1) We usually get our best insight into people in politics after they've dropped the better-not-say-anything-that-might-cost-you-an-election strategy that's made campaigns so utterly predictable. It's too bad. Rep. Marty Seifert, the unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor, writes the MPR commentary today, revealing to us the human toll of being a politician. He described the day after he dropped out of the race:
Two days later, after mass on Sunday, my wife Traci and I took Brittany and Braxton to Sioux Falls -- the closest "big town" to where we live -- and played games at Chuck E. Cheese's, saw a movie and had a great buffet dinner.
When I snuggled with Braxton, our 5 year old, that night, he said, "Daddy, this was the best day ever. I am so glad you lost."
Meanwhile, at the Capitol, there's no agreement over a new budget despite a night of meetings. Some 5-year-old isn't getting to snuggle with mom or dad.
The governor says he'll go fishing this weekend, even if there isn't a budget deal.
2) For the last week or so, I've wondered if there's another word we newspeople can use for what the oil is doing in the Gulf of Mexico besides gushing. Then the House Commerce Committee released this underwater video yesterday of the "leak" and I got my answer. It's "no."
A congressional investigation continues today. So far, it's suggested the multi-billion dollar disaster might have been caused by parts that cost a few dollars and incompetence -- the two things that cause most man-made disasters.
But a poll out overnight shows it doesn't much matter. Those surveyed are still fans of oil drilling.
Unclear on the Concept Department: In Ohio, a legislative committee has approved a plan to tighten oversight of coal mines. It funds it by taking money from a fund to help miners with Black Lung disease. (h/t: Midwest Energy News)
3) Other than Updraft, Tim's Weather Blog, is one of the most enjoyable area meteorological endeavors. It's written by Tim Burr of Duluth. This morning, he recounts his weekend trip to Tornado Alley. He went storm chasing, and found what he was looking for.
4) They're killing off Little Orphan Annie. The quote from the licensing company is hilarious:
'Annie' is more of a kids' property, so it's less relevant to newspaper audiences than say a 'Dick Tracy' or a 'Brenda Starr,'" Tippie said
If that doesn't describe the problem facing newspapers, nothing does. They're places where Dick Tracy and Brenda Starr are still relevant.
The whole subject makes me want to head for the Wayback Machine:
5) We have a winner in the Best Illusion of the Year contest:
The gathering in Naples, Florida examined how our brains deceive us on a daily basis because it attempts to "solve what it sees."
Bonus) "Did you see this video? It seems like something that'd be on a 5@8," Ryan Vanasse wrote yesterday. He's right, and it is. Let's just put it here in the "what would you have done category?
Jon Stewart said, "Love what you do. Get good at it." Winston Churchill said, "Never give in. Never, never, never, never." It's commencement season, and you or someone you know will soon be listening to a speech. What's your message for the Class of 2010?
(Bob notes: It's the same message I had for the class of 2009)
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: The classic gumshoes, spies, and femme fatales of crime, mystery, and spy novels.
Second hour: Broadcast of Kerri Miller's conversation with author Colum McCann. (Originally broadcast 10/5)
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: NPR health reporter Julie Rovner answers questions about the new health care law.
Second hour: Best-selling author and attorney Scott Turow, speaking at the Commonwealth Club about his legal thrillers, including his latest: "Innocent."
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: In the last 10 years, changes swept every branch of the military. Besides the enormous strain of deployments in the Army and Marines, more and more Air Force pilots fly unmanned drones, women will soon serve on Navy submarines, and Marines can no longer get Semper Fi tattooed on a forearm.
Second hour: It's a medical mystery: Why do sugar pills work so well? In some drug trials they work better than the real thing.
It's a rare day when an appointment of an associate justice to the Minnesota Supreme Court gets more attention than the naming of a chief justice for the same court. But David Stras, a University of Minnesota professor, gives the court a pro-unallotment majority.
Stras submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's appeal of a lower court ruling that overturned his unallotment action on the state budget, according to MinnPost.
Some of Stras' ideological opponents have pointed out he's only been a member of the Minnesota Bar Association since 2009, but it's a red herring. He's was admitted to the DC bar in 2002.
Stras has some impressive credentials, including the fact he's from the Midwest and still overcame the Harvard/Yale club to clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, who hasn't asked a question at the Supreme Court in years.
"By the time he gets to oral arguments, a lot of his questions have already been answered," Stras told SCOTUSblog in an interview in February (listen to the interview). Stras says oral arguments are overblown.
Stras was a guest on MPR's Midday last year when Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings were underway. During the course of the hearings, he said he was an "agnostic" on the appointment and believed President Obama "could have done much better."
But it's his work on Pawlenty's unallotment case that marks today's appointment and it's, perhaps, important to note that the Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutionality of the governor's budget actions when it issued its ruling last week. The tools are in place for the state's highest court to deliver a victory to the governor should it be asked again to do so.
Gov. Pawlenty lives a charmed life.
The Iowa home of the Field of Dreams is for sale.
The family that has owned most of the property on which a baseball diamond was built for the '80s movie has decided to sell. The listing includes "the actual movie site, including the baseball diamond, a two-bedroom, 1½-bath house featuring the movie's familiar front porch, six outbuildings, and a parcel of land totaling 193 acres," according to KCRG.com.
It'll probably remain a tourist spot, but if times get tough, it wouldn't be hard to turn it into a cornfield. $5.4 million and it's yours.(1 Comments)
Commencement season is fertile ground for generational assessments as one age group tries to pass off knowledge to another. As I get older, I'm increasingly sensitive to the occasional Twitter post that describes the Baby Boomer generation as one of the worst ever -- as I read the other day. It handed its problems off to the incoming powers, and has left a mess to clean up.
But generations don't change things. People do.
MPR All Things Considered producer Jeff Jones lost his mother a week or so ago. Her funeral was held last weekend and today he distributed this story about her. He kindly agreed to let me print it here, because it's a reminder that it's possible to make a difference, but it requires actually doing something.
In 1973, my mother, Linda Jones, was in charge of 18 babies on a so-called "orphan flight" from Seoul, South Korea to Minneapolis. She also had an envelope full of secret documents. Volunteering for the orphan flight was a good way to get to the U.S. for a good price, but when members of the underground Korean pro-democracy movement heard that their friend, my mom, was on a flight that would stop over in Tokyo, they asked for her help. She was to deliver an envelope of papers documenting human rights abuses -- including imprisonment, torture and execution -- to a contact who would disseminate them to western diplomats and media in Japan. Such papers would have been opened and censored if they'd gone through the mail. A Korean found with them would have been imprisoned, or worse.
My parents went to Korea as teachers and missionaries. But when the presidency there turned into a dictatorship, my mom decided to help the university students she was getting to know to organize a resistance. She helped hide wanted men in her home, sometimes for weeks at a time. She served tea as my father (willfully ignorant about her associates) was questioned repeatedly by the Korean CIA. And she arranged secret meetings between visiting diplomats and dissident leaders. When she botched one such arrangement, it led to the arrest and torture of one of the student leaders.
When her plane landed in Tokyo, a team came on the plane to help with the babies. My mom got off, carrying only the secret envelope (her ticket and passport were with those for the babies). She was to pass it through the decorative openings between the airport's passenger lounge and the visitor lounge. This method had worked well before. But when she arrived in the in-transit lounge, she could tell something had changed. The wall was sealed. There was no way to connect with Japanese visitors anymore. Knowing time was tight, she decided to leave the in-transit area and step, effectively, onto Japanese soil without her plane ticket and without her passport. The airport was crowded and her only hope was to muscle her way to the information desk. And there, muscling his way to the same spot, was her contact, Dr. Kim. Both were trying to page the other.
The documents delivered and some important verbal messages exchanged, the race to get back on the plane began. Neither of them spoke good Japanese and the check-in, security, and immigration staff could not understand why she had left the in-transit area without any ID. Her only defense was "but who will help with the babies?"
Fortunately, back on the plane, the Northwest Airlines flight attendants were asking the same question. All the other volunteers on the flight were old men who were NOT going to change diapers for the next 10 hours. My mom was the only hope. The flight crew brought the ticket and passport to the security folks who elected to stop asking questions. Three days later, she saw information about the democracy movement from those documents start to appear in U.S. newspapers. (ed. note: Jeff says one of the people who received the documents was former Minnesota congressman Don Fraser.)
For the 19 years after she left Korea, she supported the movement and the missionaries who were aiding it from a cramped office in Chicago. She also raised two kids who complained about the middle-of-the-night phone calls, the boxes full of funny papers she kept around the house and the smell of the food she brought home from meetings. She went back to Korea many times to introduce American women to women there working in sweat shops and brothels. We complained that she wasn't home enough.
Even if that complaint had been legitimate, in the 10 years since she was diagnosed with leukemia, she made it all up to us. My sister and I traveled with our mom to eight national parks, Canada, and Alaska. She made sure to be healthy enough to attend both of our weddings and hold her first grandchild. We went back with her to South Korea in 2003, where the democratic government gratefully accepted those boxes full of papers that were the only copies of documents long since destroyed in the days of the dictatorship. And I had dinner with the tortured student leader, who looked me in the eye and called my mom a hero.
Nothing has ever been as hard for me as these past two weeks. But I know my mom crammed more living into 65 years than many of us will ever imagine. And I'm still hearing great new stories about her life from friends near and far. I can't express how touched I was by the card you all sent...I've always wondered if cards are worth anything at a time like this. Now I know they are like an anchor when we feel cut adrift. And you have my family's deep gratitude for the generous donation to the cancer resource center my mom started from scratch in her hometown of Rockford, IL. She cut the ribbon there just a month before she died (video). 150 people have come through the door so far and seen a glimmer of the hope that motivated her entire life.
So here's today's commencement message to graduating seniors: Top that.(7 Comments)