Minneapolis Star Tribune. September 26, 2023.
Editorial: GOP created — and must clean up — shutdown mess
Even Speaker Kevin McCarthy acknowledges the threats from far-right Republican representatives. Programs in Minnesota are at risk.
At first glance, the unnecessary, unwanted federal government shutdown that could begin Sunday may seem to be yet another manifestation of Republican-Democrat, conservative-liberal congressional dysfunction. But it’s really the result of a band of about 20 extremist House Republicans (egged on by former President Donald Trump) holding the institution — and the nation — hostage.
That’s not just the professional assessment of political scientists, or even Democrats. It’s apparent to no less an expert than Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who told the New York Times that “This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down.”
So it’s now up to McCarthy and what passes nowadays as ostensibly more mainstream Republican representatives to play firefighter on this crisis, and on a longer-term basis take the matches away from the likes of Florida’s Matt Gaetz, Colorado’s Lauren Boebert and Virginia’s Bob Good, who told the Times that “Most of what Congress does is not good for the American people.”
Really? Tell that to those defending our nation at home or abroad, whether they wear a military uniform or hospital scrubs. Or the millions of senior citizens who earned, or are depending on, federal benefits such as Social Security or Medicare. Or families depending on nutritional assistance programs like SNAP for their children — who the GOP has long claimed to champion. Or the many Minnesotans who benefit from the $39.5 billion over the next biennium for state-administered, federally funded programs. Congress has done “good” for all them, and the arsonists impersonating representatives shouldn’t be allowed to show such nihilism toward government and the country.
In Minnesota, the impact of a shutdown would be felt most immediately in terms of furloughed federal workers who may struggle to pay their mortgages and other bills. While previously received grants would keep cuts at bay for now for some programs, others might face an immediate hit — including, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the Women, Infants & Children nutritional program. “If we have a shutdown, WIC shuts down,” Vilsack said at a Monday White House briefing. “And that means nutrition assistance to those moms and children shuts down.”
What “we know right now is, the longer a shutdown lasts, the greater the impact to state programs and services will be,” Patrick Hogan, director of communications for Minnesota Management and Budget, told an editorial writer in an email exchange. “Our focus is on minimizing impacts to Minnesotans where we can.”
While Democrats have a group of more left-wing supporters, the so-called “Squad” did not shut down the federal government even though then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also had a narrow governing margin. “Her skill at keeping different factions within the Democratic Party together was extraordinary,” Kathryn Pearson, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota, told an editorial writer.
Pearson, an expert on Congress, added that “the extent to which some Republicans are willing to prevent their party and then ultimately the institution and ultimately the government from fulfilling their role, which is to pass the 12 appropriation bills to keep the government open, is really astounding.”
As Pearson rightly described, “this is a new extreme, but the dynamic is not new.” GOP leaders must be willing to work with the remaining rational members of their party as well as across the aisle with Democrats to keep the government running. They took an oath to serve the country, not the party, after all. To date, in order to avoid the shutdown and secure McCarthy the speakership (after 15 rounds of voting), it’s been nothing but concessions, including an impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden not based on evidence but rather in an attempt to find it — a gross abuse of the gravest action the legislative branch can take against the executive branch.
Deflecting blame to Democrats is not the answer. Just ask Gaetz, who recently told Fox News: “We will have a government shutdown, and it is absolutely Speaker McCarthy’s fault. We cannot blame Joe Biden for not having moved our individual spending bills. We cannot blame House Democrats. We can’t even blame Chuck Schumer in the Senate.”
Indeed, the Republican caucus caused this crisis, and thus must solve it. Temporarily, to avoid a shutdown on Sunday, and permanently, to avoid this tyranny of the minority from further hurting the country.
Mankato Free Press. September 23, 2023.
Editorial: Court right on marijuana ruling
Thumbs up to the Minnesota Supreme Court for its ruling that the smell of marijuana is not enough on its own for law enforcement to search a vehicle.
The 5-2 ruling means that now-legal cannabis will be treated the same as alcohol.
Previous precedents said that if officers smell alcohol on someone they pull over they can not use that alone to justify searching a vehicle or arrest someone.
The state’s new law does not allow driving and smoking pot. But groups arguing marijuana odor alone doesn’t provide enough evidence for a search noted that people could legally have smoked cannabis before getting in a vehicle and the odor would be on their clothes.
Civil rights groups also lauded the high court’s decision, saying it will help protect minorities who may have been targeted by some law enforcement officers simply based on marijuana odor.
Since legalization there have been a number of legal issues raised by local governments and law enforcement. Those questions will continue to be sorted out by the courts.
Thumbs down to Texas school officials who recently suspended a student for his hairstyle.
Despite a state law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of hair going into effect the same week, the Black teen was on school suspension because he refused to get rid of his dreadlocks. The school contended the hairstyle did not comply with its dress code.
If that’s the case, the dress code is sadly outdated. The state law, which 24 states including Minnesota have passed, intends to prohibit race-based hair discrimination and bars employers and schools from penalizing people because of hair texture or hairstyles, including Afros, braids, dreadlocks, twists or Bantu knots.
Along with the dress code just not making sense, it’s a swipe at Black traditions. The teen’s mother said all the men in their family have dreadlocks, going back generations. To the family, the hairstyle has cultural and religious importance. Her son has had dreadlocks for 10 years and tied up the dreadlocks to avoid violating the school hair-length standard.
The district is now being investigated by the Texas education department and the family is suing.
School Supt. Greg Poole said the dress code policy is legal and teaches students to conform as a sacrifice benefitting everyone.
Sacrificing a cultural and family tradition for whose benefit?
The district should drop the policy, instead concentrating on creating an environment of cultural acceptance for students of color and not throwing aesthetic obstacles in the way of a students’ education and on-time graduation.
Thumbs up to the legacy of Henry Boucha, a Minnesota hockey legend from high school to the National Hockey League who died Monday at age 72.
Boucha was one of the few Native American players to make the NHL, and he was a lifelong advocate for Native American education. He is considered one of the best high school hockey players in state history, having led his Warroad Warriors to the state high school championship game in 1969. In that game, Boucha was checked from behind and his eardrum ruptured. As he was in the hospital, the Warriors rallied to tie Edina but lost in overtime.
He was also a member of the 1972 Olympic team that won the silver medal.
He was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings and eventually played for the Minnesota North Stars, where again, he encountered serious injury. He was speared with a stick in the head by Boston player Dave Forbes and lost sight in one eye, ending Boucha’s career.
But Boucha, an Ojibway tribe member, continued to support youth hockey in his hometown and was a regular at the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament.
He was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995. Boucha was a person of character who persevered through his many struggles on the rink and off. He is remembered fondly by fans far and wide and his legacy will endure.
The Associated Press