* The latest Wisconsin GOP shenanigans: Wisconsin state senate Republicans drop their plans to fine senate Dems and restrict them from voting. And Wisconsin Republicans are in D.C. today to haul in money from a major Washington lobbying firm.
Also: The left is seizing on the Wisconsin GOP fundraiser in Washington today to raise cash for the recall drives.
* House GOP’s hand weakened in budget wars? With rebellious conservative House Republicans signaling they may refuse to accept a long-term budget deal if it doesn’t contain the massive cuts they’re demanding, the question now is whether House GOP leaders will need more Democrats to get a deal passed, which could force them to concede more in the Dems’ direction.
* David Rogers on why John Boehner’s hand has been weakened by the revolt on his right.
* Also: The rising anger among House conservatives, and the deepening ideological divide in the House, mean a government shutdown is now more likely than ever.
* But can Dems capitalize? It remains to be seen whether Dems can capitalize on GOP divisions to make headway in the negotiations, given that Dems have already thrown their lot in with the GOP’s austerity/cut-cut-cut frame.
* Broadening the budget debate: The labor-backed Americans United for Change is going up with a new ad on national cable blasting Republicans for cutting the budget for college aid while preserving subsidies for Big Oil. Key takeaway: Dems and their allies are trying, with uncertain success, to broaden the budget debate and call the GOP’s bluff on spending cuts by demanding that cuts to unnecessary corporate subsidies be included in the discussions.
* Okay, so Obama’s not triangulating anymore, right? It’s good to see that political insiders are noticing that the White House is not stiff-arming the left, and in fact has been working to give some victories to the liberal base in preparation for 2012. (Though dust-ups with the base may lie ahead on “entitlements” and other matters.)
* Virginia pivotal to Obama’s reelection hopes: The increasing likelihood that Tim Kaine will run for Senate in Virginia is a clear indication that Obama will need to win the state more than ever as his popularity declines in the economically-struggling Rust Belt.
* GOPers against Afghanistan war? Haley Barbour becomes the first 2012 GOP hopeful to call for reductions in our Afghan presence and in defense spending, suggesting there’s space in the GOP primary, as some have predicted, for a relatively anti-war candidate. Should be interesting to see how the other 2012 GOPers respond. Also: The move revives the possibility of a left-right alliance against the war and for defense cuts.
* Also: Joe Klein predicts that more GOPers will soon emulate Barbour, and that apoplexy among the neocons who have dominated GOP foreign policy thinking will follow.
* Sarah Palin dropping like a rock — even among Republicans: A new Post poll finds that for the first time, the number of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who see her favorably has sank below 60 percent. While she’s still competitive with other 2012 GOP hopefuls, her slide indicates that she may be losing her rock star status among GOP primary voters, which will come as a relief to the GOP establishment.
* Conservatives heart Mitt Romney? Also from the Post poll: Sixty-eight percent of self-identified conservatives now view Romney favorably, which may cast some doubt on the widespread assumption that the individual mandate in Romneycare has rendered him a non-starter for the nomination. Looks like all the bluster about Obamacare and not apologizing for America may be paying off!
* Gay marriage bill goes down in Maryland: I’ve been remiss in not blogging on this, but as Jonathan Capehart notes, what’s particularly dispiriting about the failure of the nationally-watched same-sex marriage iniative in Maryland is that it shows that social conservatives have successfully driven a wedge between gays and African Americans.
* House GOP assault on Environmental Protection Agency gains steam:Every Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted against reaffirming climate change as a scientific reality, in the process of debating a bill that will bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
* Phony right-wing grievance-mongering of the day: Michele Bachmann dupes her poor followers into believing that the media’s decision to report on her comically awful mangling of Revolutionary War history is evidence of anti-conservative media bias. And they will nod right along with her.
* Speaking of dupes: Dave Weigel catches some amusing recycling of material in Newt Gingrich’s sales pitch.
* And the Tea Party is on full boil in state legislatures nationwide: A good read from Dana Milbank, who rounds up all the Tea Party legislative brews being concocted across the country in those laboratories of democracy known as state legislatures. Taken all together, it’s an eye-opener, not to mention a stomach-churner.
What else is happening?