“That’s not how we do it in Minnesota,” 1st District Rep. Tim Walz is quoted as saying regarding the shouting matches that have erupted at town hall meetings regarding health care reform. The quote comes from the Star Tribune’s The Big Question blog, in which Kevin Diaz explains how Walz intends to return civility to the discussions: Walz has invited Republican John Kline to join him at a forum next Thursday. Unfortunately, it seems Kline never received the invitation and has dismissed the whole thing as a publicity stunt.
In the meanwhile, the Star Tribune’s Chris Serres explores the causes of the angry town hall meetings and finds a lot of very worried and angry people, but very little real information — one of the strongest images from the story is of masses of town hall attendees frantically scribbling down Web addresses that purport to have information regarding proposed reforms, while others complain that the current bill is too big to print up from their home computer and too bewildering to understand. The fact that there has been a lot of misinformation hasn’t helped either. Serres quotes former U.S. Sen. David Durenberger, now a senior health policy researcher at the University of St. Thomas: “There are so many people out there today relying on punditry and talk radio for information that it’s hard to tell if this is real,” Durenberger tells Serres. “We’re better informed, but are we getting good information?“
Bill Salisbury of the Pioneer Press likewise is intrigued by the protesters, and he profiles several on Robert Street in downtown St. Paul. Some of them are first-time protesters; “I never expected I’d ever do this. Years ago, I would have been embarrassed if my kids demonstrated,” one says. MinnPost’s Doug Grow followed a group of Tea Party Patriots into the office of 4th District Congresswoman Betty McCollum, where they demanded to express their anger over health care reforms to McCollum, who was in Japan at her son’s wedding. “Even if my son was being married right now, I would be at this meeting if I were a congresswoman,” Grow quotes a woman as shouting, before a McCollum staffer reminded them that the protesters had shown up unannounced.
Tim Pawlenty’s speech Friday to the the second annual GOPAC conference in Chicago makes it clear that the outgoing governor and presidential hopeful sees blood in the water regarding health care reform, as reported by Andy Barr of Politco. Among a series of typically quippy mots (a sample groaner: “It appears that President Obama is making great progress on climate change, he is changing the political climate in the country back to Republican”), Pawlenty had this to say about the subject of health care: “Medicaid is essentially bankrupt, Medicare is essentially bankrupt, why the heck would we give the federal government another entitlement program to manage?”
As part of his own efforts regarding health care reform, Al Franken will be visiting Mayo Clinic today, but it’s another story that has put Franken in the news lately. As the Star Tribune’s Eric Roper reports, the senator has expressed displeasure with Arlington Cemetery after a Minnesota soldier who was killed in Afghanistan was buried with something less than the full honors that might have been accorded him (specifically, his funeral lacked a horse-drawn caisson) because of a backlog of military funerals, many from veterans of earlier wars who are dying of natural causes. Franken wrote an angry letter to Arlington officials, saying, “This is an intolerable and undue burden on a family that is already mourning the loss of a loved one, and the perception left by this incident is unbecoming and unacceptable.”
Is Michele Bachmann considering running for president? At the end of a long profile that can perhaps best be described as a gooshy love letter to the congresswoman, Drew Zahn from WorldNetDaily.com asked her outright. Bachmann’s answer: “If I felt that’s what the Lord was calling me to do, I would do it,” she answered. “When I have sensed that the Lord is calling me to do something, I’ve said yes to it. But I will not seek a higher office if God is not calling me to do it. That’s really my standard.” Perhaps feeling that she hadn’t been clear enough, she continued: “If I am called to serve in that realm, I would serve, but if I am not called, I wouldn’t do it.”
This may seem like a bit of waffling — after all, how can we know what God wants of us? — but Bachmann had pretty much credited every decision in her adult life to direct communications from the almighty, as demonstrated in this video of a speech given at the Living Word Church in 2006, in which she makes an inventory of major life events that she had no real interest in, including tax law and, er, marriage to her husband, which she then did anyway at God’s insistence.
If you’re not Michele Bachmann, however, it can be a bit harder to know the will of God. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), for instance, is having a convention in Minneapolis, starting today, that will wrestle with the question of gay clergymen. It’s a divisive topic, but it sounds as though nobody is expecting any big blowups: “We’re Lutherans; we’re insistent but polite,” says Phil Soucy in a Star Tribune story by Jeff Strickler; Soucy is the spokesman for a coalition of groups that support the ordination of LGBT ministers.
Nonetheless, division is a real possibility, as Patrick Condon of the Associated Press points out, telling the story of the Rev. Dave Glesne of the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fridley, who opposes LGBT pastors. The story quotes Glesne about what his congregation will do if the ELCA votes to allow gay and lesbian clergymen: “The conversation we had left me no doubt that we will definitely have a discussion about leaving the ELCA.”
Of course, the big sports news this weekend was Tiger Woods’ loss at the PGA to Y.E. Yang; perhaps the best story is from the Associated Press, which retells the tale through the eyes of South Koreans who watched the match, and who, as the story reports, now want to redub Yang “The Tiger Killer.” But Woods’ loss isn’t the only sports tale worth telling: WCCO’s Mike Binkley takes a look at a group of senior citizens in Bloomington who have formed a hockey team. Binkley quotes one of the players: “I’ve had both shoulders done, biceps resected (removed) last year. I’m just coming off ankle surgery. I’m trying to get in shape. At our age, it gets harder and harder all the time.“