I didn't know May 11 was Minnesota's 150th birthday until I read Nick Coleman's column about it in that day's Star Tribune.

But what a surprise, Minnesota's sesquicentennial is only another platform for Coleman's brand of sniveling condescension.

"Condition of decrepitude"? Sheesh. Buildings age, Nick. And it takes money to restore them.

Happy Birthday Minnesota, and I actually mean it!


Schools have rules, and that's how it should be

In response to "Kids take a stand -- or not -- on pledge rule" (front page, May 10): "Absence of order" is how Webster's Dictionary describes anarchy. Order, rules, regulations, laws. We have them in our country, in our homes, in our schools, in every part of our daily lives. Without them our lives would be chaos. Our country would fall apart. The world as a whole would destroy itself.

At what point did we make our personal expression more important than the glue that holds our world together? Expression is important and the world needs it for countless reasons. But since when is it wrong to punish a child in school who doesn't follow the rules? The schools are run by our government. Why? That's a whole other discussion.

Children are in school not only to learn academics but also how to follow rules. We tell them what, where, when and how they have to learn. Remember people, these are public schools. As long as they are, your children (and mine) need to follow the rules. If you don't like it, move them to another school or home school them. Don't just throw out the rule book because some kid doesn't feel like standing up. Where would we stop?


To get to Oval Office, Obama should take this advice

The other day, at my local grocery store's parking lot, I saw a bumper sticker that said, "Life's a bitch, don't vote for one" -- pungent language reflecting a hidden, but prevalent attitude.

Of course, I realize that bitch is synonymous with relentless, ballsy assertiveness and in fact that isn't a bad thing. I wish that Barack Obama had some of the b factor that makes Hillary Clinton the comeback chick.

You see, I am a bit worried about Obama. Clinton reads the crowd and pounds out her message, while Obama speaks what he feels is the truth from his heart. And we all know that that is the surest rout to Democratic defeat.

If Clinton can make Obama seem like a wimpy elitist, what will the war-wizened John McCain do in order to defeat him? We will most certainly find out. Whatever happens between now and the Democratic primary, even the most fuzzy of math tells us Obama has the nomination.

To beat McCain, Obama needs to go on a survivalist weekend in the woods with both Clintons, or even all three, and as many seasoned politicians the Democratic Party can muster. There, he needs to be put through a gauntlet of swiftboating maneuvers, ones that challenge his dreams, his rhetoric, his mission and his even his manhood.

If he emerges intact, he will be able to withstand the assaults he is sure to face from the opposing party. Not only that, but it is certain that from Hillary Clinton he will learn how to step outside his pride and keep on swinging to victory so that post-election bumper stickers read, "Life's a bitch, but now there's Obama."


Obama has the rhetoric, but perhaps passion is missing

Michael Gerson of the Washington Post hit it on the head for me with his May 9 column, "The label will stick: Obama is haughty." What Gerson describes as "Obama's off-putting aura of superiority" has made it hard for me to get excited about Obama's cerebral, clever, academic rhetoric, frequently delivered in a style reminiscent of Martin Luther King's (powerfully emotional!) crescendos. It's the apparent lack of emotion and passion in those clever words that has left me cold.

Of course I will vote for Barack Obama if he is the nominee (voting mostly from the brain, not the heart). And that's the dilemma: Will he be able to inspire a majority to defeat John McCain in the general election? And, if elected president, will he be able to sustain the momentum with the kind of passionate conviction it takes to translate words into decisive actions?

Let's hope Obama's campaign rhetoric won't turn out to have been "purely academic."


Housing market begins to stabilize

Congratulations to reporter Jim Buchta for an informative and thoughtful article on the real estate market May 9. He has the insight to recognize in a complex market, the early stages of the recovery that are taking place. And he accurately quoted my cautionary message that the recovery will be slow and gradual, as we remain in a "buyers market" for some time yet.

The good news is the inventory of homes for sale has peaked. With buyer activity likely to pick up some next year, it would be fair to say the market is "bottoming out." When is the best time to buy? If you are looking for a home, it is when you are ready, not before.

If you are looking for an investment, it won't get much better than now. A frequent comment regarding real estate: "I wish I would have bought back then." In our market, "back then" occurs in a two- to three-year window every 15 to 20 years. We are now "back then."