Who'll help the Northland, why broadcasters can't refuse offensive ads, one small step for the 'Mohawk guy,' happiness and the geeky kid, and pin collecting at the Olympics.
1) WHO'LL HELP THE NORTHLAND?
The reaction to the Duluth area's flood aid request from the Minnesota Legislature yesterday could -- and probably should -- lead to a renewed debate over what role the public has -- if any -- in helping victims of disaster get back on their feet.
The $190 million dollar package, which will go before a special session of the Legislature later this month, has raised eyebrows among Republican lawmakers.
There was a time when it didn't. When the Rushford area was hit by flash flooding, the Legislature sent $160 million to the region, after supporters sweetened the package with another $58 million for other sections of the state that were nowhere near as hard hit.
Only one lawmaker -- a DFLer -- raised a voice in opposition. The package passed the House unanimnously, one senator voted against it in her chamber, and a Republican governor signed the legislation.
That was 2007, and while the economy had not yet fully tanked, budget forecasts were predicting a $373 million budget deficit. By contrast, the latest Minnesota budget forecast showed a $323 million surplus.
"Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching," Rep Mary Liz Holberg said of the Duluth package. "Where's the money coming from?"
Of course, there's plenty of politics in debates like this, but the question remains: Do we have an obligation to help others recover from disasters?
Or, as one state rep said yesterday, "If you can't depend on government to help during a disaster, when can we?"
2) IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
There was plenty of outcry yesterday when the first ads from congressional candidate Gary Boisclair hit KARE 11 during Olympic coverage. The ads feature pictures of aborted fetuses.
Who's responsible for this? The politicians. A 1934 law prohibits broadcasters from censoring political advertisements. Unlike newspapers, broadcast outlets have to run the ads just as they were given to them.
David Oxenford, at the Broadcast Law blog, explains:
Similarly, in the case that Ms. Allred complained about - asking stations to pull the graphic anti-abortion ads sponsored by Randall Terry, she posed the wrong question - alleging that the ad would be offensive and inflammatory. Stations can't make those judgments about political ads - they have to run them even if they can be upsetting. The FCC has even been told by the Courts that it can't allow stations to channel upsetting political ads (like those anti-abortion ads that Mr. Terry plans to run), into late night hours. If a candidate wants to run ads in the middle of the day (or in the middle of children's programs), a station can warn its audience that the ad may be disturbing and that it is being forced by law to run it, as long as such warnings are done in a neutral fashion, but it must run the ad in the form the candidate created it. So what should Ms. Allred have argued about the Terry ads?
In recent weeks, as the Terry ad has sprouted on more and more TV stations around the country (see our article here), there have been questions raised as to whether he really is a bona fide legally qualified candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. Some have questioned whether he is even a Democrat, and recently the Democratic National Committee issued a letter addressing the subject - finding that Mr. Terry did not meet the party's qualifications to be a Presidential candidate. Mr. Terry is contesting whether that letter is enough to take him out of the status of a "legally qualified candidate", especially in states where he has qualified for a place on the ballot. Stations will need to make a judgment as to whether this letter itself is sufficient to disqualify him as a candidate based on some prior precedent from the FCC that seemed to decide, in a 15 year old case involving Lyndon LaRouche, that where the party declared someone was not qualified, the FCC would not second guess that determination. But the facts of that case were different, including the fact that the primaries had been completed at the time of the ad request. So we don't know for sure what decision on this issue will come from the FCC. Watch to see if there is any FCC guidance in the few remaining days before the Super Bowl.
3) ONE SMALL STEP FOR "MOHAWK GUY"
This is the new face of NASA...
"Mohawk Guy" is Bobak Ferdowsi, a mission controller for the Mars Curiosity mission, who's become a star since his picture was splashed across the Internet after Sunday night/Monday morning's successful landing on Mars. He has a new hairstyle for every mission.
"The Mohawk more or less stays there the whole time. But I thought I was kind of being subtle with this one. The stars were like a little tribute, but the team actually voted on this," he told a Seattle radio station.
He's holding an online chat today at 12:30 p.m. CT.
Meanwhile, back on Mars, we now have video of the Curiosity's descent to the planet...
4) HAPPINESS AND THE GEEKY
If we want our kids to be well adults, it may fall to us to give them a swift kick in the social pants, Wired.com concludes today on a study about what in childhood leads to well-being as an adult.
The New Zealand study has hope for those defined as 'geeks' in childhood. Popularity in childhood is not necessarily a predictor, but social connectedness is...
But social connectedness and liking school in no way implies that a kid has to be popular in order to become a well adult. More important than being the star quarterback is "having someone to talk to if they had a problem or felt upset about something," the authors write. And participation in clubs and groups in no way implies sports. Band is just as good as football. It's group membership and not necessarily athletic worship that builds wellbeing.
Finally and importantly, no matter the objective facts of a teen's life, how a teen evaluates and values their life predicts wellbeing as a 32-year-old. Are they optimistic about the future, independent, and generally busy? If so, A) you have a teen that smushes every popular stereotype of Western culture, and B) you have a teen who's likely to grow into a very well adult.
5) A SIGN THE OLYMPICS SHOULD BE OVER: PIN-COLLECTING STORIES
Which is more of an Olympic sport: BMX or pin collecting?
Lolo Jones is broken-hearted for not winning a medal. Her interview this morning was weird, though.
It's all about this in the New York Times:
So she has played into the persistent, demeaning notion that women are worthy as athletes only if they have sex appeal. And, too often, the news media have played right along with her.
And the posing nude thing has never led to being taken too seriously.
Bonus I: The world of motorcycles makes its annual pilgrimage to Sturgis, SD.
Bonus II: The Twins handed the Cleveland Indians -- the team I've followed for 50 years -- their 11th consecutive loss. What if Minnesota had a franchise this sorry? (I know what you're thinking. And, no, you don't.)
That going-viral-quicker-than-a-homerun-off-our-starters video is a spoof of this:
I love you so much, Internet.
Bonus III: The Associated Press reports today on the subculture of hate music among white supremacists. MPR News reported on this as far back as 2004. Guess what area was one of the hotbeds of white supremacist music? The Twin Cities.
With a new NFL season drawing nearer, columnist George Will is arguing that there's no way to make football safe without drastic changes to the game. Today's Question: Is football fixable?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) - First hour: Is intergenerational warfare real or imagined?
Second hour: Unnecessary heart surgery.
Third hour: A closer look at the Massachusetts health care law.
MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Eric Schmidt of Google on technology and democracy.
Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) - The political junkie.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MPR's Mark Steil is covering today's Senate candidate forum at Farmfest.
Austin's Amanda Hocking became an Internet sensation and a millionaire with her fantasy e-novels about trolls. Now with a new series about murderous sirens, she is launching into the print world. She has a reading tonight in Woodbury. MPR's Euan Kerr will have the story.
How much did we spend on the stadium when roughly half the state opposed using public money for that?
Which "representatives" opposed that?
Perhaps we need to put these people through a jr. high/high school civics class, particularly the section about "The role of government"
Makes me sick to think that we've no problem giving larger piles of money to billionaires, but funding people who had a natural disaster hit we say "nah, that's just to expensive"
Even sadder still is that this is an election year. Coming up on being months away from the election and they are still doing this, meaning they think that not funding this is more likely to get them re-elected then funding it.
I hope that the polls they are using to get the concept of what Minnesotans want are really out of line with reality, because if MN citizens have no problem funding a stadium, but have major issues dealing with natural disasters I don't know that I can look many of my fellow citizens in the eye any more.
Mary Liz Holberg’s quote is a primary example of what’s wrong with our current political climate. It is the view that “If it doesn’t affect me, it doesn’t matter”. People have to feel it to believe it. Something tells me that if a tornado went through Lakeville Holberg’s outlook would change.
I'll preface my remarks by saying that of course the government should help when there is a disaster.
But, what is the definition of disaster? If an entire block is taken out by some freak water main breaking accident that is a disaster for those people, but the government doesn't step in. House burning down is also a disaster in which there is no government help. Further, has the economy been a disaster? Not a natural disaster, but it has ruined the lives of a lot of people who have not been given adequate help from their government. We expect people to be appropriately insured for when disaster strikes at home, unless that disaster encompasses multiple blocks.
// We expect people to be appropriately insured for when disaster strikes at home, unless that disaster encompasses multiple blocks.
This is another issue we should get into -- the lack of coverage for flooding in homeowner policies.
Re: what's a disaster: I recall in the debate over the flood package mentioned in the post a state rep -- I'm pretty sure it was a Republican -- actually started crying in a committee hearing because her attempt to get a "sound wall" built along a highway wasn't included in the package.
Of course, there was no sound wall in Rogers when the flooding hit, and I'm pretty sure Rogers didn't even experience flood damage.
But for some reason, a sound wall was considered - at least by one legislator -- as disaster aid.
If government allows people to build homes near a river, or fails to have sewers that can handle extreme rainfall, then it should absolutely help the victims. We don't build sewer systems to handle 500 year rains because the cost is too high, but that's penny wise pound foolish thinking. Now it's time to pay.
Given the increasing possibility through climate change of extreme rainfalls to cause flooding in otherwise low risk areas, requiring flood insurance for everyone seems like a good way to spread the cost.
Mohawk guy? really? people care about a funny haircut?
"Mohawk guy? really? people care about a funny haircut?"
I think it is more that people care about an AWESOME haircut. Doesn't hurt that he's young, attractive and super smart too.
I think part of the issue comes from the way we talk about taxes. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that in exchange for any disaster relief aid, the legislating body (federal or local) attached an assessment--something logical and sound, even. Maybe for every dollar in aid spent, two dollars are collected over ten years, twenty years, something like that--half of which goes towards repayment and half of which goes towards prevention (so, one dollar to rebuild the road, one dollar to build bigger pipes).
This would seem to make sense; and I suspect that most people in disaster-stricken areas would complain about such a deal (think about how often people say they don't want handouts). It's relief, it's responsible, and it's forward-looking.
But, of course, nothing like this would ever happen. And I wonder if part of the problem is that the conversation seems to be whether the government should or should not do something and not whether the government can do it well or how the government could do it better. We're so worried about whether the oven is on or not, we stopped caring about what temperature it's set to.
#1 Mary is pretty tight with the state checkbook. Not that I think she is correct, but she does seem consistent.
Rep. Holberg voted for the Rushford flood package.
I don't see any quotes from her, Rep Holberg, from 2007. So not sure how she felt at the first proposal for that bill. She wasn't chair of "ways and means" then, so perhaps the media didn't bother to ask her. Maybe by the time the vote came down she had done the research she now is saying she will do. I don't know. Like I said she seems consistent.
That's the thing. many of these flood victims are not next to rivers or on anything ever considered the flood plain.
We lost our entire basement to to the same heavy rains that washed out Rushford. Urban flooding damaged other homes in Rochester as well. And, as Bob pointed out, despite the fact that we had pretty good homeowner's insurance, we paid out of pocket to have the entire basement redone. And no, we were not in anything resembling any flood plain. I think the nearest body of water was 5-7 miles away.
I will add, too, that I'm not upset that we never qualified for any state or federal help. Life happens. I was also quite happy to see Rushford get state aid. I think Duluth should get aid. Sound barriers don't qualify for disasters. Flooding though, is weird, because of the insurance issue-- if my house was hit by a tornado, hail, fire, or lightning we would be covered, but if we get hit by urban flooding again, we'd be either paying out of pocket again or hoping for government aid.
I'm finding it hard to get excited about the latest Mars expedition. Just ran across this Onion article that pretty well explains why.
I think the soundwall was for something along Hwy 280 when it was the detour following the 35W bridge collapse, which is what would have timed it with the 2007 special session. I'm not sure whose district that would be. Greiling possibly.
Pretty sure it was Rep. Peppin and it wasn't the 280 wall.
Also in that package, as I recall, was restoration of a destroyed fish house somewhere in rural Minn.
I gotta go back and find that package. I'll bet there was all sorts of good stuff in there.
And, of course, a lot of them was never spent in SE Minn., and only now is someone asking for it back.
Until a few years ago, if a home wasn't in a federal flood plain, flood insurance wasn't available. The federal government changed that a few years back, then reduced the things flood insurance covers. The other government issue is how flood classes are assigned. It is partially based on science, part politics. After the flood here in Pine Island, I found out how messed up the entire system is...from insurance, water management, response to potential flooding, and the aftermath. The entire process is messed up, and really needs to be reformulated. Until then, the government should help, as they are just as much of the problem as is the lack of insurance.