What was the point of Iraq, the oil trains, and how a MN woman gives the poor a lift (5×8 – 1/6/14)

The Monday Morning Rouser. These people would be pushing 70 now:

1) WHAT DID AMERICANS DIE FOR?

Away from the attention of most of the domestic news media, Iraq is taking more steps toward all-out civil war.

Fallujah, where a lot of Americans died, is in the hands of al-Qaida, according to the Washington Post.

“At the moment, there is no presence of the Iraqi state in Fallujah,” said a local journalist who asked not to be named because he fears for his safety. “The police and the army have abandoned the city, al-Qaeda has taken down all the Iraqi flags and burned them, and it has raised its own flag on all the buildings.”

And yet, few people want to ask the question Business Insider asks. “What did Americans die for?”

Two Republican hawks — John McCain and Lindsey Graham — say the U.S. should have stayed, CNN says:

“While many Iraqis are responsible for this strategic disaster, the administration cannot escape its share of the blame. When President Obama withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011, over the objections of our military leaders and commanders on the ground, many of us predicted that the vacuum would be filled by America’s enemies and would emerge as a threat to U.S. national security interests. Sadly, that reality is now clearer than ever,” said McCain, of Arizona, and Graham, of South Carolina, in a statement.

War can be like a bad stock. You want to hold onto it because you’ve already lost so much.

2) THE OIL TRAINS OF MINNESOTA

For a lot of people in these parts, last week’s train derailment and oil-tank-car explosions in North Dakota raised a single question: Do those trains end up rolling through Minnesota?

Yes, they do, the St. Cloud Times reports. They pass through St. Cloud every day. BNSF, the railroad of choice for oil heading to the refineries, runs eight to ten trains a day, according to the paper. That’s prompted the railroad to train more fire departments for handling and derailments and explosions like the one in North Dakota. Some experts say the loss of life near Minnesota cities would be significant, especially since oil from the Oil Patch is much more dangerous than traditionally-extracted oil.

3) HOW A MINNEAPOLIS WOMAN GIVES THE POOR A LIFT

When you hear “social worker,” you don’t think of an auto mechanic.

But Cathy Heying realized that one of the biggest problems for low-income people is keeping a car running, especially since it’s quite often their home. So she learned how to be a mechanic and opened The Lift Garage in Minneapolis, CBS News reports.

4) THE MCDONALD’S DIET

A science teacher in Ankeny, Iowa, experimented by eating only McDonald’s food for three months. He wanted to see what the impact was on his health. John Cisna says he lost weight and his cholesterol went down by paying close attention to the amount of calories he consumed in a day. He also made sure to walk more every day.

The moral: It’s the choices we make that determine how healthy we are (or aren’t).

5) THE OBLIGATORY TEMPERATURE ITEM

Yes, anybody can — and most everybody does — throw boiling water into the air when it gets to be this cold, but can just anyone photograph it?

Brian Hansel of Grand Marais provides a guide to photographing boiling water turning into steam, and falling as “snow.” The trick, he says, is to get both the water before it’s met its frosty end, and the snow as it falls.

I obviously didn’t take his course when I made this video three years ago. But, then again, he doesn’t have a picture of scotch whiskey on a cold day, either.

Meanwhile, over in Green Bay yesterday, Packer fans demonstrated why this whole wind-chill thing is nonsense, and why the temperature that matters is the point at which beer freezes.

Somewhere in that crowd is The Current’s Bill DeVille.

Meanwhile, I’ve got just the thing to warm you up:

Related: Minnesota: Why Do We Live in This Godforsaken, Freezing State? (The Tangential).

Bonus: Tweet of the day.

TODAY’S QUESTION
What is your most vivid cold weather memory?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The prospects for changes in U.S. immigration policy.

Second hour: Arctic exploration politics.

Third hour: According to national statistics, the number of low income people is growing and the number of wealthy people is growing – but the number of folks in the middle is shrinking. We look at these trends and examine the root causes, the social side-effects and the potential to stabilize what once was a large body of Americans who had a comfortable lifestyle in the middle of the economic spectrum.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm) – Doris Kearns Goodwin, speaking about her new book “The Bully Pulpit,” about presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft and muckraking journalism.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The new Minneapolis City Council is sworn in today, and its first job will be to elect a new council president. MPR’s Curtis Gilbert is watching the proceedings.

The tiny towns of Embarrass and Babbitt in northeastern Minnesota have been a mainstay in weather forecasts this winter. During a brutally cold winter they’ve often been the most frigid places in the state. What do residents think of the attention? How do they cope with the extreme cold? MPR News’ Dan Kraker reports.

  • 1) WHAT DID AMERICANS DIE FOR?

    Sadly, to make the hawkish Bush administration feel good about themselves and to enrich the military contractors.

    Other than that, there was absolutely NO reason to attack Iraq.

  • Vince Tuss

    Great day to discuss Arctic exploration.

  • Dave

    John McCain wanted more war? Pull the other one.

  • Mitch

    MMR — the dancing is pure 1969!

  • Brian

    Every day numerous Bakken crude oil trains pass by less than 1 mile from MPR headquarters, following the BNSF route through the east side of downtown Saint Paul.

  • Tyler

    I totally agree with your decision to throw Dewars out the door.

  • John Peschken

    The Monday Morning Rouser makes me wonder if Janis Joplin would still be carrying on like The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and others. Seems unlikely, as her vocal chords must have taken a beating. Musicians of that era were my early musical heroes, and it’s sad that two of my old favorites are gone. I can’t help wondering what Jimi Hendrix would be doing now if he was still alive.

    • The closest I’ve ever heard to Janis voice is Susan Tedeschi. But when she’s just talking normally, she’s a little sweet mouselike voice.

      http://youtu.be/Rf1BR1wFZio

    • Brian Wright

      I think Hendrix would be playing innovative jazz/blues. He’d begun to move in that direction with Electric Ladyland, especially Still Raining, Still Dreaming.

  • Rich in Duluth

    1) With apologies to those who lost loved ones or came back wounded in body or mind, I see nothing gained, by this unprovoked attack and 10-year war, by the U.S.
    Well, it was good for the military contractors who benefited from the transfer of massive amounts of wealth from middle class citizens to the contractor’s employees and shareholders.

    There were no WMDs. Even if there had been, the U.S. had dealt with the Soviet Union, which actually did have WMDs, for 50 years, without going to war with them. I remember Dick Cheney suggesting that Saddam might have unmanned aircraft
    capable of delivering WMDs to the U.S. This was fear mongering to get support for an unjust war and anyone who lived through the Cold War knew it was BS.

    In addition, trying to impose a U.S. type of representative democracy on people
    who are tribal, ultra religious, separated into factions who hate each other and are willing to bear arms to oppose each other, was a near impossible task. If it all falls apart, I won’t be surprised.

    IMO this was about access to oil and showing U.S. resolve to keep that access,
    and support for the “military industrial complex”. This was not worth anyone’s life.

    End of rant.

    • It’s not really a rant if it’s true.