Suspicious packages multiply

If there is one heartening thing about unattended bags, it’s that they remind us of the following: So many things in this world might be booby-trapped to explode, but almost never are. We Americans send out our bomb squads with their little robots to detonate suspicious bags on a regular basis, as we probably should, and, thankfully, it generally turns out we have blown up some an old lunch bag, or a collection of girlie magazines some kid had hidden in a brown paper bag in the woods, or something equally non-explosive. Go ahead and do a Google news search for “suspicious package” — you’ll see what we mean.

But better to have some audio-visual equipment treated as a potentially infernal device, as recently happened in Tacoma, Wash., than have an actual infernal device mistaken for some audio-visual equipment. As a result, we occasionally end up with a spate of stories like the following: The Pioneer Press’s Elizabeth Mohr tells us that University Avenue near Berry Street was closed after three suspicious packages were reported under a bench. The bomb squad was dispatched. Andy Mannix of City Pages gives the follow-up: It was mid-20th century optics used for surveying. Which is a weird thing to find at a bus shelter, especially a mile or so from Ax-Man Surplus. But it’s not a bomb.

WCCO reports a suspicious substance at the Mall of America, which, as the Bloomington Police Department says in the story, happens with some regularity. This doesn’t surprise us at The Glean, as we have had Dippin’ Dots at the Mall, and what the heck are those? In this case, the “substance” was a package, and it was quickly cleared. There’s no follow-up as to what was actually in the package, so we’re just going to go ahead and guess that it was a plastic dagger from that weird live-action medieval fantasy video game. What’s it called? Oh yeah — MagiQuest.

Also from WCCO: The baggage claim area at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was cleared after three unattended bags were found. It turned out the bags were luggage, left behind by a woman traveling to Philadelphia. The reason she left the bags is uncertain, so we at the Glean are going to go ahead and guess she took the light rail to the Mall, got one of those crazy water massages and was so flummoxed by the experience that she just forgot her bags.

We at the Glean spend entirely too much time at the Mall.

So as it turns out, the only actual bomb was former Gov. Arne Carlson’s decision to endorse IP candidate Tom Horner, as discussed by MinnPost’s Doug Grow. Grow points to the MN-GOP’s fast and “harsh” response — Grow’s word, but declaring that your former governor “hasn’t been a Republican in years” does seem a bit harsh. According to Grow’s analysis, the speed and severity of the response suggests the endorsement has the MN-GOP worried that the endorsement might leech votes away from its candidate, Tom Emmer. Carlson didn’t seemed bothered by the response, saying, “What would they be saying if I had endorsed Tom Emmer? … They would have been saying I was the best governor in the state’s history — and the best-looking, too.”

Horner has been an underdog in this race, running a distant third in the polls, but the Carlson endorsement has FOX9 asking if Horner could actually win this one — they make the case that if Horner can successful paint the GOP candidate and the DFL candidate as too extreme, he could pick up a lot of votes from middle-of-the-roaders who, like monks, prefer moderation. It probably won’t hurt that the Star Tribune offered up an editorial about Horner praising him for a “well-crafted, credible answer to the giant question urgently confronting the next governor: How will you balance the state budget?”

Dayton, in the meanwhile, continues to make his case for higher taxes, which has been a fascinating process to watch in a country where “no taxation without representation” has been trimmed down to simply “no taxation” — some of you have certainly seen the sign uptown that contains an equation that the sign’s creator must have thought self-evident: “More taxes = less freedom.” At a time when this is considered an axiom, a pro-higher taxes position seems suicidal, but Dayton seems to be doing all right — at least, his cookies were more popular at the State Fair in a decidedly unscientific poll. Minnesota Public Radio’s Poligraph took a look at one of Dayton’s claims, that “Minnesota’s wealthiest citizens pay only two-thirds of their fair share of state and local taxes,” and found it to be true — they pay a smaller percentage of their income than other Minnesotans. “We have a moral responsibility … to make taxes more fair,” Dayton declared Monday at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, reported by Dave Orrick of the PiPress. Dayton, it seems, is working from a different axiom than the Uptown poster-maker — Orrick quotes Dayton as saying “Taxes, I believe, are the lubricant for the machinery of our democracy.” MinnPost’s Eric Black offers his take here.

Tom Emmer, in the meanwhile, is experiencing some pressure on another issue. As MPR reports, the Minnesota Family Council is pushing Emmer to make his opposition to gay marriage a centerpiece of his campaign. According to the story, “the group’s president Tom Prichard said he’s convinced that the same-sex marriage issue could be a game-changer in the November General Election.” As MinnPost’s Joe Kimball points out, they have a poll backing up their assertion, in which voters demonstrated less support for candidates when told “that Dayton and Horner supported redefining marriage to include homosexual couples and refused to support allowing the people to vote on the issue.”

According to the Family Council’s own survey report (PDF), the question was actually phrased this way: “If you knew that Mark Dayton and Tom Horner are opposed to letting the people vote on the same-sex marriage issue, and Tom Emmer favors letting the people vote on the same-sex marriage issue, would you then vote for …” It’s sort of hard to pin down what the heck they’re talking about — Dayton opposed a constitutional amendment against gay marriage, but doesn’t seem to have made any statements regarding whether or not Minnesotans can vote on the subject. But perhaps he does believe that way — many think human rights should not be at the mercy of a capricious majority, including our Founding Fathers, who enshrined that idea in the Constitution. Nonetheless, the poll doesn’t cite its source, and, as a result, has the faint aroma of a push poll. They also claim that the poll demonstrates that “Voters in Minnesota speak with a clear voice — they support traditional marriage” — but their own data shows a combined 45 percent of Minnesotans voting for candidates who are in favor of gay marriage, and only 42 percent voting for the candidate who opposes gay marriage.

In arts: Mn Original, republished on the Star Tribune webpage, looks at the Guthrie Theater’s wig master, Ivy Loughborough. We witness her make wigs for the Guthrie production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and Loughborough expresses a wish that people don’t really notice that everybody is wearing a wig in that show. This writer has seen hundreds of productions at the Guthrie, and has been a critic for over two decades in the Twin Cities, and has never really paid attention to the wigs — but now he will. It’s pretty much going to be the first thing he looks for.

In sports: Starcamcelebrity chats with Minnesota’s own Kevin Sorbo, best known for playing Hercules, about the Vikings’ loss in New Orleans. “I’m still in mourning,” he says.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by John Olson on 09/14/2010 - 10:29 am.

    Many of us suspected that those unattended packages on University Avenue were actually the playbooks for the Golden Gopher football team.

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/14/2010 - 11:39 am.

    Given the fact that voters have chosen to codify the mind numbingly obvious in every state they’ve had the opportunity to do so, including California, I’d say the MFC is on pretty solid ground.

    I’d also say they have little to worry about once Emmer is elected. We’ll get the vote.

  3. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 09/14/2010 - 11:55 am.

    What-can-suspicious brown do for you?

    If one were to receive a small brown package ‘of suspicious nature’ as they say, on your doorstep, return label reading
    “St Martin’s Press, Virginia”…would you assume it’s a lethal piece of merchandise…or could it be an advanced copy of retired colonel, Anthony Shaffer’s explosive book “Operation Dark Heart:Spycraft”; said book sent sureptitiously by a deviously motivated mailing room worker; a ‘spare’ copy from the 1000 advanced copies sitting in a warehouse in Virginia now under Pentagonal surveillance as they hasten to acquire them since they reveal more than the Department of Defense wants the nation or the world to know…and book burning may become a side-terrorizing occupation for the Pentagon now, and you just may have a copy delivered to your doorstep? Or then again it may be an explosive device or like this limited edition soon-to-be which will explode too in value overnight as the copies become an appealingly rare copy…or then again, be still my dark heart, it’s a gamble really…out of breath and out to lunch…
    “Pentagon seeks to eliminate book by 9/11 whistleblower’, Axis of Logic site by Patrick Martin plus Wash Post, NY Times etc…

  4. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/14/2010 - 01:00 pm.

    I say we just throw out the constitution and go with a web-based direct democracy, here in Minnesota. We could do California’s initiative and referendum process one better by letting people suggest changes to state and local policy, then letting whatever registered voters cared to offer an online vote, do so, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day.

    No doubt the rapidly-changing government policies, procedures, tax rates, human rights (or rights denied) and allowable or prohibited religious practices would eventually settle us down into a perfect utopian Nirvana of human existence!

    Or, more likely, lead us into complete chaos and the ultimate breakdown of society.

    I suspect that our founders were wiser than some of my fellow posters, here, and realized that a somewhat unwieldy, sometimes frustratingly slow process might prevent the very passionate, but low information, fact challenged, psychologically dysfunctional, ideologically (“my mind is already made up, don’t confuse me with the facts”) driven types from taking over without anyone noticing what they were up to.

    Personally, I believe the constitution of the United States reflects, purposefully or not, the forward-looking ideas and ideals of those who wrote it in exactly the same way Jesus reflected the future when he told his disciples, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” [John 16:12].

    Strange how some of those who claim the greatest faithfulness to their Christian faith want to limit it only to the exact words contained in the Bible itself (in their favorite translations as they understand them). Clearly, they still “cannot bear” the ADDITIONAL things Jesus has to say.

    So it is that some who want to claim the greatest faithfulness to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Minnesota, cannot bear the forward-looking implications our founders wrote into those documents with the hope that future generations would bring new things forth based on those implications; things which their contemporaries “could not bear” at that time.

    So it is that some of us cannot bear to offer human rights to those whom we disagree with or dislike, but the fact is, they ARE human and deserve the same rights we enjoy.

  5. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/14/2010 - 01:11 pm.

    Absent any meaningful budget policies from Rep Emmer. It was inevitable that gay marriage would enter the election.

  6. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/14/2010 - 02:13 pm.

    “It was inevitable that gay marriage would enter the election.”

    That isn’t much of an insight.

    The sand-is-food crowd has had their nonsense up in the public’s grill for the last 15 years. It seems that the only way we’re ever going to get people to keep their sexual preferences to themselves is to spell common sense out in plain English.

  7. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 09/14/2010 - 02:14 pm.

    “Hmmmm,” I say to FOX9.

    There must be a lot of us “monks” running around loose in Minnesota, then. And that is okay as long as you don’t try to slyly compare us to some silly ’60’s rock band (Hermits or Monkees.)

    And all power to us! For we shall bring back discipline and compassion to our beloved Minnesota!

  8. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 09/14/2010 - 03:42 pm.

    Famous last words…

    Anthony Shaffer’s book, advance copy, is now going for $2025.00 on e-Bay.

    I’m going to open the suspicious brown package…

  9. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/14/2010 - 08:15 pm.

    //Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.//

    Any way you look at it, the decision was written for a court of one—Kennedy—the man who has written most eloquently about dignity and freedom and the right to determine one’s own humanity.

  10. Submitted by Brad Lundell on 09/15/2010 - 10:29 am.

    Mr. Swift, If you could, pleae explain to me Glenn Beck’s seeming change-of-course on the gay marriage issue that we witnessed in his exchange with Bill O’Reilly a few weeks ago.

    From my vantage point–and I could easily be wrong–Beck is reading polls showing that the issue may be a long-term “loser,” especially with the pure libertarian base and that by focusing religious expression more on an individual basis (I’m paraphrasing here) “get back to your churches, synagogues, and mosques” in Beck’s words, the right can somehow embrace both organized religion and gay marriage.

    I’m not trying to be snarky here. It could easily be the other way. Beck may be trying to assure his fans–especially those among his more purely libertarian base that don’t give two hoots about gay marriage (and in fact may support it) that he’s not a bigot through his statements, knowing full well that the political process will stunt any progress toward gay marriage.

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