An impressive ignorance
File this under People With No Awareness of Albeit Sad Realities: Chad Lee, candidate for Wisconsin's 2nd Congressional District, last week issued a press release that accused incumbent Tammy Baldwin of not actually living in the district she represents.
His reason to believe this? Baldwin lists a campaign office address on her nomination papers, and a condo in Washington D.C. on her financial disclosure papers.
Smoking gun of impropriety? Not really. Since Baldwin became the first openly gay congresswoman in 1998, she has received violent threats against her person and family from hate groups and deeply troubled individuals. That led to Baldwin receiving special permission to de-list her home address from public documents as a means of keeping her safe.
It's a sad reality that, despite the overall shift toward wider public understanding and acceptance of LGBT issues, there are still plenty of misguided people out there willing to harm those who live lives with which they disagree.
Lee, however, appears more than willing to manipulate the issue for personal political gain, despite any negative, personal consequences for Baldwin.
I'd write off Lee's accusations pretty quickly as the act of a desperate, likely to lose candidate for office if it weren't for the fact that several others have taken up his banner now.
The Young Republicans of Dane County (who knew there were enough of them to form a club?) have formally filed a challenge to Baldwin's nomination papers. Lee's initial charges were apparently just enough to whip them into frenzy.
Look, if it can be shown that Baldwin hasn't received any threats since '98 then I would support requiring her to again list her home voting address on official forms, just as other politicians are made to do.
I suspect, however, that evidence would point to that not being the case. Even in this day and age, I'm sad to say it wouldn't surprise me in the least to hear that LGBT elected officials continue to be harassed and threatened by hateful, out-of-touch people.
In the end, the whole thing is a pretty bald-faced political stunt on the part of Lee (and the Young Republicans, frankly) and one that shows an impressive lack of awareness of the realities of our world, as well as a complete disregard for the bodily safety of his opponent.
Regardless of how you feel about Baldwin's politics or service as a representative, there's no excuse for pushing to put her in physical danger.
UPDATE: The Government Accountability Office has just thrown out the challenge to Baldwin's candidacy made by the Young Republicans
Don't tell WMC, but Wisconsin's taxes are below national average
Turns out that, despite loud cries to the contrary by groups like Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, our fair state actually falls below the national average in taxation levels.
According to an analysis by the Wisconsin Budget Project that was based on U.S. Census Bureau data, "Revenue collected in Wisconsin is further below the national average if all state and locally generated revenue is accounted for, including fees and taxes. The state and local government revenue in Wisconsin was $6,152 per person, $236 below the national average."
Unfortunately, we're also about 6 percent below the national average in terms of our income.
Those both may well be factors in Wisconsin's current budget struggles a problem that got bad enough that legislators and the governor approved a transfer of money from the state malpractice fund to help address the budget deficit. This Tuesday, however, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the state would have to return that $200 million, declaring the move unconstitutional.
This doesn't bode well for a budget that is projected to have a mere $45 million balance at the end of this fiscal year. The transfer was also a risky (and, I would argue, a bit stupid) move in the first place, and I doubt many people who've been watching the saga unfold are surprised by the result.
All of this leads to larger questions about how we compensate both doctors and patients for health care and those instances when things go wrong but what this particular case comes down to is that our fiscal environment is a mess.
No one wants to raise taxes because it's become political suicide to even suggest such a thing - but that may well be exactly what needs to be done. Not on those people who can barely afford to keep a roof over their heads, mind you, but on a sliding scale so that everyone is contributing their fair share to maintain (and even improve) their home state.
The National Organization for (Straight, Missionary-Only) Marriage is coming to town! See, these concerned citizens have saved their pennies and got themselves a bus in which to tour the country preaching the no homo gospel. This Tuesday at noon their archaic crusade will roll up to the capitol and the better angels of Madison will be waiting for them. You can join a counter-rally to support gay marriage by heading to Library Mall at 11 a.m. and then marching, peacefully and merrily, up to meet the nom nom NOM bus and show them that we ain't buying what they're selling.
And on a final, somber note, I was saddened to hear that Rod Nilsestuen, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection secretary, drowned while on a Habitat for Humanity trip in the U.P. of Michigan just yesterday. There's no way around what horrible news this is, no matter that I didn't personally know the man. I send my sincere condolences to his family and friends.