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Obama launches gun-control road show in Minneapolis

Asking why President Obama was coming to Minnesota to talk about gun control, Peter Grier of the Christian Science Monitor writes: “The short answer is that Minnesota is a reliably blue state, and Minneapolis officials have taken steps to attempt to curb gun violence that Obama would like to duplicate on the national level. So it gives him a good backdrop, so to speak, from which to deliver words aimed at the nation as a whole. ‘Minneapolis is a city that has taken important steps to reduce gun violence and foster a conversation in the community about what further action is needed,’ the White House said in a statement prior to the trip. … According to an interesting post in The Monkey Cage political blog, there’s more than poll evidence that people are still talking about gun control weeks after Newtown. A New York University analysis of more than 5 million tweets shows sharp spikes in social-media discussion of gun policy-related keywords. ‘What’s interesting about this is that it provides at least some rudimentary evidence that it is not just those in the media that are continuing to talk about topics such as gun control; it is the mass public as well,’ writes NYU politics professor Joshua Tucker.”

Don Davis of the Forum papers says: “[H]e is not coming to a state that will offer its full support to such actions. While there appears to be broad agreement that keeping guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people is a good idea, many Minnesotans — especially in rural areas — fear Obama’s ideas overall will hamper gun ownership. ‘The only thing that worries me about the president coming here is that a week after he leaves there won’t be any guns left on the shelves,’ Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, said, indicating that Obama’s appearance will convince gun supporters that they need to buy guns while they still can. ‘This guy is the chief gun salesman in the United States right now,’ Cornish added.” There is truth in that.

As for the Prez’ arrival, Paul Walsh of the Strib writes: “Air Force One arrived about noon at the Air Reserve Station of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. … Obama stepped off Air Force One with Minnesota’s U.S. senators, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. He jogged over to a group gathered on the tarmac and shook hands and chatted for a moment. … Soon before Obama’s arrival in his city, Mayor R.T. Rybak said Congress will have failed if the only measure passed is expanded background checks. ‘I think any politician in Washington who looks at the issue of assault weapons and eliminating clips as a political game of who wins and who loses hasn’t been out on the street,’ Rybak said standing a few feet from the podium where Obama was to speak. ‘I think it is outrageous at the first response to the assault weapons ban from (U.S. Sen.) Dianne Feinstein, a mayor who has been at a tragic shooting, would be all, “Aw, it is not going to pass,” ‘ he added. ‘Well guess what, people are dying out there. I am not satisfied with the main sort of front from the people in Washington that this is sort of a game.’ Rybak also called out other politicians who have been quiet or less than forceful on the issue. ‘Where are the other people on this issue?’ he asked. ‘Get a spine, get a backbone. People are losing their lives.’ ” I suppose he was referring to Harry Reid, but were Tim Walz and Collin Peterson invited to that event?

Brandt Williams of MPR adds this to talk of Minneapolis “leveraging” its buying power with gun retailers and manufacturers: “Minneapolis has spent nearly $800,000 on guns and ammunition for its police department, purchasing shotguns for its officers from Remington, and directing officers to buy pistols from Smith and Wesson. Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett says his city’s police department has spent just under $1.2 million on weapons over the past two years, also through business relationships with Remington and Smith and Wesson. Rybak and Barrett have steered clear of the word ‘boycott’ when asked about their tactical options in relationship to gun makers. But Barrett says mayors need to gather a coalition large enough to attract the attention of the gun industry from a business standpoint. ‘If there are more and more communities and more and more mayors involved in this, that does make our voice that much louder and stronger,’ he said. The mayors have their work cut out for them, says Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, a gun control advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. ‘The firearms business is a multi-billion dollar industry that doesn’t want to see laws passed that could shrink its already declining customer base, he said. Despite recent increases in retail sales, the number of households with at least one gun has been declining over the last 30 years. So what’s happening is the traditional gun-buying segment, essentially white males, they’re getting older, they’re dying off. And to borrow a phrase from the tobacco industry, there are no replacement shooters to come to take their place,’ he said.”

The GleanThe scuffle over Gustavus Adolphus President Jack Ohle gets attention in the Strib today, with Jenna Ross writing: “Results of a faculty survey …show that many faculty members question Ohle’s priorities: investing in new buildings and public relations while cutting departments’ budgets. Responses describe Ohle as a ‘dictator’ whose ‘top-down leadership style drips with contempt and arrogance.’ The board of trustees is ‘reviewing closely the concerns of those students and faculty and will respond appropriately,’ board chairman Mark Bernhardson said in a statement. ‘Institutions of higher education are in an ever more rapidly changing environment and such changes have caused concerns with those accustomed to its more traditional structures.’ … some faculty members say Ohle spends too much on trips and ceremonies and too little on student learning. The college’s resources ‘are being squandered by a president who positions himself as the sole decision maker, all the while failing to heed the knowledgeable persons around him,’ said Steven Mellema, a longtime physics professor and Gustavus alumnus. Since Ohle took charge, faculty salaries have fallen in comparison with similar schools. Full professors made an average of $76,200 in 2011-12, according to data collected by the American Association of University Professors, just below the median nationally for baccalaureate colleges. The case illustrates a growing and ‘unfortunate lack of trust between professors and presidents’ across the country, said Prof. John Thelin, a higher education historian at the University of Kentucky.”

Next season’s schedule of touring Broadway shows has been released. Rohan Preston of the Strib says: “ ‘Once’, the heart-warming Tony-winning stage adaptation of the 2006 film, is coming to Minneapolis next season, the Hennepin Theatre Trust today announced Monday. The musical about an Irish street musician and the Czech flower vendor who becomes his muse is part of a 2013-14 Broadway season that has newer titles and old favorites. The slate includes five-time Tony winner ‘Peter and the Starcatcher,’ the celebrated backstory musical about Peter Pan (March 11–16, 2014); the nun musical ‘Sister Act’ (May 6–11, 2014); and ‘Ghost The Musical’ (June 18-23, 2014). The trust’s new season also features the London touring production of ‘We Will Rock You’ the rock revue centered on the music of Queen (Nov. 19-24) as well as ‘Evita’ the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical about charismatic Argentinean first lady Eva Perón (Jan. 28–Feb. 2, 2014).” And yes, if you missed them the last 26 times through, “Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Mis” are coming back.

He’s impersonating a what?  Mara Gottfried of the PiPress says: “St. Paul police are investigating after they were alerted to a photo they were told depicts a male officer dressed as a female Muslim Target employee. Mukhtar Ibrahim directed a Tweet to the official St. Paul police Twitter account Sunday at 7:55 p.m.: ‘Can u pls verify if this man mocking Somali women employees at Target is one of your officers?’ Ibrahim identifies himself as a journalist/editor based in the Washington, D.C., area on his Twitter profile. Ibrahim received a reply from the St. Paul police Twitter account at 8:35 a.m. Monday: ‘SPPD wants to thx u for bring this to our att. We take this seriously&are investigating.’ ”

With this year’s Super Bowl now history, we can turn our attention to the “Soon to be Super Bowl Champion Minnesota Vikings” odds of winning it all next winter in New York. Michael Rand of the Strib tells us: “The initial Super Bowl odds for the 48th edition of the big game have been released … . The Vikings are 40-1 long shots to win the Super Bowl next year, tied with the Lions, Colts and Chargers at that number (tied for 16th longest odds). The Packers, meanwhile, are at 10-1 — with only three teams above them (the Patriots, 49ers and Broncos). Even the Bears, at 30-1, are above the Vikings.” In other woirds, book your flight now.

The PiPress’ Richard Chin covered a gathering of puzzle-heads: “[Crossword puzzle aficionados] gathered in St. Paul over the weekend for the second annual Minnesota Crossword Puzzle Tournament sponsored by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library and the James J. Hill Reference Library. The speed solvers took on original puzzles created by crossword constructors with Minnesota ties, and in the case of this puzzle, with a Minnesota theme. … Finalists had 15 minutes to solve the final puzzle. Amateurs: first place, Ginny Agresti at 7:38; second, Brian McGill, 7:49; third, Katie Gray, 10:37. Experts: first place, Jake Gelfand at 13:39; second, Carl Voss, incomplete; and third Marcia Brott, incomplete.
Teams: first, SnowQ Puzzlers, 6:36; second, Pen, Never Pencil, 7:37; Word Warriors, 13:57.”

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 02/04/2013 - 02:28 pm.

    road show is not governing

    If President Obama is really interested in changing gun laws, he would be negotiating with lawmakers in Congress right now. Obama doesn’t know how to govern, however. He’d rather campaign.That’s why he came here, even though what happens in Minneapolis has no effect on the national scene.

    • Submitted by David Wintheiser on 02/04/2013 - 03:23 pm.

      Exactly the opposite

      To me, the ‘roadshow’ shows that the President is serious about this issue — after all, four years of ‘negotiations’ with the GOP has resulted in nothing but concessions in exchange for little actual progress.

      The only thing that will convince Republicans to support the President is a demonstration that the people also favor the issue and will punish the opposing party at the polls for obstructing the issue. This is the blueprint that got health reform passed, and it’s heartening to see it being followed for gun control.

    • Submitted by Rachel Weisman on 02/04/2013 - 04:34 pm.

      Bully Pulpit

      Please refer to the definition of a bully pulpit.

    • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 02/04/2013 - 06:01 pm.


      Incumbent presidents have been “campaigning” for their political agenda pretty much since the train made fast (by their standards) overland travel feasible. To suggest that it is somehow different when this president does it is just plain silly.

  2. Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 02/04/2013 - 06:34 pm.

    Rural areas fear ideas that may “hamper” gun ownership

    Really? That is exactly what this whole effort and discussion is about: hamper gun ownership! Rep Gifford said it simply – “We must ACT now. Too many children are dying.” We have incidents of innocent people being killed with guns almost every day in the news. Canada doesn’t, the UK doesn’t, and France doesn’t. Can’t we see and acknowledge that we are an extremely violent country because guns are so readily available?

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/04/2013 - 06:53 pm.

    I would only add…

    …to Mr. Wintheiser’s comment that we have plenty of proof over the past 4 years that “negotiation with Republicans is an oxymoronic phrase, since said “negotiation” consists of the Republicans in question repeatedly saying, “My way or the highway.”

    I’ve no doubt that Brian is correct in asserting that there’s much truth in what Mr. Cornish is saying: “‘The only thing that worries me about the president coming here is that a week after he leaves there won’t be any guns left on the shelves,’ Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, said, indicating that Obama’s appearance will convince gun supporters that they need to buy guns while they still can. ‘This guy is the chief gun salesman in the United States right now,’ Cornish added.’ ”

    What a sad commentary, then, on Mr. Cornish, and on the portion of the gun-owning public for which he speaks.

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