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RNC Glean: Sneering at community organizers

In Thursday’s local news roundup, Palin’s speech makes folks forget Pawlenty, demonstrations move to Minneapolis, and gay Republicans bait Democrats.

Local dailies agree “feisty” Sarah Palin hit a home run, at least with the GOP faithful in Xcel. The Strib’s Kevin Diaz and Pat Lopez term the reaction “exuberant.” Delivering vice-presidential red meat with a smile and a sneer even Tim Pawlenty couldn’t pull off, Palin earns this quote from an Isanti delegate: “Obama probably has sweat on his brow tonight.” The Fox9 home page declares “A Star is Born.” Meanwhile, a Minneapolis-woman-on-the-street calls Palin “catty.” Sexist!

Wednesday night speakers repeatedly denigrated Obama’s days community organizing in Chicago. Palin, referencing her time leading 9,000-person Wasilla, Alaska, fired this killshot: “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer — except that you have actual responsibilities.” Of course, she was mayor in 2002 and he last community organized in the late-’80s, before going to law school. No local news org notes this. The Deets’ Ed Kohler offers a rather pithy distillation of Palin’s message.

Strib editorialists say Palin “passed the introductory test,” but point out she hasn’t yet faced the press. A PiPress editorial calls Palin’s speech electrifying, by says when considering her, “We should remove the ‘vice’ … [because] the chief duty of the office is the one that no one wants the VP to assume.” But despite the need for a “full-court vetting,” now that we know about the teen pregnancy, the PiPressers state, “We can pull the veil of privacy over the daughter and her husband-to-be.”

Why Palin and not Pawlenty?, the PiPress’s Rachel Stassen-Berger and Bill Salisbury ask. One intriguing response from top state right-to-lifer Scott Fischbach says “Folks can wrap their arms around Sarah much more than they could around Tim,” because of Palin’s Down Syndrome baby and teen-pregnancy response. All those years cultivating a flawless image, and Pawlenty is undone by imperfection? It’s also a great illustration that Palin’s family is a terrific political prop, though GOPers term it offlimits for criticism.

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Policy points: The Strib highlights Palin’s promise to drill offshore and “lay more pipelines … build more nuclear plants … create jobs with clean coal … and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources.” U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman calls it a “kitchen-sink approach,” the Strib’s Jon Tevlin writes. Tevlin notes McCain has “struggled” to connect the dots on broader economic proposals, and quotes local economist C. Ford Runge saying the Arizona senator has “an extremely limited grasp of economics in general.”

MPR’s Tom Scheck says the homemade-looking “hockey mom” signs were fake; they were made by the McCain campaign.

In his convention speech, Norm Coleman punched the European-resentment hot-button, noting McCain “would rather spend his time creating 200,000 new jobs in America than speaking to 200,000 Germans in Berlin.” The Strib’s Mark Brunswick says Coleman called Obama’s energy plan “way too little, way too cautious, way too late” and said he “doesn’t want the folks who run the IRS to run my health care.” Norm also proposed abolishing Medicare and the VA. Just kidding about that last one.

More Norm: MPR’s Molly Bloom notes Coleman’s disapproval rating has hit 51 percent; it’s the highest in SurveyUSA’s three-year-old tracking. On the flip, 44 percent of Minnesotans still think Norm is fine.

You sure you want to go there? Ex-St. Cloud Times reporter Bill McAllister, now Sarah Palin’s press secretary, likens his new boss to Paul Wellstone, the Strib’s Rochelle Olson and Mike Kaszuba write. Before you finish that coffee spit-take, McAllister notes the ideological differences, but says “You could have a conversation with Wellstone about anything. It’s the same thing with Sarah Palin.”

The arresting moved to downtown Minneapolis last night, as 102 people were pinched after a Rage Against the Machine concert, PiPress staffers write. A street-clogging crowd of 200 eventually dwindled to 75. No reports on property damage, and Minneapolis’s police chief says he expected worse. (Be careful what you wish for.) Fox9 video here. Minnesota Independent’s Andy Birkey has more coverage. MPR’s Sharon McNary checks the cognitive dissonance between the Rage show and Palin’s speech.

With demonstrations waning, both dailies take a step back and ask whether policing was too aggressive. The Strib’s Randy Furst and Anthony Lonetree note 38 percent of felony arrests have been dismissed outright; another 22 percent were referred for downgrading, adds Minnesota Independent’s Paul Demko. Five St. Paul councilmembers plead for more time to assess overreach, though they regret some peaceful demonstrators were caught amid criminal actors. The ACLU may file a civil rights lawsuit.

The PiPress’s Dave Orrick and John Brewer compile a great look-back at police and anarchist strategies in St. Paul’s streets. It’s full of fascinating detail: Anachists didn’t fling urine, but instead used ball-peen hammers to bust windows; they used a 50/50 mix of water and liquid antacid to wash eyes and skin. Officers waited to make arrests until they had numbers over protesters. A sidebar notes that anarchists took lots of photos of officers to ferret out possible infiltrators.

The PiPress’s Emily Gurnon details the cases against eight people charged with felony conspiracy. Seven are in custody on $75,000 bail except one Minneapolis woman who was released (accidentally?) and is now being sought. There’s talk of literature, color-coded maps, PVC pipe and six police scanners, but does that add up to a crime or is something more required? That something more may be confidential informant testimony.

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More arrest details: MPR’s Bob Collins provides a PDF of the 18-page search warrant police used. Via Collins, MPR offers a fabulous map of where arrestees are from, nationally and even internationally. MPR’s Jessica Mador talks to families of the arrestees.

RNC Welcoming Committee members will reveal themselves today, KSTP says in a piece looking at police infiltration. A second report looks at released arrestees.

GOP arrestee: The Strib’s Nick Coleman writes about a 22-year-old “faithful Republican” and former state Senate staffer arrested for watching protests. Sam Welna, who was swept up Monday, says police gave contradictory orders; he was still in jail as of Wednesday evening. His parents are “appalled at the actions that have resulted in our son’s loss of freedom for three days.”

No arrests at the Parkway Theater, where the New York Times’ David Carr blogs about MinnPost writer Jim Walsh’s alt-all-star Parkway Theater Hootenany. The event featured Billy Bragg, Ike Reilly and Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello. Carr says Bragg performed what might be the only version of “Street Fighting Man” with a violin solo. “The evening was a mix of pratfalls, laughs, protest, and yes, abundant Jameson,” Carr writes.

The Strib’s Tom Horgen follows gay Republican delegates and friends to local clubs. One says he asks gay liberals, “What have the Democrats done for you?” Seriously, he asks that.

PiPress reporter Jason Hoppin follows a nonprofit corruption exposer as she crashed a swank GOP party using a pass found the night before. The Sunlight Foundation has made a big deal out of connecting “private, secretive” events to public actions. Nancy Watzman made it past four checkpoints at a Holman Field hangar, and found “a popcorn machine, a mini-doughnut trailer that could have come straight from the State Fair, and top-shelf booze.” It’s a fun yarn but pretty thin soup. Watzman has been turned away from several events.

Civic Fest is a huge bust. The Strib’s Bill McAuliffe says many democracy-paraphernalia vendors have left town. Sellers say they were promised attendance of 1.5 million; organizers say they only claimed 150,000; just 50,000 have shown up. The Business Journal’s John Vomhof, Jr. notes that vendors paid $2,500 each, but McAuliffe reports many grossed less than that. The $15 admission was cut to donations-only earlier this week. The non-event mercifully ends at 5 p.m. today.

The Strib’s Pam Louwagie follows up on Bob Collins’ MPR report of a few days ago: No one is showing up to see speakers at St. Paul’s Open Forum Stage near Xcel Energy Center. A nice Jim Gehrz photo that makes the point definitively. MPR’s Tim Post has a similar report.

Hometown pride: The PiPress’s Joe Soucheray writes, “It has become terribly evident that you are safer in St. Paul with the occasional anarchist than you are in Minneapolis not knowing from whence the next gunshot might be fired.”