Going around, coming around (5×8 – 4/25/12)


In 20 years of working in Minnesota — part of it as the political editor of MPR — I’ve seen about three “the end of the GOP in Minnesota” story lines. The last of them happened in 2008, two years before Republicans swept into power in the Legislature. So, it’s with a grain of salt — though a fair amount of interest — to read Joe Repya’s op-ed in the Star Tribune this morning, lamenting that Ron Paul disciples are taking over the party, which can’t pay its rent and, at least in administrative functions, can’t shoot straight.

That more than anything has the establishment MNGOP in a dither. Rightly or wrongly, they see many of the young, undisciplined and politically naïve Ron Paul movement members as anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-national defense and pro-legalization of drugs. If, as in 2008, Ron Paul fails to endorse the party’s nominee and his minions go home, the national GOP will be hard pressed to beat President Obama.

I don’t have a crystal ball to see how all this will end. But from where I’m sitting it does not look good for MNGOP, which won the state House and Senate in 2010 and whose lawmakers are all up for re-election.

The DFL smells blood in the water and sees an opportunity to regain both legislative chambers. We are very possibly witnessing the death of MNGOP as we know it. If so, it will have died from within, not from outside causes.

Minnesota has one of the most conservative Republican delegations when it comes to the national conventions. It happened the same way Repya describes — an organized group (in the ’90s it was the evangelicals) shows up to push out the old guard.

Here’s an old — very old — script I filed from the Republican National Convention in San Diego in 1996…

Delegate Ron Carey of Shoreview acknowledges the Christian coalition has spawned a more solidly conservative delegation than 4 years ago. He says this happened not so much because of a shift in political sentiment…but in a change in the people running the Party. The Coalition has told Christians to get out of the church and get into politics. And in Minnesota, they have.

“In Minnesota we have more support for Christian Coalition than other states. I think it comes back to our political process in the state. That with the caucus system it really promotes grassroots activism Where in other states where they have primaries it’s ore the establishment in the states selecting who the delegates are. So there are people like us in other states that have primaries but because of the process they have no space…they’re not able to get as involved in the political process. Everyday Minnesotans are more able to get involved and come to a convention like this.”

Some things in politics don’t change.

Related: A great “room for debate” discussion: Are family values outdated (New York Times).


Times are changing in communicating political messages…

Related: USBank, Chase to stop offering student loans. (U of M Daily)


Long before two buildings fell in New York, and America went to war in Afghanistan, women’s rights organizations around the globe were outraged at the extent to which women in Afghanistan were oppressed. The U.S. didn’t go to war to free women, but the issue is likely to boil up as America’s role in Afghanistan begins to wane.

Today, the Washington Post carries a story on what some people will do for an education — to get it and to provide it. Some U.S.-funded schools never opened under the threat of the Taliban, and so Afghanistan’s girls go to “underground schools.”

First, young students — between 5 and 12 years old — would trickle into the home of the two brothers, who for security reasons insisted that their names not be published. Then, teenagers started arriving, the brothers said, a particularly rare and controversial development in eastern Afghanistan, where females are expected to remain home upon reaching adolescence.

The brothers could hardly believe the turnout, which at once worried and excited them. They named the school after their great uncle, Namizad, a religious scholar.

“The girls just kept coming.” one brother said. “They were so eager, like they were starving.”

When a U.S. army platoon made a rare visit to Spina this month, soldiers saw the school as an example of resilience in the face of a failed development project, a sign of hope in a dismal place. In recent months, according to U.S. officials, the Taliban in Paktika have robbed teachers of their salaries to buy an 82mm mortar and shells.



Claire Squires, 30, a hairdresser from Leicestershire, England, was running the London Marathon last Sunday to raise money for the world’s oldest and largest suicide prevention network. She was just a mile away when she collapsed and died.

The online site that was collecting donations reports its receiving record traffic with people rushing to donate since her death.

Is this “slactivism?” Does it matter?


In Ulen, Minnesota, farmer Matt Klemetson’s wife is battling cancer and there are young kids to be shepherded about. There’s not much time for getting the corn in the ground. So a group showed up this week to take care of that.

“This is right up my alley,” Levi Wielenga, of Sioux City said. He, his wife, and 6-month-old son have been going farm-to-farm this week volunteering where people need help.

They’re part of an organization called Farm Rescue, that helps farm families in crisis.

Earlier this month, it helped a farmer who lost his fingers in a farm accident in South Dakota…

Bonus I: Pretty big news for space station geeks. A firm is about able to install HD cameras on the space station to stream near real-time video of Earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You’ll be able to see objects as small as three feet, according to Mashable.

Bonus II: The seven most unforgettable ads of the presidential primary season. Most of them we’d already forgotten about.

Bonus III: TV weatherpeople who do their segments from “the backyard,” are risking their lives.


Under a plan approved by the Legislature, fans at TCF Stadium will be able to buy beer during football games. Today’s Question: Should beer sales be part of college sporting events?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Move over The Greatest Generation. Baby Boomers are redefining retirement and the traditional notion of a senior citizen. However, aging policies have remained relatively unchanged. As a new generation gracefully ages, how does the country need to modernize its aging policies?

Second hour: Why is the bee population declining?

Third hour: Hashtag activism. Social media allows us to engage with news and issues that matter to us every day, from the comfort our homes. But how does a ‘like’ on Facebook, or a retweet, translate into a vote or real life participation, and are we becoming a country of “slacktivists?”

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): A debate from NPR’s “Intelligence Squared” series: “When it comes to politics, is the Internet closing our minds?”

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

Second hour: Conflicts over public school fundraising.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – In Washington today, Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson faces a hostile joint committee hearing over Minnesota’s Medicaid finances. MPR’s Washington correspondent will have the story.

Host Tom Crann talks with Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak about issues in the news and how he plans to grow the business. He’ll also talk with Guthrie artistic director Joe Dowling about the sizzling controversy over its new season, and his organization’s evolving response.

NPR reports on the 20-year anniversary of the Los Angeles riots. Much has changed in the city during that time, especially within the police department. Years of reforms and court oversight have created a new generation of cops.