The Elena Kagan hearings came to a close Thursday afternoon with Sen. Al Franken declaring, “The nomination is confirmed.” Hart Van Denburg of City Pages offers a brief summary of what he sees as the highlights of the hearing, including Franken seeming to nod off, Franken sketching colleague Sen. Jeff Sessions and Sen. Amy Klobuchar asking Kagan about the “Twilight” movie franchise. Van Denburg also mentions Franken’s use of the hearings as a platform to explicitly criticize the Supreme Court, which, under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, has, in Franken’s view, consistently siding with corporate interest over the interests of the everyday citizen.
There wasn’t much drama to the Kagan hearings, causing local blogger Erica Mauter to complain on Twitter the following: “That Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearing was smooth and boring says to me that she’s not liberal enough for my liking.” This is not to say Kagan was entirely without critics — Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for instance, did not feel she had enough judicial experience, which he laid out on ABC’s “Top Line.” Consistent with this, McConnell cast his vote against Kagan. McConnell also offered up the closing remarks in opposition to Kagan, and there’s where the last bit of drama occurred in this whole affair. It’s not much, although it’s enough that Politico has declared that things are getting a little “weird” in the Senate.
Specifically, as McConnell was speaking, Franken was reportedly making theatrical gestures and whispering under his breath — the description comes from a Senate GOP aide, who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, a condition they inexplicably accepted. So what does being theatrical and whispering under your breath means? Until a video emerges, who knows? We like to imagine he was taking Victorian recitation poses, but only because that’s the most amusing theatrical pose we can conjure.
Franken took the charge seriously enough to drop off a handwritten apology to McConnell, and issued a statement to MinnPost, republished by Washington correspondent Derek Wallbank, saying, “He is entitled to give his speech with the presiding officer just listening respectfully.”
There is a lot of apologizing going on lately. Target’s CEO, Gregg Steinhafel, apologized to his employees for Target’s donation of funds to an organization the supports GOP candidate Tom Emmer’s bid for governor. If you have been following the news, you know that this donation has come under a lot of criticism, mostly owing to Emmer’s opposition to gay marriage. Tom Scheck of Minnesota Publc Radio’s Polinaut reprints the memo, which reads, in part, “While I firmly believe that a business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry.”
This doesn’t mean the heat is off Target — for one thing, the memo apologized for ruffling feathers, but little more, and Target has not asked for its money back. Tom Webb of the Pioneer Press details additional pressure activist groups intend to put on Target, including petitions, protests and boycotts. MN Forward, the recipient of the controversial Target donation, has responded with a terse “We all lose when activists think they can shut down legitimate speech they disagree with,” which seems to fly in the face of free market ideals often supported by conservative candidates, in which the market is kept in check by customers voting with their dollar. It hardly seems like a free market unless an unhappy patron can boycott it. And for those who are feeling especially boycott-happy, WCCO’s Pat Kessler has provided a list of 13 companies that have donated to MN Forward.
We haven’t had much by way of Denny Hecker news lately, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still tales from the deteriorating life of the former car sales maganate. For one thing, as MaryJo Webster of the Pioneer Press reports, he’s close to losing his life-size Elvis statue. Additionally, as Dee DePass of the Star Tribune tells it, Hecker’s ex-wife is accusing him of stealing her mail. Apparently, her mail was being redirected to a Wayzata P.O. box, although Hecker’s lawyer says he had nothing to do with that.
In the arts: The Fringe Festival is on, if you hadn’t heard (as performer Dawyne “The Rock” Johnson apparently hadn’t in this cartoon). This is to theater fans in the Twin Cities what the start of football season is to normal people, or, at least, this author assumes this is an appropriate parallel, but, then, this author never really knows when football season starts, but is clutching his Fringe passes like Charle Buckett might clutch a gold Wonka ticket. The Pioneer Press offers a useful guide to Fringe venues, while the astonishingly well-named Quinton Skinner of City Pages offers his preview of Fringe must-sees.
Of course, the best place to get reviews for the Fringe is on the event’s own site, where anybody can publish his or her response to a play; a word to the wise with these, however: ignore the first few posted, which will most likely be raves from friends of the performers trying to game the system, and, in general, disregard the highest and lowest ratings, as is sometimes done in a competitive sporting events that are scored by judges. Or, as this author hears is done in competitive sporting events; he hasn’t ever really been to one.
In sports: Jim Anderson of the Strib discusses how two Minnesota cities, Woodbury and Eagan, have been targeted in a report by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla. They complain that these town used stimulus funds to update their hockey rinks, expenditures that the authors found “stupid and inappropriate.” And they’re right that funds were spent on hockey rinks — for heating and cooling projects that actually slashes operating costs and water use dramatically, saving taxpayers money.