Sunday, October 31, 2010
I know all about the declining influence of newspapers, and I know Russ Feingold lives in a Madison suburb, but that conservative businessman Ron Johnson couldn't grab the Wisconsin State Journal endorsement that should have come gift-wrapped tells me that GOP ticket-spliiters are going to out Feingold over the top tomorrow.
I wouldn't have said that two or three weeks ago, but I sense that Johnson's strategy of withholding specifics - - even from newspaper editorial writers - - has cost him more than endorsements at papers like the Green Bay Press-Gazette and hios home town daily, the Oshkosh Northwestern.
It's solidified an impression - - a fair one and self-induced - - that he is too uninformed and devious to be a US Senator.
Feingold, by contrast, has been available in public forums for years and years, and is unafraid to defend his positions - - including controversial stands on The Patriot Act, the wars and the health care bill.
People this year are saying they want independent politicians. And they are realizing that's exactly what they have in Feingold.
Posted by James Rowen at 4:14 PM
The Appleton Post-Crescent sees through Walker's superficiality.
A soild pick-up for Barrett.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:52 PM
My old friend Bill Kaplan had this commentary posted on Wis.Opinion.com recently, and the unfolding banker-induced foreclosure scandal makes the need for Feingold-style bank regulations all the more prescient:
Why Senator Feingold?
By Bill Kaplan
The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com .
The banking – Wall Street – housing bubble was collective irrational madness. Financial institutions peddled unsound home loans, packaged as bonds. These investments were sold as creditworthy, profitable and safe. But bankers and brokers knew otherwise, and bought credit default swaps (insurance) to protect themselves when the bonds went bad. Predictably the façade collapsed. The housing bubble with ever skyrocketing prices burst in 2007 under President Bush with catastrophic consequences.
Deindustrialization and U.S. factory jobs going abroad got much worse, with over two million manufacturing jobs nationally and 63,000 in Wisconsin lost. Income inequality looks like the 1920s. And, many with little savings face record levels of educational, housing and medical debt. Voters are anxious, fearful and angry. But should madness beget more madness?
Voters tell pollsters they want independent politicians not under the thumb of special interests, who will watch out for regular folks, work with their political opposites and even defy their own party. Then Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold is your man. He is the quintessential maverick and populist, rooted in Wisconsin history and tradition.
Senator Feingold has always fought for the common good, no matter who is president or which political party controls Congress.
Deregulation that began under President Clinton helped produce the 2007 financial implosion. The Clinton administration supported the GOP-led repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which had successfully regulated financial institutions by separating commercial Main Street banks from investment Wall Street banks, so federally insured banks would not be involved with risky speculation. (In the 1920s National City Bank – now Citigroup – then the largest U.S. bank, repackaged bad loans from Latin America and sold them as safe investments
Such schemes led to a stock bubble and the 1929 crash.) Senator Feingold was one of eight senators who voted against repeal in 1999. So big got bigger and harder to regulate Then in 2008 under President Bush, Citigroup was bailed out by the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the Federal Reserve when its mortgage-backed securities went bad. There’s more.
* Senator Feingold voted against the Bush-sponsored TARP. He called for the Bush administration and Congress to “offset the cost of the proposed bailout so that taxpayers don’t get saddled with it….including asking Wall Street to bear at least some of the cost….add meaningful provisions to help families facing foreclosure….and address the deeply flawed regulatory structure that paved the way for this crisis.” Bush, a deregulator, did not listen.
President Obama was willing to regulate financial institutions. And, there is much that is good in the financial reform bill that passed. But Feingold fought to make it stronger by supporting a bipartisan amendment to “restore the Glass-Steagall firewall between Wall Street and Main Street” and other amendments to impose “strict limits on the size of financial institutions” and to end some of the worst abuses of credit-default swaps. His amendments lost and so the final bill failed “Feingold’s test for real reform.” He voted no, but fights on.
-- Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal 1995-2009.
Posted by James Rowen at 9:27 AM
Johnson liked the stimulus before he had to oppose it in his campaign.
Like Scott Walker, who has been on both sides of the issue - - blasting it but applying for and taking it for county projects.
Posted by James Rowen at 5:38 AM
Posted by James Rowen at 4:18 AM
Alaska now has 160 official write-in candidates for US Senate.
Happy Halloween, everyone.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:50 AM
Saturday, October 30, 2010
This time it's millions in overtime - - despite a forecast to the contrary. How many times have the Walker budgets been soaked in red ink, despite forecasts (sic)?
He borrowed $400 million to prop up the pension fund. Nearly $400 million is also needed for deferred maintenance in the parks and county buildings, according to the Journal Sentinel.
His management of the county has been appalling, and costly.
Posted by James Rowen at 10:28 PM
The GOP uses their grassroots energy, but won't invite them to the country club.
Posted by James Rowen at 11:55 AM
East Coast readers may be forgiven if they confuse Rebecca Kleefisch with close-by Tea Bag goof Christine O'Donnell.
The Kleefisch image is taken from The New York Daiiy News site; O'Donnell's from CNN.com.
Posted by James Rowen at 11:33 AM
Friday, October 29, 2010
The Walker administration, in full Richard Nixon mode. It's a classic Friday documente dump.
What an embarrassment. What a defeat for open government.
Posted by James Rowen at 9:15 PM
Tom Barrett, as he did in the earlier debates, offered voters facts and plans and compassion, while Scott Walker had nothing to offer except word salad, talking points, Boy Scout memories and more promises of tax cuts for business - - without any way to pay for them.
Twice, Barrett asked Walker to name a single job he'd created in the central city of Milwaukee, and twice Walker had no response.
Twice Barrett reminded viewers that Walker had raided county sales tax collections to pay for routine operating expenses, rather than using them for capital projects as required by county ordinance.
Twice Barrett nailed Walker for borrowing $400 million to make required contributions to keep the county pension fund solvent - - rather than making the tougher budget decisions and funding pensions with budgeted revenue, as does the City of Milwaukee.
Meaning that Walker's fund-raiding and credit-card borrowing practices more closely resemble policies of the Doyle administration, whom Walker routinely condemns.
And Barrett came out strongly for stem cell research - - as a moral, medical and jobs' imperative - - to which Walker offered no rejoinder.
And there was one almost-moment - - a punch line left unverbalized, so I'll do the honors:
In response to an audience question about the job market for graduates up north, Walker said he had recently been at UW-La Crosse, and upon learning that few graduates had job offers in hand, though it would help would help to out-of-state businesses two years income tax forgiveness if they moved business to Wisconsin.
I thought Walker was going to suggest that those UW-La Cross seniors should drop out before graduating - - as he did from Marquette - - but neither candidate made the connection.
Posted by James Rowen at 9:03 PM
It's somewhere between ironic, infuriating and downright insane that the John Roberts Supreme Court trashed McCain-Feingold legislative limits on corporate campaign spending - - thereby releasing something like $3 million into Wisconsin against Feingold.
The Washington Post takes note; if you've watched TV this fall, you've seen the plethora of outside ads that are being run against the Democratic incumbent.
Feingold has asked that this outside money not be spent here on his behalf.
I admire his spirit and adherence to principle.
Posted by James Rowen at 2:43 PM
You might want to read the thoughtful and documented posting on the Public Policy Forum's website to get some actual factual information before you run off and drink the Kool-aid about toll roads being served up by special interests and Scott Walker - - formerly an opponent of toll roads but a major recipient of road-builder largesse during his run for Governor.
Seems the Feds require you prove worsening congestion on the roads to be tolled, and data - - not anecdotal events or gut feelings or campaign spin - - indicate the Milwaukee metro area - - the state's most-heavily-populated region - - wouldn't meet that threshold, according to the "Texas Transportation Institute's (TTI) latest Urban Mobility Report," says the Forum.
"According to that report (as discussed in this July 2009 blog post), congestion in Metro Milwaukee has not grown since the 1990s. Examination of the report also reveals that each of the large urban areas that has implemented HOT lanes - Orange County (CA), San Diego, Houston, Denver and Minneapolis - ranks among the top 25 in terms of highway traveler delays, while Milwaukee ranks 67th.
"An updated TTI report on traffic congestion levels is scheduled to be released in the near future. It will be interesting to see whether the new report provides additional clues regarding the efficacy of HOT lanes in Milwaukee."
There needs to be more substance surrounding this sudden interest in tolling than the contorted effort by Charlie Sykes to make Walker's support for tolling credible.
And this editorial in the Journal Sentinel doesn't cut it, either - - and I note that the editorial praises tolling as a way to support transit, while the paper's reporting on Walker's conversion to toll lanes - - beginning here - - provides nothing to suggest that Walker sees toll collections as anything but a revenue stream to boost the highway fund and give motorists new new lanes.
That's been the context for the sudden discussion - - getting more revenue for road-building as gas tax collections fall and some highway money was spent elsewhere.
The Forum's posting is a solid effort to get some rationality into an important policy discussion that, right now, has been distorted by politics.
Posted by James Rowen at 9:53 AM
And to think that it's being wasted on biking and walking trails when Interstate improvements like the Interchange to Nowhere at the non-existent Pabst Farms shopping mall, or perhaps Scott Walker's Not-A-Toll-Road-Toll-Road-Lanes are just begging for dollars.
Tom Held has the sickening details.
Posted by James Rowen at 5:24 AM
Scott Walker is re-writing the manual about how not to end a campaign. Some of the mistakes have been:
Many buildings have not been inspected since the 1990's, and money needed for repairs totals nearly $200 million - - along with about the same amount needed for the parks' system, too.
Spoiler alert for Walker's response to what the Journal Sentinel calls a "haphazard" approach to inspections: Blame Tom Ament and the County Board.
If this is how Walker behaved as a student leader, governed in Milwaukee, and manages a campaign, is there any reason to think he'd make a competent Governor?
Posted by James Rowen at 12:01 AM
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Rebecca Kleefisch's comments about gay marriage leading to marriages with furniture and dogs and clocks shocks her openly-gay uncle, reports Dan Bice.
Remember - - as did Lt. Governors Marty Schreiber and Scott McCallum - - Kleefisch could step into the Governor's job is she is elected Lt. Governor as a Republican next Tuesday.
Posted by James Rowen at 3:52 PM
And in conservative Waukesha County, too, where Scott Walker will roll up votes on his small-government, anti-Jim Doyle platform.
If the government keeps helping to create private sector jobs - - just the other day, 515 Doyle/Obama administration/government-assisted jobs at Bucyrus were announced - - Republicans like Walker and Johnson are going to have to find something real to complain about.
Posted by James Rowen at 1:44 PM
Rebecca Kleefisch, GOP candidate for Wisconsin Lt. Governor and running mate to gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker, says she's sorry for suggesting that gay marriage would lead to unions with pets, clocks and tables.
A number of people commenting on my Daily Kos item about Kleefisch's curious thinking confessed their own furniture crushes, so let's give the Walker/Kleefisch team credit for helping folks work through issues they had taken off the table and swept under the rug.
Posted by James Rowen at 12:02 PM
Michael Horne is reporting on a plan to add $100 million in value near the Port of Milwaukee.
Proximity to water historically has been a defining asset for the city; the plan builds on that continuing opportunity.
It makes the most sense for the city's economy and tax base to develop near its lakefront infrastructure rather than pipe that water--based growth to a different watershed in Waukesha County.
Posted by James Rowen at 11:36 AM
Literally, nothing, in response to a non-partisan questionnaire from Wisconsin people working to clean and protect the state's 15,000 inland lakes. Tom Barrett's answers are complete and informative.
Here is the group's e-newsletter:
October 28, 2010
Gubernatorial Candidate Responses
Don't forget to vote!
Nov 2, 2010
Wisconsin Lake Stewardship Awards
- Nomination forms will be available on the Wisconsin Lakes website beginning Nov 2.- Nominations are due Feb 11, 2011
Minnesota-WisconsinInvasive Species ConferenceNov 8-10, 2010
St. Paul, MN
For more info, click here
Lake Planning & AIS Grants DeadlineFeb 1, 2011
Speaking for Lakes:Lakes Convention 2011April 12-14, 2011
Green Bay, WI
For more info, click here
Wisconsin Lakes recently invited the four candidates for to respond to five questions regarding lake policy in the state. In these difficult economic times our lawmakers’ approach to protecting our lakes is more important than ever. In addition to being a resource worthy of protection in its own right, lakes make up a large component of Wisconsin's economy and tourism base, and their conservation, protection and restoration is often in direct competition with other economic sectors. With that in mind, we felt it important to give each a candidate a chance to express their views in a non-partisan environment, speaking directly to the folks most interested and invested in the issue.
Each campaign was provided a set of the questions in early October and given a deadline of Oct 20 to reply. The four campaigns and their respective party include:
Tom Barrett (Democrat)
James James (Common Sense)
James Dean Langer (Independent)
Scott Walker (Republican)
To download a .pdf of the questions and answers, click here.
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD AND VOTE NEXT TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 2!!
Posted by James Rowen at 11:31 AM