Now this message from reality (5×8 – 11/5/12)

The Monday Morning Rouser…

(h/t: Chuck Pederson)


If you’ve spent any time at all in front of the TV this weekend, perhaps you’re feeling a bit of despair and hopelessness, hearing how bad the future might be and how awful the present is. Here, let me help you with that.


These are the young people from the Silver Ribbon Organization at Minneapolis’ South High School. They were honored on Saturday by the National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota organization for their work in educating students at the school about things such as depression and eating disorders.

The student-led group meets every other week to talk about their illnesses, treatments, and recovery, according to the school website. Sara Brown, shown speaking, started the group (she graduated in 2005) years ago after the suicide of a cousin.

I don’t have a lot of details on the group; I’ll be doing a post on them at a later date. But it was a good reminder that underneath the things we might perceive as the way things are, is a layer of reality, where people are doing good things because it’s a good thing to do, and there are people and things worth being proud of.

It’s a shame politicians and their cronies who run special interest groups haven’t figured out a way to build TV ads around that fact, because people would cancel plans to stay home and watch political ads if they did, and the democratic process wouldn’t crush the spirit of people.


If there really is a significant “middle” in American politics, why do the people who encourage a far left and far right atmosphere that leads to gridlock keep getting elected?

There were a couple of very interesting national news segments over the weekend that well described the problem with American politics. But the failure of this supposed “middle” to show itself on Election Day (or, for that matter, earlier in the political process) remains an unexamined mystery.

On this weekend’s This American Life (Red State/Blue State) , Sarah Koenig examined politics at the state level in formerly independent-thinking New Hampshire, where there is a terrible price to be paid by “moderate politicians.”

Here. Listen.


Meanwhile, CBS News has the profile of Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, who is retiring this year because of Congress’ failure to compromise. Had he run again, he probably would’ve lost, experts say, because he brokered a compromise on debt that more than 100 congresspeople supported, but which most then abandoned when the political heat got too high.

Discussion point: If the “middle” has disappeared, is it because there is no middle? If we don’t get the government we want, why do we get the government we have?


Here’s something you don’t see every day: An editorial apologizing — sort of — for an editorial. Saturday’s Pioneer Press editorial endorsing the same-sex marriage ban while insisting it wasn’t must’ve gotten plenty of blowback because today the newspaper acknowledges it wasn’t particularly well written.

The primary arguments against the amendment are clear and compelling: The Constitution is not the place for legislating marriage; and same-sex partners should have the same opportunity to profess their loving commitment, and gain the advantages of its recognition by the state, as heterosexual couples do, and for the same reasons.

Some of the arguments for the amendment are complicated. In the context of the broader, longer-term discussion of how we define marriage, we thought it useful to give weight to those arguments. The premise of that approach, as well as how we executed it in Saturday’s editorial, is arguable.

In any case, we should have been more direct about the premise, and we should have made our respect for the anti-amendment arguments more evident.

Not addressed in the “edipology” was why, after more than a year of reporting the facts surrounding the issue, the newspaper used Wikipedia as its source for information in the editorial.

Related: The 2012 election is almost over. The 2016 campaign is underway. (h/t: Vince Tuss)

And MPR’s Public Insight Network found an undecided voter last week…


In North Hudson, a man probably could have put his feet up and watched the Packers yesterday. Instead, he packed up food and supplies for Hurricane Sandy’s victims.

In New York, some people are noticing that the recovery effort and the restoration of services seem to be falling along class lines.

“We’re living like cavemen,” one resident of The Rockaways said. “It’s like we’re forgotten. It’s like they say, ‘O.K., when we get to them, we’ll get to them.’ ”


Meanwhile, two brothers from New York arrived in North Dakota’s Oil Patch three weeks ago looking for work in the oil industry. Then their hometown was hit by the hurricane. Stay or go back? That was the question.

And in the absence of an appropriate response to the problems in some sections of the region, people are using Facebook to do the job.

And what did newspeople have to do to cover the story? This…

THE FIRST 36 HOURS: An inside look at Hurricane Sandy from Jeff Pinilla on Vimeo.

That’s a great example, by the way, of the unsung heroes in the news business: technicians, camerapeople, and engineers.

Related: What if a calamity happened here? (

Must read: Waiting for someone to call (Outside Magazine)



Tomorrow is Election Day. Today’s Question: How do you plan to spend the evening on Election Day?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: High school dropout rates.

Second hour: Debating the Electoral College.

Third hour: Broadcast of faith and politics panel recorded at College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Rebroadcast of last night’s U.S. Senate debate, hosted by Cathy Wurzer.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – The Hurricane Sandy recovery effort.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Nobody knows who’ll win the presidential election.But there are people already preparing for a presidential transition if one is needed. There are about 70 days between the election and the inauguration. For officials handling the potential transition, that’s not a lot of time. NPR looks at presidential transitions past and, maybe, future.

  • BenCh
  • Bob Collins

    Ben, Ben, Ben. Scroll down one post.

  • // … why do the people who encourage a far left and far right atmosphere that leads to gridlock keep getting elected?

    Far left gets elected? Really? Where?

    // … If we don’t get the government we want, why do we get the government we have?

    We get the candidates (and therefore the government) the super-rich and corporations want us to have.

    As a result, we’ve reached the point of fascism about which Franklin D. Roosevelt warned in his “Simple Truths” message to Congress on 29 April 1938:

    “Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.

    “The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living. Both lessons hit home. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.”

  • Loretta

    Thanks, Michael. Who is considered the far left is my question too. No one seems to be able to answer that.

  • kennedy

    Al Franken

  • BenCh

    Well now I feel dumb. This is what I get for working overnights and not reading NewsCut regularly.

  • Al Franken is about as far left as Arne Carlson is far right.

    But thanks for playing.

  • Jeff

    Wow – I can’t believe that the woman who is an undecided voter is really undecided. Obama created the Affordable Care Act (aka “ObamaCare”…or is it “Obama Cares”?) that would prevent insurance companies from disqualifying her coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition. Romney has vowed to destroy Obama Cares on “Day 1”. I hope she has figured this out by now (election day).