First, a request. I'm looking for high school students who are graduating this year for a long-term project following them over the course of the next several years. If you've got one, please contact me.
1) It's morning in America. And people are lined up before dawn to get health care from an agency that specializes in providing care in Third World countries.
Did I say "morning in America?"
Ronald Reagan's ad, perhaps the most famous feel-good ad in history, provides a template for political advertising in bad times -- even if things aren't that great, say that they are.
2) We have a lot of authors on the radio -- not just at MPR, but the media is thick with people who wrote a book. They're revered, and why not? They've written a book. They're the backbone of the talk-show industry. So how do we know they're not liars? The New Yorker has a bombshell today. Stephen Ambrose, celebrated World War II historian and author, was a liar.
3) Down in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa yesterday, a lot of people were paying attention to the president. Me? I'm a sucker for old people.
4) The Supreme Court hears arguments today in a case I wrote about a few months ago. If you sign a petition, is your name public? It's a case out of Washington state where gay-marriage proponents sought the names of people who signed a petition to get a question on the ballot reversing a law on same-sex marriage. If you could be "outed" for signing such a petition, would you be less likely to sign? And, if so, does that deny you First Amendment rights?
Lyle Denniston, at ScotusBlog, writes that the case balances the need for open government vs. the right of the individual to participate in the political process without relation:
The Court, perhaps, has tipped its hand in the case, not only by its order in October, temporarily protecting the Washingtobn signers' privacy, but also by its 5-4 ruling in January in the Proposition 8 TV trial coverage ruling. But both of those actions tend largely to exhibit sympathy for the argument that opponents of gay marriage do face threats and other forms of harassment or outright violence. That sentiment, perhaps, cannot be translated directly into a conclusion that signing a petition is a form of protected political speech.
I'll update this post later today with the transcripts from the arguments. Here's the transcript.
5) I don't really know why I find the live video feed from the Duluth Lift Bridge so fascinating (thanks, Duluth Shipping News TV!). But I do, even when there isn't a ship moving through the canal. (If off the air, click the link for the archived version).
Bonus: The classical music folks at MPR have organized a drive to get you to donate your no-longer-used musical instruments for use by school kids. For a great read, check out these profiles of people whose lives were changed -- or at least enhanced -- by a musical instrument and have passed it on to others. Today's Duluth News Tribune has a short profile of the reaction to the drive at St. Scholastica.
Disguised-as-news story of the day: One-third of those surveyed say their pets are the best listeners in the house.
A controversial new law in Arizona gives police the power to detain anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. What should be the role of local police in enforcing immigration law?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: The politics around immigration reform grows more heated with Arizona vowing to enforce federal law. But opponents say the new Arizona law will lead to profiling of Mexican Americans. Two prominent experts on immigration talk about why consensus may be building to change immigration law.
Second hour: Author Laura Munson was married for a decade, and raised two children when her husband said he wanted out of the relationship. She had a surprising reaction to his request that she says actually kept her family together.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Republican gubernatorial candidates Tom Emmer and Marty Seifert debate.
Second hour: New York Times reporter David Sanger, speaking Tuesday at the University of Minnesota about his book, "The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power."
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Politics with NPR political editor Ken Rudin.
Second hour: Why people take their own lives, why it's so often misunderstood, and what it means for the rest of us.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MPR's series on the Central Corridor light-rail project continues. The biggest impasse of the Central Corridor project revolves around demands made by the University of Minnesota. The U says it needs to protect its research facilities, including one lab we visited that houses a couple of laser interferometers that literally sit on compressed air to protect it from vibrations. The dispute heads into mediation this month and a lawsuit is still pending.
From NPR: Wes Moore is a decorated war veteran and a Rhodes Scholar. A shining example of how to make it out of a rough neighborhood. Then one day he got a call from his mom. She said the cops were looking for a man who killed a police officer, and the suspect's name was Wes Moore. And so began his journey to discover the other Wes Moore- and more about himself.
Few controversies -- real or imagined -- have died as quickly as the one over new airport signs on roadways leading to the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport.
Critics jumped on a plan to replace the Humphrey and Lindbergh terminal signs with signs telling people which terminal -- renamed Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 -- hosted which airlines. But once the signs went up, the controversy ended.
Why? They made much more sense than the previous signs.
The only criticism we've heard is that if you miss the first sign, you might think the second one for Terminal 1 is the first sign, in which case you'd probably wonder where to go for your Delta flight. Ask me how I know.
But a logical person would figure it out by the time the third sign came along (the one for Terminal 2, if you're traveling westbound on I-494). If your airline isn't listed there, it must be at Terminal 1.
Compare to the old sign...
There's been very little coverage so far to help voters determine the difference between two Republican stalwarts, vying to be the Republican-endorsed candidate for governor of Minnesota. Issues have taken a backseat to some very unusual (for Republicans) mudslinging in the battle between state representatives Marty Seifert and Tom Emmer.
Both are Gary Eichten's guest on MPR's Midday and I'm live-blogging the conversation starting at 11:06 a.m. Feel free to provide comments below but, for the record, I'm not blogging from the studio and passing them along.
Emmer: I'm a 49 year old, married, father of seven kids from Delano. Been serving in the Minnesota House for five years, engaged in defending people and their business in civil court for 20 years. The next governor should understand what it's like to run a business and meet a payroll successfully.
Seifert: I was born and raised in SW Minnesota, my wife and I have two kids. We have a property-management business in Marshall. Have been a teacher and worked in mission. Have been in the Legislature for 13 years. I have experience in downsizing government. We face the challenge of unemployment and juicing up the private sector.
Q: How would you differ as governor from your opponent?
Seifert: We've laid out what a Minnesota economy looks like -- agriculture and health care. When it comes to government, I've been able to downsize government. I'm the only one either side of the aisle who's downsized government. I'm more electable. I'm the only candidate with a team in every single county. You have to attract conservative independents and Democrats.
Emmer: Marty's a good guy, but I don't think it's what Minnesota needs right now. We need people who've been trained outside of government how to negotiate for the people. People like Seifert put out policy; they tell people in the real world 'this is what you need to do to succeed.' People need government getting out of the way. I've had to run my own business. I've never been guaranteed a paycheck. In my office, we look at Friday as two more working days until Monday.
Q: How much weight should be put on Rep. Emmer's DUI? (See link above)
Emmer: Every once in awhile it's not bad to have someone who stumbles and gets back up. People recognize that.
Seifert: It's a factor but it's not the factor. It's the judgment issue that delegates have talked to me about. It's the authoring of a bill that prosecutors are opposed to... that all of the folks are saying we've got problems with the law. Why would you end up erasing people's records after 10 years.
Emmer: Let's be honest. This was brought to my be prosecutors. Politicians like to play fast and loose with the way things are authored. This is political doublespeak when we're offering this supposedly for the purpose of honesty. For the most part, our campaign has stayed on focus about what we need to do to put Minnesota back on the path to prosperity.
Seifert: If people want to look at it's HF1035. Make your own decision.
Q: Discuss the taxpayer's pledge against no new taxes.
Seifert: I've signed it. This is the worst time to be raising taxes.
Emmer: Marty signed this pledge a few years ago; he broke it. Now he's signed it again. You don't pledge to third parties, you pledge to the people of Minnesota. We'll reduce the state workforce. We'll reduce taxes. Let people keep their own money.
Q: Critics say the no new taxes environment has resulted in huge local property tax increases. Will property taxes continue to go up if you're elected?
Emmer: You have to get rid of the mandates. You can't allow government programs to grow and then say you're cutting spending. You must redesign a smaller government. We have government duplicated at every level. The issue is redesigning government so it's smaller and meets the priorities with the ample resources we have. This state spends almost $60 billion every two years. Colorado spends almost a third less. It's not an issue of whether we have enough revenue; it's a matter of what priorities we should fund.
All taxes should be local.
Seifert: We have to reduce spending at all levels. You can't say we need to get rid of local government aid, and then be on the city council and lament not having local aid. We cut the governor's office, the department of IT, we wiped out commissions. Out of 10 finance committees, mine was the only one that downsized government in a meaningful way. We should have a tax cap.
Q: How do you maintain a commitment to the environment and the Pollution Control Agency?
Seifert: We have the Legacy Fund. But politicians in St. Paul are putting in bills to fund dog parks. That money was intended to be for clean water. We're dumping raw sewage into Lake Superior. It's time for us to prioritize cleaning up polluted waters. That's what the money should be going for.
Emmer: We all believe in clean water and clean air. When you talk about a strong Pollution Control Agency, I'd say the agency has gone beyond what it's original mission was.
Q: Recently we saw Arizona pass a law targeting illegal immigrants. Where do you stand in connection to that law and what are you going to do in connection with illegal immigration?
Emmer: I don't know that it's targeting illegal immigrants. It's enforcing the law. Illegals cost all of us. We have to be human, but you also have to enforce the law. What Arizona did was a wonderful first step. I'm disappointed at the federal government that's taking issue with the state of Arizona.
(Gary asked if Minnesotans should carry papers) This is the scare tactic. Right now, anybody can be asked under certain circumstances to establish U.S. citizenship. I've carried the photo ID bill for the last five years in this state.
Seifert: We're unveiling our position paper today. You can find it on the Web site -- the ending of sanctuary cities in Minnesota, the ability to work with ICE to be sure local law enforcement can work with this. When people are released from prison, you have to make sure they're deported.
(Gary repeats question asked to Emmer) There's states like Colorado, we're going to take their laws and try to pattern after it. I vote against a bill giving illegal immigrants driver's licenses in Minnesota. Your driver's license should have a way to determine if you're here as a legal citizen.
Q: Would your administration consider government to be efficient or inefficient and what is a moral standard for government in Minnesota if people don't have enough food or health care. Is that a moral failing of government?
Seifert: Pull out your Constitution. It establishes the role of government. Charity by government has been so overblown. I was taught in terms of true charity, look to yourself, then your family, then non-profits, and the government last. We look to government only now. If you think we're attracting thousands to Minnesota now because of welfare programs, have us be the only state that has socialized medicine and see what happens.
Emmer: Go look at the Constitution. Article I says the government will protect the citizens and their property, a system of roads and bridges, a uniform system of education. People have come to believe the government is supposed to provide social safety nets. That's well-ingrained in the mindset of the public. Government can't provide charity. Only human beings can provide real charity. Only human beings can be virtuous. Government perpetuates poverty.
Q: The state is facing a $5 billion deficit, should K-12 be protected from cuts?
Emmer: No area should be off limits. We're going to redesign every agency. Our constitution says one of our priorities is to provide a uniform education. It does not say it has to be the way it is today. The more money we throw at the system, the worse the system becomes.
Seifert: If you have a dropout rate in Minneapolis of 28 percent, that's unacceptable. We're going to have to revise policy and funding.
Q: How would you align yourselves w/Gov. Pawlenty's policies?
Seifert: I'm going to talk about the future. Gov. Pawlenty has served us well. There are some fantastic initiatives that he's started, but if you take a look at what we need to do, we have to have a downside of government.
Emmer: Neither of us is running against Tim Pawlenty. All we've been doing in the last few decades is putting Band Aids on this boat. You can't just rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. The Department of Human Rights should be cut. We have an EEOC that does the same thing. We have to start looking at duplication.
Seifert: I've heard this at the last three debates. Where's your plan? Getting rid of the Department of Human Rights gets rid of $2 million out of a $5 billion deficit. The delegates are looking for more substance.
Emmer: When you talk to us and you tell us you've redesigned this by yourself in the middle of the night, that scares us.
Q: You talk about downsizing and reorganizing. Let's say the biennium budget is $30 billion. If you could wave a wand, what should be the size of the budget?
Seifert: I don't have a specific number; it has to be smaller than today. A 10-15% reduction is achievable.
Emmer: A cut of a third. But you can't just talk about it at the state level. You can reduce state budget by 20 percent easily.
Q: Was it a good idea to use public money to build Target Field?
Q: Should there be any changes in Minnesota's abortion laws?
Seifert: Yes. I've authored numerous pro-life pieces of legislation. The tax-funding of abortion is wrong.
Emmer: We have seven kids. Life begins at conception and ends at death. This next election is about the economy.
Q: Would you extend the JOB-Z program?
Emmer: No. You shouldn't be creating winners and losers within the state of Minnesota.
Seifert: No. Marvin Windows has gone to North Dakota. It's got to be a statewide plan.
Q: (Caller) What's your position on medical marijuana?
Seifert: I voted no on the bill. There are too many concerns from law enforcement.
Emmer: What we've been offering for health care bills, they're not the right answer. We have to put competition back in the market. We have to put patients back in charge of their own decisions.
No on marijuana. If it were presented as a true medicine, the vote might've been different.
Q: The 5th District delegates approved resolution supporting secession. Would you consider it a legitimate option for Minnesota?
Seifert: Absolutely not.
Emmer: I started out coaching the T-ball team, then ended up on a church finance council. That's called community service. Someone said I should run for the Legislature and I've seen people there who make it a career. It's time to go back to servant-leaders, to lead the state and then return to the business they had before they got there.
Seifert: We have a serious contest. We have a lot of problems. We have plans in place. We have the ability to win the election. People are looking for serious solutions. I'm going to humbly stand before people on Friday and ask for their endorsement.(11 Comments)
Political posturing or effective economic tool?
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman today announced a ban on travel by city employees to Arizona. It's a reaction to the new law in Arizona, requiring people to prove their citizenship on demand.
Here's the full release:
Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman took a stand today, ordering City departments to no longer travel to conferences in the State of Arizona. Coleman issued the order today in solidarity with other cities and organizations in boycotting the State of Arizona in protest of the recent signage of SB1070 by Governor Jan Brewer.
"This law sets a dangerous example for the rest of the country. It will create a culture where racial profiling is acceptable, and will create a dangerous wedge between police officers and the communities they serve. We've seen what can be done through partnering with immigrant communities and its effects on issues such as domestic violence rates, violent crime, and overall community safety.
It would be immoral to not stand up in the face of a piece of legislation that is rooted in hate and fear. We are a country of immigrants - and SB 1070 is an affront to our constitution and the values we hold dear as Americans. It's not worthy of who we are as a people - and it's certainly not worthy of the investment of any city dollars being spent in Arizona.
I can't imagine what it would have been like for my grandmother had they passed a similar anti-Irish law. Today I choose to stand with the millions of immigrants in our City and across the country who should have access to the same level of safety and opportunity as everyone else."
Coleman also noted that he would write to the chairmen of both the DNC and the RNC to encourage them to not choose Phoenix, a contender for their national conventions, in 2012.
How many St. Paul employees travel to Arizona for conventions and conferences? The mayor's deputy chief of staff says he's currently researching that, and also any contracts between the city and Arizona businesses.
"It's a really poor strategy," Barry Broome, chief executive of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council said. But he wasn't talking about St. Paul, but about a move by some California lawmakers to bar any state contracts with businesses in Arizona. That would be bad news for Minnesota-based businesses like Target and the Mayo Clinic -- two of Arizona's largest employers.
But Arizona officials clearly are concerned about boycotts nationwide. Sen. John McCain said the state has to "sell" the new law better.
"We have to show any visitors -- whether it be for the All-Star Game or someone who wants to go to the Grand Canyon -- that we will observe and enforce their civil rights and make sure they don't feel threatened here," McCain said today.
The Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association has set up a "Don't Boycott Arizona" Facebook page. It says a boycott will only hurt hotel and tourism employees.(9 Comments)
What does an earthquake look like if you're a small fish in a big pond?
It looks like this:
The U.S. Geological Survey has just released this video of the April 4th earthquake's effect on the Devils Hole Pupfish, which lives on a ledge of a pool in the Mojave Desert.
More details here.
To anyone who lived through the Vietnam War, today's Associated Press poll on Vietnamese attitudes toward their economy has to sting a little bit. The war ended 35 years ago Friday, when Saigon fell. Here in the United States, we still debate whether America could've "won" the war had it been waged differently, and whether the loss of 50,000 American lives -- 1,100 of them from Minnesota -- was worth it.
That's not happening in Vietnam, the poll shows. Life is good, especially when compared to, say, ours, according to the Associated Press:
Under a single-party Communist government, the country has embraced market-oriented reforms and lifted tens of millions out of poverty.
Eighty-five percent said the economy is stronger than it was five years ago, and 87 percent said they expect it to be even stronger in another five years. Eighty-one percent said the country is moving in the right direction.
Their optimism stands in stark contrast to the widespread pessimism in the United States, where recent polls show many Americans believe their nation is on the wrong track.
Fifty-six percent of the people who responded to the survey said they rarely -- if ever -- think about the Vietnam War.
Back in St. Paul, someone is still thinking about it:
This fresh-flower wreathe provides the only indication that anyone has stopped by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial recently.