Can Tammy Baldwin Win?

No sooner had Rep. Tammy Baldwin (at left) announced her entrance into the race for U. S. Senator than Republicans began crowing about what a bad candidate the Democratic congresswoman from Madison would be. Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) called Baldwin “the epitome of what’s wrong in Washington… just a record of increased spending and higher taxes,” in comments to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Republican Mark Neumann, who has announced he will run for the U.S. Senate seat, issued a press release declaring that Baldwin “voted for virtually every proposal from Obama that has led America to the brink of fiscal…

The Strange Life of Mark Block

There’s been an orgy of coverage on Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain in the last two weeks, and it all began with the rather odd online ad featuring, not the candidate, but Cain’s campaign manager, Wisconsin’s Mark Block. In reaction, there have been countless stories written about Block, including two recent articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but much of Block’s life story wasn’t touched on. Block has repeatedly gotten into trouble for his method of campaigning. In the late 1970s he was a rising star in the Republican Party. He was just 18 when he won election to the Winnebago…

The Squeeze on State Workers

When Gov. Scott Walker announced his plan to require public workers to contribute more to their health insurance and pension, he promised he would end worker furloughs. He has lived up to that promise. But Walker left out the catch: a two-year freeze on salaries for state workers, which his administration announced last week. Consider the impact of the benefit givebacks required: Those earning $25,000 a year are now contributing just under $4,000 – nearly 16 percent of their annual earnings. Those earning $50,000 are now paying about $5,400, almost 11 percent of their annual salary. Now the state is…

Chief Flynn vs. Journal Sentinel

There is something very odd about the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s coverage of Chief Ed Flynn (at left). It seems curiously slanted. I am not talking about the paper’s Sunday “Watchdog” report on how police who break the law are themselves policed. This was an excellent story – which took great tenacity to report – exposing what appears to be a systematic problem of going easy on officers who violate the law. They get special treatment from the police and district attorneys they work with. My guess is you might find the same situation in most cities. As Flynn has noted, police have a disproportionately high…

Concealed Carry Contradictions

A curious pattern has emerged in Wisconsin. Most politicians favor concealed carry of weapons – so long as it’s not allowed in the building where they work. Let’s begin with the equivocations of state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (pictured). On Oct. 5, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported a letter from a top official with the National Rifle Association bashing the attorney general for his ruling saying the training courses for those carrying concealed weapons must last at least four hours. The NRA was “frankly disappointed” in this rule, arguing for more flexibility in interpreting the state law requiring such training. Given…

Battle Royal- Sheriff Clarke vs. Chris Abele

Rarely have I seen an issue more underplayed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel than the budget battle between Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and County Executive Chris Abele (pictured left). This is a fascinating dispute pitting a champion verbal pugilist like Clarke against a political neophyte like Abele, yet Clarke is so far getting the worst of it. An unruffled Abele is simply letting the attacks roll off him citing facts and analysis, while an angry Clarke huffs and puffs away. The county has had longstanding financial problems; Abele faces a $55 million shortfall and has pledged not to raise property taxes. It would have been…

Are Recalls Like Cancer?

Dr. Robin Vos has diagnosed a sickness plaguing Wisconsin’s body politic. “I just think recall elections are like a cancer,” the Republican Assembly member from Rochester told his local newspaper, the Racine Journal Times. Vos wants to “apply chemotherapy immediately to try to stop the cancer from spreading.” Here’s a man of mighty metaphors. Like chemo, this proposal is rather drastic medicine. Vos and his Republican co-sponsors would strictly limit recalls, so they could only be used against lawmakers charged with a felony, convicted of a misdemeanor or found guilty of an ethical violation by the state Government Accountability Board. …

The Craze for Venture Capital

It was back in May that I spilled the beans on the proposed CAPCO legislation, calling it “a huge handout to lobbyists and the companies who hire them.” I’m happy to say the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel soon jumped aboard with some excellent reporting that undoubtedly helped kill the bill. As Rutgers University professor Julia Sass Rubin, an expert on CAPCOs, told the paper, states have poured almost $2 billion into CAPCOs (or certified capital companies) over the last 20 years and most of it has simply ended up as profits for the CAPCOs. But while it looks like CAPCOs are dead…

Justice Crooks is Not a Liberal

  Justice N. Patrick Crooks In the continuing controversy over the spat between State Supreme Court justices David Prosser and Ann Walsh Bradley, the role of N. Patrick Crooks may be the most fascinating: He is easily the most misunderstood member of the court. In my last column, I wrote that Crooks is “considered one of the court’s liberals.” That was misleading. Yes, he is considered a liberal and is typically described that way in the media, but in fact, he’s a centrist who tends to lean right. The media’s error has misled people about the court’s makeup and warped…

Is Ann Althouse “Evil”?

  Supreme Court Justice David Prosser. As those who listen to my commentary on WUWM-FM would know, I predicted weeks ago there would be no prosecution of anyone in the fracas between Wisconsin Supreme Court justices David Prosser and Ann Walsh Bradley. It’s hard enough to prosecute a he said/she said case, but the difficulties multiply exponentially when four other justices who observed the incident also disagree, creating six different versions of the same story. This moves the case well beyond reasonable doubt and into the realm of a Broadway farce. The still-pending investigation by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission is…