Like the Super Bowl, coverage of tonight's vice presidential debate is starting hours ahead of time. Midmorning previewing the debate during the first hour (9-10) and we're live-blogging that conversation and looking forward to your comments.
I'll also be live blogging tonight's debate itself between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin and we're looking for your comments and analysis as the event unfolds in St. Louis, in what appears to be the most highly anticipated VP debate in history.
As we did last Friday, there's a debate-watching party in the UBS Forum at MPR. I'll be blogging that, too.
And, finally, Sarah Pailn's spot on the GOP ticket has sparked a lot of conversation about how women balance work and family. We want to hear what women in our audience are thinking on this subject. Tell us about your choices involving work on MPR's "Public Insight Journalism" site.
Yesterday I wrote about the Hurricane Ike dogs that have arrived in Minnesota. I asked the people at the Humane Society for a few pictures and they've now arrived. At the risk of being accused of being the next Sally Struthers, here they are:
The windows don't open and there are no ledges anyway at the world headquarters of News Cut. It's just as well, now that I've listened to Jeff Horwich's fascinating program on Midday today. A small group of economic experts and just plain folks gathered to talk about the economic meltdown and by the end of the program, not even eternal economic optimist Chris Farrell could've stopped me from heading for the glass panes.
One young man, said to be the youngest person on the panel, was coming to grips with the reality that he won't be able to live the kind of life that his parents did. Presuming that his parents are my age, his thoughts resonated with me because when I was his age I thought the same thing.
Still, these are not only difficult economic times; they're terrible emotional times. The language of the meltdown is no longer about bailouts, hedge funds, naked short selling, or credit markets.
Listen carefully and these are the words you hear now: trust, confidence, fear.
"I think we should just trust the government here," one panelist said. "History has shown that the country might actually make a little money on the bailout."
Easily said. Done with great difficulty.
Trust. What role is there for it to play where the future of a democracy is concerned?
I have no answers here, only the observation that, sure, I'm willing to trust.... if you go first.
The Bush administration tapped out its trust capital by being wrong about Iraq. We can argue -- and Lord knows we have for 5 years -- on whether the administration was intentionally wrong or accidentally so on the issue, but it doesn't matter; the result is the same.
In many ways, the public debate of the last two weeks has given voice to a larger problem: We as a people are not prepared to trust our leaders. In many ways, we don't even know how.
"No one quite knows how to harness our political system in opposition to major problems," the American Prospect's Ezra Klein wrote this week. "No one knows how to get real health reform through, or pass a global warming bill that could actually avert catastrophe, or shepherd a capital infusion that will avert possible economic collapse. Those problems are all different, to be sure, with different coalitions and different messaging strategies, but much of what blocks action is structurally similar. When it comes to the American political system, you can almost never believe in change."
Two other quotes, this time from the Washington Post, confirm the suspicion that we are a suspicious lot now.
"You've got massive public distrust and dissatisfaction, with the bailout specifically, with government in general, and George Bush and the entire political establishment," said Doug Muzzio, professor of public affairs at Baruch College in New York.
"This vote is a reflection of a lack of political capital, not of financial capital," said Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban planning at New York University. "The bankruptcy exists in our political leadership, not on Wall Street. We need to bail out Nancy Pelosi and George Bush."
How bad are things emotionally? Dan Ariely, a professor of behavior economics at Duke, suggested on Marketplace last evening that we're willing to punish ourselves just to get revenge against those who've made us angry:
But right now what we're doing is we're willing to sacrifice money -- the same way that you were willing to sacrifice $3 or $7 to punish me -- people are willing to suffer to get this (you know, I don't know what's a polite way to call this) . . . . people on Wall Street. . . . But people are willing to lose money to get those people to suffer more. In fact, I've asked people about this. Everybody feels this anger. They have violated, in a very important way, a social contract in the same way that I would have violated the social contract of you giving me your $10 and me walking away with $50.
In 3 1/2 months, a new president is going to take office and half the nation -- if the present polls are accurate -- aren't going to like the guy, and an entire media machine -- from the Internet to 24/7 cable channels -- will make its living by stirring up the pot of distrust; sometimes justifiably, sometimes not.
Is this a good situation? How do we know the difference between a healthy distrust of government and the kind that paralyzes and then divides a country? Several times burned, how can people be expected to trust again? If you don't trust government now, what would it take for that to change, especially when the government consists of a mix of two political parties?
I trust you'll have the answer.(3 Comments)
MPR's Tom Weber takes a look at two issues facing Minneapolis -- and many other schools -- today.
His report on the state of Minneapolis schools is about as sobering as it gets. Despite every attempt by administrators to maintain an upbeat attitude, how do you find any hope in the racial and ethnic disparities? (Full report here)
Suffice it to say, the kids aren't using their cellphones to get test answers, which is the concern uttered in his other story today: The concern that students are misuing their cellphones.
Are we getting anywhere with reducing racial disparities in education?
In the preliminary basic skills test in 1996, statewide, whites scored about 80.1% correct on the math and 73.8% correct on reading, while African Americans scored 59.5 and 54.5% correct on the math and reading exams, respectively. A a 19.3 to 20.6 percentage point gap between Black and White test scores, according to a study of Minnesota in 2004 that claimed poverty had little to do with the gap, and how the students were treated probably did.
A 2004 series by Minnesota Public Radio looked at the gap and found a conglomeration of roadblocks -- race, class and culture. In one basket-case school in St. Paul (Dayton's Bluff), a new administration and curriculum was installed with encouraging results. In the most recent tests, 54% of African Americans at the school were reading at a proficient level, compared to 77% of whites. In math, the gap was only 10%.
Statewide, however, the gap is significant: 34% between blacks and whites in reading, 35% in math.
The watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense has had a look at the bailout plan that the House will vote on on Friday.
Among the items added to sweeten the deal, according to the report:
>> Current law allows taxpayers to write-off 50% of the cost of any facility placed in service before January 1, 2013 that produces cellulosic ethanol. This provision expands the types of facilities that may be written-off to include production of other cellulosic biofuels in addition to cellulosic ethanol.
>> Allows employers to provide a benefit to employees for costs associated with bicycle commuting, including purchase and repair of a bicycle, bicycle improvements, and bicycle storage. This provision was proposed in 2007 in the Senate by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and in the House by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). This provision is estimated to cost $10 million.
>>Sec. 503. Exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by children
Current law places an excise tax of 39 cents on the first sale by the manufacturer, producer, or importer of any shaft of a type used to produce certain types of arrows. This proposal would exempt from the excise tax any shaft consisting of all natural wood with no laminations or artificial means to enhance the spine of the shaft used in the manufacture of an arrow that measures 5/16 of an inch or less and is unsuited for use with a bow with a peak draw weight of 30 pounds or more. The proposal is effective for shafts first sold after the date of enactment. The estimated cost of the proposal is $2 million over ten years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
The Oregon senators were the initial sponsors of the provisions. According to Bloomberg News, the provision would be worth $200,000 to Rose City Archery in Myrtle Point, Oregon.
>> The bill also allows people who live in states where there isn't an income tax, to deduct their state sales tax off their federal income instead. This was a sweetie for Texas, Nevada, Florida, Washington and Wyoming and will cost taxpayers $3.3 billion.6 Comments)
You can read the live-blog about the debate by clicking the link in the window below.
We're aware there was a capacity problem and some people were not able to get in to follow the live blog. We're checking out this software and while it worked well for me in putting together the presentation, we probably won't use it again if people are being turned away. So give us your feedback in the comments section, please.(26 Comments)