Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Size of the Wisconsin Tea Party

Earlier this week a pair of Tea Party groups released the results of respective stray polls that showed Dave Westlake wasting Ron Johnson among their memberships. Both of these groups are headed by signers of an earlier press release that essentially told Ron Johnson to lay off the claim of the Tea Party mantle.

It's hardly a good sample size, but it's a place to start.

The results of the straw polls aren't nearly as interesting as what they say about the size of these groups. Here's the straw poll data from the Madison 9/12 Project:
Wisconsin 9/12 Project Straw Poll
In all likelihood no more than 20 people participated in the straw poll. The tallies for governor, for example, are all divisible by 5 (100%/5 = 20).

But, you might ask, how do I explain the funky remainders behind the tallies for Lt. Gov.? Simple, only 19 people voted for that office.
Brett Davis: 6/19 = 31.57%
Ben Collins: 5/19 = 26.31%
Undecided: 8/19 = 42.105%
The Northwoods Patriots has far less information to work with.
Northwoods Patriots Straw Poll Results
The only real figures of any value they release are:
Dave Westlake: 98%
Ron Johnson: 2%
I think it's safe to assume that we're dealing with a voting universe of 50 people here (I'm not going to do the math).

When we average out the two figures we get 35. If we can assume that there are maybe 200 tea party groups in the state that would mean there are about 7000 tea partiers in Wisconsin, or roughly the size of the gang that shows up to the tax day Tea Parties in Madison. Over 2.9 million people in Wisconsin voted in the last election -- 7000 people represents an almost negligible sliver of the total electorate in the state.

Now if these 7000 people prove to be invaluable campaign volunteers and tireless activists for their cause, then they can have an enormous multiplier effect, but there's no evidence yet they are ready to do the leg work required to earn them a spot at the table and until they do no should have to genuflect at the tea party altar.

Silly Me...

You know, it just occurred to me why Team Johnson is putting such a big emphasis on fund-raising this week: the second quarter reporting period ends tonight at midnight.

The campaign will want to look like it's in good financial health and spending a few days shaking down donors is a pretty good way to get that job done.

This also means we get our first look at the behind the scenes spending of the campaign in a few weeks! Woo-hoo!

Tim Pawlenty Wants You to Ante Up for Ron Johnson

There's a lot of news to cover today and to be honest a lot of it's going to have to wait until later, but for now I bring you today's fundraising ask from the Ron Johnson campaign, brought to by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty:
Tim Pawlenty Fundraising Email for the Ron Johnson for U.S. Senate Campaign

A couple of interesting things to note here:
  • No letterhead. Unlike previous emails Team Johnson removed the green campaign graphic from the top of the page in deference to their guest emailer. Pawlenty is running for President in 2012 and this is a pretty good way of getting his brand out there. Nixing the campaign logos is a good way of reinforcing the fact that this is a Tim Pawlenty email, not a necessarily a Ron Johnson email.
  • Pawlenty does not use his title in his sign-off. Too incumbent-y, perhaps?
  • The Governor uses more cutting imagery than 15 year-old emo chick's bad poetry.
  • The MasterCard "Priceless" shtick probably would have worked better as a web video ... or at least it would worked better than this web video:

(Possibly the Best) Headlines of the Damned (Ever)

Tonight's edition of Headlines of the Damned is brought to you by the Dublin Evening Herald:

This has been another edition of Headlines of the Damned.

[via FD]

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

PPP Poll Press Release + Crosstabs!

As noted earlier, PPP relaesed the crosstabs of the Johnson/Feingold poll [via Jake].

Sexy stuff!

PPP Release WI

PPP Poll -- Feingold: 45%, Johnson: 43%

This will probably give Charlie Sykes morning wood tomorrow, and the talking point from the GOP will be that unlike the previous Rasmussen polls, PPP doesn't get labeled as a "Republican polling firm" by detractors.

That said the big number, as noted by Teagan Goddard, is just how unknown Johnson is:
Johnson is largely unknown to voters in the state. 62% have no opinion of him.
That means Johnson is largely undefined in voters' minds. After a few months of campaigning he will no longer be "not Feingold," but something else. Either he'll be more or less attractive than the incumbent, but right now all this poll really says is that nobody knows who Ron Johnson is just yet.

MORE: Damn, I'm good.

Ron Johnson's Microsite Fail

The RJC is touting a new microsite this morning:

I guess this qualifies as the first overt negative act of the campaign and one designed primarily as a fund-raising and information collection tool. The lede of the first blog post reads:
It’s time to stop government spending! Senator Russ Feingold has used his “Fein Gold Card” that is funded by your taxpayer dollars to raise the national debt to over 13 trillion dollars, and it continues to skyrocket daily.
Which is boilerplate GOP rhetoric that really doesn't apply to Feingold, given his extensive history as a deficit hawk.

The campaign is trying to raise $20,000 in less than 48 hours ... on top of the three high dollar fundraisers being held this week.

The mixed message here is that the campaign is getting hit on both sides by allegations that it doesn't/won't have the funds to run the campaign it promised. Last week Terrence Wall expressed doubt that Johnson could self fund after filing for an extension for his personal financial disclosures and this week OWN crunched hypothetical numbers:
Ron Johnson Tax Numbers from One Wisconsin
I skeptical of these allegations, but it does seem clear that the campaign is devoting this week to raising money. I just don't think a poorly promoted microsite that appears out of nowhere with a mixed message is a very good way of doing it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The End of Comity in the Senate?

Here's an interesting chart over at


1. Daniel Inouye (D-Haw.) — Jan. 9, 1963

2. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) — Jan. 3, 1975

3. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) — Jan. 4, 1977

4. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) — Jan. 4, 1977

5. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) — Dec. 15, 1978

6. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) — Dec. 27, 1978

7. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) — Jan. 15, 1979

8. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) — Jan. 5, 1981

9. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) — Jan. 5, 1981

10. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) — Jan. 5, 1981

Here's what it was just prior to the 2008 election:

1. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) — Jan. 7, 1959

2. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) — Nov. 7, 1962

3. Inouye

4. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) — Dec. 24, 1968

5. Joe Biden (D-Del.) — Jan. 3, 1973

6. Leahy

7. Lugar

8. Hatch

9. Baucus

10. John Warner (R-Va.) — Jan. 2, 1979

Anything jump out at you?

Daniel Inouye is the last of the pre-Watergate members of the Senate. This crew of legislators have been historically more cordial, collegial and often bipartisan than the gang that followed it. They were old school. Since Dodd and Specter are on their way out, the next two Senators with the most seniority are Bingaman and John Kerry.

In short order the Senate is going to be populated with elder statesmen who came of professional age in a very partisan atmosphere. This was the gang that came of age during the Robert Bork, Clearance Thomas and Iran-Contra hearings, the Culture Wars and Impeachment trials of the '90s. It'll be interesting to see if age inspires them to take up the "wise man" mantle, the kind of legislators who put the institution before party and politics.

My expectations are low.

Wallgate Hits TV

In Green Bay:

How Many Hotel Rooms, Again?

This is why you do not try to disprove absurd statements with "evidence," but keep the burden of proof on the accuser.

When Terrence Wall's accusation of corruption at the WisGOP convention broke the Johnson campaign release hotel invoices to various media outlets. WisPolitics reported:
Johnson’s campaign manager released a copy of an invoice for five rooms Johnson booked at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, the site of the convention.

One room was booked for Ron Johnson and his wife, Jane. The other four were occupied by campaign volunteers and staff, the campaign said.
Got that? 5 rooms.

But the Journal Sentinel reported:
But [Wall] provided no evidence of his allegations, and the other candidates in the race said they had no knowledge of the claims. The manager of the Johnson campaign quickly released electronic copies of records from the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Milwaukee that showed the Johnson campaign bought six hotel rooms on the two nights of the convention on May 21 and 22.
Now we're up to 6 rooms, a figure supported by the State Journal.

I'm going to chalk this up to error by one of the reporters, but discrepancies like this are the reason why the campaign was better served attacking the messenger and demanding that he be the one to offer proof rather than trying to outright disprove the accusations itself. If the "vote buying" didn't happen, which is likely the case, then there nothing Johnson can do to prove a negative.

Of course, if Johnson told WisPolitics one thing and the MJS another, then we have another issue on our hands.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I Dare Not Imagine the Number of Swirlies this Kid's Recieved

The American Thinker really must not think very much of its readers by trying to pawn this article off as being "written" by an 11 year-old.

Misandrist? Yeah that's in every 5th grader's vocabulary...

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Wrath of Wall

There's a lot to digest from Terrance Wall's interview with WTDY, so let's get started.

Packing conventions with one's supporters is a time-honored tradition and just good politics, so I have a hard time sympathizing with Wall on this issue. Try visiting the Iowa GOP convention the year before a Presidential election and then finding fault with springing for a few hotel rooms. I have no idea why this a big deal.

As for "intimidating" voters ... well, one man's intimidation is another's "horse-trading," also a pretty regular feature of political gatherings since time immemorial. Political conventions aren't just organizing seminars and late night stops to the titty bar with old chums from the College Republicans. There's some work that needs to be done as well and sometimes that work involves cracking skulls.

In fact, most of Wall's accusations seem like sour grapes over the fact that Wall himself was never really able to set the world on fire when he was in the race, so I wouldn't put too much faith in the "vote buying" and "corruption" accusations. Did Wall himself not have a "hospitality suite" at the convention? Was beer not free there? Does that qualify as "buying people off"?

Let's not pretend for a second that the endorsement vote at the state GOP convention is some kind of sacred institution.

The accusation that seems most damning is that Johnson is actually an "inside man," that he's not the outsider he appears to be, but really an old school Country Club Republican, who thinks he can spend his way to victory. Johnson's implosion among the tea baggers probably set off enough alarms among the extreme right to plant that suspicion's seed. Wall's accusations will just give those suspicions credence. One thing I've noticed today is that the Wall's accusations are appearing on several Tea Party blogs (here, here, here, and here). Some of these blogs are open Westlake supporters, but it certainly seems to have struck a chord within the tea party set.

Now here's the most interesting aspect of the story: the Johnson campaign's completely impotent response:
Johnson’s campaign manager released a copy of an invoice for five rooms Johnson booked at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, the site of the convention.

One room was booked for Ron Johnson and his wife, Jane. The other four were occupied by campaign volunteers and staff, the campaign said.
A hotel invoice? Are you fucking kidding me? You call that rapid response?

When someone makes an accusation of this nature on a political campaign you come out swinging. You dismiss Wall as a sore loser and demand that he produce proof or otherwise shut the hell up -- you do not, repeat, DO NOT dig into your pockets and pull out a few receipts like you're taking the accusation seriously. This is PR 101. (This is better, but the push-back has to also come from the campaign itself, not just WisGOP surrogates.)

More importantly, the Johnson campaign should have never let it get to the point where Wall felt like he needed to unload to a liberal talk radio host. Wall should have been approached shortly after he dropped out and brought into the fold in some minor way precisely to prevent something like this from happening. It's pretty obvious no such meeting took place. That's a basic part of political etiquette that was ignored. Now the GOP has to deal with someone who's gone off the reservation. As a consequence, this is the third time Wall has burned Johnson -- the sign video and the abuse victims bill testimony being the other two -- since the convention.

These are not small mistakes -- they're big ones. Russ Feingold does not make mistakes on the campaign trail and in order to beat him, neither can his opponents. Shit like this will sink Johnson's campaign before he ever has a chance to define himself or talk about the issues. I don't care what the polls say now, right now the Johnson campaign looks like the captain still hasn't gotten his sea legs and his crew is on their maiden voyages.

Again, the problem here is not accusations of "funny business" at the state GOP convention, the problem is the damage it does to Johnson's image as an outsider. That's not just going to be a problem in the GOP primary. It'll be next to impossible to beat Feingold if he emerges from a battle with Westlake perceived as a puppet to the party.

Did Frank Lasee take a Piss in a Voter's Backyard?

We are proud to name former Wisconsin assemblyman and current state senate candidate Frank Lasee, who, according to one of our listeners, took a leak in the backyard of the home of a Chilton woman after leaving a campaign flier in her mailbox.
This is definitely one way to mount a comeback.

Ron Johnson in The Hill

Profile here.

Is 2010 the Best Sports Year Ever (Redux)?

We asked this question back in April and since then the sports world has given us:
  • An exciting NHL playoffs capped by a great Stanley Cup finals
  • A seven game Celtics/Lakers NBA final
  • 2 perfect games and 1 instantly infamous near miss
  • The longest tennis match ever played
  • The most memorable World Cup for American soccer
Seriously, I know it's only June but this has been just a crazy year for awesome sports spectacles. I can't think of another period of time that had so many memorable

Ron Johnson Email #6

The Johnson Campaign tries to turn a Feingold fundraiser into an excuse for supporters to fork over some cash:

Ron Johnson for U.S. Senate Email #6

By the way, Johnson will be attending three "high dollar" fundraisers in Oshkosh, Sheboygan and Milwaukee next week.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Michael Bay to make the Milwaukee Art Museum Transform into a Giant Asshole Pundit Robot

Scott Milfred has a snotty editorial in the State Journal on the news that a scene from next summer's installment of the Transformers franchise will be filmed in Milwaukee, which he seems to believe is proof that Hollywood is stumbling over itself trying to film in Wisconsin sans film tax credits:

Our movie-loving lieutenant governor was quoted in Wednesday's State Journal once again lamenting an end to fat state subsidies for Hollywood films.

"We are really not in this game anymore," Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton said. "The (film) industry waits and hopes that Wisconsin will again be open for business under a new governor."

It only took two days for Lawton's dramatic story line to fall apart.

That's right folks, to pieces ...

Visit Milwaukee on Friday announced "Transformers 3" will shoot "a pivotal scene" at the Milwaukee Art Museum and at the old Tower Automotive site on Milwaukee's north side the week of July 12. The major motion picture will bring a cast and crew of about 150 to Cream City.

And here's the best part: state taxpayers won't have to shell out a dime.

So apparently we don't need tax credits, just $129 million worth of iconic building designed by the world's preeminent architect. They have lots of those in Stevens Point. Maybe we can get HR Giger to transform downtown Racine into a post-apocalyptic hellscape so that the next installment of the Terminator can film here?

Here's the deal: Transformers 2 cost $200 million to make. Transformers 3 will cost between $200-$250 million. Franchise movies with that kind of budget don't need tax credits because they will gross $800+ million. If Michael Bay wants to shoot at the Milwaukee Art Museum there isn't a financier in Hollywood who's going to tell him to bring back his receipts. It's a guaranteed money-maker.

So this is more an artistic accident than proof that Hollywood doesn't need a little incentive to shoot films in places like Wisconsin with its endless rural settings covered in snow half the year. When entire movies start to be produced in state, then I'll start to sing another tune. Until then Wisconsin is better served treating the whole film industry like a biotech start-up.

It's great that the Transformers circus is coming to town. I'm sure the MAM will look great through the lens of Bay's low-angled panning camera ... but this is an anomaly. Bay's not coming here because Wisconsin has talent, he coming here because we have a building. He'll be here for a week and then it's back to Malibu to slice up all the footage with attention deficit quick edits to make a storyline with a nonsensical plot; but at least we'll get to point at the big screen next summer, nudge the person sitting next to us and say through a stupid grin "Hey, that's where I live!"

[Semi-related aside: I'm going to put my money on a script that actually makes the MAM turn into some kind of robot. You know, because the brise soleil already moves and shit...]

There are millions of reasons why Wisconsin should invest in a film industry infrastructure with tax credits. In the past we've suggested that the credits died for political, not economic, reasons and there's really been nothing to dissuade us from that suggestion since. Wisconsin will benefit from film and it'd be great to see the credits come back soon.

... And regardless of what you may think of any of this business, I demand credit for not titling this post "Film Tax Credits: More than Meets the Eye."

Kane Contra Murray

Eugene Kane opines on the work of Charles Murray, comparing him to Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan. Unfortunately, it's not exactly an apt analogy.

Farrakhan and Wright have been largely marginalized by the mainstream Left. Murray, on the other hand, is celebrated and fiercely defended by his colleagues on the Right. Murray holds an endowed chair at one of conservatism's flagship think tanks. He publishes frequently in glossy magazines, in the editorial sections of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and contributes to The Corner at NRO. In many ways, this makes Murray's bleak outlook on society more insidious.

We alluded to this earlier, but for anyone looking for concise rebuttal of Murray's work, please take the time to read Stephen Jay Gould's review that appeared in the New Yorker shortly after The Bell Curve's publication. It's something of a legendary piece of criticism and demonstrates rather devastatingly just how baseless Murray's thought is.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Ron Johnson Campaign's Snippy Press Release

The Ron Johnson for Senate campaign unleashed a pissy press release following a swipe from Team Feingold following a regrettable statement at a forum with fellow GOP candidate Dave Westlake. The two candidates decided to fall in line behind BP ... while on camera ... just days after Joe Barton made an ass of himself. It's basically an attack ad waiting to be made.

Anyway, the Feingold gang hit back with this press release which was answered by the press release below:
Ron Johnson for U.S. Senate Press Release
It's not on the web site.

By the way, if Team Johnson thinks this is an issue that's going to stay in the Wisconsin press, they're wrong.

A new Rasumussen Poll

Take it or leave it:

The poll by Rasmussen Reports showed Feingold with 46% and Johnson with 45%.


Johnson is running in the Republican primary against Watertown businessman Dave Westlake. Feingold, of Middleton, drew 47% to Westlake's 41%, according to the poll.

Our Bad

Yeah, so this week's city council live chat didn't go as planned.

These things will happen.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Oshkosh Common Council Meeting Live Chat!!!

Due to events that are outside of my control, I can't guarantee that anyone who wants to jump into the live chat this week will be able to do so after 7:00 PM this evening ... unless they're on Twitter and use hashtag #ocat (then you don't need the administrator to approve your first comment -- that's just the way this live chat tool works).

We'll try and do better next meeting.

Anyway, sign in early and try not to log out of your computer during the meeting, otherwise you might not be able to jump back in. It's entirely possible the chat could stay live even hours after the meeting's over. We'll get to it when we get to it.

The Council's agenda is below.

Oshkosh Common Council Meeting Agenda -- 6/22/10

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Johnson/Westlake Forum Primer's Pompadour has the third part of his Ron Johnson Rock River Tea Party "vetting session" commentary up.

This time around Pompadour levels a few salient criticisms, but most of the piece is 2000 words of Westlake fluffing, not unlike the prior installments.

We're waiting on the video from the Johnson/Westlake forum in Brookfield this morning and have a feeling how each candidate performed in that session dictate the next week or so of intraconservative wrangling.

MORE: The forum is now up on WisconsinEye, but fuck if I know how to load it. Seriously, either my computer is for shit or WE is entirely useless. Either result will be extremely frustrating.

"The Senator from Sykes"

Yesterday was a pretty brutal day in the local press for Ron Johnson's campaign.

Oshkosh Common Council Meeting Agenda

Honestly, it's looking like a game time decision for this week's live chat. At a very minimum we'll try to get things going for anyone who wants to join and stick around.

Here's the agenda:

Oshkosh Common Council Meeting Agenda -- 6/22/10

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Charles Murray and the "Visual-Spatial Abilities" of Asians

We'll probably have more to say on the Charles Murray thing, but we wanted to point out that Murray didn't do himself (or Ron Johnson) any favors with his comment to school board member Matt Wiedenhoeft:
After Murray’s March speech, school board member Matt Wiedenhoeft took issue with Murray’s suggestions during an individual conversation that the United States couldn’t keep up with Asian countries in producing engineers because of a difference in genetic abilities.

According to an e-mail Murray wrote to Leschke, he told Wiedenhoeft in a personal conversation that east Asians have more of the “visual-spatial abilities associated with engineering than whites or any other ethnic group.”
Here's a translation of this asinine statement:

Ron Johnson and Charles Murray: the Quintessential Conservative Elitist

There's a long piece in the NW today looking at the role Ron Johnson played in bringing author Charles Murray to speak to a group in Oshkosh. Judging from the hyperventilating going on in the comment section, the article could have used some additional explanation as to just whom Charles Murray is and why Johnson's interest in him is, if not important, then at least interesting.

Unfortunately, there's no real brief way to delve into the intricacies of why Charles Murray is controversial, so I'm just going to outsource the discussion to this cover story that appeared in Time shortly after his most famous book, The Bell Curve, was published. Let me just point out that the article is primarily interested in the controversy, as opposed to the work itself. For that, you'll probably have to read Murray's work for yourself.

I also want to stress that it's not just Murray's conclusions that are controversial, it's also his methodology:
One of the most contentious claims in The Bell Curve is that intelligence is, for the most part, not improvable. Numerous critics have attacked Herrnstein and Murray's bleak prognosis, arguing that educational programs for disadvantaged children like Head Start do make a difference and that society can work to alter the social environment and therefore positively influence the population's general intelligence. One of the major problems with such statistical studies as Herrnstein and Murray's, scholars argue, is the difficulty of isolating determinate factors in a system as complex as human society and the resulting danger of overlooking other variables. Herrnstein and Murray have been criticized as well for failing to discuss and substantiate the theoretical basis behind their claims regarding intelligence and for ignoring significant studies in the fields of genetics, psychometrics, sociology, and psychology which would compromise their conclusions. Remarking on the durability of their arguments, Stephen Jay Gould has commented: "Intelligence, in their formulation, must be depictable as a single number, capable of ranking people in linear order, genetically based, and effectively immutable. If any of these premises are false, their entire argument collapses…. The central argument of The Bell Curve fails because most of the premises are false." Still, several opponents of The Bell Curve's conclusions, such as Gregg Easterbrook, are grateful for Herrnstein and Murray's work, since it brings "the arguments about race, inheritance, and IQ out into the open … because the more you know about this line of thought, the less persuasive it becomes."
Johnson's interest in Murray should be important because it gives voters an idea of the thoughts and thinkers Johnson would rely on once in office. Ron Johnson's Charles Murray problem really begins when he says something like this:
In an interview with the Northwestern, Johnson distanced himself from the controversial parts of Murray’s education philosophy. Instead, he focused on one segment of Murray’s book, “Real Education,” that states the goal of education is to have children discover things they enjoy doing “at the outermost limits of their potential.”
That's just not possible. Murray's musings on education follow directly from his controversial opinions regarding what certain human beings are able to accomplish intellectually. There is no way to distance oneself from the more uncouth aspects of of Murray's philosophy because it's the very foundation of his opinions on things like race, intelligence, social responsibility and education. One of Murray’s books may say that the goal of education is to have students operating “at the outermost limits of their potential,” but another of Murray's books says that some childrens' potential is limited by factors such as race.

Murray has done little to prove this assertion, which is why critics question his motives for arriving that his conclusions. By endorsing Murray's policy positions, Johnson is also endorsing the horrendous worldview from whence they sprang.

Charles Murray is one of conservatism's most shameless elitists. Like Johnson, Murray is a big fan of the 20th century's most unapologetic elitists, Ayn Rand. The consequences of Murray's hypotheses are some of the least democratic imaginable. In Murray's optimal world, the "cognitive elite" are in charge, while everyone else is asked to get out of the way. The voters of Wisconsin have every right to ask if this is the same America for which Ron Johnson will be striving.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wisconsin Right to Life Endorses Ron Johnson

No surprise here. The real question will be if Johnson earns the nod from Pro-Life Wisconsin, the crazier of the state's anti-choice groups.
WI Right to Life Endorses Ron Johnson for U.S. Senate

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ron Johnson Campaign Sends out Email #5

Ron Johnson for U.S. Senate Email #5

More Tea Baggery

RedState's Pompadour has Part II of his Ron Johnson/Rock River Patriots grilling analysis up. If you'd like some more nuttery, help yourself. A third helping is promised for Monday.

I think it's important to point out that Pompadour and the rest of his band of merry men at RS are pretty obviously David Westlake supporters and that this fact clouds any method to their madness.

Still, one has to wonder what universe Pompadour is living in. Take for example the utterly preposterous idea that the Fourth Amendment somehow shields citizens from income taxes. Here's the relevant part of the post:

Do you think the 4th Amendment provides some challenges to the income tax system?

Johnson had to be nudged by someone in the audience as to the basic content of the 4th Amendment before he could come up with an answer. His excuse? (you’ll hear it peppering the entire 45-minute session) “I’m not a constitutional scholar.” No one was asking him to be. But it seems reasonable that he should know the content of the document he’ll be sworn to uphold if elected.

Once reminded, Johnson gets quite excited about personal property rights and how wonderful they are—though he never quite ties his thoughts back to the question he was asked. He also says, “Freedom is really economic freedom—to a great extent.”

Well, there’s an interesting quandary… How, exactly, does RoJo’s exuberant embrace of personal property rights and economic freedom square with his previous assertion that government should have the power to limit business? Or doesn’t he view a business—or any of the various forms of ownership in one—as personal property and economic freedom? Perhaps he ought to think these connections through to a logical conclusion as others of us have done.

Now, I have to sympathize with Johnson's answer. When I first read the question the very first thought in my head was "Wait, isn't the Fourth Amendment the one about unreasonable searches and seizures?" I was so unsure with myself that I went and looked it up before I continued reading.

Turns out I was right, but the reason I doubted myself was because the Fourth Amendment has nothing to do with income taxes! Pompadour's argument is so ridiculous it isn't even a fringe argument. It's just patently wrong.

I bring this up because Pompadour is a bit of a dick when it comes to talking about how awesome his interpretation of the Constitution is. He claims that Johnson "lacks a solid familiarity with the Constitution" and chides him for saying that the document is "not an easy document to read. Unless you study it in detail, it’s hard to study." Also, see the last line of the first paragraph above.

But Pompadour's treatment of the Fourth Amendment as a guarantee against income taxes is a perfect example of someone who is cherry-picking from the Constitution. Federal income taxes are specifically allowed courtesy of the 16th Amendment. No wonder Johnson was tripped up by the question: it made no sense whatsoever.

And this is all emblematic of the ultimate problem with the Tea Party: you just can't win with these guys. They hate taxes so much that they develop an alternate reality in which vast swathes of the government are unconstitutional despite clear evidence to the contrary. It's not enough for Johnson -- or anyone, really -- to say "I want to significantly reduce taxes." Tea baggers demand that their candidates subscribe to the same crank legal theories that they do.

This is no way to get elected.

The Tea Party Turns on Ron Johnson

Looks like the fallout from Ron Johnson's "vetting session" is only just beginning.

There's a long post at examining Johnson's interview and it is as scathing as it is paranoid. Here's a sample:

Johnson started out with a full eight and a half minutes of personal introduction. Less then two minutes in, he says something that might seem completely innocuous to anyone not paying close attention: “I realize I just received the endorsement from the Republican Party. I will say I was as surprised as anybody about that. But I do want to say that I view that more as an endorsement of my message.”

Why does this little snippet raise my eyebrow? Two reasons.

On Wednesday, May 26th, just days after the state GOP convention had concluded, the Wisconsin State Journal published an article on the party’s [use skeptical tone here] “surprise” endorsement of Johnson. Near the end, Reince Priebus, Chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, asserts: “It doesn’t matter if you’re in the race for two years or two months. This proves it’s about the right message and the right candidate.”

It sounds suspiciously like Priebus and Johnson are repeating talking points.

Wow ... nothing gets by these guys. Obviously, there's something fishy going on instead of, you know, a couple of people just saying a whole lot of nothing (which is exactly what the above talking point is).

And it only gets worse. The blogger starts derisively calling Johnson "RoJo" and seems oddly obsessed with politics over policy:

Unfortunately, RoJo didn’t even touch the answer to the question actually posed. He didn’t talk about strategy. He didn’t say a thing about how he’s going to win the confidence of independents, who have historically voted for Feingold. He didn’t broach how he might capture disillusioned Democrats. He didn’t hint at how he’s going to counteract the rich white guy image that Russ is bound to leverage against him. He didn’t mention where, how, or why he’d attack Feingold’s record.

Yeah, like the campaign is going to make that information public ... Note the bolded line above. A little later on in the blogger's post we get his recap of Johnson's opinion on the role of government:

“But also, I’m not reflexively anti-government…I want the government to have smart and effective regulation to make sure the free market continues to operate properly. I don’t want to see large companies with monopolistic practices. I think we should invoke anti-trust regulation so that— If there’s ever a business that’s termed too big to fail, regulation has already failed. We shouldn’t allow businesses to accumulate each other and merge to the point where they get too large to fail.”

Uh oh…

Let me get this straight: Ron Johnson, entrepreneur and millionaire, wants someone else to tell him when his company’s gotten too big? He’d really appreciate it if the government told him he couldn’t buy another company in order to expand or innovate? Or is it that—like so many in Washington—RoJo thinks those kinds of rules wouldn’t apply to him?

Ronny sounds suspiciously like a progressive—not a conservative.

This is, of course, an absolutely idiotic thing to say.

Johnson's opinion sounds perfectly reasonable. In fact, it seems like just the kind of statement that would, I don't know, win the confidence of independents, who have historically voted for Feingold ... and yet "Pompadour" dismisses the sentiment out of hand because Johnson does not appear to be an anarcho-capitalist. Good luck with that ...

That's really just the beginning of the post, which is in itself the first of at lest two parts (more promised tomorrow). The whole thing is an epic example of just how unreliable the Tea Party is.

There is no pleasing these folks. They have no interest in doing the work and making the necessary compromises needed to win elections. You're either 100% with them or against them. Why anyone takes them seriously is beyond me.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Profiles in Groveling

MORE: I was looking for this earlier and found it at TPM. Barton is a rather notorious dipshit and few video exemplify this better than this one:

The best part of this incident is the incredibly smug and self-satisfied look that never leaves Barton's face. He clearly doesn't have the first fucking clue how oil evolves, thinks the the Arctic was once a desert just because there's some oil underneath it, and still dismisses a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who trying to explain plate tectonics to someone who obviously is only interested in setting what he believes is a rhetorical trap.

And now he's going to be the posterboy for the GOP's disconnect with reality.

Ron Johnson Learns an Important Life Lesson: There's Just No Pleasing the Tea Party

There's a good deal of chortling on the left this morning over Ron Johnson's "vetting session" with the Rock River Patriots (video below), much of it justified.

There's a lot to be gleaned from the video, but the most obvious take-away is that the Johnson campaign doesn't have the first idea how to deal with the Tea Party crowd. I don't know who on the campaign agreed to attend a "vetting session" when a simple "interview" would done just as well ... and allowing the tea baggers to tape the session. Bad idea.

The meeting went so badly, as you can see for yourself, that Johnson has canceled several similar pow-wows with "patriot" groups this week:

Wednesday's cancellation disappointed the Wisconsin 9/12 Project and Dane County Republicans who were interested in seeing Johnson, said Kirsten Lombard, organizer of the Madison-based tea party group.

"While we are in communication with the Johnson campaign and they say they want to reschedule, they seem to be having a difficult time finding a date that works," she said.

If Kristen Lombard's name sounds familiar its because she was a signoree to a statement by a Tea Party consortium insisting that there is no tea party-endorsed candidate ... yet:
Wisconsin Tea Party Press Release

The moral of the story: There's no pleasing these people. The Tea Party is basically a gang of pissing off people who want to be lied and pandered to. Unless you're willing to just smile and nod at their batshit insanity, they're going to find something wrong with or find a reason to consider you "not conservative enough."

Why politicians are so eager to condescend to these folks is beyond me. They're an entirely unproven entity with a shocking sense of entitlement. They've never turned the tide of an election and have yet to demonstrate a willingness to provide the volunteer or material support a campaign needs ... but they are willing to get together and carry signs against "white slavery."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ron Johnson Wants to Drill for Oil in the Great Lakes

Chris Liebenthal picked up on this nugget.

It's worth noting that while the Great Lakes are just as susceptible to an environmental disaster such as the kind that is currently afflicting the Gulf, any similar spill would be countlessly more catastrophic in so far as it would happen in largest collection of Fresh Water in the world.

The Great Tea Party Debates

I think I detect a little tongue-in-cheek trash talking from Xoff in this post regarding the proposed Tea Party Debates:
For Barrett, it just might be a chance to steal the limelight and again draw the contrast between himself and two guys who, at that stage, will be crawling farther and farther out on the right-wing limb to try to get Tea Party support in their primary. Barrett just might emerge -- in a televised debate -- as the only reasonable voice in the room, with some actual ideas rather than just rhetoric.

That doesn't mean he'd get the TP endorsement, but he might score some points with Wisconsin voters, which in the end is what really matters.

In the event that I'm wrong, let me just take a moment to argue the contrary:

There's no way Tom Barrett should be debating anyone but the GOP nominee. Not the presumed-nominee, not the runner-up and certainly not both at the same time in a hostile environment surrounded by feral tea baggers. There's nothing to be gained from it. The "debate" would quickly devolve into a "Who Can Shit on Tom Barrett the Most?" contest.

Xoff is right that at that stage of the race Neumann and Walker will be trying to leap frog each other to the extreme right, but they'll look just as absurd doing so without Barrett on stage next to them.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ron Johnson Invites Everyone and their Mothers to his Upcoming Fundraisers

I know the Ron Johnson for Senate campaign just tricked out its website and is probably anxious to use it, but advertising high-roller fund-raisers on the new digs is just amateur.

So Johnson, who is purportedly willing to spend $10-15 million of his own dollars on his campaign, is holding several fund-raisers where donors can max out to his campaign. At each of these three shindigs, contributors can fork over enough dough to become "DIAMOND," "PLATINUM" or "SILVER" (in Milwaukee it's "GOLD") level donors to a multimillionaire's campaign. Price of entry is $100 a couple ... $250 per couple for the Sheboygan throw-down.

Talk about staying in touch with the common man!

Usually these kinds of events are private and invitation only. Most candidates don't want to associate themselves with such ostentatious displays of upper class wealth ... but not the Ron Johnson for Senate campaign! They're out there and loving every minute of it (as it were).

The other unintended consequence of just plastering invitations on one's web site is that such fund-raisers may attract the riff-raff. Now, I don't know if there's going to be much of an additional opposition-sponsored event on JUNE 28TH IN OSHKOSH BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 6:00-8:00 PM, but there might be one. Same thing for the EVENT IN SHEBOYGAN ON JUNE 29TH. But there might be people willing to voice their displeasure with Johnson's campaign at the MILWAUKEE FUND-RAISER ON JUNE 30TH AT THE UNIVERSITY CLUB DOWNTOWN BETWEEN 5:30-7:30 PM, so be sure there are enough hors d'oeuvres to go around.

One can only assume that these events are not only open to the public, but are also open to the press, as well! And if not, then members of the media now know where to go to be a fly-on-the-wall and maybe keep a tape recorder running in a purse or jacket pocket or whatever.

Just saying. I don't want to tell the professionals how to do their jobs or anything...

And, seriously, no event hosts for the Sheboygan event yet? That's pretty weak... But I'm sure Launa Stayer-Maloney and Paul Maloney are reaaaalllyy thrilled about throwing open the doors of their home to anyone and everyone who can make the trip. Be sure to say "thank you" for their hospitality if you happen to swing by.

So, this has been pretty embarrassing. I mean, even if the Johnson campaign didn't post this information on its web site, they still managed to make available for all to see on Scribd (though I don't expect either invitation to be up there much longer either).

Here are the links to the Oshkosh, Sheboygan and Milwaukee events. I don't expect them to be up much longer, but just in case you're curious. Below are PDFs of the invitations. I'm sure anyone can find directions to the events on Google Maps.

Ron Johnson for U.S. Senate - Oshkosh Fundraiser Event
Ron Johnson for U.S. Senate - Sheboygan Fundraising Event Invitation
Ron Johnson for U.S. Senate - Milwaukee Fundraising Event Invitation

Are English Soccer Fans the New Boston Red Sox Fans?

What Gideon Rachman says sure sounds familiar:
One of the masochistic pleasures of watching England, however, is the sheer familiarity of the narrative. We build the team up, we convince ourselves that this time we’ve got a real chance, the team get off to a decent start and then it all falls apart. It’s like having a recurring nightmare. And I think the players are as spooked as the fans - you can see their self-belief collapsing, as soon as things start to go wrong.
That sounds Anglo for "Wait until next year..."

[via AS]

And Now a Public Service to Our Korean Speaking Readers

Behold, the finest ESL teacher in the world:

Ads of the Damned: Rick Barber, "Gather Your Armies"

Jesus, this is just awful:

Yet another entry from the Alabama orgy of eye-catching campaign ads. I honestly have no idea how these kinds of aggressive testosterone-laden ads play down there -- if what's his nuts can't win with the same approach, then who knows? -- but this spot just grows more psychotic as it barrels along. Anger is not very flattering.

It's one thing to be angry at something and another thing to demonstrate that anger is going to be the guiding philosophy of one's governing principle. This ad does the latter.

MORE: Dave Weigle on just how ridiculous this ad is.

EVEN MORE: via the Atlantic Wire:
NBC's Mark Murray is flabbergasted: "Rick Barber -- a Tea Party Republican competing in a congressional run-off down in Alabama -- is airing the first TV ad this reporter can remember that advocates taking up arms against the United States."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Adventures in Medical Board Certification with Rand Paul

Good job, Tea Partiers:

U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul says he is a “board-certified” ophthalmologist — even though the national clearinghouse for such certifications says he hasn’t been for the past five years.

Paul, who practices in Bowling Green, says he is certified by the National Board of Ophthalmology, a group that he incorporated in 1999 and that he heads.

But that entity is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, which works with the American Medical Association to approve such specialty boards.

[via FF]
There's something very symbolic about this petulant act of childishness that permeates many people's perception of the Tea Party set. Paul apparently couldn't get along with the AMA/ABMS because they had certain rules and required various hoops to be jumped through (not unlike government, according to Paul). So he decided to create his own splinter certification group. In other words, he didn't like the way the real world was operating and tried to create and new for himself and any other ophthalmologists who might have shared his worldview.

Here's the best part:
“I’m not going to go through all that right now,” Paul said while at the Great Eastern National Gun Day Show and JAG Military Show in Louisville.

Asked when he would talk, Paul said, “Uh, you know, never … What does this have to do with our election?”

Jesse Benton, his campaign manager, said later Saturday that Paul would only answer questions submitted in writing.
Little wonder that:
Even more demoralizing for activists, perhaps, is that disapproval of the tea party is at an all-time high, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The poll showed that 50 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the movement, compared with 39 percent in March.
Paul disastrous interview on May 19th will probably end up being the official time of death for the Tea Party. It's pretty obvious this guy isn't ready for the office he seeks, which begs the question: how many more Tea Partiers like him are also out there?

Ron Johnson's Web Site Redesign

Here's what the new home page looks like:Here's what the old site looked like.

We've noted this before, but the American flag in the background has been Photoshopped into the picture. The original photo features a Betsy Ross colonial flag.

The new site is far more functional than the first incarnation and has a blog as well as an issues section.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ads of the Damned: Mark Neumann, "Scott Walker - Can't Stick to his Guns"

Good news, Mark Neumann! This is your best TV ad yet.

I really don't know how to tie everything that's going on in this spot into one over-arching idea -- largely because I don't think there really is one aside from "Scott Walker sucks!" -- so here is just series of disparate observations:
  • Most important take-away from this spot: Neumann's effort to sully Walker's branding by turning the brown bag imagery against him. That's one of the problems with relying on a single campaign gimmick like the brown bag. The brown bags in this spot look crumbled and dirty -- completely unappealing. Who in their right mind would want to examine the contents of those things?
  • It's amusing that this spot is "Reason #6" why Walker is a "career politician." I'm not sure what happened to reasons #1-5, but those are just minor details. I'm actually more surprised Neumann hasn't done more to stick the "career politician" label on Walker thus far. Perhaps he's compensating.
  • The Peter, Bjorn & John knock-off soundtrack is probably the hippest music choice we've heard yet this year.
  • The ad runs long, particularly where the narrator is explaining Walker's history on concealed carry. The script here should have been tightened up to shave a few seconds off the run time, which is 40 seconds. Most commercials run in increments of :30 seconds. Those ten extra seconds could make this ad difficult to fit into a commercial rotation and might limit when the ad runs.
It wouldn't surprise me to see more brown bag bashing from Neumann is the future.

Final Grade: B