Don’t let the bed bugs bite

It’s so unfortunate when really important news is undermined by a pun. Let’s take the case of the story of low-quality and potentially contaminated honey coming into the United States from China. Minnesota beekeepers held a press conference on the subject Monday at the State Fair and included Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is on the Agriculture Committee. The problem, as reported by the Associated Press, is that this honey is allegedly “being shipped through third countries to avoid import duties and food safety rules.” Alas, they’re calling this “honey laundering,” which one imagines is accompanied by a sad trombone sound every time it is said aloud.

In more insect news, bed bugs are on the march, and it’s enough to produce a very silly article by Donald G. McNeil Jr., of the New York Times, in which he refers to Cimex lectularius as an “international arthropod of mystery” and “The Bug That Ate New York, Not to Mention Other Shocked American Cities.” Minnesota is one of those shocked America cities, and University of Minnesota entomologist Stephen A. Kells is the local contact, informing us that they don’t cause disease. But they do have unpleasant qualities, enumerated in a piece by Olmsted County’s They leave spots of blood; they shed exoskeletons; they can cause a rash. And the cleanup can cost $400 to $3,000.

Bill Hudson of WCCO tells us that Minneapolis is “number 15 on the list of U.S. cities battling a growing infestation of bed bugs,” coupled with a horrifying tale of a restless night at a Brooklyn Park hotel that left his daughter covered with bed bug bites. The story details how exterminators get rid of bed bugs, and it involves cooking them with heat lamps, and ewww.

In politics: While DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton is doing a pretty good job racking up union endorsements — according to Bill Salisbury of the Pioneer Press, he recently scored the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation — a new MPR News-Humphrey Institute poll shows him and GOP candidate Tom Emmer currently tied for voter support, each getting 34 percent. Mark Zdechlik of Minnesota Public Radio has the details, which includes Independence Party candidate Tom Horner trailing badly with only 13 percent. According to University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs, the man behind the poll, the most interesting thing about this survey is not who is being supported, but who is not being supported: “[W]e’re finding about one-third of Democrats and particularly surprising, a third of Republicans not supporting their party’s candidate,” Jacobs tells MPR. “… it’s very rare to see so many Republicans not rallying around their party’s standard bearer.”

Bob Von Sternberg of the Star Tribune also takes a look at the numbers and discovers that it might now be a bit premature to even discuss this, with “more than half of likely voters saying they aren’t yet interested in the governor’s race.” An additional detail: Voters who only use cell phones were excluded from the poll; a previous one, which included swinging moderns who only use cells, had Dayton ahead by a comfortable margin.

Dayton was the subject of a recent attack ad by a group called Minnesota’s Future (which can be viewed at Minnesota Independent, with some analysis from Andy Birkey). It has a rather appealing, pop-up book sort of quality to it, coupled with menacing music and a focus on Dayton’s willingness to raise taxes. The ad also twice mentions that Dayton was once rating one of America’s worst senators, which is a quote that his opponents have been trotting out a lot lately, so we at the Glean decided to get to the bottom of it. The source is Time Magazine from April 14 of 2006, in which they mention Dayton shutting down his office in response to worries about a terrorist incident, as well as him saying that the Mayo Clinic is “worth a hell of a lot more than the whole state  of South Dakota,” which is, truth be told, an odd statement. After all, while the Mayo Clinic provides superb, world-class health coverage, South Dakota has Wall Drug. But the meat of the Time Magazine piece is on the fact that Dayton passed very little meaningful legislation, “partly because some are too liberal for the Republican-controlled body, including one that would have created a Department of Peace and Nonviolence.”

Obviously, a big concern for the incoming governor will be the budget deficit, which is projected at about $6 billion for the biennium. Tom Emmer has been saying that deficit doesn’t exist, which Pawlenty recently agreed with in a presser covered by the UpTake. And, of course, the deficit was erased back in May, thanks, in large part, to $2 billion worth of payments being delayed to schools. “There’s no deficit at all if the state simply spends what it’s spending now and lives within the revenue coming in,” Pawlenty says. So … just keep delaying those school payments?

Pawlenty has a long history of bolstering his budget with federal dollars, but, as MPR’s Elizabeth Stawicki points out, now that Pawlenty has his eye on the White House, and critics have their eyes on him, he may be disinclined to accept more federal help — especially as he has been a vocal critic of federal spending. On the table now is “$1 million to jump-start Minnesota’s health insurance exchange” — which, as state Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, points out, is going to happen anyway, and now it’s a question of whether we accept the money and oversee it locally or let the feds set it up for us. Pawlenty has already refused a $1 million health care grant, making Minnesota one of only five states to pass on that grant. And there are a lot of similar grants down the road — Medicaid money that comes in at more that $200 million, which Pawlenty says he is considering, but has made no actual decision about.

In arts: Renee Jones Schneider of the Star Tribune documents a simultaneous outbreak of fabulousness and bad singing that accompanied Monday’s Lady Gaga performance. Their video shows droves of teenagers and young adults dressed in their best approximations of Gaga’s ensembles, doing their best impersonations of her songs, and the former is rather exciting to the eye while the latter is rather damaging to the ear.

In sports: Steve Brandt of the Star Tribune discusses the fact that both the Vikings and the Twins will be playing games on Thursday, and his concern is primarily one of transportation — with so many people flooding into the city, how will they get there, what will parking be like, what will public transportation be like? As a resident of downtown, this Glean writer is very interested in the answer.

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/31/2010 - 10:44 am.

    So we’re supposed to fear, big scary Mark Dayton because he actually wants to deal, in responsible ways, with our state’s budget deficit by raising taxes primarily on those who can afford to pay (and who have been saving massively on their taxes over the past couple of decades)?

    To gain a sense of the what “Minnesota’s Future” envisions for our state, just have a look at the State of Mississippi, or better yet, Bangladesh.

    Tom Emmer would seek to bring us the same future, although he’s not a deep enough nor broad enough thinker to be able to comprehend that this is where his policies would take us. All he can comprehend his making his friends happy. All he wants to do is pave the way for further increasing the incomes and reducing the taxes of himself and his wealthy and business executive cronies.

    Where the rest of the state ends up (even his own seven children) is not Mr. Emmer’s concern, nor the concern of his friends. Only increasing their own bloated bank accounts and shrinking their own, by comparison, already-miniscule tax liabilities.

    If they succeed in creating the third world-style economic fascism they so desire, can political fascism be far behind (would we even notice the difference)?

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/31/2010 - 11:04 am.


    Greg’s gone from spouting bible verses (speaking in tongues) to questioning Emmers love for his kids.

    I smell a crisis.

    I realize that he’s not representative of all leftists, but still, I’m concerned at the alarming increase in incoherent panic that is accompanying they usual venom from the left. And when lefties start spounting bible verses? Well, I’m sure you’ll all agree that no good can come of that.

    As a public service, I’d like to tell the scary smart, reality based community to chill. Governor Emmer is going to be too busy getting this state moving forward to worry about putting you into re-education camps.

    Yeah, some of your kooky programs will take a hit, and you’ll have to put the plans for new ones on the shelf for the next 8 years but listen; take a breath. It’s gonna be OK.

    I really hope that helps; I’m a helper.

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/31/2010 - 11:55 am.

    Wow. Talk about paraniod!

    Dragging Emmer’s kids into the sewer with them isn’t going to make November any easier for leftists.

  4. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 08/31/2010 - 12:47 pm.

    1) “…it’s very rare to see so many Republicans not rallying around their party’s standard bearer,” Larry Jacobs to MPR.

    Can it be that a goodly number of Republicans have seen the damage 10 years of the anti-tax/anti-goverment/anti-worker philosophy has done and are determined to elect a fiscally responsible governor?

    2) Dayton was the Senate sponsor of Dennis Kucinich’s bill proposing a cabinet level Department of Peace and Nonviolence, a department whose work would be to educate students from K-12 through higher ed, politicians and public servants, generals and diplomats in nonviolent methods of both governing and international relations.

    Schoolyard bullying, hate crimes and pre-emptive wars, to mention just a few forms of the violence to which many Americans sometimes seems addicted, could be averted if all Americans organized their responses to problems around the principle of peace. (Or at least enough Americans to change a basic attitude of much of our culture.)

    His support for this idea should make every Minnesotan who favors peace over war and tolerance over bigotry want to vote for Dayton.

  5. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 08/31/2010 - 01:12 pm.

    Yow, indeed.

    If Mr. Kapphahn is a little over-the-top, Mr. Swift might nonetheless find it time well spent to reacquaint himself with the New Testament, wherein the character who’s the focus of the story finds many an occasion to chastise the wealthy, insist that they’ll never make it to heaven (that whole “eye of a needle” business), that they should abandon their worldly goods, and, of course, that they should render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Talk about “lefty,” and high taxation!!

    I have no doubt that the vast majority of us will survive, no matter who the next Governor might be, though I’d argue that Mr. Emmer, instead of moving us “forward,” will more likely be moving us in a different direction, perhaps reminiscent of the 1950s, or perhaps even the 1850s. If Mr. Swift likes to characterize that as “forward,” why, that’s his prerogative. Indeed, if Emmer is elected, a lot of state programs will probably take a hit, or even be eliminated, and people will survive that, too. After all, Minnesotans have managed to survive 8 years of Mr. Pawlenty.

    As for Mr. Emmer’s kids, all I read in Mr. Kapphahn’s statement was concern for their welfare if their father is able to put into place the dramatic changes he promises. In any case, children have been getting around, over and through parental rules and objections for many thousands of years, so I’m sure the Emmer children will be fine. Kids can be quite resourceful. I didn’t see any mention of a sewer except by Mr. Swift.

    The latest polling shows a wide-open race, so it’ll be interesting to see which sewers are opened, and who’s getting dragged into them, over the next couple months. I’m looking forward to seeing if a guy who thinks he’s “conservative” can “reform” a state that’s been governed for 8 years by another guy who thinks he’s “conservative.” Do two “conservatives” add up to a reactionary? A liberal? A monarchist? Stay tuned…

  6. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/31/2010 - 01:28 pm.

    “Can it be that a goodly number of Republicans have seen the damage 10 years of the anti-tax/anti-goverment/anti-worker philosophy has done and are determined to elect a fiscally responsible governor?”

    More likely, Bernice, it’s because most Minnesota republicans have never heard of Tom Emmer and now that they’re back from the lake, they will spend some time getting acquainted with him before deciding to support him.

  7. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 09/01/2010 - 12:52 pm.

    #5 … Thank you. That was just exquisite.

    And regarding your last point on what two “conservatives” may add up to, my unequivocal reply is: u n d e s e r v a t i v e s !!

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