Tell us what your plan is." Of course that's what she was doing when Kline interrupted. And again, by making this attack, Kline further obscures the fact that his own plan is "We have to have victory" and "move troops around".

A bit later on, when Coleen is discussing the need to try to involve other nations --- like Syria and Iran --- to help stabilize Iraq, Kline nearly jumps out of his seat, exclaiming: "Oh please, Coleen. You're going to get Iran and Syria to come on board in agreement with the United States? You cannot solve these world problems with pixie dust."

I refer to yet another report on the options Kline's hero, James Baker, is considering:

A commission backed by President Bush that is exploring U.S. options in Iraq intends to propose significant changes in the administration's strategy by early next year, members say.

Two options under consideration would represent reversals of U.S. policy: withdrawing American troops in phases, and bringing neighboring Iran and Syria into a joint effort to stop the fighting.

It's true that Iran and Syria are no friends of the U.S., but they do have a common interest with us in trying to stabilize Iraq. After all, if Iraq continues its decline into a failed state, Iraq's neighbors will feel the greatest impact.

George Bush and John Kline have put the U.S. into a situation where there are few good options, if any. A fitting metaphor would be if Bush and Kline, like the Keystone Kops, led us into a concrete jail cell, and decided the only way out is to keep banging our heads against the wall. Kline is convinced there's no point in trying to pick the lock; he'll ridicule anyone who wants to try to get out the window; and it's beneath his dignity to send out a cry for help. And he dismisses with scorn anyone who wants to stop banging their head against the wall, and insists they're opposed to freedom.

That's what the choice boils down to on November 7. Keep banging our heads against the wall, or try something else.

(Disclaimer: This blog post is not a position statement. Rather, it is an analysis of a recent debate between Coleen and John Kline in which Kline appeared not to know that his hero James Baker is reportedly considering recomending a course of action in Iraq much closer to Coleen's position than Kline's.)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Kline and Baker

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

Asked to identify personal political heroes, Kline said President Reagan, former Secretary of State James Baker and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

Reagan, he said, was the right person for the country at the time. Baker, a personal friend, is a skilled political adviser, Kline said. The congressman credits Hastert with healing and unifying the House of Representatives after leadership turbulence. - Star Tribune, September 6, 2004

During Friday night's debate on Almanac, John Kline also refers to Republican icon and Bush family confidante James Baker as his "good friend and frankly, political mentor". It's interesting Kline should call attention to this relationship, since Baker's views on Iraq seem to be nearly in diametric opposition to Kline's.

Early in the debate, Kathy Wurzer tosses Kline a softball question, asking Kline to define victory in Iraq. Kline responds with "The definition of victory is an Iraq with democracy in place."

James Baker is currently heading up a commission to consider U.S. options in Iraq, and reportedly, the commission has given up on any hope of "democracy in place":

Currently, the 10-member commission — headed by a secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush, James Baker — is considering two option papers, "Stability First" and "Redeploy and Contain," both of which rule out any prospect of making Iraq a stable democracy in the near term.

A bit later, Kline mocks Coleen for suggesting that we should try to work with Iran and Syria, saying "Oh please, Coleen. You're going to get Iran and Syria to come on board in agreement with the United States? You cannot solve these world problems with pixie dust."

But apparently this sort of "pixie dust" is exactly the kind of solution Kline's hero and mentor James Baker is considering:

A commission backed by President Bush that is exploring U.S. options in Iraq intends to propose significant changes in the administration's strategy by early next year, members say.

Two options under consideration would represent reversals of U.S. policy: withdrawing American troops in phases, and bringing neighboring Iran and Syria into a joint effort to stop the fighting.

John Kline would like you to believe that Coleen Rowley is a fringe liberal with no real understanding of policy. Setting aside for the moment the fact that Kline managed to sit on a stage with Coleen for nearly 20 minutes without making a single policy suggestion of his own, it's telling that Kline is --- apparently unknowingly --- speaking condescendingly about his friend, mentor and hero, who agrees with Coleen.

John Kline and Veterans

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

I've seen a number of people, presumably veterans, write letters to the editor in support of John Kline, insisting that he is a strong supporter of veterans issues. And Kline has even devoted one of his many direct mail campaigns to promoting his record of support for veterans, while smearing Coleen for her alleged disrespect toward veterans. Given his own 25-year record of service in the Marines, Kline seems to believe he can take veterans' support for granted.

In more ways than you might think.

A close examination of Kline's voting record in Congress reveals weak support for veterans. And we'll be discussing those votes over the remaining days of the campaign. But for now, we'll just discuss two ways in which Kline is abusing the trust veterans have placed in him. One has to deal with Kline's distortion of his own voting record, to make it appear that his support for veterans is stronger than it is. The other is the story of a time when John Kline told a group of Minnesota veterans, point-blank, that partisanship is more important to him than they are.

As our campaign has already pointed out, we've researched a number of Kline's votes in Congress where:

He voted against debt assistance and job training for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan , and he voted against expanding TRICARE to reservists and members of the National Guard. These are the kind of votes which earned John Kline a 0% rating from the Disabled American Veterans in 2004 and 2005.

As I said, we'll get into the specifics of those votes in future posts. But in fairness to Kline, we're not going to go out of our way to call out votes he's cast that make him look good; that's his job. So it's really striking that one of the actions he's proudest of on veterans issues is his work on to implement a policy known as "concurrent receipt".

For decades, disabled veterans had their pensions reduced by the amount of the disability benefit they received. This is certainly a policy which harms disabled veterans, and so Kline deserves credit for working to implement "concurrent receipt" of both pension and disability. The striking part is that is Kline only accomplished a partial phase-out of the policy over 10 years, while he has stubbornly and consistently ignored legislation which would put a full and immediate end to the policy. As we pointed out last month:

[T]his "unfair policy" hasn't ended; rather, it is being slowly phased out over a 10-year period. And even then, veterans whose disabilities are rated at less than 50% will still be subject to a reduction in their pension.

We go on to list in detail the numerous opportunities Kline, as a member of the House Armed Services Commitee, had to enact a much stronger bill, and how he refused to make even the token gesture of co-sponsoring it.

Remember, this is a bill Kline himself points to as evidence of his support for veterans --- in fact, it's one of only two bills he's mentioned in any of his numerous attack mailers. If this is the high point of his time in Congress, it speaks quite poorly about his overall record.

And speaking of sponsorship, it gets worse. The Minnesota chapter of the Disabled American Veterans, a non-partisan group, reported in April (emphasis added):

Without naming any specific elected officials, I want to relate a couple of shameful incidents we experienced on our visit this year just to point out the general attitude toward veterans we experienced while in Washington.


Another member from Minnesota of the House of Representatives we visited, when given a list of veterans’ bills that the DAV supports with the members from Minnesota that have either authored or co-authored, made this statement. "These bills are from the __________(party), I will only endorse and co-author __________(party) bills". Obviously, the right party did not author the bills. I am sorry, but I cannot remember ever being asked what party I belonged to when I was inducted into the military. When you go to the VA Hospital, are you asked "are you Republican or Democrat?" Why have bills helping veterans become a partisan issue?

As I said, the DAV is a non-partisan organization, and they clearly went to great pains, despite their disappointment and frustration, to remain non-partisan by not naming names. However, a significant number of veterans support Coleen's run for Congress, and have confirmed to us that the legislator who refused to support veterans' bills authored by the "other" party is none other than John Kline.

Think about that for a moment. A group of Minnesota disabled veterans went to Congress for the sole purpose of talking to the Minnesota congressional delegation about helping disabled veterans. And John Kline had the nerve to tell them, to their faces, that supporting the Republican party is more important to him than they are.

As with almost all other legislation, Kline has voted in a partisan manner on veterans bills. And the Republican party, by and large, has not been a friend to veterans.

(Disclaimer: This blog post is not a position statement. It is a historical document examining the gulf between John Kline's rhetoric in support of veterans, and his actions.)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Habeas Corpus Revisited

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

Earlier this month, we discussed the concept of habeas corpus. Habeas corpus is the centuries-old legal dictum which guarantees that the government can't lock you up and throw away the key for no reason. It's what guarantees you the right to come before a judge and challenge your arrest. It's the reason why every cop show ever made mentions that everyone 'has the right to make a phone call' after an arrest.
This past Tuesday, George Bush signed a law putting an end to habeas corpus, a law which John Kline eagerly helped pass.

It is not possible to overstate how much damage this law does to the concept of justice as it has come to be understood in the Western world, and the media has not paid it nearly the attention it deserves. However, in what little coverage it has received, there has been some question about whether the bill suspends habeas corpus for U.S. citizens, or only for non-citizens. Today, the Washington Post gave us the answer:

In a notice dated Wednesday, the Justice Department listed 196 pending habeas cases, some of which cover groups of detainees. The new Military Commissions Act (MCA), it said, provides that "no court, justice, or judge" can consider those petitions or other actions related to treatment or imprisonment filed by anyone designated as an enemy combatant, now or in the future.

The Justice Department statement specifically mentions detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, but is broader than that. It says the court cannot consider habeas corpus petitions "filed by anyone designated as an enemy combatant, now or in the future."

And the Military Commissions Act says that anyone can be declared an enemy combatant. Even U.S. citizens. So you, or I, or any of your friends and family, can be 'disappeared' forever, if we're unlucky enough for George Bush to label us as enemy combatants.

For some reason, John Kline thinks this is a good thing.

(Disclaimer: This blog post is not a position statement. It is a current events update which points out that John Kline is willing to help George Bush eviscerate the American legal system and Constitution in the misguided belief that it makes our country safer.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Another Typical Republican Attack

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

No, not from John Kline. Not even in the state of Minnesota, in fact. But in Ohio, the national Republican Party is running ads that are documentably false. The Democratic Senate candidate, Sherrod Brown, says they're false. The state of Ohio says they're false. But the Republican Party insists they're going to run the ads anyway:

The Republican Party last night refused to cancel commercials that claim Sherrod Brown was a longtime tax scofflaw - even though the state of Ohio says the ad's claim is untrue.

Brown, the Democrat running against incumbent Mike DeWine, paid the tax bill years ago, soon after receiving a tax lien, according to newly released records from the Brown campaign and authenticated by the state.


The RNC, however, said last night that it had no plans to change its ad.

We have already documented how John Kline has used dishonest smear tactics against our campaign. But the national Republican party, which is coordinating attacks such as these on Democratic candidates across the country, is openly stating that they're going to lie in their campaign ads.

Remember that the next time you see a commercial, ad or flier from John Kline or any other Republican candidate. Dirty campaign tactics like these are just one of the reasons why Coleen left the Republican party. Now would be a good time for other long-time Republican voters to consider following her example.

Update: Even though the RNC is willing to run ads that are documentably false, TV stations in Ohio are not. Apparently these stations are worried about the legal implications of airing lies.

(Disclaimer: This blog post is not a position statement. It is simply an effort to point out that the national Republican Party has developed the belief that it is entitled to run the country, and is therefore willing to stoop to whatever means necessary to hold power.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

No Ideas, No Record, No Integrity: Kline Resumes His Smears Against Unpaid Staff

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

Coleen Rowley is surging in the polls. The U.S. occupation of Iraq is such an unmitigated disaster that James Baker, Bush family confidante and a man John Kline once called his hero, is reportedly recommending that we withdraw our forces. A fifth Republican member of Congress is about to go down in scandal. And John Kline has nothing he can run on. So he is devoting what's left of his campaign to a tried-and-true Republican campaign tactic.

Lie. Smear. Destroy. Take the low road.

Kline, the retired Marine Colonel, the man who "doesn't need to talk about ethics, he's lived it", who promised his supporters an "honest, issues oriented campaign" is smearing me for political gain. His lies could affect my employment, my friendships, and even my children. And he's only doing it because he thinks it will help him win.

Earlier this summer, Kline seemed to believe that his best hope for retaining his seat in Congress was to spread lies about me, sending out not one, not two, but three different direct mail attacks smearing my character, making statements which Kline knew to be false. For about 6 weeks, it appeared that he had given up that tactic in favor of more conventional campaign methods (namely, smearing his opponent rather than her unpaid staff). But a recent poll showed Coleen gaining 12 points on Kline in 19 days. So now he has panicked, and is started making his outrageous and false charges again this morning on FOX 9 News.

In short, Kline's charge boils down to two allegations. 1) He charges that I want to legalize methamphetamine. 2) He charges that I am a senior advisor who has more policy positions on this site than Coleen does. Both statements are categorically false.

Let's take them in reverse order. Kline charges that I have written more policy positions on this site than Coleen has. Not true. Here are Coleen's policy positions. While it is true that Coleen accepted input from a number of people on these positions --- good leaders take the time to research the facts and develop informed opinions before taking a position --- I only provided input for one out of 11. Most of these positions had been written up before I ever joined the campaign.

It's likely that Kline is basing his charge on the fact that I have written the majority of the posts on this campaign weblog. However, none of these posts establish new positions on issues. I encourage everyone to review them carefully, because you will quickly see that my posts are mostly informational, and not policy statements. When I do make a statement about Coleen's policy, I always provide a link to a policy statement Coleen authored. Coleen and I have also co-written a number of articles which Coleen has posted on The Huffington Post. These were joint efforts. (It should be noted that Coleen has co-authored other opinion pieces in the past, for example one published last year in the New York Times with the head of the Government Accountability Project on first amendment rights and most recently one on the Iraq War with Major General Army Reserve (retired) Jerald Albrecht of Prior Lake, MN.)

So Kline is either incredibly dishonest or clueless about what constitutes a policy position. Either way, he's unfit to be in Congress.

My views on legalizing drugs are irrelevant to the campaign. But because I know some people will demand more information, it boils down to this. More than three years ago, I wrote four sentences in support of "decriminalizing" drug use. This is not the same as legalizing drugs. It means that enforcement would be principally directed toward stopping the manufacturers of illegal drugs such as meth, rather than jailing the users. Moreover, it's hardly as though I went to great lengths to advocate this position --- I haven't even thought about it in 3 years, and I've certainly never discussed it as part of the campaign (other than to respond to Kline).

Moreover, for Kline to make this charge is staggeringly hypocritical, considering that it's a view similar to the one held by the libertarian CATO Institute. To my knowledge, Kline has never levelled a similar charge against them, even though his CD2 web site links to them approvingly, and Kline is a member of the Republican Study Committee, which works with CATO. Kline's old think tank, the Center of the American Experiment, also links to them.

Kline is trying to destroy me, and Coleen by association. If he wins this election, he'll keep doing the same thing in 2008 and for as long as lies and attacks "work" to keep him in office. But in 20 days, we'll have an opportunity to show John Kline that destroying people for political gain is not something we tolerate in Minnesota.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Kline Throws Recycled Mud From the GOP Slime Machine

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

Wow. When I got home yesterday, I discovered not one, but two attack mailers from John Kline, each making completely false attacks on Coleen on the subject of immigration. Here's what each of them said, in a nutshell:

  • "You reward people for good behavior . . . not for breaking the law. But Coleen Rowley will reward illegal aliens with Social Security."
  • "Coleen Rowley wants to sell citizenship to illegal aliens and give them Social Security."

Lacking both a positive vision for America and a record he can be proud of, Kline continues his campaign of unfounded and outright false smear attacks. This attack has several different layers of wrongness, starting with the fact that months ago Kline promised his supporters he would run "an issues oriented, honest campaign".

Let's peel back the layers here.

  1. Coleen Rowley spent 24 years in the FBI enforcing our laws. Before coming to Minneapolis and blowing the whistle on pre-9/11 failures, Coleen fought organized crime in New York. Since age 11, she knew she wanted to be an FBI agent because of her unwavering commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law. So to suggest, as John Kline does, that "Coleen Rowley's answer to the illegal immigration crisis is to reward people for breaking the law" is a smear of the lowest kind.
  2. Nowhere does Kline back up his allegations. He doesn't point to a single statement Coleen has made, or identify a single piece of legislation she's supported. Unfounded smear attacks are the antithesis of "an issues oriented, honest campaign".
  3. So we can only guess what Kline is using as the basis for his attack. He may be referring to Coleen's proposal for an earned path to citizenship for those who are already in the country illegally. Of course, Kline can't mention this plan, because any discussion of the plan would reveal how ridiculous Kline's accusations are:
    I therefore support an earned path to citizenship along the lines of the bipartisan Kennedy-McCain proposal whereby undocumented immigrants in the U.S. before Jan. 1, 2004 seeking residence must satisfy the following criteria:

    • Possess a steady job for six years.
    • Pay a $2,000 fee and all back taxes.
    • Learn English and study American civics.
    • Pass a rigorous criminal and national security background check.

    This is not an amnesty program, and I would oppose any such unearned path to citizenship.

    Coleen has had this position posted on the campaign site for months. Note the complete absence of any discussion about Social Security or "selling citizenship". Also notice that this plan for dealing with the estimated 11 million people already in the U.S. illegally is far more detailed than anything Kline has proposed (more on that later).
  4. It's also possible that Kline is attacking Coleen for her support of a bill which passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support, including the support of such prominent Republicans as John McCain, Bill Frist, and Minnesota's own Norm Coleman. Not to mention George W. Bush.
  5. On the other hand, the McCain/Kennedy bill contains no "plan to give [illegals] taxpayer-funded benefits" as Kline claims --- in fact, it says nothing about Social Security at all. Rather, current law provides that when anyone becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen, any wages they had previously earned while working in the U.S. will be credited toward their Social Security benefits. So Kline's attack in essence boils down to: 1) Criticizing current Social Security law; 2) For paying benefits to U.S. citizens; 3) Based on the taxes they paid into the system.

    In short, Kline is basing his attack quite literally on nothing.
  6. Wait, there's more. Both mailers cite the figure of $5.2 billion in Social Security which "belongs to American citizens" but which Coleen allegedly wants to give to "people who flagrantly broke our laws". Their source for this figure is an August 22, 2006 article in the Washington Post. This same article contains the following nugget:
    In the long run, tax revenue generated by new workers would ease the baby-boom generation's burden on Social Security and offset virtually all the additional spending, said James Horney, a senior fellow at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

    The report "will be problematic," he said. "People who don't like the bill will jump on the 10-year number. But I hope others will look at the longer term and realize in the end, the answer is still the same. It's all a wash."

    One of Kline's mailers bellows that "Coleen Rowley supports a plan that could jeopardize the future of Social Security," when the very source Kline cites says exactly the opposite, and even claims that the addition of new workers to the system will ease the baby-boom generation's burden on Social Security. Furthermore, recall that Coleen's plan would require those working here illegally to pay all back taxes plus a $2,000 fine prior to gaining citizenship. So there's no basis for claiming these new workers will be taking more money out of the system than they put in.
  7. While Kline is hurling wild and baseless allegations at Coleen for her plan to provide an earned path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented workers currently in the U.S., he is unable to propose an alternative of his own. When local TV host Alan Miller asked Kline this question recently, Kline gave the following puzzling answer:
    "Well, it wouldn't be, I mean, it's a false choice to say we have to let them stay or we have to bus them out. That's not the choice that's there. Many will leave themselves if there's a mechanism for them to come back in . . . ."

    This is a recurrent theme in John Kline's campaign. Coleen provides a plan for dealing with immigration, so Kline attacks it without providing a plan of his own. Coleen champions responsible redeployment from Iraq, so Kline attacks it without explaining how he will change course to achieve an Iraq which is "self-governing, sustainable, and capable of defending itself". Kline whines about things he doesn't like on this very campaign web site, when his own campaign site is completely devoid of substantive content. One can only conclude that Kline believes he will lose more votes by taking a stand on the issues than if he avoids a real discussion of issues altogether.

Finally, it's worth noting that these fliers are part of a broader GOP smear campaign against Democratic challengers. Both FactCheck.org and the StarTribune's Eric Black have debunked this attack.

Two months ago, we challenged John Kline to renounce GOP smear tactics for the balance of the campaign, a challenge that has gone unanswered. It comes as little surprise that Kline's latest attack comes on the same day that Rowley for Congress is showing a powerful surge in the polls.

Update: Rumor has it that Kline is running TV ads (his first of the cycle!) making this same trumped-up smear attack. Two different mass mailings and a TV ad campaign, all focused on the same non-issue. Kline must really be desperate to stop his bleeding in the polls, as well as being desperate to avoid a discussion of the issues that matter, like the bloodshed in Iraq, 46 million Americans without health insurance, and scandal after Republican scandal in Congress.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Poll Shows Giant Surge for Coleen Rowley!

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

Today SurveyUSA released a poll showing John Kline with 50% support, Coleen with 42% support, Independence Party candidate Doug Williams with 5% support, and 2% undecided. The poll's margin of error is 4.4%.

Ordinarily we wouldn't get too excited about a poll which shows us 8 points down, but this isn't an ordinary poll. There are some methodological concerns with this poll (after the jump), but the most startling thing about it is that it shows Rowley for Congress closing the gap by an amazing 12 points in just 19 days! An identical poll conducted by SurveyUSA in late September showed Kline with a 20-point lead.

If we keep it up at this rate, we'll win by a comfortable 6-point margin. And you can help make it happen!!

But wait, there's more! There are at least three good reasons to believe that we're even closer than the 8-point margin shown in the SurveyUSA poll.

  • The poll's methodology is flawed in at least one obvious way. When asking the candidate preference question, the candidates are always presented in the same order, with Kline first, then Coleen, then Williams. Voters with no strong preference will often select the first choice offered, or the last, which is why most pollsters rotate the order of candidates when doing their polling. In this case, it seems quite likely that the consistent last-place position of Doug Williams artificially increased his total to 5%, considering that he has done no observable campaigning of any kind. It's reasonable, therefore, to believe that Kline's total is similarly inflated.
  • Kline has conducted at least two polls this election cycle, in February and July. His campaign did not release the results of those polls, which they likely would have done if they had showed Kline with anything like the 20-point lead in the September SurveyUSA poll. So it's a fair guess that those polls showed that Coleen was within range of Kline. Since Coleen has narrowed the gap by 12 points in the SurveyUSA poll, Kline's pollsters would likely find the race very competitive indeed --- perhaps a bit too competitive.
  • After a brief respite, Kline's campaign just today launched another direct mail barrage telling outright falsehoods about Coleen's position on immigration. We'll have more details on this one later, but Kline is clearly desperate; his campaign actually sent out two different mailers (that we know of) containing the same smear.

It's going to be an interesting 21 days. Please help out however you can.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Murtha Makes His Case

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha, a 37-year Marine Corps veteran who has endorsed Coleen, laid out in detail today his reasons for wanting to change course in Iraq:

  • In September, 776 U.S troops were wounded in Iraq, the highest monthly toll in more than two years.
  • Over the past year, the number of attacks against U.S. personnel has doubled, rising from 400 to more than 800 per week.
  • Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, recently acknowledged that sectarian violence has replaced the insurgency as the single biggest threat to Iraq.
  • In the past two months, 6,000 Iraqis died, more than in the first year of the war.
  • Last week, electricity output averaged 2.4 hours per day in Baghdad and 10.4 hours nationwide -- 7 percent less than in the same period in 2005.
  • A Sept. 27 World Public Opinion poll indicated that 91 percent of Iraqi Sunnis and 74 percent of Iraqi Shiites want the Iraqi government to ask U.S.-led forces to withdraw within a year. Ninety-seven percent of Sunnis and 82 percent of Shiites said that the U.S. military presence is "provoking more conflict than it is preventing." And Iraqi support for attacks against U.S.-led forces has increased sharply over the past few months, from 47 percent to 61 percent.

Now, Karl Rove may call me a defeatist, but can anyone living in the real world deny that these statistics are heading in the wrong direction? Yet despite this bleak record of performance, the president continues to stand by his team of failed architects, preferring to prop them up instead of demanding accountability.

Democrats are fighting a war on two fronts: One is combating the spin and intimidation that defines this administration. The other is fighting to change course, to do things better, to substitute smart, disciplined strategy for dogma and denial in Iraq.

That's not defeatism. That's our duty.

Murtha also asks:

We are seeing an astonishing and unprecedented parade of retired U.S. generals calling for a new direction in Iraq. These are voices of bravery, experience, conscience and loyalty. These are men who have been taught to look coldly and objectively at the facts of bloodshed. Can they all be wrong? How about the 15 intelligence agencies that recently offered the opinion that this war has not made us safer? Are they all defeatists? Are they to be ignored?

John Kline believes the answer is yes. Coleen Rowley believes the answer is no. It's really that simple.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Do Nothing

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

Congress adjourned on September 29, and won't be back in session until after the election. Typically, this is the time when incumbents return to their districts and tout their accomplishments to make their case for re-election.

For some reason, John Kline hasn't exactly been doing that. We discussed one possible reason earlier: that Kline's policy positions aren't likely to win him much support. Another possibility is the fact that the 109th Congress stands out for its minimal level of accomplishment.

A recent article by Margaret Talev of McClatchy cites an analysis by Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute:

They note that President Harry Truman first stuck the "do-nothing" tag on Congress in 1948. That year Congress was in session 110 days. This year Congress completes only 94 days of work before recessing for the elections.

Lawmakers typically are in Washington only from Tuesdays through Thursdays.

Mann and Ornstein say Congress' Republican leadership has taken traditional abuses of power farther than ever: They bypass committees, cut off floor debate, disallow amendments, force hasty votes on major bills that few have read and sometimes keep 15-minute vote counts open for hours while they browbeat junior members into supporting their position.

They also note the stark contrast between the attack-dog nature of the Republican-led Congress during the Clinton adminstration, and the extreme deference this Congress has shown the Bush White House:

On balance, scholars say Republican congressional leaders ignored their duty to question decision-making and investigate corruption within the Bush administration. "They've done almost no oversight on the war or almost anything that matters," Ornstein said.

In contrast, in the 1990s Republicans in Congress investigated whether President Clinton had used the White House Christmas card mailing list to scout for donors.

"There were (more than) 100 hours of oversight hearings on alleged misuse of the Clinton Christmas card list, and 12 hours of hearings on Abu Ghraib. This tells you all you need to know," Ornstein said.

No immigration reform, no action on Bush's Social Security privatization scheme, no ethics reform, not even a budget for the 2007 fiscal year. But undermining one of the pillars of western jurisprudence, that they found time to do.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Farm Policy: Another Zero for Kline

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

Via Minnesota Monitor, we learn that the National Farmer's Union (NFU) recently released the results of its 2005-06 congressional voting record survey, and guess where John Kline ranks? Yep, another perfect zero:

Among Minnesota's congressional delegation, Reps. Betty McCollum, Martin Sabo and James Oberstar all received 100% ratings. At the other end of the scale, Reps. John Kline and Mark Kennedy received 0%. Collin Peterson received an 83% rating, Gil Gutknecht 33%, and Jim Ramstad 16%.

In the Senate, Mark Dayton garnered 100% while Norm Coleman received 33%.

This isn't too surprising, considering Kline also received a zero rating from the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, the Disabled American Veterans, and the National Education Association. No wonder Kline doesn't want to discuss his record.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

John Kline: "Steadfast in Backing the President's Domestic and Foreign Policy Actions"

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

So says Kevin Diaz of the Star Tribune in a profile of Kline which appears in tomorrow's paper (Coleen is also profiled). When discussing Kline's campaign style, Diaz only gives us part of the story:

Far from adopting the typical incumbent's "rose garden" strategy of ignoring a rookie challenger, Kline has aggressively attacked Rowley in direct mail pieces designed to portray her as a fringe liberal out of touch with a bucolic district of farms and new suburbs.

Diaz is being charitable here. In an earlier piece, he described Kline's mailers as mudslinging. But in all of the discussion about Kline's attack politics, one salient fact is often left out: there has been very little of substance to John Kline's campaign. Of the four campaign mailings he's done (that we know of) only one mentioned any of John Kline's positions or votes in Congress. He's refused a number of debates, including most notably the League of Women Voters debate. And of course, his campaign web site is a joke.

Nevertheless, ths campaign is all about issues, and we get some brief glimpses into where Kline stands on them in this article.

We start with the central issue in the campaign: Iraq.

"Ultimately, we have to win," he said. "And win means an Iraq that is self-governing, sustainable, and capable of defending itself."

Like Bush, Kline defines Iraq as a central front in the war on terror, a formulation opposed by Rowley, who argues that the U.S. invasion was a strategic blunder unrelated to the larger war on terrorism.

An Iraq that is "self-governing, sustainable, and capable of defending itself" would no doubt be a great benefit to Middle East stability and the world. But after 2,700 U.S. troop fatalities, an estimated 655,000 Iraqi fatalities, and at least $6 billion a month spent for more than 3 years, our top generals in the region describe the sectarian violence as the worst it's ever been. Kline and Bush are great at describing noble goals, but their track record shows they have no idea how to achieve them. But John Kline is determined to continue on the same failed course if he's sitting in Congress in 2007.

Next issue: Kline runs as a "strong fiscal conservative," which is laughable on its face. Apart from the roughly $400 billion which has been spent bungling the so-called War on Terror, the federal debt ceiling has been raised no fewer than 5 times since Bush took office, from $5.95 trillion to $9.62 trillion --- more than a 50% increase in the debt limit. Kline may believe strongly in fiscal conservatism, but he doesn't seem to have acted on his principles much.

By the way, Coleen supports a return to the 'pay as you go', or PAYGO rules, which require that all new spending increases or tax cuts be balanced by equal spending cuts or tax increases --- a policy which, in the late 1990's helped Bill Clinton steer the federal budget into surplus. Coleen's position on this issue and many others is available on her National Political Awareness Test. Much to the surprise of no one, John Kline hasn't yet filled out one of these.

We get one-liners for Kline's positions on a number of issues:

On immigration, he has taken a more hard-line position than the White House, opposing Senate proposals for a guest-worker program, which he sees as a form of amnesty.

Kline has voted for measures to restrict federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, back a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and grant the federal courts jurisdiction in the Terri Schiavo life-support dispute in Florida.

Kline and his supporters love to use the "amnesty" label when discussing immigration, but it's just a political trick. There are an estimated 11 million persons in the U.S. illegally; for them, Coleen supports an earned path to citizenship, which Kline denounces as "amnesty". So does Kline advocate rounding up all 11 million and deporting them, a process which we could never complete even if all U.S. law enforcement ignored all other crimes, which would tear apart communities, not to mention families where the children born here are now U.S. citizens? Kline doesn't have a good answer to that question. When Alan Miller asked that question on the public access TV show Access to Democracy, Kline responded:

Well, it wouldn't be, I mean, it's a false choice to say we have to let them stay or we have to bus them out. That's not the choice that's there. Many will leave themselves if there's a mechanism for them to come back in . . . .

So apparently Kline's solution is to persuade these 11 million people to leave the U.S. voluntarily. That's about as realistic as his support for the war in Iraq. On the issue of same-sex marriage, the article doesn't tell you that John Kline opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment before he voted for it. The article also overlooks Kline's rock-ribbed support for George Bush's doomed effort to privatize Social Security.

The differences between these two candidates couldn't be more clear. John Kline is a "steadfast" supporter of George Bush who supports an open-ended, indefinite commitment of U.S. troops in Iraq, a fiscal conservative who can't keep the lid on exploding federal debt, who wants to privatize Social Security, and who recently voted to eliminate habeas corpus and give George Bush discretion in obeserving the Geneva Conventions, because he trusts George Bush to do the right thing.

Coleen Rowley, on the other hand, supports responsible redeployment from Iraq, has a plan to do something about the debt, believes that we can keep America safe while remaining true to our values of liberty and justice, wants health care for every American, and will work to restore ethics and accountability to government and hold George Bush accountable for six years of failed leadership.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

John Kline: Too Busy to Debate?

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

John Kline will not participate in the League of Women Voters debate on October 14. When first asked why he had refused, Mr. Kline said something to the effect of "You run your campaign and I’ll run mine." Later, however, he must have improved on his answer since radio news reported he's too busy to debate. But with Congress adjourned until after the election, one would think a two-term incumbent would have nothing better to do with his time than to afford his constituents a side-by-side comparison of his views with his opponent's, so that voters can make an informed decision on election day.

When failing to explain Kline's refusal, Kline's spokesman explicitly noted that "No incumbent member of Congress in Minnesota debated their challenger more than Congressman Kline in the last election." So it's all the more striking that Kline is ducking debates this time around. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that George Bush is an extremely unpopular president now, and so praising Bush for his "principled, consistent and determined leadership for our men and women in the armed forces" (Pioneer Press, 10/22/2004) doesn't win votes like it used to? Perhaps Kline doesn't want to try to defend his support for an open-ended U.S. occupation for Iraq, for the Medicare Part D fiasco, and for privatizing Social Security? Or maybe it's the simple fact that most people have come to rightly view our Republican-led Congress as being bloated, corrupt and ineffective, and so appearing in public as a Republican member of Congress is damaging to Kline's electoral prospects?

Or perhaps it has to do with the fact that this time, Kline's opponent is Coleen Rowley, a principled Democrat who supports comprehensive ethics reform of Congress, responsible redeployment from Iraq, universal health care, and holding the Bush administration to account for its deception and incompetence.

Just guessing.