Throughout his career, Spencer Black has been known as the green candidate, despite his last name. And although his bill on clean energy jobs didn’t make it into law, he has certainly energized his district about the prospect of green jobs, so much so that the new candidates seeking to replace him as he retires are all getting ready for the race by donning their green war paint. The Democrats here are some of the greenest in the state, the Green party is prevalent, and even the Republicans are a slightly greener shade of red. (I suppose this actually makes them more of a brown, so the analogy may have to end here.)
The one Republican running to fill Black’s seat is David Redick, who calls himself a “Ron Paul-style Republican” and hopes to popularize the image of the libertarian conservative. More moderate than the average Republican on most issues, Redick still harkens back to Republican ideology to justify his beliefs. Even his environmental concerns are rooted in his high regard for individual rights:
“He says he is pro-choice and environmentally friendly in so far as he is a supporter of individual rights and property rights. Redick says when businesses emit toxins, they are violating someone else’s rights.”
These could be the rights of other businesses, whose resources are soured by the pollution, or the rights of individuals, whose health is compromised by it. Either way, the case could be made that it is indeed fiscally responsible to internalize one’s externalities. While the case for his belief in individual rights grows blurrier when taking into account his pro-choice status, it may yet fly in the highly progressive district. This does not necessarily mean that he has great odds of winning. Though he is facing five Democrats, appealing to a conservative base in Madison – even if it is a libertarian conservative base – does not really play to the numbers.
If the UW campus is any indication of what the average Madison Republican looks like, Redick may actually be missing out on his core group of people. The College Republicans often seem to try to compensate for their surroundings rather than blend into them. While more moderation can be found among the independents, they are likely to go with the Green or Constitutional Parties as a matter of principle. Fortunately, Redick holds no idealistic notion of pulling a revolutionary win. Rather, he simply hopes to bring a new twist to a grand old party.
All in all, the demographics seen in Assembly District 77 make for a refreshing change in political scenery. Not just because the grass is greener here, but the political parties too. Instead of the traditional landscape of blue and red, District 77 showcases a splendid view of aquamarine, neon green, and even a rich brown.
Filed under: Elections — Christian Schneider @ 3:08 pm
Since the recent news cycle has birthed us the gift of Ieshuh Griffin (aka, “Not the whiteman’s bitch), I thought I’d pass on a magazine piece I wrote about some of Wisconsin’s other more colorful independent candidates.
[Ed] Thompson was also joined as a third party gubernatorial candidate by Mike Mangan, who campaigned wearing a gorilla suit. Mangan, a self-employed energy consultant from Waukesha, waged what he called a “guerilla attack against state spending.” Mangan criticized the state’s “King Kong deficit,” which is quite a coincidence since he happened to own a gorilla mask. (Fortunately for Mangan, the deficit wasn’t the size of a turtle, as he would have had to scramble for a new costume.) Mangan was actually a fan of Ed Thompson’s run, seeing it as a breakthrough for third parties in future races, saying, “I think he’s opening doors.”
These independent candidates represent only a small sliver of the colorful history of third party politicians in Wisconsin. In 1974, flamboyant West Milwaukee used car dealer James Groh legally changed his name to “Crazy Jim” to run for governor as an independent. Crazy Jim was a staunch advocate of legalized gambling, and frequently spun a tale of how he once played cards with Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas. At the time, the concept of legal gambling in Wisconsin seemed to be far-fetched—yet Crazy Jim turned out to be a visionary, as Wisconsin adopted a state lottery and welcomed almost unlimited Indian casino gambling by the 1990s. Crazy Jim lost to incumbent Patrick Lucey 629,000 votes to 12,100; but his family said he took solace throughout his life in the fact that he carried Waushara County. (Although he did not—records show he only garnered 47 votes in Waushara County, which placed him a distant fifth.) Crazy Jim died in 2002 of a heart attack.
In Madison, self-described “futurist” Richard H. Anderson has run for numerous offices, including state assembly, mayor, and city council. Anderson routinely ran on an “anti-mind control” platform, believing the government had planted a cybernetic chip in his brain. A self-described bisexual, Anderson fought for better treatment of minorities and, as a surprise to exactly no one, for legalized marijuana. “Just because I’m a pot head doesn’t mean I’m not qualified to hold office,” he once said. Unfortunately, the government rarely used mind control to direct voters to vote for him, as he once mustered a scant six votes in a race for the state Assembly against now-Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. Naturally, the Progressive Capital Times newspaper said Anderson had “made a good impression.”
(One has to wonder what a debate between a “pro-mind control” and “anti-mind control” candidate is like. Presumably, the “anti” candidate would get up to speak, the “pro” candidate would glare and point his finger at them, and the “anti” candidate would sheepishly sit back down without saying a word.)
Filed under: Elections — Christian Schneider @ 2:04 pm
People that know me well know that I love nothing more than fringe candidates. So when I saw that today a woman was testifying in front of the state Government Accountability Board (GAB) in order to have the words “Not the whiteman’s bitch” placed under her name on the ballot, well…. DOUBLE RAINBOW.
Ieshuh Griffin, independent candidate for the 10th Assembly district, was an impressive witness. As an independent candidate, she is entitled to have a “Statement of Principle” of up to five words placed under her name on the ballot. It is assumed that people generally know what “Republican” and “Democrat” mean, but “Independent” could mean anything – so independent candidates are allowed to briefly clarify their platforms.
Obviously, the GAB argued that Griffin’s proposed statement of interest was obscene. Griffin appealed to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to affirm her free speech rights. She attempted to debunk the idea that “bitch” is an offensive word, pointing out that it refers to a female dog. And she was able to quote the GAB rules, chapter and verse. Obviously, she’s a smart woman, and knows exactly what she’s doing by challenging the GAB’s authority to censor her statement. (In fact, I’d probably vote for her – how can she be any worse than any of the other Milwaukee legislators?)
During the debate, it appeared the GAB panel of ex-judges was sympathetic to Ms. Griffin’s free speech argument. (Of course, if some independent candidate had put “keep out illegals” as their statement, they would have been thrown off the ballot within seconds.) An attorney for the GAB said candidate statements have been stricken from the ballot for saying things like “cut taxes,” which seems preposterous.
In the end, Ms. Griffin got a majority of the GAB board to side with her by a 3 to 2 vote. Unfortunately, she needed four votes to win her petition, so her statement will be removed from the ballot (she said she will appeal.)
But given that her position was shot down by a group of old white guys, it makes her statement of purpose a little ironic, no?
(I’ll post the WisconsinEye video when it’s available.)
In other news, the GAB declined a GOP effort to have Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (or, “T-Ball” as she is known amongst the youngsters) removed from the ballot for having an insufficient address on her nomination papers. Baldwin apparently listed an office address on her papers, not her actual voting address. Her campaign claims she was granted a security exemption, given that she is a lesbian.
Let’s back up there. I have no knowledge of whether any threats have been made against Tammy Baldwin, and I can imagine they’re pretty horrifying.
But really? In Madison? Of all the places on the planet you’d think would care the least about her orientation, Madison would be at the top of the list. I’m certainly not saying her security fears are unwarranted – it’s just weird that it still happens in the most progressive town in America.
By now, you know that the Wisconsin Supreme Court has struck down Governor Jim Doyle’s attempt to pilfer $200 million from the state’s doctors in order to balance the state budget. In the 2007 budget, Doyle took $200 million out of a fund paid in to by doctors in order to partially plug a budget hole. The fund was meant to offset the cost of malpractice claims, and held costs for doctors down – which helped keep health care costs down for patients.
The Court considered this a taking from the doctors, and did so with a 5-2 majority. (Which, on this Court, is as much of a blowout as a 5-2 score would be in the World Cup.)
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this whole debacle is the Doyle Administration’s reaction to it. The press release Doyle issued today is compelling, as it is a perfect representation of eight years of his reign. In one page, the Governor was able to provide a perfect epitaph to his reign. Consider it a Doyle chrestomathy.
Some choice passages from “The Jim Doyle Reader:”
The state Supreme Court has determined that the legislature was prohibited from using funds from the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund to support health care.
One sentence in, and we already have ourselves a howler. “The legislature” was prohibited? Keep in mind – Doyle was only able to successfully raid the Patient’s Compensation Fund (known by a different name now) after the legislature prevented him from doing so in 2003 and 2005. Finally, in the 2007 budget, with Democrats controlling the State Senate and within a sliver of controlling the State Assembly, Doyle got his way.
Jim Doyle was the sole driving force behind taking these funds. To suggest otherwise is preposterous. But it gloriously demonstrates Doyle’s willingness to blame others and not take a shred of blame for his failures.
The $200 million transfer allowed the state to leverage an additional $300 million in federal funding.
And, as we all know, the end (more federal funding), justifies any means we use to get it. I’m sure if Doyle stole money from all kinds of people it would be worth all the money the feds (in this case, the Bush Administration) rained upon us. Just think how much federal money Wisconsin could have “leveraged” if we started kicking over old ladies and snatching their purses. (Although if we stole my grandmother’s purse, the feds would have to match the state with 30 million cans of Aqua Net hairspray.)
Today’s decision will not benefit any injured patients, it will not benefit anyone’s health – it will only benefit the peace of mind of a few members of the State Medical Society.
(Actually, it’s the Wisconsin Medical Society, but who really fact checks anymore?) Or, perhaps it will benefit the peace of mind of the 13,431 doctors and other health care providers who paid in to the fund in 2009, and whose money was stolen from them to spackle over the fiscal mismanagement of this governor.
“An additional $200 million in cuts authorized in the budget, which we hoped to at least partially avoid, and other savings measures will now need to be implemented.”
“Other savings measures?” Wasn’t “stealing money from doctors” booked as a “savings measure?” Do we have any faith that anything they propose is going to actually save money? Keep in mind that when this administration says they’re “cutting,” it’s rarely a cut at all. In fact, it’s often a one-time fund swap that exacerbates the problem.
Perhaps the Supreme Court should already schedule a day three years from now when it can undo whatever Governor Doyle’s “savings measures” are today.
More final paragraph:
“We will also need to make additional cuts to the Medicaid and BadgerCare Plus programs through across-the board reductions in provider rates. These programs provide health care to 1.1 million Wisconsin citizens.”
This is the denouement. There’s so much in these two sentences.
First of all, those programs provide health care to 1.1 million Wisconsin citizens because they were created without any way to pay for them. Doyle overextended government by paying for a program with stolen funds, now he complains that there are a whole lot of people on the programs? Whose fault is that?
Secondly, here you see the side of Jim Doyle capitol observers have gotten to know so well. He promises to cut funding to the same doctors who had the temerity to challenge his theft. It’s a vindictive threat – and perfectly caps off the Jim Doyle Story as will be told by the history books. He just can’t help but threaten payback to his opponents. What a sad man.
Of course, if he were to cut funds to providers, it would have the effect not of punishing doctors necessarily, but raising rates on patients with private insurance. Doctors will need to make that cut up by raising rates on the insured. So congratulations, Governor Doyle – your vindictive cut will have the effect of increasing the cost of health insurance. You really showed ‘em.
(Incidentally, it’s telling that Doyle sends his Secretary of Administration, the well-liked Dan Schooff, out to deliver his threats. What a coward.)
As a postscript to all this, there’s a hidden portion of the Justice Prosser’s majority decision in the case overturning Doyle’s raid that deserves notice. In paragraph 58 of the opinion, Prosser cites a 1995 Attorney General’s opinion that points out the “longstanding view in Wisconsin law that trust funds are to be treated differently than general revenue, and that the state has less power to regulate the use of trust funds.”
Filed under: Elections — Christian Schneider @ 11:33 am
Back in May, I expressed some skepticism at Congressman Dave Obey’s stated reason for retiring from the House of Representatives after 41 years of service. Obey said he was “bone tired,” and that he decided long ago to retire after the big health care bill passed.
The media lapped this all up, running with the “old liberal lion retires on his own terms” talking point. But as I pointed out, this all didn’t add up, as Obey continued to raise money and conduct polls well after the health care bill passed. At the time, I mentioned that Obey’s next finance report would truly be telling.
Well, we have it – and it confirms my suspicions. According to Wispolitics.com’s “DC Wrap:”
Retiring U.S. Rep. Dave Obey paid more than $30,000 on polling just eight days before announcing his retirement, according to the longtime congressman’s latest filing with the FEC.
Obey announced his retirement May 5 after more than four decades in the House, saying he wanted to see health care reform passed and was simply “bone tired.” But insiders in both parties questioned the abrupt announcement during a tough election year, and Republicans suggested he may not have wanted to fight against a GOP tide and then-Ashland Co. DA Sean Duffy.
That $30,000 he spent was on top of another $30,000 he spent in the previous reporting period. So you’re telling me Dave Obey, having already decided he was going to retire, spent $60,000 in polls for no reason? What kinds of questions was Obey asking people in this $30,000 poll if it had NO bearing on whether he retired?
All things being equal, who can do more push-ups: President Obama or the Green Lantern?
“Got any good salmon recipes?”
“Do you think your neighbor smells like Indian food?
“Would it creep you out if you knew I was conducting this poll in my bathrobe?”
Of course, Obey’s retirement is no longer newsworthy, and nobody’s going to report anything that makes them look like fools in retrospect. But let the history books show – the voters decided they didn’t want Dave Obey – not the other way around.
In the edition of WI Magazine released last week, WPRI’s Mike Nichols issued an in-depth look at how interpersonal politics on the Wisconsin Supreme Court is affecting the Court’s work. Over the weekend, Nichols appeared on “Up Front with Mike Gousha” to discuss the article.
I do not remember how I myself learned the art of sarcasm, but I can guess how it happened from my memory of my younger sister’s first encounters with it. In fact, I remember the exact day that she learned this linguistic oddity. After being told for the umpteenth time to clean our room, our mother walked in to find a room whose carpet could just barely be seen in patches here and there. “Well, you certainly did a good job, this is just spotless,” she ranted.
I could see the wheels in my sister’s head beginning to turn. Our room was not clean, and she knew full well that we had done nothing at all to achieve this end. In fact, the sheer number of Barbie accessories alone would have been enough to make that obvious. Yet, here was our mom, proclaiming our good work and clean floor. Either something was not right, or our mom had begun to lower her standards to our level. Excited that maybe the latter was the case, but nonetheless confused, she replied, “It is?”
“NO!” our mother shouted, proving in fact that something was up. Though our mother was much too angry to explain the finer points of sarcasm at the moment, my sister nonetheless began to learn this counterintuitive trick. After many failed attempts at it – no, sarcasm is not the same is lying, but it does have a point, so just saying that the tree is pink doesn’t really work – she has since mastered its use. Now, she understands that the words that people use do not always coincide with their intent, and regards looking to the intent of what a person says as plain common sense.
In the original trial, then-Judge Joe Wall sentenced cocaine dealer Landray Harris to two years in prison with three years of observation. However, after using the phrase “baby mama” to refer to Harris’ girlfriend and mother of his child (the best two things the unemployed dealer has going on for him as the woman both works and attends college), Harris and his attorney requested that the Court of Appeals grant him a new trial due to the racism and bias of Judge Wall. This they granted, saying that if a rational observer could interpret racism and bias from the judge, Harris deserved a new trial. That is, until the State Supreme Court stepped in with a new ruling on Wednesday.
The decision was unanimous, and in his opinion Justice Michael Gableman wrote:
“Must a sentence be thrown out if even one intelligent person listening to the sentencing hearing might think a judge relied on race? In short, this test lacks the clarity and workability necessary to be a sound rule of law,”
The State Supreme Court relied instead on whether race had been a factor in determining the sentencing. After looking at the entirety of the trial, they found no evidence that racism was present in the decision. One might think that this approach would be the only way to look at the decision, but clearly the Court of Appeals proves otherwise. Indeed, even our Supreme Court nominees know that common sense is not just a luxury, but a privilege in the confirmation process, and can only wish that Senators would look to their intent, not their language. (Though in all fairness, the decisions that can be made using pure common sense should in theory never reach the Supreme Court, so it is plausible that they need to be prepared for tougher logic. Like circular logic.)
In the lower court systems we should not be so quick to abandon common sense. Abuses can be hidden in politically correct language. For example, Harris and his attorney had other motivations to seek a new sentencing besides the use of the phrase “baby mama”- I’m thinking that the jail time might have had something to do with it. When examining the intentions behind appealing a case and using the vernacular, the validity of each action should become clear. Indeed even the great orator and author of Common Sense, Thomas Paine, used the vernacular to communicate his both simple and powerful message.
So although it can be hard to convey connotation through written word, please note that I mean no sarcasm whatsoever when I say I holler, Judge Wall.
Here at WPRI, we seem to be writing about Paul Ryan a lot. People are probably starting to wonder if our acronym stands for the “Wisconsin Paul Ryan Institute.”
But much like Ron Burgundy, Ryan is kind of a big deal. People know him. (I was unable to determine whether his apartment smells of rich mahogany.) So I was enlisted to write a lengthy article about his life in Washington, D.C. – which required me to make a trip out there in May to follow him around.
On May 4th, I showed up at Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee, ready for my flight out to D.C. I was dressed as I normally am when I fly – jeans, untucked shirt, baseball cap, and about a week’s worth of beard. Sitting in the airport, I noticed then-U.S. Senate candidate Dick Leinenkugel walk up to the gate. A few minutes later, I saw gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker settle in nearby. Shortly thereafter, Ryan himself joined Walker. It then dawned on me that I was on the Tuesday morning flight that all the politicians take to get to D.C.
I walked up to Walker (who was heading to D.C. for a campaign event) and mentioned what a star-studded flight this was. I told him I fully expected Lady Gaga to show up in the airport. (He laughed, although I would think more highly of him if he didn’t know who Lady Gaga was.)
Despite being in the same place dozens of times, I’d never actually spoken to Ryan. I started making small talk with him, then mentioned that I thought we were scheduled to have dinner together that night. Suddenly, he looked concerned that this guy dressed like a hobo talking to him might be crazy. He started frantically scrolling through his schedule on his phone, and said “oh yeah, I guess we are… Not dressed like that, I hope.”
(I was thinking that when I showed up at his office, I should actually wear two suits at one time, just to show him how committed I was to dressing respectably.)
My time at the Capitol with Ryan is pretty well detailed in the article. When we first met, I asked him if he even knew who I was – he said he had read some of my commentaries. I actually felt bad about this – he should be busy fixing the world, not reading my ribald blog posts. (Among the ones I guarantee he never read is this one featuring Ryan, in which I speculate as to what it would be like today if congressmen were allowed to endorse products, as they did in the old days.)
When Ryan was in closed door meetings, I went out and wandered around the Capitol and the Longworth House Office Building. The building is triangular, with high ceilings, long halls and green marble floors. On a few occasions, I spotted lobbyists standing outside congressional offices staring at the floor, muttering to themselves. They were no doubt practicing what they were going to say during their meeting in order to convince the attending congressperson to spend my money. I’d actually almost prefer the lobbyist just punch me in the face and take my wallet on the spot. Then at least the feds wouldn’t get their cut off the top.
The halls of Longworth are also populated with a bloused armada of comely young women, hired no doubt because of their detailed knowledge of economics and foreign affairs. Usually not far behind one of these women is a member of Congress, working hard to make it look like wherever they’re going, it’s really important. Male congressmen are usually easy to spot – they’re the ones whose hair color would be laughed at if they worked anywhere but at the U.S. Capitol. I’m convinced that if male members of Congress stopped buying men’s hair coloring products, the American economy would suffer a housing market-style collapse.
Some of the faces of these Congress members are vaguely familiar; ironic, since somewhere out there in a small slice of America, each one of them are famous. It’s hard to believe that each one of these congressmen are actually 600,000 people looking to have their voices heard in Washington. (Although not literally, as they would need bigger pants.)
I stopped at the Longworth cafeteria to buy a soda, and when the portly African-American woman working the register rang me up, she told me it’ll be “150 dollars.” Then she chortled heartily, and said she’s just kidding – it’s only a dollar fifty. It’s a good joke – I felt like I was the first one she’s ever used it on – and it immediately made her a lock for the title of “friendliest federal employee in America.”
As I sat and sipped my Diet Coke, I saw Democratic Wisconsin Representative Steve Kagen, from the Green Bay area. For the record, we did not speak – in case he goes back home and brags to his constituents that he insulted me, as he is wont to do. (In 2006, Kagen claims he personally insulted President and First Lady Bush at a meeting for freshman members of Congress. In a strange twist, the fact that the story was false made him look even more like a classless jerk.)
Oddly, a few minutes later, I just happened to stumble upon an outdoor press conference given by Democratic Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind. The Wisconsin legislators appeared to be everywhere. Kind was speaking to the media, pushing a “keeping kids from being fatties” bill. Since Washington is essentially a swamp (both figuratively and literally), Kind was clearly wilting in his suit under the heat and humidity.
At other points during the day, I was escorted around by Ryan’s Budget Committee press secretary, 25-year old Marquette University grad Conor Sweeney. Sweeney took me down to the Budget Committee office, which is tucked into a dark corner in the basement of the Cannon House Office Building. As ranking member of the House Budget Committee, Ryan essentially has two offices – his eight-person member office, and another 15-person budget office, which resides in a dank dungeon in the bowels of a different office building. The cramped office is missing ceiling tiles, and rusted pipes jut out from the walls. It resembles a crack den. A television above Sweeney’s desk flickers on and off as the reception fades into fuzz and pops back. Sweeney proudly declared this office “the birthplace of the roadmap.” I took a picture for the Smithsonian.
Later, we had to go find out where the new House media room was, in advance of Ryan’s interview with MSNBC later in the day. Brightly colored Media Room A has been recently renovated – a podium stands atop a stage in front of American flags; about 50 media chairs sit in front. It makes sense that Congress would revamp their media room – they need to spend money to allow them to go on television to convince the American people that they need to spend more money.
Sweeney mentions that Ryan is conducting an interview with Fox Business Channel’s John Stossel in one of the side rooms on Thursday. The best thing about doing an interview with Stossel is that you never have to worry about him being late – his gigantic mustache gets there ten minutes before he does.
As I mentioned in the story, I was actually at the Capitol the very day that a Wisconsin political giant, liberal Congressman Dave Obey, announced his retirement. As a political observer in Wisconsin, I felt like I should attend, just to say I was there. But I also felt somewhat guilty – I have plenty of Democrat friends back in Wisconsin who would have killed to be there to see this – and yet it’s me, a conservative who opposes pretty much everything Dave Obey stands for, who gets to see the announcement in person. (At the press conference, I saw my own congresswoman, Tammy Baldwin, which made it a clean sweep as far as me seeing Wisconsin Democrats. Granted, I’m not a mind reader, but Baldwin seemed shocked and a little disoriented at the news that Obey was stepping down.)
In the piece, I mention that late in the day, we made our way to a speech Ryan was giving to a group of investment bankers at the Newseum. Ryan drove himself, Seifert and me to the speech in his green 2003 Chevy Tahoe (built in Janesville, of course). The power locks are broken, and Ryan complained that it would cost $400 to fix them. (Which, even if it wasn’t true, kind of seems like a story a congressman would want told about himself.) He is an extraordinarily adept District of Columbia driver, darting in and out of traffic as if he drove a cab. (Incidentally, the only people that love America more than Paul Ryan are Washington D.C. cab drivers.)
During the ride, we discuss baseball. Ryan mentions that his dad was in the same University of Wisconsin-Madison fraternity as former one-legged Milwaukee Brewer manager Harvey Kuenn. Ryan says he’s only thrown out one ceremonial first pitch – at an American Legion game (it was a little high, but over the plate), but he has an encyclopedic knowledge of other famous politician first pitches. And he is bipartisan in his criticism of awkward politician throwing motions.
In order to get an opposing view on Ryan, I made a few calls to Democrats – and actually landed an interview with Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (who happens to be the second most powerful member of Congress at the moment.) His staffer, former Wisconsin native Stephanie Lundberg, graciously set up ten minutes for me to talk to him by phone. (I opened the discussion by thanking him for hiring Wisconsinites in his office – it’s helping keep our unemployment rate down.)
Sadly, my interview with Hoyer didn’t make the final cut (it was essentially replaced by my discussion of Peter Orszag, White House Budget Director.) But here’s what appeared in the original piece:
Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who considers himself to be a Paul Ryan fan, disagrees with this approach. While Hoyer told me Ryan was “bright, principled, and effective,” he also questioned whether a “supply side” proposal like Ryan’s would work. “It’s been proven that supply-side economics don’t work,” said Hoyer, adding that “Reagan and Bush supply-side policies got us into a $4.86 billion deficit.” Hoyer did praise Ryan for his “courageous” stand, saying, he respected Ryan’s “intellectual integrity in putting forth his solutions and directions with are intellectually honest.”
I finished my final exit interview with Ryan on the morning of Thursday, May 6th, at 9:00 AM. While I talked to him, a security guy came through his office, checking things out. I asked Ryan what that was all about. He mentions that his next meeting is with the head of the World Bank. This blew my mind. So at some point, Ryan’s schedule looked like this:
9:00 to 9:30 – Christian Schneider, lover of pizza
9:30 to 10:00 – Head of World Bank
Keep in mind – at this point, Greece was literally in flames. The European economy was imploding – and I blame myself. I took too long asking Ryan about what his favorite Wisconsin Dells water park was.
I had to be out of my hotel room at noon, but my flight home didn’t leave until 4:00 or so. So I just decided to hang out in the airport all day and begin writing the story. As I sat there with my giant headphones on, I saw a tall figure walk up next to me – I looked up, and it was Ryan, once again on my flight. Seeing I was dressed the same way I had been on the flight out, he shook his head at me. “At least you shaved,” he said.
In closing, I wanted to thank Ryan and his staff – Kevin Seifert, Conor Sweeney, Sarah Peer, and Andy Speth among them – for helping me out with the story. Couldn’t have done it without you folks.
Also, the magazine cover painting of Ryan was done by Nathaniel Gold, whose outstanding work can be found here at his website.
In the days following the BP oil spill in the Gulf, many people were conflicted as to whether to buy BP gasoline. The choice came down to whether they cared more about supporting local business owners or expressing their disdain for the company’s negligence. Owning stock in the company, though, only affects the BP board, and is thus the true evil, right? While this makes for a seemingly more black-and-white decision, it turns out that it is not such a good campaign argument.
While both Democratic U.S. Senator Russ Feingold and his challenger, Republican candidate Ron Johnson, both have financial ties to BP, Johnson’s are the stronger. For that he has come under criticism for being too “lenient” on the company, as well as just generally having a dirty soul. However, a closer look at those criticisms finds that they are just a desperate attempt to bash a competing candidate in the race for Senate.
With regard to leniency, it is true that Johnson criticized how the damages that BP would pay were handled. However, he did not criticize the damages themselves. Instead, he noted that it troubled him to think that it was the executive branch determined the damages, rather than the judicial, which has the longer precedent of handling lawsuits and awarding damages. It was also argued that Johnson tried to hide his connections to BP, but those can be easily disregarded due to the simple fact that he made it clear in his financial disclosure report that clearly listed BP among the publicly traded assets and unearned income sources- three times.
When it comes to his soul, Johnson should be far more worried about the fact that he is now a politician than his investments in BP. Within the report, the list of publicly traded assets and unearned income sources is about five pages long. While Johnson has made his wealth no secret, it should not come as a surprise that a successful businessman has a very diverse portfolio that does happen to include a popular stock owned by many other members of the American public. Its commonplace status is only highlighted by the fact that Feingold himself owns stock in BP almost without knowing it. Overall, this is a very non-unique attack along the campaign trail.
The investment attacks themselves lack purpose. They do not address the candidate’s merit to serve as a representative of the public, they do not accurately attack his viewpoints, which he has already made clear, and they do not address his character. They are at best a petty attempt to associate a social bad with an individual person. Strategic? Sure. Meaningful? No.
I don’t believe that we have run out of differences between the two candidates, so why not choose better tactics than this?
Besides, Johnson can’t be all that bad; he has stock in John Deere too.