Five by 8 – 8/4/10: Paying a price for your politics

1) Did a liberal viewpoint cost Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman a teaching gig? City Pages reports that conservative benefactors of St. John’s University, where he was a senior fellow at the school’s Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy & Civic Engagement, pressured the school to fire Coleman. He tacked the reference onto his Star Tribune columns.

“Unfortunately, many of our alumni and friends interpreted your by-line as a Senior Fellow of the McCarthy Center as an implicit SJU endorsement of the opinions you express,” Joseph DesJardins, the school’s vice provost wrote. “This has brought St. John’s into the political sphere in ways that we had not anticipated and think is not in St. John’s best long-term interest.”

One contributor to the school threatened to stop giving if Coleman continued to be employed there.

Meanwhile, another corporation is fighting back against another backlash for its political leanings. Target’s CEO Gregg Steinhafel, didn’t take MPR’s invitation to write a commentary for NewsQ’s Web site. The Target PR staff sent a memo he sent to his staff instead. Steinhafel is trying to tamp down criticism of the retailer for its political donation to Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.

MN Forward is focused specifically on those issues and is committed to supporting candidates from any party who will work to improve the state’s job climate. However, it is also important to note that we rarely endorse all advocated positions of the organizations or candidates we support, and we do not have a political or social agenda.

That doesn’t exactly compute. If you make a political contribution to someone because you support a PAC’s political philosophy, you have a political agenda.

Two cases — different philosophies. Discussion point: When is it OK to punish someone for their politics? When is it not OK?

2) The University of North Dakota is #1 in… students who study the least, the Fargo Forum reports today. The Princeton Review says UND students study only about 5 hours a week. The school also ranks #19 for least available professors.

Other notable regional schools also appeared in the report. Grinnell College in Iowa finished #8 in the “students study most” category. Northfield’s Carleton College finished #5 in the “School runs like butter” category. The University of Wisconsin Madison finished #12 in party schools.

3) From the Department of You Have to See This: What was your favorite BP oil disaster moment? The New Orleans Times Picayune newspaper has created an animated graphic detailing the day-by-day account of the Gulf disaster. Day 4 is particularly interesting. That’s when the Coast Guard declared that no oil was leaking from the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

Another memo from the Department of You Have To See This has just come in.

Bob. You have to see this.

— The Department.

4) Why hasn’t someone thought of this before? Combining the accelerator and the brake pedal?

Meanwhile, the hearing continues on whether Koua Fong Lee should get a new trial for the 2006 crash when his Toyota smashed into another car, killing three people. Yesterday, a witness discredited the assertion that the lack of skid marks showed Lee wasn’t trying to stop. He contends the Toyota’s accelerator got stuck.

5) “Gaea” the pornographic beaver — or the art work (you decide) — was vandalized last night, according to the Bemidji Pioneer.

Meanwhile, a Cub Foods store in Minnetonka is refusing to sell eggs, toilet paper, or shaving cream to kids, because of fears they’ll be used for vandalism. Expect a sudden upsurge in Cheese Doodles shrapnel ground into parked cars.

Bonus: Tom Friedman on why he doesn’t object to a mosque being built near the World Trade Center site:

And where does divergent thinking come from? It comes from being exposed to divergent ideas and cultures and people and intellectual disciplines. As Marc Tucker, the president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, once put it to me: “One thing we know about creativity is that it typically occurs when people who have mastered two or more quite different fields use the framework in one to think afresh about the other. Intuitively, you know this is true. Leonardo da Vinci was a great artist, scientist and inventor, and each specialty nourished the other. He was a great lateral thinker. But if you spend your whole life in one silo, you will never have either the knowledge or mental agility to do the synthesis, connect the dots, which is usually where the next great breakthrough is found.”


Once again, quarterback Brett Favre has fans and officials guessing about whether he’ll play with the Vikings this season. What’s the hardest career decision you ever had to make?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: An international relations expert and retired Army colonel says the U.S. is on a path to permanent war unless Americans rethink their role in global security.

Second hour: St. Paul is the host this week to the National Poetry Slam. Known as the “Superbowl of Slam” among competitors, it is the world’s largest annual poetry slam event. Midmorning will feature members of the defending national champion St. Paul team and a champion slammer from New York.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: University of Minnesota economist V.V. Chari discusses the dismal condition of the U.S. economy.

A poll in the Star Tribune this morning says the recession negatively impacted half of those surveyed. Does that seem low to you?

Second hour: From the Aspen Ideas Festival: Noah Feldman, author of “Scorpion: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Supreme Court Justices.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: NPR political editor Ken Rudin.

Second hour: TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MPR’s Tim Nelson will have day three of the Koua Fong Lee hearing to determine if he’ll get a new trial. The prosecution is set to begin.

Chris Roberts begins a series looking at how spirituality and diversity are major themes at this year’s Minnesota Fringe Festival, and how three performers who lost out at the Fringe lottery managed to work their way back in.

The new early primary election is designed to make it more certain that overseas voters’ absentee ballots are counted. But it is also likely to have the unintended consequence of featuring one of the lowest voter turnouts for a contested primary in recent memory. MPR’s Tim Pugmire looks at what that might mean for the candidates and for the future of the early primary.

And Tom Scheck will report on the big debate among gubernatorial candidates at Farmfest near Redwood Falls.