1) This isn't Today's Question, but it could be:
What does it mean when an intelligent, ambitious and well-liked president, who broke through one of the nation's most glaring racial barriers and enjoys majorities in both houses of Congress, can't overcome the deeply rooted interests that now seem thoroughly embedded in the American political system?
Salon.com suggests that the pols come by their positions (dis) honestly. There are six lobbyists for every one of them on health care alone.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports today that few members of Congress are disclosing that lobbyists are helping them raise campaign cash despite a new law that was supposed to shed light on the ties between lawmakers and the capital's influence brokers.
Somewhat related: On health care reform, Obama needs to get Americans to trust Congress. (slate.com)
2) What's Wrong With Us Dept: Inside Chicago's secret world of dog-fighting. "Fighting them, preparing them to fight and once the fight was over, I killed them. I saw a lot of guys hang their dogs for hours and that's like torture. More often than not I would shoot my dogs, just to get it over with."
In Atlanta, a baby was found abandoned in a storm drain.
In Sauk Rapids, a school teacher is accused of buying booze, chewing tobacco, and cigars for his students.
3) What's Right With Us Dept: Today, President Obama awards the Medal of Honor -- posthumously -- to Jared Monti, who died trying to save his men in Afghanistan.
Dozens of Medal of Honor winners gathered in Chicago this week, among them was the inspiration for Forrest Gump.
4) This story was tucked at the end of a BBC newscast on MPR late last night. The end. Scientists have used gene therapy to achieve full color vision in two squirrel monkeys that were born unable to tell red from green. Monkeys? Color-blind? What's the big deal? This:
The new research suggests that the adult brain can adapt and accommodate a new system within its existing structure, which should force scientists to rethink some assumptions about the organ, co-author Neitz said.
The brain is much more flexible than many would expect, opening the door to treatments previously seen as impossible."huge."
Is a cure for blindness next? The big deal is that it might be possible.
5) Word came yesterday that Dinger has died. The mascot of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, who would bring balls to the umpire and then run around the diamond -- passed away from heart and kidney failure at 11. Before he died, Dinger helped mentor his replacement -- Deuce. But Deuce might not be quite ready for the job.
Highly placed political figures are arguing over whether President Obama gets less respect and more criticism because of his race. Opponents of his health reform plan say that Democrats are using accusations of racism to deflect disagreements over policy. How do you judge whether race factors into a political controversy?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
The state's unemployment rate is released this morning. MPR's Marty Moylan will be following the meaning.
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) First hour: Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic who now teaches at Harvard. His latest book on leadership is "7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis."
Second hour: Tales of a Socialist childhood
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Amy Lindgren answers listener questions about finding a job.
Second hour: CNN chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi, speaks at the Westminster Town Hall Forum. Velshi is author of "Gimme My Money Back: Your Guide to Beating the Financial Crisis."
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - Twitter is wreaking havoc in the courtroom. When jurors surf the Web and tweet updates from mobile phones, judges face demands to declare mistrials. How social media is shaking up the courtroom.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Davis Guggenheim, who won the best documentary Oscar for "An Inconvenient Truth" is back with a doc about the art and science of playing the electric guitar. It's Euan Kerr's story.
MPR's Laura Yuen reports that more than four years away from the completion of a light-rail transit line along University Avenue, the city of St. Paul is trying to get ahead of an expected land grab along the corridor.
Mara Liasson of NPR looks at the lack of interest in health care by the generation that strongly favors Barack Obama -- young people.(5 Comments)
Posted at 9:15 AM on September 17, 2009
by Bob Collins
Duluth is innocent in the story about a Niagara Falls family that says it got a phone call from a military-family volunteer in Duluth, informing them their son was killed in the war. I wrote about it on Tuesday.
Why would a family from New York get a call from Duluth about a soldier in Afghanistan? It turns out they wouldn't. The Duluth News Tribune found out the family reported the incorrect area code. It came from Houston.
Garrison Keillor is planning to retire, the Star Tribune says:
"A Prairie Home Companion" host Garrison Keillor said Wednesday that he is "not counting on doing it [hosting the show] more than a couple more years." He added that he would like to see the show continue with more of a musical focus, and that he would love to serve as that show's producer.
No, he's not, the Associated Press says:
A couple of friends "made a serious attempt" to get Keillor to retire, he said. "They gave me a beautiful sales pitch. They drew a lovely picture of what it would be like, and I could work on writing books and I could write at my own speed, and I could travel, except I travel now," Keillor said.
Keillor was unavailable to comment to MPR today.(2 Comments)
"Photo opportunities" are always risky business for a president. The demands of office put you in some pretty weird situations, especially with the media constantly looking for the "money shot."
This was the "money shot" in most newspapers today.
President Obama was promoting Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics during an event on the White House lawn. Somehow, someone happened to have a light saber handy.
Depending on your political views, you either thought "Hey, cool! The president is a regular old Stars Wars fan," or "The president is diminishing the decorum of the office."
Lots of opponents of George Bush circulated this video under the latter category...
... and few of them know that what President Bush was promoting that day was Malaria Awareness Day.
Yeah, well, whatever. I'm in it for the laughs. So are the newspaper photo editors, which is why this picture wasn't on the front page:
That's Joel Pool, Louis Schaab, center, and Nate Murray, right, all with the National Rehab Hospital sled hockey team, a sport which I've never heard of before.
Sled Hockey -- I've since learned thanks to this picture -- "is played on a standard size ice rink with standard size nets and pucks. There are six players on the ice for each team -- three forwards, two defense men and a goalie. Subs may be made when stopped or on the fly. Most of the same rules for hockey played in the United States apply to Sled Hockey." (See Web site)
You can learn a few things from a good photo op.
(AP Photos/Charles Dharapak)(8 Comments)
Once the flames are out , not much attention is paid to wildfires.
The flames are out in the Los Angeles area's Station Fire. That's the one that threatened the Mount Wilson Observatory and most of the communication towers in the Los Angeles area.
(h/t: Boing Boing)
We love surveys. We love to give them attention they don't deserve and this week, two surveys from the same organization caught our attention.
The first, which I won't belabor, was a Pew survey that said "the public's assessment of the accuracy of news stories is now at its lowest level in more than two decades of Pew Research surveys, and Americans' views of media bias and independence now match previous lows." Sounds interesting, but I posit that it doesn't necessarily mean stories are (or aren't) more inaccurate these days. It only means that people think so.
But perhaps it's more a reflection on people who turn increasingly to news sources that they think will report stories the way they want to hear them (Let me save you the trouble of posting the predictable comment: Yes, I know some people think this is why liberals tend to listen to Public Radio).
The other day we got an e-mail from someone who claimed we were covering up the story that global warming was created in a conspiracy between the liberal media and the United Nations in order to effect a redistribution of wealth. To prove it, he noted that he read about it on the Internet, not in the liberal media.
Well, OK, that's one for the power of the Internet.
Today's survey is even more puzzling. The headline:
Health Care Debate Seen as "Rude and Disrespectful"
So far, so good. According to Pew, 53% of those surveyed said the health care debate has been rude and disrespectful. Sixteen percent said they didn't know how to characterize it.
Thirty-one percent said the debate has been polite and respectful. That should be the takeaway. It's true, those most likely to be accused of being rude and disrespectful -- in this case, Republicans -- are also the most likely to disagree. And the survey showed that, indeed, 44 percent of them said the debate has been polite and respectful. But 24% of Democrats agreed with the assessment.
Democrats, however, are much more likely to put the blame for the lack of civility on opponents of health care legislation. Forty-five percent of Republicans say they're at fault.
Who are these people? Pew doesn't say. But we can deduce that 17% of those surveyed weren't paying any attention to what was going on. Only eighty-three percent said they'd heard "a little or a lot" about Rep. Joe Wilson's "you lie" moment, a news story that was nearly impossible to miss.
(Photo: A driver shows his polite side on Robert St. in West St. Paul on Wednesday. Click the image for a larger view).(5 Comments)
Remember the video of the father of Marine Sgt. Kendall Waters-Bey when interviewed about his son's death early in the Iraq war? Carrying a picture of his son, he wailed, "President Bush, take a look at this man, because you took my only son away from me."
It was uncomfortable and powerful and it ignited a backlash against the man.
Without the tears, the father of Jared Monti delivered the same message today
"Instead of putting the troops and equipment and money into Afghanistan, they went to Iraq. And that cost my son his life," Paul Monti of Massachusetts said today during an interview with a network TV host:
A few hours later, Monti and his wife received their son's Medal of Honor from President Obama (above).
There are many worse ways to spend the next 4:42 than watching this video about Monti's son. Particularly troubling in the story is that the soldier Monti gave his life to save -- along with a medic -- died when the cable that was hoisting them onto a helicopter snapped.
By the way, as of this afternoon, not one word about the Medal of Honor ceremony had been posted on the White House Web site. But click the extended entry to read the citation.
(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)