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Archive for November, 2010

You Too Could Lose the U.S. Senate Majority

For obvious reasons, I’m a little intrigued by the game “Tag” going on among the 53 remaining Democrats left in the United States Senate as they pick their new Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee or DSCC.

See, last week — just like the Republicans and their colleagues in the House — they elected their leadership on Tuesday.  But they kept one position empty:  Chairman of the DSCC.

When Senate Democrats held their leadership elections Tuesday morning, one spot was left vacant.

There is still no chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and it appears the reason is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hasn’t convinced anyone to take the job yet.

There are currently 23 Democratic Senators up for re-election in 2012; and I’m unsure if that figure includes the two Independent Senators (Sanders of Vermont and Lieberman of Connecticut) who caucus with them…possibly making the task of DSCC Chairman (or Woman) one in which they have to defend a whopping 25 Senate seats; many of which are in swing states or traditional Republican states like Montana, North Dakota, and Nebraska.

Speculation has been rampant about who will take, or even want the job.  Historically, the position is never given to a recently elected Freshman Democrat, so that leaves out the Chris Coons of the world.  Also, the rule is often “Unless you’re “Super-Safe,” and you’re up for re-election, you can’t head the DSCC,” so that takes away large chunks of the caucus from the position.

Initially, hopes were high on New York’s Chuck Schumer re-taking the leadership of the DSCC.  It was, after all, a familiar role he held to much success in 2006 and 2008, but he declined.  Apparently, the famed fund raiser and candidate recruiter isn’t much of a defender of seats.

Then they went to John Kerry.  He declined.

After him, Minnesota’s Al Franken.  He too declined.

All eyes then went to the newly re-elected Junior Senator from Colorado, Mike Bennett.  Bennett had just survived a fight in a swing state, had good fund raising, and known for his ties to the national groups.  He too is said on multiple occasions to not want the job.

So why is this happened?

Well, look at the figure.  23 or so Senate seats is an impossibly high number of seats to defend.  Democrats did have a great 2006 after all, and now the chicken of that wave is coming home to roost.  So by just sheer numbers alone, that is going to make resources tough to spread around if they have to do so.

Then there’s “The Other Problem You Can’t Talk About,” when it comes to fund-raising for the 2012 cycle.

2012 is a Presidential year, which automatically means all money in liberal politics will be flowing to the re-elect efforts of President Obama and the Democratic National Committee, not to the House and Senate committees.  Meaning, that an already tough time fund raising is going to get tougher.  Their time to shine in the sun is during the mid-terms after all.

So who gets the job in the end?  Word is the White House and Senate Democratic Leadership may go in one of two directions:

1) Get the safest Democrat in the 2012 cycle to chair. In this case, that would be Rhode Island’s Sheldon Whitehouse, who would face nominal GOP opposition for re-election.

2) Washington’s Patty Murray. The various tip sheets say both the White House and Harry Reid are pulling a full-court press on the recently re-elected senior Senator from Washington.  She too is said to not be pleased with what a stint as DSCC Chair would detail this time.  (She was ran the place in 2001-2003 when the GOP gained the Senate Majority outright with a 51-49 margin after Democrats recaptured it with the Jeffords defection in mid-2001.)

So what’s going to happen?  Well, don’t expect a decision on the issue by Thanksgiving.

Or Christmas for that matter by the look of things…

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Soon He’ll Say His Shadow Wants Him Dead

Half the fun of Hugo Chavez is watching the slow, degenerative trip to complete and utter madness within his mind as he clings to power in Venezuela.

Rarely does a year go by where the dictator and Castro-wannabe claims either a rival or the CIA is plotting his demise.  If only the CIA was in the killing business; especially in the Obama Administration!

Well, this year’s “threat” is from a man who Chavez pretty much ran off a year ago, and who has been in exile in America ever since.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez accused a fugitive TV tycoon of being involved in a $100 million reward offer for his assassination.

Idolized by supporters among Venezuela’s poor but loathed by many in the business class, former soldier Chávez, 56, has frequently alleged plans to kill him during his more than 11 years at the helm of the South American oil-producer.

“As I understand it from very trustworthy information, they say they have $100 million to give the person who kills me,” Chávez said, talking of his political foes in general.

He accused the fugitive boss of pro-opposition TV station Globovision, Guillermo Zuloaga, of being one of those behind the plan. Zuloaga fled to the United States earlier this year after being charged with fraud over his car dealership.

“He’s one of them and he’s the owner of a station that is transmitting right now in Venezuela,” Chávez said in comments to reporters at a “socialist” fair in Caracas to offer cheap food and Christmas presents.

“He’s going around conspiring against the government, and they’re all collecting money to pay the person who kills me,” Chávez said, urging action against Zuloaga.

He did not give any more details of the alleged plot.

Readers of Orwell’s “Animal Farm” no doubt would see the similarities here.

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The Best Campaign Ad of 2010…

…is Ron Johnson’s “57!”

Congrats to Brad, Curt, Wes, and the rest of the guys at On Message, who according to Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post created the best political ad of the 2010 Campaign cycle.

As we wrote at the time of its release, the ad, which was produced by On Message Media, stood out from the pack for the simplicity of its visuals and message.

The image of a whiteboard on screen immediately drew the eye and the facts on it — there are 57 Senators who are lawyers while there is a dearth of business people like Johnson — was easy to digest and pitch perfect for this election cycle.

Ditto Johnson’s closest argument in the ad: “I know how to balance a budget and I do know how to create jobs. Now that’s something we can really use.”

So effective was the ad that by the end of the campaign — and with polling showing Johnson comfortably ahead — Feingold made a last-ditch ad attempting to undermine the power of the whiteboard. It didn’t work.

I’ll have more in on my campaign experience in a extensive one-on-one interview with myself (He was the only one who requested…) that I will do eventually on the blog.  But I honestly thought we had won the campaign when Feingold rolled out his “Whiteboard” ad.

Simply put, when your opponent has to co-opt something your campaign has successfully made your own for over a month, you know you have them by the balls.  Also, how did the long-time Feingold campaign staffers not realize they were doing with us and the whiteboard what Bob Kasten had to do with them and Elvis?

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Stupid Right-Wing, Gun-Toting Crazy…

Oh, wait.  This was in Black Earth?

That’s in Dane County!

Remember folks; Dane County is supposedly where all the sane people in Wisconsin are. (Right John Nichols?)

Allegedly set off by Bristol Palin’s appearance on “Dancing with the Stars,” a rural Black Earth man kept police at bay outside his home for 15 hours Monday and Tuesday before he surrendered to police.

Steven N. Cowan, 66, railed at the television as the daughter of former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin appeared on the ABC program, his wife told police Monday after she fled from the town of Vermont house, according to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

Cowan had also been under stress because of a financial situation and was receiving care for a mental health problem, the complaint states. Cowan’s wife, Janice, told police that her husband had been drinking, but she did not think he was intoxicated.

The complaint charged Cowan with second-degree reckless endangerment.

According to the complaint, Cowan and his wife were watching “Dancing with the Stars” when Cowan jumped up and swore as Bristol Palin appeared, saying something about “the (expletive) politics.” Cowan was upset that a political figure’s daughter was on the show when he didn’t think she was a good dancer, the complaint states.

According to the complaint:

Cowan went upstairs for about 20 minutes and returned, demanding his pistols, which had been taken by his daughter about a month ago for safety reasons. He was carrying a single-shot shotgun, which he loaded and fired into the television.

Cowan continued to yell, demanding his pistols. He re-loaded the shotgun and pointed it toward his wife. She left the house and drove to Black Earth, where she called 911. She told police she was afraid for her safety.

Cowan kept sheriff’s deputies at bay outside his home until 11 a.m. Tuesday, when he surrendered without incident, sheriff’s spokeswoman Elise Schaffer said.

H/T Althouse.

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Minority Leader Kind?

I don’t see it happening given the make up of the Democratic Caucus, but the idea isn’t too insane on its merits.

Kind is a moderate Democrat who could be appealing to centrist voters.  He’s young (47) and more telegenic when compared to other challengers to Pelosi, but he’s been in Washington DC long enough (First elected in 1996) to have built enough of a potential voting bloc if he were to do it.

Problem with that line of thinking is; he’s not going to do it.  He also becomes too rich a target for the new Republican State Legislature which could redistrict him out in a fight with Tammy Baldwin by creating a new and insanely designed say, “Hybrid La Crosse-Madison Congressional seat” if he were to run and somehow win.

A retiring Democrat suggested on Monday that Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) or Ron Kind (D-Wis.) would make good challengers to outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) said that Hoyer, the outgoing House majority leader, or Kind (who he termed the “single best choice”) would make good challengers to Pelosi, who is seeking to continue to lead Democrats by running for the position of minority leader in the next Congress.

“You know, I think actually Steny would be a good choice. I think Ron Kind would be the single best choice I could make,” Baird said on MSNBC. “That probably jinxes it with the Speaker, but I think Ron Kind is that kind of person — a very bright, very articulate centrist who listens to all sides, takes policy very seriously, and could speak to both sides.”

A handful of centrist Democrats have said that they would not vote to reelect Pelosi as leader of their party in the House. But only one candidate, Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), has floated the possibility of a challenge to Pelosi, and Shuler’s acknowledged that he’s unlikely to beat the outgoing Speaker.

Hoyer is seen as an emissary to House centrists, who were his base of support when he ran against Pelosi for the position of Democratic leader earlier this decade. A key Republican, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), said on Monday that he’s the GOP’s point of contact within the Democratic leadership.

But after Pelosi brokered a deal late last week to make House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) her No. 3, a move that makes Hoyer without challenge for the second-ranking job in the next Congress, it would be difficult to imagine a situation where the Maryland Democrat would turn around and challenge Pelosi.

A Democrat who’s returning for his eighth term in the House, Kind is seen as a more centrist lawmaker, though he’s not listed as a member of the Blue Dog Coalition (as Shuler is). Kind is a vice chairman of the New Democrat Coalition, but hasn’t shown any inclination to challenge Pelosi.

Kind has a record of also pulling off much more bipartisan legislation.  He worked with Paul Ryan on an Ag Bill alternative in 2007-08 which was far better for America’s pocketbook and Wisconsin’s farmers than the one which became law; and he’s also one of the few sane Democrats when it comes to international trade.

That last item will probably disqualify him with national union leaders.

You can watch the video mentioned in the story here:

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Study: Tetris Reduces PTSD


Classic video game Tetris may be capable of providing a service beyond entertaining the gaming masses. According to a new study out of Oxford University, playing Tetris a few hours after trauma exposure can help prevent flashbacks, which are typically a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, is based on two experiments. In the first experiment, 60 participants watched a film containing scenes of injury and death. After a 30-minute structured break, 20 participants played Tetris, while another 20 played quiz video game Pub Quiz. The remaining subjects did nothing. Those who played Tetris had fewer flashbacks of the traumatic film than any of the others did. Incidentally, those who played Pub Quiz had the most flashbacks out of any of the groups.

The second experiment extended the break period from half an hour to four hours — even then, Tetris players experienced fewer flashbacks than the other research subjects did.

According to the researchers, chronic trauma flashbacks are usually made up of sensory, visual images. Participating in visually oriented tasks — such as playing a puzzle-like game along the lines of Tetris — will interfere with other visual memories and help reduce flashbacks. By contrast, performing verbal tasks after a traumatic event — like playing a quiz game — compete more with the part of the brain that helps people make sense of what they’ve experienced.

As the researchers point out in their report, these verbal tasks “may serve to increase (rather than reduce) later trauma flashbacks.”

The study has elicited positive reactions from Tetris’s creator Alexey Pajitnov, as well as staff at Blue Planet Software — the company that manages the exclusive licensing rights to the game. David Kwock, the company’s general manager, says the researchers’ findings also support the feedback he’s heard from Tetris players over the years.

“A great number of our users tell us that they play Tetris to relax,” he says. “In fact, in Japan, they play it at the end of the day — women specifically — before they go to bed, or in the bathroom. That’s why we have waterproof [gaming devices] in Japan.”

Okay…a little TMI there about Japan.

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Thank You Veterans

I was going to have some inspirational picture, but I’m suffering some sort of server error right now and can’t seem to upload photos to the blog.

So, let me just say thank you to all those who have, are, and will serve this country and its military.  You are the reason we are as free as we are.

So, in closing two things:

1)  Way to go Ryan Braun.

Milwaukee Brewers slugger and Wisconsin restauranteur Ryan Braun came up with a neat way to honor U.S. military personnel on Veterans Day.

He’s going to feed them.

Ryan Braun’s Tavern and Grill in the resort village of Lake Geneva, Wis., is offering a free lunch or dinner entrée to current and former soldiers. Braun said he and the staff had been brainstorming a way to give back.

From Braun’s heart (and wallet) to their stomachs.

Braun’s motivation is personal: His best friend since third grade is a Navy Seal.

2) Happy 30th to Kurt and his twin.

Enjoy the day guys.  You two reaching this milestone officially makes everyone who’s ever known you feel old.

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Prosser to Seek WISSC Re-Election

Those who have been long readers of this blog know that I urged a two-election detente between Wisconsin liberals and conservatives over the re-election fights of State Supreme Court Justices Shirley Abrahamson (Chief Justice) and David Prosser (The Senior-Most Conservative Associate Justice).

My thinking is that let’s be honest with ourselves; these two legal minds are the pillars of their respective ideological legal circles — Shirley on the Left, Prosser on the Right — and they’ve both been around long enough to highlight a bipartisan “Who’s Who” and  it’s going to show by who Prosser gets to back him.  Thus, it would make challenging either to the State’s Highest Court something akin to a military suicide mission.

Already, Prosser’s got former Governors Thompson (Republican) and Lucey (Democrat) as his campaign co-chairs, and his campaign’s treasurer is the wife of former Governor McCallum. This is like when Abrahamson came out with a list of her supporters earlier this year, and it was chalked full of big-name, traditional Republican-backing business leaders.

Nothing about my stance regarding the proposed detente has changed.

Move along, everyone.  There’s nothing to see here, let alone fight over.

(And I say this all as a Prosser supporter mind you.)

State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser announced his re-election bid Wednesday.

Prosser’s campaign will be co-chaired by former Gov. Tommy G. Thompson, a Republican, and former Gov. Patrick J. Lucey, a Democrat.

Thompson appointed Prosser to the court in 1998. He was elected to a full term without opposition in 2001 and is now running for another 10-year term.

Before he joined the court, Prosser was an Assembly speaker and Outagamie County district attorney. Prosser, 67, was elected to the Assembly as a Republican.

Also running for Supreme Court are Marla Stephens, an official with the state public defender’s office, and Joel Winnig, a Madison lawyer.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Borowski has said he is considering a run.

The primary is Feb. 15, and the general election is April 5.

Prosser will win, easily.  Thanks for playing for Second Place gang.

Correction:  Noticed this later on in the day after I posted it just never had the chance to correct it until this morning.  The senior most Associate Justice on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court is liberal Ann Walsh Bradley, who was first elected in 1995.  Prosser — who is the senior most conservative Associate Justice on the court — was appointed by Governor Tommy Thompson to the court in 1998 as the article above states.

The next Supreme Court election after Prosser’s will be in 2013, when conservative Peggy Roggensack is up for re-election.

See what happens when I post without consulting my Blue Book first?

At least I didn’t pull a “Lounsbury” which is when you completely rewrite the post after being pointed out how you were wrong by a reader or by the facts on the ground.

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Semper Fi and Happy Birthday Marines

As is tradition, through Kurt, the Annual Birthday Message of the Marine Corps Commandant and Sergeant Major.

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Liberal Logic at Work

The liberal economic mind at work…

Okay, so killing a train project no one wanted in the State of Wisconsin – BAD

Changing a report inside the White House to force an off-shore drilling moratorium which could end up killing 32,000 jobs in the Gulf Region where they want to drill for oil and natural gas – GOOD

The White House rewrote crucial sections of an Interior Department report to suggest an independent group of scientists and engineers supported a six-month ban on offshore oil drilling, the Interior inspector general says in a new report.

In the wee hours of the morning of May 27, a staff member to White House energy adviser Carol Browner sent two edited versions of the department report’s executive summary back to Interior. The language had been changed to insinuate the seven-member panel of outside experts – who reviewed a draft of various safety recommendations – endorsed the moratorium, according to the IG report obtained by POLITICO.

“The White House edit of the original DOI draft executive summary led to the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer-reviewed by the experts,” the IG report states, without judgment on whether the change was intentional attempt to mislead the public.

The six-month ban on offshore drilling installed in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill became a major political issue over the summer, as Gulf State lawmakers and industry groups charged the White House with unfairly threatening thousands of jobs. House Republicans have said they plan on investigating the circumstances surrounding the moratorium when they take power next year.

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and several other Gulf State members of Congress asked the Interior IG to investigate the moratorium and the peer review claim.

“The inspector general’s finding that the blanket-drilling moratorium was driven by a politics and not by science is bitter news for families who, because of it, lost their jobs, savings, and way of life,” Cassidy said Tuesday. “Candidate Obama promised that he would guided by science, not ideology. If that were true, at least 12,000 jobs and 1.8 billion dollars of economic activity would have been saved on the Gulf Coast.”

The Interior Department personally and publicly apologized to the panel members in June for the insinuation they publicly supported the drilling moratorium.

During my HUD days, I had to read a few IG reports.  So, I can understand the “edit” argument the White House is making…to an extent.  But how, during the levels and levels of review — even inside the IG’s office — no one spoke up and said, “Hey, I have an issue with this change.” is simply amazing.

By letting that change go unchallenged, the White House intentionally turned the Interior Department’s IG report from being an investigative document to a political one.

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