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Post-election gridlock

Michele Bachmann looks for leadership position, gets facts wrong; Tony Sutton paints Secretary of State Mark Ritchie as a partisan with an agenda; FOX9’s Heidi Collins goes on the attack; naked people at The Walker.

We’ll get to the election news momentarily, but, really, is there any need? Somehow, the American public has found the exact combination of votes to put us into an endless, interminable gridlock, both nationally and locally. For goodness’ sake, they simultaneously repopulated the House of Representatives with conservatives and fired most of the Blue Dog Democrats, as though they wanted it absolutely clear that there should be no member of one party who might be interested in working with the other party. And so now all that’s left is gnashing of teeth, Monday morning quarterbacking, and gloating, the latter of which we can expect to poison our political discussions until the next time conservatives are routed, at which moment the gloating will automatically revert to claims of victimhood, as, for some partisans, dialogue only takes one of two forms.

And, anyway, there’s no hurry with the local gubernatorial election, which has stalled for the recount, which could be relatively brief, or could be protracted, depending on who benefits from cutting it short or dragging it out. And so we shall look at news elsewhere, which, as we in the Glean mentioned Tuesday, has suffered because of the glut of reporting on the midterm elections. So let’s start with something fun: Local travel writer Leif Pettersen’s snippy response to some marketing spam he got at his blog, Killing Batteries. He had already written the company asking to be removed from its email list, because, as he puts it, “[A]s any casual visitor to my blog will confirm – by ‘casual,’ I’m referring to anyone that’s spent more than zero seconds perusing my blog (i.e. not you) — the only time I blog about travel with children is when they scream and cry and raise hell while sitting next to me on trans-Atlantic flights. And on those occasions, rather than, as you suggested, constructively offer ways the parents might have entertained their children so as not to disrupt 25 sleeping people, I usually fill this space by openly musing about the number of first cousin pregnancies in the parents’ recent ancestry.

Target got into some hot water in the last election for throwing money behind GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, but lately they have been messing with a group that can do them some real damage: coupon clippers. As WCCO’s Amelia Santaniello reports, Target has regularly been short-changing customers on coupons they bring in, and in spite of reportedly being repeatedly alerted to the fact, seems surprised every single time it hears about it. “I will take my business to Wal-Mart!!!” says one irate customer, presumably having written it, because it’s hard to know, when somebody is speaking to you, just how many exclamation points are appropriate for their tone of voice.

A quick update on the Brainerd woman that has been ordered to pay $1.5 million as a punishment for downloading 24 songs. According to the Associated Press, she’s planning not to pay it and is preparing to make the argument that the amount is unconstitutional. Her lawyer’s argument: “[E]ven the minimum amount for damages is not reasonably related to the actual harm caused to the recording industry.” But those of us who regularly pay $18,000 per song when we download it from iTunes know that this isn’t the case.

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We’ll segue into the latest election news with a note about Michele Bachmann, who has stated she is now interested in a leadership position in the House — drawing reactions that have been, well, “cool,” according to the AP. (She has, it should be noted, gotten the support of Rep. John Kline and the newly elected Chip Cravaack). We had been trying to ignore her legendary misstatements, but if she is to be a leader in the House, we suppose we shall have to point them out and correct them when she makes them, as they will suddenly have the additional authority of coming from the GOP conference chairman. So here is her latest misstatement: As reported by Paul Schmelzer of Minnesota Independent, Bachmann went on Anderson Cooper’s show on CNN and claimed that Obama would be spending $200 million per day. What? Where did she get that from? Apparently, from an unnamed source in an Indian newspaper. If true, that means Obama’s trip would cost four times per day what the costliest trip ever made by a U.S. president cost for the entire trip. (That would be Bill Clinton’s trip to Asia, if you’re wondering, which cost $50 million.) As City Pages points out, that means Obama’s trip would cost more per day than the war in Afghanistan does. The White House, as you might expect, denied the figure, saying it has “no basis in reality.”

Bachmann is the primary character in a New York Times piece about the growing influence of the Tea Party in congressional politics — an influence that traditional conservative leaders seem to be ambivalent about, according to writers Carl Hulse and David M. Herszenhorn. The biggest issue — these candidates are going to be pushing for a no-compromise attack on Obama and an attempt to reverse Democratic accomplishments, which could lock the House into a stalemate at just the moment when Republicans need to start producing identifiable results.

And in Minnesota — well, it’s the recount, and the local Republican Party seems ready to milk it for all it’s worth, at least in the person of GOP leader Tony Sutton. As Mark Zdechlik of Minnesota Public Radio reports, Sutton “questioned the validity of the results and the integrity of the Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who oversees elections.” Sutton accused Ritchie of being a partisan and linked him to ACORN, which, despite the fact that ACORN has filed for bankruptcy as the result of what has been proven to be outrageous and deceptive attacks by conservative activists, still seems to be a popular smear. The implication, of course, is that Ritchie is somehow manipulating the election results to favor a candidate he prefers — an implication predicated entirely by insisting that Ritchie cannot be trusted because he is loosely associated with an organization that was destroyed by a partisan smear campaign.

Well, who would take such a charge seriously? FOX9’s Heidi Collins, it seems. Collins grilled Ritchie Wednesday night, demanding to know about his ACORN association (it gave him some money) and expressing surprise when Ritchie said that he was prepared for a recount. “I think if voters hear that right now, they’re going to be saying, ‘What? Are you kidding me? You knew this was going to happen again? You were prepared for it?’ “ Collins complains, as though any reasonable person might hear that and think, aha, Ritchie set us up! Ritchie pointed out that there are recounts every election (and there are — for instance, there’s one in House District 27A). He did not mention that there was a pretty significant recount in the last election as well. Races can be pretty tight here in Minnesota.

Collins’ exchange with Ritchie raised a lot of eyebrows, especially after she interrupted a protracted answer from the Secretary of State with this exchange “Secretary Ritchie? Could I ask the questions? I ask, you answer. Yes?” David Brauer from MinnPost suggests that this sort of behavior risks undermining FOX9’s credibility. Amy Carlson Gustafson of the Pioneer Press calls the exchange “a bit uncomfortable to say the least.” Neal Justin of the Strib says she blew it, and Kevin Hoffman of City Pages describes it in even bolder terms, saying Collins went “nuts” on Ritchie and described the interview as “insanely hostile.”

The next few months won’t be very fun for Ritchie, that much is certain — according to him, he received death threats the last time round, and with Sutton promising to turn up the heat —- and especially with Sutton painting him as a left-wing activist who is out to undermine the democratic process, one imagine tempers will flare again.

Well, look for the silver lining when e’er a cloud appears in the blue, as Judy Garland once advised us, and according to the AP, a stalemate in Congress might not hurt the economy. Why? “If you ask economists, none of the ideas proposed in the campaign — by either party — would make a big dent in the nation’s 9.6 percent unemployment rate or ramp up consumer spending.”

In arts: The Walker will have two naked people in it for the next month, in a performance art-slash-instillation piece called, appropriately, “Naked.” Euan Kerr of MPR looks at the details of the piece, which sounds terrifically engaging, but with one caveat from one of the artists: “Please don’t touch.”

In sports: Stuff About Minneapolis re-posts a 17-minute documentary called “The Minneapolis Wrestling Club,” about the early years of Midwestern wrestling, which, as the blog notes, has its roots in the sideshow and in vaudeville. It’s an interesting look at a sport that, even today, still shows those roots.

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Come to think of it, we wouldn’t be surprised to discover that politics shares these roots as well.