Community Voices features opinion pieces from a wide variety of authors and perspectives. (Submission Guidelines)

Smoking drama, a departing candidate and the Democratic divide

In recent comments, MinnPost readers waxed poetic about bar owners’ “dramatic” attempts to evade the anti-smoking law; they also weighed in on the gas tax, Democratic senatorial and presidential match-ups, turmoil in the state attorney general’s office, and the Minneapolis mayor’s green car, among other topics.

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In response to Craig Westover’s Shakespearian Community Voices piece, “The play’s the thing,” which appeared Monday, Robert Moffitt wrote:

The Moffitt: The Bearded Bard of Afton doth protest too much! Time for you to quit the stage, Ancient Mariner!

(Narrator exits, stage right, to wait in the fringe with [Sue] Jeffers and [Mark] Benjamin.)

The Moffitt: Secondhand smoke hath filled life’s stage with more bodies than in the final scene of Hamlet. Enough of this madness!

(The curtain falls on this comedy of errors, and rises as the actors take their bows. Liberty, Art, Commerce and Freedom, all alive and well, take their bows as well.)

Everyone lived happily (and healthy) ever after.

FINIS

Martin Hague offered this rejoinder:

Regarding [Moffitt’s] comment No. 1:

“You do ill to praise, but worse to censure, what you do not understand.” Leonardo da Vinci

And [with our apologies to Edgar Allan Poe] author Westover responded:

If you enjoyed “The play’s the thing,” you might also enjoy “The Moffitt”:

Then this rather odd bird beguiling her sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
‘Though thy title be impressive, your manner’s quite oppressive —
Ghastly, grim, self-righteous, self-absorbent, bureaucratic boar —
Your presence is confusing, not amusing. Leave by going through the door!’

Quoth the Moffitt, ‘Nevermore.’

Robert Halfpenny summed up:

To: Robert Moffitt et. al.
Ah, what fools you morons be …

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In a less poetic vein, Tim Brausen commented on Robert Whereatt’s Wednesday story, “Next gas-tax hot potato: Votes at county boards”:

The Taxpayers League should change its name to “We Don’t Ever Want to Pay for Anything League.” 8,000 members is hardly a movement, unlike ISAIAH, a non-partisan ecumenical organization of almost 100 churches in the metropolitan and St. Cloud areas, that supported this tax, along with its transit allies, and the St. Paul and Minnesota Chambers of Commerce.

On the same story, Matty Lang said:

Please Phil [Krinkie], don’t threaten county commissioners with the wrath of your 8,000 supporters. I wouldn’t worry if I were a county commissioner, as Krinkie’s ideology certainly didn’t keep him in an elected position. Most Minnesotans know that Krinkie and his organization are extremists that don’t have the best interest of Minnesotans in mind.

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Doug Grow’s Tuesday story, “With Ciresi’s exit, political insiders expect negative Senate race between Franken and Coleman,” inspired a number of comments, including this one from Paul Rozycki:

If Franken had been willing to have a debate in St. Paul, there would have been some already. But it became clear to his handlers that he lost support to Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer with every debate, so they stopped scheduling him for debates.

Now that it is a two person race, there will be a challenge to debate again. I predict that Franken’s campaign director will keep that from happening. Franken will avoid a debate because it will so dramatically display the strength of Nelson-Pallmeyer’s message and Jack as the messenger, and at the same time show Al as having a weaker, more watered down message, and show Al as being a lesser messenger for the progressive movement. …

Jack is so strong as a debater because he has such a terrific grasp of the issues and such passion. If he is the endorsed candidate, as he is so clean and nice and respectful, the Republicans will have to run on the issues. There he will win. If Al is the candidate, the Republicans will run on Al’s personality. The issues will be avoided. The voters will be turned off, Norm will appear the nicer person, and Norm will win.

Bernice Vetsch commented:

For all those who say they hesitate to vote for Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer because he is not as well known or is considered by the right to be too far to the left, consider also that he has not created enemies anywhere or anytime in his past. He treats all persons with respect and, as senator, would, without ever pandering, give that same respect to those with whom he disagrees. He is articulate, truly green, knowledgeable in both domestic and foreign affairs, served as one of Paul Wellstone’s foreign policy advisors, has worked in Latin America where he observed the results of U.S. foreign policy there, and has taught in St. Thomas’s Justice & Peace Studies Dept. for 13 years.

From Patrick Guernesy:

It was clear that Mr. Ciresi was not running the type of campaign he needed to secure the endorsement. Blanketing DFLers with e-mails doesn’t work. You need to do as Franken and Pallmeyer have done and get out and meet the real people who are DFL activists and motivate them to caucus. Mike did not do this and that is why he is no longer in this race.

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As for the increasingly tense contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Paul Scott of Rochester had this (excerpted) take on Steve Berg’s March 7 World/Nation essay, “Dems’ standoff: the latte-lager divide”:

I support Obama, and I also drink latté, went to college, own a kitchen with a professional range and work in communications, so I guess this analysis can point to these meaningless details about my life as proof of its premise that the Clinton-Obama divide is largely about lifestyle rather than ideas, people or politics. …

What would be more helpful and perhaps even more original would be an analysis of the two blocs of voters that looked at how Americans read people. … Personally, my support for Obama is neither rabid, nor engendered from any rapture I had while watching him speak. I can’t say I have even watched a single Obama speech. I know he wants to have better relations with the rest of the world’s governments, and I like that. After eight years of Bush, that seems like a good place to start — from a position of humility for all the carnage our nation has caused in the name of our wounded pride.

I was for Edwards first, because I heard him laying out a specific case for economic justice and greater opportunity for the disadvantaged in this country. Moreover, while I voted for Bill Clinton twice, I have never once seen Hillary Clinton as someone whose first interest appeared to be the best interest of this country. Like Maureen Dowd, I base my distrust of her on my perception that she and her husband care first and foremost about their political fortunes. …

That said, I have to accept that such a light never begins blinking for a sizable number of my fellow Democrats, and that has caused me to think that we do not perhaps share as much in common as I once thought.

Excerpts from Mark Gisleson’s comments on the same essay:

I think you’ve accurately described the divide as the Clintonites would like to see it, but this beer-swilling farmer turned factory worker turned writer strongly begs to differ. Clinton has made inroads into my demographic, but only because of her campaign’s aggressive use of misleading information and outright lies about NAFTA. …

There are countless other reasons why the lager/latté scenario being floated by Clintonistas is as phony as Sen. Clinton’s concern for working people. Unions have backed Obama for the most part. Minnesota labor supported Obama overwhelmingly. John Edwards’ supporters, as strongly pro-union as they come, have largely gone over to Obama, as I have. Sen. Clinton’s labor positions cannot be separated from those of former Pres. Clinton, who stabbed labor in the back repeatedly, first with NAFTA and then on countless little battles he ceded to the viciously anti-labor Republicans because of his personal problems.

I’ve more than had my fill of Team Clinton scorched earth politics. This fall I’ll be voting for either Barack Obama, or Ralph Nader. I already tried voting for Nader once, so believe me when I say I’d rather be voting for Obama this fall before kicking back with a beer to watch the election returns.

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Peder DeFor had this thought on Eric Black’s Tuesday post, “Lawyer who spoke out about AG’s office put on leave”:

Eric, do you know why Ms. Lawler didn’t go through proper channels with this? Does she not trust the Board to handle it responsibly?

Paul Brandon also commented:

Lawler obviously has more than one possible motivation; it would take a better mind reader than I to sort them out.

The real problem (and it’s bipartisan) is the politicization of law enforcement on all governmental levels.

We’ve seen this in the instance of federal prosecutors (and the actions of the attorney general in general), and now on the level of the state attorney general.

These offices should certainly not be elected, and should have some of the same political isolation as court appointments.

Liz Nicklos opined:

Nothing too political here — I am just in total admiration of Lawler. It is a huge deal for her to stand up and speak out like this. As a young woman myself, I am extremely encouraged and totally envious of her strength to take on the AG. Lawler, if you read this, kudos. Even if you didn’t go through the “proper channels,” thanks for trusting MinnPost with your story.

And Eric Ferguson added:

This isn’t an issue of partisanship, because Swanson is alienating her own party. If her election were this year, she would have a tough time winning either union endorsements or the DFL endorsement. When the DFL decided to make a late pre-primary endorsement in 2006, it endorsed Steve Kelley. Looks like it was right.

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Randy Brown had a belated comment on Ron Way’s Jan. 10 story, “Beyond corn ethanol: Minnesota’s rural economy positioned for enormous gains”:

One thing that having more flex-fuel vehicles would do is demonstrate how bad E85 really is. As an owner of a flex-fuel vehicle I can testify that the reduced energy output of ethanol is real, and dramatic. I filled up on E85 at station in Iowa on a trip a year or two ago, and was shocked at how bad the stuff really is. Virtually no power going up slight grades; the cruise control could not come close to maintaining speed on these grades. … Fuel economy was markedly lower, compared to the difference in price, especially considering that I am paying for the subsidy for it too.

So in a short sentence.. Tried it once, never again.

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Mark Gisleson had this reaction to Tuesday’s Community Voices essay, “It’s actually a good time to buy a home — IF you know what you’re doing,” by Cynthia Paulson, executive director of the nonprofit Community Neighborhood Housing Services in St. Paul:

While the stability of our neighborhoods depends on home ownership, I have read far too many critics who say now is NOT the time to buy. I’m hardly equipped to gauge how accurate their assessments of the current market is, but the people I read all saw the subprime mess coming years and years ago.

Frankly, I do not think an average person has a prayer in this rapacious and bank-controlled real estate market. American wages simply are not high enough to make home ownership feasible until the price of housing drops still further, or — an unlikely prospect — wages go up.

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John Finn commented on Ron Way’s March 7 story, “R.T. Rybak’s plug-in car: It keeps going and going”:

I wonder what the highway funding implications are if electric and very high mpg vehicles become a significant portion of the “fleet.” In other words, if you still have a need for highway maintenance and expansion, but decreasing gas consumption tax revenue, will there be alternate tax schemes that will be proposed?

Trucks, which create the most wear and tear on highways, would still be using as much fuel, but light-weight cars would still create demands on the system.

Didn’t Pawlenty once speculate on the need for a mileage-based tax, or am I imagining that? And if that is someday required, will those Democrats that survive in office after being blamed for the so-called “biggest tax increase in history” have to be the ones to propose it?

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