Contemporary Republican messaging was on display in Iowa over the weekend. This, of course, means a new quote of the day from Michele Bachmann. The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Weisman reports: “Haley Barbour drew polite chuckles at the first extended forum for potential Republican presidential candidates Saturday when he declared: ‘The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.’ The main thing, he said, is economic growth. Mr. Barbour’s low-key comments focused on energy production and the need to spur private investment. But in an Iowa-activist world where social conservatism has long dominated the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, some bridled at any suggestion that economic issues should take a front seat ahead of abortion, gay marriage or other social issues. ‘Social conservatism is fiscal conservatism,’ thundered Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, bringing the crowd at the Conservative Principles Conference to its feet. She called for abolishing the tax code and restoring ‘freedom of choice’ in light- bulb purchases.” Isn’t that light bulb thing great stuff?
Noel Sheppard, covering politics for the website Newsbusters (Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias), is all worked up over Bill Maher referring to Sarah Palin as a “dumb [expletive]”: “[T]he National Organization for Women’s weak response to Bill Maher refering to Sarah Palin as a highly derogatory term for a woman’s vagina in no way discouraged the ‘Real Time’ host or the television network he represents from making these sexist attacks. Proving this point, Maher called Palin and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) ‘bimbos’ on Friday’s show …
BILL MAHER: Well, you know, a birther could be running for president. Michele Bachmann this week threw her hat into the ring kind of. We think she’s going to be running for president. For those who find Sarah Palin too intellectual.
[Laughter and applause]
MAHER: Michele Bachmann for President. As a comedian, all I have to say is where can I donate to this cause?
[Laughter and applause]
MAHER: I love this, if Bachmann and Palin get in, that’s two bimbos, and then there’s Mitt Romney, a millionaire, and Newt Gingrich, a professor. We just need a skipper and a buddy – we’ve got ‘Gilligan’s Island.’ ”
I know, I know, I gotta give this thing a rest. But the woman is thinking of running for president … of the United States! Here’s a funny column by Margery Eagan of the Boston Herald: “What’s going on? Bachmann, like Palin, revs up a crowd and the reporters in it. Meanwhile she’s tapped into the widespread conservative suspicion that Obama is running, as Bachmann put it, a ‘gangster government’ that’s ‘turning us into a nation of slaves’ while spending us into oblivion. She thinks both Obamas want to micromanage us (Michelle Obama pushing healthy foods and breast pump tax breaks) and take away all we hold dear (our sacred freedoms — and our incandescent light bulbs). Yes, light bulbs. Bachmann, who actually filed the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice act, has tapped into another issue Americans apparently feel quite passionate about: holding onto incandescents and steering clear of those curly-cue, energy efficient bulbs the government’s pushing us to buy.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar is getting involved in one of the sorrier sideshows of our multiple foreign wars. The Strib’s Mark Brunswick reports: “Klobuchar said she will introduce legislation on Monday intended to preserve evidence and documentation of military sexual trauma, an effort to address one of the biggest issues facing the military as more women join the armed services. The bill, which has strong bipartisan support, is designed to assist victims of sexual assault and trauma in the military who may not immediately report the case but seek benefits and treatment for it afterward. It also will allow research into sexual assault and harassment in the military, which is known as Military Sexual Trauma, or MST. In 2008, 21 percent of women tested by the military were found to have been the victims of MST.” That’s as in … one out of every five.
I don’t think he mentioned this during the campaign, either. The AP is reporting that among the programs getting whacked by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is a “file-sharing system that supporters say already has grown into a crucial tool in detecting criminals’ cross-jurisdiction patterns. The Wisconsin Justice Information System allows police in the state to access each other’s files. It also allows officers to transmit citations instantly to prosecutors and courts, saving time. The state Office of Justice Assistance has built the system over about the last four years using mostly federal start-up money. Now the agency says most of that money is drying up. OJA officials requested $2 million in the state’s budget for the system but Walker declined to devote any state dollars to it because of tight budgets. Police say losing the system would be like turning back the clock.” Walker did, of course, campaign on that clock thing.
The larger story over the weekend was Walker’s decision to defy the restraining order holding back his so-called “budget repair bill” at least until a hearing this Tuesday. Rick Ungar on Forbes’ “The Policy Page” blog, writes: “It would seem that court orders mean absolutely nothing to the two top legislators in the state. And then there is Governor Scott Walker whose office simply added, “The administration will carry out the law as required.” It’s anyone’s guess what that means. However, it should be an interesting few days in Wisconsin as we wait to see if the Governor proceeds with his plans before the court hearing can begin on Tuesday. It’s almost as if these people want to see the recall efforts in Wisconsin that would turn the senate over to the Democrats by the end of summer succeed. They know full well the intent of the court’s ruling yet they are prepared to completely ignore it and move forward with enforcement.”
Good story by Dennis Lien in the PiPress about environment and conservation groups taking hits from the state’s new legislative majority: “It started with proposals to cut regulatory red tape and to repeal a long-standing ban on new nuclear power plants. Soon, there was a push to lift restrictions on new coal-fired power plants. Later, Minnesota legislators voted to ease water-quality standards protecting wild rice. ‘This is really an unraveling of Minnesota’s outdoors legacy — on multiple fronts, from energy to water to forestry to parks,’ said Steve Morse, executive director of the Minnesota Environment Partnership, a coalition of outdoors and environment groups. As the 2011 Minnesota Legislature passes the halfway point, there’s growing discontent within environment and conservation communities. The reason? They see lawmakers — especially Republicans — systematically rolling back or weakening environmental protections. Few days go by, they said, when something threatening doesn’t emerge.” So I guess maybe social conservatism is also anti-conservation conservatism?
All the steel may be building skyscrapers in Dubai and China, but Minnesota’s taconite industry isn’t suffering. John Myers’ story in the Duluth News Tribune says: “Minnesota’s iron ore industry has bounced back to full speed this spring, less than two years after hitting rock-bottom — one of the fastest turnarounds in a century of mining. As the first lakers of the 2011 season leave ore docks in Duluth, Two Harbors, Silver Bay and Superior with full loads of taconite bound for steel mills on the lower lakes, Iron Range taconite experts and workers say they are poised to hit full capacity in taconite production even as they plan to expand. ‘Everyone is going at full capacity-plus right now and we’ve got new projects down the line,’ said Craig Pagel, executive director of the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota. ‘It’s having a ripple effect on our whole region’s economy.’ ”
Even bigger news, for the moment, is the UM-Duluth Bulldogs, in college hockey’s Frozen Four, beating Yale over the weekend. Kevin Pates of the News Tribune writes: “Yale had been No. 1 in the computerized PairWise rankings and in nearly every statistical offensive and defensive team category in Division I, and had won five straight games, allowing just one goal total the past four games. ‘Statistically it says they are the best team of the regular season. This is the playoffs,’ said junior winger Mike Connolly. ‘We’ve now reached one of our goals, to get to the Frozen Four, and we’d like to win two more games.’ UMD advances to the semifinals against the Northeast Regional winner April 7 at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.”