RNC 8 not terroists; candy cigs up in smoke

Shocking news of the day: The eight Republican National Convention protesters originally charged as terrorists aren't really terrorists after all. Thank you, Susan Gaertner, for finally coming to your senses.

The Ramsey County attorney dropped two of the four charges against the RNC 8 last week: one count of conspiracy to commit riot in furtherance of terrorism, and one count of conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property in furtherance of terrorism.

While this is good news for those accused, they still face charges for conspiracy to commit riot and conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property, which could result in five years of prison time.

There were serious motives behind the dropped charges, according to the RNC 8 defendants and their supporters. They say Gaertner has her eyes on higher political office, and dropping those charges could help bolster her chances of getting on the Democratic ticket for governor. The defendants are the first in Minnesota to be charged under the Minnesota Patriot Act.

"We're relieved and gratified that the most sensational part of the charges has been dropped," said St. Paul peace and justice activist Betsy Raasch-Gilman, a member of Friends of the RNC 8, in a prepared statement. "We hope that the conspiracy charges will also be dropped. If planning a protest can be called conspiracy, the right to free speech is in real danger."

Even candy cigs are banned

All of the coolest kids in St. Paul will have to get their parents to drive them over the river if they have a craving for some candy cigs. The St. Paul City Council banned the sale of the fake candy smoking products as well as lighters featuring cartoon characters.

The decision was unanimous, and could be the first time a city in the United States has banned the sale of candy cigarettes.

What's next? Banning toy guns so kids don't think shooting each other is an easy way to solve problems? What about that awesomely terrible Indian bow and arrow set my brother begged for as a kid?

Although this ordinance seems well intentioned, it misses the point: Kids want to emulate the adults in their lives, and if the people they look up to are smoking, they probably want to pretend smoke, too. Just like kids get play cell phones, mini vacuums, and their own electric cars.

I've munched on a few candy cigs in my lifetime, and you don't see me lighting up on a daily basis. I kicked that candy habit like it was nothing.

Coleman's slow wheels of justice

Is it just a coincidence that all important matters of law relevant to Norm Coleman's life are taking forever and a day to come to a conclusion? Probably, but it's interesting nonetheless.

While Coleman's legal team prepares its appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court, a trial involving Coleman's buddy Nasser Kazeminy in Texas continues to take too much time to begin. Kazeminy is accused of trying to funnel $100,000 to Coleman's family through his wife's workplace.

Both sides are asking for another 30-day extension to prepare. That would be on top of the February 3 delay of 60 days.

Coleman is not a party in the case but could be under investigation by the FBI for possible ethics violations as a U.S. senator if he did receive the money and failed to report it. Kazeminy and Coleman have denied all the allegations.

Rambo of the suburbs

We all have our drunken fantasies. Some of us want to be president, some of us want to be America's next top model. Then there are those who want to be Rambo.

A Burnsville man allegedly tried to impress a lady by shooting arrows at the homes of his neighbors with a powerful bow. One arrow even shattered a patio door.

When asked what the hell he was doing, the woman, who was also extremely intoxicated, said he wanted to "play Rambo." Now Kyle K. Fletcher, 30, is charged with a felony.

Congressional report card

The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) just released its 30th annual Rating of Congress report, and the organization is no fan of the Minnesota delegation.

The yearly rating is based on "every vote that significantly affects taxes, spending, debt, and regulatory burdens on consumers and taxpayers."

While most of the Minnesota members of Congress received failing or mediocre grades, our beloved Rep. Michele Bachmann got a stellar "A" for her work in the House of Representatives. Party hard tonight, Bachmann!

Here are the grades and rankings for the Minnesota members. These ratings are for the 110th Congress—2nd Session (2008).

House (in order of ranking):

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) Grade/Ranking: A/33

Rep. John Kline (R) Grade/Ranking: B-/128

Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-now retired) Grade/Ranking: C-/179

Rep. Collin Peterson (D) Grade/Ranking: F/222

Rep. Tim Walz (D) Grade/Ranking: F/223

Rep. Keith Ellison (D) Grade/Ranking: F/324

Rep. Jim Oberstar (D) Grade/Ranking: F/384

Rep. Betty McCollum (D) Grade/Ranking: F/411


Sen. Norm Coleman (R) Grade/Ranking: D/45

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) Grade/Ranking: F/78