If former Minnesota Senator Rod Grams (R) succeeds in uprooting incumbent congressman Jim Oberstar (D) in Minnesota's 1st district, I will likely go into convulsions. The district covers northern Minnesota and includes Duluth, the scenic "Arrowhead", north shore of Lake Superior, Boundary Waters wilderness, and Voyagers National Park.
The potential convulsion-inducing issue statements that I heard Grams recite today include:
- The claim that Oberstar overspends on bicycling paths in the district. (Not that a congressman has any control over actual spending, so this must mean pork -- a very lean form of pork apparently)
- The claim that northern Minnesota industry can generate ethanol out of the abundant poplar trees growing in the region
- Lower taxes can bring back iron mining (which essentially ended over 20 years ago)
Sounds like a good idea: cut down the other hardwoods and conifers, then plant and harvest fast-growing poplars which will rapidly leech the soil, initiate strip mining to capture the rest of the locked-in iron ore, and everyone will want to visit and ride on the scenic biking paths. Who wouldn't want to see an imitation lunar landscape, decimated for your convenience and available at a fraction of the cost of the original?
Update: I found an independent opinion on Oberstar's respect for bicycling, and of his legislative methods.
During his little speech, Oberstar shared a little story about how he wanted to insert some pro-cycling language into some transportation bill, but he lacked the support of his colleagues to do it. So he got one of his staffers to write it up in such a way that nobody would understand it, and inserted it into the bill unnoticed, and it passed.