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Comments cover everything from an immigrant’s life to presidential politics, from retirement to Gopher football

MinnPost readers had lots to say about recent stories and posts, so here’s another installment in our periodic round-ups of interesting comments.

Ron Link comments on Robert Whereatt’s Thursday post, “Let’s look ahead — far ahead: Pawlenty runs for a third term”:

I’m sorry, why is it probable that the Republicans won’t control the White House in January 2009? I am sure you had the same thoughts before the last two elections. Maybe possible is the word you were trying to come up with since anything is possible.

Monica Manning appreciated video journalist Steve Date’s Monday post, “An escape from the Khmer Rouge; a life in Shoreview”:

Theary Kem’s story is powerful. I’ve seen the first two videos. I hope there will be more. With all of the debate and distrust about immigration (legal as well as illegal), the story Mr. Kem shares is a reminder of what America is about. Until today, I’ve read each of the MinnPost printouts, but this is the story that brought me to the website to see the video. I’ll be back — often.

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Bernice Vetsch weighed in on Judith Yates Borger’s Wednesday story, “Presidential debating points: How about science and technology?”:

In addition to a science debate, I’d like to hear the candidates’ positions on the militarization of diplomacy, trade and foreign aid that has occurred since 2001. We’ve gotten complaints from some countries that our embassies now have more military spies in them than diplomats; we tell poor countries we’ll let them export to us (and/or will give economic aid) if we can build a military base on their land. This will prove these countries are “with us” in the Global War on Terror. Do candidates agree or disagree with this Bush-ing of our relations with the world?

I’d like to hear them say which illegal, immoral weapons systems they’d cut first: new nuclear weapons, new “humane” land mines, space and cyberspace weaponization, the missile “defense” system in Poland and the Czech Republic. (Correct answer: all of the above.)

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Tony Spadafora added this to Jay Weiner’s Dec. 6 post headlined “Go, Gophers! Football team (alas) finished No. 1 in at least one postseason poll,” which noted that Coach Tim Brewster’s annual pay put the Golden Gophers first in the category of “cost per victory” — $1 million for one win.

Jay… Eugene McCarthy once said, “Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it’s important.”

He was right and so are you.

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Grace Kelly took issue with Doug Grow’s Wednesday story, “Minnesotans just sit and watch — or head to Iowa — while the nation’s presidential parade passes us by”:

I think this is a very misleading article. The problem is timing, not caucuses. You did not even try to solicit comments from people who like the caucus system. I love it. Neighbors get together to talk and to share political concerns. This is a great time to organize and to get good political information. Bill S1905 supports caucuses, just changes the timing. … You have misrepresented this bill and Senator Klobuchar as being against precinct caucuses.

Rick Stafford, a former chair of the
state DFL Party, also disagrees with Grow’s take on the caucus system:

I must echo Grace Kelly’s comments about your article be misleading!

You state a premise that “Minnesota’s caucuses are virtually impossible to
interpret,” but then go on to show that in the DFL Party, Democratic
presidential candidates will know who will have won Minnesota on Feb.5.. From
6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m., Minnesotans who want to cast a ballot for their choice
for the Democratic presidential nomination will have that opportunity at their
precinct caucus. Just like a “primary”, but with a shorter voting period.

They don’t
have to stick around and take part in any other caucus night business. You
again inaccurately state, “While other states declare winners or losers.” The
truth is, on Feb.5, Minnesotans will know how many of the 88 delegates from
Minnesota to the 2008 Denver convention will be for Clinton or Edwards or Obama
or Richardson or Dodd or Biden or Kucinich or Gravel. So much for the “long and
clunky process.” While the DFL refers to it as a “presidential preference
ballot,” it is actually a binding vote on the allocation number of delegates. I
ought to know because I’m the chief sponsor and architect of the change
starting in 2000.

While you are correct that Minnesotans won’t know the individuals selected to
represent that presidential candidate in Denver until they are selected at
later conventions, this is the same delegate selection process used by
approximately 45 state Democratic parties.

Regarding caucuses versus primary, after 30-plus years of involvement in the
party politics, I have seen the benefit to having both.

You write that Gov. Carlson tried to get a primary in Minnesota while serving
as governor. As DFL State Party chair at the time, I am well aware of the
legislative attempt at a presidential primary. A presidential primary bill was
passed by the state Legislature and a non-binding presidential primary was held
in 1992. In 1993, the Legislature tried to change the primary to a binding
primary in legislation that contained a myriad (or “bulk”) of electoral
changes, including moving the regular Minnesota primary election up.

But the
bill was torpedoed because chief legislative sponsors were using a stick
approach versus a carrot to the DFL and Republican parties in making a drastic
departure from the way each has done presidential selection before. An attempt
was again made this past legislative session, but it fell victim to the “bulk”
strategy again.

When the 2008 DFL presidential process is held on Feb. 5, it will mark the
third consecutive time the Party has used a “binding” presidential ballot. I
earnestly believe that the DFL Party is at the point where it would accept a
presidential primary here. But, legislative representatives need to craft
something that still embodies the caucuses that grassroots activists and others
feel are important. One thought I tried to float a couple of years ago was
holding a presidential primary on the first Tuesday in February and then hold
precinct caucuses the following Saturday or Tuesday.

Gail O’Hare had a different view of Doug’s story:

Some caucuses may feel like a gathering of neighbors, but mine is a circus. Arne Carlson is dead right.

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James Nordgaard offered his view on the suggested replacement words for “retirement” in a comment on Kay Harvey’s Dec. 7 story, “The r-word no longer defines boomers’ next stage”:

None of these terms have a chance; any word [such as the Latin-derived “caesura”] that takes a couple of minutes just to learn how to pronounce, or conversely, spell if brought up vocally, isn’t going to catch on.

“Refirement” is even worse; it’s what you do after being “fired” a second time. And no one is going to call themselves an “AARPer.”

The term that will catch on — in fact it has just about already — is semi-retirement. It’s a term everyone understands immediately, even if it’s not very jazzed up or exciting. And unlike the other terms, it encompasses all situations: someone working at his/her same job at reduced hours, another, different part-time job, doing occasional work, or even doing volunteer work.

John Borger had another take on that story:

Even if it starts with the “re” that Ms. Floyd criticizes, I rather like Neil Young’s phrasing in “Falling from Above” on his Greendale album: “I won’t retire, but I might retread.”

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Paul Linnee added his experience to Joel Kramer’s Dec. 6 post, “Public Numbers — DWI numbers that mean precisely nothing”:

A couple of years ago, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety issued a release foretelling a “record increase in traffic fatalities” unless Minnesota drivers shaped up.

As a former cop, who was on patrol in the early 1970s, I remembered that the state’s annual death tolls were in the 1,300 range back then, and in the year referenced above I think we might have been headed for something like 750 fatalities or so.

So I got suspicious, did a little independent research and proved my point — to myself — that not only were we NOT headed for a “record,” but in terms of fatalities per vehicle miles driven we were at an all-time low!

I shared my view with the then “Information Officer” for the DPS who, if I recall correctly, grudgingly accepted the criticism (and the implicit criticism of the media for running the release without checking any facts at all), but who urged me to remember that “we are trying to change public behavior here.”

So it’s OK to bellow, exaggerate and lie if your intent is pure? It is apparently also OK to report such behavior with nary a critical eye.

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Dan Miller was not impressed with
Steve Berg’sproposals in“National designers urge Minneapolis to redevelop ‘blank hole’ near fallen
I-35W bridge.”
 

Miller said in part:

Concerning
Mr. Berg’s on redeveloping Minneapolis’ “blank hole,” I am markedly
less excited.

As a longtime South Minneapolis resident, I’m used to hearing more prominent
Minneapolitans declaring Cedar/Riverside and other parts of South Minneapolis
eyesores. Of course, if these folks had their way, townhouses and fancy
high-rise condos would be promptly dropped in by helicopter.

I, for one, am sick of all our urban development brainpower and money being put
into designing and building nice tree-lined pedestrian walkways, condos and Starbucks
— all catered to “meds and eds.”

I would like to talk about strengthening neighborhoods and community the
natural way — from the ground up with the existing people, buildings, and
resources.

Mr. Berg and many urban developers, it seems, are excited to repopulate eyesore
areas with artificial-looking, cliché developments targeted at the young,
privileged upper-middle class. (Does the argument still include “the
trickle-down effect”?)

What’s forgotten in conversations about redeveloping “blank holes” is that
people already live there — people who can’t afford $200,000 condos. After all
these years, we’re still asking for decent, smart, and affordable housing.

If the gentrification of the city continues, we’ll see if it will be prove
sustainable. And if so, will it produce non-artificial, diverse, and healthy
neighborhoods and community?

My money says the interesting and vibrant areas of the city will continue to be
those like Cedar/Riverside — the ones developers calls “blank holes.”

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Jeff Urbanek had this comment on Jay Weiner’s Wednesday post, “No matter who’s named, Mitchell report sure to rock baseball world,” which noted that other sports have been much more aggressive in unmasking drug-enhanced cheaters and stripping them of their records:

I made the very same point in e-mail correspondence with a Star Tribune reporter. His answer was that it was unrealistic and that you would have to punish 80 percent of the players before all was said and done, and that just would not happen. If it really is that endemic, then I have no interest in wasting time on a corrupt sport, which by the way, is also taking my tax dollars away from my son’s education.

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