Archive for September, 2010

This just in…

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2010 by Jim Rosenberg

Rumors of the fate of Feedback have been circulating for months.  Today, a Facebook message from a fan seems to make things look like they’re moving in that direction:

“Dear Pat Snyder fans:

I have received word that Pat Snyder’s 9-11am daily Feedback program on WSAU is going to be replaced in October with the Jerry Bader program out of Green Bay…”

Me again… Of course, I’m no particular fan of Jerry Bader, either, but you only have to go as far as the preceding post on my blog to see what I think are the problems with Pat Snyder’s show (and why I’ve called it an infomercial.)  Said one Wausau area observer of the speculative development: “Don’t put away that tin foil hat just yet.”

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Speaking of people who are sometimes inclined to allow their partisanship to get in the way of the facts, here’s something interesting from yesterday’s Sean Hannity TV program (and Sean is also a syndicated part of 550’s radio lineup).  This from Media Matters:

“Even for Sean Hannity (who previously has gone so far as to edit video to fit a pre-determined narrative), this was a bit of a stretch.

At 9:25 p.m. tonight, as “Live” flashed on the screen, Hannity claimed that Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) “doesn’t wan’t to be seen with the president.”

Me again:  The problem is that Feingold appeared in front of tens of thousands with President Obama hours before Hannity said that on his show last night.  I know because I saw him.  But it was also all over the news, including national media — for anyone who was bothering to pay attention.  Included in that stream of coverage was an announcement beforehand that Feingold would be at the Obama rally on the Library Mall on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison.  I’ll bet even Fox News carried it — but then again, maybe not.  Here’s a story they carried in advance:

“The president is headed to Madison as part of a series of rallies in swing states leading up to the election. But where he drew a crowd of 17,000 at the University of Wisconsin in 2008 during the presidential race, crowds are expected to be significantly smaller this time around…”

Me again:  Ummm… No, it didn’t exactly work out that way.  There were way more than 17,000 yesterday and estimates had more than that inside the security area, with many thousands more outside.  And as I pointed out elsewhere, nobody was expected to sign or take a “loyalty oath” like the RNC was foisting on people in the 2004 campaign. So, just who was it that ‘expected crowds to be significantly smaller’ anyway?


Why I call it an infomercial…

Posted in Uncategorized on September 21, 2010 by Jim Rosenberg

This from Pat Snyder’s Tuesday blog on the WSAU radio site:

“The National “November Is Coming” bus tour is traveling across Wisconsin Tuesday, September 21st and Wednesday, September 22nd. Mark Block, AFP State Director, will explain the Freedom Phone program that will give us the tools to help take back our state. Celebrities on all stops all stops (sic) will be You-Tube muscial sensation Krista Branch, and Wisconsin Prosperity Network Exeutive Director, Linda Hansen, Packer Legend Bob Long and Joe the Plumber will be joining us on many of the stops.”

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This goes way beyond editorializing and into the realm of partisan advocacy.  Actually, “advocacy” is too heady of a term for it.   (This from the Urban Dictionary under the term “Partisan Hack”:  Someone who cares more about supporting a particular party or ideology than supporting what is morally right, or factually true.)

Notice how he talks about “the tools that will help take back our state” and how Joe the Plumber, etc. will be “joining us?”  US?  It sounds like former county GOP 1st Vice Chair Pat is writing some kind of internal newsletter for members of his club.  Before you join, please remember who it is that you’ll be carrying the water for: 

As for Mark Block, he’s still an interesting character.  As recently as last night in JSOnline article concerning a “voter caging” scheme outlined in a presser by One Wisconsin Now:

“Mark Block from Americans for Prosperity first claimed that he was “absolutely unequivocally” not involved in the planning, but then backtracked and admitted attending planning meetings and sending out a mailer to 500 voters in Milwaukee County.”   (Oh, that’s very different.  NEVER MIND!)

There are conservative voices in the state and national discussion that I respect and enjoy listening to because they bring something important to the table.  And then there are others who don’t.  If you have an ounce of independent thinking in your head, you deserve much better.


‘Twas the day after primaries…

Posted in Uncategorized on September 16, 2010 by Jim Rosenberg

Well, it’s always kind of fun to survey the situation as we head into the home stretch toward the general election, so why not add to the oversupply of punditry and analysis?  And since all politics are local, let’s start there.

Diane Sennholz wins a new term as Clerk of Courts with a stunning 78 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary (and she faces no opposition in the general.)  Call it what you want, but that’s about as solid as it gets in this business.

Tom Tiffany took the GOP nomination in the 35th Assembly District and he will face Democrat Jay Schmelling in the general.  That became an open race when Rep. Don Friske (R-Merrill) decided not to stand for re-election.  Both Schmelling and Tiffany have run before and that should be an interesting race to watch.  Tiffany has run in the Americans for Prosperity/Tea Party type circles for awhile now, so we’ll find out if that has an impact for good or for ill.  There is no reason for both state parties not to go full bore on trying to capture that seat.  There are people who supported Cordova who will not necessarily swing over to Tiffany.

Likewise, look for the pedal to be to the metal in the Mary Williams-Dana Schultz race in the 87th Assembly District.  Republican incumbent Williams has never won by much and Schultz is running an aggressive campaign with solid backing. 

Democratic Senator Jeff Plale lost a primary challenge in the 7th Wisconsin Senate District, showing that it is not only the Republicans that will occasionally enforce a bit of party orthodoxy.    And if you think what happens in South Milwaukee doesn’t mean much up in the north, consider the fact that the palace coup that left Senator Russ Decker as Senate Majority Leader was a one-vote deal, which is exactly what Senator Plale had to contribute.  Look for possible repercussions come January. 

While we’re on the subject of legislative leadership, Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson showed his campaigning moxi with a convincing win in the Democratic Lieutenant Governor’s race.  For an outstate candidate to roll that well over Milwaukee and Madison candidates was something to see.   (Of course, Wausau Democratic Rep. Donna Seidel is now Assistant Majority Leader.  With Nelson leaving the house, her status in the next session is something that will remain to be determined.)  On the GOP side, unabashed conservative Rebecca Kleefisch trounced the field in the Republican Lieutenant Governor race to join Scott Walker on the gubernatorial ticket.  (She is married to 38th Assembly District Rep. Joel Kleefisch and hails from the Republican bastion of Oconomowoc.  They’re both TV people, by past occupation.) 

Tom Barrett campaigned actively during the primary season, even though he had no signficant opposition on his way to the Democratic nomination for governor.  Mark Neumann’s willingness to blow millions and Scott Walker’s need to throw some money back at the GOP challenger leaves Barrett in better shape for campaign funds as things head toward the November general election.  Here’s something interesting: Neumann won 70 percent of the counties in Wisconsin, but lost convincingly overall because Scott Walker took so much of the vote in the heavily-populated southeastern portion of the state.  That is a feat that will be far more difficult to repeat — let’s just say impossible — against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.   This is going to be the clash of the titans. 

Nationally, there is an interesting feud going on between the Republicans and their out of control TEA Party fringe.  What looked like it was shaping up to be a GOP pickup in Delaware was placed into peril when Christine O’Donnell of the TEA party element knocked off establishment GOP pick Rep. Mike Castle.  That would be fine in Oklahoma, but it may be fatal to the Republicans’ chances in far more moderate Delaware.  “This is not a race we’re going to be able to win,” says Karl Rove (to the howls of protest from Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, et. al.)


September primary this week…

Posted in Uncategorized on September 12, 2010 by Jim Rosenberg

So, this week, we will find out just how close Mark Neumann really was to catching Scott Walker before consensus GOP gubernatorial candidate moves on to face Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the general election. While polling results have been kept close to the vest by sponsors, one has to believe that the margin within the past few weeks wasn’t wide enough to keep the Walker team from feeling the need to go negative on Neumann. In the unlikely event that you haven’t seen it, here it is:

The implied claim that Neumann is some kind of political soulmate to Nancy Pelosi is preposterous (and I don’t say that as someone who has a dog in that particular fight.) Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner does an ad for Walker saying how HE didn’t vote for that bill. So, now we’re going back a dozen years to a bill that HAD to pass in one form or another and trying to pretend that if Walker had been there, he wouldn’t have voted for it. That said, we are talking about the “Party of No,” so perhaps the concept will have some purchase in the partisan primary, where the idea of compromising across the aisle is anathema.

It’s also not much more ridiculous than Neumann constantly talking about “career politicians.” The reason Mark Neumann isn’t a career politician is because after two terms in the House in 1998, he thought he had what it took to beat Russ Feingold for a six-year term in the U.S. Senate. He didn’t, so that ended his political career. Now, he says all state and federal elected officials should be subject to 12-year term limits. That’s convenient, if you’re Mark Neumann. Counting his four years as a Congressman, Neumann would be finishing is 12th year in elected office after two terms as governor in 2019, a little more than a month before he turns 65. That’s a good time to retire anyway.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I’m up on charges, I want a career defense attorney. If I’m having surgery, I want a career surgeon. Rookie quarterbacks may not be the best way to get to the Super Bowl and “experienced” is often considered an asset in most lines of work.

Meanwhile, Tom Barrett releases an ad that revolves around a brutal beating he took outside of State Fair Park last summer when he came to the aid of a woman and a baby who were involved in a domestic dispute with a sociopath (to put it kindly.) The concept worried me, when I first heard about it. But the ad itself is done well and it also puts Mrs. Barrett out in front of people in a way that is effective. I give it at least a “9” on a 1-to-10 scale. It’s too bad it takes 60 seconds to tell the story, but it does. More importantly, Barrett has the campaign fund to do this stuff. He’s not only outraising Walker, but he doesn’t have to blow any of it on a primary opponent.

In the U.S. Senate race, Ron Johnson will have a ceremonial GOP seal of good housekeeping after taking out straw man David Westlake, (creationist, abstinence-only, etc.) on Tuesday in the primary. (Ditto for Sean Duffy, who will steamroll fringe candidate Dan Meilke.)

Carefully managed and well-funded with his own wealth, the best thing Feingold can do with Johnson is to get him into some debates where Johnson will have to think on his feet – something he hasn’t shown that he’s especially good at doing. (Let’s all look for the little bump in the back of the suit like George W. Bush had during the 2004 presidential debates, shall we?)

Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson will find out if he made the right choice to get into a non-feature statewide race in his bid to become Lieutenant Governor. He’s run a good campaign and had enough funding to run some decent TV ads in the closing weeks. That’s more than other candidates on either side seem to have been able to muster up in this crowded area of the ballot.

I’m interested to see what happens in the Marathon County Clerk of Courts race between Sennholz and Garvin. I’m serious; it’s damned interesting to me. The winner of this Dem primary will get the job because there is no GOP candidate in November. Speaking of county campaigns, this week’s Internet sensation was a guy trying to get the nomination from the Stark County, Ohio Republican Party to run for county treasurer. He lost – perhaps proof positive that you actually CAN be too passionate:

 I’m seeing a lot of yard signs for Republicans on property controlled by very few people around town. I wonder how many people driving by realize that this is a case where literally a handful of votes or less are adding up to scores of yard signs. I’d tell you that I know where they live, but I’d have to look it up and that’s not where I’m noticing the signs. Remember the old saying, “Signs don’t vote?” Well, it’s true.

In something that actually does count, the President returns to Wisconsin this month for a rally in Madison. Over the past few cycles, Wisconsin has received plenty of notice on the national stage as an important place in politics. It’s nice to see that’s not changing this time around.


The weekend’s conservative Internet sensation: the “Islamization” of Paris

Posted in Uncategorized on September 6, 2010 by Jim Rosenberg

So, I’ve been seeing various tweets and postings from conservative quarters this weekend shilling for postings that posit that Paris is becoming “Islamized.” It’s actually a product of Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and you can watch it here (as well as a lot of other places):
 There are some things I noticed about the report. First of all, this is apparently happening in the 18th Arrondissement, but the reporter doing the standup is standing on the banks of the Seine with the Eiffel Tower in the background. This would be like standing in front of the New York Stock Exchange to talk about a murder in Bed-Stuy, except that they actually do manage to tie central Paris into the story line by pimping for a Russian novel entitled “The Mosque of Notre Dame.” The setting of the story is Paris in 2048. Non-Muslims have been banished to ghettos and the story starts with a public stoning at the Arc de Triomphe. (Surely there will be an English translation soon for the burgeoning market of conspiracy theorists out there.)

The thing about novels: they’re FICTION – and so is the “Islamization of Paris.” People are passing around this sensational whopper because they don’t think you’re in a position to know any better and it fits in well with some of the other Muslim stuff they’ve managed to get into the mainstream discussion lately. The whacked-out Washington Times is already dutifully weighing in with their own, related coverage.

There is some real irony in learning about the perils of religious extremists taking over governments straight from Pat Robertson. He’s been trying to do that very same thing for several decades with his religious right political agenda and even running for president himself in 1988.

For whatever reason, we seem to have an easier time identifying religious extremists when we don’t share their religion. Here’s part of what Pat Robertson said, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.:

“We have a court that has essentially stuck its finger in God’s eye and said, “We are going to legislate You out of the schools and take Your commandments from the courthouses in various states. We are not going to let little children read the commandments of God. We are not going to allow the Bible or prayer in our schools… Don’t ask why did it happen. It happened because people are evil. It also happened because God is lifting His protection from this nation and we must pray and ask Him for revival so that once again we will be His people, the planting of His righteousness, so that He will come to our defense and protect us as a nation. “
Robertson has urged his 700 Club audience to pray for God to remove certain justices from the U.S. Supreme Court so they could be replaced with people who share his views. He’s called for the assassination of a foreign leader.  When Dover, Pennsylvania voters threw out their school board members for trying enforce a creationist agenda in the public school curriculum, Robertson said “you just voted God out of your city” and suggested that the community might be visited upon by problems from above. The list goes on.
I’m all for freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but does Pat Robertson really sound like somebody who has a problem with theocracy? Of course not — and there’s just one condition: it’s got to be his religion.
Since when did this freedom fry-eating bunch ever care about Paris, anyway? It’s Old Europe, Rumsfeld told us. Anti-French sentiments have been a staple of the nationalist crowd in the U.S. for decades and if anything, it’s only become more so in recent years. (Hey, don’t take it all out on the French. I was against going into Iraq, too.)
In the fall of 2005, I was in Paris during the riots. Beyond the news coverage, I never noticed a thing because that’s not where things were happening. It was out in the suburbs because that’s where most of the Muslims live. Suburbs of Paris aren’t like the northwest Chicago suburbs or living in Mequon. They are the tough neighborhoods because that’s where the immigrants can afford to live. I took the train out to the airport through some troubled areas as I was leaving and I saw three French policemen roughing up a young Arab, which was the entire extent of my contact with the unrest during my stay. 
The 18th Arrondissement also has plenty of rough edges, including the red light district. There are some picturesque places in the village-like setting that was home to Monet, Picasso and Van Gogh, but this is ancient history to what much of the 18th is today. I’ve stayed in the district a couple of times and I don’t recommend it as a home base, although a visit to Sacre Coeur and the Place du Tertre are pretty much a mandatory stop on a Paris visit. Would it surprise me to learn that Muslim prayers are taking place on some back streets? No. Does that represent increasing influence of Islam on French public policy? No. 
The other thing that Islamophobes want you to believe is that all Muslims are alike; that they share a common worldview of detest for western ways and Christians. It’s not true. They have their over-the-top fanatics, just as we do. 
Thanks to past French colonial adventures, there are a lot of Algerians in France and another large segment of Islamic people in France originate from Morocco. Muslims make up about 10 percent of the French population. While the unrest in recent years has clearly involved Muslims, it is not really about religion. It’s about economic opportunity and the lack of it. French young people feel it and the situation for ethnic Muslims is even more challenging.
There are some interesting things to know before you buy into the cursory, biased discussion of the situation being peddled by conservative mouthpieces in their Mosque of Notre Dame fairy tale. Pew research polling conducted around the time of the unrest in the middle of the decade showed that French Muslims even top the general publics in the United States and France in favorable ratings of Christians. (The favorable ratings were 91% of French Muslims vs. 88% of Americans and 87% of the French taking that view). Moreover, when asked whether they consider themselves as a national citizen first or as a Muslim first, French Muslims split relatively evenly (42% vs. 46%) on the issue. This is not only remarkably different from Muslims elsewhere in Europe (fully 81% of British Muslims self-identify with their religion, rather than their nationality, for example.) It is also remarkably close to the responses given by Americans when asked whether they identify first as national citizens or as Christians (48% vs. 42%).
Interesting, huh? Maybe Pat Robertson and the right wing conservatives passing around fictional “news” and a Photoshopped picture of Notre Dame decked out as a mosque are missing out on something that has been occurring in spite of people like them. But why let facts get in the way of a good story?  Stay tuned for more September 11 Anniversary and fear-mongering election season “news” ahead from the usual outlets.   And expect more e-mails from the same people who breathlessly informed you via past e-mails that Obama was sworn into office on the Koran instead of the Bible.  NEWSFLASH: The November election is not about mosques and imposing Sharia law.