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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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It Is Still Blue State And Red State America

Category: Society
Posted: 11/04/15 13:12

by Dave Mindeman

Barack Obama vaulted to the national stage with his famous Keynote address in 2004 stating....

"Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America -- there's the United States of America".

But like a lot of lofty political rhetoric, it is more about an ideal than any practical reality.

We truly are a divided country. We are Red State America and Blue State America. We are conservative America and we are Liberal America. We have divisions by religion, by sexual orientation, by race, by ethnicity, and increasingly more by economic status.

We want and believe in Democracy but seemingly lack the inclination to participate in it. We complain about government's inability to act, yet perpetuate that inaction by the nuances of an electorate that cannot shed the influence of special interests and money. And we are also locked into this downward spiral by the cynical actions of our political parties. Always looking for an edge or only looking ahead to the next political cycle, they waffle on solutions and blame the other side. Republicans hold power even with a minority status by using the tricks of Gerrymandering and the suppression of voting. Democrats wring their hands when they do get the opportunity to act and back down when criticized or confronted.

Yesterday, Republicans gained more electoral victories. It would seem hard to gloat when the voter turnout is in the low 20% range, but that seems to be acceptable to them. That is how the system is set up. It works fine for them and nobody seems willing to challenge it or move to change it. So, quite frankly, despite the complaints from the populace, the country can only hold itself responsible for this disingenuous method of governing from the fringes.

Big money interests like it this way. There are no big reforms....the status quo is protected....and their own particular special interests can be moved forward without consequences.

All the polling suggests that the country does not like it this way. They are dissatisfied...hold Congress in very low regard....nearly all politicians have a higher unfavorable rating than favorable. We always think the country is moving in the wrong direction, but the national parties always blame the other side and in a narrowly divided country, it works. Each side of the political spectrum promises a utopia if only all of their policies would be implemented. All of the country's problems happen because the electorate allows the other side to have a say. There is always someone to blame.

It has been over 150 years since the Civil War, yet America is still divided along that Mason-Dixon line. The South does not trust Democratic policies and the North can't understand the policies of the Republicans. The rest of the country has followed that divide as well. The western states have a line drawn along the Pacific Coast for blue states and the Rocky Mountains cater to the Red.

Red State America doesn't trust the Federal government. Blue State America avoids the ideas espoused by the states rights of the "other" side.

And the ebb and flow has become predictable as well. In Presidential years, the blue states surge ahead. In off year elections the red states will dominate. Political rules come and go but the ones that perpetuate the divided truth will stay.

Instead of working for common ground, this political season seems to be adding more to the division. Not only is policy contested...as it should be...but we have added the politics of the personal. The use of government for political purposes. The intentional stonewalling of any potential solution which does not fit ideology.

It is discouraging and it is counterproductive, but that seems to be where we are. We thought that Obama's stirring words would really work to change that divide, but it hasn't. The forces of obstruction are too powerful, too dependent on the status quo, and too well financed to allow for meaningful change.

Yes, we are on the wrong path. Yes, fear mongering rhetoric is the norm. Personal attacks are expected. And the division appears permanent.

I don't have any answers for any of this. I merely state the observations that I see. I fear that it will take another major crisis for us to re-examine what we do. We will probably pay a heavy price but we must find a way to do better than this...and some kind of catalyst will be needed.

We can do better. We have to.
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Top 10 Reasons To Not Do Your Job For Religious Reasons

Category: Society
Posted: 09/05/15 23:23

by Dave Mindeman

Here we go.....

#10. I'm sorry sir, I cannot allow you to eat a burger. I am Hindu and cows are sacred. Would you like a fish sandwich?

#9. Oh, yeah. Your pictures? Uh, the owner is Muslim and we can't print pictures of women that are not covered....completely covered. Those were nice bikini shots of your wife, but, sorry, we had to burn them. No charge.

#8. Yeah, about that. We got a call from John Oliver and you didn't give a big enough check to the MegaReverend....and so he directed us to cancel your HBO subscription. Hey, there's always Netflix.

#7. Hello. Glad you could come in...but our investment firm has had a change in ownership. The new owner is a believer in the Apocolyptic Movement and decided that we should just dump all the stocks in everybody's portfolio and advise you to head for the woods and find a cave.

#6. Oh, I guess you noticed the empty shelves? Yeah, the owner of this book store is deep Orthodox Evangelical and won't allow books that contradict the Bible. So, we no longer have a science section....and a scarcity of books in humor. Sorry.

#5. I know you didn't expect this change but our new zoo director is a fundamentalist Christian and he shipped all of the monkeys and gorillas out to other zoos. Didn't want any evolutionary conflict.

#4. Yeah, I know you are a heterosexual couple, but I can't bake you a cake because we found out Mary's cousin is gay....and she might eat some of it.

#3. Yes, we now do communion differently. Our priest seems to have had a revelation from above, and from now on, he drinks the wine for everybody.

#2. No sir. I'm afraid that just because you now belong to the Church of Star Trek, doesn't mean that money no longer exists and you don't have to pay your bills. You are making that up.

#1. No, no, no. You cannot declare your real estate properties as churches and eliminate your property tax bill. Yes, I'm sure, President Trump.

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