Tim Pawlenty: Politics from Bizarro World

According to the Associated Press, Tim Pawlenty has “elaborated” on his decision to strip Minnesota funding from ACORN in the wake of videos showing non-Minnesotan ACORN representatives advising political activists masquerading as a pimp and a prostitute — funding that doesn’t, in fact, exist. According to the AP, Pawlenty is claiming that his decision was a policy decision, rather than a political one. This is one of those moments when a neutral headline could probably have been replaced by a less-neutral one for clarity’s sake as Pawlenty is not “elaborating” here, he is “dissembling.” Either that or we have entered the world of Bizarro Superman, where seizing on a hot-button topic with an empty gesture is not political and where stripping nonexistent funds is good policy. Us do opposite of all Earthly things!

While we’re on the subject of Pawlenty, Tom Weber of Minnesota Public Radio reports on a survey of more than 30 metro-area school districts that detail he financial fallout of Pawlenty’s shifting of state aid for schools to the next fiscal year. (A PDF of the report can be read here.) Some schools have had to borrow to cover budget shortfalls, while others have had to tap into savings, meaning they won’t be earning interest. “The survey lists 16 such districts that will lose a combined $2.5 million,” Weber tells us, and quotes Scott Croonquist of the Association of Metro School Districts, the organization that performed the survey: “Sometimes we get accused of ‘Chicken Little’ — the sky is falling and education groups are just saying this will happen and it’s really not,” Croonquist tells MPR. “So we thought it was important to confirm that, in fact, school districts are sharing in the pain.”

Pawlenty himself will be speaking at a series of GOP events in the next few days, as the Associated Press tells us, but also informs us that “Pawlenty told Minnesota reporters Thursday that they shouldn’t presume the speeches are aimed at building a foundation for a White House run of his own,” further telling us that Pawlenty might not even remain in politics after his term of service as governor expires. Obviously, we’re going to have to convert this from the language of Bizarro World into plain English, where it roughly translates as: “Me increase me national exposure because me want to be president.” Maybe we should also add “Me swing hard to the right to appeal to hard-liners,” as this is that case that fellow Republicans are making, according to the Star Tribune’s Rachel E. Stassen-Berger. She includes a quote from pollster and former state Republican Party chair Bill Morris: “He really is taking fairly hot-button positions on key conservative issues.” Apparently, Morris didn’t get the note that it’s policy, not politics.

Speaking of ACORN, True North sums up how Minnesota representatives voted on the subject of defunding the organization on a federal level. Both Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison voted against defunding, while “Bachmann, Kline, Oberstar, Paulsen, Peterson and Walz voted to defund.” One imagines Michele Bachmann actually wore a party hat a blew a New Year’s noisemaker when she cast her vote, as she has spent the past year actively painting the organization as some sort of sinister cabal in league with Obama to undermine America. “What a tremendous victory for the taxpayer!” the Star Tribune’s Big Question blog quotes her as saying, and perhaps it is. After all, a handful of employees of the organization got caught on camera giving some very bad tax advice, and, one supposes, the behavior of a few employees condemns an entire institution. We will wait patiently for Bachmann to likewise champion defunding Blackwater and Wackenhut, just for consistencies’ sake.

The Star Tribune reports on their own good news: Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib reports that Minneapolis’ beleaguered newspaper has been cleared by a federal judge to exit Chapter 11. You’d think this news would be met with, well, party hats and noisemakers, but Bjorhus sounds a pessimistic note, telling us that “like publishers around the country, it faces a weak advertising market and is struggling to find a way to make money from readers and advertisers who have migrated to the Web, cable television and other outlets.”

MinnPost’s own David Brauer has been reporting extensively on the Strib’s reorganization, reminding us that the Strib will be carrying $100 million debt after the reorganization (“The question is whether that’s still too much,” he asks), printing outgoing publisher Chris Harte’s good-bye letter to his staff, and reporting that the Strib staffers don’t yet know who their new publisher will be. Brauer also informs us that just as the paper is exiting bankruptcy, one of the new board members may be entering it; specifically, GateHouse Media CEO Michael Reed, whose company’s credit rating was downgraded Thursday, with its credit service saying entering bankruptcy proceedings “may represent the optimal solution.”

Former Minnesotan Diablo Cody is enjoying the release of her second film this weekend, “Jennifer’s Body,” a horror film set in suburban Minnesota. Actually, “enjoying” might not be the right word, as the film is getting fairly creamed by critics, including the Star Tribune’s Colin Covert, who says “the execution fails on almost every level,” while Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com says the film “is so contemptuous toward its own characters, and its audience, that it chokes off any visceral thrills it might have offered. The movie substitutes calculation for brains, and the filmmakers seem to think we’ll all be too stupid to notice.” In the words of those awful locally produced television commercials for World of Wireless, ouch.

In sports, it might be worth noting, in the midst of endless discussions of football and, especially, Brett Favre, that the daily papers have writers who tackle subjects other than the events on the gridiron. The Pioneer Press has Chris Niskanen, for instance, who a few days ago composed a rather poetic ode to his love for stuffed animals. To be clear, it’s not teddy bears we’re talking about here, but taxidermic creations, including a roadkilled badger Niskanen found and had mounted so that guests could ogle the creatures razor sharp claws, which may have been the breaking point for his wife: “There is too much taxidermy in the house, she says.

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Comments (18)

  1. Submitted by Robert Owen on 09/18/2009 - 10:22 am.

    “One imagines Michele Bachmann actually wore a party hat a blew a New Year’s noisemaker when she cast her vote..”

    Fun!

    One imagines Ted Kennedy actually putting down his drink for a brief moment when he cast his vote…

    One imagines Charles Wrangle actually finding yet another asset he didn’t disclose when he cast his vote…

    One imagines Barney Frank…

    News is so much more interesting when you can just imagine it the way you want it to be.

  2. Submitted by Max Sparber on 09/18/2009 - 10:38 am.

    But you’re okay with me having Pawlenty speak in Bizarro Superman English?

  3. Submitted by Turo Phile on 09/18/2009 - 10:39 am.

    Though I imagine Mr. Sparber’s politics are closer to my own than Mr. Owen’s politics, I think he has a point. Though the partisan in me finds some of his remarks humorous, if I was looking for partisan humor I’d go find it at a partisan blog.

    Your website states, “The Glean distills facts from multiple sources — the morning papers, late local news, and overnight web offerings — for a fast-paced summary of important and interesting local stories. And when facts collide, The Glean will note that too.”

    Pointing out that Michelle Bachmann should take on Blackwater to be consistent falls within that directive. The Party Hat comment probably does not. Same goes for the characterization of Pawlenty as living in bizarro world.

    I know you are a talented writer Mr. Sparber. I believe that you can make your points without the derogatory comments.

    Let’s bring the Glean back to its original purpose- gleaning the news and calling out inconsistencies in an less partisan manner.

  4. Submitted by Max Sparber on 09/18/2009 - 10:57 am.

    Thank you for your concerns, but you are insisting on an editorial agenda for The Glean that is limiting beyond the sentence you quote.

    Glean is not merely a distillation of the news, but also an interpretation of it on the part of this author. Until I hear otherwise from my editors, I shall continue to compose the Glean with my own analysis included, which is sometimes expressed as humor or caricature.

    My humor is not explicitly partisan. It just happens to be that Minnesota Republicans have made themselves especially good targets for it at the moment. When local Democrats, or anybody of any political stripe, does likewise, I shall also point it out.

  5. Submitted by Joe Johnson on 09/18/2009 - 11:22 am.

    Between Max and Brian the Minneapolis Foundation should get a refund.

  6. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/18/2009 - 11:52 am.

    “Minnesota Republicans have made themselves especially good targets for it at the moment. When local Democrats, or anybody of any political stripe, does likewise, I shall also point it out.”

    Just hold your breath…but in the mean time..

    “After all, a handful of employees of the organization got caught on camera giving some very bad tax advice…”

    Yeah, there was never any advice on how to run a brothel, or to use the human trafficking of girls and women to best financial effect…nope.

    Just a few simple little mistakes all blown out of proportion, nothing to see here…move along now; Pawlenty is making a boob of himself over there and Michele Bachmann is having a party somewhere.

  7. Submitted by Max Sparber on 09/18/2009 - 12:50 pm.

    The didn’t occure locally or involve any locals, did it, Mr. Swift? But do feel free to drop me a line when some out of state event draws your rie to the point that you think I should extend my net of mockery beyond state lines. I promise you I shall consider it.

  8. Submitted by William Levin on 09/18/2009 - 01:43 pm.

    The headline of this colum clearly is intended to offend those who disagree with you, rather than to further intelligent dialogue.

  9. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 09/18/2009 - 02:04 pm.

    Unlike references to Ted Kennedy’s drinking or Barney Frank’s sexual orientation, there is nothing offensive or really partisan about Bachmann party hat reference. Bachmann was very anti-Acorn and is likely happy about what happened, and the author used a figure of speech to describe that. While there is more of a negative connotation to the Bizzaro reference with Pawlenty, it certainly is appropriate given the facts, and again, isn’t especially partisan.

    Doth protest too much, methinks.

  10. Submitted by chuck holtman on 09/18/2009 - 03:09 pm.

    I’m with Mr. Sparber. As the quote goes, “reality has a left bias.” One of the ways that the corporate media most give effect to their establishment/authoritarian bias is by reporting in a respectful and “objective” way the patently false, dishonest, hypocritical or simply unhinged statements of folks just because they are uttered by establishment figures such as governors and congresspersons. Sometimes objectivity requires ridicule, gentle or otherwise. (PS I’m not a Democrat.)

  11. Submitted by Bill Krause on 09/18/2009 - 03:58 pm.

    “The didn’t occure locally or involve any locals, did it, Mr. Swift?”

    I don’t remember Blackwater operating locally either, yet you reference them?

    As Robert Owen said “Fun!”

  12. Submitted by Max Sparber on 09/18/2009 - 04:10 pm.

    And what do I say about Blackwater that is different than what I say about ACORN, Mr. Krause?

  13. Submitted by Bill Krause on 09/18/2009 - 04:34 pm.

    This is what you said about ACORN that you didn’t say about Blackwater.

    “The didn’t occure locally or involve any locals, did it, Mr. Swift? ”

  14. Submitted by Max Sparber on 09/18/2009 - 05:37 pm.

    I’m sorry, Mr. Krause; I don’t know how to answer you. You have placed me in the difficult position of having to question your honesty or your reading skills, and since neither is a civil discussion, I prefer to have neither. I thank you for your comments, but until I am sure you understand what you are reading, or are not deliberately misreading them to score political points, I will not be answering you.

  15. Submitted by Bill Krause on 09/18/2009 - 08:13 pm.

    OK Max, let me be as clear as I can and recreate what was written.

    You wrote: “After all, a handful of employees of the organization got caught on camera giving some very bad tax advice…”

    Mr Swift replied: “Yeah, there was never any advice on how to run a brothel, or to use the human trafficking of girls and women to best financial effect…nope.”

    You replied: “The didn’t occure locally or involve any locals, did it, Mr. Swift? But do feel free to drop me a line when some out of state event draws your rie to the point that you think I should extend my net of mockery beyond state lines.”

    Summary: You excused ACORNs actions (outside of a little bad tax advice) because they were out of state and you’re on the local beat, but you brought up Bachmann’s failure to go after Blackwater, even though Blackwater doesn’t operate in Minnesota.

    Is it possible for me to make this any clearer? Feel free to question either my honesty or reading skills.

    Fun!

  16. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/18/2009 - 09:21 pm.

    Funny is funny. I think all sides take hits equally. “Meaning” media across the ideological spectrum. You kids….

    Perhaps I have a wicked sense of humor but this headline made me chuckle.

    The headline article on the Fox News site: “Rep. Joe Wilson apologizes after shouting at Obama as he talked about insuring illegals.”

  17. Submitted by Max Sparber on 09/18/2009 - 11:52 pm.

    Mr. Krause, I will give you the benefit of the doubt this time and presume you are simply not too careful a reader, rather than that you are engaging in some sort of “gotcha” style of argumentation that attempts to invent hypocrisy in order to discount or stifle opinions that you disagree with.

    I mention both ACORN and Blackwater because both have been accused of misconduct (and at no pint excused them; please do not put words into my mouth), and, to be consistent, Bachmann could be expected to vote to defund both. I might have made fun of ACORN, had the incident been local; it was not. I did not make fun of Blackwater either. They are likewise not local.

    As to whether ACORN was guilty of anything other than a few employees giving bad tax advice, I am suspending my judgment pending further investigation, although, to my eyes, the employee Mr. Swift references, who is supposed to have given them actual business advice, c;early thinksk she was being kidded and may have decided to joke back. As for the other employees, they plainly gave bad advice and I agree they deserved to be fired, and think it reflects badly on the organization, and may well have caused the organization to deserve to lose it funding, although I am curious to see if there is more to the story.

    I am not especially interested in entertaining discussions, however, where the presumption is that I must be neutral, or must not be humorous, or must somehow stab equally at both sides because the reader, rather than myself, think the other side actually deserves it more. That is not my charge as Daily Glean author, and, if you do not enjoy my writing, I might suggest that there are plenty of alternative sources for gathering the daily news that do not have opinions that you personally find disagreeable.

  18. Submitted by Robert Owen on 09/19/2009 - 10:34 am.

    Mr. Krause, I think you’ve been confused by the description MinnPost lists for The Glean:

    “The Glean distills facts from multiple sources… for a fast-paced summary of important and interesting local stories.”

    Facts. Summary. Denigrate conservatives. Which one did you miss?

    It’s all part of that Thoughtful Approach to News MinnPost wants to be known for.

    Check back in a year and see how Thoughtful is working out, especially if half the readers take Max’s advice and go somewhere else.

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