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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Minnesota Is Not Immune

Category: Society
Posted: 11/24/15 15:48

by Dave Mindeman

I had always thought (well hoped) that Minnesota was at least a little better when it came to race relations. That Minnesota "nice" translated into more cooperation in dealing with the problems that lead to confrontational issues in regards to minorities.

Well, I was wrong.

At first I had an ongoing frustration with the educational achievement gap. That there was something wrong with how we approach learning when it comes to minority children. Then I was disappointed by the "unforced" racial segregation that plagues our state in our urban areas and our inability to address that situation. Then I was even more disappointed with the inordinately high black and Hispanic unemployment rate in our state. And our continuing failure to achieve government lowball ratios regarding minority firm hiring. More and more I have come to realize that Minnesota has a deep racial problem.

And then there is last night.

Not only has there been a lack of support for BlackLivesMatter in their ongoing quest to expose problems in the Minneapolis police department, but in addition, here, in Minnesota of all places, we have an element that thinks shooting unarmed peaceful protesters is somehow an acceptable reaction.

Seriously, I am at a loss for words. I fear that we have been ignoring a long standing problem that has been festering and metastasizing deep into our "nice" culture.

I think it has become more visible because our national political rhetoric seems to allow for race baiting these days. But that is only a symptom and we have had this problem for some time. It is right there in all the statistical data - but we can't seem to translate those statistics into real time people solutions.

It was interesting that Sen. Bakk first initiated addressing these racial problems and disparities in special session. And it was predictable that the GOP would scoff at the notion. But the utter disdain shown by a tweet from the CD7 GOP calling it a #NegroProblem crossed another line.

We have been crossing a lot of lines lately. Trump with Muslim registries. Trump and Carson both saying they remember news footage of Muslims in New Jersey cheering when the towers fell. Police shootings of unarmed black citizens has become part of the daily lexicon. In Chicago, they will be indicting a police officer with first degree murder for killing a 16 year old African American male....and they have video which is even more deeply disturbing than the "usual" pictures. Chicago is bracing for massive unrest.

But I had thought Minnesota was a place that those lines weren't crossed. That at least we made an effort to recognize and address these issues.

And maybe we are more aware of them than a lot of places, but we have still failed. We have failed miserably.

I am not sure that beginning a racial dialogue in a special session can do anything of substance, but the conversation is still worth having. No protester should have to fear for his or her life when drawing attention to a very real and present problem. It is appalling what happened last night. It is shameful.

And I have lost confidence in our police. When I watched Almanac last Friday, I had hoped to gain some incite into the viewpoints being expressed. But when I listened to the police union head, Robert Kroll, make his arguments, I visibly flinched. His statements were neanderthal in intelligence. To seriously use the arguments from the lawyers for the police as "factual" data is almost criminal in itself.

We have a problem Minnesota. A deep one and it is getting worse not better. Last night was a wake up call for a lot of us. It was for me.

I realized once and for all....Minnesota is not immune.
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Dan Kimmel Is A Nice Guy - (Stated In More Than 140 Characters)

Category: 2016
Posted: 11/20/15 16:44, Edited: 11/20/15 16:45

by Dave Mindeman

Dan Kimmel is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet.

I fell like I have to say that at the outset because over the course of this last week, Dan has been called everything but nice.

If you recall, Dan was the candidate who made the big 140 character mistake when he tweeted....

"ISIS isn't necessarily evil. It is made up of people doing what they think is best for their community. Violence is not the answer, though."

On its face, that was bad thing to say in the midst of the raw emotions that have surfaced because of the horrible Paris attacks.

Dan was listening to the Democratic debate at the time. He was in a thoughtful, reflective mood and he was troubled by the simplistic, military centered responses centered around an "ISIS is evil" argument.

After talking to Dan during a lunch hour break near his work place, I think it was more a reflection of another point....that ISIS is having great success in recruiting, so obviously there are people who do not think of them as evil, and we need to understand why that is.

But as Dan (who works in software) said to me....the logic basis had already been run through in my head, and what I wrote was formed with that background as a given. He put his tweet together....and had to shorten it up to fit that dreaded 140 character limit...pushed the send button....and his campaign was on its way to a swift end.

Dan accepts that what he tweeted was "stupid". He gets that. He regrets that. And he knows that the campaign could not move forward after the furor was created. He made a decision to abruptly end his campaign because he knew it would be best for the Democratic Party and for his supporters to have time to regroup and find a new path.

But Dan (me included) thinks that he was also not treated very fairly. Everybody saw the swift decisions made by Ken Martin as Party head and by Paul Thissen, as DFL House minority leader. They condemned the statement and essentially called for an end to Kimmel's campaign.

But they did all of that without so much as a courtesy call to Dan.

Dan had already made the decision to withdraw during the night. He saw the e-mails and messages pouring in. Dan was no longer a candidate, he was an "ISIS sympathizer". The truth didn't matter. Explanations didn't matter. It was now an internet fact.

I'm sure Ken Martin did what he thought was best for the party. And Dan would even agree with that. But to do so without even talking to Dan himself? To not give him an opportunity to explain? That doesn't sound like much party support to me.

Dan was saying that he had never had much dialogue with Paul Thissen - even though this was Dan's second run for the seat. It sounded like Thissen was rousted out of a concert he was attending and the clamor was demanding a quick and swift response. I can see the tough spot he was in, but you can't hold off long enough to talk to the guy who is giving you all of his time and effort to run?

Dan is recovering. He can even laugh about a few things. He decided to go to his Rotary meeting this week. He was apprehensive but decided that he needed to get out. He felt he needed to explain himself, so he started conversations trying to get it out of the way....trouble is, nobody knew what he was talking about. Only the mayor had an inkling of what had happened...nobody else knew or cared. The political class tends to think it is all about them, while the truth is, the public is not paying attention to "twitter wars".

Another thing Dan shared was that he was amazed at the reach of this story in the media. He even noticed a blurb about it on a London news website. And he received a letter in the mail (no return address of course) that had a New Jersey postmark. He opened the letter and all it said in big block letters was "MORON". Dan can laugh about it now. He is getting better. The only political "ally" who asked how he was doing came the day after from Rep. Erin Murphy. That scarcity of DFL Party support for Dan in this matter is, itself, pretty disturbing. (His local supporters have been absolutely great.)

We have all said or written things we wish we could take back...that we didn't mean to say the way it ended up sounding. Prior to the explosion of social media, this would have been a 2 or 3 day event and explanations and apologies given and it would have been over. Dan would still be running and it is doubtful anyone would remember it when the election came around.

But that is not the way it works anymore.

Now it can be over and done with in a matter of hours....even minutes. It gets hard for good people to run for office. Besides all the time, effort, money, and family strain....now we have to deal with tweets, inadvertent e-mails, reply all, and video.

Why would someone subject themselves to that? It is harder and harder to find a good reason.

Dan Kimmel is a very good person. He is not a "terrorist sympathizer". The idea that this would have to be said out loud is surreal.

But Dan has coped well...he has accepted it....and knows that he is better off not being public right now. He hopes that someday he can come back and be active in the party. Surprisingly, he holds no grudges....he takes full responsibility. Of course he has regrets, but he has dealt with the reality and is moving on.

Sometime in the future we will be hearing from Dan Kimmel again and he will have some important and constructive things to say....but a little more care will be in the offing if 140 characters is the medium.
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Nolan, Walz, Peterson: Standing With The Cowards

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 11/19/15 16:08

by Dave Mindeman

Nolan. Walz. Peterson.

These are Democratic Congressmen in Minnesota. And they all voted with the GOP on the Syrian refugee bill.

I am very disappointed at the lack of political courage in this country. I expect it from the Republicans - for all of their tough talk, they have no spine. But Democrats! Please! Why would you buy into this stupidity?

Is your Congressional job so important that you are willing to throw people in desperate need under the bus? We are not even talking about a likely threat in this instance. Syrians will be vetted extensively, but even the idea that an ISIL militant might somehow get through the system, seems to be enough to send our representatives into a state of hand wringing.

The premise is that you believe you are keeping our country safe. The fact of the matter is that you are acting on one possibility in a haystack of a thousand possibilities. There is no method of eliminating all the threats that can besiege us in this day and age.

We are more likely to get attacked by a deranged gunman with legally obtained guns than be subject to a terrorist attack. Yet, our idea of safety seems to be to deny safety for others.

These Syrian people have withstood unimaginable horror. They have seen their homes bombed while we worry about an increase in our cable bill. They have had relatives gunned down in front of them, while we curse the dead battery in our car. They have put their children in boats to cross the Mediterranean Sea, while we consider which pontoon to buy. And they have seen their dead children wash up on a foreign shore, while we get angry at our teenager for staying out later than planned.

We have a lot of talk about this terrorist war, but we have not felt it in any real way. We spend billions of dollars to keep the terrorists away from us. Paris could not do it - and we cannot realistically do it either...not completely.

So, we should be standing with those who live with this war. The innocent people who are victimized yet again because we are fearful.

There is risk. There is risk in everything. But at some point, we have to define ourselves. What does "give me your tired and poor" really mean to us? If ISIL can simply threaten us and achieve their goals, then we are losing.

I am disappointed in our Congress. Very disappointed. But I am even more disappointed in Nolan...Walz....and Peterson.
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