Friday, May 28, 2010

Ron Johnson's 72% Doctrine

Here's a paragraph from George Will's recent piece on Ron Johnson:
"The most basic right," Johnson says, "is the right to keep your property." Remembering the golden age when, thanks to Ronald Reagan, the top income tax rate was 28 percent, Johnson says: "For a brief moment we were 72 percent free."
Let's pause for a moment a consider the ramifications of this flaccid and callow comment.

The most obvious consequence of what Johnson is saying is that "freedom" can be measured by the amount one pays in federal income taxes. This would mean that one is only 100% free when one is not paying any taxes to Uncle Sam.

Since Johnson has stated that his campaign is going to about "freedom" I assume that, should he be elected to office, he will accept no salary and pay for his office expenses and staff out of pocket to ensure the complete freedom of his constituents. Obviously, no one in America can be 100% "free" until we are free from the shackles of taxes. If no one is paying any taxes, then there can't be any revenue flowing into federal government. If that's the case, Johnson can expects to run an office with a budget of $0.

Of course, it's not just Johnson's office that will suffer from a lack of funding. Other federal institutions will feel the crunch too, institutions that actually -- and according to Johnson, paradoxically -- defend Americans' freedom with the very money that apparently subjugates them, like the armed forces. Call us crazy, but since members of the military do far more actual defending of Americans' freedoms than "oppressed tax-payers" we think they deserve a decent paycheck and other minor things likes health care and body armor.

This is not the statement that comes from someone who is serious about the complexities of governance. If Johnson keeps up rhetoric like this he accomplish the impossible: actually making Russ Feingold look like a hawk when it comes to national security.

Here's the point: mature political philosophies don't come with such glaring inconsistencies. I'm not suggesting that a perfectly cohesive political philosophy be a prerequisite for holding office (in fact, we'd argue that a perfectly consistent political philosophy is impossible), but this is amateur hour. This is a statement as oblivious as Rand Paul's idiotic statement on the Civil Rights Act in so far as it simply does not comprehend the consequences of the policy being promoted.

This seems to be common trait among the tea party clique.


I would kill to be able to hand out this guy's business card:
Unfortunately, that's about all he's got. Former Foreign Secretary David Miliband appears to be in control ... which led to this rather ingenious British version of a tea party:

Here's some background.

[via DF]

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Did George Will Get Ron Johnson's Religion Incorrect?

Will's lap dance in today's Washington Post calls Johnson "a pro-life Lutheran," when by all local accounts he is a staunch Catholic who opposes not only late-term abortions, but all abortions, including those in cases of rape and incest.

MORE: Apparently Johnson is Lutheran.

Some Cold Water on the First WI-Senate Poll to feature Ron Johnson ...

Naturally, the poll comes from Rasmussen [via M]:
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Wisconsin shows Feingold with 46% support to Johnson’s 44%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and six percent (6%) remain undecided.
Johnson is still largely unknown to voters, whereas Feingold is well known. It's obviously a good place to start for Johnson, but bare in mind, Johnson has (1.) been in the campaign for all of 10 days now, (2.) Enjoyed a very positive 10 days at that, (3.) Hasn't had much of any negative press (this doesn't count) and (4.) Has only expressed his views generally on a few issues.

Only 6% of respondents appear to be undecided. There is no possible way only 6% of likely voters don't know about Ron Johnson after only a week and a half on the campaign trial and no TV ads running.

Essentially, this poll really isn't about Johnson's strength against Feingold, so much as it's about a head-to-head match up between Russ Feingold and not-Russ Feingold. Not great news for Feingold, of course; but nothing to crow about for Johnson either.

A Classic Example of Someone Confusing Targeting Customers with Discrimination

Honestly, I didn't think someone would be so stupid as to confuse the two, but ... here we are.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Wealth of American Presidents

Adjusted for inflation.

A Jamaican Cocaine Dealer Named "Christopher Coke"?

Even Brian de Palma wouldn't be that gaudy.

Dick Morris on Board with Ron Johnson's Campaign

Dick Morris, who Ron Johnson claimed was instrumental in helping him make his decision to run for senate, has taken to the internet to support Johnson's campaign:
Ron Johnson -- an independent, successful businessman with great access to funding -- won the Republican nomination to run against Russ Feingold. A true conservative, Ron has an excellent chance to win. Feingold, who is way too liberal even for Wisconsin, is under 50% in the polls and Johnson should move up quickly. This race could be the key to getting 51 seats. Please give him money. Go to

UNKLE, "Follow Me Down"

This pretty much more for my own personal future reference then for anything else, but if anyone wants to comment on this video, by all means, I'd love to hear it.

UNKLE - Follow Me Down (feat. Sleepy Sun) from UNKLE on Vimeo.

Sorta NSFW. I wouldn't watch it if you work with kids.

Ads of the Damned: OH Gov.

Take it away, Stu Rothenberg.

Bruce Murphy on Ron Johnson

Milwaukee Magazine's observer in residence assesses the Johnson campaign:
Ron Johnson is an entirely different matter. The 55-year-old owner of an Oshkosh-based plastics manufacturing company is the perfect candidate for today – he has absolutely no experience! He can portray himself as the ultimate outsider, has no record Feingold can attack and has millions of his own money he could choose to spend in the race. He has also given a couple well-received speeches to Tea Party gatherings. If he can avoid major missteps (a big if for a novice politician), Johnson could be a formidable candidate. Voters, after all, want to protest against things as they are. And Johnson represents things as they aren’t.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ron Johnson Victorious in the GOP Convention Swag War by Photoshopping in a Modern American Flag

Shinny things attract attention:

Note that the American flag in the background has actually been Photoshopped. In the original photo, taken at a Tea Party in Madison, the flag was the "Betsy Ross version" with only 13 stars in the blue background.

Ron Johnson Up with Web Ads

We saw this in our RSS reader this afternoon:

Oshkosh City Council Live Chat!!!

As always, invite your friends and feel free to use hashtag #ocat if your joining us on Twitter.

Check out the live stream here.

"Mr. Johnson, Tear Down this Sign!"

So the latest video making the rounds on the left is a video of Ron Johnson and a campaign aide tearing down his opponent's rally signs at the state GOP convention over the weekend:

Not exactly a video of Johnson making it rain at a strip club or anything, but I suppose a tracker has to start somewhere.

More interesting than the act of placard violence itself was the likely reason for it: Johnson is still an unknown entity in the GOP. Standing in front of a Wall or Westlake sign might actually get him confused with his competitors, so those signs clearly had to go.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ads of the Damned: David Frum on the PA-12 Special Election

Worth reading.

The Critz ad is particularly interest -- the visual of projecting images of better economic times ahead onto the dilapidated walls of an empty warehouse in the heart of the Rust Belt actually works well.

Is Ron Johnson Ready for his Close-up?

That's essentially what Marc Ambinder asks today. Ambinder's post brings both good news and bad news.

First, the good news: Johnson is getting some national recognition. Bigger audiences that attract wider attention, more prestige, more donors, etc.

Now the bad new: Johnson is getting some national recognition. Ambinder's colleague Josh Green recently wrote an interesting piece on the local Kentucky press corps and its inability to adequately vet Rand Paul:
The second point, which gets directly to why Rand Paul is suddenly flailing, is that the local Kentucky media--in particular the newspapers, and especially the flagship Louisville Courier-Journal--has been decimated by job cuts, as has happened across the country. This came up several times in discussions with Kentucky politicos and local journalists. The reason it matters is that because there is no longer a healthy, aggressive press corps--and no David Yepson-type dean of political journalists--candidates don't run the same kind of gauntlet they once did. They're not challenged by journalists. And since voters aren't as well informed as they once were (many are "informed" in the sense of having strongly held views about all manner of things--they're just not "well informed"), they can't challenge the candidates either.
I actually want to disagree with this argument, but not entirely. My understanding of the evolution of this Civil Rights Act question was that it was originally the Louisville Courier-Journal that first brought up the issue, which was in turn discussed on NPR before finally making it's way to the Maddow Show. The point is this: local media probably still knows how to ask the right questions, but they do a lousy job of publicizing their findings. Paul's CRA views probably should have shown up above the fold on A1, not buried in an editorial.

I have little doubt that Green would find the local Wisconsin media as bleak as he does the press in Kentucky.

MORE: Then again, I could be wrong.

Racine's City Council Whack Jobs are much more Articulate than Oshkosh's

Listen to local Racine area nutcase George Meyers speak fluidly and with a gilded tongue on how RFID chips in recycling bins are really an attempt by Racine municipal government's "pyramid of power" to subvert the local populace's constitutional rights:

Not bad, eh? Oshkosh's crazy city council commenters have clearly suffered from the absence of Gordon Douley and Ken Bender. We should invite Mr. Meyers up to give a seminar on how cranks should address local government.

Don't forget about tomorrow's City Council Live Chat at 6:00 PM!

Sykes Calls Ron Johnson the "Instant Front-Runner"

Here's a pretty standard interview with Ron Johnson this morning.

Here's a rather interesting rhetorical tack from Johnson: "One thing I would never describe myself as 'self-made.'" He then goes on to praise many of the people he's worked with over the years, which dovetails nicely into an assessment that he will need the help of the grassroots to win the election. That's a nice thing to say to the base, but also true in so far as Johnson caught a number of breaks over the course of the rise of his career.

Once again, Johnson declares that his campaign is about "freedom."

Again, Johnson's rhetoric is heavy on philosophical platitudes and light on policy stances. He says what's happening in Greece is bad and that the US is endanger of suffering a similar fate. He also reiterates that he will run on repealing health care reform. That's it. I realize this is largely a "congrats!" interview following a big weekend, but in the future Johnson's going to have to offer more.

One last point: after Johnson gets off the air, Sykes lavishes him with some more praise, calling his rise meteoric and his story the "most interesting in Wisconsin," potentially one of the most interesting nationally. Fair enough, but in the excitement of watching "the next big thing" materialize from the ether no one in the GOP seems to be looking at the Johnson's candidacy with the critical eye they examine his competitors.

Johnson may have just finished the easiest week any Senate candidate in the country has had in living memory, yet he's completely new to politics ... that should really give Republicans a moment of pause that they apparently have not stopped for yet. Obviously, Johnson has demonstrated an adroit sense of timing, but he's going to need more than that to win in November.

Oshkosh City Council Live Chat Tuesday

6:00 PM


Here's agenda:

City Council Agenda 5-25-10

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Your Weekend was not as Good as Ron Johnson's

So Ron Johnson is now the prohibitive favorite to win the GOP nomination for US Senate after an eventful weekend at the state party convention. Here's Dick Leinenkugel's press release suspending his campaign and endorsing Johnson:
Leinenkugel Shuts Down Campaign Release 5.23.10
Two things:

1.) Johnson can now ignore Terry Wall and concentrate his fire on Feingold for the duration of the campaign.

2.) The state GOP is taking a huge -- gigantic -- leap of faith by giving Johnson its imprimatur. Johnson's has been campaigning all of a week and no one knows how he will handle the pressure and scrutiny that lies ahead. This is especially important during a week when Tea Party poster boy Rand Paul made an instant cautionary tale of himself.

When He's Right, He's Right

We like to slap around Jonathan Krause whenever we can here at the Chief, so when he's correct about something we may as well point that out as well.

Krause was, indeed, right to point out some of the insane and genuinely frightening argument given against a mosque winning a conditional use permit in a community outside of Sheboygan:
The board itself did a great job--approving the permits, as there was nothing in the zoning laws prohibiting such a use for the building--but some of the residents used the opportunity to set back religious relations in the area about 200 years.
Here's the WLUK story on the meeting:

One thing that really struck me was the size of the Muslim community looking for a place of worship: 80-100 families. Not people, families. Here in Oshkosh there are faith communities with their own brick and mortar churches that have a fraction of that congregation, so it's good to see an underserved portion of the population finally getting a place to call home.

That being said, I think just about everyone has underestimated just how nutty the opposition was to the mosque, which is difficult to capture in a few second soundbite. For those interested in just how irrational, indeed incoherent the opposition was, go check out this blog post by a Sheboygan area evangelical who opposed the mosque because:
I believe that, by allowing this mosque to come into existence without giving a proper respect to the governing aspect of the religion of Islam, the board is, in effect, ceding United States sovereignty over that piece of property in perpetuity.

What follows are a few hundred words trying to explain that statement, none of which really make any sense at all, and some boilerplate Islamophobia. It's not surprising, but still ridiculous.

The Party of Ideas

Good grief ...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ron Johnson Unleashes First Email

It arrived in email inboxes on Friday.

Note: the header graphic was far more crisp in the original email. It unfortunately became blotchy during the format conversion process. C'est le vie!

Johnson Email #1

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ron Johnson and the Tea Party (Redux)

The only real interesting development out of the Johnson campaign today was the addition of several photos from the Madison April 15th Tea Party to Johnson's Flickr page:

Why is this interesting? Because Johnson has largely tried to downplay his involvement with the Tea Party during his first week on the campaign trail. The photos, however, tell another story. The title of each picture contains the words "Tea Party." It suggests that the campaign is going to try and have it both ways with regards to the tea party: shrug it off in the mass media, but use it to brandish his conservative bona fides in the new media.

One would think that after Rand Paul's disastrous TV interview last night and the ensuing discussion on race and Tea Party movement that one would want to continue to distance one's self from the TPers, but that's not what appears to be happening here.

Rand Paul = Done

Thank you for playing.

Damon Root tries to justify Paul's stance on Libertarian grounds:

It’s also important to acknowledge that economic rights are not in some inherent conflict with civil rights. In fact, we have significant historical evidence showing that legally enforced property rights (and other forms of economic liberty) actually undermined the Jim Crow regime. Most famously, the NAACP won its first Supreme Court victory in 1917 by arguing that a residential segregation law was a racist interference with property rights under the 14th Amendment.

Finally, keep in mind that Plessy v. Ferguson, the notorious 1896 Supreme Court decision that enshrined “separate but equal” into law and become a symbol of the Jim Crow era, dealt with a Louisiana law that forbid railroad companies from selling first-class tickets to blacks. That’s not a market failure, it’s a racist government assault on economic liberty.

Bruce Bartlett, corrects this rather silly version of history:

Both Rand's supporters and critics point to Senator Barry Goldwater's principled opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, according to Rick Perlstein's excellent book, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, Goldwater's opposition to the Civil Rights Act was based entirely on constitutional concerns. He had been told by both William Rehnquist, then a private attorney in Phoenix and later chief justice of the Supreme Court, and Robert Bork, then a professor of constitutional law at Yale, that it was unconstitutional. Bork even sent him a 75-page brief to that effect.

To be sure, the Rehnquist-Bork position was not a lame rationalization for racism. It was rooted in the fact that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 essentially replicated the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which was enacted by a Republican Congress over strenuous Democratic opposition. However, in 1883 the Supreme Court, then it its most libertarian phase, knocked down the 1875 act as well as many other Republican measures passed during Reconstruction designed to aid African Americans. The Court's philosophy in these cases led logically to Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, which essentially gave constitutional protection to legal segregation enforced by state and local governments throughout the U.S.

As we know from history, the free market did not lead to a breakdown of segregation. Indeed, it got much worse, not just because it was enforced by law but because it was mandated by self-reinforcing societal pressure. Any store owner in the South who chose to serve blacks would certainly have lost far more business among whites than he gained. There is no reason to believe that this system wouldn't have perpetuated itself absent outside pressure for change.

Defending Paul's attempted dodge is abhorrent. The fact that he's only arrived at this realization in the last 24 hours and after drawing nationwide scorn is obscene. Paul apologists may try to justify his stance by claiming his position is based on principle, but what's the point of standing on principle when the principle sucks?

I actually think Newsweek did a good job of succinctly explaining why Paul's statement on the Civil Rights Act is important:

But the most notable phrase in Paul's statement, the one that Politico picked up for its news alert is this: "I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

This is an odd thing to say. No one in Congress is talking about repealing the Civil Rights Act. Saying you are not for that is, though reassuring, meaningless on a practical level. It's like saying you are not for eliminating the federal departments of education, commerce, and energy, and the income tax. Actually, Rand Paul wants to do all of those things, so maybe it's a good thing we know where he stands on Civil Rights Act repeal.

Scott Walker's Second Flip Flop

Contra Mike Hahn's semantic sophistry, the immigration thing is a pretty cut and dry flip-flop. The La Crosse Tribune says so, the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram says so, even Mark Belling calls it a flip-flop.

That's #2.

Most Awesomest Story of the Day

Three thieves made the mistake of cornering a victim outside of a martial arts school in Australia on Wednesday, and soon found themselves facing a bigger problem than the police: ninjas.

Ron Johnson Scrubbing his Facebook Page Only 3 Days into the Campaign

Longtime reader Stewie points out that our shout out from Johnson headquarters is now gone.

But we're still getting some linking love over on his Twitter feed:

See for yourself:

Maybe Johnson just doesn't care for Don Pridemore?

James T Harris Calls the First Lady a Ho(e)

Excuse me, I meant "garden tool."

This witty insight apparently costs $8000.

MORE: No sooner did I throw this post up here then did JTH post an idiotic "promotional video" hawking his speaking services. If you want to see someone pander to dozens of people with conservative cliches and platitudes, by all means, check it out.

EVEN MORE: This should almost go without saying, but the assertion Harris makes in the video that the government now controls 51% of the economy is, of course, bullshit.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

None of this Makes any Sense

Will someone please decipher Kyle Maichle's latest epistle to the solipsists?

Ron Johnson's Campaign Reads The Chief!

Only one way to react to that news:

Ron Johnson Discussed on Sly in the Morning, Double Entendres Ensue

Madison Talk Radio personality Sly in the Morning lays into what he calls Johnson's, um, "Mission from Dick."

The "rich guy in Wisconsin" quote is the kind of thing that makes campaign commercial-makers salivate.

Ron Johnson on Belling

Just as on Sykes, Johnson wastes little time framing his run as the "Freedom" campaign:

Blogger Endorses Ron Johnson by Comparing him to George Washington

Talk about expectations ...

We already noted that a Brookfield blogger had endorsed Johnson before he even jumped into the race and now Kyle Prast is back with a new Hosanna:
I don't know Mr. Johnson personally, but I have spoken to him on the phone and emailed him a few times. I have found him to be thoughtful, measured, responsive, and conservative.

In some respects, he reminds me of our first President, George Washington. Like Washington, Johnson is not seeking to be a career politician. Instead he is answering a call to serve as a Citizen Legislator. Being a Citizen Legislator was one theme Johnson touched on in his speech at the Madison Tea Party in April.
George Washington? Let's try not to get carried away here, folks...

Also jumping on the endorsement wagon is the Maritime Sentry, a Green Bay area blogger known for cutting and pasting always lurid Catholic League press releases in between assorted vitriolic rantings. TMS urges all true conservatives to ante up:
Even though it has been well reported that Johnson can self-finance, this race affects us all; let's not selfishly sit on our wallets. Campaigns receive positive press on the amount of money that is donated to them and the number of volunteers they sign up. Let's flood his campaign with so many donations and volunteers that even the mainstream media has to report on it. All of us have been complaining we want true citizen representatives; in Johnson we have a chance to elect one.
Last, but certainly not least, Johnson won the endorsement of our favorite subliterate conservative blogger here at The Chief, Kyle Maichle.
Johnson can now expect grammatically challenged peons to his awesomeness, homoerotic viral videos that look like they were made by a 5th grader and unintelligibly worded hockey metaphors from someone who can barely create a sentence, much less a complex thought.

Charlie Sykes Loves Him some Ron Johnson

It should probably come as no surprise that we think very little of Wisconsin Policy Research Institute Fellow, talk radio nuisance and all around circus clown Charles J. Sykes, so we were less than surprised when Sykes summed up his interview with Ron Johnson on Tuesday by gushing:

Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson joined me this morning to talk about his announcement that he is running for US Senate against Russ Feingold. You can listen here.

This race, he said, will be about "freedom."

When have we ever heard that before from a candidate?

The link above will lead you to an MP3 of the interview. I think it's safe to say that Johnson has the pole position on the Sykes endorsement.

If Sykes/Johnson actually believe that this election will be about "freedom" then they will both spend the next six months demonstrating how egregiously out of touch they are with the electorate. This is not going to be a battle of philosophies -- the time to wage that fight was 2008. This election will be about pocketbook issues, jobs and the economy first and foremost among them.

I know that harsh reality doesn't make for good talk radio, but if Johnson has any intention of making his campaign anything other than a vanity run for office he will have to present the public with much more than mere philosophy. Here's Politico on what won the Democratic candidate the special election in Pennsylvania last night:

The playbook from the Pennsylvania special election isn’t complicated: Make the election a choice between two local candidates and not a national referendum on the Democratic Party or the state of the nation; savage the Republican from the outset and don’t let up; keep the focus on jobs and core economic issues; most important, separate yourself from your national party’s policies and politicians as necessary.
In other words, the exact opposite of what Belling, Sykes and the rest of the talk radio cognoscenti believe will happen. Right now, the only people who care about "philosophy" are hardcore conservatives, who are currently going through an existential crisis. The rest of Wisconsin wants results. Scott Walker actually realizes this and it's one of the reasons the Gubernatorial race will be so competitive.

Good luck with their game plan: it pretty much is guaranteed to win the GOP candidate the honor of giving a tearful concession speech in November.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Is the Ron Johnson Campaign Already Guilty of Video Plagiarism?

I honestly don't know the answer to that question since the rules about appropriating video content on the web are, shall we say, a bit nebulous. Here, for example, is Sean Duffy just taking a news segment of his campaign announcement and throwing it on his web site. I'd say this pretty clearly falls under the principle "fair use" since Duffy didn't use the entire news broadcast and cited the source of the clip by leaving on the appropriate logos, etc.

Johnson's first video is right here:

Notice that the quality of the picture isn't all that hot and the frame seems to be cropped at the bottom. The sentence "Ron Johnson seeks Republican nomination to" is obviously fragmented (see the still photo below).

So what's going on here? Well, take a look at this video:

This video appeared on the Oshkosh Northwestern's website this morning. It does not take long to figure out that they are the exact same videos, with just a few edits. The Johnson campaign just chopped off the NW's animated intro bumper and cropped the frame -- edits that create the illusion that the campaign produced the video in house.

So is it plagiarism? Damned if I know. The NW video, like many news outlets' videos these days, comes complete with an embed feature, so, obviously, the paper wants people to distribute their content. But media outlets usually want their content distributed on their own terms with "minor details" like branding intact. Like the rest of the NW's online content, I would imagine the video is also copyright-protected ... then again, I don't pretend to be an expert on intellectual property law (or ethics).

Anyway, it would have just been a lot easier for the Johnson campaign to download the video and say something like "Hey, the Northwestern covered Ron's kick-off speech -- check it out, brah!" or whatever. They could have also just told the viewer where the video came from in the YouTube description, but they didn't even bother to do that:

Ads of the Damned: CA Gov: Steve Poizner, "Adults Only"

Oh, Lord ...

I can't even begin to count the number of times I've been on eBay and I honestly didn't know there was an "adults only" section until I saw this ad. I assume that my eBay experience isn't all that different from most users.

So I gather that this ad is directed at that reliable voting bloc that still doesn't have a lot of computing experience: senior citizens.

The problem is that I don't know how true that statement is. The visuals are too reliant on computer-related signifiers. Instead, it's probably more accurate to say this ad is directed at hard core cultural conservatives. The script contains some lovely conservative dog whistles like the accusation that Whitman banned gun sales from eBay, which implies she is soft on the 2nd Amendment and would likewise "ban gun sales" once in office. The "fake paintings" detail is a nice touch in so much as it implies that it's Whitman herself who is fraudulent, possibly a fraudulent conservative.

But, let's face it, this ad is a love letter to adult entertainment, er, rather "hardcore pornography." An especially nice touch is the frame below as the narrator explains that Whitman started a separate division [cut to frame] that only sells porn."
That kid doesn't look remotely close to being 18 years old. This visual accusation is rather striking: Meg Whitman is involved in distributing porn to under aged kids. The extended implication is that Whitman is involved in child pornography.

The next handful of mud to be flung seems tame by comparison. The script reads "Under Whitman's leadership the porn site became one of the largest on the internet," just as this frame appears:
The ad is basically saying that Whitman herself is for sale, and since the context of the ad is overtly sexual, Poizner is essentially calling Whitman a whore.

Bravo, Steve Poizner, you're a douchebag.

Lastly, and for reasons that are beyond my comprehension, the ad some how ties Whitman to GoldmanSachs, as if being called a child pornography-peddling hooker weren't enough already.
The font makes the it look like the summation of the ad is that "GoldmanSachs Deals Pornography," not necessarily Whitman.

All in all, this has to be the most vile campaign ad I've seen in a long time.

Ads of the Damned: John McCain, "Complete the Danged Fence"

This seemed to win the ire of many conservatives a few days ago:

Some of this anger is a little overstated. This is McCain's fourth TV spot of the campaign and third specifically dealing with immigration (here one, and here's another). Like the other two, the spot recites the details of the "McCain/Kyl plan," but this one seems to have really irritated conservative bloggers.


The answer that seems to run most commonly in the threads of the offended bloggers is that McCain once supported "amnesty," or at least a version of immigration reform that they disagreed with. If this was really the case, then why didn't raise the issue when the first immigration ads came out. That may be the policy subtext behind the anger, but the filmic text of the ad itself also opens McCain up to criticism of being phony in way politics flip-floppery just doesn't.

Take a look at the fine print of this frame:
It reads "Paul Babeu appearing only in his personal capacity." Well, then why is he addressed by his title "Sheriff Paul Babeu" when we first meet him and what in God's name is he doing wearing his uniform? Sheriff Bableu is a validator. I'm sure there are legal reasons for the disclaimer, but it's juxtaposition next to an figure who's authority McCain clearly wishes to siphon is a little too obvious.

Next is the small point raised by a commenter at Hit and Run: Nogales isn't in Sherrif Babeu's jurisdiction of Pinal County, which isn't a boarder county. I'm sure that most Arizonans would pick up on this. This discrepancy isn't to say that non-boarder counties don't have immigration issues they need to contend with (we know all to well that they do), but what it does do is create a skewed sense of geography for the viewer, one that suggests McCain doesn't really know his own state all that well.

Moving on we have Allahpunidt's criticism of McCain costume: "John “Goddamned Fence” McCain marching along the border in a badass Navy baseball cap looking like he could choke out a coyote with his bare hands." I've always wondered about the baseball cap myself, which has been a McCain staple in outdoors setting since he was treated for skin cancer some years back. I've never been sure if this was a way to make him look more rugged, more "common man," more youthful or was just part of his doctor's orders to stay out of the sun and was a better alternative than a Michael Jackson-esque umbrella. Regardless, it should be obvious why the cap usually says Navy.

The spot does a good visual job of transforming the boarder fence into something that's more than just scenery and almost into another actor. Just watch how the fence visually evolves of the course of the first frames of the spot.

Here it is off to the side, helping to establish the location:

Then we have a shot of McCain and Babeu walking closer to it, as if it's the third member of their party while the two men are talking about the horrible thing illegal immigrants are doing to Arizonans:It's no accident that the frame changes just as McCain says "home invasions" to a close up of a porous and seemingly incomplete fence:Granted, the space between those rusty beams might actually be narrow enough to keep out even an anorexic supermodel, but it doesn't look like an effective fence. There's a two-fold implication here: 1.) that all illegal immigration is a form of "home invasion" against the country, and 2.) that this anemic-looking fence is the only thing keeping back people who want to invade your home at night to rob you.

Just to reinforce the point, the boarder fence actually becomes almost negligible as Sheriff Babeu notes that half of illegal immigrants come through Arizona and we get this image:

Now that's a fence that wouldn't keep out a tumbleweed.

There are a number of issues one can find fault with in the script. The first is the minor curse McCain uses to describe the fence. As Allahpundit points out above, its a callback to a stronger phrase used by McCain several years ago in, of all places, Milwaukee. It's very Mavericky language and reminiscent of a past McCain's been trying to distance himself from lately. The whole point of the ad is to demonstrate how in sync McCain is with the rest of the GOP on immigration. It's fairly obvious that he's trying to channel the anger so many conservatives feel about the issue, but it misses the mark.

The very last line of the script before the disclaimer is even less subtle. "Senator, you're one of us," the sheriff says just before the frame freezes on a close up of McCain. There's just nothing natural about that exchange. Once it's said, it feels like the entire spot has been McCain fishing for a compliment.

There's a weird blend of strong visual imagery and fightin' words that never really seems to add up in this case. A lot of this has to do with incumbency. McCain's been Arizona's senator for decades now and walking in front of a incomplete fences that apparently can't stop an army of impoverished third-worlders doesn't exactly scream strength, even thought that's clearly the point of the ad. McCain's should be bragging about having done everything thing human possible to strengthen boarder security, but here he's pointing out the boarder's weaknesses. If JD Hayworth ran this exact same ad the context would be completely different and it would probably be rather brilliant, but as it stands, it just doesn't seem to work.

Ron Johnson Recieves First Endorsement

We forgot to mention that almost immediately after announcing his candidacy for the US Senate, Ron Jonson received his first endorsement from an elected official. Here's state Rep. Don Pridemore's mark of approval below:
Pridemore Endorsement of Ron Johnson
[via Wispol]

Classic Ads of the Damned: Robert Lorge, "Cowboys"

A few days ago we noted the instant classic Dale Peterson for Alabama Agriculture Commissioner campaign ad. The spot is being justly praised as an homage to testosterone, but it also reminded us of how this very kind of campaign ad can go terribly, terribly wrong.

So without further ado, I give you a TV spot that supposedly aired in Wisconsin in 2006 (I sure as hell didn't see it on TV). This, ladies and gentlemen, is nothing short of amazing:

You're welcome.

There just waaaaayy too much to talk about with this ad. From the flamingly gay bartender, who actually delivers the line "He's busy doing nothing at all!" (then he's really not all that busy, is he?), to the horrifyingly awful John Wayne impersonation, to the insinuation that there's a United States Senator taking a dump behind a featured door, to the candidate himself seated high atop a horse at the very end.

Now, when most campaign ads are bad, they're merely awful. But this, my friends, is campaign advertising so poor that it accomplishes something I didn't think was possible: it's a political ad that actually achieves camp status.

Just try and watch it only once, I dare you. It's impossible. John Waters himself couldn't do better. Bravo to whomever had the audacity to put this ad together: your filmic bravery truly knows no bounds!

Ads of the Damned: Scott Walker, "Results"

After moving in the right direction, Scott Walker's latest TV ad regresses. It looks a lot like Walker's first spot, "Salary," and that's not a good thing.

First and foremost: way too long. We actually turned off the ad at around 0:43. For that reason alone we're going to fail it. This ad should have been half as long.

There are two really hard and ugly edits at around the 0:20 and 0:40. If you're going to do an ad like this, it's gotta be in one take -- and that means reading the script with the camera in the talent's face as many times as it takes until he gets it right. If the talent can't do it, get some b-roll to mask the audio cuts.

Lastly, the print on screen is too light, does not contrast well with the background and, thus, is hard to read and ultimately distracting. Instead of emphasizing the script, it's drawing attention away from the audio, and that's counterproductive.

Bottom line: viewers need a reason to keep paying attention to the ad and this one doesn't offer one.

Final Grade: F

Previously on Ads of the Damned:

"Roll Tide"
"Spots from the Hinterlands"
Sean Duffy, "Untitled"
Greater Wisconsin Committee, "Remember"
Citizens United, "No on Obamacare"
Mark Neumann, "Insiders"
60 Plus Association, "Deals"
Mark Neumann, "No Bailouts"
Terrence Wall, "Fed Up"
Scott Walker, "Saturn"
National Republican Congressional Committee: "David Obey: Obama's Spending Architect"
Scott Walker: "Brown Bag"
Russ Feingold: "Forward"
Mark Neumann: "Kicked Off"
Democratic National Committee: "Shots"
Americans for Prosperity: "Tracy Walsh"
American Future Fund: "Pig"
Scott Walker: "Salary"
Terrence Wall: "Rebuild"

So What did we Learn from Ron Johnson's First Day on the Campaign Trail?

So far we don't know what kind of platform Ron Johnson is running on. We know he's conservative, but, really, what the hell does that mean? Today we got our first look at what Johnson's policy positions. Let's review:

As far as what motivated him to run, we've got this:

[Johnson] says growing debt, out of control spending and recent events in Washington helped him make the decision to run for office.

"The passage of Obama care that was just kind of the straw that broke the camels back from my stand point and I thought I just couldn't sit on the sidelines any longer," he said.

Moreover, Obamacare sucks because:
He says it’s essential to maintain freedom in our health care system so the free market will continue to develop new drugs, new devices, and new treatments. Johnson says that’s being threatened by the reforms passed by Congress.
He supports bank regulations:
Johnson also said Wall Street and major banks deserved some of the blame for the nation’s financial problems – and he supports what he called reasonable regulations on those industries.
But there are no indications of which specific regulations he supports.

And just this weekend we learned Johnson supports term limits:

A supporter of term limits, Johnson said: "I'm just respectfully saying it's time for Russ to retire."

That's essentially the known extent of Johnson's policy positions.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Finally, Something We All Can Agree On

Another Kevin Barrett for Congress campaign is completely unnecessary.

Ron Johnson's Web Site is Live

The URL is kinda long -- -- but easy enough to remember. The layout is remarkably green. It wouldn't hurt to have crafted even a short biography:

That's it. No policy initiatives, stances on major issues or any other pertinent information. Right now it would appear the site is primarily used to collect personal contact info, but we're sure that will change shortly.

Ads of the Damned: Roll Tide


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ron Johnson and the Oshkosh Tea Party

There's a "getting to know you" piece on Ron Johnson in the Journal-Sentinel this weekend that contains an interesting aside:
Contrary to reports in the media, Johnson said, he did not start a tea party chapter in Oshkosh. He simply accepted an invitation to speak.
Taken literally this statement is true, but it's also way too carefully worded to just be glossed over.

First things first: there is not an active tea party-affiliated organization in Oshkosh and there really never was one. Unlike many of the other tea party groups around the state, there really wasn't ever a "chapter" established in Oshkosh for doing any long term political organizing. The Oshkosh tea party was really just an event (and a pretty crazy event at that).

So, yes, Johnson did not actually start a tea party "chapter" here in Oshkosh ... but a more interesting question would be who the hell paid for the Oshkosh tea party?

Tea Parties don't just materialize out of thin air: they take money to throw. PA systems need to be rented, t-shirts need to be printed, and Mr. The Plumber sure as hell isn't going to come to Oshkosh, WI without a plane ticket, accommodations and a speaking fee. There's also the small matter of finding a dais:

That's Johnson speaking at the Oshkosh tea party last October. Local readers will recognize the Ganther Construction logos prominently displayed all over the podium. I mean, it kinda looks like the business is almost sponsoring the event, doesn't it?

Ben Ganther is a local construction magnate and good friend of Johnson's. They're both successful businessmen, well-known in the community and several years ago started a local political action committee together, Forward Oshkosh PAC, the main purpose of which seemed to be advancing TABOR on a local level.

One could reasonably assume that Ganther and Johnson probably had a significant hand in funding the event. Unfortunately, there's really no way to independently verify this because the same kind of financial disclosure laws that apply to lobbyists, PACs, political parties and candidates apparently don't apply to tea parties. This will have to be something a real journalist would have to ask the Johnson campaign (... a-hem).

No one "just gets ask to speak" at events like these. I can't imagine a collection plate was passed around during the festivities, the receipts from which managed to offset the costs. If Johnson's willing to shell out $10-15 million on a senate campaign, then footing the bill for a tea party would have been peanuts by comparison.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Almighty is Recruiting Staff for Ron Johnson's Campaign

This email has been making the rounds in town and finally reached us yesterday:


Your Children's Names Suck

Look through the rest of the top 100 names of the decade, and you will find names that were essentially unknown a generation ago, such as Brooklyn and Nevaeh ("heaven" backward). You will find formerly exotic names that have become commonplace (Xavier, Aaliyah) and formerly male names that have become female (Addison, Riley). On the boys' list, you'll find six different names rhyming with Aidan. But what you won't find are the English classics Edward, Margaret, George and Anne. In 2009, even Mary -- the most popular name in the history of the English language -- fell out of America's top 100 for the first time.
MORE: I forgot to mention: a ton of parents apparently have buyer's remorse when it comes to trendy kids' names:

One in five parents reports having second thoughts on the name they so carefully chose for their baby, a study in Britain found.

Many of the 3,000 parents surveyed said they wish they'd picked a less popular name, while one in 10 say they chose a quirky moniker only to have the novelty quickly wear off.

That could be because 15 percent of parents say their baby's name has sparked amusement from friends and relatives - and one in five have felt scorn from a stranger. Ouch.

What does "Sidney Crosby-type political maneuver" Mean?

Deft and championship-winning?

Not exactly a good insult.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ads of the Damned: Spots from the Hinterlands

Joe Sestak, "The Switch"

This is the early favorite for best ad of the campaign cycle:

Absolutely brutal. This is basically a digital uppercut that lands square in the jaw. Very effective use of repetition that appears to led credence to suspicions.

Final Grade: A

Young Boozer, "Fiscal Conservative"

Self-deprecating, but not silly, this spot does a good job of capitalizing on a memorable name.

Final Grade: B+

True Republican PAC

The weather vane imagery is great, perhaps not as degrading as John Kerry windsurfing, but still a very effective metaphor -- but all this talk about evolution and the Bible ... is that really a good idea?

Final Grade: Incomplete

Trey Grayson, "Cheering for the Big Blue"

This one a few months old, and apparently didn't help Grayson all that much, but -- and this is to our infinite shame -- we kinda dig this ad, but purely on prurient level.

Final Grade: Incomplete

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Obviously, the Funniest Article You'll Read this Week

And it's 100% serious.

[via ITT]

Ads of the Damned: Sean Duffy, "Untitled"

We were really looking forward to Sean Duffy's first TV ad given his past in reality TV, but instead of a hand-held tracking shot of a young man through an extravagantly expensive house with weird furniture, we got a standard campaign ad:

The b-roll of Duffy talking to voters is exceptional. He seems energetic, enthusiastic, engaged, even virile (six kids!) ... but then we get to him talking direct to camera and something seems off:
(Thank God nobody knows how high I am right now!)

It's especially disappointing considering Duffy's campaign put out this fine web ad:

This is would have made a great TV ad -- just add an animated bumper to the end of the spot.

The reason why we want to contrast these two pieces largely has to do with the background. In the TV spot Duffy's background is out of focus, but appears to be a very domestic surrounding. I guess this is supposed to help him connect with voters, but it's really too blurry to make heads or tails of it and has the effect of deadening the photography.

The web ad, on the other hand, uses a splendid and vivid pure, white background, the kind that everyone sees in the UPS whiteboard ads and Apple's "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" spots. For whatever optical reason, an all white background just makes people standing in front of it more compelling. It's extremely difficult to keep a viewers attention for 30 seconds, especially when you're talking about something as boring as politics. Mark Neumann couldn't do it, but Duffy does do it in the web piece.

Unfortunately, he doesn't succeed as well in the TV spot.

Final Grade: C+

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ads of the Damned: Greater Wisconsin Committee, "Remember"

The script starts with a deceptively innocuous question: "Remember how we got into this mess?" What mess? There's a mess? Where is it? Of course, it turns out that the narrator is talking about the economic mess, but why not just state that from the beginning?

Most people have multiple messes in their lives. Trying to grab someone's attention by ambiguously referring to one of those messes with the hopes that they'll stick around to find out which one the TV is talking about is asking a lot. I honestly tuned out after the question was asked and never really devoted a significant amount of attention to the rest of the spot. I had to watch the damn thing a half dozen times in order to register a reaction to it. That's not good.

If the script would have read "Remember how we got into the financial mess?" then I would have understood immediately what was going on right from the outset, but the omission of a single word derails the whole thing.

Massive problem #2: why is this ad attacking both Scott Walker and Mark Neumann? Pick a bad guy and stick with him. If you can't decide on whom to attack then the ad is running way too early.

The rest of the ad is void of anything that really drives home the point that Neumann/Walker's economic policies are bad for the state. The six black and white squares don't really pop and the symbols contained therein just get lost in the clutter.

And so does the message for that matter.

Final Grade: D-

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oshkosh City Council Live Chat!!!

Welcome! Our apologies for the recent break in programing.

If this is your first time joining us, please feel invited to jump in the conversation or just lurk. You can find the full binder as given to each council member below the chatting feature below.

As always, we ask for a little patience when submitting your first comment of the night. This may take a few minutes, but this is just so I can get your username approved for further use. After that you will be able to submit comment in real time.

You can join us on Twitter using the hashtag #ocat.

Oshkosh City Council Agenda 5-11-10

Oshkosh Common Council Meeting Live Chat!!!


6:00 PM

(Sorry for the late notice.)

Ads of the Damned: Citizens United, "No on Obamacare"

Ah, here's another example of a faux "issue ad."

This one's actually not too bad at points. It's obviously another generic ad designed to be used in many districts, but the creators were smart enough to make sure the name of the target was repeated three times by the narrator and to include a visual reference each time.

There's plenty of dark and foreboding imagery and things seem to be moving briskly along the path to ruin when, suddenly, the audience is given this:
That's when this spot goes from standard attack ad to pathetic self-parody.

Fear-mongering in political ads has a lot in common with fear-mongering in horror films: often times the suggestion of something scary is far more scary than any kind of monster. The health care debate was perfectly situated for groups like Citizens United to take advantage of one of the most primal fears in the human experience -- the fear of the unknown. Instead, they juxtapose asinine and completely unrelated images like a hydrogen bomb test with Health Care legislation.


Want to know what's scarier than a hydrogen bomb these days? The image of a lab coat-clad doctor closing his door on a patient, shrugging his shoulders and pointing an accusing finger at a large pile of legislation. All it takes is two actors and a door -- no CGI or file footage necessary.

Final Grade: F

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ads of the Damned: Mark Neumann, "Insiders"

A while back we talked about how the kitchen was an awesome place to do a campaign ad.

Well, the solarium probably isn't.

The fundamental problem here is that this is really a radio ad. It's just Neumann hanging out in the solarium rapping with the voters, unplugged as it were. The script is fine -- once again Nuemann manages to throw in the word "conservative" into the mix -- but the visuals don't do anything to emphasize the words. In fact, there's really aren't any visuals at all. Midway through the spot we a close-up of Nuemann's hands:
Then a little later we see Neumann looking contemplatively out the window at a brighter future for Wisconsin. Talk about minimalism.

It's another safe and conventional ad that makes viewers work to remember. Neumann actually uses the word "revolution" for the first time in any of his ads in this spot, which seems comically out of place amid oak panels and navy blue blazers. The words may say "tea party," but the visuals scream blue-blood country club set.

Final Grade: C-