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Reader Roundup: Franken’s taxes, Tom Swifties among comment topics

Topics as varied as Al Franken’s tax-filing troubles, exercise balls, the vitality of the religious right and Tom Swifties inspired MinnPost readers to comment recently. Here’s a selection of their thoughts… 

Topics as varied as Al Franken’s tax-filing troubles, exercise balls, the vitality of the religious right and Tom Swifties inspired MinnPost readers to comment recently. Here’s a selection of their thoughts:

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Charley Underwood was one of several folks weighing in on Eric Black’s Wednesday post, “DFL insiders say Franken’s OK … for now”:

Look, this whole brouhaha about Franken’s taxes is silly. Franken clearly had no intention of defrauding anyone. But it is a trivial problem that is causing damage to a trivial campaign. Franken’s campaign has always been about perceived frontrunner status and fundraising ability. Never about issues. So a superficial crisis has the ability to puncture the misperception of inevitability. …

It remains to be seen, of course, whether the Star Tribune and others will finally notice Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer if he gets the endorsement. If they do, he will win, since he is clearly more qualified for the Senate than either Franken or Coleman.

Eben Kowler

How could you possibly know the delegate counts to assume that Jack [Nelson-Pallmeyer] can’t win the endorsement? The delegate counts aren’t published and unless you’ve been to every convention there is no way for you to begin to make that kind of assumption. This continued portray of the DFL endorsement as “locked up” for Franken is terrible journalism. For shame, MinnPost.

Sherry Gunelson

On taxes, it is hard to get out of California once you have been in it for taxes. I really cannot see it as Franken’s responsibility for having his state taxes filed incorrectly. That is obviously his accountant’s error. That’s what I do for a living. I fill out the forms, they sign them and file them. The client has no idea which state they should be filing in – that’s why they hire a professional.

From Kevin Judd:

I hope that some Democratic officials who know more about the dynamics of these races than I do are taking a serious look at Franken’s position.

As a regular listener to his radio show, I was willing to accept his explanation when his former partner at Air America was found to have fraudulently used funds intended for the Boys Club to help start Air America.

Then last month we find that his company missed payments for Worker’s Compensation. Now he owes taxes to other states.

Just the bare recitation of facts reads like an SNL skit. I think he’s honest, I think he was the victim of some bad luck, but I also think that his campaign is in serious trouble.

Someone needs to make a brutally honest analysis of how his history of business dealings will get played in the campaign, especially against the backdrop of some of his radio commentary.

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Bernice Vetsch commented on Sharon Schmickle’s Monday World/Nation essay, “U.S. ratchets up the rhetoric against Iran”:

Thank you Sharon Schmickle!!! … The neocon dream does not die as long as Bush and (especially) Cheney are in office. As Mr. Porter notes, Cheney tried to get support for an attack upon Iran during his March trip to the Middle East from Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

John Olson added:


Patrick Coleman appreciated the From Our Partners story reprinted Monday from “Land of 10,000 lit magazines?” by Stephanie Wilbur Ash:
Thank you for the quick survey of literary publishing, Stephanie! The only thing that I would add is that there is a long proud tradition of these periodicals in Minnesota. In fact, the first such magazine appeared within a year of statehood! It was called “The Frontier Monthly.” Perhaps the best literary serial of the 19th century was “The Literary Northwest,” whose “editors recognize no aristocracy, save that of letters.” William C. Edgar’s “The Bellman,” 1906 -1913, set the bar at its highest for a literary journal. All these ancestors of today’s creative writings are available for reading at the Minnesota Historical Society library.

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Mary Gazca
commented on Steve Date’s April 24 video report, “Classroom’s chairs bounced for exercise balls”:

This is good news for all kids, who barely get any movement in their lives these days. [It can]  help them physically, and mentally at the same time. Great story.

Jason Hartmann had a message for teacher Lisa Hartman:

Lisa, you rock … the kids are lucky to have your energy and passion helping to guide the way. Keep bouncing.

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Peter Swanson commented on Eric Black’s Tuesday post, “In book and talk, columnist Dionne says ‘era of religious right is over’ “:

Hooray for civil discourse. But what was Reed’s response? If Dionne only reported his zinger without giving Reed’s side, then he is not a particularly good advocate for bridging the ideological divide.

Ralph Reed has, in the past, compared the Republican Party to a three-legged stool, with economic and foreign policy conservatives balancing out the religious conservative leg. It sounds like Dionne is getting his legs mixed up.

Now, if Dionne related an honest discussion between ideological opposites (himself and Reed), then Eric Black has done Dionne a disservice by making him sound snarky at the very moment he is calling for understanding. Which is it?

John Olson added:

I’m not so sure that I would be ready to go around singing “Ding, dong, the religious right is dead” quite yet.

The influence of the religious right may be waning in some corners, but they still have some very powerful allies in very high places. The part that makes me a bit nervous is who or what steps in to fill that void if and when it becomes vacant.

An excerpt from Marshall Glynn:

To Dionne’s comment about the right being dogmatic, partisan and too certain of itself – they have every right to be that way. They are not there to make friends with liberals, or to work with them. No, they were elected by rightists to fight the left at the basis of what they believe. … We shouldn’t expect rightists to agree with someone who has a completely opposite world view, nor should we expect leftists to cross the aisle and work with the right. That’s not what their constituencies elected them to do. And furthermore, if indeed a politician does cross the aisle to work with the opposing side, he is probably just doing it to score cheap political points in an election year. Can anyone say McCain Feingold?

From John E. Iacono:

Ah, well. The dogmatic left declares the dogmatic “religious right” dead.

In real life, most people vote influenced by a number of factors, although it is a favorite political myth that anyone on the “other” side (whichever side it is) is an ignorant, unthinking dolt who is being led by the nose by some radical of the right or left.

As I see it, there has been no significant change in a country with 35 percent diehard left and 35 percent diehard right who both fight for the remaining 30 percent, who move with the political winds.

We’ll have to see how the wind blows this year.

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Sean McKenna commented on Ron Way’s Tuesday post, “Big Stone II project faces increasing scrutiny”:

As someone who formerly held property on Big Stone Lake, I can tell you that Big Stone Lake became far more clean after the opening of the Big Stone-I power plant in the mid 1970s. The region is starving for affordable energy – just build the damn plant.

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Christine Halvorson reacted to Beth Hawkins’ Tuesday post, “New report and focus groups address troubling findings about state’s girls”:

Congratulations to the Minnesota Women’s Foundation for undertaking this project and putting out such a first rate report. To have data like this all in one place will surely lead to great discussions and, with hard work, policy change. Let the road to true equality begin with this report.

Susan Lesch added:

Grown-up girls are 15 percent of the U.S. Senate, 15 percent of the U.S. armed forces, 9 percent of the world’s billionaires and 4 percent of the world’s Nobel laureates. In 40 years, one female on the planet won the Turing Award in computing. … Maybe values and this choice of data points are formed by those who dominate civilization – and maybe males are out of control. … Minneapolis so far received $500 million in public funds to build stadiums glorifying all-male teams. Maybe the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota is eligible for a matching grant. Brava to those who participated in this study.

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Tom Weyandt commented on Doug Stone’s April 25 World/Nation essay, “Report reveals military experts pushing Pentagon propaganda, but where’s the outrage?”

Isn’t the real issue the lack of the media to vet these people more thoroughly? I don’t think the outrage should be aimed at the government – you’d have to be really naive to not expect that sort of conduct from bedfellows.

No, the real issue is that the media continue to allow this type of pablum to pass as “news.” If you read the entire article you will continuously see reference to a list of 75 people who were on a preferred list of correspondents given extraordinary access to high officials. Interestingly the New York Times only lists a handful of the 75. Wouldn’t a list of all have more of an impact? Isn’t the times being a bit duplicitous by not “pantsing” the entire cadre?

Get used to it, folks. As the newspapers die off all you’re going to get are the talking heads and their sound bites, or likely self-serving bile from the blogosphere.

And from Bill Siegel:

Collins’ comment — “Many Americans confronted with stories of media manipulation by government officials aren’t, at this point, shocked and awed. Instead they’ve come to expect it.” – is right on the money. I am both outraged and not in the least surprised. It does, however, reinforce my commitment to get my news from alternative sources, such as MinnPost.

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John Parke Wright of Naples, Fla., responded to Doug Grow’s April 22 Political Agenda post, “McCain adviser Ridge’s meeting with GOP legislators includes a bit of self-promotion”:

Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s view of Minnesota exports of needed agricultural food commodities to Cuba would leave my neighbors to the immediate south of my home in Florida hungry. I wish that your governor would see for himself the needs and changes taking place in Cuba today. …

It is time to place American Cuban policy on a friendly and positive economic and cultural basis.

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James Keeline offered this perspective on Al Sicherman’s Monday Verse or Worse contest, “From the best one-sound piece to punning adverbs”:

Tom Swifties are fun and can be educational. However, despite their namesake, they are not easily found in the original Tom Swift volumes (1910-41).

Edward Stratemeyer came up with the idea for the series and story ideas and outlines. Most of the books in the first series were ghostwritten by Howard R. Garis but there were also three other people involved in various volumes.

The Tom Swifty pun uses a quotation followed by the words “said Tom” and some adverb which refers back to the quote in a humorous way. They were a big craze for a short time in 1963 and remnants pop up from time to time like this blog.

However, the common sentence structure in the Tom Swift books was a quote followed by a synonym for “said.” The variety was rather extensive and included words like “cried,” “shouted,” “murmured,” “returned,” “answered,” and “asked.” The goal was to avoid overuse of the word “said” in both fiction and in newspapers. Most of the ghostwriters were also journalists for their day job.

The Tom Swifty structure is actually rare in the series. That should not prevent you from having fun in devising them.