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Franken refuses to back off his support of Obamacare and goes after neocons on Iraq

Office of the Governor
Sen. Al Franken: "Why should you be able to refinance your business, your house, your car, everything except your student loans?"

This is one in an occasional series of articles about the policy positions of U.S. Senate candidates Mike McFadden and Al Franken.

Sen. Al Franken is not backing down from his support for the Affordable Care Act, pushes back against neoconservative finger-pointing in the current Iraq mess, and would like to frame the campaign around the question of “who has a record of fighting for middle-class Minnesotans?”

This post is to finish off some of the main topics I covered in my interview with Franken last week, which was a follow-up to an earlier interview with his likely Republican challenger, businessman Mike McFadden.


McFadden calls Obamacare a disaster. He favors repealing it and replacing it with something better. The details of the something better are not all clear, although he laid out some elements of it here.

Franken, by contrast, acknowledged that “obviously the rollout was very rough,” but was much more upbeat about what the law has accomplished.

“I think that what we’re seeing is something we can build on, and it has several very successful areas,” he said. “In Minnesota we’re seeing the number of uninsured decline by 40 percent. I think that’s significant and it’s what the program was designed to do.”

He ticked off the main provisions, including some that McFadden said he would like to include in the replacement bill. Franken touted one of the ideas in the bill on which he was leader, the requirement that insurance spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on health care. (That’s one that McFadden says he would not retain.) Franken said he is continuing to work on getting rid of the medical-device tax, which pays for some of the Obamacare costs but which hits Minnesota companies.

(McFadden has blamed Franken for allowing that tax to be in the bill. Franken has emphasized that he and Amy Klobuchar succeeded in getting the tax cut in half from the original proposal and that they are working to get rid of the remaining half.)

Franken touted a provision in the ACA, on which he played a leading role, to fund a diabetes prevention regimen that was piloted and tested in Minnesota and which he says reduced by 59 percent the portion of those with pre-diabetic indications who actually developed the disease. He said the cost savings are impressive, amounting to $4 of cost saved for every $1 spent on the prevention program.


I asked Franken about the ongoing, spreading mess in the Mideast. I haven’t heard from McFadden yet on that topic, but hope to in a future interview.

“We live in a very dangerous world and we’ve seen this in Iraq again recently,” Franken said.

“My feeling is that there’s only so much the United States can do… We stayed there a long time and paid a lot of blood and a lot of treasure for that. And there are some people pointing blame who I think are trying to cover up for their own bad mistakes.”

Franken mentioned former Vice President Dick Cheney specifically in that last category. He also brought up Sen. John McCain, saying:

Senator McCain, who I respect as a colleague, but if it was up to him we’d be fighting in a lot of different places and I don’t think that should be our role in the world…

Eventually, the Iraqis have to stand up for themselves. We can’t do that for them. No matter how long we stay there, ultimately we’re going to leave and they’re going to have to stand up.

We’re going to protect our embassy. Protect our people there. But we don’t want to be [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] Maliki’s air force. I’m sure we’re going to be encouraging a different government there, someone who can forge ties to Sunnis. But what it’s come down to now is very close to a sectarian civil war there.

When Franken touched on Syria, he was clearly responding to those who criticized President Obama for not launching strikes after he had said that any use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad would be a “red line.” Said Franken:

“In Syria, we did get something, as it happens, for the president’s policy, which is very, very significant — which is the chemical weapons out of that country. There’s still some work to be done. That was an enormous threat to Israel.”

On Iran, Franken responded to those who have advocated a military strike against Iran to set back its nuclear research and development. Said Franken:

We don’t know how the negotiations with Iran are going to turn out. But we have been able to keep the P5+1 [that refers to the five permanent members of the U.S. Security Council, plus Germany, which have been collaborating on a program of negotiations plus sanctions with Iran] together. We have been able to enforce these sanctions and get a world coalition to enforce these sanctions, which drove Iran to the table. I’d much rather be negotiating with them than the alternatives.

I should mention before leaving the subject of Iraq that Franken — who was neither a senator nor a candidate in 2003 during the run-up to the U.S. attack on and invasion of Iraq — did not oppose the war. His statements during that period were ambivalent, but slightly more in favor of the war than against. He ultimately told me that he had been “53 percent” in favor. Not until 2005 did Franken make a clear statement that the original invasion had been a mistake.

There were reasons to be for the war, and reasons to be against, he told me in 2008 during his first campaign, but “all the reasons to be for the war turned out to be false.”

Franken’s frame

Minnesota voters will (in all likelihood and with all due respect to others who are also seeking to be Minnesota’s next senator) be choosing between Franken and McFadden in November and will do so in year when partisan control of the U.S. Senate will be up for grabs. I asked Franken (and hope to ask McFadden) how he would like to frame the choice. Said Franken:

It’s about comparing two candidates and their records and who has a record of fighting for middle-class Minnesotans… We have a tax system that’s rigged. We have loopholes for companies that offshore jobs or offshore themselves.

I want to do things like raise the minimum wage. Like make sure you can refinance your student loans. Why should you be able to refinance your business, your house, your car, everything except your student loans? I’m someone who believes in getting things done. Things like the medical-loss ratio. I’ve gotten things done.

And it’s versus the Republican, whoever it is, is probably going to reflect what we’ve seen in this Congress. We’ve seen [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell literally say that his number one goal was to defeat the president. Instead of saying that his number one goal is to help people get jobs. Or that his number one goal is help people get health care or his number one goal is to create a great education system.

(Obnoxious interruption by me: McConnell has often asserted that making Obama a one-term president was his No. 1 political goal, not that it outranked all of his substantive policy goals. There is language in the original quote to partially back him up.) Back to Franken:

We’ve had this unbelievably partisan Congress. And I’ve been able to work across party lines and get things done. And the things I’ve been fighting for are about building the middle class.

I grew up in St. Louis Park. My dad didn’t graduate from high school. He was a printing salesman. We grew up in a two-bedroom, one-bath house. Me and my brother and my parents. But I considered myself the luckiest kid in the world because I was growing up middle-class in America at a time when that really meant that you could do anything.

And I felt that. I don’t think every kids feels that way now. I don’t think even the middle class feels that way. Because they feel very squeezed. Because they are. I want to make sure that people have the opportunity that I had.

Referring to how the economy is working in recent years, Franken said: “We’re not trickle down. We’re not top down.” Referring to Democrats: “We believe that the economy works best when it grows from the middle out.”

Comments (43)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/03/2014 - 09:02 am.

    What choice does he have? Franken owns Obamacare more than anyone other than Obama himself; taking a stand is the only option.

    Franken should have a care with regards to Iraq, though. It was Bush’s I’ll considered decision that put us there, but it’s Obama’s thoughtless capitulation to the far left that is putting the country into the hands of terrorists.

    I have many friends who fought in Iraq, many in Fallujah, they are beyond outrage….I wouldn’t rub salt in those wounds if I were Franken.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/03/2014 - 09:59 am.

      Cognitive dissonance

      I understand why people who sacrificed (themselves or others) in a pointless war become supporters of that war — it’s less painful than admitting that they wasted their lives in a war that should never have been fought.
      However, Bush managed to conduct a war using as few people as possible (multiple missions by volunteers), so Iraq/Afghanistan veterans are not much of a voting block, however vocal they are.

      And the way the actual numbers (paid signups) are going, by 2016 running against the ACA will be like running against Social Security or Medicare (you tried that too).

      Keep your government hands off of my Affordable Care Act!.

      Maybe that’s why the only Repubs interested in running in 2016 so far are losers and retreads like Christie, Kerry and Romney.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/03/2014 - 11:53 am.

        Not enough votes to matter….wow, just wow.

        Most of the guys I know are not fans of the Iraq campaign, Paul. They are just guys who honored their commitment and hate to see their sacrifice wasted to keep folks who don’t know what commitment means happy.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 07/03/2014 - 10:08 am.

      Laughable Assertion

      “Obama’s thoughtless capitulation to the far left that is putting the country [Iraq] into the hands of terrorists.”

      Care to back that statement up?

      • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 07/03/2014 - 10:57 am.

        If you want to know about the “capitulation”

        raed the Bush Cheney exit strategy. It’s exactly what was followed. So if it’s a “capitulation”, you can thank the Republicans.

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/03/2014 - 12:03 pm.

          Putting Bush as the architect of the invasion is correct. But if you think he would have allowed ISIL to stroll back into Fallujah and Mosil, you’re dreaming.

          Like the financial crisis, Obama inherited a mess in Iraq and made it worse.

          • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/03/2014 - 01:44 pm.

            Rand Paul on Syria, Iraq, ISIL


            Paul told Hannity that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki deserved a lot of the blame. “We shouldn’t always say that it is just our fault, or any one person’s fault over here. For example, the person most culpable in all of this is Maliki. He he kicked the Sunnis out of his army … so really Maliki deserves a lot of blame,” Paul said.

            On of the most striking comments that Paul said – a comment that Americans do not hear enough from a sitting U.S. Senator – is the truth regarding the funding of Islamic terrorists.

            Paul told Hannity, “One of the reason’s they’re (ISIS – Islamic terrorists) stronger is that we have been allied with them in Syria. We’ve been funding Islamic rebels who kill Christians. We’d be funding Islamic rebels to fight against Iranian proxies in Syria, but now, on the other side of the world, we’d be siding with the Iranian Guard. If we actually put troops in there we’d be siding with the Iranian Guard.”

            Paul added, “If the Shi’ites won’t fight for Mosul, I’m not willing to send my son and I feel strongly about that.”…


            (end quote)

            And Rand Paul and David Gregory


            “Well, I think if they are,” Rand shot back, then “maybe we shouldn’t be funding their allies and supporting them in Syria.” He then went on to explain to the clueless Gregory the history of US assistance to Syrian jihadists, singling out our supposed “allies” in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia as among the main financiers of ISIS and its “moderate” Syrian allies. Gregory then fell back on the partisan angle: “So you agree with the President …” and followed this up with an open invitation to attack Dick Cheney’s recent op-ed piece, by now infamous, in which he opined “Rarely has a US president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.” Is Cheney “a credible critic of this president?”

            “I think the same questions could be asked of those who supported the Iraq War. You know, were they right in their predictions? Were there weapons of mass destruction there? That’s what the war was sold on. Was democracy easily achievable? Was the war won in 2005, when many of these people said it was won? Um… they didn’t really, I think, understand the civil war that would break out. And what’s going on now, I don’t blame on President Obama. Has he really got the solution? Maybe there is no solution.”


            (end quote)

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/03/2014 - 01:45 pm.


            No President would be allowed to intervene in Iraq without the invitation/permission of both the Iraqi government and the US Congress. Macho posturing is no basis for a foreign policy.

            One wold also think that utter nonsense is no basis for an economic opinion, but I see that has not deterred you. President Obama has not made the financial crisis worse, by any metric. Even your fellow Obamaphobes generally confine themselves to saying the economy has not improved enough.

          • Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 07/06/2014 - 05:09 pm.

            Financial crisis?

            “Like the financial crisis, Obama inherited a mess in Iraq and made it worse.”

            Hello? Try getting your news from more than one source. In case you hadn’t noticed, the Dow is up to 17000 for the first time in history – twice what it was when the GOP walked away from the crash they drove us into. If you think the present day is worse financially than 2008 I have to wonder what you’re smoking.

          • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 07/06/2014 - 10:27 pm.

            As usual LOL

            With zero proof. Stick with the neocon war criminals as the only suspects on that war.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 07/03/2014 - 10:57 am.

      Well, he could do what the republicans did

      about George Bush….completely pretend he and his presidency never existed.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 07/03/2014 - 11:58 am.


      Don’t pretend your small group speaks for all veterans. I know veterans who left for Iraq Republicans, and came back Democrats after they saw what was going on. And I think most people are smart enough to separate support for the troops from support for the policy.

      And I don’t think anyone can question Franken’s support for our servicemembers:

      “Franken has been a volunteer with the United Service Organizations since he first visited Kosovo in 1999. He has conducted several overseas tours to both Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to participating in numerous celebrity handshake tours at military hospitals to visit wounded soldiers. He has done seven USO tours in total, four of which were to Iraq. On March 25, 2009, Franken was presented with the USO’s-Metro Merit Award for his 10 years’ involvement.”

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/03/2014 - 12:13 pm.

      An ill considered decision

      An “ill considered decision” makes lying the US and its allies into a long, expensive, and bloody war that squandered whatever moral force the US had in the world sound like a mere lapse in judgment (“I should not have worn this tie with this suit!”).

      “Ill considered” is also a poor description of what was, at best, the rank stupidity of getting involved in Iraq under any pretexts, and then wondering why it suddenly isn’t Morning in Iraq. Was it ignorance, blood lust, or unresolved Oedipal conflicts that led the Bush administration to ignore the fact that there never was a nation of “Iraq?” The state known as Iraq was a largely arbitrary division of an empire by two other victorious imperial powers. The division ignored the sectarian and ethnic divisions in the country. Iraq, like Yugoslavia, was held together for decades by despotism, not by nationhood.. The split-up of Yugoslavia was ,fortunately for them, not complicated by the presence of oil reserves, and by the presence of a western ally (Turkey) whose territorial integrity would be threatened by a split along recognizable national lines. Yes, it was ill considered, but not more so than any decision to get back into that morass would be.

      Remember that another one of President Bush’s “ill considered decisions” was the decision to sign the Status of Forces Agreement in 2008. That agreement provided for the withdrawal of US troops by the end of 2011. The US cannot keep troops in Iraq (still a sovereign nation, last time I looked) without the permission of its government. These details do trip one up, don’t they?

  2. Submitted by ALAN BELISLE on 07/03/2014 - 09:33 am.

    medical device tax

    Love Al and the work he has done for the middle class. But I cannot approve his campaign to repeal the medical device taxes. When Medtronic schemes to relocate their “headquarters” to Ireland to avoid taxes, the least they can do is to pay a small tax on the devices they sell here.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/03/2014 - 09:45 am.

    McCain, Graham, the Saudi’s and ISIS


    As Steve Clemons has pointed out in a blockbuster piece for the Atlantic, McCain, along with South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, has played a key role in getting the Saudi Arabians and the Qataris, our allies, to arm rebel groups in Syria that are fighting the Iranian-backed government of Bashar al-Assad.

    Publicly, the Saudis and the Qataris say they’re only sending weapons to “moderate” rebel groups like the Free Syrian Army, but they’ve also reportedly been arming more extreme groups – groups like the Al-Nusra Front and, you guessed it, ISIS.

    According to Clemons, ISIS was a “Saudi pet project” and support for the group may have reached all the way to the top of the Saudis’ version of the CIA. He says that “ISIS, in fact, may have been a major part of [former Saudi intelligence chief Bandar bin Sultan’s] covert-ops strategy in Syria.” This isn’t some crazy conspiracy theory, either. As Clemons points out, John McCain’s connections to the Saudis are well documented, and during an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley a few months ago, he went out of his way to praise both the Saudis and Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

    Now, we don’t know whether or not John McCain knew that he was helping the Saudis arm ISIS, and my guess is that he didn’t know, but that’s a separate issue. The important point here is that intentionally or not, John McCain may have just set us up for another 9/11. ISIS has its sights on Iraq and Syria right now, but there are reports that it’s threatened to attack targets in the West as well.

    (end quote)


    “Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar,” John McCain told CNN’s Candy Crowley in January 2014. “Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar, and for our Qatari friends,” the senator said once again a month later, at the Munich Security Conference.

    McCain was praising Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services and a former ambassador to the United States, for supporting forces fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham had previously met with Bandar to encourage the Saudis to arm Syrian rebel forces.

    (end quote)


    In fact John McCain even had his picture taken with a group of Jihadists. One of those Jihadists was FSA Khalid al-Hamad. It was Khalid al-Hamad who became known as the “cannibal Jihadists” after having a friend video tape him eating a human heart! It is also been reported that Khalid al-Hamad called his unit the “Osama Bin Laden Brigade.”….

    …When ISIS poured over the border it looked like a commercial for Toyota trucks. George Galloway, a high profile member of the British parliament, says the trucks were gifts from the US and British governments….

    (end quote)

    What a genius!!

    McCain/Palin–I guess that being the fool ran all the way through the ticket.

  4. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/03/2014 - 09:55 am.


    I have no problem at all campaigning on Obamacare. McFadden needs to explain why in that commerical, his solution to his kid’s health care issues was to remove the stitches himself.

  5. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 07/03/2014 - 10:12 am.

    Eric, who writes your headlines?

    Yesterday, it was Franken “defending” the administration’s effort on the economy. Today, it is Franken “refusing to back off of” support for Obamacare. As though these are failures or embarrassments.

    The long-term outlook for the economy is dismal (foremost in the precise opposition between the single acceptable prescription for a minimally functioning economy – fossil-fuel based growth – and surviving climate change). But in the short term what the administration has managed to do is remarkable in the face of the unyielding destructive nihilism of the opposition. If Franken (as a surrogate for the Democrats as a whole) is to be criticized, it is for the fact that despite his good intentions he remains captured by the prevailing corporatism that resists a shift toward a clean energy, low growth economy and a more intentional social mechanism of redistributing labor, both of which would make society much more prosperous as a whole but would constitute a tremendous shift of power from the few to the many.

    As to Obamacare, only pure ideologues think it is worse than what it replaced and in the real world it is showing itself to be a huge benefit for the silent majority. Again, its chief flaw is that in fealty to the corporatism that frames the limits of action for both parties, it doesn’t go far enough to socialize health insurance. Maybe an ironic outcome of Hobby Lobby will be a renewed push beyond employer-based insurance toward single-payer.

    Finally, what is happening in Iraq is the inescapable consequence of going in and dissolving the political and civic structure of a nation riven by sectarian and clan rivalries. In 1953, and then in 2003, the U.S. showed in two steps how to destroy a nation. The U.S. could stay in Iraq for 50 years and it would only postpone the organic reconstruction of a state. Obama’s move to cut losses was obvious, only late. Franken’s fault, again, was in accepting the establishment consensus for war in 2003 that, transparently, was engineered only to advance the profits of the few and heedless of the clear consequences.

    Franken is smart, informed and a mensch – human, caring, engaged. The fair criticism of him, as the above three topics indicate, is that despite his good intentions his imagination and his acts remain largely captured by the corporatist consensus. Something tells me McFadden is not the alternative.

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/03/2014 - 10:55 am.

    Actually I’m surprised

    Franken could have swung much harder for Obamacare:

    Denials for pre-existing conditions- Gone
    Limits to spending on administrative costs- Check
    Number of uninsured down by millions- Check
    Lower premiums- Check
    Better coverage- Check

    We’ve even some modest stabilizing on health care costs in some places.

    Yeah, it was a rough roll out, but the Republicans did everything they could to ensure that it would fail, AND compared to the private sector given the short time and complexity of the exchanges its actually kind of amazing it went as well as it did.

    Listen, three months ago I simply upgraded my DSL service with Century Link and what should have been a routine ticket is still not resolved…. that’s private sector efficiency for you. The health care exchanges started from scratch, with barely enough money allocated by congress due to Republican resistance, resistance from half the states, lawsuits, etc.

    This was a project that should have taken at least five years to build with twice the budget and resources. People complain about having to be on the phone for an hour… I’ve spent 3+ hours on the phone with Century Link over the last three months trying to sort out DSL upgrade.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/03/2014 - 04:01 pm.

      Paul, Obamacare premium increases have been averaging 45% which is, no doubt, why Gov Dayton won’t release the numbers for Minnesota.

      Also, the 40% decrease does not include the 16,000 that currently find themselves uninsured due to, yes, more technical errors. It does include thousands that signed up for Medicare which begs the question of why we didn’t just expand Medicare and call it a day.

      As to better coverage, you probably haven’t been informed that Obamacare members are excluded from most if the best hospitals in the country.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/03/2014 - 08:37 pm.

        Well, one out of four.

        Many progressives have advocated expanding Medicare/Medicaid into a national health system. Unfortunately, this was a political nonstarter with the right wing.
        And since the Affordable Care Act is legislation passed by Congress, not a health plan itself, it covers the entire population, so you are saying that “most if(sic) the best hospitals in the country” do not accept U.S. citizens.
        Are you perhaps thinking of medical facilities that do not accept Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements. I know for a fact that the Mayo Clinic Rochester does, but maybe that’s not a very good hospital.

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/03/2014 - 07:41 pm.

          Yeah well there’s the problem, right there. Progressives will take pretty much any reasonable solution and put it into an insane suit.

          Expanding Medicare to cover more dependents of the welfare state does not mean “national health care system”. There ate still at least 1/2 of us out here that prefer to manage our own lives.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 07/03/2014 - 09:52 pm.


        Paul is correct, healthcare does cost less for many… I mean they are getting a pretty healthy subsidy from us.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/07/2014 - 10:52 am.

          The fact is

          that overall health care costs are finally going down, because more people are able to get preventive care rather than ending up in the (much more expensive) emergency room. We ALL pay for inefficient health care.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/04/2014 - 08:28 am.

        Again Mr. Swift

        Somehow you consistently manage to be seriously misinformed.

        Rates have risen 2.6%, not 40%. It’s a net decrease for most people because the extent of coverage is much greater, and the deductibles and co-pays are lower. The premiums for most people would have been much higher for the same coverage prior to Obomacare so it’s an apples and oranges comparison in a lot of way. Subsidies kick in this year that can lower costs for many people by as much as 50%.

  7. Submitted by Robert Helland on 07/03/2014 - 11:58 am.

    Please support democracy, Mr. Black, include Kevin Terrell

    Minnpost & Mr. Black:

    “This is one in an occasional series of articles about the policy positions of U.S. Senate candidates Mike McFadden and Al Franken.”

    Why not endorsed major party candidate, Kevin Terrell?

    I would appreciate knowing what criteria must be met, or what hoops must be jumped through, to be included in your news coverage. Being an endorsed major party candidate and filed for statewide office is insufficient.

    If I hope to be included, if ever a secretary of state story is written, I must know your thresholds. I will jump through hoops for election fairness.

    I prefer an online answer, but I’ll take one offline at

    ~Bob Helland
    Bob Helland for Minnesota Secretary of State, IP Endorsed

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/03/2014 - 12:35 pm.

      A major party

      is one that has a chance of winning an election.
      At best the IP is a spoiler that might determine which of the two major parties wins.

      • Submitted by Robert Helland on 07/03/2014 - 04:56 pm.

        What does “Independence Day” mean to you?

        No “chance of winning”? Sounds like something that was said of American Revolutionaries in 1776…

        For the record a “major party” is defined in Minnesota Statutes Chapter 200 Section 02 subdivision 7.

        That’s our civics lesson for July 3rd; I suggest you find a lesson to learn about Independence Day on July 4th.

        The DFL stopped supporting the “F” (farmers) when they neglected to support the highly lucrative cash crop of cannabis. Do they no longer represent the “D” (for democracy) as well? The party of “L” (Big Labor) it seems is the only thing they hold on to anymore.

        Join the Tripartisan Revolution, Mr. Brandon; future generations will thank you.


        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/03/2014 - 05:34 pm.

          Word games

          “Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one. A mule still just has four legs.” A. Lincoln.
          Since we are not a parliamentary system, minor parties cannot participate in government by joining a coalition.
          Minnesota statutes set a rather low hurdle; the IP may be “major” by its standards, but still not play a significant role in Minnesota politics and government.

          As for studying history, you’ll find that many European nations (starting with France) took the Thirteen’s chances quite seriously.

          BTW — what happened on July 4, 1776?

          • Submitted by Robert Helland on 07/04/2014 - 09:22 am.

            History games instead? OK.

            Of the volumes of Abraham Lincoln’s written and spoken word, with so much said consistent with my passion for preserving democracy and preserving the integrity of our nation that was so hard fought for, you’ve chosen an out-of-context, trivial quote to lend credibility to the idea that my third party candidacy is frail and fruitless and potentially dangerous by splintering the will of the people when confined to a choice between the lesser of two evils.

            Do you honestly believe if Lincoln could see, he would embrace the modern two-party kingmakers, the oligarchy of America?

            As for the Fourth, the second continental congress adopted the language of the Declaration of Independence two days after resolving as a body to be independent from British rule. Fun times.


            • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/07/2014 - 10:59 am.

              And the Declaration

              actually reached Britain on August 30th.

              As for the rest of your comment, it says much more about you than about me.
              I used the (probably apocryphal) Lincoln quote simply to make a point about word games; in this case, labeling a party ‘major’.

              Lincoln himself was a member of major political parties (Whigs, then Republicans) and made highly effective use of patronage. He was the consummate politician, realizing that the effective use of the political system was a necessary condition for pursuing his objectives.
              Rather than butting his head against a brick wall, he would appoint someone to a political position as wall buster (and appoint someone else to keep an eye on him).

    • Submitted by Justin Adams on 07/03/2014 - 02:41 pm.

      I would also like to hear about Mr. Terrell’s Views

      I’ve been a loyal Eric Black reader since he started The Big Question. I like the way he sensibly and thoroughly explores questions related to the constitution.

      A couple of years ago, I stopped being a member of MPR because they excluded IP, Green and other ballot qualified candidates (“nominees”) from their debates. They haven’t changed their policy, I haven’t rejoined.

      I’m not currently a member of or contributor to MinnPost. I would certainly consider becoming one if they did a better job of covering all of the political candidates among whom I will be chosing this November.

      • Submitted by Robert Helland on 07/03/2014 - 05:34 pm.

        Thanks for expressing support of election fairness.

        Mr. Adams, I inquired your Minnpost comment history and found where you had recounted your experience as an election judge and related positions. (pun intended)

        If you’d be interested in helping me “get it right” as a candidate for secretary of state, IP-endorsed, I’d welcome your correspondence at I’m committed to serving Minnesota as a “nonpartisan tripartisan” – beholden to none, inclusive of all.

        With the right team and fair media coverage, I have a chance to win.


  8. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 07/03/2014 - 12:18 pm.

    Then there’s this …

    “People who are happy with their current plan wouldn’t need to change it.” – Al Franken

    For reference:

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 07/03/2014 - 02:12 pm.

      Nostradamus you are not

      Don’t forget this one:
      “Because next week all anyone’s going to be talking about is the republican tsunami that hit on election day.” -Dennis Tester, 10.32.12

      Oh, and this one:
      “Romney is actually up in the polls from a week ago. And if Gallup et al would actually sample the right percentage of self-described party members and not over sample democrats by 6-10 percent, Romney is ahead in the polls.”
      “heh” – Dennis Tester, 9.18.12

      No-one is correct 100% of the time, and you of all people should understand this. Al has been working hard for all Minnesotans, and he has earned the strong support he has now.

      Oh, and this one, just for fun:

      “Negative, negative, negative. Why don’t you people find something positive to say about your guy instead of always going negative on the other guy?”

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/04/2014 - 08:34 am.

    I have to agree to some extent about the major party thing

    It’s not like Franken and McFadden are giving us a wealth of information, it’s basically predictable campaign talking points anyways. Why not do at least one interview with the Green, Indy’s etc? It’s not like the two party system is giving us the best possible results.

  10. Submitted by Eric Black on 07/04/2014 - 01:42 pm.

    For those who missed it, here is a policy-heavy interview with IP Senate candiate Kevin Terrell by your humble and obdt. ink-stained wretch:

    Thanks, as always, for all the great comments.

  11. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/05/2014 - 07:40 am.

    Something else

    “McFadden calls Obamacare a disaster. He favors repealing it and replacing it with something better.”

    I have my own personal rules of politics, and one of them is what I think of as Hiram’s First Principle which is: Any politicians who public support of a policy or objective is contingent upon the fulfillment of an impossible precondition in fact opposes that policy goal or objective. In other words, a politician who says he supports policy x but implementation must wait for the freezing over of Hell, the refrigeration of which is to be paid for, by a tax increase which must be approved by a referendum, in fact opposes that policy.

    Mr. McFadden tells us he supports health care insurance. But his support is premised on the fulfillment of two implied conditions in the statement quoted above, and no doubt many more if we ever got down to the nitty gritty. First, he wants to repeal Obamacare. For reasons I won’t go in here, that’s politically impossible. Secondly, he wants to enact something in it’s place. That too, for reasons I won’t go into here is politically impossible.

    No one I know of disputes that Obamacare is an imperfect and a flawed system. Republicans are very good at listing it’s problems and I am strongly favor of looking at and addressing those problems. But what is simple and, crystal clear is that while both parties as represented by Franken and McFadden can tell you how Obamacare can be improved, only one party, and it’s candidate Al Franken is actually in favor of improving it.

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/06/2014 - 11:18 am.

    What I want to know….

    Having provided aid and comfort to our enemies via the Saudi’s, when will McCain and his fellow conspirators be put on trial for treason, or least impeached?

  13. Submitted by Roy Everson on 07/07/2014 - 02:33 am.

    Outside support

    Mr. Helland, it’s true that in 1776 the Americans seemed to have as little chance to win as your party does today. The obvious solution for the Independence party is to seek aid from the King of France. Good luck with that.

  14. Submitted by colin kline on 07/07/2014 - 05:46 pm.

    3rd, 4th, 5th…

    I too would like to hear about other candidates from Minn Post AND the rest of the media. The world is not a two sided coin.

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