Monday morning. It's time to bow our heads. Let us play:
1) 60 Minutes was more like 60 Seconds last evening, which was too bad because this segment is a story worth telling, and now, retelling. The leap in technology is remarkable. But it's impossible to watch this segment without thinking about the things that are possible when the right people are motivated. It's also a reminder how many people are coming home from Iraq without an arm or two.
The Associated Press, meanwhile, profiles Michael Graves, the Minneapolis designer who has turned his talents toward products for the disabled.
2) It's beginning to sound familiar. The Washington Post has gotten its hands on a secret memo from the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, who warns that the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict "will likely result in failure." The memo also says the Afghan government is corrupt.
When does the issue move into the political dialog here?
3) A good way to kill a few hours and get a better picture. Verifiable.com allows people to make and post charts. Take this one, for example. It's the consumer price index by major groups. Clothing, it notes, used to cost twice as much as everything else (the '60s). Now it costs half as much.
Participants at the Ramsey House Finishing School for Young Ladies spent part of their school vacation studying the Victorian era -- a time of morals, modesty and manners. Instead of seasonal attire like swimsuits and flip flops, these girls donned corsets and petticoats. And rather than roasting marshmallows, they enjoyed formal tea parties.
I'll admit that the parallels between Jay-Z and Rush Limbaugh do not seem obvious, and to grasp them you need to look beyond the violence and misogyny that have made rap a favorite target of the right wing. (Come to think of it, perhaps each of these realms will be chagrined to be likened to the other.) But as soon as you dig beneath the surface, the similarities between talk radio and gangsta rap are nothing short of uncanny. And these similarities are revealing, too.
What will it take for you to recover from the recession?
The recession is showing signs of easing, but for many people it could be some time before a sense of security returns. What will it take for you to recover from the recession? Has the economic crisis cost you something besides money?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11a.m.) First hour: How much of the opposition to President Obama is based on race?
Second hour: Louise Erdrich across the decades.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics discusses U.S. health care reform efforts, and health care systems around the world.
Second hour: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Haynes Johnson and Washington Post reporter Dan Balz, speaking to the Commonwealth Club of California about their new book, "The Battle for America 2008."
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: What U.S. soldiers face in combat, how new tactics, and new policies are playing out in Afghanistan.
Second hour: Bill T. Jones celebrates Abraham Lincoln in dance.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MPR's Ambar Espinoza previews the History Museum's display of a replica of the most complete and best preserved T-Rex ever discovered.
NPR's Tracy Samilton tours a lab where scientists are trying to figure out how to make one a battery that can power automobiles.
Debbie Elliot's story is first-person accounts of the uninsured in New Orleans.
And a segment looks at the question of whether kids should walk to school more, and ride the bus less.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was basking in the adulation of his $1 billion stadium (is Zygi Wilf going to want one just like this?) on Sunday night before a national TV audience. The bad news is that national TV was watching Jerry Jones.
Given all of this, it was guaranteed that he would spark a populist backlash, regardless of his skin color. And it was guaranteed that this backlash would be ill mannered, conspiratorial and over the top -- since these movements always are, whether they were led by Huey Long, Father Coughlin or anybody else.
A pretty poor example, said Jack White, who writes about politics for The Root. Father Couglin was an anti-Semite, he said.
The discussion intertwined with the "lack of civility" angle right up until it got hit in the kisser with an irony pie.
"The problem is, what is the Republican Party doing to make a bigger space for people like himself?" he said, addressing a caller who said he was a moderate Republican. People who have a disagreement with the president's policies but don't want to fall into this trap of falling back on fear and prejudice to move their party forward. You have a handicap, it seems to me, even though you have someone like Michael Steele, who is black, as Republican Party chairman, I would argue that Michael Steele is exactly the wrong kind of person to have?"
"Why? Kerri Miller asked.
"Because Michael Steel is dumb," White said.
Caller Tim from Minneapolis provided the other side of the discussion.
"Thank you for calling another Republican dumb," he said. "Ronald Reagan was portrayed on the one hand as being a tired, pre-senile old fool who, nonetheless, stayed up late at night masterminding the Iran contra deal. We still hear jokes about Dan Quayle misspelling potato. Bush was consistently portrayed -- hammered, hammered, hammered -- on late night comedy shows, everybody that he was dumb. And yet he was also an evil genius who masterminded -- in the eyes of some admittedly paranoid people -- that he masterminded the 9/11 tragedy."
"Are you saying there has long been disrespect towards...." Kerri Miller asked.
"What I'm saying is disrespect... has been going on consistently from the left and you mentioned populism and populism is the response to political elitism and I think what you fail to recognize is that the Democratic Washington power circle, as well as the liberal side of the media, is viewed as being highly elitist and certainly Barack Obama did not help his case anywhere along the line when during the election, for example, when he made the comment about the price of irrugula arugula, You've assembled a nice panel of people that all seem to see things only one way," he said.
And that brings us back to Brooks:
What we're seeing is the latest iteration of that populist tendency and the militant progressive reaction to it. We now have a populist news media that exaggerates the importance of the Van Jones and Acorn stories to prove the elites are decadent and un-American, and we have a progressive news media that exaggerates stories like the Joe Wilson shout and the opposition to the Obama schools speech to show that small-town folks are dumb wackos.
If the cubicle-bound day job doesn't work out, maybe you can be a crop duster. The Associated Press reports today the demand for crop dusters has -- ummm -- taken off this year.
"Some new products came out to control disease in corn and soybeans, and those are applied when crops are mature, so the demand has been tremendous," said 56-year-old crop duster Tim Steier, of Blue Earth, Minn.
The surge in demand is largely because of corn and soybean crops.
How desperate do you have to be for an alcohol fix to eat/drink hand sanitizer?
The Chicago Tribune says some people are raising concerns about the hand sanitizers school districts are providing to combat H1N1 flu.
"H1N1 has certainly created a different way of thinking about what we're doing in the way of influenza prevention," said Darlene Ruscitti, DuPage County's regional superintendent of schools. "But these are things we have to be aware of, and we need to make superintendents aware that people have brought up the issue of the alcohol content in these."
Hand sanitizer has to be 60-percent alcohol to work, and apparently some school districts have banned it because authorities suspect students would try to get drunk with it.
Has there been a big outbreak of drunken -- but sanitary -- schoolchildren? No.
I used to eat rock salt when I was in grade school. The janitor just left it sitting by the door, and I thought it was tasty. I lived to tell. A friend of mine was filling out the paperwork to purchase some cough medication at Wal Mart. She asked them to also shoot the information back to the automotive department because she needed to buy some windshield washer solvent, too. Still makes me laugh.
The Census Bureau released the 2008 American Community Survey today. The bureau sends surveys each year to a select sample of residents. Many of the questions on it are the ones that Rep. Michele Bachmann used to make a brouhaha a few months ago.
What does this year's survey tell us? Not a lot that we didn't already expect.
— The number of households with married couples has dropped from '07 .
— The number of people over 60 has increased. The median age of Minnesota has increased from 37.1 years to 37.4 years. In 2006 it was 36.8.
— The number of married people has dropped while the number of divorced people has increased.
— Eight-seven percent of people in the metropolitan area (including St. Cloud) commute to work by car. Seventy-eight percent of them drive alone. Gender doesn't make a difference in the results.
— Most people's commute is 20-24 minutes. (15.9%)
— The percentage of white people has increased to 88.1 percent.
— The number of unmarried women giving birth has increased from 24.9 percent in 2006 to 30.1% in 2008.
— Enrollment in elementary schools is dropping.
— Two-income families: About 55 percent of U.S. married couples had both spouses in the labor force. North Dakota ranked first at 65 percent, followed by Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa.
— The percentage of Scandanavians is dropping.
— Fewer own and more rent.
— Fewer households have two cars.
— Minnesota ranks behind only Massachusetts and Hawaii in the percentage of people with health insurance. (91.3%)
— The median value of a house has dropped from $221,900 to $213,800.
— The percentage of homeowners whose housing costs equal or exceed 35%of month income has increased significantly.