Presumptions and assumptions in the news

We at the Glean don’t usually like to report things before they happen, and it’s surprising how many news stories are pre-emptive: “Pawlenty to visit the moon”; “Best Buy opens outlet on the moon”; “Prince to play … on the moon.” Until it’s actually happened, it’s just guesswork, and unless it’s the sort of guesswork that people actually make policy around, such as estimates of our deficit, it doesn’t interest us. But Kevin Giles of the Star Tribune offered up a story that seems like the sort of thing one might want to make policy around, and so we shall share it: According to union correctional officers, budget cuts have caused a “staffing crisis” in Minnesota prisons that could lead to what the story’s headline calls a “blowup.” Not only has the number of guards dwindled while the number of prisoners has risen, but cuts have also “hurt some programs intended to reduce idleness and restlessness among inmates,” which doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you want to hurt. A Pawlenty spokesman dismissed these concerns, claiming the union was playing politics just weeks before the election. The story notes that on May 15, there was a violent disturbance “involving about 70 inmates who live in the B West cellhouse”; one presumes they were also playing politics.

Dave Orrick of the Pioneer Press offers a story that is assumptive, rather than presumptive: Apparently, there’s something of a mouse boom going on right now. How do we know? Well, we don’t actually, but some exterminators are reporting a rise in calls and some hardware stores are selling more traps. And look at this weather! If you were a mouse, you’d be loving it, wouldn’t you? Well, let’s ask an expert: Kendall Crosby, owner of Kendall’s Ace Hardware Stores in St. Paul. He sells traps — he must know a thing or two. “Just look at your garden this year,” he says. “The ecology is awesome this year for all kinds of growth. I’m no expert, but I guess you’ll see a lot of fatter animals around.” Oh. Well, how about Carrol Henderson of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources? “That’s a population that kind of falls between the cracks for biologists,” he says. Maybe somebody at the U? “[I]t doesn’t track mice.”

Monday’s gubernatorial debate went … oddly, according to Bill Salisbury of the Pioneer Press. The three frontrunning candidates were discussing children’s health care when activist Nick Espinosa took the stage and dropped a Dora the Explorer doll in GOP candidate Tom Emmer’s lap. You may remember Espinosa — he previously dumped pennies in front of Emmer. This time, he said, “Hey, Emmer, pick on somebody your own size. … Education, not deportation,” which we at the Glean are having a hard time parsing. Did he mean Emmer should beat up cartoon characters? Emmer seemed resigned to occasionally having stuff dumped on him. “[I]t was better than the pennies,” he said.

Bemusing stunts aside, there was, in fact, a debate, sponsored in part by MinnPost, and Tom Scheck of Minnesota Public Radio sums it up. The highlights seem mostly to have been the various potshots the candidates got in at each other, such as DFL candidate Mark Dayton asking Tom Emmer, “If you don’t believe in government, why do you want to be in charge of it?” IP candidate Tom Horner seemed unimpressed by Dayton’s various promises to bolster government programs, saying, “You have to set priorities. If everything is a priority, Senator Dayton, nothing is a priority.”

“Governors race getting ugly,” declares Jeff Goldberg of FOX9, but it’s not the debates, or the candidates, he’s talking about. He’s talking about ads and attacks from outside groups, such as the GOP “publicizing a wrongful termination settlement reached in 2009 after years of litigation between then-senator Mark Dayton and a former staffer,” or party chair Tony Sutton calling Republicans who support Horner “quislings,” which the story says is associated with Nazi collaborators, although we at The Glean mostly associate it with the Irish folk song “The Patriot Game” by Dominic Behan; when you’re Irish-American, everything seems Irish to you. Sutton has said he never intended any Nazi comparisons, and, frankly, we find it a bit odd that people are focusing on the word “quisling” and not on the fact that Sutton said there was “a special place in hell” for Republicans who support Horner.

Going back to an earlier topic, if Nick Espinosa is to dump Dora the Explorer dolls anywhere, perhaps it should be in Minnesota’s 6th District. As Sasha Aslanian of MPR points out, the issue is mostly flying under the radar in the congressional race between Michele Bachmann and Tarryl Clark, but it’s a big one for Bachmann. She has come out in favor of the notorious Arizona law requiring police to check people’s immigration status, and a recent ad from Bachmann accused Clark of voting “to give benefits to illegal immigrants.” What benefits? Well, Clark voted to give all Minnesota students, whatever their status, the right to pay in-state tuition. Clark has not broached the subject, except to say that Bachmann’s ad is wrong. In the overwhelmingly white and strongly conservative 6th District, appearing soft on illegal immigrants can be bad for one’s political career.

In arts: Sheila Regan of the Daily Planet writes about “Queer Twin Cities,” an oral history of the LGBT experience here in the cities formerly known as Albion and Pigseye. The book collects more than 100 interviews and discovers, among other things, that police were apparently much less repressive of sexual minorities than elsewhere and that there was a great deal of pre-Stonewall activism going on, which is no surprise to anybody who knows about activist Jack Baker, who founded the first gay student organization in the United States at the University of Minnesota a month before the Stonewall Riots, and who was the first gay man in America to attempt to marry his partner in 1970, and brought the case to the Supreme Court, the details of which can be found here.

In sports: We’re still not going to talk about Brett Favre’s male generative organ, although David Brauer offers up a good summary of how the story has been handled in the local media, and some of the ethical issues it raises. Instead, we will mention that the Nice Ride program is getting ready to expand into North Minneapolis, as reported by the Associated Press. Where will it expand to next? Perhaps … the moon.

Comments (16)

  1. Submitted by Michael Hunt on 10/12/2010 - 10:22 am.

    Oh Gee, now you’re gonna claim prison riots because of understaffing due to budget cuts. Yeah, sure. I suppose the next claim will be that if we don’t do maintenance or inspections, bridges will just suddenly fall down.

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/12/2010 - 10:26 am.

    Considering that the “undecided” voters seem likely to decide this fall’s elections and that majority of such voters are in that category because they don’t pay attention to campaigns until the very last minute, I think the wisest political campaigns will have already purchased every available minute of local advertising time in the last two days before the election, thus crowding out their opponents’ ads and making sure the last ad undecided voters see or hear before going to the polls (which is likely the one that determines their vote) will be one either in their favor or against their opponent. Is anyone smart enough to pull this off?

    No doubt local media outlets would be willing to facilitate such an approach (for the right price?).

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/12/2010 - 11:19 am.

    Say bunny?

    I don’t now how you missed it, but today is the 6th anniversary of the day Dayton saw Al Queda U-boats surfacing in his Senate office waiting room and abandoned ship.

    As I understand it, there were no cameras at hand to record the event, but I’m guessing it looked a lot like this:

    http://tinyurl.com/2dng559

    I know you’re busy as heck, but it seems wrong not to take notice of this historic event; I’m glad to help.

  4. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/12/2010 - 01:04 pm.

    How soon they forget!

    Some among us seem to have forgotten that Dayton wasn’t even IN Washington when he closed his senate office but closed it out of concern for his staff based on a credible threat against the senate office buildings.

    What that says about the rest of the senators who didn’t seem to give a tinkers damn about their own staffs I won’t speculate on. I guess those staff members are… ah…

    expendable?

    I’m not sure I would want to be represented by nor to work for someone who would leave me and my fellow employees to go down with the ship while they whiled away their time somewhere else.

  5. Submitted by Frank Bing on 10/12/2010 - 01:53 pm.

    Can someone please tell me what “Say bunny?” means? I see it all the time and I have a headache from trying to determine what it means.

  6. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/12/2010 - 02:01 pm.

    “Some among us seem to have forgotten that Dayton wasn’t even IN Washington when he closed his senate office…”

    Just so.

    First, Dayton abandoned his post, and left word for his XO to pass the word to scatter to his crew.

    It’s important to get the facts right when recalling historical run-aways. Thanks Greg; you helped.

  7. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 10/12/2010 - 02:17 pm.

    @#1 – ??? !!!

    I am puzzled and completely bewildered.

    First, I’m not exactly sure what specifically is the object of your wrath or frustration.

    Second, your statements and your logic do not exactly make perfect sense in strengthening your (?) position. It is as if you are trying to negate negative situations by denying that they result from negative causes … and so, it seems that you’ve ended up defeating the premise of your arguments whatever it may be.

    We have to be very careful when we are talking of cause and effect in whatever arena we find ourselves.

  8. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/12/2010 - 03:29 pm.

    Frank, “bunny” is Max’s nickname…it’s a term of endearment.

  9. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 10/12/2010 - 04:04 pm.

    Thomas:

    The Senate was not in session and all 100 of the senators had gone home to their respective states.

  10. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 10/12/2010 - 04:45 pm.

    We shouldn’t trouble Tommy with facts, he has SO much fun making up his own!

    Plus he has two Republican candidates running for governor who share his name!

    I wonder if there’s something in the name, itself?

  11. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/12/2010 - 04:56 pm.

    So how come 99 Senators didn’t order “abandon ship”, Bernice?

  12. Submitted by Lance Groth on 10/12/2010 - 05:31 pm.

    @ #13 – I recall reading somewhere – I don’t have a reference but it might have even been here so perhaps someone at MinnPost knows – that Dayton’s decision to close the office was influenced by a prior experience involving a threat to employees. Possibly at the Dayton corporate office or some Dayton enterprise. In any event, he learned from that experience to take threats seriously and to protect his employees to the extent possible. Since the Senate was in recess, and the business of his office could easily be handled from other locations, and there was a briefing on a threat to D.C., he sent his employees home or to other work locations. Sounds to me like a guy who cares about his employees and believes in being prudent where safety is concerned.

    Of course, I’m interested mostly in getting to the facts of a situation and in general prefer to focus on truth. Those adhering to the Lee Atwater attack dog, scorched earth school of election strategies and swiftboating character assassination, truth be damned, might term it “abandoning ship.”

    Regardless, this issue is going to have zero impact on the 2010 election and is therefore merely an academic discussion, so please continue to amuse yourself.

  13. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/12/2010 - 08:42 pm.

    Lance; I don’t need Lee Atwater’s mutt.

    Time magazine called him one of the 5 worst Senators – Ever. His own Democrat colleagues called his behavior “bizarre”.

    That is what history will remember.

    “Abandon ship” is a kindness.

  14. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 10/12/2010 - 10:08 pm.

    This is all very enthralling!

    All this talk about ‘historical run-aways’ and swift-boating and ‘abandoning ship’….

    And by the way, to his credit, Mr. Atwater did apologize for his no-holds-barred, ugly campaigning style before he died of brain tumor. He also maintained to the end that … “[he] didn’t invent negative politics [although he was] one of its most ardent practitioners.”
    (* source:http://www.nytimes.com/1991/01/13/us/gravely-ill-atwater-offers-apology.html)

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