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Pawlenty: Time to withdraw from Afghanistan, or not


Tim Pawlenty is promising a one-on-one campaign in Iowa, and this morning he was in Ames telling his audience that with the death of Osama bin Laden, the United States should: A. Start pulling troops out of Afghanistan, B. Defer the decision defer to his military commanders, and C: Leave some there indefinitely, because, well you never know what might happen. Jens Krogstad of the Des Moines Register writes: “When addressing specific troop levels, Pawlenty deferred to recommendations from military leadership, who have said decisions should be based on conditions in the country. Pawlenty said General David Petraeus told him during a visit to Afghanistan last fall that troop levels could be decreased in two years. Petraeus has since said the timeline could be shortened to about a year and a half. However, Pawlenty said it’s important that some troops remain in the region. ‘I think we need enough military capacity in Afghanistan or at least in the region, so if another material threat to the United States is identified, that we can respond and interrupt it and defeat it, efficiently and quickly,’ he said.”

Krogstad’s Register colleague, Kathie Obradovich, bird-dogging Pawlenty, reports: “I asked Pawlenty whether it’s difficult to criticize the president right now, in light of this week’s major military success. ‘President Obama should be congratulated for his commitment and decision-making in the capture of bin Laden,’ Pawlenty said. ‘But that’s not the full scope of our foreign policy or our national defense posture and there will still be a robust debate about what he has done so far and what he will do in the future.’ That answer, which didn’t criticize the president, suggests it is tough to do right now. But Pawlenty did eventually sharpen his rhetoric. During the Ames event, he accused Obama of ‘breaking his promise’ to fix health care in a bipartisan fashion and focus on cost containment. ‘He broke his promise to Iowa and he broke his promise to America,’ Pawlenty said. ‘He went to Washington, DC, and passed what is in my view one of the worst pieces of legislation in the modern history of the country. It was one of the most partisan, polarized pieces of legislation in the country. He did not incorporate Republicans or Republican thinking in the result and he did not focus on cost containment.’ Pawlenty also said he does not favor cutting the defense budget. He said he believes some efficiencies can be found, and he anticipates savings as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ramp down. But he wouldn’t trim the core defense budget and could even expect increases at the rate of inflation.”

This will be interesting. The Duluth News Tribune covers the story of the Minnesota Supreme Court hearing a case about retiree health plans: “The question of whether the city of Duluth can change retirees’ health insurance benefits to match those of current employees is in the hands of the Minnesota Supreme Court. On the line is perhaps as much as $60 million in savings for the city over the next 30 years. Supreme Court justices heard arguments Monday from the attorneys representing the city and the retirees who sued the city over the issue three years ago. The justices have no deadline for issuing a ruling. ‘They said they will issue a decision in due course,’ said Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson, who attended the hourlong hearing in St. Paul. ‘I would anticipate a decision will come within four to eight months.’ ”

The National Law Journal looks at another Supreme Court case, this one involving the legality of so-called “administrative warrants” to search rental properties. Dana Berliner, who is litigating the case for the renters, writes: “Red Wing, Minn., like many other cities across the country — including Los Angeles, Boston and Milwaukee — has an ordinance that requires inspections of all rental housing units in order for them to be legally rented. These laws typically provide that the municipality will inspect for housing and other code violations. The municipality must try to obtain consent for the inspection, but if it cannot, it then applies for an administrative warrant. ‘Administrative’ warrants are warrants that lack traditional probable cause — the government has no reason to believe there is a violation at the particular property for which the warrant is sought. Instead, the search is part of an administrative program, and the only ‘probable cause’ necessary is of a more general sort. ... The forthcoming decision of the Minnesota Supreme Court will be the only ruling on this issue, and it will have major persuasive value to courts in the many other jurisdictions with similar rental-inspection laws. If the Minnesota Supreme Court says these laws cannot be challenged directly, then other courts will follow suit.”

Gov. Dayton and MnDOT have launched a program to repair 700 miles of roads ... in four years. A Fox9 story says: “Dayton and MnDOT commissioner Tom Sorel on Tuesday announced their Better Roads for a Better Minnesota program, which they say will create 9,900 private sector jobs across the state while improving 700 miles of state highways. ... The four-year program is aimed at improving existing highways determined to be in ‘poor’ condition. The state currently has about 750 miles of trunk highway classified as poor condition. Without additional investment, the state estimates number of miles in poor condition to increase to 1,900 by 2020.” 700? Really? I could show them 1,000 in what I’d call “execrable” condition.

While much is being murmured about retaliation in the wake of bin Laden’s killing, there is this story from Norb Franz in The Royal Oak Daily Tribune of Michigan: “A Minnesota man officials said walked into a police station to report he had shot someone was arraigned Monday on murder and weapons charges in the death of his 20-year-old stepdaughter in Warren. Investigators believe Rahim Abdul Alfetlawi was angry that the victim, Jessica Mokdad, was not strictly adhering to Muslim customs and that she had moved to Michigan. Police said he began driving in the predawn hours Saturday from his home in Coon Rapids, Minn., to Grand Blanc, Mich., to confront her.”

There isn’t a lot of applause for the legislative redistricting plan more or less unveiled by the GOP majority Monday. Bill Salisbury at the PiPress writes: “[T]he map is pretty clearly drawn to protect Republicans, said Larry Jacobs, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance. It pairs far more Democratic than Republican incumbents, and many lines seem to be drawn to provide safe districts for members of the large GOP freshman class. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton would likely veto it.”

Our Doug Grow, likewise, detects no great enthusiasm and only the inevitable court battle: “Dayton has said he will veto any redistricting proposal that doesn't have clear bipartisan support in the House and Senate. But the Legislature hasn't been able to achieve that in a half century. Legislative leaders have claimed they will be scrupulously fair, have consumed huge amounts of hours and considerable amounts of money drawing redistricting maps that end up in the trash. The courts have ended up with the job of redistricting. Republicans said this year they'd do it differently, though it's likely even few of them think it's possible for partisans to draw a nonpartisan map.”

Somebody needs a fire-and-brimstone accountant. David Phelps of the Strib reports:Curtis Carlson Nelson, grandson of the late Minnesota business giant Curt Carlson, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, listing $41.25 million in liabilities and $4.1 million in assets. The bankruptcy petition for the recently struggling businessman was filed Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The filing follows a string of economic setbacks for Nelson, including a foreclosed home in Minnetonka with a $3.16 million mortgage and a value of $565,400 and a $3.8 million judgment against him by Crown Bank involving delinquent loans.”

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Comments (1)

I strongly suspect that Gov. Dayton would be doing far more highway construction if he had the money available to do so, but with the recessed economy causing less people to own cars or drive the ones they own,...

and the price of gasoline rising to the level where "miles driven" is likely to drop considerably, the millions of dollars needed for additional highway construction and repair are not likely to be available anytime in the near future.