It was time for the last question at President Bush's last news conference this morning, the relative first in a series of "lasts" over the next week. I turned up the radio, anxious to hear what question would be the one to put the historical imprint on President Bush's term.
It was a question about Barack Obama.
You arrived here wanting to be a uniter, not a divider. Do you think Barack Obama can be a uniter, not a divider, or is -- with the challenges for any president and the unpopular decisions, is it impossible for any president to be a uniter, not a divider?
The president -- avert your eyes, hard-core Democrats -- hit it out of the park.
I hope the tone is different for him than it has been for me. I am disappointed by the tone in Washington, D.C. I've -- I try to do my part by not engaging in the name-calling and -- and by the way, needless name-calling. I have worked to be respectful of my opponents on different issues.
During his answer, I could only think about Garrison Keillor's political column this weekend when "The Old Scout" dropped a nuke on the incoming president, with whom he's had a man crush for more than a year.
So you shouldn't fret, dear hearts, if what you do doesn't draw a big crowd or get written up in the papers. Be proud. If you've dedicated yourself to the tango, or playing drop-thumb banjo, or digging up ancient cities, or writing sonnets, you are beautiful, and please do not yearn for the bright lights. Those wombats reading the news off teleprompters are talking to the bedridden, the delusional and the criminal. The happy StairMaster president is on his way to a mansionette in Dallas, to be the decider of where to put the sofa. His successor, Mister Mambo, has cast his lot with Harvard and Yale and old Clinton hands, and soon enough, Lord knows, they will get the first of many comeuppances, and their shining faces will be chopfallen.
Some of the letter writers to Salon.com were not amused
Right now, Barack Obama should be called Mr. TCB. Does Keillor know what TCB means? Maybe he should check out that old Motown classic "Taking Care of Business." (Bob notes: Wasn't that Bachman -- not that Bachmann -- Turning Overdrive? Wasn't T.C.B. the name of a show from Motown?) Keillor should also be informed that in Swahili, mambo means an item of business, a responsibility, a care, a concern, a worry, a problem. The plural form of mambo is jambo, and Jambo or Hujambo is a common greeting in Swahili. (P.S. I hope Keillor can recognize the linguistic efficiency of Swahili where one word does the work of a dozen English equivalents.) So perhaps Mr. Mambo isn't really a bad name for Obama, albeit it should be Mr. Jambo, or better Bwana Jambo, since even before his inauguration, Obama is faced with a whole series "jambo."
Yeah, well, whatever. The point is: If the administration isn't even in office yet, and a Garrison Keillor Democrat is already taking shots at him, then let the dividing begin!
Photos via Getty Images
Posted at 10:50 AM on January 12, 2009
by Bob Collins
If you don't like the fees airlines are charging for checked baggage, you have nobody to blame but yourself, at least one airline spokesperson suggests.
Dan Webb, who writes the blog Things in the Sky, asked several airlines why they're still charging for checked baggage (a fee that was ostensibly going to offset the spike in fuel prices) now that the cost of fuel has dropped.
He found the response from Continental to be "interesting."
"While we initially tried to avoid baggage fees, the fact is that the consumer gave no preference to airlines not charging them. In order to maintain an even footing with other airlines from a revenue standpoint, the baggage fee became a necessary competitive response."
Passengers may not like the baggage fees, but they're more than willing to pay them. Of course, in many markets, the flying public doesn't have the choice. In the Twin Cities, for example, Northwest/Delta and Sun Country both charge a fee.
The great experiment will begin in a few months, however, when Southwest Airlines flies into town. The airline doesn't charge a fee for checked baggage.
When the fees were announced, a lot of people thought it would make the carry-on situation a nightmare. But apparently that hasn't happened.
On Friday night, the Minnesota Department of Public Health traced a salmonella outbreak to a peanut butter sold primarily to institutions such as nursing homes and schools.
Today, a press release from the the Minnesota Pubic Schools trumpets:
Minneapolis Public Schools not affected by King Nut peanut butter recall
And it takes the honor also for world's shortest press release:
MINNEAPOLIS - MPS Nutrition Services does not serve peanut butter. We are not affected by the King Nut peanut butter recall.
A sign of my age, however, is that I think the big news here is that Minneapolis public schools don't serve peanut butter. I'll bet they don't even have "mystery meat" anymore. The times have changed, you whippersnappers.
Light rail, rumor has it, is a hot topic in these parts.
But for the most part, I guess, we were left out in the cold on Saturday, which was the annual International Don't Wear Your Pants Day on light rail and other transit systems.
A sociologist in Arizona says light rail has brought the area "a public space where diverse groups can come together."
"Things like these get people excited, and that's the promise of the public realm," she said. "You're in a space where you don't know what will happen. I think people will start to say, 'Phoenix is cool.'"
I'm pretty sure she's serious.
There was a rumor that a similar celebration of diversity in the public space occurred on the Hiawatha Light Rail Line, although I've yet to find any proof of it.(4 Comments)
Stories come and stories go but no story comes and goes quicker than Al Franken's attempt to get a hall pass for the U.S. Senate. Unless, of course, this issue, too, ends up in court.
Franken this morning asked for a certificate of election, allowing him to take his place in the U.S. Senate.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who is one of two people who would sign the certificate (the governor is the other) said "no" in short order.
"Minnesota law is very clear on when a certificate of election can be issued. Neither the governor nor I may sign a certificate of election in the U.S. Senate race until all election contests have reached a final determination. Even if the governor issues a certificate of election prior to the conclusion of the contest phase, I will not sign it."
A few minutes later, Gov. Pawlenty also put the kibosh on the idea:
"I have a duty to follow state law and our statutes are clear on this issue. I am prohibited from issuing a certificate of election until the election contest in the courts has been resolved."
Let's take a look at that law 204C.40 subdivision 1:
If a recount is undertaken by a canvassing board pursuant to section 204C.35, no certificate of election shall be prepared or delivered until after the recount is completed. In case of a contest, the court may invalidate and revoke the certificate as provided in chapter 209.
Recount completed? Check. Franken gets his certificate of election.
But check subdivision 2:
No certificate of election shall be issued until seven days after the canvassing board has declared the result of the election. In case of a contest, an election certificate shall not be issued until a court of proper jurisdiction has finally determined the contest. This subdivision shall not apply to candidates elected to the office of state senator or representative
Has the "court of proper jurisdiction" finally determined the contest? Nope.
Marc Elias disputes the notion that the election certificate can not yet be issued, according to MPR's Mark Zdechlik. "For today I think we're going to do what we've done in the past which is to trust that the governor will want do the right thing. To trust that he and the Secretary of State will sign the certificate and Al Franken will then be able to take that certificate to the United States Senate," Franken's attorney, Marc Elias, said.
How could he come to the conclusion that issuing a certificate is a right thing to do given the clear wording of the state statute? According to an analysis on MyDD.com last week, a Supreme Court ruling in the 1962 Minnesota Congressional recount focused on the second part of the state law cited above. The Court said:
After carefully examining these statutory provisions, we must come to the conclusion that § 204.32, subd. 2, has no application to a contest in the United States Senate or House of Representatives.... Since the House of Representatives is the final and exclusive judge of the legality of election or qualification of its members, this court should not gratuitously issue a prerogative writ which might be considered a tactical advantage for one or the other candidate.
See the avenue for yet another court case here?(6 Comments)
I've written a couple of times in the last few months about the generally-forgotten aspect of Obamamania -- his call for people to volunteer more.
It's not happening all that much, although it's still early. Still Michele Obama sent an e-mail message around today with a firm date for you to pitch in -- Monday.
Here's a site where you can find who needs your help and where you can sign up.
If you sign up to help out somewhere, let me know. I'll stop by to document your help.(2 Comments)
Because of Barack Obama's election, the sale of guns has shot upwards (pun not intended but since I've already made it....).
It was repeated this afternoon in a story in the Daily Republic of Mitchell, South Dakota:
The number of concealed pistol permits in the state has jumped almost 17 percent since 2006, and one gun shop owner said the election of President-elect Barack Obama has a lot to do with it.
"The day that Obama was elected, gun sales from distributors to gun shops shot up," said Robert Brown, owner of 2nd Amendment Guns in Mitchell. "The gun world is really scared."
Not that whipping people into a frenzy is necessarily bad for business, mind you.
"It scares me that I might be seeing a time when guns might be taken out of the people's hands," Brown said. "It's sad."
It also ignores the "win" the Supreme Court delivered last summer when it overturned a handgun law in the District of Columia. Still, it was a case in which Obama submitted a brief in support of the ban.
However, a 2nd Amendment expert says it's not an issue Obama is likely to touch. "My sense is that Obama does not want to interfere with an issue that will, for the time being, be left up to the states," says David T. Konig, Ph.D., professor of history and director of the Legal Studies Program, both in Arts & Sciences, and professor of law in St. Louis. "The issue will turn to controls, such as sales at gun shows or other limited restrictions on purchases."
There is the question, however, of whether the matter will be left up to the states. If so, there's nothing to indicate gun owners in Minnesota (and certainly South Dakota) have much to worry about. There hasn't been a significant legislative attempt yet to overturn the nearly-six-year-old concealed carry law in Minnesota, and there's little to indicate any lawmaker has the stomach for such a fight this session, either .(12 Comments)
Eric Ostermeier at the U of M's Smart Politics says "not really."
However, Coleman's unfavorability numbers in the new SurveyUSA poll (44 percent) were also at their lowest point going back to April 2008 (42 percent, Rasmussen). In fact, Coleman's favorability numbers are actually up 2 points from the last time SurveyUSA asked the three-response option question, back in October 2007 (from 36 percent; though his unfavorability numbers rose by 7 points during that span).
Ostermeier says Al Franken's net favorability rating has suffered since Election Day.