Mama said there’d be weeks like this

It’s been a crazy week, and four things of particular interest are on my mind. Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world.
First, let’s look at how Arne Carlson is trying to force Native Americans into paying for his fancy new Twins stadium. God, this guy has a lot of gall, even for a governor.
He wrote a letter to the casino owners saying, in effect, that if they didn’t pony up money for the stadium, the state would expand gambling and leave them in the dust. (Way to carry on the white man’s tradition of screwing over the original Americans, Arne.)
“I believe it would be in our mutual interest to reach a consensus agreement sooner rather than later,” Carlson wrote, according to the Star Tribune, in a letter to the Native American gambling officials. What, is he going to leave a horse head on a blackjack table if he doesn’t get his way?
“I propose that we negotiate an aggregate dollar amount that tribal casinos are willing to remit to the state of Minnesota to preserve the competitive advantage for tribal casinos,” he continued. “I am very open, of course, to any proposals … and I anticipate that one such issue may be how to construct such an arrangement to satisfactorily guarantee any further gaming expansion would be impractical.”
How obnoxious. Would he consider going to Daytons’ officials and saying if they don’t pay for the stadium, then the state’s going to open its own department stores? Maybe we should start making our own cereal if General Mills doesn’t pay for the ballpark.
Of course, that would never happen. But many Minnesotans are so resentful of those pesky Indians — who think they can follow their own rules, and who managed to make a lot of money even though our ancestors did everything in their power to make sure that wouldn’t happen — that we want to take them down a notch. Sometimes it’s so embarrassing to be white.
Speaking of being embarrassed, this is also not a glorious time to be heterosexual, considering the move in this state, as in many others, to ban recognition of gay marriages. A pending court case in Hawaii might eventually allow gays to marry there, and our lawmakers want to make sure once those aberrant sinners get back on Minnesota soil, they don’t tarnish the sacred establishment that is marriage.
Rep. Arlon Lindner, R-Corcoran, told the Strib recently that recognizing gay marriages would open the door to “a man marrying a child or a man marrying a dog.”
Could he possibly be any more ignorant, hate-filled and bigoted?
Most of the gay people I know are kind, funny and smart, and make valuable contributions to this society. But even if they weren’t, if they were just jerks who never amounted to anything, they should not be denied the rights that others enjoy for no reason other than that they inherited them by being born in this country.
Why should two dedicated, loving people be denied the right to be married, when wackos like Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, Donald Trump and Marla Maples, and Liz Taylor and fill-in-the-blank can get hitched and unhitched as often as they like? Talk about making a mockery out of marriage.
This brilliant lawmaker Lindner also mentioned that when he was young, his father left his mother with three kids and no support. Yeah, heterosexuals are just the pinnacle of morals, aren’t they?
Take Brian Merkt, for instance.
He was charged with raping and murdering 3-year-old MacKenzie Bussiere, his fiancee’s daughter, in Shakopee last year.
When MacKenzie’s little body was found, she was covered with rug burns and she had scrapes and bruises on her head, arms, back, thighs and buttocks. Her vagina was bruised and swollen and her hymen was perforated.
Traces of the little girl’s vomit and blood were found on the crotch of Merkt’s long underwear. Prosecutors said Merkt forced her to perform oral sex, then smashed her head in when she resisted.
Merkt told police that while he was baby-sitting the girl, he fell asleep and awoke to find her at the bottom of the stairs. He then called 911.
When he was asked why the girl’s underwear had blood on it, Merkt said it was grape juice. Later he changed his story to say he used her underwear to wipe blood off her lip after she fell.
So, how many of you out there are thinking this guy should have been found guilty of the rape and first-degree murder charges he faced? Me, too.
But on Saturday, a jury found him guilty of only second-degree murder. He hasn’t been sentenced yet, but you can bet he won’t be in prison too long.
What was that jury thinking? I try to be rational and accept that we have an imperfect system, but this is ridiculous.
But sometimes that system works.
A man who killed two 19-year-old women after crashing into their car was sentenced Tuesday in North Carolina to life in prison with no chance for parole.
The crash happened Sept. 4, after Thomas Richard Jones, 39, took painkillers, drank two quarts of beer and then went to two bars and drank some more. Later, as he was driving his truck and trying to put a cassette in the tape deck, he slammed into the women’s car. Four other people were also injured.
Jones had two prior convictions of driving under the influence and a third charge was pending when he killed the women. He faced the death penalty in this case, but instead a jury sentenced him to two life terms.
Sound harsh? Not as harsh as being told your daughter or best friend or mom has been killed by a drunk driver.
In Minnesota, about 15,000 repeat offenders are arrested every year, some with as many as 20 previous drunk-driving offenses, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Basically, they get a slap on the wrist.
What happens in other countries?
In Russia, drunk drivers lose their licenses for life; in Turkey, they’re taken 20 miles out of town and forced to walk back; and in El Salvador, drunk drivers are executed by a firing squad.
Now, I don’t believe in the death penalty, and I don’t believe people when they call it a deterrent to violent crime. Statistics just don’t back that up. But it seems that in the case of drunk driving, stiff penalties would keep most people from doing it.
After all, it’s not something done in a fit of rage. It’s always planned — someone drives to a bar, drinks excessively, then drives home. If he or she kills someone, that’s no accident — it’s a premeditated act. Why shouldn’t the punishment fit the crime? In Thomas’ case, it did.
Of course, here in Minnesota, we’ve got our own innovative ideas. Rep. Tom Workman, a Republican from Chanhassen, introduced a bill this year, which didn’t really get anywhere, calling for public floggings of repeat drunk drivers. Workman said he got the idea while listening to a discussion about floggings on the KQRS morning show.
His colleagues in the Legislature were shocked and labeled his plan cruel and unusual punishment. (I agree, but I find it more shocking that a lawmaker would admit he listens to that moronic radio program.)
In any event, maybe the North Carolina case will give our lawmakers some ideas and show that there’s still a chance of fixing the system.
Kris Henry’s column appears in the Daily every Thursday. She welcomes comments via e-mail at [email protected]
Letters to the editor may be sent [email protected]