Is your appetite for more on the T-Paw-Bachmann feud still not sated? Well here’s more. This from Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen: “Pawlenty should become Mr. Republican, a term once reserved for Sen. Robert Taft of Ohio. He personifies the near-total lack of leadership among leading contenders for the GOP nomination. Not only will they not confront Bachmann and the nonsense she spews, but they diligently turn their backs on their obligation to educate their own constituencies. For the time being, they seek to become president only of the 119,188 Republicans who voted in the 2008 Iowa caucus, and then only those whose conservatism has been set in concrete. The problems of American governance are systemic. Congressional districts that are safely one party are as destructive as Britain’s old rotten boroughs. The primary/caucus system can be a parody of democracy, and the process is awash with special-interest money. In the GOP, the upshot is that a herd of presidential candidates goes to graze in the same far-right pasture, a bucolic landscape peopled by political, religious and social trolls.”
Kevin Diaz of the Strib, following the two around Iowa, writes: “[T]he two Minnesota Republicans have begun trading jabs in Iowa over everything from Bachmann’s penchant for gaffes to Pawlenty’s conservative credentials. ‘She has a record for saying things that are off the mark,’ Pawlenty said Monday in Davenport, where he emphasized his advantage in executive experience. ‘There is a big difference between talking about things and getting them done.’ ” Like unallotment, for example.
Maeve Reston of the Los Angeles Times writes: “For many voters here, Minnesota Rep. Bachmann is Pawlenty’s stiffest competition. After watching her campaign bus pull away from a Norwalk house party, Craig Milligan volunteered to chair her efforts in neighboring counties. ‘Big things come in little packages. She’s got a powerful amount of energy,’ said Milligan, a hay farmer and former co-chairman of Warren County GOP Central Committee. Milligan, 52, said he admired Pawlenty but described him as ‘dry meat’: ‘He’s got some great ideas, but nothing’s cooking.’ “
They’re talking lock-out and “replacement workers” in the Red River Valley. Mike Hughlett of the Strib says: “American Crystal Sugar says it will lock out about 1,300 workers at its five Red River Valley sugar mills and bring in replacement workers if a new labor agreement isn’t reached by Monday. The Moorhead-based farmers co-op, the largest U.S. sugar beet producer, and the union representing its production workers are negotiating this week to replace the current seven-year contract that expires at midnight Sunday night. Both sides say contract talks usually go down to the wire, but John Riskey, president of Local 167G of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union, said he can’t recall a lockout threat by the company.”
Linda Berglin, the Minnesota Senate’s reigning eminence on all things health care related, gets a testimonial from Lori Sturdevant of the Strib: “Berglin’s legislative credits include enactment of gender pay equity requirements for government employment in 1982 and 1984; the creation of MinnesotaCare in 1992; the opportunity for state support for in-home care of the elderly and disabled, and the health care reform strides of 2007-08. More than any other legislator, she has spent the past decade finding creative ways to maximize health care services for the poor and disabled in the face of constant pressure to reduce costs. Berglin leaves after her first session serving in a minority caucus. In recent months she has been openly frustrated by being frozen out of decision-making about policies and programs she may know better than any other elected official. Among the disappointments she cited Monday was the decision signed into law last week to end by 2019 the tax on health care providers that paid for MinnesotaCare, the state’s groundbreaking health insurance program for the working poor.”
Lose my frog and you’ll get a slapping. The AP story from Sheboygan, Wis., says: “A Sheboygan man is charged with slapping two young boys for letting his pet frog escape briefly. Christopher D. Sipe, 26, faces a preliminary hearing Wednesday on two counts of felony child abuse. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. A Sheboygan Press report says Sipe was living with the boys’ mother. The criminal complaint says he discovered his frog missing earlier this month. Sipe told investigators that even after it was found, he acknowledged hitting the boys ‘very hard’ because he thought they were responsible. Prosecutors say Sipe had been drinking before he struck the boys, ages 8 and 6.” Alcohol involved in charges against a Wisconsin frog keeper. We’re shocked.
The Dane County Fair is on in Madison, and one of the booths caught the eye of Doug Erickson of the Wisconsin State Journal: “Mary Weigand promotes something very different at the Dane County Fair. The part-time nurse from West Bend seeks to convince people that the universe is only 6,000 years old and that Charles Darwin was wrong. Her booth proclaims Christianity and evolution incompatible. ‘Can you believe in evolution when God says he created the world and everything in it in six days?’ she asked. ‘There’s really nothing to reinterpret.’ … Wednesday, the first day of the fair, Weigand’s booth was getting quite a bit of interest and a largely positive response. ‘As long as they’re just explaining things nicely and not pressing their views, I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all,’ said Mike Brown of Oregon, who stopped by with his children and said he agreed with much of what he saw. Rob Hecimovich of Madison said some Christians interpret the Bible as suggesting the world is very, very old, while others, such as Weigand, believe in a literal interpretation. ‘In the end, we just don’t know,’ he said. ‘I think she is just as likely to be right as the other people.’ ” He’s right, of course, when he says, “We just don’t know.”
Here’s some good news for nonprofits. Jean Hopfensperger of the Strib reports: “The Nonprofits Assistance Fund, which has provided loans to Minnesota charities, nonprofits and schools for three decades, expects to boost its lending pool significantly. The fund received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of the Treasury last week, the fund’s biggest single grant ever. If all goes as planned, that grant will leverage about $5 million or $6 million — a major increase to the fund’s $14 million lending pool. ‘It comes at a good time,’ said Kate Barr, the fund’s executive director. Many nonprofits are struggling financially because of the loss of government contracts and other funding, she said. ‘I don’t know exactly who we will lend it to, but we hope to increase [loans for] affordable housing, community health clinics, charter schools, human service organizations.’ ”
Darrel Ehrlick of the Winona Daily News editorial board looks at the state’s budget solution and writes: “[W]e’ve learned a more important lesson that seems to be repeated every year at the Capitol. All too often, the bonding bill or the budget bill becomes the ultimate political leverage, and it’s the very last item completed as the party in power tends to use them as cudgels to steamroll the politics through the Legislature. But now — with plenty of time before the next session — why not consider making a change, even a constitutional one? Why not suggest that before any other bill can come to the floor, the bonding bill and budget bill (depending on the year) must be passed first. This would mean no gay marriage, no social programs, no immigration laws can be discussed until the numbers are set. This would do a couple of key things. First, it would mean the most important business gets taken care of first. After all, politicians — as we’ve all come to understand this past month — have one essential duty: to govern. That should happen first. If a budget or bonding bill is all legislators can accomplish, then the other less important matters will just have to wait.”