Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Daily Glean: Pawlenty on Obama: He’s ‘scamming’ us

The governor takes on President Obama over health care, saying the president is “scamming the American people.” Also: Is Michele Bachmann in political trouble?

Tim Pawlenty took aim at President Obama’s health care plan Thursday, saying the plan “is really quite a joke on a number of levels.” Ben Smith of Politico gives us the quote, which Pawlenty uttered on Fox: “I think he is scamming the American people. Even if you believe that it is only going to tax people over $1 million, what is known to happen is that is only going to cover about 25 percent of the total cost. The rest will be paid for by saving waste, fraud, and abuse. If you believe that, then I’ve got some January tee time in northern Minnesota.” He’s not the only local politician to be taking potshots at Obama, either: A Washington Post story on Obama’s push for more charter schools and performance pay for teachers includes this quote from John Kline: “We just took a big old checkbook with a $5 billion total behind it and handed it to the secretary and said, ‘Write a whole bunch of checks’ … I’m uncomfortable that we’re doing that.”

Bachmann in danger? Paul Schmelzer notes in the Minnesota Independent that Rep. Michele Bachmann has found herself on the RNC’s list of most vulnerable incumbents for 2010, as represented by the “Patriot Program,” which identifies and fundraises for at-risk candidates. Schmelzer quotes Swing State’s report on the Patriot Program, in which the site describes Bachmann as being “in real danger.”

Here’s one of those tales that starts out seeming like it might be hilarious and just grows progressively sadder: 26-year-old Donteh Lamont Smith is accused of having bungled a bank-robbery in St. Paul, and Mara H. Gottfried of the Pioneer Press inventories some of the mistakes he allegedly made, including wrapping his demand note around his college ID and taking money with a dye packet in it, which left him wandering around near I-94 with dye stains on him. The big details make is sound like one of those “America’s Dumbest Criminals” story, but it’s the little details that break the heart, such as the fact that he reportedly apologized the entire time, flagged down the cops himself, and wrote on his demand note : “I’m am (sic) sorry for doing this. Give me all the money in your drawer my kids need food I have no money.” The Star Tribune’s telling, by Paul Walsh, includes a small additional detail about Smith, who was, it seems, unfailingly polite. After taking the money from the teller, Walsh informs us, “Smith said thank you, put the money in his pockets and walked out.”

It’s a bit harder to have sympathy for Michael Gura, who, according to the AP, authorities believe to have stolen in the area of $100,000 worth of merchandise from Cabela’s through a scheme in which he printed his own UPC labels, swapped them out for the real ones. Gura is supposed to have resold his ill-got goods on online sites such as eBay, but his scheme unraveled in Rogers, Minn., when he tried to buy a $2,395 pair of binoculars for $109.99; Gura has since been sentenced to one year in a Minnesota workhouse. Reports do not indicate whether Gura was apologetic during the purchase, or if he thanked the clerk.

These two stories point out two of the main motivations for criminal mischief: need and greed. But a tale out of Eagan finds another motivation: pure spite. The Pioneer Press’s Frederick Melo tells of Emmett Salberg Jr., who ran the Website, which, prior to this morning, was mostly a bland listing of local businesses, occasionally interrupted by vitriolic and unexplained attacts on another Eagan man who is reported to have had an affair with Salberg’s wife. Melo gives us a sample: “This King Douche cheated on his wife for 2.5 years while he made her work two jobs to make up for his low paying job he has at (his employer). … While (victim) said he was working, he was really cheating on his wife and giving away marijuana from his garage.” Salberg is now the subject of a criminal complaint. What’s more, the city of Eagan, which has been trying to wrestle the site name away from Salberg for quite some time, has seized control of the site, which now redirects to the city’s official page.

In sports: “When Crain comes in the game, turn it off. It’s over,” says a commenter on the Strib’s story about the Twins loss to the Angels Thursday; Jesse Crain threw the pitch that Mike Napoli doubled into the Angel’s winning run. The Strib also reports that Brett Favre is anguished; scribes Chip Scoggins and Judd Zulgad sound a little anguished themselves, asking: “Did anyone really think the saga would end today?”

Something seems to be going on with, the Star Tribune’s community site. Editor James Lileks isn’t being specific, but his last note, from Wednesday, has an ominous ring to it: “I’ll just say this: if you have anything on this site you want to save, save it now. More tomorrow — and you can probably guess what that means.” Commenters point out that Lileks now has a blog at the Strib site, and from the looks of things, he’s been posting regularly to that since Wednesday, whereas has had no new updates. Still, the site itself remains, and users have been taking advantage of its continued presence online to post dozens of cartoons featuring Lance Lawson, a tepid mystery comic that Lileks has championed.

Paul Merrill, who is responsible for the fascinating Stuff About Minneapolis Blog, recently posted an MP3 of a polka by Dick Rogers called “The Minneapolis Polka,” which is exactly what you’d expect: a lot of infectious oompa-oompa-ing. It’s enjoyable but not especially distinctive, but we Minneapolitans have to claim whatever music we can, which may be why City Pages, for the umpeenth time, has decided to remind us that the garage rock stable “Surfin’ Bird” by the Trashmen originated locally.