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More events best forgotten, and a host of other comments

Even during a holiday week, lots of MinnPost readers found time to comment on topics ranging from offshore oil drilling to the Chinese Olympics, Iran, Iraq – and offered a slew of nominations for 150 Minnesota moments to forget.

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More than 20 readers posted additions to MinnPost’s three-part series, “150 Minnesota moments we’d just as soon forget,” July 2-4. Here’s a sampling:

From Patrick Coleman:

Thanks for the fun idea, MinnPost, although too many of the sports moments seem trivial to me. How ’bout the 1890 Sea Wing disaster on Lake Pepin? Almost 100 people died when an excursion boat flipped. I would also nominate two dirty political campaigns as moments to forget: the red baiting and anti-Semitic 1938 gubernatorial race between Elmer Benson and Harold Stassen, and the phony charge in 1962 by Karl Rolvaag against Elmer L. Andersen involving work being done on Highway 35.

From Susan Lesch:

1971: Harry Davis agreed to run for mayor of Minneapolis. His family was threatened daily. The police department guarded their home. The FBI loaned them guard dogs. Better to remember than forget this.

1869-1870: Tunnel construction under Saint Anthony Falls collapsed. The recovery effort may have saved Minneapolis industry including its mills but it also changed what was the only natural major waterfall on the Mississippi River into man-made or artificial waterfalls.

From Steve Elkins:

How about the 1987 “Super Storm” that left much of the south metro literally underwater? I remember trying to get out of my “Prestigous West Bloomington” neighborhood the morning after, only find a cabin cruiser floating over East Bush Lake Road at I-494. And I think you missed the Herschel Walker trade.

From Kelly Garner:

I don’t remember the year, not so long ago, the blow-down in the BWCA. Great site, great article!

From Christine Halvorson:

Gubernatorial Candidate Cal Ludemann’s campaign song.

From Cedric Hohnstadt:

Great article! I learned a lot about Minnesota history.

What about the massive blizzards/floods that hit Moorhead (near Fargo) and Grand Forks/East Grand Forks in 1997? A record of 117 inches of snow followed by record flooding of the Red River in the spring. In East Grand Forks, the entire city was flooded and all but 8 homes received water damage.

From Bruce Glasrud:

I find it sadly telling that our state’s early years are often filled with the deeds of authentic heroes, while our recent years are noted primarily with the mundane dealings of athletes and entertainers – ersatz heroes, at best.

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Jacob Taintor had this to say about Ron Way’s Wednesday post, “Lifting drilling ban wouldn’t do much for gas prices, report says”:

I think it’s obvious that the efforts that Rep. Bachmann and other supporters of lifting the off-shore drilling ban have more to do with campaigning than logic. In report after report, and news story after news story, it has been stated time and time again that opening off-shore drilling will not solve the fuel problem. If anything, it only serves to perpetuate it, giving people false hope that their 45-minute commute in the family SUV will soon be cheaper.

While I do believe that many off-shore drilling supporters – especially those who are up for re-election this fall – understand these numerous reports about the (lack of) results this plan would yield, I fear that legislators like Bachmann will make good on their promise to voters and actually go through with this ridiculous scheme.

Sherry Gunelson added:

Bachman has never been about logic. In fact she may view logic as a challenge to her faith.

The off-shore drilling crowd is all about politics. No logic required.

Thomas Swift disagreed:

Citing a report published by a think tank that is funded by leftist lunatic George Soros’ “Open Society Institute” to make an argument that flies in the face of every economist 101 college course?

I just knew this was going to be amusing.

I especially enjoyed the list of outrageously high gas prices EU citizens pay – sans the small detail that well more than half the price cited are due to the outrageously high taxes that are levied by the countries in which the fuel is sold.

You sir, have done yeoman’s work to bolster Rep. Bachmann’s credibility on this subject.

Reggie McGurt responded:

Thomas Swift said, “Citing a report published by a think tank that is funded by leftist lunatic George Soros’ “Open Society Institute” to make an argument that flies in the face of every economist 101 college course.”

Typical conservative knee-jerk response: attack the source, ignore the argument.

Your comment reminds me of the cliche: those who state, “it’s economics 101” have never taken it. Anyone who has taken a basic micro-economics class would know that as Ron Way writes, a tiny boost in supply will do almost nothing for the price at the pump. Folks who support this are purely playing politics.

Tony Wagner added:

Mr. Swift,

I, for one, am open to the idea of allowing this drilling, if it can be done safely and efficiently. However, I’m a little concerned that the EIA says there isn’t all that much oil to be found out there. What is the rebuttal to this argument? Is there a better estimate for the amount of oil that could be had through offshore drilling? Not to mention our capacity for actually processing the oil?

Otherwise, it seems like an empty symbolic gesture at best, and at worst, it is a terrible, misleading ploy by politicians like Bachmann. I don’t care for partisan labels; I would much rather hear a genuine response to the issue at hand.

From Ron Gotzman:

When the Dems see high gas prices they cry “mission accomplished.”

And Thomas Swift’s response:

Estimates of oil field capacities are always conservative. Google “reserves growth.”

Too, estimated oil reserves historically do not take all of the oil that may be in place into account because typically a large fraction of any field is determined to be unrecoverable; or more properly stated, economically unfeasible.

However, with oil at historic prices today, technologies that were heretofore considered unfeasible are feasible now. And as American oil production builds, so will the technology and expertise to exploit greater percentages of oil in place.

We will run out of oil at some point, but I don’t believe that point is anytime on the horizon. The Gulf of Mexico is estimated to hold as much oil as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela combined. It’s just down there, waiting to be tapped. (google “Noxal field” and “Cantarell field” to get a picture of what I’m talking about.) Finally, if we are not going to remove the oil, what earthly good is it? The renewable energy sources everyone says they want will not be forthcoming while there is still oil to be had; that’s just a fact.

Our problem is convincing the public to shut down the environmental theocrats that have stifled any attempt to build new refineries. We have the oil, we just can’t refine it; that has to change. Oh, and for those that say we won’t enjoy a price drop for years after new oil is being produced, I say: Every day we delay is another day wasted.

Why wait.

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Adam Minter commented on Jay Weiner’s July 3 essay, “Our national birthday offers a good time to reflect on another nation’s coming ‘glory days’ “:

I met and spoke with [University of Minnesota professor Doug Hartmann] on his first trip to China last year. He’s a thoughtful guy, and I respect his opinion. That noted, why not ask a Chinese person for their opinion on the Olympics? You know, somebody who grew up there, lives there, and might be able to offer a perspective that Minnesotans don’t ordinarily hear.

What I find disappointing — and disturbing — about MinnPost’s ongoing coverage of the Olympics is that Weiner seems uninterested in getting the Chinese side of issues. From the tone of the Hartmann interview, it strikes me that he’s falling to the old journalistic trap of believing that Chinese people have all been brainwashed, and thus the only relevant viewpoint is one offered by an outsider.

But this is silly. I’ve spent the last five years in Shanghai, and I can assure you that not only is there a broad range of opinion and outlook on the Olympics, but that it might surprise MinnPost readers with its subtlety. Why not allow a Chinese person to defend their patriotism and outlook on the games, instead of just letting Weiner and Hartmann take superior-sounding potshots at it? Has Weiner spoken to any Chinese people? There’s a large Chinese population at the U of M — why not run a lengthy interview with one of them?

As for the chanting of “Go China,” the Chinese is “Zhong guo, jia you” — which literally means “Add fuel, China.” It’s a difficult translation, but — in the context of the earthquake — it’s a matter of encouragement. … It is by no means equivalent to a blind chant of USA USA! It’s probably worth noting, too, that there are very significant cultural differences in the why and how of mass actions in China, and the US. In China, where the individual is commonly expected to defer to the group, the concept of rallying around China in a time of need is nothing special or new. And it certainly isn’t a sign of a resurgent nationalism.

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Bernice Vetsch reacted to Sharon Schmickle’s Monday essay, “Any Iran talks will come against an ominous backdrop”:

If our neighbor Canada were attacked and occupied by a foreign power that wished to steal its natural resources on behalf of selected transnational corporations, we would surely help it defend itself.

[Likewise], Iran has aided the two groups that arose in response to Israel’s ongoing refusal to honor UN resolutions and stop building illegal settlements on other countries’ land, and end its brutal and illegal occupation of the 1.5 millions imprisoned without access to the sea or the world except through Israeli-controlled checkpoints in Gaza. I am delighted to see that resistance to these policies is growing every day within Israel.

These [Iranian] groups are called Hamas (Palestinian) and Hezbollah, which arose to resist Israel after it destroyed Beirut in 1982. We call them terrorists, which makes Iran a “state sponsor of terror,” and therefore our enemy. The rest of the world calls them resistance fighters.

While Iran’s current president holds highly eccentric views about the Holocaust …, he won’t be in office forever. Iran is not a warlike country. It may work covertly to help its neighbors, but does not threaten us, Israel or anyone else with military action. As we should not threaten it.

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Dan Hintz commented on Eric Black’s Tuesday post, “Lessons in airing dirty laundry”:

When you have so much “dirty laundry” that you can’t possibly address it with a “data dump,” maybe that is a sign that you have no business running for public office in the first place.

John Olson added:

In Al’s case, the airing of his real or perceived peccadillos is not so much about the “quantity,” it’s about the “quality.” I doubt that there was ever any question about whether or not the Republicans would find stuff from his career, it was (and still is) a case of choosing stuff and running with it.

The question the DFL leadership will have to answer to in case things go awry down the stretch is whether another candidate may have had a better chance. If Franken is elected, they will — of course — be vindicated.

I do believe, however, that the difference here is that the discussion to date seems to be mostly centered on Franken’s material from his career – not his personal life. The candidate in Montana chose to air some very personal matters up front. As to the tax matter, who knows how many pols on both sides of the aisle have had scrapes with the IRS? Franken is certainly not the first. From a hypothetical viewpoint, would you rather support a candidate with a “clean” personal history and a career that has, at times, been controversial or would you rather support a person with a “clean” career track record and a “controversial” personal life? …

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John Krogstad was among those commenting on Eric Black’s Wednesday post, “Abe Lincoln and the war in Iraq”:

“As the framers designed the war powers, if the United States is attacked or invaded, the president (as commander-in-chief) has the power to respond militarily, until Congress has a chance to consider a declaration of war (which, under the attacked or invaded scenario, methinks would have a good chance of passing).”

It would be nice if we had the luxury of waiting for our enemies physically to attack us. Unfortunately, that became rather impractical when a pre-emptive strike could destroy us completely. Are you even willing to trade a major city like New York or San Francisco for the luxury of saying we were attacked first? This is also Israel’s dilemma. The country is small and one atomic bomb delivered by an Iranian missile could wipe them out in a single strike. The U.S. Constitution is not a suicide pact.

An excerpt from Craig Westover‘s comment:

Good post, Eric, but you’re still putting the onus in the wrong place by expecting (or hoping) that the next president offers to respect the Constitution on a point of presidential power. You’re making the mistake of Baker, Christopher and every commentator I’ve read so far on this issue — we need a law or some kind of consensus or a willing president to do what Congress already has within its power to do, and that is take back its Constitutionally authorized war-making authority (and by the way, the accountability that goes along with it).

What’s interesting, here, Eric, is that we have a president with approval ratings at historic lows and congress — liberals and conservatives — aren’t willing to step up and defend the Constitutional authority of their own branch of government. If they won’t do it now, when will they? This ought not be a partisan issue — except, maybe, that conservatives ought to be leading the charge.

The point is whether the presidential vision is spreading democracy at the point of a gun or spreading equality of opportunity through regulation and taxation (also, ultimately, at the point of a gun), such visions are beyond the scope of presidential authority under the Constitution. …

We can’t realistically expect reining in of presidential power to Constitutional limits to come from a president, especially one that fills stadiums with the power of a preacher. Congressional candidates from both parties should be grilled on separation of powers issues and asked if they have the cajones to stand up to their own parties in defense of the Constitution.

Ron Gotzman added:

I like Lincoln’s policy regarding military tribunals.

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Jeremy Powers weighed in on Doug Grow’s Wednesday post, “When it comes to party affiliation, Paulsen is GOP’s ‘stealth candidate’ for congressional seat”:

I find this both hilarious and frightening. Paulsen has spent his entire political career as a neo-con, right-wing, no-new-taxes Republican who hasn’t once veered from the classic Minnesota Tax Payers League vote. Unlike Ramstad, who has voted his conscience first and his party second, I doubt Paulsen could find a single vote for which he could claim the same thing.

Tony Wagner disagreed:

To my knowledge, Paulsen has never scored a perfect 100 from the Taxpayer’s League, so to claim he “hasn’t once veered” from their vote is an exaggeration at best.

Despite his time in Republican leadership positions, Paulsen generally hasn’t stuck his neck out as a hyper-partisan like certain higher-profile representatives, particularly on divisive social issues. I have no doubt that his de-emphasis on party is partly tied to the public perception of the “moderate” Ramstad, his district, and Republicans in general in the state of Minnesota, but I also feel he is closer to the center and more willing to bridge the divides than certain other Republicans.

Tommy Johnson responded:

Tony, while Erik isn’t one to “stick his neck out” to achieve “hyper-partisan” results, he’s certainly been hyper-partisan.

For anyone to suggest that anyone could reach the top of the Republican Party House Caucus, in this decade, without being “hyper-partisan” is simply being disingenuous.

I remember when Erik Paulsen first door-knocked me, back in 1994. And I’ve followed his political career ever since. Erik Paulsen is as partisan as partisan gets, and his “bi-partisan” persona of today is simply a cynical sham by one of the slickest politicians the 3rd District has ever had the misfortune to witness.

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