Quick! What were caucus participants in Minnesota telling us?
Thousands of Minnesotans went to caucuses around the state last night to tell the world what they think. Their message, however, may be lost in the wake of the attention being given to the process that delivered the message. Why weren't precinct caucuses more prepared? Is the caucus system the best way of doing this? Who benefits from the results?
Those are all good questions, unless you really want to know what it all means to an average Minnesotan who may not be a political scientist. And what message did the voters on Super Tuesday give to the candidates themselves that might shape the general election?
Analysis: McCain looks to seal deal, the Associated Press headline said this morning. Not far in usefulness, really, from "Giants blitz sacks Brady." We know Mitt Romney and Barack Obama won Minnesota. We know that a lot more people turned out than anyone imagined. And there message was..... what?
Here's a sample of possibilities on the Republican side:
"I wonder if you are seeing that Romney has the support of MN people who actually volunteer for and support the GOP financially," said the Republican blog, Truth v. the Machine, which also takes a good whack at the MPR/ U of M poll. "Maybe the people in the poll who supported McCain never got off the couch to vote tonight? As discussed here and elsewhere, there in lies the whole problem with candidate McCain. The people who actually write checks and do the footwork could likely vote for him in November, but the problem is they will hold their cash and spectate leading up to the vote."
The Chaska Herald, meanwhile, carried a quote that suggests the Republicans who caucused really hate John McCain. "I'm trying to keep McCain from being elected. Go Romney!" said Ward 3 resident Roy Henderson. And the Star Tribune's account of a caucus in Maplewood showed why -- immigration, primarily. "Let them come the way that we used to," Larry Lyon, a retired engineer from North St. Paul, "and learn English."
On MPR's Midmorning today, Matthew Continetti, associate editor at the Weekly Standard, said McCain is not going to win over conservatives. Period. "But at the end of the day, those kind of practical political critics of McCain will vote for him." Which means what, exactly, for the future of the conservative movement?
"Conservatives have been so vitriolic in their assault on John McCain because they don't have a viable candidate in the race and because they don't believe that McCain will keep the conservative flame alive within the GOP," Allan J. Lichtman, professor of History at American University and the author of White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement, said today. "However, as we learned from the liberal collapse in the late 1970s, political movements usually succumb to contradictions within their own traditions. That is precisely what has happened to conservativism in the era of George W. Bush and the impending McCain nomination is but a symptom of a more serious malady."
On the Democratic side, perhaps the message was to the media: "you're wrong."
"The media is also playing a divisive and misleading role through its analysis of the election results," said Joel Wendlend at PoliticalAffairs.net. "An ongoing mantra in both print and on the cable networks has been that women sided with Clinton and African Americans sided with Obama. But in state after state, where Obama won, he also won the support of both women and whites, at least according to exit polling data. Young voters overall turned in majorities for Obama, however."
Has your message been heard? What is it? Tell me below.(2 Comments)
... at least as it relates to the news.
The Pew Research Center is out with a study today that chronicles the difference in news habits between men and women.
Women consistently express more interest than men in stories about weather, health and safety, natural disasters and tabloid news. Men are more interested than women in stories about international affairs, Washington news and sports.
At the same time, men and women often express comparable levels of interest in the top news stories of the day. For example, the presidential campaign has attracted only modestly greater interest among men than among women. In five weekly news interest surveys in 2008, 37% of men and 32% of women say they have followed campaign news very closely.
So women overall seem more interested in domestic stories. Men are more interested in international stories.
Brittney Spears doesn't come up at all.
(Hat tip: Mike Reszler)(1 Comments)
Posted at 11:14 AM on February 6, 2008
by Bob Collins
Many school districts and other recipients of federal food and nutritional program food have pulled beef off their menu, after some undercover video (view here) at a California slaughterhouse showed cows, that were unable to stand, being prodded to get them into a slaughterhouse. The concern is the beef from sick cows ended up on your kid's cafeteria tray.
An MPR listener/reader who is a school nurse writes, "How long has the supect beef been in circulation, how long have the school districts been receiving it, and serving it to students? Is any of the suspect beef that has been set aside being tested by the State Health Department or any other governmental agency? What is the State Health Department doing about this, anything? What should a parent of a student who may have ingested the suspect beef know, in terms of when ill effects might appear?
Q: Is it possible beef from the plant ended up in the cafeteria?
A: Yes. Westland Meat Company shipped 240,000 pounds of the beef to Minnesota. according Christine Dufour, a spokeswoman for the Education Department. An Excel spreadsheet listing the schools can be found here. Says Randy Wanke at the Department of Education, "We are in the process of working with distributors of this product to I.D. which districts have received this product. We will contact those districts that have received this product to let them know if they have received this product. Since we are dealing with 240,000 pounds of meat, we expect this process to take a few days."
Q: Are there any reports of kids becoming sick from tainted beef?
A: No. There isn't even evidence that the beef is tainted.
Q: Is the Department of Health testing the beef?
A: No. "We wouldn't be involved unless there was some human illness associated with the beef," according to spokesman Buddy Ferguson at the Minnesota Department of Health. There are no known cases of anyone getting sick from the beef.
Q: Why didn't the government recall the beef?
A: The USDA ordered a "hold" rather than a "recall" on the beef because the government is primarily investigating the inhumane treatment of animals.
Q: How come the Humane Society was able to see the sick animals, but the USDA didn't?
A: There are plenty of questions about the USDA's inspection program. Last year, a USDA undersecretary admitted to a congressional committee that for three decades, U.S. inspectors visited 250 meat processing plants as rarely as once every two weeks despite federal law requiring daily inspection. He promised the practice would end "damn soon."
Q: What should we look for in kids?
A: Again, there are no reports of any tainted beef actually being in the food supply. E. coli is the most common form of food illness. Symptoms include bad stomach cramps and belly pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, sometimes with blood in it. The illness is usually associated with undercooked meat. You can find more here.
But the main reason for keeping "downed cows" out of the food supply is they may harbor mad cow disease. mad cow disease, which is caused by a virus-like infectious particle that can cause a fatal brain disease in people. Find information on it here.
Q: How do we know what beef is involved?
A: "This is what we are telling districts to look for," says Randy Wanke, spokesman for the Department of Education. "The United States Department of Agriculture has issued a hold on the use of A608, Fine Ground Beef 40 Lb cases supplied by Westland Meat Co/ Hallmark Meat Co. This product was distributed in school year (SY) 2007-2008 (2008) on 10/26/2007 and in SY 2006-2007 (2007) on 1/12/2007, 1/22/2007 and 1/30/2007."
Posted at 11:41 AM on February 6, 2008
by Bob Collins
The morning trip to the mail room yielded a goodie today. Burnsville-based Electro-Voice is releasing Musicians for Minneapolis, a 57-song CD set that is being sold, with 100% of the proceeds going to Minnesota Helps: Bridge Disaster Fund.
Oxycontin? Valium? Xanax? That's quite a cocktail, and one that can kill you if you take them all together, which is what actor Heath Ledger did, contributing to his death, according to the medical examiner. There was also the painkiller ibuprofen and sleeping pills, Restoril and Unisom.
Now the only mystery is why the death has been declared accidental.
Doctors who prescribe are supposed to know what other prescriptions the patient is taking. And so are the pharmacists for precisely this reason. And they're supposed to advise the patient of the dangers of combining drugs. Either they didn't do that, or he didn't pay attention.(2 Comments)
As any parent of a child with a serious illness can tell you, one of the hardest things to deal with is the guilt that comes from the knowledge that you -- the parent -- may have had something to do with it. "What could I have done differently?" is the common question.
So, this probably won't help. Some new research out today suggests that there's a connection between the stress of a mother during pregnancy, and mental illness of the child.
According to Time magazine...
The study group consisted of 1.38 million births recorded in Denmark, from 1973 to 1995. Children were followed from age 10 until their death, their departure from Denmark, the onset of schizophrenia or the end of the study period in 2005. Researchers determined also whether the birth mothers had suffered extreme stress — due either to the death or illness (heart attack, cancer or stroke) of a first-degree relative — six months prior to and at any time during pregnancy. The data showed that women who experienced a close family member's death during the first three months of pregnancy had a 67% increased risk of having a child who would develop schizophrenia later in life. Stress before pregnancy or in late pregnancy had no such effect; neither did stress associated with a family member's illness.
Researchers stress the data is too small to reach firm conclusions. But that won't stop a lot of mothers -- and fathers, too -- from wringing their hands just a little tighter.(2 Comments)
I got the feeling when Marshall Field's fell into the hands of Macy's, that it was only a matter of time before the last vestige of a Minnesota company founded in 1902 was wiped away.
Today is that day.
The giant retailer announced it is consolidating its regional divisions. Gone will be Macy's North, which employed about 950 people. When Dayton's became Marshall Field's which became Macy's, the local "headquarters" remained in the form of Macy's North. It was a small nod to the idea that Minneapolis still, somehow, mattered.
Though we can now put a final shovelful of dirt on the grave of a Minnesota retailer, many folks left the cemetery long ago.(3 Comments)