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It’s business as usual in Minnesota, despite Snowmageddon

ALSO: Haiti an ongoing concern for Minnesotans; a bizarre video ode to a weatherman; fake Twitter accounts and fighty bloggers.

We’re in the process of being draped in a blanket of white, which is by no means an unfamiliar experience for Minnesotans but is seemingly terrifying enough for Washington, D.C., that President Barack Obama dubbed it Snowmageddon, a phrase we at the Daily Glean seem to recall Minnesotans inventing last year during one of our periodic blizzards, which just proves what we always suspected: Obama reads our tweets.

There’s surprisingly little chatter about the snow today on Twitter — take that, Obama! — even though we’re looking at about 10 inches of snow. No, this is just business as usual for many Minnesotans. Gov. Tim Pawlenty continues to fight for his unilateral budget cuts and threaten to veto any spending he doesn’t like (both stories from the Associated Press). Democrats continue to criticize Pawlenty for his busy travel itinerary (he was recently in Montgomery, Ala., which, according to Polinaut, encouraged DFL Party Chair Brian Melendez to say he had “checked out” as governor and to call for him to just quit and “let Carol Molnau take over”).

There’s nothing really new about people being uninsured — the fact of it is one of the biggest issues in America. But the number of uninsured has been steadily rising, and now we know by how much. Elizabeth Dunbar of Minnesota Public Radio reports that the number of uninsured in the state has increased from 7.2 percent in 1997 to 9.1 percent. What does that mean in real numbers? Dunbar explains: “The number of state residents without health insurance totaled about 480,000 in 2009.

Haiti isn’t news either; not anymore. But that doesn’t mean the crisis there isn’t an ongoing concern — the Pioneer Press offers a glimpse at the country, post-earthquake, in the form of social media posts by Joshua White, an emergency room doctor from Minneapolis. His posts paint a grim picture of a country in chaos, with its housing flattened and unlivable, and a population overwhelmed by the injured and the dying. One of the results of this tragedy may be a change in laws regarding international adoptions, with three new bills before Congress to ease the process, all sponsored by Amy Klobuchar, as reported by the AP. In a related story, the AP also reports that a legislative panel of the Minnesota House of Representatives is will be voting today to determine if Minnesota taxpayers can write off donations to Haiti on their 2009 tax returns.

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And so it goes when it snows in Minnesota. And on that subject: For those of us who think television meteorologists are evidence that there are actual elfin changlings in the world, and, for some reason, they all grow up to be weathermen, well, a bizarre fan video to KARE11’s Sven Sundgaard uploaded to YouTube isn’t likely to change our minds. Focusing on Sundgaard’s distinctly pixie-like face, the video consists of a somewhat freeform song in which the singer lauds such imagined Sundgaardian qualities as his having invented the sun and being able to stop a tornado with a whisper. Somebody shall now need to take on the similarly elf-like Paul Douglas, so we can clear the air about this matter once and for all.

Elsewhere on the local Web, Minnesota Democrats Exposed’s Luke Hellier continues to be plagued by The Deet’s blogger Ed Kohler, who has taken it upon himself to be Hellier’s personal fact-checker. Case in point: Hellier recently claimed that Mayor R.T. Rybak’s official website was pushing an event by a nonprofit called Take Action Minnesota, who Hellier claimed supports “extreme left wing candidates.”

Kohler doesn’t take issue with Hellier’s characterization of the organization, even though the actual candidates the organization is backing are R.T. Rybak, DFL state Rep. Paul Thissen and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, none of whom are members of the Anarchist Black Cross or ever close their campaign speeches by saying, “Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people!” No, Kohler’s problem is more basic than that: According to him, Rybak’s website has never promoted an event by Take Action Minnesota. Kohler explains his complaint to a commentor: “There is plenty of stuff to be negative about in this world without resorting to making stuff up.”

It’s precisely that sort of behavior that causes people to do things like create the PoopEdKohler Twitter account. Now, Kohler isn’t the only local with a fake Twitter account: WCCO’s Jason DeRusha has one, as an example, as does Star Tribune sports guy Sid Hartman. But those sites earnestly try for satire; the fake Ed Kohler account consists almost exclusively of homophobic comments, sexist attacks on female politicians, and general meanness.

(By the way, City Pages is in the process of compiling a very useful collection of links to the social media presence of all of Minnesota’s gubernatorial candidates. They don’t have any links for Jonathan Sharkey, our perennial vampire candidate, but, then, they don’t seem to have any fake accounts listed either.)

Ugh. Let’s move on to some local web writing that builds up, rather than tears down: Deborah Carver, author of the Fights With Knives blog, takes Minnesotans to task for not paying enough attention to Olympic hopeful Lindsey Vonn, who, after all, hails from Apple Valley. “Why is this?” she asks. “Is it because everyone was too obsessed with the Vikings to focus on a young woman who has been winning races for years?” Well, fortunately for Ms. Vonn, while Minnesotans might not be paying her the attention she deserves, the New York Times has dedicated an entire profile to the young skier.