A heat index of 118! I’m almost starting to feel wistful about last winter. Paul Walsh and Norm Draper at the Strib write: “Some Twin Cities media outlets reported that the 81 dew point set or tied a state record, but the Weather Service refrained from such characterizations, saying such data is kept by the State Climatology Office and is unavailable during the state shutdown. … Today is expected to be another in a series of sizzlers for the Twin Cities, with a high forecast of 97, and the heat index (throwing in humidity’s consequences) says it will feel more like 118. Tuesday’s forecast calls for a high of 97 and a heat index of 114. Wednesday looks no different. The dial-down starts Wednesday night, allowing Thursday’s high to struggle to get to 90. Maybe by Sunday, the temperatures have a shot to get back to normal.”
Craig Edwards at MPR says: “While we are calling this sweltering, oppressive atmosphere a Heat Wave, it equally worthy of being called a High Dew Point Warning. Yesterday afternoon and evening dew points, a very good indicator of the moisture in the atmosphere, were in the lower 80s over a large swath of southern Minnesota. It is very rare to observe sustained high dew points over a broad area this far north. Dew point measurement can be impacted by the microclimate of the sensors location. We see dew points at their highest in southern Minnesota from mid July through about mid August. A number of us in the weather business believe that these seasonally high dew points are the results of the evapo-transpiration of the maturing corn corps across Iowa and southern Minnesota. Moisture is released back into the low levels of the atmosphere and we feel its [effects].” So get rid of all that damned corn, then.
With the Capitol officially shut down, we’re pretty much taking their word they’re working on the bills required to make The Deal official. Tom Scheck of MPR reports: “[C]ommittee chairs continue to meet with commissioners to hash out the details of a budget. Dayton and GOP leaders reached agreement on a budget framework but that agreement now has to be shaped into bill form. GOP Sen. David Hann says there is a handshake agreement on the Health and Human Services budget bill, but few details have been released. The language on that bill will be sent to the revisor. Dayton and GOP leaders will then have to sign off on the language. There’s no word on whether the bills will be made available to the public after there’s official agreement on each budget bill or whether the information will be posted online after there’s agreement on the entire budget. All of the players involved continue to say they’re ‘hard at work’ and are ‘making progress.’ ” And why wouldn’t we believe them?
In the category of “Let’s not be so certain Dayton got whupped,” Metropolitan State professor Monte Bute files an editorial piece at MPR saying: “Look at the results. Dayton sought a $35.8 billion budget. The GOP jumped over its $34.4 billion line in the sand. The governor got $35.8 billion. Do you have any idea of how many ruthless budget cuts this $1.4 billion will circumvent? From Jan. 4 to May 23, the Republicans refused to enact a bonding bill. Dayton just took them to the cleaners — $500 million in bonding appropriations was the best job creator and economic stimulus available this session. Remember, this is not even a bonding year. Additionally, all the controversial social policies that Republicans sought are dead, including banning stem cell research and taxpayer funding of abortions; requiring voters to show photo IDs, and repealing Minnesota’s participation in the new federal health care program. Finally, the GOP gave up cutting the public employee workforce by 15 percent. By making an astute move, Dayton not only gained the moral and political high ground, but he put Sen. Amy Koch and Rep. Kurt Zellers in a double bind. There was no way they could refuse this deal without taking the entire blame for the state government shutdown. Make no mistake: The Republican leadership gave away far more than it intended.”
Looking particularly at Minnesota and Wisconsin, Bloomberg writers Amanda J. Crawford and Tim Jones report from the just-concluded Governors Conference in Salt Lake City, saying: “[T]he level of conflict has escalated around the country, said Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat. The battles have become fight-to-the-finish struggles. ‘We’re all concerned with the lack of civility,’ Nixon said in an interview. ‘We all know that our states and our country are more complex than what a donkey or an elephant might say on a particular issue,’ he said, referring to the symbols for the major political parties. The current political climate has sharpened partisan divisions on taxes and spending and discouraged bipartisanship, Nixon said. ‘It’s not a sign of strength to join with others and make incremental gains,’ Nixon said. [Larry] Jacobs, the Minnesota professor, said partisanship at the state level has grown because many moderates in both political parties have been ‘chased out’ and bipartisan consensus is discouraged. ‘It’s the same story we’re seeing in Washington, and it’s playing out in all these states,’ Jacobs said.” So if “both sides” got rid of an identical number of their most “extreme” members, where would we be?
At The Non-Profit Quarterly, Rick Cohen looks at the “solutions” to our budget crisis and wonders if D.C. will do the same: “Was the Minnesota shutdown something akin to a play-within-a-play so that the nation could see how voters, legislators, and governors navigated their way through the impasse? A few themes might be discernable:
- Kicking the can down the road: By most accounts, Minnesota’s policy makers sidestepped the big budget issues, so that the conflicts behind this year’s shutdown may well reappear with more vehemence in future budgets. That sounds vaguely like the federal budget solutions of recent years.
- Budget gimmicks and one-time fixes: Representing the Democratic side of the ledger, state senator Roger Reinert from Duluth is aggrieved that the deal is predicated on gimmicks such as a “tobacco bond” (borrowing against future payments from the state’s tobacco lawsuit settlement) and increasing the amount of money the state is withholding from K-12 education (currently about one-third, slated in the deal to reach 40 percent).
- Republican opposition to any revenue increases: It was like Eric Cantor was teleported to Minnesota as Republicans in the Legislature opposed anything that smacked of raising revenues as a detestable tax, even raising alcohol or cigarette taxes. That’s way beyond protecting millionaires and billionaires from what Republicans think might be job-killing taxes.
- Social policies embedded in budget negotiations: Contrary to their purported focus on spending and taxes, Minnesota Republicans had a number of social policies on the table as part of this stand-off.”
The widening discussion of Michele Bachmann’s husband’s sexuality rightfully makes people uneasy. But given the “reparative therapy” his clinics engage in and Congresswoman’s Bachmann’s unabashed crusade against gay rights, the chatter isn’t getting any quieter. Michelle Cottle at the Daily Beast writes: “[W]e’re talking here about a couple that has planted its flag on the lush green fields of militant anti-gaydom and dared the deviants to take their best shot. Which is precisely what is happening now — and is likely to accelerate as the congresswoman’s profile and poll numbers rise. Not sharing the Bachmanns’ squeamishness about homosexuality, I don’t give a pig’s lip which way Marcus rolls. I can’t even get worked up about the hypocrisy angle, always a favorite cudgel in politics. After all, if someone as religiously conservative as Marcus Bachmann were gay, of course he’d cling to the idea that a person can pray away his supposedly satanic urges. It’s human nature to flip out most about the things that affect us the most personally. … The more personal the persecution of her husband gets, tied as it is to his antigay labors, the more likely it is to steel Michele’s spine and persuade her to stay the course. ‘Most social conservatives agree with her about the homosexual issue,’ asserts Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, predicting: ‘Not only is it not going to faze her, it will build sympathy for her among her supporters and admiration that she doesn’t back down.’ In which case, it could be the congresswoman who winds up having the last laugh.”
On The Huffington Post, Andy Ostroy, “political and pop culture analyst,” says: “I want Michele and Marcus Bachmann to immediately provide the information that would clear them, just as she demanded that President Obama release his long-form birth certificate to prove his U.S. citizenship. Bachmann claims she and Marcus “took 23 foster children into our home, and raised them, and launched them off into the world.” This foster parenting took place in Minnesota between 1992-2000, but unfortunately the state destroys all such records after seven years, so nothing Bachmann claims can be proven publicly. Interestingly, while Bachmann claims that the fostering involved unwed mothers, some of the children suffered from eating disorders, and according to George Hendrickson, CEO of PATH Minnesota, the private agency that placed the children with the Bachmanns, none of them were in fact pregnant. Bachmann herself has refused to provide details about her foster children, and for privacy reasons their names have never been disclosed. But given Bachmann’s penchant for exaggeration and truth-stretching, in particular about her resume, don’t we have a right to know more about her foster parenting and just how many children this actually involved? Are we to take [at] face value her claim of twenty-three when she seems to embellish other important details about her past? No, we should demand that the Bachmann’s provide the same kind of concrete legal proof as they demanded of Obama. Until then, we should assume that her claim is as bogus as her work as a ‘tax litigation attorney.’ ” And have I said, “Welcome to the main stage, Ms. Bachmann”?