A nationwide Republican trend right here in Wisconsin
The GOP really knows how to pick 'em. I was as surprised as anyone when Ron Johnson sauntered into the Republican race for Feingold's Senate seat a week before the convention and then won the party's nomination. I can't say, however, I'm surprised by reasons since cited for the support shown him.
Ron Johnson has almost no experience holding political office, a fact his campaign is working hard to boast of to the brave new GOP wing that eschews at least the idea of career politicians. Johnson himself lambasted what he saw as the liberal love of lifelong power through position when he spoke at a Tea Party rally in Madison this April.
He also claimed that, "The one really big difference between liberals and conservatives is that we conservatives actually believe in free speech" and "We conservatives simply want to be left alone."
Oh yes, he got me. I really hate free speech. And holy moly, all this time it was actually the liberals who wanted to come into our bedrooms and tell us how to live our lives! I've been so confused and misled, really, it's terrible.
But that kind of rhetoric has been playing big to the base lately, regardless of any actual grounding in reality. The portion of the rightwing constituency that's been ascendant in recent years has done such a marvelous job of tearing down people with actual experience and nuance that this is the kind of candidate they're finally getting: knee-jerk, pandering, wet-behind-the-ears ideologues.
Frankly, they deserve each other.
But Wisconsin doesn't deserve them. Feingold's been working his butt off for us for several years now, proving time and time again that he's willing to really listen to his fellow citizens and work toward their needs and not those of wealthy businessmen and politicians. My optimistic side says that the majority of Wisconsin residents see that and will support him come election time.
My pessimistic side is just sad that there is anyone gung-ho to support Johnson, a man we know very little about where he stands on issues, what actual plans he has if elected. In fact, one of the few things we know is that he actively opposed a bill that would have made it easier for victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers.
Even though Johnson is a Lutheran, he worked with the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay in speaking out against the proposed legislation, explaining that he believes "it is a valid question to ask whether the employer of a perpetrator should also be severely damaged, or possibly destroyed, in our legitimate desire for justice."
I'd argue that, when an employer shows itself to be complicit in the abuse by refusing to properly discipline the perpetrator or report the situation to police, then yes, they deserve punishment as well.
Regardless, the fact that Johnson's one big policy stance involved defending Catholic Church officials who covered up sexual abuse doesn't speak terribly well of the man.
Over in the race for governor, Milwaukee County Executive and now official Republican nominee Scott Walker continues to show his true, disturbing colors as well. In a recent interview with Redstate, Walker even went so far as to boast of his complete disdain for the state constitution.
Asked what his first official act in office would be if he wins the election, Walker stated, "I'm not even going to wait for January. On November 3rd I'm going to march over to the state capitol and start taking over the budget process. I'm not going to conceded two or three months of the current governor messing with the budget we need for the next two years."
These, ladies and gentlemen, are the current darlings of the Republican Party. If this is really the best they can muster then I seriously don't blame the factions of the Tea Party (and, on the other end of the spectrum, honest-to-goodness conservatives) who are so fed up that they're refusing to endorse any of them.
I want Feingold to keep his seat for awhile longer. But I would also love to see considerably more interesting and informed candidates for office in general. At the moment, though, I don't really blame those folks for being scared off from running. It's a pretty toxic climate out there right now. I'm just thankful Wisconsin is lucky enough to have someone representing them who's less easily frightened.
P.S. Does Ron Johnson even have a candidate website? I can't find a single thing.
Guns! Guns! Guns!
Failed your background check? Don't worry! Just send in a friend or relative with a clean record to buy the piece for you. Heck, do it on the same day! It's called straw buying and the good folks at Shawano Gun and Loan don't mind one bit, despite the fact that it's technically a felony.
But the problem doesn't lie entirely with the sellers who engage in shady dealings. They certainly don't win my sympathy, but the other piece of this puzzle is that the current, overly complicated rules provide too many loopholes, making it nearly impossible for the ATF to properly enforce the law.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been running a pretty good series about the issues surrounding gun dealership laws (check it out here) for the past two years. The emergent pattern is one of failure to enforce existing laws, and existing laws' failure to properly address problems.
Some firearms advocates argue that criminalizing gun ownership will simply lead to only criminals owning them. But it's hard to know which gun safety policies work and which don't in the first place when none of them are really being correctly implemented. We need to work at creating a relatively simple and straight forward series of regulations that can be properly and thoroughly enforced before there's any hope of finding a more equitable solution to the greater problem.
The Capital Times is urging a recall of Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth the guy who sent a letter to public school teachers threatening legal action against them if they actually went along with state policy and taught (gasp!) accurate sexual education to their students. I have to say I strongly concur with the editorial, and hope to see the recall idea gain some traction.
The ALRC is still wrestling over how to deal with the tax evading couple that owns almost all of the liquor stores downtown. There had been some worry that revoking their licenses would have resulted in a booze desert around State Street, but it looks more likely that a settlement of some sort will be reached with them instead. Still, it's a close call, and I can help but muse that it's a fine (if smaller scale) example of the consequences of allowing monopolies to form. If we value our access to spirits, it would behoove us to make sure no one person/company owns all of it. Diversity is good for everyone, people!
Um, hey AFT-Wisconsin? I'm about as gung-ho pro-union as you're likely to find, but part of the point of them is to give working people a choice. So then why on Earth would you force anyone to join? No sir, I don't like it at all. I'm going to look into this in greater detail to see if I can't get a better idea of what exactly is going on, but at first blush this certainly doesn't look good.