Five at 8 – 9/17/09: Broken trust

1) This isn’t Today’s Question, but it could be:


What does it mean when an intelligent, ambitious and well-liked president, who broke through one of the nation’s most glaring racial barriers and enjoys majorities in both houses of Congress, can’t overcome the deeply rooted interests that now seem thoroughly embedded in the American political system?

Salon.com suggests that the pols come by their positions (dis) honestly. There are six lobbyists for every one of them on health care alone.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports today that few members of Congress are disclosing that lobbyists are helping them raise campaign cash despite a new law that was supposed to shed light on the ties between lawmakers and the capital’s influence brokers.

Somewhat related: On health care reform, Obama needs to get Americans to trust Congress. (slate.com)

2) What’s Wrong With Us Dept: Inside Chicago’s secret world of dog-fighting. “Fighting them, preparing them to fight and once the fight was over, I killed them. I saw a lot of guys hang their dogs for hours and that’s like torture. More often than not I would shoot my dogs, just to get it over with.”

In Atlanta, a baby was found abandoned in a storm drain.

In Sauk Rapids, a school teacher is accused of buying booze, chewing tobacco, and cigars for his students.

3) What’s Right With Us Dept: Today, President Obama awards the Medal of Honor — posthumously — to Jared Monti, who died trying to save his men in Afghanistan.

Dozens of Medal of Honor winners gathered in Chicago this week, among them was the inspiration for Forrest Gump.

4) This story was tucked at the end of a BBC newscast on MPR late last night. The end. Scientists have used gene therapy to achieve full color vision in two squirrel monkeys that were born unable to tell red from green. Monkeys? Color-blind? What’s the big deal? This:


The new research suggests that the adult brain can adapt and accommodate a new system within its existing structure, which should force scientists to rethink some assumptions about the organ, co-author Neitz said.

The brain is much more flexible than many would expect, opening the door to treatments previously seen as impossible.”huge.”

Is a cure for blindness next? The big deal is that it might be possible.

5) Word came yesterday that Dinger has died. The mascot of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, who would bring balls to the umpire and then run around the diamond — passed away from heart and kidney failure at 11. Before he died, Dinger helped mentor his replacement — Deuce. But Deuce might not be quite ready for the job.

TODAY’S QUESTION

Highly placed political figures are arguing over whether President Obama gets less respect and more criticism because of his race. Opponents of his health reform plan say that Democrats are using accusations of racism to deflect disagreements over policy. How do you judge whether race factors into a political controversy?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

The state’s unemployment rate is released this morning. MPR’s Marty Moylan will be following the meaning.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) First hour: Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic who now teaches at Harvard. His latest book on leadership is “7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis.”

Second hour: Tales of a Socialist childhood

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Amy Lindgren answers listener questions about finding a job.

Second hour: CNN chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi, speaks at the Westminster Town Hall Forum. Velshi is author of “Gimme My Money Back: Your Guide to Beating the Financial Crisis.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – Twitter is wreaking havoc in the courtroom. When jurors surf the Web and tweet updates from mobile phones, judges face demands to declare mistrials. How social media is shaking up the courtroom.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Davis Guggenheim, who won the best documentary Oscar for “An Inconvenient Truth” is back with a doc about the art and science of playing the electric guitar. It’s Euan Kerr’s story.

MPR’s Laura Yuen reports that more than four years away from the completion of a light-rail transit line along University Avenue, the city of St. Paul is trying to get ahead of an expected land grab along the corridor.

Mara Liasson of NPR looks at the lack of interest in health care by the generation that strongly favors Barack Obama — young people.