Yes, Mr. Scheck is gone on a well-deserved vacation, and he insists he will not listen to the news or read the papers while he's gone...which means he should be calling by about 10:30 to talk about something he heard.
Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, insists he's not gay, as Mitt Romney cuts him loose and some fellow Republicans call for an ethics investigation.
Craig says he has hired a lawyer to review his guilty plea to disorderly conduct at the Twin Cities airport, but the Star Tribune reports that withdrawing the plea may not be easy.
A more uplifting story about another senator, as Tim Johnson, D-S.D., announces he is back from a brain hemorrhage. ABC's Bob Woodruff has been following Johnson for some time and Nightline aired his piece about Johnson's recovery last night.
Minnesota is joining a rush of other states to accelerate the 2008 presidential nominating contest, but in typical Minnesota fashion we won't go TOO fast. The DFL party joined state Republicans by agreeing to move precinct caucuses up to Feb. 5, which is now being called "Tsunami Tuesday" because "Superduper Tuesday" was an even sillier name.
And Sen. Norm Coleman is making another trip to Iraq. His office isn't releasing many details, but says Coleman wants to take a look at the situation on the ground, and to meet with government leaders to find out why there hasn't been more progress on reconciliation.
New census numbers show the poverty rate is down for the first time several years, but nationally the number of people without health insurance is rising. MPR, the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press all have stories on the Minnesota data.
Gov. Pawlenty had a little more to say about a possible special session yesterday, but there's no a deal yet. The state DFL party put out a release yesterday accusing Pawlenty of stalling on bringing lawmakers back, but DFL legislative leaders aren't saying that, at least publicly.
And guess what? Apparently a bunch of politicians are out at the State Fair.
It's the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans, and there are special reports everywhere. MPR is airing a documentary from American RadioWorks at noon called Routes to Recovery.
On one of the aviation Internet lists I frequent, an acquaintance is upset this week. It seems he was out flying his small plane on Saturday when a woman on the ground, fearing he was too close to a nuclear plant, called authorities to suggest that he might be a terrorist. When he landed, he was detained for several hours.
Now keep in mind that (a) it is not illegal to fly a small plane near a nuclear power plant and (b) small planes have about as much mass as your average Coke can and if you think a Coke can is capable of penetrating a nuclear power plant, perhaps you should focus your attention on the power plants and not the Coke can.
This pilot, however,is apoplectic that in the United States, he can be detained for no good reason. He asked that the rest of us start making phone calls to protest our loss of civil rights.
My reaction? "Dude, where were you when you could've made a difference?" I don't consider myself one of those people who is paranoid about the government and sees a conspiracy to eliminate civil rights around every corner. But one of the most irritating aspects of life, to me, is the irritation of otherwise disinterested individuals when they finally get around to realizing it's their rights that are eventually lost.
Many of these people, I suspect, were on the sidelines chanting, "hey, if you don't do anything wrong, what are you worried about?" just as instructed by the talk show crazies back in the post-9/11 days when other people were warning that the country, in its fear-fed flurry to so something -- anything -- to create the illusion of security, was embarking down a path that would ultimately lead to the loss of significant civil rights, like being able to fly a plane on a beautiful Michigan morning, obeying the law, and still being detained.
But that was then and this is now. Back then, the outrage might've mattered. Now, it doesn't. The rights the pilot once enjoyed are gone, and they're not likely coming back.
This morning I was reading the New York Times' "About New York" column (In Mass Arrests During '04 Convention, Divergent Version of Events Emerge" (it's on page A21 in the dead-trees edition, online it's in the subscribers-only section.
In it, we learn that a wave of lawsuits against the city has revealed certain facts, mostly that the cops arrested innocent people, and then lied to make the charges stick. The problem is in the age of "everyone's got a camera," it's not quite so easy to lie anymore. Videos collected by I-Witness Video caught the truth... and, in a way, the cops. However, it's taken years.
Now, I'm all for keeping peace and security and I have no doubt that the New York City Police Department foiled a few plots for anarchy (or terrorism) by snaring some of those who would do evil. But it's also clear that the "hazards of mass arrests" include the ignoring of the civil rights that people still have, and the manifestation of the removal of the rights people once had. It's also clear that many Americans, who might be moved to action if the removal of rights involved, say, a gun, or the right to abortion, don't much give a rip.
Take the case of Ben Kappel, who had just taken the bus in from the airport, and was towing his suitcase behind him as he rushed to meet a friend at the library on 42nd Street. He tried to cross 42nd and Sixth Ave., but was told by a cop he couldn't, so they tried to cross to the east. Then south. Then north. Nope.
The cops, as it turned out... were slowly closing in the entire block with orange fencing. A police commander told all of those caught in the net to "sit down." So they did. Many hours later, the arrest documents for Mr. Kappel indicated he had been guilty of disorderly conduct, for sitting on 42nd Street blocking traffic.
My guess is few people will care about this, even though they've been given the answer to the question of "if you don't do anything wrong, what are you worried about?" My pilot friend ignored these sorts of stories, right up until he lost his rights last week.
My questions are: (1) Is St. Paul (my current home, the streets of which I occasionally walk) consulting with the New York City Police Department on how to provide security to next year's Republican National Convention? (if so, better read this first)(2) Will the preservation of civil rights be of any importance to the politicians here and the people there? (Note: The Minneapolis City Council has offered some guidelines) (3) Can I please borrow your video camera?
You probably know by now that Sen. Norm Coleman has called for the resignation of Sen. Larry Craig. If you don't, read it here.
A caller or two to the newsroom brings up an interesting question. Why didn't Coleman call for the resignation of David Vitter, who is alleged to have sought the company of a prostitute (but only the Washington kind! Not those New Orleans hookers, mind you!).
It's a good question. And it shows the danger of opening the door on issues of morality by a politician.
By the way, it's interesting to go back and read Craig's quotes on issues of ethics after he was arrested but before we knew about it.
Take this number from The Politico.
"All of us are maybe a little accepting, but a little frustrated, when senators go out and do things that are morally or ethically in question," Craig said. "But when another agency of government intrudes or appears to stage an event for the sake of publicity, … that is a whole other issue."
They're circling the wagons.
There was some discussion on MNspeak.com last night about why the Minnesota media "missed" the story of the arrest of Sen. Larry Craig, since it happened right under their, umm, noses.
Jason DeRusha of WCCO (disclaimer: I'm a DeRusha fan), did a pretty good job, I think, of explaining how this could have happened. And the folks who hate the local media will add this factoid to their arsenal of crimes against the people.
But this is the type of story that gets leaked to the media and even though it was "bridge" week, if someone called and said "hey, a sitting U.S. senator who has a perfect score from the morality folks just pleaded guilty to soliciting sex in a men's room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport!," well, even the folks who think all the cute stories at the Fair are news would respond.
But nobody did, which tells me that the phone call never was made to the local media.
Instead it was leaked to Roll Call, the veritable official publication of Congress.
Now it's unlikely that Roll Call would even enter the consciousness of your average cop, so I don't think the leak came from Minneapolis. I'm guessing -- and this is important, I'm only guessing here -- that the call to Roll Call, was made from Washington, by someone who thinks Roll Call when the subject of "media that can inflict immediate and fatal damage" comes up.
So who made the call? Someone who wasn't a cop who somehow knew that Craig had been picked up and pleaded guilty.
Craig spent a whole lot of time on Tuesday attacking the Idaho Statesmen, but his real enemy, apparently, is his real enemy in Washington. I wonder who it is?