Posted at 7:04 AM on October 29, 2008
by Bob Collins
The day ahead:
"Activist investor" William Ackman is going to detail his proposal to sell Target's real estate. I posted about this yesterday and, given the stature of Target in these parts, I'm surprised it didn't draw more attention outside Wall Street. In the Financial Times today an analyst said "fighting off activist shareholders would be a huge distraction for management at this crucial time of a very difficult year" for the local giant.
It's a big day for News Cut. For the first time, an MPR talk show is tackling a subject based on a post here. It's this one that I wrote earlier this month. Can we as a country work toward a common solution? Or are we doomed -- especially with next week's beginning of the 2010 election cycle -- to be constantly in the middle of the election psyche. Or, as I asked in the post:
How do we know the difference between a healthy distrust of government and the kind that paralyzes and then divides a country?
This morning at 9, Kerri Miller tackles that question with several guests who, I'm told, aren't enamored with the idea of trusting government. So, OK, maybe trust is the wrong word, but is it possible to create a common sense of purpose in the country without needing people to fly planes into buildings? I'll be live-blogging the hour so I hope you'll join me.
I'll be live-blogging the second hour, too. Topic: The youth vote. When I was out in Denver, I attended a session on voting and a researcher claimed the youth vote is the most volatile because young people don't have the patience to stand in long lines. We'll see. We did a similar show in Denver and I can't say the response was overwhelming.
At 11 on Midday, Gary Eichten will talk with Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea and the challenger for her seat, Hennepin County District Court Judge Deborah Hedlund. Few people, I'm betting, go to the polls armed with data on judicial races.
The Minnesota Board of Judicial Standards sets the rules on these sorts of things. A few years ago lawyer Greg Wersal pushed a lawsuit that struck down most of the rules surrounding judicial elections. The Minnesota Lawyer blog details Wersal's latest suit -- one to get rid of the rule that prevents judicial candidate from endorsing other candidates.
Let's see how much work you're putting into this section of the ballot:
Day to Day is being pre-empted today through the end of the week. Each day we'll present a Humphrey Institute speech with a Senate candidate. Today: Al Franken. The Humphrey Institute Web site has audio available with Norm Coleman talking about a bipartisan path to energy independence.
On the campaign trail, Tim Pawlenty and Norm Coleman are teaming up again today. This time, the pair is in St. Cloud for a rally. Al Franken is in Red Wing and Winona late this afternoon and this evening.
Today, a group "Minnesota Voters Alliance" is holding a news conference to call for a voter ID law in city elections in St. Paul and Duluth. A voter ID law was upheld in Indiana earlier this year. A voter ID requirement would have to be passed by the Legislature. Incidentally, in Indiana, people without ID still can vote, but they vote on a provisional ballot that doesn't count unless their identity can be confirmed within 10 days.
At the National Press Club this morning (9 a.m.) ACORN - The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now holds a news conference on its release of a 30-second ad calling on Senator McCain to put an end to what its says are voter suppression actics. ACORN and allied organizations
The pro-sales-tax-increase-for-outdoors-and-cultural-programs effort with Bud Grant and Ron Schara (where's Raven?) heads for Duluth, Bemidji, East Grand Forks, and Moorhead.Bill Clinton is in town for Barack Obama tomorrow night at 7:30 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. He's also here for Senate candidate Al Franken. I think we can safely freeze the old thermometer and declare that Minnesota really didn't "matter" as much as we did in 2004. Beyond that, though, it's interesting to consider that Barack Obama didn't make a late-campaign stop in a state whose 10 electoral votes he appears to have, but whose Senate seat could tip the Senate significantly in a Democratic president's favor.
Fact-checking. It's all the rage now. But has it made a difference? Political analysts examine the accuracy of presidential debates. Bloggers check out the statistics in campaign commercials. And there are numerous Web sites dedicated solely to researching the specifics of stump speeches. Voters have more access to the truth than ever before. On All Things Considered tonight, Nikki Tundel talks to a researcher who answers the question, does it matter? Daniel Libit on Politico asked a similar question a couple of weeks ago.
"We're so hyper about fact-checking," a McCain aide said, "that you have candidates actually curtailing what they believe they can tell the American people." Yes, it's getting so bad you can't tell a fib anymore.
The national portion of All Things Considered tonight is mostly politics. One feature will focus on Colorado's "personhood amendment" The ballot measure would give an embryo the same constitutional rights as a person.
>>Assignment: A colleague tells me she's been unable to find those cloth fold-up chairs. Stores say they're out of them. Is that because the camping season is over? Or because people are buying them for their wait at the polls next Tuesday? If you're in a store today, ask and report back, please.
At 2:30 this afternoon, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is announcing an expansion of dental health services to all city elementary schools. It focuses on preventive care and no tax money will be used.
What's the trend in college tuition? The College Board is releasing a report at midmorning. "Trends in College Pricing 2008" and "Trends in Student Aid 2008." Up. down.
The Federal Open Market Committee announces whether it'll lower interest rates at 1:15 (C.T.) It will, the experts say, but it may not make much of a difference.
On the lecture circuit, Julian Bond
speaks tonight at St. John's in Collegeville.
At the University of Minnesota tonight, Todd Haynes, director of the Bob Dylan biography, "I'm Not There," speaks along with Dylan writer Greil Marcus at the University of Minnesota. Prep for the session by listening to Mary Lucia's 2005 interview with Marcus.
And the Timberwolves open their season tonight. It should be a full house. Target gave away lots of free tickets. And this update just handed me: It's Tampa Bay 2 Philadelphia 2 in game 5 of the World Series... still. How do you like that outdoor baseball now?
How do we put all the acrimony of the campaign behind us? Today's show is based partly on a post I wrote a few weeks ago. We're electing someone who can lead. But how willing are we to follow?
Our guests are: Marc Hetherington: Associate professor of political science at Vanderbilt University. He's the author of "Why Trust Matters: Declining Political Trust and the Demise of American Liberalism." Russell Hardin: Professor of politics at New York University and the author of "Trust and Trustworthiness."
I want to hear your comments. For purposes of the discussion, assume a candidate in next week's election that you don't favor... wins
9:09 a.m. - Hetherington says a CBS poll on trusting the government recently showed it was at its lowest level ever. True, I'm thinking, but the fact of the matter is after next Tuesday, we'll still have a government. Hetherington says it all comes back to "performance," but what comes first: embracing a route to follow or following after it's clear the route is the way to follow?
9:12 a.m. - Hardin comes down on the mistrust is good side of the argument and I wouldn't disagree and it makes me regret using the word trust.
Here's a story: Yesterday on the Current, I read a story about a guy in Pennsylvania who fired a gun at some kids who were stealing his lawn side. Afterwards, I told the story to them and waited for one of two reactions. I only got one: "Whose lawn sign was it?" In that moment, it was clear to me that our standards of behavior is rooted in politics.
9:15 a.m. - I'm uncomfortable with how Kerri is framing the question. "Is distrust healthy?" Of course it's healthy. We're not supposed to be sheep. But that's different from transitioning from a "closed mind" during the campaign phase of government to an "open mind" on the part of the citizen during the governing phase.
9:17 a.m. - Are we reaping what Republicans have sewn, a caller asks? Not really, a guest responds since government has expanded under the Republican administration. Hetherington says Republicans end up losing in the end with an anti-government mantra. "You don't want government to fail so spectacularly that nobody wants you in charge," he says.
9:20 a.m. - Hetherington notes that the next president has to put "the bickering behind us," but how? He says Roosevelt was able to do it long enough for there to be "some results on the ground."
9:21 a.m. - Hetherington says we were never more trusting in government than we were in 2004.
9:30 a.m. - I just read Nathan's comment on the air regarding skepticism. Hardin says that's what Jefferson meant when he talked about trust in government. He says we have trusting relationships in small groups, but not in the larger sense.
9:31 a.m. - Interesting comments from Jessica:
To regain my trust, folks elected next week would need to promise that they will not run for another term, OR that they would not fundraise or campaign for their next election until 6 months before the election.
It's an interesting view and gets to the heart of my original treatise. The 2010 election cycle begins next week. And, if you believe the New York Times, the 2012 election cycle is already underway.
9:34 a.m. - The conversation is a bit too philosophical for my taste. Think of the morning of 9/12/01. How do we get that unity of purpose back? I'm not suggesting the answer is everyone should just do what they're told by leaders. But we were looking past the means to an end, and seeing unity in an end. It's very much an emotional state that I think also think Roosevelt had going for him that we don't have in 2008. Reaction?
9:40 a.m. - A caller suggests one way to restore trust is for the next president to appoint a cabinet members of different political stripes. William Cohen, a Republican, was the defense secretary for Clinton, for example. Of course, he was a Maine Republican and a lot of Republicans will tell you that's not a real Republican.
Jesse Ventura appointed the most bipartisan (tripartisan/) cabinets in the history of Minnesota. In the long run, it didn't do him much good with the governing process, even though he might well have been re-elected had he run again.
9:44 a.m. - Nancy says the problem is the current administration
We were lied to about reasons to enter Iraq, about the outing of Valerie Plame, and more. We've seen this administration "reframe" all kinds of things in political language that turns reality on its ear -- the -- what was it? -- "clean air" or "blue skies" act that actually reduced the quality of the air.
Perhaps that's true Nancy, if you're a Democrat, but many Republicans don't see it that way and if Obama wins on Tuesday, we just flip where people are standing. We'll replace your dissatisfied group with a new dissatisfied group. So we'd be in the same situation.
But you're right, the govenrment is "us," but how do you define "us?" Is it the people with whom you agree politically? Or is it everyone, including those with which you vehemently disagree politically and what's the plan for getting everyone pointed in the same direction. That's the question that people are ignoring.
9:48 a.m. - Does a president need " a certain quotient of trust?"
"Absoutely," says Hetherington. "The anti-govenrment distrustful environment our country is characterized by.,... when trust in government is high, we innovate more."
9:55 a.m. - I gather than the reason nobody has posted with the hypothetical that "the other guy" wins next Tuesday is people simply don't want to think about the possibility.
9:58 a.m. -- Let's take it this way. You're the winning candidate next Tuesday and now you're looking straight into the camera and you have one thing to say to your political opponents that can make the difference between success and failure. What is it you're about to say?(17 Comments)
We did a show along these lines in Denver and, man, was it quiet. Of course, that was summer and the youth vote was still sleeping.
Seriously, is the youth vote real or a mirage?
Our guests are: Jonathan Darman, Senior Writer and Political Correspondent for Newsweek. His essay is called "Ask Not What You Can Do for Barack Obama."
Jonathan Chavez, cofounder and director of analytics and social sphere strategies. Consultant to the institute of politics at Harvard and coauthor of their 15th annual Biannual Youth Survey on Politics and Public Service.
10:05 a.m. - Kerri is gleeful as she looks at the ages of those already waiting on the phone. Everyone is in their 20s.
10:06 a.m. - Here's the deal. A Gallup poll this month showed high voter registration among young voters, and that Obama leads in this demographic, but there's a question of how many will actually vote?
10:10 a.m. - In the past the "youth vote" has failed to show up at the polls. Chavez says that's changing because it's easier for this "mobile population" to register. The cost of turning out an 18-24 year old -- for campaigns -- was three times the cost of turning out a 65 year old. Chavez says campaigns using social networking has made it much cheaper "to reach this generation than it's ever been in the past."
Tangent time: Check out the Twitter vote report.
10:15 a.m. Commenter:
Student loans are outrageous. We won't be able to own a home in the future. There will be no Social Security for us. Our infrastructure is going to fall apart just in time for us to take care of it. The environment....sigh .... where do I even begin?
10:18 a.m. - Link and quote. The Sunday Herald says in a nation getting younger, this time the youth vote really counts.
The late Hunter S Thompson was not surprised. "We rocked the vote all right," he said. "Those little bastards betrayed us again." In all his time covering politics, starting with George McGovern's failed 1972 attempt to surf a wave of youthful enthusiasm to the White House, Thompson had learned never to trust students at the ballot box.
10:20 a.m. Darman says the youth vote is more engaged now, not just by registering, but they watch more news shows, too. We're including The Daily Show, right?
10:22 a.m. - So far "economy" and "health care" seems to be the big issues. Also education. It's interesting to me that two out of those three did not significantly come up in three U.S. Senate debates in Minnesota. And so it occurs tome that there's really no mechanism for getting those concerns into the campaign dialogue, even as the candidates are said to be making great inroads in reaching the demographics.
10:26 a.m. - Can the concerns of 18-29 year olds get into the dialogue. Darman is skeptical and he says -- he's 27 by the way -- the issues that demographic is concenred about are not the same as their parents. "We not thinking of them as a special interest group," he says. He wrote a piece in Newsweek that said young people should not be afraid to ask what a president can do for them. "Get selfish before it's too late."
10:36 a.m. - Here's the biannual youth survey that keeps getting mentioned on today's show.
10:37 a.m. - One issue I'm anxious to examine -- do young voters have a sense of optimism to the future? Starting in January, I'll be hitting 8 campuses of the MnSCU system, blogging every Wednesday, and finding the life stories there.
10:41 a.m. - Commenter:
"In WI, I could register same day. Here I found out you have to register almost a month in advance."
That's not true. If you want to register in advance, there is a cutoff. But you can register on Tuesday.
10:46 a.m. - A young voter talk about the difference between 2000 and 2008. Back then, he says, "it was a good time but didn't get much done." More protests, more 'let Nader vote." Now, he says, the youth voter is more "rational." "If anyone turns out, it will be this crop," he says, sounding like a grizzled voting vet at age 29.
He says race is not an issue for this generation. A recent survey said otherwise, by the way. The New York Times had a good article a few weeks ago that said while the generation is said to be color-blind, "black" is still a factor.
10:51 a.m. - Is Daily Show a factor? Eh. Chavez says people who are already engaged are watching and it has some impact -- Obama is on Daily Show tonight, but he's tried to measure the role of satire in a campaign and it's been difficult.
A Minnesota businessman says he didn't mean to take advantage of the deaths of the family of Jennifer Hudson to push his product. But it obviously has turned out that way. He sent out a news release the other day asking if his product could've saved Hudson's family.
John Peters, of Browerville, Minn., population 734, said he got the idea while talking with some co-workers about the Hudson tragedy, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The end of the ad says the product is not intended for homes with children, which answers the odd question Peters asked in his news release. There was a 7-year-old in the home. So which is it?
(h/t: Tom Weber)
Posted at 12:35 PM on October 29, 2008
by Bob Collins
The Moorhead Police Department is putting video on its Web site of police chases and drunk driver arrests. There are very crazy people out there.
(h/t: Fargo Forum)
Gas price perspective:
Nearly a third of Americans are cutting back on vacation and travel plans for later in the year, and 27 percent are cutting back on eating out because of record-high gas prices, a retail survey found Tuesday.
-- CNN, 5/19/04 when gasoline hit $2 a gallon .
It is worth repeating that based on price moves that have already happened, the average household is going to reduce its spending on fuel, including transportation fuel, by $4,800 per year. Include the savings to the consumer from price decreases of other raw materials and the average household will spend $12,000 less in the next 12 months. This $12,000 increase in the family budget will not be taxable income, it is more like found money.
-- Seeking Alpha. 10/28/2008 "Relief is on the Way."
The average price of gasoline in Minnesota today is $2.20, but there are plenty of stations selling it for as low as $2.04, according to MinnesotaGasPrices.com.(5 Comments)
Research from Sweden today says there may be a connection between turning your clock back an hour (which we are to do on Sunday morning) and a lower risk you'll have a heart attack on Monday, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Likewise, there are more heart attacks on the first three days after clocks are set forward.
"The finding that the possibility of additional sleep seems to be protective on the first workday after the autumn shift is intriguing," the authors wrote.
Monday is the most common day of the week for heart attacks anyway, but other researchers have suggested it may just be the stress of a new work week.
This isn't the first link between heart attacks and sleep. Last summer, the Mayo Clinic researchers found that the risk of heart attacks is higher among people with sleep apnea.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is asking prosecutors to look into a phone call that Larry Johnson of St. Paul got from a woman questioning him about his voting record. According to Ritchie, who held a news conference this afternoon, the woman said she was working with Jeff Davis, who heads Minnesota Majority.
This is the group that I mentioned last week was claiming many of the new voter registrants gave addresses that had empty lots.
What is Minnesota Majority? It contends Minnesota school children are being indoctrinated into homosexuality, and it also questions the Republican values of former Democrats such as Norm Coleman and Joe Lieberman.
The group and Ritchie have been exchanging letters in the last week over the vacant-lot claims.
It has -- or had -- ties with former Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, who was a consultant with the group. Kiffmeyer also comes up as part of another group -- Minnesota Voters Alliance -- which was in the news today for demanding photo IDs when voting. She's on that group's advisory board. She's currently running for the state
Senate House and may be best remembered for a warning she sounded (as quoted here in the Washington Post) about terrorism at the polls:
ritics of the warnings point to Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer's effort to raise terrorism awareness as an example of how election security measures could chill turnout. Kiffmeyer (R) gave local election officials fliers that warned voters to watch for unattended packages, vehicles "riding low on springs" and "homicide bombers."
Bombers may have a "shaved head or short hair," "smell of unusual herbal/flower water or perfume," wear baggy clothes or appear to be whispering to themselves, the flier warned.
Several local election officials were outraged over what they saw as an attempt to discourage voting with excessively dire warnings and stereotyping descriptions that could single out voters from specific religious, racial or ethnic groups for harassment. They refused to distribute the fliers.
So far, Minnesota Majority has not responded to requests for an interview. But the group released a statement saying it has done nothing wrong.(11 Comments)
Delta got Justice Department approval on Wednesday to take over Northwest Airlines. And the bosses of Northwest sent these final letters out to the employees:
Today, we finalized our merger transaction with Delta, creating the world's premier global airline. With the closing of this transaction, the merged airline - including its employees, customers and the communities it serves - will be best positioned to be a strong competitor and to master the challenges that the airline industry will continue to face.
When you come to work tomorrow, you will be employees of NWA, Inc. - a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. The name Northwest Airlines, and our signature Red Tail, will begin to transition away. But the spirit of our Company - our "can do" attitude, our resourcefulness, our commitment to operational excellence, and our culture of innovation, will live on in the new Delta.
I am confident that as the best of the "Red" and the best of the "Blue" blend together, the 75,000 employees of the new Delta will create the biggest and best airline in the world.
It has been a pleasure to serve as your CEO and I wish you all the very best.
Message to Employees from Northwest Airlines Board Chairman,
To all Northwest employees:
On behalf of the Northwest Airlines Board of Directors, I would like to congratulate you on the completion of our merger with Delta and thank you for your hard work and dedication to Northwest.
Your commitment to the airline has shown itself through the industry-leading operating performance that Northwest has experienced over the last several months and over the course of the last several years. As a Board, we firmly believe that the Delta merger is in the best interests of you, our customers, and the communities Northwest serves. We wish you the best as you move forward as part of the world's premier global airline.
And then they got this letter from the new bosses
To: Worldwide Employees of Delta Air Lines
From: Richard Anderson and Ed Bastian
Subject: THE NEW DELTA
Let us be the first to welcome you to the new Delta, the world's largest airline with the best people, most comprehensive route network, strongest balance sheet and best position in the industry. Each of you is an important part of building this great airline.
As you know, we face a very difficult economic environment around the world. Much of the work to bring our two airlines together is well underway, and as we work together to complete the integration over the next 12-24 months, you will see that the new Delta is even better positioned to navigate the tough waters ahead in a difficult economy. The merger makes even more sense as we face an economic recession because we can capture $2 billion of benefits annually that neither airline could accomplish alone.
We have made solid progress since announcing the merger just over six months ago. We testified in Congress, received approval from the European Union, completed an unprecedented collective bargaining agreement with both pilot groups, had our plan to achieve a single operating certificate approved by the FAA, received full approval from our shareholders and, finally, received approval from the Department of Justice. Our progress has been swift but thoughtful, as completing the transaction helps us realize the benefits of the merger more quickly.
At Delta, we care about you, as a colleague and as an individual. Our foundation is open, honest and regular communication. We treat each other with dignity and respect, always. We steadfastly believe it is our obligation to provide a safe work environment for you, solid financial results, competitive pay and benefits. We will do this by ensuring Delta is a strong company built for long-term success and profitability. That is the only true job security in this industry.
Rules of the Road is a set of guidelines we use at Delta every day. If you have not already done so, please review it on DeltaNet. It was inspired by the Delta employee manual from the 1940s written by Delta's founder, C.E. Woolman. He had a saying that is as true today as it has ever been: "Take care of your employees and they will take care of your customers." That is why the only way this merger could happen was if employees shared in the success of the company - from cash payouts to raises to stock awards to profit sharing. Our people will reap the rewards of their hard work.
Delta is a special place. We work hard, deliver safe and reliable operations, provide excellent customer service, treat each other with respect and truly enjoy working for this airline. The new Delta will allow us to grow on the foundation we have built over the last 79 years by bringing two airlines together. We can and will create one great airline. We have already achieved what others could not. We are unique. By working together, we will make this the most successful merger in airline history.
We look forward to what lies ahead for us, this time as a team of 75,000 strong.
Welcome to the new Delta.