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Bachmann and Franken embrace and smile — now that’s a headline!

A note to headline writers: If your audience responds to a headline with “Well, duh,” you have written a bad headline. For instance, “Water Is Wet” is a bad headline, as is “Sticks Are Brown and Sticky.” Similarly, “Franken, Bachmann at Odds on Health Care Reform,” a story filed by WCCO’s Liz Collin, has a bad headline. It’s not news when Franken and Bachmann disagree. If they agreed, it would be news.

A better headline might have been “Here’s a Photo of Al Franken, Smiling, With His Arm Around Michele Bachmann, Who Is Also Smiling,” because that’s a bit of a surprise. They’re not even staring daggers at each other. Not dagger, nor gimlets, nor yataghans; nothing sharp and pointy is being glared across the room at each other, as cartoonists used to draw to represent simmering hostility. But all is not as it seems: “Lawmakers on both sides may be all smiles for the camera, but the fight isn’t over,” the story warns us.

No, sir, it isn’t. According to Jessica Mador of Minnesota Public Radio, Bachmann is “calling on conservatives to protest Democratic proposals for a health care overhaul this November at the ballot box.” This strategy is a bit confusing, as how, precisely, would conservatives do that? By voting for a Republican? Wasn’t that what they would have done anyway?

It’s not the only puzzling claim by Bachmann this past week. She also appeared on “Face the Nation” (PDF transcript), claiming that the federal government has seized control of 51 percent of the economy, whereas “[p]rior to September of 2008, 100 percent of the private economy was private.”

As Hart Van Denburg of City Pages points out, she was pretty much instantly fact-checked by CBS’ David Riedel, who found her analysis, well, lacking: Not only was the highest amount of federal spending, in terms of GNP, in 1944, but “[a]t no time during this period was the United States’ GDP 100 percent private.

It seems that Republicans are holding out hope that the midterm elections will offer a sea change, with furious voters swapping out Democrats for Republicans en masse under a mandate of “Repeal It,” which Bachmann is at the forefront of, having authored the legislation to do just that. In the meanwhile, Democrats are hoping to swap Bachmann out, and, as Mary Costello of FOX9 reports, Saturday they backed state Sen. Tarryl Clark in her bid against Bachmann. Clark still must beat a challenger, Dr. Maureen Reed, in the primary, but both seem to have the same goal, according to Bill Salisbury of the Pioneer Press: “I’m running against Michele Bachmann, period,” says Clark, to which Reed agrees, saying, “We aren’t here to do anything but beat Michele Bachmann.

It sounds as though Bachmann is going to need to spend some time kissing housewives and shaking the hands of babies, or whatever it is that politicians do to curry favor in their district. Apparently, it isn’t cheap, either. The Associated Press released a story about congressional freshmen tapping into taxpayer money in order to “blanket districts with mass mailings and other messages to promote themselves back home.” Among the top of the list, 3rd District freshman Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen, clocking in at No. 3 with $413,996.12. His expense generated this (somewhat redacted) angry response in the City Pages comments section: “Cut spending. Cut spending. Cut spending. Except when it comes to what I want. Hypocrite.” In fairness, Paulsen has pretty regularly voted no on anything that might raise taxes. Heck, in a review of his record, at least he voted against giving himself a raise. Had he voted for the raise, he would have received an extra $4,700 per year, so yay frugality.

Gosh, sometimes everything seems to be about taxes, doesn’t it? Well, thankfully, we have a tale about a subject that’s less terrifying than taxes — namely, polar bears. Yes, they occasionally kill people, but, in fairness, not that often. Now polar bears have their own exhibit in Ely, a city previously mostly known for the fact that non-natives don’t know how to pronounce it. Best still the exhibit, which contains one stuffed polar bear (who, it should be pointed out, didn’t die of natural causes, unless getting shot in 1968 is a natural cause), cost no tax dollars at all. No, the money comes from fans of Lily, the black bear who created something of a sensation by giving birth online several months ago.

That’s nice. When there is a big news sensation, we often don’t get much follow-up, and when we do, it’s often bad news; take Tom Petter, as an example: According to Martin Moylan of Minnesota Public Radio, Friday a U.S. District Court judge found the Tom Petters personally responsible for losses his investors suffered. That may sound good for the investors, but, honestly, where is Petters going to find $3,522,880,614.10? He can’t give birth to a bear live on web cam!

Fortunately, as it happens, today brings another follow-up to a past sensation, and the news is good: Daniel Hauser, the cancer patient whose mother absconded with him to avoid chemotherapy, is now cancer-free. Scott Wasserman of Fox9 has the story.

Target Field opened over the weekend when the University of Minnesota baseball team played there Saturday, and MPR’s Jessica Mador has the answer to the most pressing question: How’s the food? She offers a quote from an attendee, having just bitten into a brat: “It tastes like summer.

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 03/29/2010 - 10:16 am.

    “This strategy is a bit confusing, as how, precisely, would conservatives do that? By voting for a Republican? Wasn’t that what they would have done anyway?”

    Well, duh…maybe she’s speaking to conservatives that have been sitting on their hands?

  2. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 03/29/2010 - 10:27 am.

    Maybe she’s just speaking with no clear thought attached to the words, at least no thought that could be “fact checked”. You can’t fact check fiction.

  3. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 03/29/2010 - 11:24 am.

    “Sitting on their hands”?

    No doubt preparing to sling some more talking points….

  4. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 03/29/2010 - 11:54 am.

    Or most likely: Bachmann doesn’t have any connection at all with reality. She is, in a sense, a defective Stepford Wife who just rattles on saying the most ridiculous and embarrassing stuff.

  5. Submitted by Howard Miller on 03/29/2010 - 01:13 pm.

    What Bachmann said (“[p]rior to September of 2008, 100 percent of the private economy was private.”) is tautological.

    It’s still true that 100% of the private economy is private.

    Of course, Mrs. Bachmann maybe referring to the mix of public and private economic activity, but the words actually used to express their thinking do matter. Just ask her sister-in-reloading, Sarah Palin

  6. Submitted by kay smith on 03/29/2010 - 09:26 pm.

    I’m not sure that 100% of the private sector is private. I’m just reading lately that 3M and others have been subsidized by us taxpayers for offering drug coverage to their retirees. I suppose 3M and others may get other subsidies, tax breaks, etc., from various government entities. As Ms. Palin would say, also.

  7. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 03/30/2010 - 02:06 pm.

    Kay Smith (#6). The federal government pays much of the cost of new-drug research and development, although the drug companies say their need for ever-higher prices is because of those costs instead of their advertising blanketing every kind of media with “Ask you doctor if …… is right for you.”

    Conservatives are fond of saying that our corporate tax rate of 35% is the highest in the world. That may be so, but probably 0 percent of corporations actually pay it after they deduct all their deductible expenses.

    Around 2003-2004, Citizens for Tax Justice ( studied the tax breaks and monetary incentives given to corporations so they “could create jobs.” Fully 85% of the 285 large corporations CTJ looked at put the government’s money on their bottom lines while not bothering to create any jobs.

  8. Submitted by Rebecca Hoover on 03/30/2010 - 11:48 pm.

    Well, honestly, so Al Franken had his arm around Michele Bachmann. I can scoop that–Al Franken kissed me.

    You know you are getting a little older when a man comes along and kisses you and his wife looks happy and says “nice to see you”. And that’s the way it happened.

    That Al Franken is quite a hugger and a smoocher. These are important political facts that altogether too often go without notice by MinnPost.

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