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Bachmann spends $4,700 on hair and makeup … in 5 weeks

MORNING EDITION ALSO: In defense of Bachmann; debt ceiling politics; Postal Service cutbacks; the incredible journey of the Twin Cities Cougar; schools’ “shifty” finances; and more.
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Mother Jones appears to have taken a keen new interest in Our Favorite Congresswoman. Andy Kroll reports: “[A]fter launching her bid for the White House, Bachmann has broken with her usual frugality and shelled out some serious cash on a stylist in what could be seen as her own John-Edwards’-$400-haircut moment. According to Bachmann’s latest campaign finance filings, her campaign spent nearly $4,700 on hair and makeup in the weeks after she entered the presidential race on June 13. Records show her campaign made three payments of $1,715, $250, and $2,704 to a Maryland-based stylist named Tamara Robertson. Robertson’s LinkedIn profile says she works as a makeup artist at Fox News in the DC area.”

In The Washington Post, Elizabeth Flock reports that Michele Bachmann has yet to make any comment about the Mother Jones story noting the unusually high incidence of teen suicides in her district: “In 2006, Bachmann told the Minnesota state legislature that passing an anti-bullying bill would be a waste of time.

‘I think for all of us, our experience in public schools is there have always been bullies. … Always have been, always will be. I just don’t know how we’re ever going to get to the point of zero tolerance. … What does it mean. … Will we be expecting boys to be girls?’

Critics also point to conservative religious groups who support Bachmann’s presidential campaign, including the Minnesota Family Council and the Parents Action League, who lobbied successfully in the past for local policies that stifle discussion or education of LGBT issues.”

Meanwhile at the National Review Online, Kathryn Jean Lopez is fed up with all the snarky, vulgar jokes about Bachmann’s migraines and her husband’s mannerisms. She writes: “Those who want to take Bachmann out as a candidate by throwing all these things at the campaign wall might want to consider what out-of-control, below-the-belt frenzied attacks have done to make a phenomenon of Sarah Palin, now the subject of a major documentary that might just be in your local theater. That which doesn’t kill a candidate may make her stronger, however deep in mud she finds herself. Beyond the repulsive nature of such whisper campaigns presented as legitimate news stories and campaign issues, rival candidates hoping to benefit from a heated swamp of low-brow politics ought take a cold shower. The job they’re asking for demands it — despite its current occupant, known for his patronizing slights of critics. Defaulting to China. A war or two. Serious threats. We have actual issues to debate.”

I believe Ms. Lopez may have a “pledge” by James Killough on the Pure Film Creative website in mind. Killough has promised … well, read for yourself: “The PFC Pledge: Before we go any further in trying to transition Marcia [i.e. Marcus] into the fold and make her [him] see the error of her ex-gay ways and discard that presidential-hopeful beard, Michele, let me state this: PFC will award $10,000.00 (ten thousand US dollars and zero cents) to any man who has solid, verifiable proof that he has had sex with Marcus Bachmann. We’ll consider another arrangement if you were just propositioned.”

The possibility of a first-ever default by the United States is largely driven by a sub-set of the House that Speaker John Boehner can not control, much less reliably deliver on any compromise. Michael D. Shear of The New York Times reports that T-Paw is four-square with the latter: “Mr. Pawlenty praised Mr. Boehner but said the plan did not do enough to cut spending. ‘The debt limit is a line in the sand where Republicans can force the tough decisions to fix our nation’s finances,’ Mr. Pawlenty said in a statement, ‘and taxpayers cannot afford for us to back down now. I am for the plan that will cut spending, cap it and pass a balanced-budget amendment, but unfortunately this latest bill does not accomplish that.’ Mr. Pawlenty is locked in an election-year battle in Iowa with Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. Both are hoping to do well in next month’s straw poll in Ames, Iowa, as a way of proving that their campaigns have momentum. Mrs. Bachmann has run several campaign ads saying that she will not vote to increase the debt ceiling, no matter what. Mr. Pawlenty’s statement suggests that he does not want to concede conservative, anti-tax voters to Mrs. Bachmann.”

Brett Neely of MPR surveys the state’s U.S. GOP reps on the debt crisis: “Minnesota’s four Republican lawmakers are divided on Boehner’s proposal. Rep. John Kline, the senior Republican in the delegation and a confidant of Boehner’s, supports the plan. Meanwhile, Rep. Michele Bachmann, who’s also running for the Republican presidential nomination, opposes any increase in the debt ceiling that does not also include a mechanism for de-funding last year’s health care bill. Reps. Erik Paulsen and Chip Cravaack are on the fence about the Boehner plan. In a brief conversation off of the House floor, Paulsen said he didn’t know enough about the plan yet and hoped to learn more after a Republican caucus meeting tonight. In an email, Cravaack’s spokesman wrote, ‘The Representative’s chief concerns remain sufficient spending cuts relative to the proposed debt increase, tax hikes on families and job creators, and a Balanced Budget Amendment to reform spending authority.’ “

U.S. Postal Service retail stores are going to take a hit. Says Paul Walsh of the Strib: “Scores of U.S. Postal Service outlets across Minnesota are among the more than 3,600 additional offices, branches and stations being reviewed for possible closure. They join 28 other outlets in the state that already are being scrutinized. The financially troubled Postal Service announced on Tuesday that it is now considering closing more than one in 10 of its retail outlets. Many of those, however, may be replaced by “village” post offices — where common postal services are offered in stores, libraries or government offices. The Postal Service operates 31,871 retail outlets nationwide, down from 38,000 a decade ago.”

Whoa, kitty. That cougar that was tracked through the Twin Cities two years ago? It was hit by an SUV and killed in … Connecticut. Says Jim Anderson of the Strib: “A cougar’s incredible two-year journey from the Black Hills of South Dakota, through the suburban Twin Cities, to western Wisconsin, then around the Great Lakes and ending in Connecticut has set a record and left wildlife experts scratching their heads. ‘That’s definitely amazing,’ said Jess Carstens, a wildlife biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Carstens had helped track the elusive movements of the big cat, which became known as the ‘Twin Cities Cougar’ or ‘St. Croix Cougar’ after a series of sightings across the region in 2009. ‘Prior to this, the farthest known movement for a cougar was 600 to 700 miles, and that was from the Black Hills to Oklahoma,’ Carstens said. ‘For this one to go in excess of 1,000 miles — and probably more like 1,600 miles or more after circumventing the Great Lakes — it’s remarkable for a terrestrial animal to make that kind of hike.’ ” There was a DNA match.

Norman Draper of the Strib offers up some more numbers on what the constant “shifting” of appropriations for schools is actually costing: “Districts must tap cash reserves or take out short-term loans to make their day-to-day expenses until the delayed money arrives months later. The new state budget does add $50 to the per-pupil funding formula, which will offset the costs of borrowing. However, the $700 million shift also comes on top of a previous delay of $1.4 billion that has yet to be repaid. Minnesota’s largest district, Anoka-Hennepin, figures it will need to borrow as much as $73 million for the coming school year, after borrowing $59 million for 2010-11 to cover the previous shift. Chief financial officer Michelle Vargas estimates interest and other financing costs will be as much as $400,000 to $500,000 for the two years combined. The St. Paul School District will borrow $55 million now and probably another $30 million in January to cover the shift, officials say. The financing costs will be an estimated $450,000, which the district plans to pay by using the increase in the state funding formula. Last year, the St. Paul schools took out $80 million in loans.” “Job providers” do not object to new loans.