Tag Archives: Michele Bachmann

Satire beyond The Onion

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Fact, fiction, or satire?

Does Hilary Clinton wear the bullet that killed Osama bin Laden on a chain around her neck? Did marijuana overdoses kill 37 people in Colorado on the first day of legalization? Was a Black Lives Matter group sued for being racist, not allowing white members? Did a vacationing President Obama really dedicate an 18th hole birdie to Louisiana flood victims? Did Trump really put Ben Carson and Sarah Palin on his foreign policy advisory team? Or is Michele Bachmann going to be his foreign policy adviser?

In this election more, even more than in previous campaign seasons, it can be hard to tell truth from satire. Continue reading


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Who cares about facts?

From “nation of slaves” to “my teeth are white,” from $100,000 waiters to allegations of stolen elections, nonsense and deception dominate Minnesota’s political headlines in July. Continue reading

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NEWS DAY | New nurses’ strike? / Erlinder in jail / Gay in St. Cloud

First make concessions – then we might bargain. That seems to be the message from 14 Minnesota hospitals to the Minnesota Nurses Association, which has asked to return to the bargaining table, but is also planning another strike vote. Continue reading

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NEWS DAY | More Michele, more of the time / What do MN unemployment numbers mean? / MN’s looming health care disaster

Michele BachmannMore Michele, more of the time With a feature story in the New York Times, talk show appearances, and continuing 24/7 coverage by local media, Michele Bachmann is riding high. This week’s crop includes reports that Bachmann has one of the worst show-up-for-voting records in the House of Representatives, that she has $600,000 in her campaign fund, that opposing candidates are “tip-toeing” around health care issues, that she’s talking to Glenn Beck (again), that she’s calling for the firing of Kevin Jennings, and that she has appeared on Glenn Beck’s show three times in September and three times in the first two weeks of October.

Any Michele Bachmann story guarantees a bump in readership numbers, both from those on the right who love her and those on the left who hate her, but can’t pass up one more Michele story. Michele stories drive ratings, and that means the stories will just keep coming.

What do MN unemployment numbers mean? Minnesota’s unemployment rate dropped by 0.7 percent to 7.3 percent in September, but the state also lost 7,900 jobs. How does that work?

The biggest part of the explanation is that MN unemployment figures do not include people who have given up looking for work. The MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) offered one explanation:

About 15,000 more Minnesotans were employed in September, but there were nearly 19,000 fewer who were unemployed. That means that 4,000 people left the labor force, reducing the state’s labor force participation rate to 72.3 percent last month. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of working-age people in Minnesota who are employed, or unemployed and looking for a job.

State economist Tom Stinson, quoted in the Star Tribune, cautioned that the 7.3 percent figure might be an anomaly, and cautioned:

“This is a big change, and the concern is that anytime you have a big change in a number that comes from a relatively small survey, it may just be a problem with the sample,” Stinson said. A similarly low number next month would confirm the unemployment rate has fallen this far, he added.

And in a continuation of the good news/bad news theme, MPR notes that lower unemployment numbers will mean more unemployed workers losing unemployment compensation benefits:

While the declining unemployment rate is an encouraging sign, it also means thousands of the state’s unemployed will be eligible for fewer weeks of benefits.

McElroy said the U.S. Department of Labor is expected to certify the new numbers next week, which would reduce the maximum number of weeks of unemployment benefits from 79 to 72 weeks. Up to an estimated 7,000 people could be affected by the change, 4,200 of them starting Nov. 14.

Minnesota’s looming healthcare disaster With General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) ending on March 1, by the governor’s decree, about 35,000 Minnesotans will be left without health care coverage. Casey Selix details the impact in MinnPost today, ranging from the financial wallop to hospitals to loss of desperately-needed prescription medications for individuals.

Program funds may run out even sooner, some time in February, reports MPR:

“Right now, we’re seeing that more and more people are needing health coverage under the program so the money is going faster than we thought it would,” said Michael Scandrett, director of the Minnesota Safety Net Coalition, a group is made up of dozens of hospitals, clinics, and other health providers. “It looks now like it could be some time in February when people could lose their coverage”

GAMC covers individuals making less than 75 percent of federal poverty guidelines, which would be about $8,000 for a single adult. Many make far less than that. Some 28 percent are homeless. Just over 60 percent have mental health and/or chemical dependency diagnoses.

The impact will go far beyond the people who lose GAMC coverage and their doctors, especially in Hennepin County, home to 41 percent of GAMC enrollees, and Ramsey County, home to 12.6 percent.  Monica Nilsson, director of street outreach for St. Stephen’s Human Services in Minneapolis, told MinnPost that downtown businesses will also see the effects:

“They’re always complaining about panhandling and people causing disturbances,” Nilsson said, “and I’ve been saying that if you think we have an economic development issue now, just wait until our folks can’t get their anti-psychotic meds. There will be a lot more people talking to themselves” on March 1.

While Pawlenty has said that GAMC recipients should enroll in MinnesotaCare, advocates say that’s no answer. MinnesotaCare charges both premiums and co-pays, and the people receiving GAMC have no money for either.

Meanwhile, costs for another Minnesota health care program are skyrocketing. Politics in Minnesota examines the state’s high-risk insurance pool – a nonprofit called the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association (MCHA). While enrollment is holding steady at about 28,000, costs are increasing and MCHA’s funding base is eroding.

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News Day: Minneapolis budget / Minnesota multi-faceted MMPI dust-up / Michelle Bachmann – on the media and in the media

tc_icon_dollarMinneapolis budget With a $21 million cut in state aid this year, the 2010 Minneapolis city budget proposed by Mayor R.T. Rybak on Thursday includes both spending cuts and tax increases, according to reports in the Star Tribune and MPR. Among the budget highlights:

• a budget trim that brings the 2010 budget in $100 million below the 2009 budget;
• cutting 200 mostly unfilled city jobs, and implementing voluntary, unpaid furloughs for city employees;
• property tax increases that average 6.6 percent;
• an $800,000 increase to the $4.3 million Great Streets program, which provides low-interest loans to small businesses;
• 20 additional police officers, thanks to federal ARRA funds;
• a $1.7 million savings in police overtime, due to lower crime rates;
• a shift in funding away from the Neighborhood Revitalization Program and Target Center debt repayment, with $13 million going instead to property tax relief.

Minnesota multi-faceted MMPI dust-up First came the questions about conflict of interest and revision of the MMPI, raised in Maura Lerner’s Star Tribune article. The 70-year-old Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, “the most widely used personality test in the world, assessing the emotional stability of millions of people” has recently undergone major revision, with critics ranging from academic journals to plaintiffs in lawsuits alleging that they have been damaged by MMPI results. Among the strongest critics are psychologists who did the latest revision of the MMPI some 20 years ago. According to the Strib article:

University investigators found nothing inappropriate about the MMPI changes. But they did fault the University of Minnesota Press for relying on an advisory board that consisted entirely of two scientists — psychologists Auke Tellegen and Yossef Ben-Porath — who co-wrote the new test and stand to profit from its sales.

Susan Perry in MinnPost gives a little historical context, with fascinating details about “how unscientifically by today’s standards (OK — by today’s purported standards) the original developers of the MMPI questionnaire went about choosing their ‘normal’ control group.” The so-called “Minnesota normal” group consisted of hospital staff and visitors to mental wards, whose test results were compared to those of patients in the wards.

Perry also reviews recent questions about the Hawthorne effect — “the widely accepted idea that when people are being observed (such as during a psychological experiment), the fact that they know they are being observed will change their behavior.” In addition to other problems described in The Economist, Perry points out that the original Hawthorne effect study sample consisted of only five women — two of whom were replaced by others during the course of the study.

Of course, there’s the ultimate test, set near the end of the Star Tribune article: “University officials say they’re willing to let the marketplace decide.” After all, isn’t that what science is all about?

Michelle – on the media and in the media again In a fundraising appeal to fans, Michele Bachmann warned that the media are “Palinizing” her and denounced what she characterized as “a hit piece on one of my kids!” The so-called hit piece Star Tribune column actually praised the younger Bachmann for his commitment to serve in the AmeriCorps-affiliated Teach for America program:

Coincidentally or not, TFA came to Minnesota just this year, exactly because the state’s socioeconomic inequalities have grown as the state has retrenched its programs for the poor, disenfranchised and under-educated. For the first time, we have to rely on the charity of good kids like Harrison Bachmann to step up and help out at our schools.

Quoting Bachmann’s tirade against AmeriCorps, Tevlin asks rhetorically, “Why do our children always disappoint us?”

Over at MinnPost, David Brauer points out:

This wasn’t a hit piece on your son, Congresswoman — it was a hit piece on you. And not in your capacity as a mother, but as an elected public official.

World/National News

The people behind the lies Let’s say it again: “There is nothing in any of the legislative proposals that would call for the creation of death panels or any other governmental body that would cut off care for the critically ill as a cost-cutting measure.”

Why are the lies about death panels so widespread and viral? The New York Times examines the origins of this attack on health care reform, and finds that this particular lie, given broad publicity by the likes of Sarah Palin and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley,

…has a far more mainstream provenance, openly emanating months ago from many of the same pundits and conservative media outlets that were central in defeating President Bill Clinton’s health care proposals 16 years ago, including the editorial board of The Washington Times, the American Spectator magazine and Betsy McCaughey, whose 1994 health care critique made her a star of the conservative movement (and ultimately, New York’s lieutenant governor). …

The specter of government-sponsored, forced euthanasia was raised as early as Nov. 23, just weeks after the election and long before any legislation had been drafted, by an outlet decidedly opposed to Mr. Obama, The Washington Times.

No surprises there. It looks like the White House’s Reality Check web page has rebuttals for a lot of the craziness — somewhere to refer when you get the viral email forwarded by your brother-in-law.

Violence in Russia Clashes in the North Caucasus region of Russia and neighboring Chechnya killed 17 people yesterday. Yesterday’s death toll was particularly high, but violence permeates the region, according to the New York Times:

It was one of the most deadly nights the largely Muslim region has seen for months, though bloodshed occurs almost daily, particularly in Chechnya, Dagestan and another North Caucasus republic, Ingushetia. Earlier this week, Ingushetia’s construction minister was killed by gunmen in his office, just as the republic’s president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, was planning to return to work after being seriously injured in a suicide attack on his convoy in late June.

Most of the violence centers on fighting between police and various radical Islamist or more secular separatist organizations in the region, some of which are remnants of militant groups that fought federal forces in Chechnya’s two wars.

War Reports

Iraq Suicide bombs at a cafe in northern Iraq killed at least 21 people and injured 30 others, reports BBC. the attack came in city of Sinjar, which is populated primarily by Yazidis, Kurdish-speaking followers of a pre-Islamic faith with its roots in Zoroastrianism, and which has been the target of previous attacks by Sunni extremists.

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