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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Disrespect or Just Being 13?

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 05/09/08 20:52

by Dave Mindeman

We spend a lot of time debating the importance of symbols. And we often get into some pretty hefty controversies over what respect for our country's symbols entails. It is doubtful that these 3 kids in the small Minnesota town of Dilworth were looking for that kind of controversy, but they ended up in the center of it anyway.

The article is kind of summed up in the first paragraph:

Three small-town eighth-graders in Minnesota were suspended by their principal for not standing Thursday morning for the Pledge of Allegiance, violating a district policy that the principal now says may soon be reworded to protect free speech rights.

Symbols like the flag or a recited set of words like the Pledge of Allegiance do have meaning. However, proper respect for these symbols won't attain that meaning without knowing the context in which they are observed.

A salute to the flag is obvious respect. It is not reverence for the flag itself, it is a signal of belief in the country the flag represents. The Pledge of Allegiance being recited at a citizenship ceremony is also obvious respect. People aren't just reciting words...they are reaffirming their desire of loyalty to the United States.

But saluting or standing or reciting are not a mandatory exercise in a free country. We don't want blind allegiance... the goal of a democracy is to give every citizen the right to choose how it feels about their country, its laws, or its policies. In fact, a proper salute or a heartfelt rendition of the Star Spangled Banner are all the more meaningful because it does not have to be done.

In this particular case:

Kim Dahl asked Brandt (her son who did not stand) why he has been remained seated all school year, but "he didn't have an answer ... he doesn't get in trouble; he's just a normal 13-year-old."

The school district punished these kids, not for a lack of respect, or some big overreaching statement, but for apathy. If apathy is a crime, then a pretty hefty majority of us would stand convicted.

These kids, in particular, were just being 13.

And last I heard, being 13 was still part of living in a free country.
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Breakfast with Timmy

Category: Tim Pawlenty
Posted: 05/08/08 21:03

by Dave Mindeman

Scene: Downtown St. Paul Restaurant

Time: Early Morning

Walking into the restaurant are Governor Tim Pawlenty, Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson-Kelliher, and Press Secretary Brian McClung.

McClung: Governor, I am going to the rest room. Don't say anything important until I get back.

Pawlenty: Relax Brian, it's just breakfast.

The rest of them are seated.

Pawlenty: Glad we could all arrange to get together this morning. I think we all need is a good breakfast -- a fresh start on all these budget matters. Let's sit down, relax. Breakfast is on me.

Kelliher: Thank you, Governor. It is nice to get away.

Pogemiller: Sure, Governor. This is all well and good, but we do have a lot of work to do.

Pawlenty: Nonsense...nonsense. Let's all relax. Hey, we are like a family here...

Pogemiller: (muttering under his breath)..(yea, like the Manson family...)

Pawlenty: ...Tell you what. I love their family style meals here...I'll order for all of us....and like I said, the bill is on me.

Kelliher: That's generous of you, Governor. I think the least Larry and I could do is pay for the tip (she sets a $10 bill in the middle of the table) Larry Pogemiller raises an eyebrow...

Pogemiller: (leans over and whispers to Speaker Anderson): You're encouraging him again...

but he sighs, pulls out his wallet and places another $10 bill in the same spot.

McClung returns to the group.

McClung: Did I miss anything?

Pawlenty: We are just getting ready to order. Waiter, I think we will have the Family Budget Special... hey, ironic don't you think (laughing).

Leader Pogemiller rolls his eyes.

Pawlenty: Let's see what are our options. How about the 8 strips of bacon...

Kelliher: uh, Governor, I need to watch cholesterol. Could we skip the bacon?

Pogemiller: Yes, I agree, a little too greasy for me.

Pawlenty: Come, come, people. This is Minnesota. We can't insult our pork producers like that. Waiter...pile on the bacon.

Kelliher: But, Governor....

Pawlenty: I'm sorry, Madame Speaker, bacon is the linchpin to getting this order done. It is non-negotiable.

Pogemiller: OK, Governor, but surely there are other options..

Pawlenty: Oh, certainly. Waiter, why don't you bring us all coffee and orange juice for now; but let's see, maybe we will put in an order for 4 pieces of ham, 8 eggs, 3 orders of hash browns, 16 pancakes, 8 waffles, and 2 slices of toast.

Pogemiller: Please, Governor, we are legislators, not lumberjacks.

Pawlenty: Hmmmm. Maybe you're right, Larry. OK, where do you propose we cut?

Pogemiller: How about the bacon?

Pawlenty: Linchpin, Pogemiller, Linchpin!

Kelliher: Well, first of all I think we can cut the pancakes in half and increase the toast to 4.

Pawlenty: Ahhh...carbs for carbs. Makes some sense. But I don't think so.

Kelliher: Why not Governor?

The Governor turns to McClung.

Pawlenty: Why not, Brian?

McClung: Because you don't like toast, Governor?

Pawlenty: Right, that's it. How about we leave the toast out altogether.

The waiter brings the coffee and orange juice.

Pawlenty: Oh, waiter. Why don't you bring a couple of those large cinnamon rolls for Brian and I....all this talk is getting me hungry.

Waiter: Certainly, Governor.

Pawlenty: Now, where were we. Oh yes, toast is out. Anytlhing else?

Pogemiller: (getting frustrated) How about we each order our own breakfast and get this overwith?

Pawlenty: Now, now....Larry. I am only trying to save us some money. You know me... always looking out for the pocketbook.

Speaker Kelliher and Leader Pogemiller exchange glances but don't say anything.

The waiter brings the Cinnamon rolls and the Governor and McClung dig in.

Pawlenty: These rolls are delicious, you should try them sometime.

Kelliher: I think maybe we should just order some eggs...

Pawlenty: and bacon?

Kelliher: and bacon, for each of us and then get back to the Capitol.

Pawlenty: We could do that, but you realize that we will not get the Family Budget Discount!

Pogemiller: For Pete's sake, Governor, if we each make small orders on our own, it will cost less than the minimum we have to pay for your mega discount order. You do realize that, don't you?

McClung: I hate to interrupt, Governor -- but John McCain wants you to head to the MCCL meeting and shore up their support for the fall. We need to get moving.

Pawlenty: Oh, yea, that's right. Waiter, check please. We will have to skip the rest of the order.

The waiter brings the check to Governor Pawlenty.

Pawlenty: OK, everybody, I said I'd pay.

Looks at his wallet.

Pawlenty: Oops...I forgot to bring any cash. Oh, this is embarrassing.

Notices the two $10 bills in the middle of the table.

Pawlenty: Well, we are in luck. Looks like we have a little surplus funding here that we can "access".

He scoops up the $20 and clips it to the bill....

Pawlenty: Well, this has been fun but gotta run. See you all later.
C'mon Brian
.

Pawlenty quickly heads for the exit. McClung gets up to join him but turns to the other two.....

McClung: Sorry we have to run, but since the Governor paid the bill, the least you two could do is cover the tip!
comments (2) permalink

Minnesota's GOP Congressional Hope is For Status Quo

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 05/07/08 20:22

by Dave Mindeman

When assessing your prospects for a November election, you probably don't want the words "shellshocked" or "real disaster" to be bantied about, but that is exactly the phrasing being used by the leadership of the Republican Congressional caucus.

Minority Leader Boehner and NRCC Committee Chairman Tom Cole had nothing but dire assessments to give their colleagues.

As one member put it:

?There is an attitude that, ?I better watch out for myself, because nobody else is going to do it,?? the member said. ?There are all these different factions out there, everyone is sniping at each other, and we have no real plan. We have a lot of people fighting to be the captain of the lifeboat instead of everybody pulling together.?

The recent special election loss in Louisiana has not helped matters any -- even though most analysts do not think it translates nationally. The Republican caucus still has plenty of other reasons to be worried. Another special election in Mississippi has the Democrat running much too close for comfort -- let me repeat, that is Mississippi.

Chairman Cole pointed out that nobody should be expecting a lot of help for individual campaigns this cycle -- the caucus simply doesn't have the money.

Minnesota Republicans may be able to weather the storm. Kline, Bachmann, and Paulsen have all shown solid money raising credentials and may not need Washington help -- in fact, they may be better off without it.

On the other hand, it will probably give Rep. Tim Walz a little extra breathing room. His potential opponents will be fighting each other into the primary and will probably enter the fall with marginal cash on hand.

Minnesota's GOP has a best case scenario of status quo.
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