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1,800-pound Wisconsin visitor invades New York City

So how about if the first time you ever drove into Manhattan, it was in a big pickup truck with an 1,810-pound pumpkin in the back? If you read this quick and turn on “Live With Regis and Kelly,” you can see the Wisconsin couple with … the world’s largest pumpkin, circa 2010 growing season. Mary Divine of the PiPress reports the proud papa saying, “ ‘Oh, my God! Driving a three-quarter-ton pickup truck with an 1,800-pound pumpkin in the back through downtown Manhattan was insane,’ Chris Stevens said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. ‘I have never been in New York in my life, and I have never seen traffic like this. Rush hour here makes rush hour in the Twin Cities look like rush hour in New Richmond.’ His behemoth pumpkin weighed in at 1,810-1/2 pounds Oct. 9 at the Stillwater Harvest Fest, shattering the previous world record of 1,725 pounds.”

In a move that will not make some people in their readership area happy — and annoy hundreds of others from outstate pouring money into the campaign of Michele Bachmann — the editorial board of ECM Publications, owner of several 6th District papers, endorsed Tarryl Clark for Congress. Said the endorsement: “As editors from ECM newspapers that serve the Sixth District converged as an editorial endorsement panel to screen candidates in this election, we had hoped that [Ms. Bachmann] would grant an interview to assist the panel in its deliberation. Repeated attempts in late August and throughout September to schedule an interview were not successful. That was disappointing and the panel had no choice but to move on. We understand that Rep. Bachmann has been part of the House minority, Still, in the four years that she has served in Congress she has authored only one piece of legislation that became law. Still worse, she has not supported important construction projects in St. Cloud and Stillwater — projects of great value in this district.” What? “Construction projects”? Who cares about “construction projects” when our “freedoms” are under socialist siege?

The top story from MPR is that its latest pledge drive has only days more to run! Sorry. Just kidding, Mr. Kling. It does pick up an AP story on the curious case of Peter Erlinder, the William Mitchell professor who had an eventful run-in with Rwandan authorities last spring. “Martin Ngoga [Rwanda’s top prosecutor] says Peter Erlinder will be charged with denying Rwanda’s genocide. Erlinder, a law professor at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, was arrested in May and was granted bail in June. Ngoga made his remarks in Arusha, Tanzania, where the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is based.”  And the chances  of Erlinder returning to Rwanda are what, you’d say?

PoliGraph, MPR’s veracity-checking service on politicians’ statements (not just their  nutty ads) says Tom Horner is correct when  he says only Alaska and Minnesota have  declined federal health care money. Writes Catharine Richert: “The new health care law requires most people to have health insurance by 2014. But because some people don’t have insurance through their jobs — and some people don’t have jobs at all — the bill also requires that states set up so-called health insurance exchanges, virtual marketplaces where consumers and small businesses can shop for policies. The idea is to make health insurance pricing more competitive. If the state fails to set up the exchange, the federal Department of Health and Human Services will run the operation. Indeed, the health care bill has become a political flashpoint in Minnesota. In August, Gov. Tim Pawlenty issued an executive order barring state departments and agencies from applying for funding associated with the new law because he says it’s an intrusion on states’ rights. The executive order includes federal grants meant to help states get the exchanges off the ground. … Horner’s correct that Minnesota and Alaska are the only two states that have not applied for grants to help establish health insurance exchanges.”

Nov. 13. That’s the date set for the wrap party for the four-year $288 million Crosstown Commons project. The Strib story by Paul Walsh says: “The Saturday ceremony, stretching from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., will be held at Pearl Park, just to the north and east of the project. ‘The reason for Pearl Park is because it is close to where the project began on the Diamond Lake Road bridge [over 35W],’ said MnDOT spokesman Kevin Walker. ‘It was the first thing we did was tear the bridge down in May 2007.’ The work is wrapping up on budget and about two weeks earlier than scheduled, thanks to recent favorable weather.” So get out there and be the first on your block to get gridlocked on new, fresh concrete.

Mr. Favre did not look, uh, comfortable, uh, answering, uh, questions, (gulp), about, his, uh, “sexting” problems. The grizzled local sportswriter corps may have given the Babe Ruth of football a pass until the story got “out there.” But by gum, they are on it now. Here’s some video from the Strib’s Vikings site.

The AP story on the Favre press conference has a couple of good quotes. Like Favre saying, “”I look old, gray and weary, with crows feeding on me and that stuff.” And his pal, kicker Ryan Longwell, commenting: “ ‘I can tell by looking at him. I can tell by what he’s talking about and his words and what he’s feeling,’ Longwell said, adding, ‘I think Brett’s in a really good place right now. If anybody can compartmentalize over the years, he’s certainly one that can do it with the best of them.’ ” In other words, he feels good in the compartment.

Meanwhile, the New York Daily News says the object of Favre’s alleged affections, Jenn Sterger, has hired a big-time attorney. Says their story: “Sterger’s spokesman, Phil Reese, said in a statement that Sterger’s decision to hire [former federal prosecutor Joseph] Conway’s firm, LaRusso & Conway, came ‘after much deliberation.’ ‘We have in fact been retained to advise her and pursue any potential remedies she might have,’ Conway told the Daily News, declining to say more about the potential legal minefield that Favre, the Jets and the NFL are now in. Favre’s refusal to discuss the Sterger incident in any way could reflect the possible legal jeopardy he could face if he goes on record revealing any facts about what happened.” I think I know of one sideline reporter (and her attorneys) who will soon be walking into a sweeeeet windfall.

Every man has his breaking point, even a 69 year-old judge. Abby Simons has a story in the Strib of Judge Jack Nordby snapping at a court watchdog group usually armed with identifying red clipboards. The group WATCH has a special interest in the adjudication of domestic and sexual abuse issues, which Nordby was hearing last December, until … ‘Nordby tore into the organization, comparing their tactics to the hand signals gang members use to intimidate court witnesses, according to an 11-page court transcript. He called the red clipboard ‘an ingenious device,’ which says, principally to the judge but to others as well: ‘We are watching you. We do not trust you.’ Now, in a formal complaint made public Wednesday, the Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards accuses Nordby of misconduct for publicly airing his disdain for WATCH in his courtroom.” If you’re thinking, “That guy needs to hire Joe Friedberg,” you’d be dead on.

Did you catch Tim and Mary Pawlenty’s sit-down with Pat Robertson’s “700 Club”? Fascinating stuff. Andy Birkey at The Minnesota Independent watched, so you didn’t have to. “Asked who he would sit down to dinner with living or dead, Pawlenty picked Jesus Christ. ‘We need to understand that our relationship with God is extremely important and how we order ourselves in a moral society is extremely important,’ Mary Pawlenty told David Brody of the 700 Club. ‘It is no small matter to suggest that traditional marriage ought to be redefined. Traditional marriage is incredibly important to who we are as a society, to the family, to how we raise our children so while Tim has correctly indicated that the most important issues right now are jobs and the economy, as importantly is the focus on our families.’ ”

Mr. Brody’s blog contains more clips and his reactions to chatting with the Pawlentys, including this: “I’ve been with [the governor] a number of times and the one thing that always shines through is that he comes across as a regular guy. He’s not the slick politician looking to have cocktails at the next fundraiser. Believe me, he’s done his share of fundraisers but Pawlenty is the type of guy who would rather lace up the skates and go play some hockey with the boys. Put it this way: If Pawlenty runs for President (and there’s every indication he will) the biggest thing going for him will be his humble, blue collar, working class family roots. He not only has the life story of being a regular guy, he has the authenticity that goes with it.”

 Brian Lambert blogs at TheSameRowdyCrowd.

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Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/21/2010 - 10:11 am.

    Brian, did you know that President Obama has identified medicare and medicaid as the two largest contributors to the national debt (now some $13 Trillion dollars) AND deficit?

    It’s a fact:

    “Medicare and Medicaid are the single biggest drivers of the federal deficit and the federal debt by a huge margin.”

    http://tinyurl.com/lpm4u8

    By a huge margin, Brian.

    You might not have known it, but this year, we, as in all of us, paid out $414 Billion bucks in interest. That’s more than the combined budgets of NASA ($19 Billion), Education ($53 Billion), and Department of Transportation ($73 Billion).

    Probably, the Governors of Minnesota and Alaska declined federal health care money because they knew there was none.

    I sure hope Mssrs. Horner and Dayton get the message.

  2. Submitted by Josh Williams on 10/21/2010 - 10:46 am.

    “So get out there and be the first on your block to get gridlocked on new, fresh concrete.”

    So funny… yet so sadly true. You cannot build your way out of congestion.

  3. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 10/21/2010 - 11:00 am.

    Pawlenty…dinner with whom?

    Me-thinks Pawlenty may be pushing the envelope a wee bit…shouldn’t the question be inversely asked…who invited Pawlenty…not J.C, by god?

  4. Submitted by Cecil North on 10/21/2010 - 11:45 am.

    Pawlenty’s dinner with JC = the last supper?

  5. Submitted by Brian Simon on 10/21/2010 - 12:15 pm.

    “did you know that President Obama has identified medicare and medicaid as the two largest contributors to the national debt (now some $13 Trillion dollars) AND deficit?”

    I do know that. I also know that’s why President Obama put health care reform at the top of the priority list: it is critical to get the growth rate of health care expenditures under control, which is to say, lower than the rate of inflation. Whomever’s paying the bill, our healthcare costs are too high & the growth rate is unsustainable.

    What I don’t know is why Pawlenty would then want to kill the state’s involvement in setting up healthcare exchanges. The point of the exchanges is to create a market – something that should appeal to conservatives – where individuals and small employers who choose to can buy insurance at competitive rates. Given the state of the economy, more companies are reducing their healthcare benefits and more people are losing their insurance through job loss. So what’s the conservative argument against the exchanges? I don’t understand. In fact, Pawlenty’s refusal to set up a MN exchange means the Feds will do it for us – so he’s giving up state control in favor of Fed control – the antithesis of his claimed preferance for state or local control.

  6. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/21/2010 - 12:49 pm.

    Brian, if you believe that it is critical to get the growth rate of health care expenditures under control, as we all do, you are against Obamacare.

    There is no cost reduction or containment anywhere in the plan and further, as has been seen, waivers are being issued to businesses that employ low skill workers in the face of losing what small coverages are available to them now.

    This is the result of the Democrat majority slapping together an inchoate mess and forcing it through congress to save face. It’s a national disgrace, and one that has not gone unnoticed by the electorate.

    The conservative’s common sense case against health care exchanges is not the idea, but the proposed implimentation. According to the current administration’s leftist plans, government will manage it and administrate it….please name me one program the government manages that is cost effective, or not in fact running yearly deficits.

    That’s your answer.

  7. Submitted by Shane Spencer on 10/21/2010 - 12:56 pm.

    I have some questions to anybody who can answer me.

    Mr. Pawlenty, and most of the conservative republicans / pundits, are using the health care reform to show their disdain for growth of federal government and increasing the federal deficit, correct?

    Mr. Pawlenty has instructed state agencies not to take money from the federal government (stimulus or health care), correct?

    But why does he ask for federal disaster deceleration for the flood? Is this not accepting federal help in the form of loans and money? Is this not the antithesis of what he talks about? Why not keep it all within the state control and then he doesn’t have to accept any federal government money or control over disaster recovery. To me, there is no difference. If there is, is it so nuanced that I don’t understand?

    I am in favor of declaring areas federal disaster areas as that money is severely needed by people to get back on their feet and keep a roof over their head. I am also in favor of the health care overhaul.

    I know the state accepts other federal dollars (federal highway funds) but I just wanted to use two recent issues to try to illustrate my confusion.

    I do not have a degree in Political Science and I am just a lowly office worker, but this doesn’t make sense to me at all.

  8. Submitted by James Hamilton on 10/21/2010 - 03:49 pm.

    @ Mr. Spencer: Human beings are perfectly capable of holding two completely contradictory beliefs at the same time. Over the millenia, we’ve found remarkable ways to dissipate what psychologists might refer to as the resulting cognitive dissonance. Examples abound on all points on the political spectrum: oppose abortion but support capital punishment; oppose federal subsidies, but take them if you’re eligible; support freedom of conscience but endorse hate crime legislation; support freedom of religion but oppose the construction of a mosque in lower Manhattan; support free speech but insist on laws penalizing employers for their employees’ offensive speech.

    It was no doubt this amazing human attribute that caused Emerson to write: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”

  9. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 10/21/2010 - 09:14 pm.

    A government program that is not running a current deficit is Social Security.

    I find it remarkable to read a self-professed conservative talking about “cost control” for health care as any concern. Until Obama came along and got behind some sort of reform, any kind of reform, all the talk about doing anything about health care was all talk, none of it from “conservatives”. The only time “conservatives” stood up to talk about health care was to bash anyone who came along with any proposal and accuse them of “socialism.” That, or proposing some idea like creating an even worse Frankenstein monster than we already have by “deregulating” further the current broken down mess.

    One reason rational people cannot carry on any rational discussion with people who pepper their remarks with terms like “common sense conservative” and talk about being opposed to “implementation” when so far, the only words associated with health care is “socialism” or “communism” or some other epithet. Who can trust anyone who preaches “fiscal prudence” when they throw figures and terms around which reveal they have no idea what they are talking about.

    Let’s talk about Medicare/Medicaid and Defense for example. This chart from the Office of Management and Budget for FY 2009 shows Defense carrying $782 billion or 23& of the overall budget, compared to Medicare/Medicaid accounting for $676 billion or 19% of the budget. Social Security accounts for $678 billion or 20%. Now Social Security is self funded by its own source of dollars.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Federal_Spending_-_FY_2007.png

    So how does the budget for Defense, e.g. go from $782 billion in 2009 to $78 billion in 2010?

    The Iraq War which was the last big hobbyhorse of the right has cost well in excess of a trillion dollars. Who knows what this country really spend every year on “defense” since it’s well known the Pentagon has a “black budget” which no-one knows. For 8 years before 2009, nary a peep from the right about “fiscal prudence”. It was Dick Cheney: “deficits don’t matter.” Remember?

  10. Submitted by Patrick Guernsey on 10/21/2010 - 11:04 pm.

    Swifty:

    The Post Office
    Air Traffic Controllers
    National Park Service
    WIC
    Corps of Engineers
    USDA
    VA Medical Centers
    NOAA

    It just goes on and on….

  11. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 10/22/2010 - 01:26 am.

    Social Security takes in more money each year than it pays out and will for the next 20 years or so, when it will have to reduce payouts UNLESS the government does the very simple thing it did in 1983 to prepare for the time when baby boomers began to retire: raise the percentage of tax withheld from paychecks AND slightly raise the cap on how much income is taxed.

    Medicare is burdened enormously by the Republican insistence that the drug benefit be privatized and that Medicare must pay retail prices (unlike the VA which negotiates a volume discount of about 47%)or else no benefit.

    Economist Dean Baker studied the issue in 2006 and found that — counting taxpayer/government expenditures as well as seniors’ unnecessarily high premium costs, deductibles, co-pays and doughnut hole purchases — Americans were paying $86 billion per year more than we would if drugs had simply been added to Medicare as a benefit and prices had been negotiated.

    Guess who “benefits” most from this benefit: taxpayers or drug and insurance companies?

    It’s way past time for Congress to reverse this stupid and expensive decision.

  12. Submitted by William Pappas on 10/27/2010 - 07:02 pm.

    Swifty, let me get this right. You’d rather see a health insurance company continuing to determine your coverage under their policies than a set of government regulations? Unfortunately the profit picture of private insurance companies depends on figuring out how to screw you out of coverage. Without the new health reform bill their tactics are endless and expensive to challenge. That bill ends some of their worst abuses and makes them actually reveal what is in your insurance policy. I know that is an evil concept but health insurance by private carriers is inherently hostile to the insured. The health reform bill simply tries to level the playing field by requiring them to actually insure people and tell the truth. Yes, that is what government has to do to fix that incredibly corrupt and institutionally immoral relationship between private insurer and the insured. You are wrong that it will not save money. Premiums will eventually fall according the the CBO. There are efficiencies in record keeping that will reduce the cost of administration. Gee, isn’t it too bad that now you can’t be dropped from your inurance company simply for getting sick? How sad is it that kids can remain on their parents policies until age 26? Terrible that anyone under 19 can’t be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. How tragic that insurance companies can no longer impose life time dollar limits on coverage. These are real improvements for real people that will be law. That is worthwhile government reform.

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