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Archive for December 30th, 2011

Communist resurgence in Russia

Posted by Charles II on December 30, 2011

An interesting interview with Prof. Stephen Cohen on DemocracyNow that upends the narrative we have been given about events in Russia. He says that:
* The high point of democracy in Russia was actually under Gorbachov, before the fall of Communism
* When Yeltsin stood on a tank in front of Parliament, an event that is treated positively in the West, it reversed the movement toward democracy
* Most of the reporters who have been killed were investigating huge ripoffs of state enterprises by “entrepreneurs”
* The recent elections were the fairest in Russia’s history (still crooked, but less so)
* The rise in the vote for the Communist party is by working-class people who want to throw off the kleptocracy represented by Putin
* The Communist Party represents the Old Guard, not the Gorbachov reform wing. They benefit from having opposed the breakup of the USSR
* If the Communists get the same alliance in the presidential election, Putin will lose

Cohen thinks that things are going well to get an eventual reform. I’m skeptical. Russia needs a genuine independent political force. Communism belongs to the past.


Posted in Russia, totalitarianism | 1 Comment »

The Field Guide to Minnesota Republican Factionalism, Second Edition

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 30, 2011

There have been some changes in the statuses of various figures mentioned in the first edition of the Field Guide, so I figured it was time for a new edition.

Some may wonder why I see the Brodkorb-Koch imbroglio as just another phase of the Fall of the House of Sutton. The relationships detailed below — relationships that are seldom if ever openly delineated by most local Establishment media journalists ever fearful of losing their precious access to GOP powerbrokers — should make my position clearer. (Remember, also, that Brodkorb’s fall, like Sutton’s, started well before December rolled around; he left his Deputy RPM Chair job in October; though he continued to exert some influence via his Senate position under Amy Koch and his new job with the Mike Parry campaign, the drop in his power may be measured by the fact that instead of openly ordering around elected officials in a way that national Republican party chairs such as Michael Steele and Reince Priebus can only dream about wistfully, Brodkorb, in an effort to become the unelected power behind a congressional throne, hooked up with Mike Parry — and Parry is dueling with Allen Quist in a no-hoper race to see who loses to Tim Walz next year. And now Brodkorb doesn’t even have that gig.)

As I stated in the first edition of the Guide, the two main factions in the Minnesota Republican Party are the Sutton/Brodkorb/Seifert faction and the Emmer/Tea Party/TheoCon faction, with other, smaller groups that make or break alliances as the need arises. One of the smaller factions, the anti-gambling CAGE faction led by Annette and Jack Meeks, has been at times allied with, and fought against, both of the big factions; conversely, the pro-gambling faction also has ties to both sides. There are individuals, such as Michael Wigley, with a foot in both camps; he backed Emmer for governor in 2010, but he’s also been close enough to the Suttons and Coopers to be given a now-defunct Baja Sol franchise as part of the Sutton-Cooper efforts to turn Baja Sol into a moneymaker turkey farm capable of providing income to Republican operatives and fellow travelers. And of course there’s the powerful group of Twin-City-suburban and Rochester-area state Senators, the Gang of Four, but their agenda is usually more about preservation of the party and its legislative caucus than anything else.

The Sutton faction is the one that is representative of the party establishment and which (at least until recently) is generally backed by the Mr. Burns of Minnesota Republican politics, the Cooper family whose billions come from the TCF financial empire; they also (at least until earlier this month) generally have the backing of the top Republican Senators known to Republican detractors like Sue Jeffers as the “Gang of Four”: Dave Senjem, David Hann, (soon-to-be-former-Deputy Majority Leader) Geoff Michel, and Chris Gerlach. (Michel’s ham-handed handling of the Koch-Brodkorb phase of the Fall of the House of Sutton cost him not only his shot at replacing Koch as Senate Majority Leader but also his job as Deputy Majority Leader; meanwhile, the blandly affable Dave Senjem managed to be the last man standing and won his bid for Majority Leader.) The Emmer faction has among it such marginally-electable Bible-banger folks as Minnesota’s own answer to Rick Santorum, Allen Quist.

In my view, the root reason for the downfalls of both the Suttons and their friends like Michael Brodkorb is fairly simple: They can’t get away with the same behavior they once flaunted as a matter of course, because they no longer have the biggest name, both institutionally and financially, in Minnesota Republican affairs to shield them. When the Coopers, the longtime 800-pound gorillas of institutional local GOP politics (providing a state party chair along with gobs of money), cut loose Tony and Bridget late last year and early this year, they signaled (whether intentionally or not) to the rest of the Minnesota GOP that they would not protect the Suttons or their allies from the consequences of their own actions. Unfortunately for the Suttons and Brodkorb, they apparently didn’t figure this out and still continued to run roughshod over people, people who unbeknownst to them suddenly had what seemed to be implied permission to fight back. (And now that we find out that Tony Sutton drove the Republican Party of Minnesota $1.9 million into debt. Ooops.)

Follow me past the jump for a chart, by no means complete, of the players, their factions, their relationships, and their desires. Feel free to tell me about any I missed.

(UPDATE, 12/31/11: David Sturrock, hours after the RPM’s huge $2.1 million debt was announced, resigned his post and lobbed a few blame-bombs at Sutton on the Friday night between two major holidays. His entry has been edited accordingly.)

(UPDATE, 01/02/12: Sally Jo Sorensen, whose one-woman shop manages to do a better job covering Minnesota politics than most of the “access” hungry quasi-groupies posing as journalists in the local establishment media, has unearthed a few items that necessitate another update of the Guide, most notably a new entrant to the Matrix: Jon Richard Schroeder.)
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on December 30, 2011

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

US furious as Egyptian dictatorship raids US-sponsored fifth column groups

Posted by Charles II on December 30, 2011

Peter Beaumont and Paul Harris, The Guardian:

Relations between Egypt’s military rulers and the United States threatened to hit a new low after Egyptian security forces launched unprecedented armed raids on a series of high profile human rights and pro-democracy organisations.

The raids included targeting the US-government funded National Democratic Institute – founded by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright – and the International Republican Institute, whose chairman is Republican senator John McCain. Both organisations are affiliated with the two major US political parties.

Security forces also raided the offices of Washington-based Freedom House.

During the raids riot police confined staff to their offices and forbade them from making phone calls. Seventeen Egyptian and international groups were targeted as part of a widespread investigation into foreign funding of Egyptian civic society groups.

All of these groups are widely believed, whether correctly or not I don’t know, to be CIA fronts. It doesn’t really matter whether they are CIA-connected or not: they are agents of US influence, funded by the US Government. Throughout Latin America, they are accused of interfering in and rigging elections. So to have the Egyptian military raid them is really very extraordinary.

Is this a case of thieves falling out? Of Islamist power demanding the military assert national sovereignty? More kabuki?

The US government could not protest the cold-blooded slaughter of 28 protesters. It could not do better than express concern about stripping, brutalizing, and humiliating women. Now it is “deeply concerned.” Oh, that’ll make them cower.

Posted in Arab Spring, CIA, State Department | 1 Comment »

In Which Bluestem Prairie Shows Allen Quist To Be A Buffoon. Again.

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 30, 2011

Persons interested in the snake pit that is Minnesota Republican politics are well advised to put Sally Jo Sorensen’s Bluestem Prairie into their RSS feeds. Brilliant writing, coupled with rock-solid knowledge: Always a winning combination.

One target she has filleted on multiple occasions (much like Frankie the Fish) is the supremely creepy Allen Quist. (And when I say “creepy”, I mean it.) Now that Quist is competing with Mike Parry for the right to lose to Tim Walz in MN-01 next year, he’s been amping up the stupidity — which gives Sorensen the opening to delineate it.

Today’s episode focused on Quist’s attempt to demagogue Representative Walz’ use of the franking system. As Sorensen points out, he does this without bothering to note that every single member of the Minnesota Republican Congressional delegation (including the one, Michele Bachmann, who employs Quist’s wife Julie) individually spent at least an order of magnitude more on franking than did Walz. In fact, all but one of the Republicans spent more on franking than did the entire Democratic caucus combined; the only one to come up short, as it were, was Chip Cravaack, who merely spent around 90% as much as did the entire Democratic caucus combined. (To paraphrase Sorensen, if Quist really wanted to reform the franking system he would be better off primarying John Kline — or as I now call him, Frankenkline — who has spent $7 on franking for every buck Walz has spent.)

But you must go read the whole thing. Unlike Allen Quist, it is a work of beauty.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on In Which Bluestem Prairie Shows Allen Quist To Be A Buffoon. Again.

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