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National tragedy overshadows Bachmann’s big D.C. moment

ALSO: Pawlenty ends a bad week by proposing a constitutional amendment; Rybak runs for governor; Ponzi scheme-mania!

There’s a story told about Jay Ward, the creator of “Rocky and Bullwinkle”: He reportedly bought an island near his home, dubbed it Moosylvania and led a march on Washington to get it declared its own state. Unfortunately, when he arrived at the White House, the Cuban Missile Crisis had broken out, and so his publicity stunt was overshadowed and mostly ignored. Michele Bachmann may be feeling a little like Ward today. After all, Thursday she led her own march on Washington, which Politico estimates at 10,000 strong. But then, of course, there was a tragedy, and this morning that’s what’s dominating the news: An Army psychiatrist named Nidal Hasan, facing deployment to Afghanistan, is the suspect in the shooting and killing of 13 people and wounding of another 28 at Ford Hood in Texas.

Our area news outlets are scrambling to find local connections to the Hasan story, as they tend to do when there is a big national news story, but according to FOX9, there are no National Guard troops from Minnesota or Wisconsin currently training at Fort Hood. Both the Star Tribune and WCCO did manage to track down a St. Paul resident, Spc. Keara Bono, who was injured by the shooter, and we can expect that our local news men and women will locate other Minnesotans who were on hand at Fort Hood; it’s a very large base, serving more than 30,000 people.

In the meanwhile, let’s get back to Bachmann, who, after all, had a point to make, and that point sounds like something from a Tarantino film: Michelle Bachmann wants to kill bill. Specifically, as Minnesota Public Radio’s Madeleine Baran explains, Bachmann was heading up a rally against the Democrats health care reform bill. “The biggest vote in the United States, the biggest voice in the United States is your voice, the voice of the American people,” Bachmann told the crowd, who were assembled on the West Front of the Capitol. The crowd seemed appreciative: One protester from Ohio told Politico that “She has more cojones than a lot of guys.”

The protesters, many of whom are affiliated with the Tea Party, were described in the Politico piece, by Jonathan Allen and Meredith Shiner, and, as is often the case, there was some lunacy on display: “One sign in the crowd read: ‘Obama takes his orders from the Rothchilds,’ a reference to theories of Jewish world dominance centered around the prominent Jewish family of Rothschilds,” Politco reports. According to Talking Points Memo, the crowd also said the Pledge of Allegiance, at the bidding of Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, who said, “It is altogether fitting that we should do this — and it drives the liberals crazy.”

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The nadir of the event — or perhaps the summit, depending on how you feel about these things — was actor John Ratzenberger, best known as Cliff Clavin from the long-running sitcom “Cheers.” As CNN reports, Ratzenberger described the bill as socialism and decried its supporters as “Woodstock Democrats.” Woodstock? Greg Sargent expanded on this on his blog, explaining that Ratzenberger is apparently still steaming about having been a “techie” at Woodstock, and recalled that the hippies called in the National Guard when it started raining. “Clavin, still visibly angry, excoriated all the love children for bashing the military even as they relied on the military to save their precious, America-hating festival,” Sargent writes. He also claims that the protests demonstrate that Bachmann “now appears to have a genuine national power base of sorts” and has built a “respectable following,” which prompted the following in his comments: “Greg. Dude.” Sargent clarified that he meant  “respectable” — in size.”

At about the same time, as Tim Pugmire of Polinaut explains, Keith Ellison was speaking in support of the bill on MSNBC. Pugmire quotes the congressman as saying, “If you went back and did polls on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, there’d be a lot of people who’d be fearful of what might happen next, but the truth is, it made our country better. So did Social Security. So did Medicare. This change we’re looking at right now is of that magnitude.”

In more Ellison news, City Pages is reporting that the congressman is poor. Specifically, they cite  an analysis done by the Center for Responsive Politics that puts Ellison at “514th out of 538 U.S. Congress(wo)men in terms of personal wealth.”

Here are two stories about deer. Firstly, according to the Associated Press, the state Department of Natural Resources is saying there has been an uptick in poaching; secondly, deer season is starting, and Tim Pawlenty will be there for the opener.

Hopefully, this will mark an end to what City Pages calls Pawlenty’s “Week of Fails,” citing Chris Cillizza’s blog post at the Washington Post, in which he enumerates the governor’s various strategic missteps, including dissing Olympia Snowe. But Pawlenty has big plans ahead — so big, in fact, that House Majority Leader Tony Sertich was attacking them before they were even announced, as reported by Polinaut’s Tim Pugmire, who, without knowing the details of Pawlenty’s plan, declared “Clearly, this proposal is not for Minnesota.

What proposal? The Star Tribune’s Mike Kaszuba and Baird Helgeson spell it out: The governor proposed “a state constitutional amendment that would cap the state’s general fund budget at the level of revenues from the latest two-year budget period.” Jeff Rosenberg of MNPublius is, unsurprisingly, instantly suspicious, asking, “If this is such a great idea, why didn’t Pawlenty propose it 8 years ago?” Minnesota Republicans, also unsurprisingly, are fairly enthusiastic about the plan: Minnesota Democrats Exposed quotes a press release from Minnesota Chairman Tony Sutton and Deputy Chairman Michael Brodkorb where they insist that Pawlenty’s proposal “is to be commended by all Minnesotans who value sensible government and fiscal sanity.”

Fiscal sanity? In fact, these seem to be times of fiscal insanity. There’s the continuing case of Tom Petters, to begin with, with each new day breaking more information that seems outrageous and unbelievable. John Welbes of the Pioneer Press leads one such story with this astonishing sentence: “As a joke, Tom Petters sometimes knocked on Robert White’s office door, pretending to be the FBI.” According to Welbes, White, a former Petters Co. executive, estimates that he forged about 11,000 documents, so what the man lacked in honesty, he at least made up for in industry. The City Pages coverage of the trial, with its breathless voiceover and manic illustrations by Ken Avidor, is either an especially entertaining or distressing way to keep tabs on what’s happening. Heck, it’s frequently both at the same time.

But, if that’s not enough to satisfy your appetite for Ponzi scheming, Jessica Mador of Minnesota Public Radio tells us that an Andover man has been charged with heading up a Ponzi scheme to the tune of $53 million. Compared with Petters, it’s small potatoes, but, still … $53 million is a lot of potatoes.

In case you hadn’t heard, fresh off his victory in the Minneapolis mayoral election, R.T. Rybak has filed papers to run for governor. According to the Star Tribune’s Rachel E. Stassen-Berger, although Rybak has been dropping broad hints that this was going to happen, it’s still a bit surprising, at least in terms of timing:  “On election night, he told reporters his gubernatorial decision was weeks or months away,” Stassen-Berger explains. Well, what Rybak lacks in timing he more than makes up for in whatever the opposite of procrastination is.

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In sports: Well, if you’re a Wild fan, you probably don’t want to talk about it.