Monday inspiration, the war in Libya, uttering the 'N word,' the 140-character war, and tears for a polar bear.
Tim Pawlenty is running for president. Why can't we just say it?
Former Gov. Pawlenty -- like every presidential candidate before him -- has played a cat-and-mouse game for more than three years about his presidential ambitions. Tim Pawlenty wants to be president. Tim Pawlenty is running for president. That remains the worst kept secret, except for the people writing the news stories, who are forced to continue to write as if he's not because he hasn't specifically said so.
Today, Pawlenty is going to "announce" on Facebook the equivalent of "I'm thinking of running for president," by announcing he's forming an exploratory campaign committee.
And we in the news media are falling for it again, creating a news story where, really, none exists.
If the former governor should become president and write a book about his campaign, trust me: It will not start with the events of March 21, 2011.
This cat-and-mouse game is good for anyone who wants to be president; it keeps the name in the news. This time, it's being described as the "first formal step" in running for president.
That, of course, is a desperate search for a "hook" to make this seem like a news story. The first formal step was not running for re-election as governor. Another one was forming a PAC to collect money to give away to important politicians you'll need someday if you want to be president, another was writing a book so that you can be interviewed by the national media and asked whether you're running for president (where you can declare that you've not decided yet), followed by glitzy campaign-style commercials, not to mention all the trips to states that are important only once every four years.
In a few months, Tim Pawlenty will announce that his explorations have led him to announce he's running for president. We in the media will be there to cover it as if we didn't already know.
Update 2:23 p.m. Another glitzy commercial accompanied today's announcement:(14 Comments)
An e-mail and Facebook posting has been making the rounds in the last week suggesting that the Minnesota Legislature is considering making it a crime for anyone on welfare to have more than $20 in their possession. It goes like this:
The mean-spirited assault on the poor in this country, by Republicans, has taken an even more odious turn in Minnesota. Republicans in the state House of Representatives are sponsoring a bill that would penalize welfare recipients for having more than $20 in their possession. So-called "cash" welfare assistance would only be distributed through state-issued debit cards, and cash withdrawals would be limited to just $20 per month. And just in case the dirty poor think they can walk into any supermarket where the rest of us shop, they should think again. To further stigmatize the poor and make their lives more miserable, the bill would limit the use of the EBT card to a few authorized retailers equipped with a special poor people's terminal. And if they have to travel out of state, they better hold on to their $20 monthly cash stipend, because the EBT card can only be used in the state of Minnesota. Take that you poors!
What's this all about? There's no bill at the Legislature preventing anyone from having more than $20 "in their possession." HF171 (available here), however, does prevent the users of EBT cards to use them to purchase tobacco or alcohol products. It also prevents recipients from using the cards to get more than $20 in cash per month at an ATM.
It's true, however, that the bill cuts cash assistance. Here are the current rules for using EBT cards in Minnesota -- for food and cash accounts. Users are allowed four free cash withdrawals per month, then pay $1 service charge for each withdrawal.(3 Comments)
The Mississippi River is still a relatively well-behaved river, judging by this shot taken south of South St. Paul and Newport (click the image for a larger view).
But the National Weather Service has given an indication today that the flood story is going to be here in the Twin Cities long before it appears in the Red River Valley.
Next Monday morning, the chart says, the river will hit 20.1 feet, and there's no indication that will be the worst of it. In the 1997 flood, the river in St. Paul reached 22.9 feet. Officials says there's an 80 percent chance of equaling that.
The more immediate impact will be felt along the Minnesota River where things have already gotten dicey thanks to ice dams. Here's a fascinating page being put together by Sornie Sorenson. He's taking a picture a day of the river. The City of Mankato is also posting Minnesota River pictures.
And in New Ulm, the flooding is about to get underway. The Cottonwood River is expected to crest at 18.3 feet at mid-week. That's 2 1/2 feet above major flood stage.
Don Hellendrung of New Ulm was kind enough to take some snapshots for me. This one is off Brown County Road 13, West of Flandrau State Park:
Near Cottonwood St. & S Broadway in New Ulm (known to locals as the Poor Farm Road):
Keep the pictures coming!