On slow news days, sometimes entertainment comes in the form of those minor tussles between various political vanguards that seem to happen every now and then in front of the state Capitol. Take, for instance, a video that’s making the rounds lately: The video shows a fellow calling himself Robert Erickson, who somehow managed to get himself listed as a speaker at a recent Minnesotans Seeking Immigration Reform rally. He cheerfully engaged in some vague but typical-sounding anti-immigration rhetoric, but, toward the end of his speech, began railing against immigrants from Europe, shouting “I don’t care if they are Polish, Irish, English, Italian or Norwegian! European immigrants are responsible for the most violent and heinous crimes in the history of the world, including genocide and slavery!”
City Pages posts responses to this grass-roots punking, which mostly consists of headliner Ruthie Hendrycks wrestling for control as counter-protesters shout her down; amusingly, City Pages also reposts a tweet from Hendrycks claiming, “Our group was not duped! (We) knew he would make a fool of himself up there and we let him!” Her claim of not being fooled seems directly contradicted by an angry email posted on the Protect Our Border Now Yahoo group, in which she complains of being duped.
Thank goodness we can look to Washington for more serious politicking. Oh, wait, maybe we can’t. Not when one of the battles brewing in Washington is whether the words “In God We Trust” and “One nation under God” can be engraved onto a wall at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. As Minnesota Independent’s Paul Schmelzer tells the story, an organization called the Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing to prevent this from happening, and maybe they have a point — after all, the wall between religion and state isn’t a very firm one when we start officially slapping the word “God” on every available surface. But 44 congresspeople, including Michele Bachmann, have called for the lawsuit to be thrown out, in language that couldn’t be more dismissive. The lawsuit, according to the congresspeople’s amicus brief, “serves no purpose other than to waste judicial resources at a time in our Nation’s history when those resources are needed in cases involving real threats to American liberties.” (PDF here.)
Fair enough. So let’s look to something that seems a clearer melding of government and religion, again from Minnesota Independent, this time filed by Andy Birky, and once again featuring Bachmann. Birky examines an organization with an oddly menacing name, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International Inc. Bachmann is long a supporter of this ministry, and spoke via video at a fundraiser for the group on Thursday. They’re a conservative religious group; quotes from the event include “We are not a land of liberals,” “We are not a land of homosexuals” and “We are a Christian nation regardless if you like that or not.” (A speaker also claimed that Kevin Jennings, Obama’s assistant deputy secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, had a message for the assembled: “Go F- yourselves!”)
And so what? People have a right to believe what they want to believe, and to say what they want to say, and Bachmann is free to associate with whomever she chooses. The trouble is, as Birky has pointed out in past columns, that the ministry, which is, if you can believe it, sort of a punk rock band-cum-ministry, targets public schools to send its message, which may be unconstitutional. How have responses been from schools? Birky cited one response in a story in September: “At Pequot Lakes High School in central Minnesota in 2007, the group stirred controversy when students reportedly ran out of the assembly crying after the group showed graphic images of abortion and told the students that God wanted women to be subservient to men.” Punk sure has changed since we at the Daily Glean were young.
As the Associated Press informs us, the prosecution rested in Tom Petters trial Monday, and they need a rest, as it’s been quite a tale they’ve told, creating a portrait of a Ponzi scheme headed up by a gang of neurotics and ne’er-do-wells who regularly scanned their offices for surveillance devices and had long, weepy phone calls with each other in which they expressed terror that the mob was going to get them; at least, that’s the portrait we got from the trial, which has, frankly, made our brains a little mushy from the sheer drama of it. “Now it’s up to the defense to put the evidence in a different light for the jury,” the AP tells us, which seems herculean. John Welbes from the Pioneer Press is covering the defense’s case, which, at the moment, seems to be about trying to establish that Petters actually did some legitimate business: The first witness was from Circuit City, with whom Petters did $28.5 million in business in 2000. According to Welbes, the witness “said that Petters was late paying Circuit City what he owed, though he did eventually pay.” Now that’s a character witness!
In sports, former Gopher and Ultimate Fighting Championship Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar may be looking at the end of his career, according to UFC President Dana White, who, quoted in a news services story, said, “There’s a possibility Lesnar will never fight again.” The trouble? WCCO tells us it’s diverticulitis, “a disease where small pouches form in the digestive system.” It’s an unfortunate, deeply unpleasant ailment, and doubly unpleasant since perhaps the only mention the disease has gotten in the mass media in the past two decades has been from Joe Piscopo and Robin Duke’s characters The Whiners on “Saturday Night Live,” who would complain about the disease in an adenoidal voice and insist they can only eat mac and cheese.