Politics Wednesday: We’ve got transparency now.

GOP presidential nomination observations… Remember Paul Tsongas? There are some interesting parallels between him and Mitt Romney. Both were ex-statewide officeholders in Massachusetts; Romney as a former governor and Tsongas as a past U.S. senator. Both had been out of office for awhile before taking a shot at the presidency (although it’s not Mitt’s first shot.)

Interestingly, Romney seems to be following the same strategy that Tsongas did: ignore the convoluted and corruptible process of caucuses and a straw poll in Iowa to go for it all in New Hampshire. A real vote would establish early momentum instead and once New Hampshire votes, nobody cares about Iowa anymore. It seems to make sense. As a small, northeastern state, a Massachusetts politician would practically be playing on his home field in New Hampshire. (In fact, Romney has a big house in New Hampshire — which is more than he can say about Massachusetts, where he reportedly claims to be living in his son’s basement.)

Well, Tsongas won the 1992 Democratic primary in New Hampshire, but most of us remember the person who came in second a lot better. It was Bill Clinton. And there’s one more parallel. In terms of charisma from the stump, Romney, like Tsongas, makes former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis – (a third place Iowa finisher who also won the New Hampshire primary) — look like Billy Mays.

* * *

Speaking of federal stuff, the Dems suggested recently that Congressman Sean Duffy hasn’t spent much time in Portage County because the Republicans were planning to move the Democratic stronghold out of Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District to improve Duffy’s re-election prospects. 

Duffy’s people denied it.  Then the map came out of the proposed reconfigured 7th District.  (That odd little notch in the southeast where Portage County used to be is just a coincidence.)

UPDATE:  How Wisconsin’s GOP redistricting plan is all about Duffy:

http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/124142938.html

* * *

On a 4-3 vote, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the Wisconsin legislature’s GOP majority, with recently re-elected Justice David Prosser making good on his promise to be a “complement” to the Walker administration. Is anyone surprised? “The majority of this court now concludes that the circuit court exceeded its authority in prohibiting publication of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10. This is not a close question,” says Prosser, in a concurring opinion that is twice as long as the majority’s written opinion. (Well, 4-3 is actually about as close as it gets, isn’t it, Justice Prosser?)

* * *

With recall elections looming, the GOP legislature is doing some minor rearranging around the edges of Governor Walker’s budget. They’ve thought better of the attempt to give back tens of millions from the feds to support improvements to the state’s Internet infrastructure. UW Madison will not be breaking off from the UW System (and UW Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin, who promoted the move and was at odds with her bosses over it, is now on her way out of the state. Of course, there is no connection.) The GOP came up with a small fig leaf of improvement for K-12 education, but is still cutting it by hundreds of millions. Collective bargaining for public employees has essentially been outlawed in Wisconsin. Bottom line? Walker is getting just about everything he wanted and the chips will fall where they may – and a lot sooner than anyone was expecting back in January.

* * * 

People like to talk about transparency in government. Say what you want, but I can’t remember a time when state government has been more transparent than it is right now. There are hundreds of millions more for the road builders and corporations; hundreds of millions less for state employees, local governments, kids in school, higher education and the needy. Pretty soon, we’ll have people carrying concealed weapons with the blessing of the GOP majority — one heck of a priority for a group that limits access to the workings of government in the state capitol in a way like we’ve never seen before. The Republicans are even running fake Democrats in the recall elections. How transparent can you get?

JR

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