Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Jay Leno Test

By the way, I want to be clear about one thing. Jay Leno is bad. Jay Leno is not funny. And any of you out there that watch the Tonight show rather than Letterman are not so smart. He tells jokes like someone from the Catskills in the 30's. He is not hip. He is not witty. He may not even be human. This is an extremely important issue. How could it be that a plurality of late-night TV-viewers watch this guy? It's like reading the Family Circus comic strip. This is just crazy. Are you still hoping that Johnny might show up from behind that curtain? People, check yourselves. You are letting something very bad happen in America. Watching Jay is never okay. Please don't do it again.


Politics, Geeks, Entertainment and You

Is politics too boring for regular people? As I peruse my blog and that of fellow Wisconsin bloggers, I really have to wonder if we're all a bunch of geeks blabbering to ourselves. If anyone out there is reading this, I hope you take no offense. I seem to be as bad as the rest of you. I wonder about this because I've spent extensive periods myself not caring about all this crap. It really does give you a headache after awhile, doesn't it? Might it not just be easier and more pleasant to just look away?
Is following the latest news from Steve Wieckert or Herbie Kohl really that interesting? And do normal people even care?

If you've seen things like Rob Cowles latest cave-in or a Bill Lorge speech up close, you eventually can't help but become turned off by the whole thing. And criticizing the idiots isn't all that satisfying either, since we're the ones that fund and elect them. To me, it's easy to understand why the laymen and the geek would eventually feel the need to turn away. It's the same thing that happens when someone really exceptional enters the Legislature. They sit in the closed caucuses and experience Tom Reynolds speaking in tongues. Or they go to the Inn on the Park, and get to know their colleagues better. It has to become tiring in many excruciating ways.

Charlie Sykes makes it interesting and entertaining. Rush used to make it interesting and entertaining. But it's hard for the rest of us. I guess I've decided to take up the challenge because I've come to the conclusion that it's better to be in than out of the conversation. I hate the dogma, the righteousness, the buffoons, and often the results. But leaving public policy to the politicians is really the cowards way out. I hope I can stick it out.

That having been said, I think we should all try to talk about a few things other than Wisconsin politics. Don't turn away, just diversify. So don't be disappointed when the first cookie recipes or movie reviews appear on this site. For the political talk alone will eventually become unbearable.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Schadenfreude and Equal Justice Under Law

Feeling schadenfreude as you read about the sentencing of Chvala and Burke? Anyone forced to deal with either of these two gentlemen when they were in power could hardly be blamed for enjoying their misfortune. They kicked sand in everyone's faces and genuinely enjoyed themselves while doing it. But I have to discourage any glee. The casualties of the caucus scandal are not much better or worse than the state legislators they leave behind. It's this imbalance in justice that makes it hard to enjoy their misfortune.

At least half of current Wisconsin state legislators utilized taxpayer-funded state employees to do campaign work on state time. If you don't believe me, find a way to read the thousands of pages of sealed John Doe testimony. People like Mike Ellis, Mark Pettis, Julie Lassa, Dave Hanson, Dave Travis, Judy Krawczyk, Roger Breske, Judy Robson, Gene Hahn, and on and on and on. They know it. Blanchard's John Doe investigators know it. The lazy media even knows it. But only Chuck, Scott, Mickey, Brian, and Bonnie have to pay the piper. That hardly seems fair, and is the most compelling reason why this scandal should have ended with the ethics/elections board settlement that eliminated the caucuses. Another fair option would have been to prosecute everyone who benefited from state employees campaigning on state time. That would have been ridiculous, but significantly more righteous.

We're left with a situation where former Speakers and leaders like Tom Loftus are treated as saints, while the more recent guys have to go to jail? Loftus did it. Kunicki did it. Betty Jo did it. Brancel did it. And countless other former leaders did it. They created taxpayer-funded campaign machines and then utilized them to get or maintain power. Should bad timing really be the major reason that some people end up in jail and others end up as Ambassador to Norway?

The caucus system was indeed a bad idea, especially for Republicans who claim to be the party of the taxpayers and morality. It was a system built on cheating, and we are all the better for its disappearance. But prosecutors never should have gone after only the hated few for the sins of the many. Instead of schadenfreude, Wisconsin state legislators past and present should feel both lucky and embarrassed. The poster boys cheated, but so did the rest of you. You should all share in the embarrassment of these sentencings.

Spaceport Sheboygan and Republican Failings

Spaceport Sheboygan! Hooray for us. Now we know what all those drunk legislators have been talking about at Sheboygan Brat Days all these years. Joe Leibham's plan to create an Aerospace Authority for the city of Sheboygan would be hilarious if it wasn't so depressing. Failed ex-politician Margaret Farrow is also flacking for this one. Let me guess, someone is paying her for her support. How this ineffectual woman has parlayed her unproductive political career into moneymaking is a column in itself. Back to SpaceCadet Leibham for a moment. He claims that there would be no government money involved or taxpayer funds at risk. If you believe that, you probably believe that the Dreyfus sales tax increase will be rolled back any day now. Initially, bonding is authorized, then later efforts will propose matching funds or "seed-money" and be labeled as economic development. Keep in mind that SpaceCadet Leibham claims that we need to create this authority merely to attract federal funds. Who does he think is the funding source behind those federal dollars? Perhaps Leibham believes aliens will do the funding.

THIS BOONDOGGLE IS A PERFECT REPRESENTATION OF HOW REPUBLICANS FAIL WHEN PUT IN CHARGE OF GOVERNMENT! They run for office as fiscal conservatives and protectors of the taxpayers. Then they get in office and meet every day with people who want the government to do more for them, their industry, or their community. The pressures are there, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, to give the demanders what they want. After all, Leibham needs Sheboygan to love him if he is to be re-elected and adored. So, Sheboygan boosters keep knocking on his door and asking for things. Perhaps he even resisted the silly idea for a while. But in the end, he's putting aside principles and moving the state into an entirely new orbit of expenditures.

When people are in government too long, they eventually become governors with a small g. They observe this giant pot of money being spent on a wide range of things that people want and they start to become involved. Whether social services spending or economic development spending or tourism spending, they become more and more adept at handing out the goodies. After all, do we the voters reward politicians for saying no? Not typically. So, Republicans start riding the horse of governance and begin enjoying the ride. Look at all this money and authority we have. Isn't it great fun to spend other people's money and then be thanked for your generosity and leadership? It's not big government, it's "investment." What a joke, and what a bunch of whorish duds we've elected to public office in Wisconsin.

Spaceport Sheboygan indeed. What will they think of next?

Monday, November 28, 2005


And the consequences can be tremendous...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

On Becoming a Better Fan

I have a suggestion for you sportsfans out there, and Packer fans in particular -- stop being such a fan. People who care so much about a particular sports team get very depressed when their team loses. I remember the Packers in the '70's, with Jim Del Gaizio and Jerry Tagge and Scott Hunter, and they used to drive me crazy. Sundays were bad, with the feel-bad loss hangover extending for another day or two. I eventually figured out a way to be a happier fan. The answer is really quite simple. When your team is doing well, enjoy it. When your team is losing, ignore it. I was as happy as any fan when the Packers finally won another Super Bowl in 1996, but I don't pay all that much attention now that they suck. A sibling, who shall remain nameless, lives and dies by the Packers. I bet he's not feeling too good today. My approach is much more conducive to maintaining happiness. Let the good times roll, and the rest roll off your back. Join me. You'll feel better.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Jim Doyle - Why We Won't Give Him Some Affection

Does anyone feel affection for Jim Doyle? The Governor's handlers should keep that question in mind as they approach next year's elections. He's stiff. He's cold. He's partisan. He's arrogant. He sounds like a grandmother. And then of course there are the ethical issues. I remember when he started running for Governor and tried dropping the g's at the end of his words to try to sound more like a regular guy. People didn't buy it, but thanks to a guy named Scott McCallum, he never had to pay for it. This time, Doyle will probably have to face someone who will seem normal to most Wisconsin residents. One of them might even garner some affection from people. Remember how people used to feel about Tommy Thompson? This guy is one of us. You could picture him in your local bar or on a deer stand. When people saw him out in public they felt like they could talk to him. As a consultant I used to know would say, he ascended into heaven. Jim Doyle is not a regular guy, and Jim Doyle does not generate much affection. Maybe his direct family gets all warm and fuzzy around him, but real people don't and never will. He gives off an air of the isthmus lefty aristocracy. Just trust me, he seems to say, I am the best person to make decisions for everyone else. I know better and am better than the common riffraff of Wisconsin. Regular people detect that condescension, and vote for the other guy. Especially, if that other guy is one of us.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Governor Doyle and the Scandal to Come

Everyone needs to read the editorial (bookmarked below) from The Lakeland Times, as well as the series of articles on Governor Jim Doyle and his quid pro quo with Wisconsin's Indian tribes. It's interesting that none of Wisconsin's major newspapers have written similarly about Doyle's proclivity for rewarding major contributors, and misleading the rest of us. Jim Doyle and Susan Goodwin have not been very smart about their use of gubernatorial authority. On both the legal and public relations fronts, they have been incredibly clumsy about how they do business. Doyle apparently coveted the job so long, that when he finally got there, he must have thought he could do anything he wanted. Very clumsy. Very dumb. And it will come back to haunt him. If the Doyle team thinks this is all going to blow over, they are sadly mistaken. When people enter the voting booth in the fall of 2006, be assured that the smell of the Doyle Administration will be in their nostrils.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Wisconsin Legislature

Has anyone noticed that there's something wrong with the Wisconsin Legislature? No, I don't mean the special interests, I mean the legislators themselves. Such an undistinguished group could hardly be gathered anywhere else in Wisconsin.

First, you have the young punks and former staffers who moved back home so that they could have the big desk and office. Most of them can be characterized as having strong ideological beliefs that have little or nothing to do with any real world experience. They're kneejerk in their reactions to virtually ever issue, and are much more concerned about the next election than they are of accomplishing anything meaningful. It's all about them and their position and jockeying for future office, me me me me me me me. As a rule, they are an unimaginative bunch that are thrilled to have accomplished their goal -- personal power. Unfortunately, they have no original ideas and don't seem to ever do much with that authority.

Second, you have the old retired guys/gals who stumble here due to the paycheck and the easiness of the job. Even though they're retired, they find it difficult to ever leave for a multitude of reasons. One thing that most of them enjoy a great deal is the ability to escape their families and go hang out at the bars and drink and cavort with a bunch of other legislators. They leave their home with sadness, protesting how duty calls, and then they click their hills and head down to meet their buddies and other admirers. They also don't have to do any significant work for their troubles. While there is an occasional late night on the floor of the Legislature, for the most part, a couple hours a day would be seen as a pretty strenuous occasion. The bloated staff in their office does everything for them, writing and even signing many of their letters. So, it's like having another chance at adolescence, and they love it.

If a legislator is lazy and unambitious, there is no one to correct him or dock his or her pay. They just keep getting more arrogant. The staffers just have to roll their eyes and cover for their boss, that is their job after all. Some of the more clever discover that they can do less and less every year with absolutely no consequences. Lazy, immature, unimaginative self-aggrandizers.

Why don't we get the best and brightest? The first problem is that successful people are out in the real world being successful. The salary is far from enough to draw the most talented, but much more than adequate to maintain the bottom-feeders. The other difficulty is that freaks rather than normal people tend to be attracted to this line of work. And then, the constant courting by lobbyists and sucking-up by staffers results in these big-shots getting weirder and weirder. You can become a fall down on the street alcoholic, pious ignoramus, partisan hack, lazy skirt-chaser or whatever you'd like, and people only cover for you. Everyone will continue to come to their fundraisers and tell them how wonderful and essential they are to the workings of Wisconsin.

I encourage everyone to go watch the Legislature in debate. You'll see childish name calling, refusal to listen to members of the other party, no real debate on public policy, and a deadening lack of intellect focused on the issues of the day. And they're actually making law!!!!!! Though most of them are probably not all that aware of what they're adopting. Each caucus is focused on either winning or blaming the side that won, and no one is really paying much attention. With so many unspectacular and spoiled individuals, is it any surprise that we find ourselves here?

But we always need to keep in mind that we get exactly what we deserve. The bums could be replaced if the voters actually cared enough about their government to act. But they don't care, and are unlikely to any time soon. So don't worry, distinguished members of the Wisconsin Legislature, your secret is safe with me.

Hooray for the Patriot Act and the Patriots Fighting the War on Terror

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Kristlnacht for Gundrum Republicans

"The rights that we have under the Constitution covers anything we want to do, as long as its not harmful. I can't see any way in the world that being a gay can cause damage to somebody else."
Barry Goldwater

The Republican Party has a problem with gay people. Wisconsin Republicans have just begun the process of promoting a constitutional referendum which would say the following:

"Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state."

It's a great traditional wedge issue, fire up the people who are uncomfortable with homosexuality and the idea of gay marriage and get them to vote for you and your team. The problem is that the Gundrum Republicans are likely to experience short-term gain and long-term pain for their obsession with the private lives of others. The language in their proposed to change to the constitution would prevent both gay marriage and civil unions, and send a solid message that Wisconsin rejects gay couples and their right to live as they please. Thoughtful opponents of gay marriage might have worked to create a civil union alternative that recognized and protected the familial rights of gays and lesbians, but the libertarian Republicans have apparently gone underground and have left the stage solely to the haters.

Most people in today's world have friends or family members who are gay. We should all be thankful to them for coming out of the closet and helping dispel ignorance and fear in the "straight" community. The Gundrum Republicans are wrong today because the gay couple down the street is no threat to you or your family. They are people, the same as you or I, who deserve to live their lives as they wish and be left alone to do so. The concept of toleration is even offensive and passe'. You shouldn't have to tolerate them, because there is nothing offensive to tolerate. Who they love and what they do in their sex lives is none of your business, and doesn't affect you and your family in any way. So there may be many people out there who still fear gays and lesbians, but that does not excuse a political party trying to exploit those fears for partisan political advantage. If you can't be okay with the private lives of others, well then, at minimum, just leave them alone. Is that too much to ask?

More and more regular people in Wisconsin and around the world are understanding this every day. And over time, the civil rights of homosexuals will become as solidly recognized as the civil rights of women and minorities. When George Wallace stood at that schoolhouse door to fight integration, he certainly experienced short term political gain from the white Jim Crow supporters of Alabama, but he was wrong nevertheless. And history will judge the Mark Gundrums of the world in the same manner. It is a shameful thing to condemn a sub-group of people in our society as second class citizens. The Republicans of Wisconsin are simply wrong on this issue, and they will eventually pay at the polls.

To the religious people out there whose church teaches them to fear and hate homosexuals, I can only say that I feel sorry for you. It's just sad that the Republican-evangelical alliance has resulted in such a counterproductive direction for the Grand Old Party. I think it's conservative to defend the right of others to live as they please, while Mark Gundrum thinks its conservative to discriminate against and hate the "other". Which side are you on?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Americans Have Gotten Soft

Recent polls suggest that the American people are tired of the loss of life resulting from the liberation of Iraq. Over 2,000 American soldiers have been killed during our tenure there, and many Americans seems to have had enough. Of course, we should all keep in mind that 2,000 soldiers died in less than a minute on the beaches of Normandy and Japan during World War II. Policymakers should have been concerned about the growing unwillingness of many to support anything but the most minimal loss of military lives. The advent of guided weapons technology and recent decades of virtually bloodless military endeavors -- from Grenada to Panama to Desert Storm -- have led Americans to believe that war is no longer hell. Unfortunately, as we should be learning, war remains hell and the new world order sometimes requires the good guys to sacrifice their lives fighting the bad guys. And, it seems, the American people no longer have the stomach for it. How pathetic. America was attacked on September 11, 2001, the whole world changed and the War on Terror began. While not everyone agrees with the President's decisions as commander in chief, we should all agree that we are in a global war with everyone of our lives at stake. If the weak-knee'd American public eventually forces the politicians and soldiers to cut and run from Iraq, every single one of us will be less secure. What Cindy Sheehan and apparently many others fail to understand is that we are engaged in a cause that is worthy of tremendous sacrifice by the men and women in our all-volunteer armed forces. We are at war, and the American people are going to have to relearn the meaning of war and and the tremendous sacrifice required.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sentencing Day for Chai Vang

I must admit I have a few problems with the Chai Vang story. Despite his conviction for the cold-blooded murder of six Wisconsin hunters, Vang remains unrepentant and the Hmong community seems intent on blaming the rest of us.
In story after story, Hmong representatives express the view that discrimination must share part of the responsibility for these killings. This feeling appears to be very deep and heartfelt in the Hmong community, and I find it extremely depressing.

The melting of Hmong immigrants with Wisconsin's population has been a challenge from the very beginning. The shock of leaving the killing fields of southeast Asia for an apartment in Eau Claire has to be tremendous. And everyone has not always been welcoming, I'm sure. Although one would think that the Pathet Lao had to be rather more frightening than the German and Norwegian-Americans of Wisconsin. Regardless, the Hmong have developed an attitude of aggrievement. Cultural differences have remained entrenched, and the Hmong in Hmong-American has apparently remained the pre-eminent identity.

This attitude of aggrievement and cultural dislocation clearly played a role in last November's killings. And instead of moving away from this twisted way of looking at things, the Hmong community seems to be embracing it with even greater fervor. Instead of recognizing our common humanity and working to get to know each other better, many in the Hmong community seem to be pulling even further away. This is all sadly reminiscent of a great book a few years ago called "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down." This work of nonfiction is about an ill Hmong child and her family's frustrating struggle with western medicine. The Hmong parents did not understand or trust the doctors, and the doctors did not understand or trust the parents. The tragedy that resulted was a direct result of that cultural divide. I will not stereotype an entire community of feeling this way, since there were certainly many eloquent denunciations of Vang from some. But make no mistake, there will be many more problems as long as this attitude of cultural estrangement continues.

As someone who was in the woods that day, I would like to hear unequivocal condemnation of these murders from all quarters. Chai Vang is no hero. He's an unstable and despicable coward who murdered innocent people because his feelings were hurt. Shouldn't we all be able to agree on that?

See you in the woods.

Here's to Mark Pocan!

for you parents out there


"I'm going to tell you the facts, gentlemen, and the facts are these: At Green Bay, we have winners. We do not have losers. If you're a loser, mister, you're going to get your ass out of here and you're going to get your ass out of hear right now. Gentlemen, we are paid to win. Gentlemen, we will win."
Vince Lombardi

Something has clearly changed about being a Green Bay Packer over the years. When Mike Sherman talks about his 1-7 Green Bay Packers, he says they've done some good things, are dealing with devastating injuries, and really hope that they'll do better next time. As I watch Mike Sherman fumbling with his note cards on the sidelines, it makes me wonder, What would Vince Lombardi do?

Vince Lombardi taught us that being a winning organization was more about attitude and hard work than personnel. When he came to Green Bay, he turned a group of losers into a team that worked harder, prepared better, and expected to win every game. It wasn't that Green Bay had the greatest players in the league, but the Lombardi attitude turned them into the greatest team in the league. The players became champions because of what they're coach and then they themselves came to believe. They were winners, and they paid the price and had the attitude to make it happen.

Mike Sherman is not that kind of guy. He comes off like an accountant in his numbingly boring and uninsightful interviews. He seems to suffer over losing, but also seems to be prepared to live with it. His interactions with fans and the media are wooden and full of platitudes. I'm sure he probably gets mad sometimes, but I can't imagine the experience would be very inspiring. What does he expect from his players? Well, he says he was disappointed in this guy or that play, and moves on to the next week where the same thing happens over and over again.

Check out what Packer great Jerry Kramer had to say in a recent interview:

Q.Do you recall a Lombardi team that had 18 penalties, and if there was a Lombardi team that had 18 penalties, what would have happened?

A. (Long pause, followed by the wriest of smiles.) I had two holding penalties in my 11 years in Green Bay. Two flags for holding. I made maybe one or two errors a year. It was totally unacceptable (to commit penalties). Of course, we had a very basic system and we kept that system for a number of years so we didn't have a great deal of changes, and once you learned it, it was pretty much there. . . . But we just didn't make mistakes, and that was kind of one of the hallmarks of our organization. And when a kid (cornerback Ahmad Carroll) makes four or five errors in a row, we've got to take a hard look at the kid and his mental abilities.

And this is not just some rant about the good old days. Many would argue that you can't expect as much from today's players as could an old-school farmboy from Idaho like Jerry Kramer. I bet even Mike Sherman would say you couldn't expect that kind of excellence from today's ballplayers. And isn't that the problem really? Brett Favre is a winner and expects to win every time, but the team itself has no such character. From Ahmad Carroll to Scott Wells, they seem to play as if merely trying to survive. No swagger, no confidence and perhaps not the hard-working foundation it takes to win. Maybe the million dollar contracts are enough for them. Maybe winning is no longer what it's all about to be a Green Bay Packer.

They will eventually win some games, but the Super Bowl will never again become a reasonable possibility without a dramatic change in attitude. Mike Sherman is clearly not the guy to make that happen.

"Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all-the-time thing. You don't win once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing."
Vince Lombardi

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.


Why George Bush Isn't In Trouble

The pundits are giddy. They claim the Bush Presidency is in trouble. Indictment, Harriet Miers, Iraq complaints, low approval rating, bla bla bla bla bla. Journalists who think they are experts on national politics sit around on their TV shows and intone deep thoughts about the crisis. But what is the crisis really? We have a President who will be serving his two full terms, isn't that correct? His commitment to the pre-emptive use of military force in Iraq is unlikely to change. The Bush White House continues to run the country and make decisions that matter. Like him or hate him, he will be our President until 2009. Neither mini-scandals or petulant public impatience over Iraq will change that. George W. Bush won his re-election campaign against John Kerry in 2004. From that point on, he was no longer running for office. President Bush set out to pursue his principles and accomplish as much as possible in his second act. He basically said, take it or leave it, I'm going to spend my second term pursuing policy over affirmation. He has a Republican Congress and is likely to accomplish all but the most ambitious of his plans. Nobody wins everything, and no President wields a magic wand to make every wish happen. But Alito will be confirmed and many other Bush goals will be accomplished. From African AIDS funding to a Pattonesque War on Terror and everything in between -- George Bush is and will continue making an indelibly positive mark on world history. So please don't get carried away by the latest media frenzy. Take a deep breath, pundits, and think about what has really changed in the last few months. The Bush Presidency would have been in trouble if John Kerry had won Ohio. But after that didn't happen, everything else is simply background noise.

Friday, November 04, 2005


The hapless do-gooders at Common Cause and the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign are hilarious and despicable all at the same time. Let's review what this conglomeration of lefties and the washed-up would like to happen. They want strict limits on campaign spending. They hope to prevent independent spending and anonymous speech. They want a "level playing field" for everyone running for office. They want public financing of campaigns. Why are these things good and righteous? I guess because Tweedledee(Mike McCabe) and Tweedledum(Jay Heck) say so. Does anyone else find it ironic that a group called the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is committed to limiting participation in our democracy? One of the many things that these nitwits fail to understand is that political contributions are a representation of the people's support. A politician that sucks at doing his job will have a much harder time raising money and running a successful campaign than the politician who takes care of his constituents. A legislator that supports the farmers' agenda will get support and contributions from farmers. A legislator who does the bidding of Isthmus socialists will receive financial support from that quarter. People in the business community might spend money against that socialist for the same reason. Campaign money is a representation of voter support!! But Bill Krause and his guys have a better idea -- stop people and groups from contributing or spending to influence elections. It's all corruption!! Why would farmers want to elect anyone who supports government policies that benefit farmers? Why would insurance agents want to re-elect someone who agrees with their views? Why would business owners want to elect people who would reduce Wisconsin's tax burden? It's all very suspicious, isn't it? Democracy breaking out everywhere. Shouldn't the individuals and groups that actually care about public policy be allowed to engage in the clash of ideas that is a political campaign? The answer of the righteous folks that want campaign finance reform is absolutely not. They are arrogant enough to think that voters are not bright enough to assess the competing campaign speech and make voting decisions for themselves. Further regulation and restriction of speech is Russ Feingold's prescription for American politics. Isn't the real beauty of American democracy that people have the opportunity to hear all views in a campaign and then go into the voting booth and decide for themselves? We should be encouraging more political speech rather than less. But these guys want to narrow the range of participants. If WMC spends money to convince voters that a candidate is bad, and the unions spend money to convince voters that he or she is good, and the realtors weigh in on the negative, and the Farm Bureau calls the candidate a friend of agriculture, and one candidate spends the money he's raised, and the other candidate spends the money they've raised, HOW IS THIS A BAD THING? Real people will review the arguments and make their own decisions. They will pick the candidate they prefer. If an incumbent has displeased them, then that incumbent will be replaced. This is a great system we have. People can contribute to campaigns, or volunteer, or simply vote and have a hand in deciding their representatives. People can even decide to run for office themselves if they really want to step up and take responsibility. The People's Legislature freaks are dead wrong. Corrupt special interests don't control Wisconsin government. Individuals and groups that participate in our democracy are the true decisionmakers. McCabe, Garvey and Feingold just don't like what the people decide.

more advice for Princes

A prince is further esteemed when he is a true friend or a true enemy, when, that is, he declares himself without reserve in favour of some one or against another. This policy is always more useful than remaining neutraL.
Niccolo Machiavelli

One of my superstitions has always been when I started to go anywhere, or do anything, not to have to turn back until the thing intended was accomplished.
U.S. Grant

He and Augustus had discussed the question of leadership many times. "It aint complicated," Augustus maintained. "Most men doubt their own abilities. You don't. It's no wonder they want to keep you around. It keeps them from having to worry about failure all the time."
Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry

Like boxers, politicians who duck fights soon lose the stomach for any fight.
Tom Bethell


From BGH
To The War on US
Every Calculation
Has Been All About Russ.



So former uber-senator Chuck Chvala finally cut his best deal and pled to two felonies in the caucus scandal. Could Scott Jensen be far behind? It's interesting to speculate on how the two most powerful men in state government, excepting miscellaneous Governors, ended up charged with felonies and fighting for their very freedom. I seldom believe in conspiracy theories, but a movement of some kind is responsible for these guys going down. I'm convinced it has most to do with the "everything it takes" approach that these guys brought to the table. First Scott, and then Chuck, set out to consolidate power and use all of the tools at their disposal t keep winning and stay in charge. No other WI leaders, before or since, have led their majorities with with such chutzpah and hubris. Now, Chuck took this all to much higher unethical heights than did Scott. But they both were ruthless in winning the wars of both the campaign and the legislature. Those who wanted something from the Legislature in this era had to go through Jensen and Chvala to get it done. And as many of you may recall, that began to be exceedingly difficult for all. Chuck blocked anything on the WMC wish-list and Scott smashed WEAC's hopes. If Scott liked you, usually Chuck hated you and vice versa. The pressure cooker of the Wisconsin State Legislature wasn't working for too many of the powers that be. Then Chuck and Scott got indicted. Insiders were relieved. Weaker types took power.
Interestingly, the other caucus leaders at the time, Shirley Krug and Mary Panzer, escaped prosecution for their state employee campaign operations. They ran caucuses that broke the same rules, if a bit more ineffectively. But they weren't charged with felonies despite wide evidence of similar wrongdoing in the John Doe archives. It's all very curious. Scott and Chuck were a problem for many, and now they are not.

The Lautenschlager Follies

People seem to be getting all up in arms about yesterday's letter from 10 Assembly Democrats urging Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk to run against incumbent Peg Lautenschlager for Attorney General. Marty Beil, angry state union guy, immediately blasted the legislators as cowardly turncoats who can't even get their own house in order. I have to disagree with poor Marty. Any objective analysis of this race would conclude that Lautenschlager is dead in the water and needs to be replaced. Every single Republican in Wisconsin would prefer to have drunk-driving, business-suing, state-car driving Lautenschlager as the opponent for Bucher or Van Hollen. Democrats who place loyalty above that reality are simply fools. And yes, Assembly Democrats cannot get their own house in order but at least they are stepping up to the plate and trying to keep the AG spot in their column. Falk could win, while Peg certainly will not. That's exactly the kind of hard-headed assessment that Marty Beil should wish for from his dwindling supply of allies in the Legislature.

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It is a sin to believe evil of others, but it is seldom a mistake.
H.L. Mencken

Why I'm Here

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never tasted victory or defeat."

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