How Many Days and Nights?

A scene:

A hurricane swirls toward a low-lying coastal city. An arena and a convention center are packed with fearful people.

Hurricane Isaac shoves the water of the Gulf of Mexico up Tampa Bay, flooding the Channelside area of downtown Tampa where the Republican National Convention is being held. The Hillsborough River, swollen by rain and unable to drain fully into rising Tampa Bay, floods. The low areas north of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the main site of the convention,sink under murky dirty infested water. Water rises five feet high between the Forum and the nearby Convention Center. The lobby of the Marriott hotel is a lake.

The electricity is down, killing light rail to Ybor City. Buses can’t plow through the deluge. Temperatures climb to the 90s and the humidity is ferocious. There is no air conditioning. Food runs out. Booze runs out. Water water everywhere nor any…

Some Republicans try to cross the bridge over the Hillsborough River to higher ground in Hyde Park. Angry mobs and rogue cops turn them back.

Conditions are horrible and getting worse. By some estimates nearly 40,000 people could be jammed into the Forum and the Convention Center. Stranded. Hungry. Thirsty. Off their meds.

The Question:

Would it take five days to rescue this mostly white, Republican crowd?

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The Un-Convention

As I write this, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis is detailing the dismantling of the GOP convention.

This is probably the right decision, given how poorly the current Republican administration handled nature’s last assault on Louisiana, but let’s be honest about what’s going on here despite the rhetoric of concern for the citizens of Louisiana and the Gulf coming from the GOP spin patrol :  this decision is pure damage control.  The prospect of celebrating GOP attendees juxtaposed with rising flood waters is apparently too big a risk to entertain.

I’m not in any way diminishing the risks of Gustav or the seriousness of the situation in the Gulf.  Nor am I doubting that Republicans from George Bush, John McCain on down feel just as sympathetic and concerned as anyone.  That said, this decision is all about appearance and image and not about anything else.

As a result, Gustav has cost Senator McCain and the GOP the 4-day opportunity to showcase their message and the enthusiasm of their party.  I suspect all of the slapped-together programs to “help” the victims of the hurricane will be seen for what they are and judged as not particularly relevant to either the political picture or the hurricane.

Unfortunately, though, their decision may not save themselves from the images they’re trying to avoid.  Thousands of GOP-ers are in town with more time on their hands than expected; how long before we see pictures of the faithful partying down at some off-venue location?  I’m betting tomorrow.  These events will be “re-purposed” as hurricane relief fundraisers but the images will remain.

There is one silver lining for the GOP…this development has spared it the awkwardness of having President Bush and Vice President Cheney on site. It also gives Governor Sarah “Hockey Mom” Palin more time off-camera to prep.

Lucky them.

- Austin internet marketing tool fine

Looking Poverty — And Ourselves — in the Face. Are We All Right with One in Ten Minnesotans, One in Eight Americans, Sinking in Poverty?

Three years ago Katrina ripped away the veil that hid what Michael Harrington in the 1960s called “The Other America,” the poor who live beside us in the richest nation in the world. For a few moments, it seemed we might pay attention to people less fortunate than most of us.

In Wednesday’s StarTribune, the headline reads: “Income erodes, poverty gains in Minnesota.” The story reports: “There were about 482,000 Minnesotans in poverty last year, up 60,000 from 2006. The poverty rate rose from 8.2 percent to 9.3 percent.” And Minnesota is better off than most states — our poverty rate is the ninth lowest in America, although we fell from fifth lowest.

When the Republicans gather in St. Paul, will they pay attention to the one in eight Americans living in poverty? ONE IN EIGHT!!! How is America working when one of every eight of us is living in poverty?

Bill Clinton, at the Democratic convention Wednesday night, reminded us that the disparity between rich and poor in America is now as severe, as unconscionable, as obscene (my words not Bill’s) as in the 1920s. Republican policies and philosophy have resulted in this inhumane and growing disparity between rich and poor. The Republicans themselves may be well-meaning, well-intended. They may believe that their policies will help all Americans. But they haven’t. They’re leaving way too many behind. And it’s getting worse. And we can’t abide this.

I know Republicans fear that Democrats will just raise their taxes and waste their money. I heard this again the other day from two of my clients — good-hearted people whose families have worked hard for generations to build small businesses that provide quality staple products at a fair price. I hear them and understand their frustration. But I pray we can all get beyond these fears and political judgmentalism to see The Other America. And to be ashamed of ourselves. And to do the Christian thing, the Jewish thing, the Muslim thing. The right thing. Help one another rather than walk on by, averting our eyes.

Republicans, you’re coming to a rich state, a state where things are going pretty well. And a state where one in ten of us live in poverty. That’s not good enough. America is not working for enough of us. We can do better. We must. And Democrats, let’s go beyond the talk and make things work, effectively.

If the distraught faces of Katrina didn’t move us to share our good fortune and opportunity, perhaps the faces of one of every eight of our neighbors will.

–Bruce Benidt

(Photo: pingnews.com) internet marketing jobs fine

Blues’ Clues

It looks as if the security perimeter around next week’s Republican National Convention (RNC) is going to make St. Paul’s Excel Energy Center about as publicly accessible as China’s Forbidden City during the Ming Dynasty.

So how are blue bywatchers to know when the Red Man Group arrives in our fair city? A few clues:

Festive Bush and Cheney figurines replace Snoopy and Charlie Brown on streets.
• Airport men’s room sounds like rehearsal for Riverdance.
• McCain offshore drilling proposal expanded to include 10,000 lakes.
• Stretch helicopters brought in to ferry delegates over Pawlenty’s unfunded bridges.
• Electric Fetus targeted for Operation Rescue protest.
• “Mission Accomplished” banner hoisted outside Deja Vu.
• Mickey’s adds foie gras to menu.
• Rove holds press conference to deny leaking location of Winter Carnival medallion.
• Pawlenty actually stays in Minnesota for a couple days.

If one or more of those things happen, there’s a good chance our conservative comrades have arrived.

- Loveland
(Assist from Austin)

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Mullet-Americans Rally Around Pawlenty

Mullet-Americans are “cautiously optimistic” about rumors that mulleted Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty may soon be named Senator John McCain’s vice presidential running mate.

“It would obviously be historic, and it could really balance the ticket, what with McCain’s embarassing lack of hair below the cervical vertebrae,” said mullet-American activist Billy Rae Cyrus.

Still reeling from the political demise of skullet-American Jesse Ventura and fem-mullet-American Hillary Clinton, mulleteers continue to claim Pawlenty as one of their own, despite allegations that he has recently scaled back on the party side of his do.

“Look, we understand that candidates have to ‘run to the middle’ in the general election,” said actress Florence Henderson. “Even I’ve had to moderate under pressure from the mainstream manes running the major studios. But we know Pawlenty will do the right thing once he gets in the White House.”

Mullet-Americans were once a proud and influential group in the 1980s, led by the likes of Ziggy Stardust, MacGyver, Michael Bolton, and Luke from General Hospital. But more recently, an ugly wave of mulletism pushed them into the margins of society.

“Great Clips has actually refused me service, and the ACLU just laughed about it,” said one mullet-American, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, due to fear for his safety. “It’s very emotional to think that some day I might see someone who looks like me attending obscure funerals and being appointed to toothless commissions.”

To understand the tremendous obstacles Pawlenty faces as he attempts to break through what many say is the highest and hardest glass ceiling, consider the hate speech directed at the mulleted minority: “Hockey hair, ten ninety, helmet hair, coupe Longueuil, haircut o’ death, neckwarmer, shorty longback, the 10-90, the Kentucky waterfall, the bi-level, the faded glory, the Ben Franklin, the Missouri Compromise, the Louisiana Purchase, the Camaro crash helmut, the business cut (business in front, party in the back), the LPGA, the soccer flip, the convertible, the Tennessee top hat, the Mississippi mudflap, the Canadian passport, the New Jersey neckwarmer, the Chattanooga choo choo, and the neck blanket.” In perhaps the ultimate insult to Minnesota’s Governor, the proud mullet is sometimes even referred to as “the Wisconsin waterfall.”

Though fossil records prove that homo sapiens with primative mullets have walked the Earth for at least 130,000 years, it was 2001 before the word “mullet” even appeared in dictionaries. The historical implications of a Pawlenty candidacy are not lost on beleaguered ape drape advocates.

“I do get emotional about it,” said Cyrus, whose own hind-heavy tresses have been referred to by mulletist hate groups as The Achy-Breaky Mistakie. “They can call us what they want, but come January, let’s just say there is going to be Pawlenty of hair facing east on the inaugural stage.”

- Loveland

St. Paul’s Game of “Where’s Walker?”

Hoping to see a lot of President George Walker Bush in our fair city during the Republican National Convention? Well, he’ll be harder to find than the St. Paul Winter Carnival medallion. This Gallup poll shows why Bush largely will be kept in hiding, if the handlers of Senator John McCain and Senator Norm Coleman have their way.

- Loveland

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