A grand gesture (5×8 – 1/21/11)


When I visited the Grand Canyon last year with the trophy wife, I ended up doing the mall-walking thing. I was the old man, huffing and puffing, trailing the in-much-better-shape spouse. It wasn’t my finest moment, but it’s a high elevation and all. I wanted to walk down into the canyon, but though the spirit is willing, the body is weak. It’s a young man’s trip.

So I was impressed yesterday when I heard about the plan of Redwood Falls native Nikolas Oman and two colleagues who intend to run the 46.5 miles through the Grand Canyon to raise some money for charity. They intend to do it in 24 hours.

“I’ve been outside running and cross country skiing more than anything right now,” he told me last night. ” I’m going to Norway on a military training exercise for a while in February. So I’m focusing on that more than the R2R2R. I’m a triathlete and usually ride and swim during the warmer parts of the year. I don’t use any supplements like most other people so conditioning is critical to the success of our goal.”

Apparently, this can be done as this video proves:

The trio is raising money for the Armed Forces Foundation and Diabetes Action. Learn more about their quest here.


The shooting in Tucson earlier this month was blamed on political rhetoric long before there were sufficient facts to support the conclusion, a young man’s death in central Minnesota last weekend was blamed on gay bullying before it was ruled the death was a suicide, and today MPR’s Tom Scheck documents what most people probably already know — if Michele Bachmann gets her facts right, she got lucky.

“We have checked her 13 times, and (found) seven of her claims to be false and six have been found to be ridiculously false,” PolitiFact editor Bill Adair told Scheck.


The indictment is as much reflection on us as anyone else. “Respect for facts just doesn’t mean a whole lot any more,”Norm Ornstein said. “You don’t get punished. You don’t get shamed if you say things that are patently false. Let’s face it: for many, repeating them over and over again — even after you’ve been told and it’s been made clear that what you say is false — just doesn’t have any impact at all.”

Why not? Is that an indictment of people who speak with only a casual relationship with facts, or people who are willing to believe them? In the case of Bachmann, as I’ve written before, the more her district knows about her, the more popular she becomes. But everyone with an agenda has contributed to the lack of respect for facts.

If Ornstein is correct that respect for facts doesn’t matter anymore, the real question is: Why not?



Did the Founding Fathers require people to buy health insurance? Writing at Forbes.com, Rick Ungar says merchants marines were required to buy insurance as part of a health care plan:

Yes, the law at that time required only merchant sailors to purchase health care coverage. Thus, one could argue that nobody was forcing anyone to become a merchant sailor and, therefore, they were not required to purchase health care coverage unless they chose to pursue a career at sea.

However, this is no different than what we are looking at today.

Each of us has the option to turn down employment that would require us to purchase private health insurance under the health care reform law.


In rural Minnesota, poverty is people working harder and falling further behind. In Pine City, a volunteer effort involving city residents and the University of Minnesota tried to do something about it.

Meanwhile, in the Twin Cities today, poverty looks a little different — people on the street. With last night’s cold well predicted, workers and volunteers hit the streets to try to reach people who couldn’t — or wouldn’t — move in to shelters for the night, MPR’s Dan Olson reported.

They didn’t reach everyone. Reports this morning say a woman died in the cold when she tried to walk to the Harbor Lights shelter.

New poll: Americans want fewer programs and lower taxes, but don’t want to cut the two programs that drive debt.


The backyard hockey rink. The video raises an important question…

… why don’t kids care about the cold the way adults do?

Bonus: Here’s a daydreaming idea to get you through the cold day:


The Metrodome is almost 30 years old and may need a whole new roof. Authorities aren’t sure how long it will take to fix. What would you like to see happen with the Metrodome?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Doctors are “rock stars.” Giffords is a “fighter.” Her recovery is a “miracle.” Ordinary people are “heroes.” As we all root for Congresswoman Giffords, has the public, the media and the medical community turned her recovery into a primetime reality show?

Second hour: The first representatives of the Baby Boomer Generation are turning 65 this month, but whether it’s due to the economy or their own personal preference, many are not ready to retire. Will boomers change the way we think of retirement?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: — DHS commissioner Lucinda Jesson.

Second hour: TBA

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The future of the gulf. How does all that oil figure into long-term recovery for the wetlands?

Second hour: How the effects of climate change–including sea level rise, and acidification–are changing the oceans.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Some low-income kids in Minnesota struggle to get enough nutritious food over the weekend, when they aren’t getting lunch at school. Now three Rochester schools are sending those kids home on Fridays with backpacks full of food. There’s a hodgepodge of similar programs across the state, but they’re hard to fund in the schools that need them most. MPR’s Julie Siple will have the story.

  • John O.

    Edward R. Murrow spoke at a meeting of the Radio and Television News Directors Association on October 15, 1958 where he expressed general concern about the future of television. Near the end of his speech, Murrow was quoted as follows:

    “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.”

    Murrow almost certainly had no idea that the three major television networks of the day with news operations would eventually be joined by a cackle of soothsayers, pundits, and prognosticators on a gazillion cable channels on a 24/7 basis. In high definition, no less.

    And nobody at that time could have envisioned the impact the internet would have on gathering and disseminating “facts.” One can only imagine what a conversation between Murrow, Cronkite, Huntley, Brinkley, Frank Reynolds and Howard K. Smith would be on the state of news gathering and reporting today.

  • mindtron

    re: facts

    to me the problem is the unwillingness to call these things lies which is what they are.

    misspeaking, which is the common excuse, is not saying somehting that has zero basis in reality. it is not saying something that with minimal amount of fact checking is shown to be false.

    I don’t know if it is fear of being seen as biased or what, but until we and/or the media are willing to call them what they are, facts will increasingly be left behind.

  • Bob Collins

    A “lie” and a “misstatement” are not synonymous.

    A “lie” implies an intentional misstatement. You can’t simply swap the two words without proof.

    Something being unfactual is easy to prove. Someone deliberately being unfactual is more difficult to prove.

    In the case of the “political rhetoric” narrative, it wasn’t so much UNfactual, as it was unproven. That doesn’t make it a lie; it makes it an opinion that is co-opted into a fact.

  • Jeanne

    Dang, Bob, is there anyway you could shorten that up and put it onto a bumper sticker? Spot on.

  • c

    better yet, a license plate.

    Sometimes I think people read into things and create a meaning out of something that was originally not intended by the speaker or writer. This is -however -not an excuse for Michelle Bachman. There is not excuse for her IMO

  • MR

    The next question then becomes: How many times can you make the same misstatement, especially after being given better information, before it becomes a lie?

  • JackU

    #3 – That’s an interesting bit of history there Bob. Thanks for that.

  • c


    What I have learned through observation this past decade is that a person with bunches of money or the right connections can lie all they want and will not be held responsible for what they said.

  • Jamie

    // But everyone with an agenda has contributed to the lack of respect for facts.//

    I don’t think you can really say “everyone.” And I think that the degree to which people use “misstatements” matters. Republicans are masters at this.They’re very good at marketing lies to those who will believe them to be truths. I think that most of the time they are deliberately doing it, which takes it to the realm of “lying.” I actually wish that Democrats would try to do it, but I don’t think it would work for them. They’ve tried Republican tactics before and they’ve backfired.

    During the last two presidential election campaigns, FactCheck.org and others tried to make it looked like they were being “fair and balanced” by finding fault with a lot of little, sometimes meaningless transgressions by Democrats, while the Republicans’ lies were usually big and consequential. Then they’d say that both/all sides were equally bad. This is typical of the news media.

  • Dahn

    BobC: A “lie” implies an intentional misstatement

    From TomS’s article: Bachmann then went on to repeat her earlier misstatements.

    Once a misstatement has been shown to be false, you retract and correct it. To keep repeating the same “misstatement” isn’t a misstatement anymore, it’s a lie.

  • Bob Collins

    // I don’t think you can really say “everyone.”

    You’re right. My error. A misstatement, if you will. (g)

    The “balance” issue is an interesting and growing phenomenon, the debate over which mostly comes up in the climate change issue. There are more and more calls for the media to simply ignore those who won’t accept what they say is solid science.

  • mindtron

    of course there is a difference between misstatement and a lie.

    calling North Korea (to use a palin example) our allie instead of South Korea is a mistatement.

    saying Obama’s trip to India will cost $200 million a day is a lie. there is no basis on fact and with the smallest amount of research you would know who created this message and the level of trust they should be given.

    and I want to make clear that even though I am using Republican examples, I do believe Democrats do the same thing.

  • http://hizeph400.blogspot.com mulad

    Hi Bob, you’re looking good today.

    Facts do matter, but they only matter to people who are willing to accept them. Emotions matter a lot more most of the time, and you have to get people into the right emotional state before they’ll be willing to change their minds about something.

    People have an inherently negative gut reaction when they hear something that goes against what they believe to be true. Very often, being antagonistic about something makes people become defensive and believe their own “fact” even more deeply.

    The most successful way to get people to change their minds is by putting them into a good emotional state first — making them feel good about themselves. Conservatives have become masters at this, particularly by wrapping themselves with patriotism — flying American flags (and bigger ones than anyone else), calling their supporters patriotic heroes, incessantly repeating that “America is the greatest, best country God has ever given man on the face of this Earth.” Even the use of the word “homeland” in creating the Department of Homeland Security was an emotional ploy.

    Once they get people hyped up, they elevate their own ideas and and demonize those of their enemies. They’ve built up a lexicon of codewords which reinforce the beliefs of the rank-and-file. They’ve associated Democrats with feelings of stress, fear, and worry, so anytime people have those feelings, they “know” who to blame.

    In comparison, Democrats try to be even-handed and reasonable much of the time, and sometimes drown themselves in negativity. They give too much credit to bad ideas and not enough to good ones. But that’s not the biggest problem. Unless you can find ways to elevate the emotions of the people listening, even a calm, reasonable explanation of the truth isn’t going to change minds.

    As much as I’d live to go straight ahead and bash Bachmann, it wouldn’t do much good since her supporters would just retrench and come to her defense without listening to what I’m saying. You really have to do a lot of building up before you can rip a person apart from their heroes.

    Facts should bubble up naturally, but we’ve built a segregated society in this country which prevents good ideas from spreading around like they should. People mostly live in subdivisions next to others of similar means and beliefs. If opinions get challenged, the challenges usually come from outsiders. We don’t just have casual relationships with the facts, we have casual relationships with each other. “You don’t know me!” Well, yeah, you’re right on that point.

    People have become far more self-interested and unwilling (or unable) to feel for others outside their own peer groups. People like Bachmann need to be challenged by people in their own social circles, who know them on a personal level and have a good rapport. Unfortunately, I’ve heard over the years that the social networks in Washington have become heavily balkanized. Back when Republicans were previously in power, they even segregated the lunchrooms by political party, and I don’t expect anything different this time.