The sky was an alarming color Thursday night. If you didn’t see it, Twitter was there to tell you: “[R]eminds me of the yellow windowed room at the Guthrie, creepy,” one opined; “It’s freakin’ GOLD outside,” another informed us; “Post storm: it’s the color of O Brother Where Art Thou outside,” said another, and she wasn’t kidding: Musician Matt Wilson posted a photograph he took of the yellowed sky, saying “And that, my friends, is a Minnesotan, post-storm sky,” and it’s spectacular.
Dazzling though it was, these sepia clouds were hinted at the destructive power of nature: Elsewhere in Minnesota, tornadoes took three lives, as reported by KSTP. Hart Van Denburg of City Pages rounds up storm information and videos, revealing that, according to the NOAA, 35 tornadoes struck Minnesota Thursday. The Associated Press interviews a survivor of the storm: “They say it sounds like a freight train,” he says. “It does.”
WCCO, in the meanwhile, interviews photojournalist Dale Baer, who witnessed a tornado touchdown in Kiester, Minn.; the tornado was massive, with Baer estimating it as being three-quarters of a mile long. “The amount of farm houses [with] destruction was probably uncountable,” he tells WCCO. “Fifteen to 20 at least. Literally destroyed. Silos completely tipped over. Farms torn up.” The interview presents images of destruction that sound genuinlely apocalyptic, including a destroyed pig farm surrounded by the corpses of pigs killed in the storm.
WCCO also reports on Wadena, Minn., which was also struck by a tornado, and suffered damage that the mayor calls “devastating.” Included in the damage: The total destruction of their community center. One local summed up the storm on Twitter: “Western Wadena is gone.”
Unfortunately, the logical transition at this moment is from a local environmental disaster to a national one; as the oil spill in the Gulf is still a pressing, and overwhelming concern. (Roger Ebert wrote an interesting essay about how the spill defies our narrative understanding of the world; we don’t know what to make of a problem without a clear fix when we’ve been conditioned to stories ending with problems being solved). For a sense of a perspective on the size of the problem, a site called If It Was My Home overlays the outline of the oil spill over a map of wherever you happen to live. Laid over Minneapolis, the spill stretches as far north as Duluth, as far south as Fairibault, west almost to Benson and east to Medford, Wis.
So, of course, the spill is on everybody’s minds — Minnesota Independent’s Paul Schmelzer rounds up tweets about the subject from local politcos. GOP House candidate Greg Knutson ponders if Obama plans to use money from BP to pay for the “Obama forced layoff of Gulf Oil workers”; you can tell he feels strongly about this, because at one point he uses two exclamation points. One presumes he is talking about the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling, but it’s a strange case to make, as one could easily argue that it’s not Obama that is causing these layoffs, but instead questions about the safety of deepwater drilling that inevitably arise when a deepwater rig explodes, killing 11 people and spilling as much as 4,200,000 gallons per day into an area just miles from two wildlife refuges.
But there is nothing that some conservatives won’t attempt to use as a hammer to beat Obama with. Most notoriously, Texas Rep. Joe Barton, who has received at least $27,000 from BP and related PACs and indivuals since 1990 (and as much as $1,448,380 total from oil and gas industry professionals), actually apologies to BP for Obama asking them to set aside $20 billion for cleanup, calling it a “shakedown.” Barton apparently quickly realized this was an unpopular position, so backtracked.
But, of course, Barton wasn’t the only one to come racing out of the gate with criticisms of Obama, as a video produced by the Democratic National Committee (you can see it on Minnesota Independent) points out: Among those mentioned is, of course, Minnesota’s own Michele Bachmann.
As Daily Glean mentioned Thursday, Bachmann had expressed concern that BP was getting “fleeced” by this and characterized it as a “redistribution of wealth,” proving that, for some politicians, any movement of money for any reason at all, if it goes to people poorer than them, is suspicious.
The Washington Post pointed out that this sort of rhetoric might put conservatives in a “tight spot,” saying, “If that kind of spin seems out of touch with public outrage, the GOP also risks falling out of step with parts of its own base,” which might explain Bachmann’s quote on Thursday: “I want to make sure everyone knows I’m not a shill for BP.” That quote was reported in a story by Jason Hoppin of the Pioneer Press, and Bachmann’s comments were almost certainly in response to her challenger in the next race, Tarryl Clark, who has been taking Bachmann’s position and running with it, saying, “Congresswoman Bachmann has made it clear where she stands: with BP, and against us.”
We at Glean would suggest a simpler explanation: Bachmann will simply, and reflexively, take the opposite stance of whatever Obama suggests, and will see any decision made by Obama’s administration as being socialist actions designed to expand federal government. Of course, that means that if Obama came out against cannibalism, Bachmann would have to come out for it, but that’s what happens when you paint yourself into an ideological corner.
She’s generated some outrage, but that’s nothing new, and wouldn’t really be worth reporting if it wasn’t so novel: Local rapper G-Biz’s promoted a show titled with a vulgar reference to Bachmann. As Andy Mannix of City Pages reports, the congresswoman was not amused, complaining on Sean Hannity’s radio show, “This is something that, when it’s done to conservative women, we don’t see an outrage coming form the media.” Perhaps the problem is that G-Biz didn’t misspell his flier; that always seems to get people in a dander.
In sports: Jared Allen of the Vikings doesn’t think Brett Favre will be retiring, according to the Pioneer Press. “I hope if the answer was no, he would have already had the wherewithal to tell us that he’s not coming back so we could have done something in free agency,” Allen told a radio interviewer. And he makes a good point, because if there is one thing Favre has shown himself to be great at, it’s making timely decisions and announcing them decisively.